Speaker: Karyn Cortez Publisher of Vital! Magazine

Hi Everybody – I’m Karyn Cortez and I am the publisher of Vital! Magazine. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the magazine, Vital! is Delaware’s only monthly publication geared specifically toward successful aging. Every month we bring you great information to help you live a life that’s healthy, wealthy and wise.

WE ALWAYS START WITH A SECTION ABOUT HEALTH – that might include nutrition, exercise, sports, etc. And because most of us here have now passed from our “wealth accumulation” years to our “wealth preservation” years,

WE ALWAYS INCLUDE A SECTION ABOUT FINANCES IN RETIREMENT – it might pertain to social security, medicare, insurance, elder law topics, wills, trusts, general money matters. We always have a section about CAREGIVING, because these days so many of us are caring for a loved one – in fact, according to DELAWARE’S FAMILY CAREGIVING TASK FORCE, Nearly half of all Delawareans age 35 and older state they have provided care – either currently or in the past – on an unpaid basis for a loved one. So Caregiving – and Caring for the Caregiver - is always a timely topic.

And we always have fun pages in the magazine too, to keep your brain active. WE HAVE PUZZLES, JOKES, RECIPES, AND MIX IN VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES, LOCAL HAPPENINGS, EVENTS TO PUT ON YOUR ”BUCKET LIST” WAYS TO HELP THE EARTH AND THOUGHTS TO SOOTHE YOUR SOUL.

The magazine’s been in print for nine years now, and one of the alliances we struck very early on was with Paul, and Delaware Senior Olympics. So even though the vast majority of readers pick up a printed copy of the magazine, each and every one of you get Vital! emailed to you every month.

And over the years, I’ve always been very happy to be able to SHARE THE MESSAGE OF DSO– because right here in our own backyard we’re blessed with this phenomenal organization, whose purpose is to help people enjoy FELLOWSHIP, FITNESS AND FUN. And really – aren’t family and friends, healthy living and ENJOYING OURSELVES the cornerstones to successful aging? I think so! And so when Paul asked me to speak I got to thinking about all the articles we’ve written, all the people we’ve met, and I thought that today I’d share with you what I know about successful aging…

AGING – the part we CAN”T control - IS ON THE INSIDE.
What you see on the outside is nothing more than genetics and some lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, sunning, etc. But the body ages on the inside. Cells stop duplicating properly. And although we may not be able to “anti-age” we most certainly can slow down the aging process by supporting our body’s cellular growth. The two easiest ways we can do this by understanding the IMPORTANCE OF PROPER NUTRITION AND BY MANAGING HOW WE HANDLE STRESS IN OUR LIVES.

I think that the PEOPLE WHO AGE most SUCCESSFULLY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR HEALTH.

When you TAKE CARE OF THESE THREE THINGS YOU WILL STAY INDEPENDENT LONGER - YOUR HEART, YOUR BRAIN, AND YOUR BALANCE.
Your Heart - easy to do….All of you here already know the benefits of exercise. And that’s one of the reasons I love DSO – it’s not about competition – it’s about fitness. Staying active. Using your body. It’s the Senior Group Challenge, Walk Delaware, in addition to the competition.

Your Brain - This is the most important part of your body to support during the aging process and there are so many different ways to support brain health: dark green leafy veggies, being of service to others, socializing (isolation is a killer), doing Puzzles, learning something new, embracing technology – there are tons of websites and apps out there designed specifically to keep your brain active. Check out:
Lumosity. ...
CogniFit Brain Fitness. ...
Personal Zen. ...
Brain Trainer Special. ...
Brain Fitness Pro. ...
Happify. ...
Positive Activity Jackpot. ...
Fit Brains Trainer.

Your Balance - Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older, and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. At 80 years, over half of seniors fall annually.. And the problem is that a fall often starts a downward spiral that many seniors can’t recover from. So keep exercising! Take a balance class at your local Y or senior center but do things to work on your balance. You will live a better life.

I think everyone needs to recognie that YOUR DOCTOR IS NOT GOD…HE/SHE IS HUMAN…
Your doctor, as much as he/she might want to help you is a prisoner of a dysfunctional healthcare system. They don’t have TIME to get to know you like they should. Did you ever see the movie Jerry Maguire with the scene in the bathroom where Jerry is trying to convince Cuba Gooding Jr’s character to change….”Help me help you. Help ME, help YOU.” I believe that doctors would love to scream this to their patients. Let’s face it….at the end of the day, who knows your body better than anyone else on the planet? You do, right? You know when you’re having an adverse effect from something you ate or a medicine you took. You know when you just don’t feel “right”. Well, when it comes to the doctor/patient relationship, you are THE CUSTOMER. And what is the saying with customers…..”The customer is always right”. Force your doctor to take time with you. If he prescribes a medicine, ask him if this is the only one to take? Ask him if their might be alternative or nutrition based ways to manage what you have? And make GOOGLE your friend. Learn, learn. learn and question, question, question.

