This is NOT an Anti-Aging Book: A Closer Look at Cameron Diaz’s The Longevity Book


Image Source: Our Body Book

The other day my husband and I were in the car on our way to dinner when an expose of Cameron Diaz’s book The Longevity Book came onto the radio.  We hit the interview about mid-way through so I missed the author’s name, but as I sat there listening to this woman so confidently and eloquently call out our society on its anti-aging culture I audibly questioned who she could be? A new voice from AARP? Or maybe, an expert representative from the National Institute of Health?

After ten years in the field, I’ve become so accustomed to the leading experts address the topic of aging that the very thought a Hollywood Actress would so boldly discuss the positive of aging was probably my last guest. Which undoubtedly calls into question my social relationship with Hollywood and the parallels to youth that we so desperately hold.

An open and honest depiction of the real beauty and privilege it is to experience the aging process.

It was refreshing to hear that a woman who for so long has been a symbol of youth and beauty describe her fear of turning forty. In her book, she describes experiencing this time publicly.  In interviews, questions became more frequently around her age rather than her craft.  And she realized that no one cared about the biological effects that she was physically experiencing, but merely what would happen to her career now that she no longer looked twenty-five.

Although these questions are a bit shallow, arguably they stem from our collective fear of aging.  And without practice in real aging dialog, our society’s questioning of the maturing process to someone who is experiencing it (at least in the way our youth drove society understands aging) the questions may seem a bit crass and inappropriate.

But rather than hiding behind a perfectly manicured face or becoming a spokeswoman for the latest anti-aging product Cameron Diaz wrote a book.  A book to guide women to a better understanding of the next phase in their life. An open and honest depiction of the real beauty and privilege it is to experience the aging process. And to combat the somewhat silly notion that the awkward and uncomfortable state of our youth should somehow remain our ever present.

The book goes on to explain both the biological and social effects of aging has on women and offers a new and refreshing dialog on aging within popular culture. Stated in Chapter One, the book’s mission is to be used as a tool to reshape an already well-established dialog on what it means to grow older. A guidebook to what is to be expected during the natural progression of life and to offer a scientific understanding to a woman’s cellular body.


Image Source: Our Body Book


It was Cameron Diaz’s journey that compelled her to write The Longevity Book, and she is just one of the many influencers speaking out against stereotypes on aging, but one of the few outside of the world of the aging services.

Changing the Way, we Discuss Anything Aging

Although every woman’s experience to aging is unique, we all have a shared involvement in the process. Unlike ever before, both men and women can live a healthy and active life well into their nineties even our centurions have expressed happy later years.

As I mentioned in my last post, Meg LaPorte the Founder of Age in America, a Collection of Stories Designed to Challenge Aging Stereotypes, when asked about their age and life more than likely older adults share the happy life they have led. They express thankfulness for the path they have taken to get to where they are today.

The Longevity Book is a surprisingly pleasant and easy read that is perfect to add to your summer reading list. It offers great tips on how to openly discuss our unique experience, which is so critical to our own perceptions of self-worth. And teaches us that when we change the way we talk about the aging experience, we begin to help others find the beauty in theirs.

Meg LaPorte the Founder of Age in America, a Collection of Stories Designed to Challenge Aging Stereotypes

17992364_205406703283763_1150171843449567255_nAmerica is built on stories.  The collection and dissemination of oral history have long been a way to preserve the past and, for the generations who came before us, a way to pass on traditions and family legacies.

For older adults, in particular, these stories are built from the memories of their life and the nostalgia for days past. Even the most mundane of the everyday events are looked back on with fondness.

Today, much like the stories being shared, the aging process occurs behind closed doors.  Rarely discussed and often avoided, as many people choose to refuse the aging process rather than embrace it.

Age in America offers alternative narratives and challenges long-held assumptions about what it means to be old by, as their motto suggests, chronicling lives, challenging stereotypes, and changing perceptions — one story at a time.

The founder, author, and creative director of Age in America is Meg LaPorte. She cites that she is influenced by close colleagues and leading experts in the field Dean Judah Ronch, P.h.D of the UMBC Erickson School of Aging. And Bill Thomas, MD an author, entrepreneur, and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging (ChangingAging, About).

