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55 & Better Summer 2012

Anders Bjorling didn’t slow down when he retired. He began to see life through

A NEW LENS A renewed passion for photography propels former Gustavus controller through next stage of life BY KURT HILDEBRANDT •


hen many people retire from a career in which they’ve spent more than the previous 30 years they take time to enjoy their golden years.

World renowned photographer Jim Brandenburg took this photo of Anders Bjorling in Iceland when Bjorling was part of a tour group that visited there. (Photo courtesy of Anders Bjorling)

When Anders Björling retired as controller at Gustavus Adolphus College in 1999 after a 37-year career at his alma mater he didn’t really consider riding off into the sunset. “I tell people I didn’t retire back then, I just redirected myself,” Anders said. Instead of settling down to enjoy the fruits of many years of labor he put his fruit into another basket and moved on to another adventure in his life, which now spans 76 years for the native of Sweden. Björling, who developed a love for photography as a teenager using his father’s camera (a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta), continued to develop his passion for working with a camera and since his retirement has taken several trips, both photography-inspired as well as vacation related, in which he’s used his cameras to capture the moment. “I always had a dark room at our house here in St. Peter, that had been gathering a lot of dust,” Björling said. “When I retired, I said I was going to put that dark room

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to good use, but then I discovered they had made wonderful advances in digital cameras so that dark room is still there probably gathering dust.” “I currently have a Nikon D700 and recently purchased a D800, to replace a D300 I had previously been using. I’ve learned over the years that it’s always necessary to have a backup camera available. The D800 is a wonderful camera and takes photos that have 36 megapixels, which is a very sharp picture.” His travels have taken him to the frigid climes of Iceland to as far south as South Africa and Patagonia near the tip of South America and many places in between. Some of his travels included his late wife, Janet, who passed away in January 2008, and other trips he went by himself with a group of others who shared a love of photography. “I’ve always loved to travel and up until she passed away, my wife and I enjoyed visiting other parts of the world,” Anders

One of Anders Bjorling’s favorite local places to shoot photos is Gustavus Adolphus College’s Christ Chapel, shown here with one of Paul Granlund’s sculptures in the foreground. (Photo courtesy of Anders Bjorling)

said. “She’s never really got into photography, but it was always wonderful traveling together when we could.”

See LENS page 2

Page 2 Wednesday, July 11, and Thursday, July 12, 2012

55 & Better

Lens: Travels, tutelage from accomplished photographers fuels Björling’s passion, improvement in chosen art continued from 1 Björling, a self-taught photographer, immersed himself into this medium shortly after stepping down from his work with Gustavus and has since studied under such famed photographers such as Jim Brandenburg, David Muench, Tom Mangelson, Arthur Morris and Todd Gustafson. His trip to Iceland was part of a group with Jim Brandenburg, a native Minnesotan who is famous for his wildlife photography and in particular wolves. That trip only fueled his passion and has since moved on to other parts of the world to view those areas through the lens of his camera. “I have been able to share my images at several exhibits and shows in the U.S., although primarily here in Minnesota and in some western states,” Björling said. “While I have traveled extensively with my camera, and I still do enjoy taking photos here in Minnesota and around the St. Peter area. “Some of my favorite local places to shoot around this area are the Linneaeus Arboretum and Kasota Prairie and I also enjoy taking pictures at Christmas in Christ Chapel (Gustavus) every year. I also enjoy traveling around northern Minnesota as well.” He has created a niche business for himself through Mayo Clinic Health Systems’ satellite clinics in outstate Minnesota. Several of those clinics feature photos that Anders has taken of

The Highway 99 bridge by St. Peter depicted in one of Anders Bjorling’s photos. (Photo courtesy of Anders Bjorling)

