Some people are up in arms at the possibility they may be held responsible for the expense of relatives’ long term care. In Pennsylvania, a couple found this out when presented with a bill for $500,000 from a nursing home for care for an aging relative! A “filial responsibility law” in that state allows for this. And that state isn’t alone. Maryland, where I live, along with more than 20 others, has similar laws.
As alarming as this scenario is and as much as it might incense our sense of fairness, the fact remains that the costs of long-term institutional or home care are high and, if that care is used, the costs have to be borne by someone. Right?
Numerous studies indicate we are facing a veritable tsunami of challenges, especially the rise of health care demands and health care costs, stemming from our aging populations. Yet, running alongside these predictions is a quiet revolution urging us to re-think aging and, in that act, create a different future.
Data is beginning to show that how a person views aging has a big impact on their experience. We can, it seems, do much to avert the age = decline scenario if we choose to see aging through a lense of freshness, youth, engagement and purpose.
Although the data is new, the idea is not. Christian healer and health expert Mary Baker Eddy envisioned this more than 150 years ago, when she said, “Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom.” Eddy’s words are based on the examples of the long, healthy lives of Bible figures who chose to live close to God. And, on the teachings of Jesus, who often referred to the possibility of eternal life. His every word and act pointed to improved life not decline.
And Eddy knew what she was talking about since, in a day when women lived to be on average about 50, she did her most substantial work from the time she was 60-90, including launching a major daily international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, and founding a church and a publishing house.
She wrote presciently of the dangers of focusing on the body and the aging process, when she also penned: “The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age.”
So, if you’re ready to quit measuring life by solar years, it seems the first step is to expect improvement with age. It is possible. It is happening now with more than 70,000 U.S. residents living beyond 100, often in good health. And many more are projected for future decades.
Some of these centenarians have shared what they felt were the secrets to longevity. These suggestions are interesting, and I especially like those that focus on mental and spiritual goals, including:
- Think more about what you can do than what you can’t do. Appreciate your well earned talents and maturity.
- On your birthday, focus less on the number of times the earth has been around the sun since you were born and more on the good you have seen and experienced.
- Be humble about your experiences and accomplishments, but don’t overdo it. Be sure to recognize that your life has blessed others.
- Shut down regret, blame, and sadness. These contribute to decline. Instead, be glad for the life lessons, and find another person who would enjoy sharing about that. Friendship is a great way to stay young at heart.
- Develop a relationship with God that works for you and, if possible, with a faith community as well.
And as for expensive long term care, it’s in your hands. Take charge of that concern now by being so engaged in nurturing your spirituality and appreciating yourself and the good around you that you choose to defy the idea that you have to decline!
Brenda, a member of Kate’s blog team, is a writer who loves to learn about and share with readers the connection between spirituality and health. In addition, she is a Christian Science Practitioner in Ellicott City, Maryland. She and her family spent many wonderful years in Southern California and now are happy to have returned to beautiful Maryland.
Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, Christian Science, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.
The recent suicide of the brilliant Robin Williams has once again put depression and addiction into the spotlight. After the similar loss of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the public seems to be taking a harder look at depression and other forms of mental illness and the havoc that they can wreak.
This has caused me to think more about how it is that we can get can through times that are bleak and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Can we really live a life of harmony since life is not always smooth sailing? As a musician I know that harmony consists not only of pleasing sounds (consonant), but also of those that “clash” (dissonant). Dissonant sounds are typically used in transition and always resolve to something more pleasant and can thus be tolerated. The brilliance of harmony is in the piece as a whole.
Life is no different. How often it is that I remember situations that were seemingly so horrible that I could not imagine that I would ever get through them. But if instead of simply reliving these instances I step back and carefully examine them, I can see how each was successfully resolved and that a valuable lesson was always learned. That good result is what I should strive to remember while letting go of the “transitory dissonance.”
Recently, our English setter, Wilson, had to have major abdominal surgery. He moved through this “dissonance” beautifully and was completely recovered within 2 weeks. It was remarkable and I wondered if I could have done the same. Plainly, our pets do not dwell on past ills, but rather move forward in anticipation of the next good thing. We can learn a lesson from their example.
Through all of my searching I have come to know that there is something larger than my own efforts at work. In the Old Testament, Psalm 91 gives us all assurance with this verse: “The Lord is your protection; you have made God Most High your place of safety. Nothing bad will happen to you; no disaster will come to your home (New Century Version).”
Mary Baker Eddy, one of the foremost Christian healers of her time, wrote this: “Harmony in man is as beautiful as in music, and discord is unnatural, unreal. “ No stranger to dissonance herself, she came to see that when we understand and trust God’s power and goodness, we increasingly expect and experience harmony.