Meg received her Graduate degree from the school and is currently writing for Dr. Bill Thomas’s blog

First Stop…Age in America, Baltimore!

Inspired by the Human’s of New York series, Meg found a beautiful way to bring the stories of aging America out of the confines of the nursing home and share them with the rest of the world. She admits that although she had periodic moments of doubts,  the “candor that the residents express is amazing” and their excitement and receptiveness for the series drives her love and desire to share this important work forward.

She believes that by demonstrating that we are all essentially the same–human and interesting and imperfect–we can shatter the stereotypes of aging and help to eliminate discrimination of people based on how old they are.

Still relatively new, this project is evolving. With such a strong network foundation and support, Meg foresees that this project will continue to unfold and grow in a variety of directions.

In just a few months Meg has introduced her readers to a number of people living in and around Baltimore city.  From lost love to second chances, the residents Meg has interviewed do not pine for their youth, but proudly describe the path they’ve taken that has led them to the person they are today.

Nancy, 82

“…But I won’t let that get to me. I’m very blessed.” -Nancy

To read Nancy’s story visit Age in America

Meet Nancy, 82, from Arbutus, MD.  She has volunteered her whole life and lives by values taught to her by her mother at a very young age.  Despite having a recent surgery and blindness in one eye, Nancy continues to volunteer at her local senior center every day. She says, “I just live down the street, and I used to walk it, but I can’t judge steps and curbs anymore so I can’t go outside. But I won’t let that get to me. I’m very blessed. I do all the things I can do.”

Robert, 83

“…I lived in West Virginia every summer on my grandparents’ farm. Those are my best memories.” -Robert

To read Robert’s story visit Age in America

Meet Robert, age 83.  Robert worked for the B&O Railroad in Baltimore City for over 30 years.  Born and raised in Baltimore he reflects on his youth “I would get on the streetcar and go to Baltimore as a young kid, go to the movies, come home late on the streetcar and I never had any problems.”

Robert’s and Nancy’s stories highlight the importance of Meg’s work, which connects stories to faces and brings a new presence to their local communities. With their respective reintroductions to the reader and to the community, Meg’s project weaves together past and present narratives into a larger and familiar story that we can all identify with.

The Future is Age in America

Age in America’s vision is to create a society where ageism does not exist and where aging is not feared but revered. And their mission is to reframe perceptions of aging in America with oral histories, storytelling, and images that illustrate the positivity, diversity, and value of being older.

Over the next year, Meg will be conducting interviews in cities across the country.  With a set list of questions, she hopes to capture the stories of our nation’s past from the people who lived through it.

If you would like to be interviewed for the project or you would like to host the project in your community, please contact Age in America via email:


Meg LaPorte


Meg LaPorte is a journalist specializing in aging issues. She served as managing editor of Provider magazine for nine years and holds a master’s degree in Management of Aging Services from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Jackie, 68

I had the exciting opportunity to sit down with Meg LaPorte about her latest project Age in America. Age in America’s mission is to reframe perceptions of aging in America with oral histories, storytelling, and images that illustrate the positivity, diversity, and value of being older.

Stay tuned for a closer behind the scenes look at the next greatest human interest series since Humans of New York!

Until then here is Age in America’s first spotlight Jackie, age 68, from Baltimore City.

Age In America

“My mother and father wanted the best for me. My father worked at Bethlehem Steel [at Sparrow’s Point]. He was a good provider. We also had a grocery story. My mother had me in piano lessons and I did piano recitals. I even went to Peabody Preparatory but I didn’t stick with it. That’s one regret I have, but I became a teenager and I wanted to be with my friends rather than in the house practicing. My childhood was full of exciting things to do. I was spoiled. My father pretty much gave me whatever I wanted. Even when I was 18 or 19, my dad would be with his friends down at the laundromat and I would be in the car and he would flag me down and he would take me to fill the car up with gas. When I think about it, I think ‘you were spoiled…

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Urinary Tract Infections Strike at Any Age… Keep an Eye Out for These 6 Signs.