Left: Gustavus’s Linnaeus Arboretum is a favorite place of Bjorling to shoot photos. Right: Bjorling shot this photo of a family of cheetahs during a expedition to Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of Anders Bjorling)

he began his career at Gustavus. Swedish Kontur is celebrating its 50th year of existence this year and, according to its website (www.swedishkonturimports. com) it is a a unique Scandinavian gift shop featuring everything from Swedish crystal and clogs to Norwegian gnomes and knitwear. “After Janet and I came back after living in Sweden for four years, we realized there weren’t any really good Scandinavian stores around Minnesota at the time and we’re still the oldest operating store of its kind in all of the U.S.,” he said. “I don’t spend a lot of time there but that’s because we still have a wonderful staff that has kept that store going strong after Janet passed away.” While he grew up in Sweden, Björling has also come to think of the St. Peter area as his home. Janet and he raised three daughters here who all live in the Twin Cities area now. He also now has five grandsons and one greatgrandchild on the way. “I’m 76 years old and really don’t have any plans to slow down, or at least I hope I don’t any time soon,” he said. “Family is very important to me and if I’m not traveling around with my camera I really enjoy spending time with them. All of that keeps me very busy.”

Kurt Hildebrandt is the News Editor for the St. Peter Herald. He well known landmarks and scenes has helped me pay for a lot of my ling still owns and helps operate district. He and his wife started can be reached at (507) 934-3655 other travels,” Anders said. in those communities. the Swedish Kontur retail store in that store shortly after moving or khildebrandt@stpeterherald. “That has been a lot of fun and Besides the photography, Björ- the downtown St. Peter business back to Minnesota in 1962 when com.

Traveling in golden years comes with unique set of challenges Whether retired or simply an empty nester, older men and women often love their increased opportunities to travel and see the world. Without kids to cater to or college tuition to pay, men and women approaching retirement age, or those who have already passed it by, find themselves with more free time to take to the highways and skyways and experience other cultures. While traveling is a great way to make the most of one’s golden years, traveling as an older adult isn’t the same as it might have been back when you were a carefree teenager or twentysomething backpacking through Traveling as an older adult might require more caution and Europe. Before setting out to see planning than it does for young jetsetters, but such measures won’t diminish the joy of your travels. the world, older travelers should consider a host of factors. without putting themselves at serious risk. When considering climate and geography, don’t When traveling, it might be Older travelers tend to travel overlook a region’s history comforting to overpack because abroad more than they do do- or likelihood of natural di- it can give you the feeling you’re mestically, so be sure all docu- sasters. If a given destination prepared for any situation that mentation, including passports has a history of hurricanes, might arise. But don’t pack so for each traveler, is up-to-date. earthquakes or tsunamis, heavily that your luggage beIf you’re traveling for an espe- then consider that before comes a nuisance to take from cially long period of time, be making plans. It’s still pos- place to place. If you’re traveling sure your passport is valid be- sible to enjoy such destina- to especially tourist-friendly reyond the length of the trip. The tions, but you’ll want to travel gions, keep in mind such locales United States Department of when such storms or natural often have all a traveler needs State also notes travelers must disasters are not in season. determine if the country they plan to visit requires a visa to enter. In addition to passports and any visas you might need, make sure your driver’s licenses and auto insurance policies are current and will remain so through the trip. This is important for travelers who plan on renting a car during their vacation. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license and proof of auto insurance (as well as contact information for your insurance company should an accident occur) on your trip.


Climate & Geography It’s also important to consider geographical conditions before establishing any travel plans. Older men and women tend to have more health issues and might even be on prescriptions that can make it challenging to travel to certain areas. Before committing to a trip, consult your physician about the possible effects a certain climate might have on you personally. Some people might be sensitive to altitude and therefore unable to travel to high-altitude locations

Luggage & Wardrobe

should he or she have forgotten something or experiences an emergency. When packing your clothes for a trip, keep your wardrobe as conservative as possible. Anything too flashy could draw the attention of con artists or thieves, as tourists often make for easy marks. But don’t forget to pack some formal attire as well, as clothing that is too casual might make it hard for you to gain access to certain tourist destinations or restaurants.

Contact Information While a vacation is an escape for many people, you don’t want to escape from the world entirely. Make sure loved ones back home have your itinerary and know where you will be staying should an emergency occur. If traveling abroad where you won’t have cell phone service, choose resorts or hotels with Internet access and ensure friends or family members you will check in periodically via e-mail. While staying in touch might not be reminiscent of the

carefree travels of your youth, doing so will help your loved ones rest easy and will prove invaluable should something unexpected occur.

When traveling, older men and women should consider a host of factors before making plans and always make safety a priority.


