They say crossword puzzles are food for the aging brain. Is that true? A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that people with mild memory problems who did web-based crossword puzzles showed improvement in cognition and experienced less brain shrinkage, compared to those who played web-based cognitive games. For commentary on this study see an article from Harvard Health Publishing entitled Have You Done Your Crossword Puzzle Today?
Whether crossword puzzles improve cognition or not, they are fun and engaging. I started doing them a few years ago, beginning with easy puzzles. Gradually I worked on puzzles that were harder as I learned the ins and outs of the puzzles.
The creators of crosswords have certain tricks one has to learn to do them. They like words that have double meanings depending on the context. One has to think beyond the obvious. It also helps to be up on pop culture as questions often focus on film and music stars.
Many daily puzzles like those from the Washington Post become more challenging through the week. I only want to spend so much time on crosswords, so I stay away from ones like the Sunday New York Times.
Some fun puzzles found on the internet are:
The Washington Post Dictionary The Atlantic USA Today
Most people cringe when presented with the idea of a laser or scalpel touching their eyes. However, by age 65, 90% of people will have developed cataracts. In other words, cataract surgery for most of us is a given!
The idea is much worse than the process. When I had my first eye done, I wondered when the procedure would begin. At that point, the doctor said we were all done. Yes, it is easy and painless. The whole operation took about ten minutes. The most noteworthy thing I remember was an argument between the surgeon and the anesthesiologist about what kind of medication she would give me.
After the operation, I wore a patch for a day and then used eye drops for a short time. Before the procedure, I thought our car needed new headlights. Guess what that was all about? That winter, I told my wife I had forgotten how beautiful Colorado was in the winter. Yes. The new eyes were working!
Psychologists are prone to back and tendon problems. We sit all day, and often our bodies are tense. Stretching helps bring a sense of well-being in addition to preventing injuries. The beauty of stretching is that you can do some form of a stretch anywhere. You can find many programs on the Internet.
Hospitals have their own cultures. Like casinos, there is no day or night as staff continuously arrive at a patient’s side with thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, needles, and orders to move a patient. Such intrusions can bring out the curmudgeon self in the best of us.
When I was in a hospital years ago for my first hip replacement, I was amazed by the behavior of some patients. They were rude, demanding, entitled, and loud. I thought, who would want to treat them? Of course, that is the problem right there. Curmudgeon behavior is counterproductive. Common sense suggests that if you treat the staff well, they will care more about you. Your job is to get well; boorish behavior works against that goal.
Seriously ill people can’t be proactive and strategic in their roles as patients, but most of us can help our cause and leave feeling satisfied with our hospital stays. So, what should one do? The answer is not complicated.
Give positive feedback.
Keep complaints to a minimum.
Know the names of your caregivers.
Use humor when you can ( I had a nurse who kept taking blood and I ended up calling her the Vampire Nurse. We shared a lot of laughs).
Ask questions. Accurate information can take the edge off a bad mood. It is easier to tolerate a procedure if you understand why it is done.
Have an advocate who can help you if you can’t get the necessary information.
Nowadays, most hospitals send surveys about a patient’s experience. Fill them out. Several times I have written letters to hospitals with specifics about positive experiences. Yes, the staff gets paid, but who doesn’t like to hear a positive comment?
Patienthood is an opportunity for creative expression. Doing it right can turn a potentially scary, unpleasant situation into one of mastery and accomplishment.
Drive to the Lumberyard Center in Encinitas, having left another car in Del Mar on Highway 101. From Encinitas, walk south along the ocean. In 7.5 miles, you will reach your destination in Del Mar. Have lunch and bask in a job well done. The walk features excellent views, occasional dolphins, happy bikers and walkers, funky shops, and California sunshine.
Gyms and trainers are positive resources at any age. Activity fosters health. Keep active and live longer. Who can argue with these ideas?
Older people need to watch out for young personal trainers who bring a boot camp attitude to sessions. Personal trainers are not physical therapists who must earn a doctor of physical therapy degree and pass a state licensure exam. I have had several friends who suffered injuries during sessions with overzealous trainers.
It is good to discuss goals and methods before beginning sessions with a trainer. Stay in control of the process. It is your health that is at stake!!
Walk, walk, walk. It is excellent exercise and easy on the joints. It is suitable for us seniors who frequently have old injuries. Here is a robust hike for you. Iron Mountain is in Poway at Highway 67 and Poway Road. There is a large parking lot before a trail that leads to the summit. The track is walker-friendly and doesn’t get steep until the last quarter mile. The views from the top are spectacular. The hike is very popular so go during the week if possible. In season watch out for rattlesnakes and the heat!