First posted on Sixty and Me on May 9, 2017.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are not an ideal topic for conversation. They are a painful nuisance that accounts for 8.1 million people visiting their primary care physician each year.

However, the severity of symptoms that can occur in an older adult makes it a necessary conversation topic.

UTIs can occur for anyone at any age but are most common in women and older adults. As we get older, however, the symptoms of a UTI will change. If you’ve had one in your life, you know that they can be both painful and uncomfortable. However, aside from the general irritation, and although rare, you may outwardly show changes in your cognition.

UTIs Often Mistaken for Early Stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s

UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken for the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH), because symptoms include confusion or delirium-like state, agitation, and hallucinations. Some may exhibit other behavioral changes, poor motor skills or dizziness, or even fall.

These symptoms may manifest themselves in different ways that often risk the dignity of the infected older adult. It is not uncommon for seniors to do out of the ordinary things such as curse at or threaten to harm their caregivers as well as remove articles of clothing in public.

Unfortunately, when an older adult starts “acting out” or demonstrating “aggressive behavior” the first diagnosis given by health care professionals is a complication due to dementia or Alzheimer’s rather than looking at the behavior as a symptom of an UTI.

These types of drastic personality changes are common, but because the symptoms are so closely associated with dementia, it is often interpreted as just another reminder of our loved one’s cognitive decline.

How to Reduce the Risk of a UTI

UTIs are caused by bacteria in the bladder. People with incontinence or who have difficulty getting up and going to the bathroom on their own are more at risk for UTIs because of the close contact the adult briefs have with their skin.

Here are some suggestions for reducing the risk of UTI. First, drink plenty of fluids (2 to 4 quarts each day) and drink cranberry juice or use cranberry tablets. However, avoid caffeine and alcohol because these irritate the bladder. It may be helpful to set a timer to remind on the use of the bathroom.

For women, do not use douches or other feminine hygiene products and always wipe from front to back. Also, wear cotton-cloth underwear, and change briefs frequently, at least once a day. You can read more suggestions here.

3 Ways to Track and Prevent UTIs

Talk to a Doctor

Left untreated, UTIs can severely compromise the immune systems of older adults. A UTI can be determined with a simple urine test, so asking a doctor to perform a urine test when we notice a sudden change in behavior is a great way to prevent prolonged discomfort and worsening of symptoms for our loved ones.

Take Notes

Family caregivers should always keep notes of their loved one’s medical conditions and behavior even when a UTI is not suspected. Charting this day to day is helpful in managing care, and also allows us to document trends we may not pay too much attention to in the moment. Click here for documentation resources.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration in older adults is common and is a leading cause of developing an UTI. Drinks like Gatorade and apple juice are popular options to keeping our loved ones hydrated.

Like mentioned above, drinking cranberry juice is a popular home remedy for treating UTIs. This sweet juice is also a more enticing drink to offer our loved ones who just don’t seem to drink enough water. Read more on how cranberry juice fights urinary tract infections here.

Caregiving that Enhances Dignity

UTIs in older adults will cause our parent or loved one to act in all types of ways that may compromise their dignity. As a family caregiver, it is shocking and even hurtful when our loved one becomes angry and threatens us. But taking these types of reactions personally can be detrimental to the quality of care we provide as we may become more cautious or saddened by their new behavior.

As we stop and consider these behaviors as symptoms rather than natural progressions to a disease process we may begin to reframe the way we provide care. Catching these types of changes at the onset of an infection will better allow us to get them the medical treatment they need, but also stops the worsening of these often-uncharacteristic behaviors.

Enjoyable Eats: 10 Tips to Make Mealtime More Enticing for Someone Living with Dementia

Image Source: Pexels Images

Weight loss is a common and harmful symptom for those living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, meal times for our loved one can be stressful, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing.  Coupled with a loss of appetite, ensuring our loved ones eat enough calories in a day becomes a top priority to maintaining their physical well-being.

Make meals more enticing and enjoyable for someone living with Dementia by doing these 10 things:

Eat sweets!

The “no dessert before dinner” rule does not apply here.  Sometimes dessert is the only thing your loved one will be willing to eat, so a double scoop of ice cream is sometimes better than practicing a balanced diet.

