Here’s Why You Need To Think About Deconditioning

For the second year in a row, I wound up with a serious cold in January that flattened me for 4–5 weeks. It wasn’t that I just had a cold. It was I could barely lift my head off the pillow. (As an aside, my physician says I likely had pneumonia and if it happens again to “drag my butt into her office!”)

My sense though it was a Christmas cold delivered by a team of children and grandchildren from different schools and continents who believe in hugging Papa.

  • I’ll risk the cold to focus on the love.
  • But now I understand the price that might be paid.

The Issue of Deconditioning

During a significant period in my life, I was involved in “Conditioning” and being physically fit. It’s only the last two years with being sick for a month, I’ve discovered “Deconditioning .“

And yeah, I’m starting to face the fact I’ll never play hockey for the Leafs (which may be a good thing), make the Olympics, drive for NASCAR or… Well, you get the picture I’m sure.

Consider The Following Data: Muscle Weakness & Atrophy In Seniors

This is what happens to a senior citizen who is in bed for a month with almost total inactivity. Carefully look at the time frames involved. We’re not talking months here — we’re talking weeks and even days.

  • A loss of strength 10- 20% decrease in muscle strength per week (1 1–3% per day)
  • 3–5 weeks of complete immobilization can lead to a 50% decrease in muscle strength
  • Loss of muscle mass -3% loss within thigh muscles within 7 days.
  • Loss of bone density due to increased resorption caused by the lack of weight bearing, gravity, and muscle activity on bone mass
  • Increase in resting heart rate (4 4–15 beats within the first 3 3–4 weeks then plateaus)
  • Decrease in blood volume ( 5% in 24 hours, 10% in 6 days, 20% in 14 days)
  • Body Fluids Shift 500–700cc of fluid from the lower extremities shift to the thorax (also known as central fluid shift)
  • Change in Heart Function Increased stroke volume/cardiac output/left end-diastolic volume
  • Depressed levels of aldosterone & antidiuretic hormone
  • By the 3rd day of bed rest there are reduced insulin-binding sites (net effect is decreased blood & plasma volume)
  • After 2 weeks of bed rest, it takes 2 weeks of resumed activity before the glucose response returns to normal

Deconditioning : the consequence of bed rest (pdf )By: Colleen S. Campbell MSN, AARNP — BC, CRRN — A.

From A Personal Perspective

I was down, flat on my back for all of January two years running. I wasn’t bed-ridden in the sense of the data above (I remained mobile but not much of it.) It took me several months last year and several months again this year just to become functional again. This means I’ve had first hand experience with the above results albeit not as extreme as someone who was totally bedridden.

I’m too embarrassed to discuss the personal fitness measurements of such mundane things as situps, pushups and squats. Let us say those are not my finest characteristics at the moment.

I note the only saving grace was that I had to get up for bodily functions. I wasn’t totally bedridden as I could stagger to the bathroom and back.

Working outside this year seems more challenging than last year. I expect as the spring rolls on into summer and I get back to working on the dry stone walls and other projects, I will recover a significant amount of that strength.

I’m also clear as I recover functional fitness, I have to push my body to a higher level and that’s going to take both effort and a plan. I have the plan, I’ll get back to you whether the effort shows up.

But There’s A More Important Component of This

There’s a small part of me — a small voice in my mind — saying “To hell with all that exercise. You get along just fine on most things and you never did like all that strength training stuff even when you were young and played high level sports.

“Let it go… Doug, you’ll be fine…”

And for the first time, I understand what being a senior means when it comes to illness and recovery. And of doing it again and again. Of having to drag up the motivation to recover rather than accept the status quo. Of listening to that siren song of your complaining body over and over again. Of being tired, so very tired.

Let Me Be Clear: I’ve Ignored That Voice

I’ve ignored the voice. I’ve had practice dragging my body to the next fitness level when I was younger and involved in competitive sports. I know the pain of it and I remember the effort.

Friends haven’t though and I now understand the decision they took and (perhaps) why they did what they did.

But just as a voice speaks when I go down stairs. I’m now aware of a second voice.

It won’t stop me either but it’s now a part of my operating system.

Final Thought On Being Young

I also understand when you’re young why it would never cross your mind to even have a voice such as this.

After all, I didn’t and I don’t see why any other young person would either.

But sometimes it’s good to know what’s ahead around a curve so you know how to deal with it when/if it does suddenly appear in yourself or a loved one.