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55 & Better

Wednesday, July 11, and Thursday, July 12, 2012 PAGE 3

Hobbies: Retirement offers time to fill with meaningful, enjoyable activities Whether retirement is on the horizon or has already begun, more free time equates to an increased opportunity to fill your days with enjoyable activities. Individuals facing busy schedules are often forced to push hobbies to the sidelines, as more pressing things, such as a job, household responsibilities, and parenting tasks, are accomplished. Once retirement arrives, a newfound freedom in your schedule may occur, and there can be plenty of hours to devote to the hobbies and pastimes you find enjoyable. According to research, hobbies can have many benefits. They may serve as an emotional outlet or a way to relax. Hobbies can keep the mind and hands active. They also allow for quiet time and mind wandering -- which can free up creative thinking. Hobbies can also serve as a means to connecting with people and opening up new groups of friends.

have always been handy around wood and construction, perhaps a woodworking hobby will be enjoyable and also may work as a source of income revenue. Other activities that require the use of the hands and mind include knitting, needlepoint, painting, puzzles, quilting, scrapbooking, and crocheting. These can keep the mind active and improve dexterity and fine motor skills. Next, you may want to consider the costs surrounding a hobby. While something like taking photos may have relatively low costs, collectibles, exotic sports, sports cars, and travel could become expensive. It’s important to weight the costs against your finances to ensure that you will be financially comfortable while engaging in Sewing can be a hobby that seniors do after retirement when they have ample free time. this particular hobby. Explore what your friends are There are many hobbies you pand your horizons. And hobbies doing. If you want to get into a new can consider, depending on physi- need not be crafty in the tradihobby, ask neighbors and friends When deciding on a hobby, cal health and abilities. These may tional sense, just about any activbe hobbies you once enjoyed in ity -- even being a mentor -- can you can first take an inventory what they do to keep busy -- and of your skills and interests. If you try it out. You just may find that the past or new activities to ex- be a form of a hobby.

Starting a hobby

Caution essential when beginning exercise regimen Exercise is an essential component of any plan to get healthier. Men and women who want to lose weight or change their lifestyles to reduce their risk of falling into poor health know that diet and exercise go hand in hand. As intimidating as beginning a new exercise regimen can seem, it can also be dangerous, especially when individuals fail to approach physical activity with a degree of caution. Effective, long-lasting results won’t come overnight, so there’s no reason to throw caution to the wind when starting a new exercise regimen. Patience and prudence should reign at the onset, and there are several precautionary measures to take that can ensure a commitment to a healthier lifestyle starts off on the right foot. * Speak to a physician. No matter what is motivating you to get healthier, speak to a physician before beginning a new exercise regimen. Your physician will likely want you to get a full physical just to make sure you don’t have any existing conditions that might preclude you from certain activities. Part of proceeding with caution is knowing if you have any limitations, and certain health conditions can prove quite the hurdle to an exercise regimen. If the doctor detects any conditions, then the two of you can work together to devise an exercise regimen that’s both safe and effective. Another benefit to visiting the physician is that such a visit might reveal something that won’t necessarily preclude you from exercise, but help you gear your regimen toward addressing a certain situation before it progresses to something worse. For example, if the doctor finds you have high cholesterol, he might point you toward a regimen that includes more cardiovascular activity. * Be patient. Patience is

People young and old should exercise caution when beginning a new exercise regimen.

essential when beginning an exercise regimen. Many people grow discouraged if their workout routine doesn’t produce jaw-dropping results overnight. But an effective and healthy exercise regimen will gradually produce results, leading to long-term health, as opposed to an overnight fix with minimal long-term effectiveness. When beginning the regimen, do so slowly and allow for gradual progress. As your body grows more acclimated to physical activity, you can begin to challenge yourself more and more, and that’s when the results are likely to be most noticeable. Learning to rest is also part of being patient. The body needs time to recover between workouts, so don’t expect to

exercise every day at the start. Initially, you should be giving your body at least one day to recover between workouts, and then you can take less time off between workouts as your body grows more acclimated to exercise. Discuss certain dietary tips with your physician to determine if there’s anything you can eat after a workout to aid in muscle recovery. * Work with a professional. Personal training sessions can be costly, but they’re also worth it for beginners who have never worked out before or who haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while. Technology is constantly changing, and

