More people in the baby boomer generation are reaching age 65 – some 10,000 a day until 2030 (Pew Research Center, 2010). I happen to be one of those this year. As usual, each milestone for my generation causes social change. The most recent to attract my attention is the book Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gwande. At first, I thought the primary reason for my interest was because of my occupation as a nurse practitioner, and how often I experienced the realities of Dr. Gwande’s book lived out in a nursing home where I worked prior to my retirement.
However, I soon learned that just like other previously unspoken topics, (think natural childbirth, fathers in the delivery room, menopause, sexual assault, etc.) my interest in death and dying is a trend. Boomers usually first get initiated into the end of life processes through the death of our parents or other family members. One thing gained from this experience is usually the certainty that we don’t want our last days to happen the same way. There are far too many loose ends.
When assuming responsibility for anyone during the end of life process, we are suddenly forced to realize how much we don’t know. For example: What legal/financial documents are needed or need completing? Where are they? What is the prognosis? What are the treatment options? How do I talk to someone who is dying? Where can I get help taking care of my loved one? How much will it cost? Does my insurance cover it?
Our society’s sanitation of dying and the discomfort with the topic has left us woefully unprepared for an event we know will inevitably occur. If we are sensible, we do not act like ostriches, but instead poke our heads out of the sand and explore this scary topic to learn the roadmap for what needs to be done before a crisis in our own life renders us unable to literally have a voice.
As with most issues of the boomers, we are not a passive group! Just as Lamaze classes taught us what to expect, more people realize that learning some details about an upcoming situation makes it less frightening. Having time to digest information and construct a personalized plan makes us calmer and feel more in control.
After reading Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gwande, I began to seriously look for tools to help me articulate and document how I would like my “Last Chapter” to be. To my delight, I’m finding workbooks that pose many questions and situations that have helped me write my wishes and enabled me to share them with my sons.
Probably the most important question for anyone is, “what happens when I die?” Knowledge of common fears, wishes, symbols, language, and behavior can help all of us to glimpse the important journey from this life to the afterlife.
I’m finding the stories helpful on a very practical level and reassuring on a spiritual level. Join WIN in learning the answers to the questions you have not yet thought about asking.
On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, from 1 P.M – 5 P.M., The Women’s Information Network, Inc. is hosting an event called “Life: The Last Chapter – Write Your Own Ending.” The event will include a panel of speakers, a light lunch, and workbook outlining the important documents needed for end of life decisions. Following the presentations, all speakers will be available for an informal question and answer session during a reception with light refreshments.
Registration is required and the cost is $20.00. This fee includes lunch, the program, and a workbook of materials. Call 706-506-2000 to register. Visit www.infoforwomen.org for more details.
Sharon Baker is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She is a retired nurse practitioner and is President and Founder of the Women’s Information Network, Inc. She lives in Rome, Georgia.
A major strategy for preventing broken bones is our daily diet.
Calcium is essential for many bodily functions including the ability of blood to clot. This mineral is stored in bone and is responsible for bone strength. The body cannot make calcium, so it must be obtained either through the foods eaten or through supplements. If you do not get enough, your body will remove calcium from your bones to survive. Poor diet is a major contributor to the epidemic of fractured bones due to the bone thinning disease called osteoporosis. While calcium should be obtained from the diet, many people do not eat sufficient amounts of calcium-rich foods.
Everyone most likely knows that dairy products are rich in calcium. However, many individuals don’t like milk or are lactose intolerant. Many people skip meals, don’t eat a balanced diet, drink carbonated beverages that deplete calcium, take medications that impair calcium absorption or suffer from anorexia or bulimia. Any problems with adequate food intake causes a number of problems; but the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones is high on the list of reasons to improve one’s diet. Approximately 1000 – 1200 mg. of calcium daily is recommended. Use the guide below to get ideas of additional calcium-rich foods to add to your weekly shopping list. Try keeping a diet diary to record your intake for a week and see how you are doing at making deposits in your “bone bank.” Several recipes are listed at the end of the article as well as resources for more information. There are also several tips to “sneak” calcium into the foods you prepare for yourself and your family.