You need to know that your pharmacist is your friend and the first line of defense when it comes to prescription medication and the dangers of cross prescribing. The problem is that on Medicare, Seniors are being pushed into “mail order” and are losing that relationship. So YOU need to understand your medications, keep good records and don’t be afraid to ask your pharmacist questions about them.

AGING IS A FAMILY ISSUE
Aging affects families on every level imaginable….emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, geographically and the list goes on and on. We need to be prepared.

One of the most important things to prepare for is long term care. LONG TERM CARE IS THE #1 CAUSE OF POVERTY IN OLDER ADULTS TODAY…PLAN FOR IT!
I used to have a boss that had a sign on his desk and it said: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performamce. I will never forget that boss because of that sign (and the fact that he was a mean boss). But it turns out he was right. As it is in the business world, so it is with the aging process. The more you plan, the better experience you will have, regardless of what curveballs life throws at you. My years of experience have taught me this: If you have children, you will have a better aging experience than those that don’t. If you have daughters, you will have a better experience than those that don’t and if you have daughters that live within a 15 mile radius of you…well we call that “hitting the jack pot”. (Here I talk about how sons are great and some are helpful, but most of the caregiving falls on the daughters……….). You need to start having discussions with your spouses, with your children, with the significant people in your lives about how you want to age. Do you want to move to a retirement community? They’re not like they were 50 years ago. Do you want to age in place, in your own home? Great! Make your home safe. Make your home accessible. Start talking and planning for it NOW. It’s never too early. If you wait until something happens then you’re working in emergency mode and you’ve just exponentially cut the number of choices you have. You’ve eliminated choice. Don’t wait.

When I talk about LEARNING TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR SPIRIT, this is what I mean:
• EXPECT SOMETHING OF YOURSELF – don’t coast. Challenge yourself every day.
• SPEND LESS TIME IN THE PAST
• HAVE A CONFIDANT. You don’t need tons of friends. But you do need one.
• DON’T NEGLECT WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY.
• TAKE TIME TO BE STILL AND QUIET
• BE READY FOR WONDER
• CARE FOR SOMEONE AND KNOW YOU ARE NEEDED
• TELL YOUR STORY

Over the past 20 years we have met and worked with hundreds, maybe even thousands of seniors. We started to notice a difference between those that spent their last 20 years happy and healthy vs. those that were unhappy and unhealthy. The people that were the happiest and the healthiest knew these next two things and practiced them on a daily basis. They understood them and made them a part of their everyday life. The first thing is:

THE HAPPINESS OF YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF YOUR THOUGHTS. LIVE WITH AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE The happiest and healthiest people are those that are grateful for every little thing. For the weather, for the people in their lives, for their food, their friends, etc. They have a mindset that allows them to find the beauty in everything. Some of them have “gratitude journals” where every day they write down the things they are grateful for. There is a book written by a man named Viktor Frankl called “A Man’s Search for Meaning”. It’s an absolutely beautiful book and if you’ve never read it, you should add it to your list of reads. He was a prisoner is Auschwitz during the war. He practiced staying in control of his thoughts, since it was the only thing his captors could NOT control. He learned to find the beauty in things like the fish eye floating in his broth because he knew it would allow him to live another day and maybe he would get to see his family again. He knew that as long as he kept positive thoughts he was going to make it through. In fact, when meeting other prisoners, he could tell within five minutes of talking with them whether or not they were going to make it, just by the way they thought. So be positive; be grateful. It has an actual physiological effect on your body.

The other thing happy and healthy people have in common is they learn to be habitual forgivers. They forgive everything and everyone. FORGIVESSNESS IS A GIFT YOU GIVE TO YOURSELF.
We all hold grudges against people. Whether it’s the guy that bullied us in school, or the girl that stole our boyfriend, or the teacher that told us we were stupid, or the boss that fired us or the alcoholic abusive parent, or the wife that cheated on us or the husband that bullied us or the best friend that abandoned us when we needed them most or, or or… We’ve all have something (or many things) we are holding on to over the years. But we need to learn to let things go. Someone once said that holding a grudge against someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It’s a silly notion. We’re the ones that get sick. And when it comes to forgiveness, some people have a hard time forgiving because they believe it’s telling the other person that it’s OK that they did that to me. That it’s like letting them off the hook. But it’s not. It’s not saying it’s OK. It’s saying that I refuse to let you keep me a prisoner anymore. I want to be free so I am going to forgive you. Forgiveness is for US, so when we learn to forgive and do it habitually, we’re happier and healthier for it.

The happiest healthiest people know that We may have no control over what happens to us in LIFE, but we DO have control over how we respond. I believe that things don’t happen TO us, they happen FOR us. If you are able to live your life with that attitude, you can’t be unhappy because you’ll be spending all of your time looking for the gifts in everything that happens.

As the wise old turtle in Kung Fu Panda once said:

YESTERDAY IS HISTORY, TOMORROW IS A MYSTERY, BUT TODAY IS A GIFT, THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED “THE PRESENT”. So I invite you to MAKE TODAY YOUR BEST DAY EVER.

And I thank you for having me.