weight training and cardiovascular machines are included in those changes. You may very well enter a gym and not recognize any of the machines, much less know how to use them. A personal trainer can walk you through these machines and help you tailor your workout to match your goals. Many gyms offer free or discounted personal training sessions to new members, so take advantage of those offers when starting out. If a personal trainer is simply beyond your budget, then solicit a friend or family member for help, ideally one who works out regularly. This person can accompany you to the gym and act as a spotter or just go with you to make sure you stay committed. The buddy system is highly effective among people hoping to get healthier, so don’t be shy to ask for help. * Focus on form. The right form when performing certain exercises can make all the difference, while poor form can greatly increase your risk of injury. When beginning an exercise regimen, particularly one that involves weightlifting, master the form of each exercise with low weights. At this point in the routine, the primary goal should not be to strengthen your muscles, but rather to master the form of each exercise. Form includes everything from how you breathe during the workout to your posture to how smoothly your body moves during the exercise. Master the form first, even if it means lifting without any weight, before you start focusing on adding more weights and strengthening your muscles. Caution should reign supreme for men and women beginning a new exercise regimen.

you’re naturally inclined to do this type of activity and enjoy it. Visit a local hobby shop or craft store and browse through the aisles. See where your attention is drawn and give that activity a try. From building model trains to cultivating an herb garden, there are dozens of ideas to try.

Other pastimes A hobby can take the form of volunteer work, teaching, mentoring, joining a martial arts class, taking classes at a college, and even caring for a pet. If you are the type who likes to interact with other people instead of engaging in a solitary hobby, consider one of these types of activities instead. Once a hobby is started, it is not set in stone. If you find you do not feel motivated to do this hobby, try something else. Remember, the days are now yours to fill, so maximize time spent with activities you can enjoy.

Number of grandparents helping raise children on rise The stalled economy has pushed many families into the position of doing whatever is needed to make ends meet. In many cases, this means both parents working whatever jobs they can find and finding the best childcare option while they are at work. Many people are turning to their parents to help care for their kids. More than 60 percent of families with children under age 18 had both parents employed outside the home in 2005 to 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares to less than a third of mothers in 1975. The numbers today are around 42 percent, a decrease that likely has a lot to do with unemployment figures remaining high. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada states that there are similar statistics among Canadian families. With so many men and women heading to work each day, and money a factor for doing so, the topic of child care becomes one of necessity as well as affordability. Grandparents are regularly stepping up to help family members who are under a financial crunch. Grandparents considering caring for their grandkids should keep in mind some things even if the childcare scenario on the surface seems like it is the best option. * It’s a big commitment. Once the decision has been made, it is expected that you will be providing care for a certain period of time -- perhaps even without a future end date. Remember, other arrangements will have to be made if you back out because it’s simply not working. * Know your limits. Childcare is not something to take lightly. While you may have had enough energy to provide care years ago, maybe now you are simply not up to the task

or have not identified factors that could hinder your ability to care for a grandchild -- no matter how much you love him or her. * Be prepared for changes to your life. You will no longer be able to operate on your own schedule. Now your days will largely revolve around caring for your grandkids. If many of your friends are living active lives without grandchildren in tow, this could put a hamper on your relationships and ability to socialize. * It could be just what you need. On the flip side, if you have been seeking something to do with your time, being in the presence of your grandchildren could be just what you need to find a purpose to your days. * The relationship may cause animosity. If you are offering care to one set of grandchildren and are not doing so to another, it could strain the relationships among your children. Think about the larger factor before agreeing to being the caregiver. * Talk to your spouse. If you are married or are in a relationship, this is a decision that will have to be discussed with your partner, whose life will be impacted as well. If both of you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on the situation, it may cause a rift that can damage your relationship. * Avoid guilt. If you choose to say no to the situation, it may generate hurt feelings at the onset, but if you explain your reasons clearly, chances are the loved one will understand how you are feeling. Although grandparents stepping in to become childcare providers for their grandchildren while parents are at work has become a popular situation in recent years, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of the situation before delving headfirst into the arrangement.