You can also, make dishes more enticing by adding a sweet touch.  For example, instead of plain green beans jazz them up with some butter and brown sugar.  Not only are they more likely to eat them, but you’ve almost doubled the calorie intake they would have otherwise eaten.

Make a home cooked meal

Preparing a meal at home is a fun and engaging activity that leaves the entire house smelling delicious.  The smell of dinner cooking is a great way to stimulate your loved one’s appetite and will help orient them to meal time.

Pick out the recipes together

If they are willing and able to help,  go through old family recipes together or scope out new ones online or in a magazine. When we allow them to have a say in the menu plan, there is a greater chance they will enjoy the meal as it promotes their independence and autonomy.

Cook Together

Baking and cooking activities can be a ton of fun, but they also require the use and practice of motor skills. Have them assist in mixing in the ingredients or stirring them all together. These steps require minimal assistance while still essential to the process.

Eat Together

Eating is a social activity, and your loved one is much more likely to eat if someone is sitting there eating and talking with them.  Try discussing some favorite meals you had as a child or other priceless memories that occurred around the dinner table.

Assistance with Feeding

Assisting someone in feeding is an incredibly important job that should never be taken lightly.  We are not only tasked with ensuring someone receives proper nourishment we are also responsible for promoting their dignity.

  • Create a simple table.  If possible, only the plate of food and drinks should be out on the table.
  • Identify all food items on the plate.
  • Name the food when giving them a bite.
  • Make sure to offer a sip of their juice or water in between foods.
    • So, if you are switching from the green beans to the potatoes take a moment to drink. It clears the pallet and washes any food they may be pocketing in their mouth.
  • Stay in the moment with them.  It is easy to want to watch TV or work on other things while assisting, but as mentioned above eating is social.  Your loved is more likely to engage in mealtime if you are just as engaged.

You Learn Alot About Somebody When You Share a Meal Together

-Anthony Bourdain


As a caregiver, there are many things to worry about when it comes to the care and well-being of your loved one living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Eating should not be one of them.  Although there are many reasons why your loved one may not be eating investing time and trying new ways to enhance the mealtime experience for you both is surely worth it.

A friendly disclaimer: The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The goal of this site is to promote broad and more positive consumer understanding and knowledge of various aspects of Dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Five Tips to Plan a Relaxing and Enjoyable Summer Vacation for Both You and Your Loved One with Dementia!

Summer is just around the corner! A perfect time to take that well deserved time off from work, to relax, have fun, and create special memories with friends and family. But how do you plan a vacation from work when part of your job is taking care of a loved one with living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s?  Is it possible for it to truly feel like a vacation while your still providing care?  The answer is yes!

So before you break out the sunscreen and beach chairs read these five tips to making you, and your loved ones vacation the most fun it can be!

1. Going out to eat?  Here’s how to get the best seat in the house!

Restaurants are in the hospitality business, but that doesn’t always mean they understand the needs of our older adults. However, if they know to prepare, staff will often go above and beyond to make the experience great!

Over the years, I’ve gone out to eat with multiple groups of residents in wheelchairs.  Time and time again the host would set us up a table in the farthest corner of the restaurant often stating that it is quieter in the back.  We would then parade through the entire restaurant muttering “excuse me” and “do you mind scooting in your chair so we could get by?” Only to do it again at the end of the meal as we make our way back out. The experience is often unpleasant and unnecessary!

To avoid the hassle and have a more enjoyable meal call the restaurant ahead of time.  Even if they don’t accept reservations, it is always better for them to have a heads up that they will need to make accommodations.

  • Tell them how many wheelchairs or walkers you will need a table for;
  • the time you hope to arrive; and
  • Request a table in the front of the restaurant, (which is also often conveniently located closest to the restroom!).

Even if they don’t accept reservations when they know you are coming it is easier for them to make the proper accommodations.

2. Surfin at the Beach? Don’t forget the Beach wheelchairs!

Beach wheelchairs are the best!  The wheels glide over the sand and even give a (relatively) smooth ride on the boardwalk. Most beaches offer wheelchairs on a first come first serve basis, just ask the lifeguard on duty and they will be able to help. If you plan to go on a busier weekend or the peak of the season, it may be beneficial to call ahead.