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Creative Retirement Planning Alert

I’ve struggled with the concept of retirement planning for almost a year now and just decided this will be a creative retirement. I can hear you asking, “What’s a creative retirement and how is it different than any other retirement?”

Retirement Planning Isn’t One Of My Strong Points

Many folks plan for their retirement and continue to do so even after they’ve slowed down.

My experience doesn’t makes me feel productive because there’s *always* something that comes along that interests me more than slowing down. I note that some of my “slow down” appears to be genetic and age-related. For example, “all-nighters” are a distant memory, I avoid “late nighters” most of the time, and “early to bed” is an effective coping mechanism for my early rising.

I Eliminated The Production Schedule.

I intend to release my new projects when I finish them. There’s no schedule, just a monster to-do list (thank you Evernote) that I edit from time to time.

I add projects when they intrigue me and delete them when they’re finished or I’m no longer interested.

In short, instead of really working, I can plan on working.

Stay tuned for the next project because it’s lining up right behind this decision. And who knows whether it will be a real project or a planned-project. 😉

You can read other posts about retirement and aging here.

Do you think you’re losing your memory?

A few weeks ago, I questioned whether I was losing my memory. I’d do a task on my website and the next day I’d take a look to do it again, only to surprise myself that it had been done.

This wasn’t good news and for a few days I was quite shaken., I have a family history of Alzheimer’s and this might be a warning shot across the bow. But then I read a similar story from Copyblogger about eroding attention span and thought about this.

Two days later, I ran an impromptu test by asking myself to name just two of the titles I’d just read through my rss feed not two minutes before.

I couldn’t.

Oh crap! (That’s not what I really said but this is a family friendly writer)

I thought about this for a few days. I made notes to myself about the kinds of things I remember and what I forget and thought about it some more.

Internet Attention Deficit Syndrome

The bottom line is I clearly have Internet Attention Deficit Syndrome. A condition caused by trying to jam far too many unrelated items of news and information into my brain on a daily or even hourly basis.

I’m not sure any of us are meant to emulate a computer with all that data going into our memory banks. And while I’m sure it’s in my head somewhere, the problem is that I haven’t related the new information to anything else so that giant connected 4-d spider web we call memory is not functioning the way it was designed to do. It’s filled with irrelevancies and single unconnected facts.

I have to remind myself, my brain isn’t an “it’s overloaded” but rather I’m overloaded”.

I’m not really losing my memory, I’m simply overloaded. (Yes, I do repeat this to myself when I start worrying.)

Research On Aging Shows

Aging research shows that adults only slow down in memory responses because we relate everything to everything else in our brains and there’s just that much more inside us to access. It’s not we forget, it’s that it takes longer for the processes to work. Dr. Michael Ramscar wrote this as part of the abstract for a much longer study report:

”Rather the results suggested that older adults’ performance might result from applying a strategy that may have been shaped by their wealth of real-word decision-making experience. While this strategy is likely to be effective in the real world, it is ill suited to some decision environments. These results underscore the importance of taking into account effects of experience in aging studies, even for tasks that do not obviously tap past experiences.”

Personally Speaking

From a personal point of view, this means I’ll remember better if I’m more selective about what I read. Rather than trying to inject it with a firehose, I’m working to set up a selective system with fewer but richer resources.

It might be compared to building rock walls. Instead of taking a full truckload of rock and gravel, I’ll only take the larger rocks to build my walls. I’ll let the gravel stay in the quarry (or Internet) rather than in my working space (brain).

Digital Minimalism

It’s called digital minimalism and here’s a quick primer on how to transition to it. (link is to blog post but the book — link on his site — is excellent)

After six months with increasing amounts of minimalism, I’m feeling human and competent again. I’m one of those works in progress we like to confess to rather than the painful truth of not having done anything significant.

I’m now quite selective about who I read and listen to.

Pruning The Voices

Slowly but surely I’ve been pruning out words and authors that don’t inspire me or that are repetitive in their work.

I’ve deleted paid memberships in three online sites. I have none left.

I only take courses with limited duration and the specific training tasks I need.

My RSS feeds have been decimated with entire sections deleted.

My email subscription folder looks like a ghost town.

Note this isn’t a one time pruning. I constantly find new authors and new inputs and my feeds slowly increase over time. But now, I take a few minutes every month to prune newsletters and rss feeds to focus only on those that meet my current needs.