I find it helpful to understand that there is never a point that we cannot anticipate a healthy and positive resolution to any and all situations that come before us, no matter how untenable. For the sake of our own health and peace of mind, we should not view past mistakes or disturbances in a vacuum. We can learn to see the greater whole of our life – guided and protected by this larger divine force for good – and these ups and downs as mere stepping stones that we can leave behind where they belong. That is true harmony.
Kim Wiklund, a valued member of Kate’s blog team, is a life-long spiritual seeker who began her study of Christian Science relatively recently. As such, she looks forward to exploring more about spirituality and the important part it plays in our overall health through her blogs. She is a classically trained guitarist and recently took up the banjo as well.
Is Love Actually All We Need?
Most would agree that love is one of the most powerful components of our being. Tony Lobl, a writer on health and spirituality and a colleague, shares his insight on the different aspects, benefits and expressions of love. Here is Tony. . .
“All you need is love” sang the Beatles, as they once again topped the charts.
I confess I sang along with the Fab Four as heartily as the next Beatle fan – although perhaps not always in tune!
So when a card dropped on the doormat recently, bearing those words, it not only took me back a few decades but also prompted a thought-provoking question: “What kind of love is it that meets all our needs?”
After all, there are many varieties to choose from, according to the promotional blurb from a highly colourful Festival of Love – currently running at London’s Southbank Centre.
“The Ancient Greeks had around 30 words to describe Love in all its shades and complexities,” it says.
Cynthia Barnett, a spiritual visionary and colleague, shares some thought provoking insight from her personal experience with the Zumba Craze. Here is Cynthia …
Cary, NC — There’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on at the Cary YMCAs: It’s the Zumba classes. With reportedly nine classes at the Cary Y and eleven at the Kraft facility, Zumba, with its high intensity activity, is clearly a crowd pleaser. Can any age take part?
Baby Boomers and the Zumba Craze
It’s no surprise that most participants are twenty or thirty-somethings with some middle-aged moms enjoying the classes, too. But what about the older ladies and men? Is vigorous exercise too much for baby boomer bones?
As a boomer myself, I had to find out. I signed up for classes to experience the sensations of Zumba. After I started, there was an article in a local newspaper about baby boomers and their exercise habits– featuring my Zumba class. The writer assumed that “old bones” and joints would have a lot to contend with– mishaps expected and other therapies to be recommended. Suffice to say, what I read was a bit of a downer.
Better Health Through Spirituality
However, many health experts question these assumptions about age and other body-based theories, turning instead towards a mindset. Dr. Dean Ornish implies love is the answer to better health, even reversing age symptoms. Dr. Lissa Rankin predicts that spirituality, not biomedical models, will have a stronger role in our health practices. Many other respected practitioners share this view.
It’s not a new idea. Pioneer health writer Mary Baker Eddy, based on her extensive healing practice, says to look away from the body for better health. Men and women of “riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health…,”she believes, reflecting her understanding of life as an outcome of the divine.
Worried About Worrying? How to Silence That Internal Chatter by Ingrid Peschke
Ingrid Peschke, a colleague and spiritual thinker, shares her insight on the power and effectiveness of prayer. Here is Ingrid . . .
“Desire is prayer,” I found myself quoting from a book that has largely informed my spiritual practice, ” . . . and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.”
The quote comes from a chapter all about prayer and even though I’ve read it many times, I still return to dig deeper into what it means to pray and how to do it with certain results. For me, prayer is what effectively turns off worry.
You could say a worried state of mind is the opposite of a prayerful one. British philosopher Alan Watts describes worry in his YouTube lecture as “a mind in the grip of vicious circles.” He says “Once you’ve learned to think you can’t stop. And an enormous number of people devote their lives to keeping their minds busy and feel extremely uncomfortable with silence.”
Yet silence is a vital ingredient of prayer. I know it (from that same chapter on prayer) as “the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings” in which “we must close the lips and silence the material senses.”
This post is by M.J. Johnston who is a valued member of Kate’s blog tea. Enjoy!
My husband and I have been married a long time and have a system such that if either of us get on a track of discussion that the other doesn’t care to hear, we motion like we’re rolling up a car window (an old manual car window) while saying, “the window’s up!”. The other spouse gets immediate feedback to ‘cease and desist’ without any hurt feelings and often, a bit of laughter. I highly recommend it.
Caller ID, Call-block, spam has simplified our ability to select which telephone calls to answer and emails to open. We check to see who’s knocking before we open our front door. All of these are examples of how we protect ourselves from unwelcome ‘visitors’ and they’re all easy to put into practice. Wouldn’t it be nice to have easy blocking mechanisms available for day-to-day conversations?