Each beach will have their own policy, but below are the numbers for Ocean City Maryland, Ocean City New Jersy, and Rehobeth Beach:

Ocean City Maryland Beach Wheel Chair Rentals

PMI rental. They may rent beach wheelchairs (~ $50/week), and they do deliver. You can reach them at 800.320.7469.

Ocean City Police Department at 65th Street, Bayside. You can reserve them for one or more days of use. Call 410.723.6610 for more information.

For more information go here.

Ocean City New Jersey Beach Wheel Chair Rentals

The Surf Chair Program is based out of the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center located on 6th Street at the Boardwalk. For more information about this program, call 609.525.9304.   Lifeguards that are on duty are not usually available to assist persons needing the Beach Surf Chairs.

If you require assistance, please call 609.525-9304 to make special arrangements.

Handicapped Beach Access– Handicapped beach access is provided at 1st, 6th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 26th, 29th, 34th, 36th, 40th, 43rd, 46th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 53rd, 55th, 57th, and 59th Streets.

Accessible bathrooms are located on the Boardwalk at Moorlyn Terrace, 1st, 6th, 8th, 11th, 12th and 34th Streets.

Rehobeth Beach Wheel Chair Rentals

Beach wheelchairs will be available from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. starting May 27 through September 24.

Wheelchairs are provided on a first come, first served basis. For more information, please call Rehoboth Beach Patrol at 302-227-2280.

For more information go here.

beach wheel chairs
Image source

3. Beat the Heat!

It could be the hottest day of the year but still, bring a sweater!  The Ocean breeze feels like a dream to us, but to our loved ones it can cause quite a chill. And if they get too warm you can always take it off just be sure they are protected with high proof sunscreen!

As we get older, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive, which means it is critical to protecting.  Sunburn can have far worst immediate ramifications for our loved ones than it has on us.  As well, many of the medications older adults take can cause serious complication while coupled with sun exposure.  Check out Gerontology expert Leacey E. Brown’s article for a list of medicines here.

4. Respite Care is not a bad word!

There is often a substantial feeling of guilt caregivers feel when they need a break from their caregiving duties.  However, it is near impossible to provide proper care when we aren’t taking care of ourselves.  And burn out is high particularly for family caregivers. Acknowledging that you need a break from your caregiving duties is the best thing you can do for both yourself and your loved one.  Heck!  They probably could use a break from you, too!

Respite care is short-term living care for seniors typically in an assisted living or memory care unit. Rather than moving into a room, your loved one will rent a room for a few weeks, and the staff takes over your duties while you take some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

If you still don’t feel comfortable with the idea AARP has a few great tips for making this an easier and healthy decision for you and your loved one:

  • Involve your loved one. When planning for time off from your caregiving duties, make sure to keep your loved one in the loop.
  • Assess your needs. Make a list of what care will be required in your absence. Also, decide if the respite care provider will need any special skills or training to be able to stay with your parent.

Read the full article here.

5. Taking a road trip?

A long haul in a car can be tough on anyone.  A road trip is an exciting venture at the start, but somewhere between rest stop number one and lunch, the excitement can quickly wear off.

These types of trips can be particularly tiresome for our loved ones, and in such close quarters, the chances of they become agitated are pretty high.

So before you hit the road be sure you have these essentials on hand:

A sing-along mix of their favorites songs.  Although this can be fun throughout the duration, it is a great tool for when they are beginning to feel anxious.  Music is soothing and with so many strange sights whizzing by the familiar tunes will help make them feel at ease.

Bring snacks. Snacks are a staple ingredient to any good road trip but are essential to bring for our loved ones.  Hunger can turn even the most pleasant of moods, so having a quick pick me up on hand can calm agitation before it begins.

Think comfort. Make sure they are dressed in comfortable clothes that won’t feel too tight when they sit down.  Especially if they are wearing briefs, it is important that they have room to adjust in their seat if they should need.

Also, plan to make more stops.  Making sure your loved one is able to stretch their legs will keep them from being too tired to walk or transfer when you reach your destination.