Examples of Food Sources of Calcium
From the National Osteoporosis Foundation:
|Produce||Serving Size||Estimated Calcium*|
|Collard greens, frozen||8 oz||360 mg|
|Broccoli rabe||8 oz||200 mg|
|Kale, frozen||8 oz||180 mg|
|Soy Beans, green, boiled||8 oz||175 mg|
|Bok Choy, cooked, boiled||8 oz||160 mg|
|Figs, dried||2 figs||65 mg|
|Broccoli, fresh, cooked||8 oz||60 mg|
|Oranges||1 whole||55 mg|
|Seafood||Serving Size||Estimated Calcium*|
|Sardines, canned with bones||3 oz||325 mg|
|Salmon, canned with bones||3 oz||180 mg|
|Shrimp, canned||3 oz||125 mg|
|Dairy||Serving Size||Estimated Calcium*|
|Ricotta, part-skim||4 oz||335 mg|
|Yogurt, plain, low-fat||6 oz||310 mg|
|Milk, skim, low-fat, whole||8 oz||300 mg|
|Yogurt with fruit, low-fat||6 oz||260 mg|
|Mozzarella, part-skim||1 oz||210 mg|
|Cheddar||1 oz||205 mg|
|Yogurt, Greek||6 oz||200 mg|
|American Cheese||1 oz||195 mg|
|Feta Cheese||4 oz||140 mg|
|Cottage Cheese, 2%||4 oz||105 mg|
|Frozen yogurt, vanilla||8 oz||105 mg|
|Ice Cream, vanilla||8 oz||85 mg|
|Parmesan||1 tbsp||55 mg|
|Fortified Food||Serving Size||Estimated Calcium*|
|Almond milk, rice milk or soy milk, fortified||8 oz||300 mg|
|Orange juice and other fruit juices, fortified||8 oz||300 mg|
|Tofu, prepared with calcium||4 oz||205 mg|
|Waffle, frozen, fortified||2 pieces||200 mg|
|Oatmeal, fortified||1 packet||140 mg|
|English muffin, fortified||1 muffin||100 mg|
|Cereal, fortified||8 oz||100-1,000 mg|
|Other||Serving Size||Estimated Calcium*|
|Mac & cheese, frozen||1 package||325 mg|
|Pizza, cheese, frozen||1 serving||115 mg|
|Pudding, chocolate, prepared with 2% milk||4 oz||160 mg|
|Beans, baked, canned||4 oz||160 mg|
*The calcium content listed for most foods is estimated and can vary due to multiple factors. Check the food label to determine how much calcium is in a particular product.
Calcium supplements are one way to increase your daily intake of calcium. They are available at your grocery store or pharmacy and can be taken as tablets, liquids, beverages, chewable candies, or easily-dissolved lozenges. Calcium comes in different forms. The two main forms are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Your body can use either form as long as you take it as directed.
Calcium-fortified foods might be an option, but they are more like supplements than natural sources of calcium and can vary in how well the body absorbs and utilizes this source. Fortified orange juice, according to most studies is generally as good as milk. Watch out for the sugar levels!
Supplements need to be used carefully and daily recommended dosages not exceeded. High doses of calcium can interfere with certain medications and have been linked with the development of kidney stones. Take supplements with meals or a high acid beverage such as orange juice to help with absorption. Be sure to drink lots of water. Put down the coke or carbonated beverages—a major causative factor with kidney stones because it is substituted for water and they deplete calcium.
Examples of Calcium Supplements
(mg per serving)
|Caltrate® 600||Calcium carbonate||600|
|OsCal®||Calcium carbonate||250 or 500|
|TUMS EX®||Calcium carbonate||600|
IDEAS FOR MENUS:
Breakfast burritos: Make them with scrambled eggs, refried beans or fat-free black beans and cheese. These can be made ahead, refrigerated and heated a bit in a pan when you want breakfast. Hummus could also be mixed with chopped hard-boiled egg either in a pita, a wrap, or on bread.
Quick Breakfast: Mix your favorite healthy cereal with a 5.3-oz tub of low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt. Use the yogurt as you would milk to have a crunchy breakfast. Add any fresh fruit if you like.
Sandwich: Add a slice of cheese to a sandwich. Make a queso dip with veggies.
Soup: Have creamed soups.
Add powdered milk to your meatloaf. Have more green vegetables with high calcium content. Make salmon croquettes. Go vegetarian for several meals. Use cottage cheese with fruit as a main course. Serve puddings for dessert instead of cake or pie.
Other Resources: The National Osteoporosis Foundation
Sharon Baker, BSN, MN, CWHNP, is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She is also President & Founder of WIN.