We all know people who eagerly share the details of their latest illness or disturbing news about someone else’s failing health. While I always want to be compassionate and aware of others’ situations, I find it helpful to be alert to unwanted and unhealthy dialogue. I make a conscious effort to determine what I’m going to choose to listen to and when I am going to ‘roll up the window’.
Watching what we allow into our thinking isn’t a new concept. Both physicians and metaphysicians have given attention to the importance of this for many years. In 1908, George Lincoln Walton, a Harvard neurologist, described evidence of what now is called, “medical student syndrome” whereby medical students fear they have the diseases they are studying. “Medical instructors are continually consulted by students who fear that they have the diseases they are studying….” (Why Worry? by George Lincoln Walton p. 114) The Mayo Clinic and WebMD both have sections on their websites that inform health seekers of the importance of thinking healthy and positive thoughts.
And Mary Baker Eddy, a renowned Christian healer, wrote in 1875, “Sin and disease must be thought before they can be manifested.” (Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 234:25). Understanding that, she advised those who wished to practice Christian healing: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.” (p.392)
I experienced this firsthand just over a year ago. I was with a dear friend who discussed a problem he was having with lifting his arm. He showed me the difficulty he had lifting it, described the challenges and the exact places where he was feeling pain. Not only did I listen with great compassion, I also began to think about how terrible it would be if I were to have the same issue.
Sure enough, within the next few days, I was experiencing the same symptoms. I had extreme soreness in my shoulder and soon wasn’t able to lift my right arm. I was the mirror image of what this friend had described, which not only posed all kinds of practical challenges, but was also extremely painful.
I realized how ridiculous this whole situation was as nothing had occurred in my activity to cause any discomfort. It was like “the yawn factor” – where seeing or hearing someone else yawn makes us do it too.
About this time, I received an invitation to join a tennis group at the start of the new year – a few months away – and I really wanted to play. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to say, “I’d love to play, but….” so I told them I’d love to join. As soon as I hung up the phone, I determined I was going to take a different perspective about this situation. I reasoned that if my thought so easily welcomed in this idea of a bad shoulder, I could also quickly show it the door.
I have found prayer to be an effective way to shut out thoughts and beliefs that are harmful and take in and hold to healthy thoughts. I turned to the Bible and read Psalms 89:13 which includes the verse, “Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.” I thought about how the Bible also says that God made us in Her image and I am thus a reflection of God and manifest Her power, grace and freedom of movement. Therefore, I wasn’t having to ‘fix’ my shoulder, but merely reflect the might, strength and fullness of God’s power that already existed because of our relationship. Within a few days, my shoulder no longer hurt and I was able to play with total strength, flexibility and power.
If, as I learned through this experience, it’s crucial to keep our thinking focused on the Divine and on healthy thoughts, then it’s important to be alert to when you need to say, “the windows up!”
Mary Jane (M.J.) likes to blog about health, spirituality, science and religion and the impact prayer and spiritual care have on the mind-body-spirit connection. M.J. is a former executive with a Fortune 10 company and is a Christian Science practitioner and a member of the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Maryland blog team.
Everywhere we look Americans are becoming alarmed about what some call “an epidemic of obesity.” Amid the research, stories, television shows and wide variety of preventive steps and treatments, there resides a growing understanding of how a person’s view of him or herself can lead toward or away from obesity.
My own online perusal of this topic led me to discover what’s really weighing on the obese? And I decided to focus on the “Let’s Move” campaign Michelle Obama has launched nationwide to raise awareness of the harmful sedentary tendencies children, adolescents and young adults have and the reality television show, The Biggest Loser. Obama targets the importance of eating healthy and getting exercise on a regular basis. Two years ago she invited the contestants from the reality television show to the White House to stress the importance of these activities for all Americans – young and old.
Biggest Loser, if you’ve never watched it, usually concentrates on obese adults, but in the 2012 season the show included 3 young people from middle school and high school. Their intent in incorporating teenagers has been to get families to learn together how to eat properly and to exercise. On the show adults are put through rigorous activities in the gym and around the Biggest Loser Campus and various locations around the world. The young people were shown proper eating habits and how exercise can be incorporated into their daily school and after school activities.
To me, the most important point made by the trainers was this: In order to maintain a body transformation, individuals must also transform their thought about themselves: How are you thinking about yourself? What happened that has led to thinking negatively about myself? What can I do to improve my seemingly already ingrained habits?
Some people struggling with obesity are simply mimicking their parents’ overeating habits. Some have been abused and made to feel worthless. Some have been injured and never recovered mentally. Some have had disappointing relationships. The list goes on and on.