Enjoy every moment!

A caregiver can not provide proper care if they don’t take care of themselves first.  Caring for a loved one is the hardest job there is, and for many of you, it is only part of your daily responsibilities. So, whether you vacation with your loved one or not take this time to slow down and enjoy the moments to relax and for once put yourself first.  Because you deserve it!!

How The 5 Senses Can Help Loved Ones Living with Dementia

Senior woman and caregiver at home

Originally posted at Sixty and Me 

Our memories mean so much to us. They provide us with a sense of self and stand as a reminder of the journey we have taken in this life. And the memories we share with the people closest to us become an intricate piece of our identity.

As these memories are so deeply entwined with our sense of self, it is difficult to imagine there could ever come a time that we won’t have them. And understandably, this is a reason why so many of us work to enhance our memory through healthy living choices.

The loss of memory caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s is arguably the most upsetting part of the disease process. And for family and close friends, our loved one’s memory loss may have a profoundly personal effect on our relationships. But it shouldn’t stand in the way of spending time and creating new memories together.

Communication is Key to Helping Someone Who is Living with Dementia

When diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is possible that our loved ones will at times not recognize us for who we are. They may reference us as their mother or father and may not even remember that they are married or if they have children. Although painful, this does not mean that their lives with us have become unimportant, nor does it mean we won’t have more special moments with them now.

How do we respond to our loved ones in these moments? It may feel natural to correct them or to ask “Don’t you remember?” but these types of responses have the potential to embarrass them. Our loved ones do not realize they’ve forgotten something so important, and to be made aware they have can cause a mixture of hurt and confusion.

In their post on memory loss and confusion, The Alzheimer’s Association gives several tips on how to respond and suggests gentle ways we can evoke the memories of our loved ones. Even if they think we are strangers and even if they don’t remember it later, our time spent with them will still mean the world to them at that moment.

Stirring up Memories through our Senses


Vision 2020’s the Right to Sight Fact Sheet is a wonderful resource when trying to understand vision problems associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sometimes our loved one may not recognize who we are because they are having a difficult time seeing our face. If our loved one begins to lose their vision, finding activities that rely on their other senses is a great way to ignite their memories.


Tactile stimulation is brain stimulation because it is our brain that feels and recognizes the various textures, temperatures, and shapes. Creating a sensory board of our loved one’s interests or favorite past times is an excellent way to stimulate their memory.

For instance, if your father was a carpenter, incorporating sand paper (which comes in a broad variety of grits), a wood block or maybe even a tool enhances the likelihood he will benefit and interact with the board.

Other suggestions for tactile stimulation include small carpet and fabric samples; pinecones, acorns, and other things found outdoors; peach pits, gourds, avocado, orange, kiwi, and other textured food items; and pieces of ceramic and stone tile (just make sure there are no sharp edges).


The documentary Alive Inside demonstrates how music can be used as a tool to prompt memory, engage, and create meaningful experiences for people living with Dementia.

Music and memory are a magical duo, and music has a place in almost every situation while working with a person living with dementia. A fun and useful way to enhance the time we spend with our loved one is to listen to music together. Old favorites and popular sing-along songs are a great starting place when using music to reminisce.


Does the smell of baking remind you of your grandmother’s house? Or the smell of the ocean remind you of past family vacations? These types of memories are an episodic memory and have a powerful way of reminding us of the past.
Enticing their sense of smell is a great way to bring back those happy memories for our loved ones.

Even beyond memory, aromatherapy can also be used to create a tranquil and calming space or as a way to stimulate their appetites. For relaxation, try lavender, sweet orange or jasmine. And for appetite stimulants try baked apples, citrus, and spices.

Living for the Moments, not the Memories

Aging is a natural part of life, and whether we remember them or not, we will continue to have meaningful moments. Our inability to remember does not mean that it has to redefine who we are, nor does it diminish the importance of the many moments that we have collected over the years.

The best gift we can give to our loved one is to create moments that make them feel loved and protected. In a space that is comfortable and familiar, we can decrease their anxiety and make the time spent together meaningful.