“Taste”

Norman Rockwell thanksgivingPhoto by Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

Taste or smell, which came first the turkey or the egg? In my last post I talked about how the two senses smell and taste seemed to go hand in hand. I can’t even write about one without mentioning the other. But they are two distant senses that have a purpose all their own.

Speaking of turkey, dose it get any better than a Norman Rockwell painting to depict a mouth watering meal? I don’t know about you, but when I smell that turkey in the oven getting golden brown my mouth begins to water with the goodness of the flavors yet to touch my tongue. That’s a good thing for us older folks because as we age, we produce less saliva, sometimes creating a dry mouth which reduces our sense of taste. So, which one comes first? Smell, because you can’t taste without it, and if we can’t taste we lose the enjoyment of eating. That’s not a good thing because we all know we need to eat to survive.

Here’s how it works.

We have about 9000 taste buds on the tongue. These taste buds sense only 4 basic flavors: bitter, sour salty and sweet. But something magical happens when those senses roll around on all those taste buds creating a combination of savory flavors. As we age our taste buds begin to shrink and we produces less saliva. This happens very slowly over time. By the age of 30 we have 245 taste buds on that one tiny elevation alone. That’s amazing. But, by age of 70, that number decreases to approximately 88. One article said that sweet and salty taste are the first affected, while another article said it was salty and sour taste that go first. One of the signs that we’re losing our sense of taste is by adding more salt to our food or sugar to enhance it. Too much salt can affect our blood pressure and too much sugar can add unwanted pounds. There is one plus to not being able to taste the full flavor of food and that is that it opens up a door to some of the strong-tasting-veggies we couldn’t stand in our younger years. I know I find myself enjoying the healthier veggies such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and peppers just to name a few. These are some of the most nutritious heart and brain health foods we can eat at our age.

What’s interesting is that the sense of taste appears not to decline as much from aging as it does from other factors such as smoking, poor oral hygiene, dentures rubbing on the tongue. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes and cancers as well as their treatment can affect the taste buds. There are some things we can do lessen the decline of our taste and asking our doctor for help is the first place to start.

With all this in mind I find myself reflecting back to my own parents. While they were divorced and no longer lived together the one thing most people would remember about them was how much they enjoyed eating. In the last few years of my Mom’s life I think eating was probable the only thing she really looked forward to each day. She died when she was in her 70’s. My Dad on the other hand died at the age of 79. On that particular day his wife couldn’t stop thinking of how much he was raving over his lunch. The grapes were exceptionally sweet, his turkey sandwich had such rich flavors and the dessert his wife had brought home he was going to savor it a little later in the day. She said he must have eating it right before he died maybe about an hour after she went back to work. He had a heart attack and passed away quickly. It was almost as if his body knew it would be his last supper and all his senses were enhanced somehow. This makes me think that maybe because the loss of taste happens so slowly over time that we don’t really notice it the way we do other more obvious senses like our sight. However, when we do loss it for whatever reason we truly do loss the enjoyment of eating.

 

 

[1] Aging changes in the senses

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004013.htm

 

[2] Making Sense of Sensory Losses as We Age

For more information see www.ag.ndsu.edu

 

”On Death and Dying”

My mother-in-law used to say that you start off going to the happy events in life like weddings, baptisms, birthdays, graduations. As the years pass by you find yourself attending more funerals and fewer weddings.

Soon you’re opening the obituary pages before you read the rest of the newspaper wondering who you’ll know this time. She got to the point where her classmates where dropping like flys. You wonder…why are they so obsessed with death?

But one day you find yourself on the other side of it and you begin to understand what you couldn’t in your earlier year’s. How can you not think of it? Death begins to feel as if it’s in your face all the time as parents, siblings, classmates and friends are dying. There’s always the painful few that are too young and unexpected.

Now my kids don’t like hearing their dad and me talk about death and dying same as we were at their age. I was reading that Americans are a death denial culture. We avoid the topic and when we don’t allow ourselves to talk about things we don’t understand it creates more significant fear around it.

There’s not much we can do to change the fact that we’re all going to die someday. Maybe the most important thing about facing this reality comes from the wake-up call it gives us. Like my dad used to say, ”I looked in the obituaries today, and when I didn’t see myself I was reminded I’m still alive.” Once that reality sets in we can actually use what we read to help us reflect and reevaluate our own lives. Am I living my life the best I can, being kind to others, fulfilling my goals, living my purpose, filling my soul with the best experiences I can show it. As long as we’re still breathing we have the opportunity to become better and better at what God created us to be.

We owe it to the people we care about who pass away to live our life to the fullest. Because when we do, they continue to live on in us.

This is dedicated to Kathy McDowell my husbands cousin, Baby Lucas Dicely our great-nephew, Rob Finger and Peggy Anderson our life-long friends who all passed away within the past year.

“Do What You Gotta Do!”

do it
It’s not as easy as it sounds to do what Dr. Roizen teaches in his book “This is Your Do-Over.” Creating a do-over in your life is literally what you have to do. Most importantly for it to work you have to be committed to the changes you need to do.

I start off with all the best intentions but it never fails that something happens to sabotage my efforts. Something like an injury, surgery, sickness or even a vacation. You’d think it would be easy enough to get back on the train to good health once you’ve learned all the tricks, but it isn’t. When you don’t feel good you sit, and when you sit too much that sedentary life begins to feel comfortable. Soon your back to feeling lousy and let’s face it…old again.

When I get like this it’s not long before I hear the words of my mother echoing in my head, “Well, you know, I am in my 60’s now, what do you expect.”

Okay, Mom, I can understand to a point what you were talking about now, but I also understand that I could have another good 20 or 30 years to live. I’m not ready to give up yet. As I keep reminding myself, aging is not for those who don’t have the fight in them to live. The bottom line is, if you want to live, you have to keep moving. That’s where living exists in the things we do, and you can’t create your do-over without doing the work it takes to do. “So, Just do it!” is what I tell myself, doooooo it!

 

“Summertime Senior Safety”

Summertime and the living is easy!

Man, listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing that song makes me want to go outside, sit in warmth of the sun with my gin & tonic, and a good book. The truth is I can’t lay in the sun anymore. I never should have all those years back when I lathered up with baby lotion to get a tan. I’ve been lucky so far that I haven’t had a skin cancer, but I’ve had a few big scares. I’ve read that the older we get the longer we’ve been exposed to the sunlight which is one of the many reasons we’re at higher risk for skin cancer.

I don’t know about you but I want to live, and a lot of that living has to do with being outside. I like to garden, walk on the beach, play in the pool with my grandchildren, watch them play sports, and walk my dog. So, how can I do that and be safe too?

6 steps for senior skin care

I did my research, and while many of the things I learned I was already doing. The things I read made me sit up and take those things a little more serious. I would encourage you to read them if your serious about taking care of yourself. I’ll have the site information at the end of this post. For now, I made up a reminder list of the important things we can do.

  • Be commitment to the consistency it takes to be the best you.
  • Check your skin on a regular basis
  • Stay out of tanning beds
  • Apply SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed to make sure you don’t miss a spot.
  • Pay special attention the ears, bald spots, hands and feet, and reapply exposed areas throughout the day.
  • Always use a lip balm of at least 30 SPF and apply several times throughout the day.
  • Sit in shade
  • As my friends would say moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/protecting-senior-skin-from-the-summer-sun-147114.htm

https://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/anti-aging/seniors