One young woman on the show broke down in tears when she finally revealed she had been made to feel responsible for the drowning of her younger brother because she was the only one around at the time. Her father had even mentioned he wished it had been her instead of her brother. She felt she didn’t deserve to live, so she was filling the void of not feeling wanted or loved by eating. She was only 3 or 4 when the incident occurred. What a weight to carry around! This woman went on to discover she was an amazing athlete, and lost a lot of weight. She learned to let go of the guilt and find a path to healthier living and eating.
Contestants who had “aha” moments similar to hers have proven to be more successful at keeping and staying fit. Overeating, it seems, can be a symptom of a much deeper problem. In many cases, it is important to get to the root of the problem and heal the thought, then the symptom (overeating) disappears. “You’ve got to make a break. You’ve got to divorce yourself from the past and find a different way of living. And you can never go back.” Bob Harper, a trainer on The Biggest Loser, says.
At one time when I was suffering with self-esteem issues, and being overweight was one of them, I found a passage by Mary Baker Eddy, a spiritual revolutionary from the 19th century, especially helpful. She says: “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.” I found the more I maintained a sense of peace, patience and kindness toward myself, my thought gradually changed and I felt I had all the nutriment I needed and the problems tied to my self-esteem dropped away – one-by-one.
On Biggest Loser, the trainers show a wonderful sense of meeting the heartfelt needs of the show’s participants and they find ways to feed them with patience and loving-kindness. This seems to be an effective way to get at the root cause of obesity and help people find a path to a new view of themselves.
Kate is interested in blogging about health, spirituality, Christian Science, science, the importance of prayer and religion. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.
Disney’s Frozen phenom: Letting it go! by Linda Ross
The Disney movie Frozen is popular with children and adults alike. The movie theme song “Let it go” is so popular it has been recorded and sung in many languages by men, women and children. Linda Ross, a colleague of mine, shares her spiritual insight on possible reasons for its enormous success. Here is Linda . . .
I may be the last to know, but I was puzzled during a recent visit with our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter by a new behavior – she repeatedly twirled around as she belted out enthusiastically, “Let it go, let it go, let it go!”. Her mom sighed, told us she was singing the theme song from the movie Frozen and said that it had become REALLY big. We then checked in with another daughter who quickly agreed and said our 5 year old grandson can suddenly, unbidden, break into the movie’s dialogue. Every boy she knows loves Frozen even though its heroines are female and its handsome prince is a jerk.
Turns out, Frozen is the highest grossing animated film of all time – with over 1 billion in box office receipts from around the world. This includes “Let it go” being recorded in over 40 languages. A Broadway musical is in development. Countless YouTube covers have spawned millions of views – my favorite being one of a group of Marines singing along with gusto while watching the film.
This post is copied here with permission from the author, Eric Nelson.
Harvesting the good that is all around us can be an interactive, high-tech exercise. An exercise that can inspire comprehension and appreciation of the good that exists right now. Eric Nelson, a spiritual thinker and colleague, shares his thoughts on this unique concept. Here is Eric . . .
For anyone who might have been listening, the exchange must have seemed pretty mundane.
A man who has just moved to a new town strikes up a conversation with his barber. They discover they both enjoy hiking and the barber begins to wax poetic about his favorite local jaunts. He finishes cutting the man’s hair and then scribbles a few suggestions on a piece of paper. The man smiles, thanks the barber and then heads back to work.
This is hardly headline news. And yet, it’s exchanges like this that have been laying the groundwork for a brighter outlook and better health for millennia. We may just not be noticing.
Fast forward a day or so later. This same man is having lunch with a researcher from a prestigious university who describes herself as a dyed-in-the-wool optimist, “obsessed with connection and kindness.” She also runs a think tank that comes up with technology that encourages social interaction in real life, “optimized for health and wellness and a good dose of delight,” as she describes it.
It’s during this conversation that the man begins to realize the significance of his earlier visit to the barbershop.
Enjoy this post by Debby Kowit
Today there is a new perspective on the treatment of cancer. Research has shown that personal support – via doctors, foundations or self-help groups-is a vital component to successful treatment. Debby Kowit, a colleague of mine, shares how she found support and healing from a different source. Here is Debby …
Are you a cancer survivor? I might be. Like many, I have been through the fear and angst of trying to decide what to do about a lump – which in my case never ended up being diagnosed.
Let me explain.
At the time I was not a stranger to cancer. My mother had passed on from it nearly two decades earlier and I had already spent many years working amidst the medical community. In fact, at the time of this occurrence, I was managing the business office of, believe it or not, a Medical Oncology practice.
Needless to say, the detection of a lump brought a surge of fear. Add the anxiety that our patients and their families brought daily to this Oncology office and I had a recipe for overwhelming stress.
Helping people deal with stress is a key element in treatment according to the website of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. Inquirers want to know, “How can I protect myself against the effects of stress?” The Foundation’s answer shares that, “People with better support tend to have better functioning immune systems.”