Curated Newsletters

My preferred reading now is via a curated newsletter and I’m intrigued and interested in those. I take very few straight newsletters anymore.

I also have a stack of books (this is another addiction I’m working on and will report back about) on a side table in the living room waiting for me to read.

Bottom Line On Losing Your Memory

I’ll have to get back to you with more memory research you can use. Consider this a first step.

What I can tell you is I feel much better already with the reduced information flow.

My info-stream is a richer flow with more useful and interesting information and far fewer bits of flotsam and jetsam.

The effect of my meditations last longer before I feel my body ramping back up.

I’m not as stressed about current affairs (having stopped constantly updating the feed and avoiding the current outrage-du-jour.)

And yes, my memory is fine. Thanks for asking.

Click here to join me as I explore the Net and Aging (and anything else that strikes me as interesting)

Book Review: The End of Alzheimer’s

“The first program to prevent and reverse cognitive decline”

I won’t bore you with the statistics about Alzheimer’s disease, suffice to say the numbers are growing and as the baby boomer generation approaches the age when Alzheimer’s begins to emerge, the numbers will be horrifyingly large.

From a personal point of view, I am within that baby boomer generation and to make matters worse, Alzheimer’s runs on one side of my family. As you might imagine, this has sharpened my focus on the disease and the prevention of it. So when I saw this book pop up on Amazon, there was no question that I was going to buy it. And, I am delighted that I did.

A very quick summary would be that Dr. Bredesen, in his lab at UCLA, has identified 36 molecular variables that can, when combined, create Alzheimer’s in any individual. Those of us with a genetic predisposition will be more likely to have some of these variables go active.

The important thing about this book is that it is scientifically, testable, and all 36 variables can be measured.

And once measured, solutions to all of these can be found.

Table Of Contents

Part One: The Alzheimer’s Solution

1: Disrupting dementia
2: Patient zero
3: How does it feel to come back from dementia?
4: How to give your self Alzheimer’s: a primer

Part Two: Deconstructing Alzheimer’s

5: Wit’s End: from bedside to bench and back
6: The God Gene: three types of Alzheimer’s disease.

Part Three: Evaluation and Personalized Therapeutics

7: The Cognoscopy: where do you stand?
8: ReCode: reversing cognitive decline
9: Success and the social network: to people’s daily routines.

Part Four: Maximizing Success

10: Putting it all together: you can do it
11: This is not easy — workarounds and crutches
12: Resistance to change

And not to put too fine a point on it, there are a great many other things that Radisson agrees with traditional medicine when he says that controlling variables such as stress, and a regular exercise program are critical in pushing back against Alzheimer’s.

Personal Note re Alzheimer’s:

Having all of the tests done is expensive. ($C 4K in 2018) But, given my family history, I took the money and on a recent trip to the US, I worked with a functional medicine physician and had the tests done. Note while I went “all in” my physician indicated there were some that “might’ be avoided because of the cost.

I am not able to describe the feeling of relief when the tests came back with few problem areas.

To be sure, there were some things that needed improvement but I was under the number of variables that indicated the disease was well established. And, by adding three supplements to my daily list, I could drive the test results to almost zero.

But what this means is that I have to maintain my fitness regime, my meditating, and have this testing done every few years to ensure I’m still on track to avoid mental degradation.

You can read the reviews and find the book here on Amazon

I note that fitness and meditation are recommended for a wide variety of anti-aging medical conditions.

From my point of view, the $4K was money well spent. And I know my mom would approve. (at 91, she’s had Alzheimer’s of increasing severity for over 16 years now and is in a nursing home) I do not want to go down that road and if you’ve ever had one of your loved ones take this journey, you too will recognize what level of commitment you’d make to avoid it for yourself.

The bottom line is that I would recommend this book highly to both potential patients and their families.

For more book reviews and posts about books, click here

If This Was My Last Day

What five things would I do?

If this were my last day, what five things would earn a place in those precious hours.

  • I’d take a walk along the road leading to the woods where owls hang out.
  • I’d play with my grandchildren and tell them stories either in person or over the Net.
  • I’d sit on the dock in the afternoon to reflect and record notes about my life.
  • I’d go for a swim and watch the sun go down while sitting on the dock.
  • I would eat unlimited amounts of butterscotch ice cream.

And you? What would you do?