Aug 19

Babysitting and Enriched Cognition

My dear son-in-law just sent me an article about the benefits of babysitting grandchildren and maintaining good cognitive health. According to life.damn.com a study with 186 Australian grandmothers with a variety of babysitting schedules showed that taking the extra responsibility of occasional babysitting is healthy. This brain health was reflected in cognitive tests issued before and during the study. Research did discover, however, that babysitting full-time may result in lower cognitive scores. As to the latter, I wonder if these were literally full-time grandmas raising their grandchildren and that would be quite a different experience or that the grandmas were just too exhausted at the end of the week to think let alone take a test. I bet by Monday the majority would have recovered and raring to go with brains ticking away.

I have two grandchildren, ages three and one. They are the sweetest, busiest, and most energy-requiring souls I have ever encountered. Living two hours away, they pop in on the weekend or we travel to their home to spend hours of exhilaration and delight. Sometimes Ma and Pa get the full-time job as Mom and Dad head out for some time as a couple. That is when we are exceptionally pleased to have a tag-team approach so one grandparent can fix lunch, for example, while the other plays and entertains and then later the other gets a bit of a break. I really shouldn’t say that we entertain the grandkids as in reality they entertain us. My ribs ache as we part after so much laughter and joy. My outlook is brighter, my life is finer, and my brain is full operative and engaged.

Our third grandchild is due at the end of August. This explains the article mentioned at the start. Our daughter and her husband live four hours from us and are hoping we will step in as babysitters when she returns to work. I can think of no role that could be more fulfilling and lovely and we look forward to this responsibility while also maintaining our busy schedules at home. While we are both retired, those of you who are actively retired know that this means you have shifted one set of tasks and concerns for another. I often wonder how I worked full-time and got everything else accomplished as well. Fortunately both parents have terrific jobs that they love and are well paid, allowing her to return to a thirty-hour week, Wednesday through Friday schedule. This leaves me four days for all of my other projects plus my other grandchildren.

Some say we are crazy for accepting this challenge, but I know that rewards will be reaped each second we spend with our little granddaughter. I also realize that I have a home, yard, volunteer work, and more to continue while also swinging through to spend time with our other dear ones, trying to keep everything as even as possible. Obviously there will be lots of thinking and planning time while driving so I can practice brain games and enjoy books on tape. I now know, too, that my brain will be more powerful and richer because I am babysitting. What an exciting and thrilling time lies ahead!

Aug 19

The Baby Boomer Lifestyle – What Is It?

Are you one of the baby boomers who refuse to follow the traditional retirement path? Do you refuse to sleep late, or sit in a rocking chair and watch aimlessly as time goes by?

You see us in almost every neighborhood. We are volunteering, working part-time, or starting a new career. We are taking brisk morning walks in Parks and inside Malls. We are flexing our muscles at the gym and shopping at health food stores.

We do Yoga, Tai Chi, have read The Tao Te Ching, and follow the teachings of Lao Tzu. We meditate daily, get regular massages and know what “Co Q-10” is.

We are not old people. We are Baby Boomers living a second life. We have an eclectic choice of new lifestyles. We are using online dating services to find partners that have similar interests. We are having second and third time partners and/or marriages.

Some of us are letting our gray hair show, and doing it with style.

We are growing old gracefully, in active harmony with this late season of life. We would rather wear out than rust out.

What this unique group of people recognize is that their main limitation in all these lifestyle choices is their health condition. Money is not as much an obstacle. Much of what they participate in is either free or at little cost. Some continue to work because they need the money. For others it is to keep their brain active and engaged.

For me it is a combination of both. I love the idea, the process, and monetary reward of re-inventing myself. I was sixty-one when I went back to school to become a licensed massage therapist, it was an amazing experience for me. I was the oldest student in all my classes. I was three times the age of many of my classmates. Being fit was a huge asset in my successful completion of this mentally intensive and physically demanding program. Only 50% of students that begin, graduate, pass the state exam, and obtain their license to practice massage therapy. Many fail on the first try.

The cliché is true. You are never too old to learn. I quickly settled into my daily study and massage practice routine. We had daily practice massages, two tests each week, a “Pop Quiz” on Wednesdays and a full test on Fridays. I did this while juggling my career as a Realtor.

The state exam is three hours long. I used the full 3 hours and I passed on my first attempt. I got my license in December 2009. This was the start of a new life and career as a health coach and healer.

Many Boomers are heading back to school, to finish degrees or to embark on new careers. I am a strong advocate of life-long learning. Many academic institutions provide online learning programs on the internet, so there is very little excuse for any healthy Boomer to not pursue some form of new learning.

Many of my patients (I specialized in medical massage therapy) assumed that I had many years of experience as a therapist, because they could not believe that I became a therapist so late in life.

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