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55 &

B etter

How to deal with arthritis Arthritis affects millions of people and can be a debilitating condition that impacts a person’s mobility and quality of life. The March 2010 issue of Arthritis Care & Research revealed that 18.7 percent of Americans and 16.9 percent of Canadians suffer from some type of arthritis. The word “arthritis” refers to more than 100 separate medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis-related joint problems cause pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of the bones, enabling them to glide against one another) and surrounding structures. Such damage can lead to joint weakness, instability and visible deformities that, depending on the location of joint involvement, can interfere with the most basic daily tasks, including walking, climbing stairs, using a computer keyboard, cutting food, or brushing teeth. Arthrit is has no cure, though medications and physical therapy may be prescribed to help manage pain and improve mobility. There are many different medicines that may be used to treat arthritis. Here is a look at some of the most common.

Topical pain relievers These drugs are applied to areas of concern and are absorbed by the body to relieve pain. They are generally effective for people who have mild symptoms in just a few areas of the body.

Anti-inflammatory pain relievers These pain medicines may be over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are common painkillers, as are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS. Prescription doses may be helpful for more painful symptoms.

Narcotic pain relievers For pain that is not controlled by NSAIDS and other methods,

arthritis sufferers may be prescribed narcotic drugs that are more potent. While effective, narcotic drugs are addictive. They also may cause side effects, including constipation.

Antidepressants Some doctors prescribe antidepressants to relieve pain. It is not fully understood how the medications affect the body’s interpretation of pain, but the role of these drugs on brain chemicals may be the connection. Drowsiness and dry mouth may occur from these drugs.

Steroids For a variety of reasons, steroids are very useful at reducing inflammation in the body. But prolonged use -- especially when taken orally -- can result in a numb er of side effects, including weight gain and acne breakouts. Doctors try to avoid these problems by injecting the steroid into the affected joint or trying other medications in combination with steroids to keep the dose of steroids as low as possible.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) These drugs are often used for diseases of the autoimmune system, especially rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis. These medications work by interfering with or suppressing the immune system that attacks its own joints in people with these conditions. These medications can cause serious side effects because they essentially slow down the body’s ability to fend off illnesses. But for some people they are the best plan of attack for symptoms.

Aging drivers should weigh a host of factors when determining if it’s still safe for them to be on the road.

Be mindful of driving abilities in advanced years When a person first earns a driver’s license, they’ve earned more than just the right to legally operate an automobile. To many drivers, a driver’s license is symbolic of freedom and self-sufficiency. The significance of a driver’s license never truly dissipates, which makes it difficult for aging men and women to address their abilities as a driver and whether or not they can still safely share the road with other motorists. Though many drivers can safely stay behind the wheel well into their golden years, others begin to recognize their skills are starting to diminish as they approach senior citizen status. For those who want help gauging their abilities as a driver, some self-examination can help.

Assess your eyesight Healthy eyes are essential to being a safe driver, and drivers can assess their eyesight in a number of ways. In addition to visiting an eye doctor for an eye examination, drivers should look for signs that they’re having difficulty with driving. If signs and street markings aren’t so easy to read anymore, you might need a new prescription for eyeglasses. When the glare of headlights at night makes it difficult to see, your driver’s seat might need to be adjusted or you might want to consider antiglare eyeglasses that make it

easier to see at night.

automobile. Such feelings when driving could also be a side effect of a particular medication, so discuss the issue with your doctor to see if that’s the case and if there Safe drivers are also comfortable driv- are any alternatives. ers. To assess your comfort level as a driver, ask yourself the following questions before getting back behind the wheel. * Is it troublesome to look over your shoulder and change lanes? Aging drivers are often the last to no* Has steering become difficult? * Has your reaction time when switch- tice if their abilities behind the wheel are ing from the gas pedal to the brake pedal starting to diminish. Loved ones are often put in the position of talking to aging drivdecreased? If you can answer “yes” to any of the ques- ers about their abilities, and this can cause tions above, then it could be that you’re be- friction. If loved ones have expressed ginning to lose strength, coordination and/ concern about your abilities as a driver, or flexibility, which can make it more difficult honestly address these concerns, even if to operate a motor vehicle. Answering “yes” it’s initially hurtful or embarrassing to doesn’t mean you have to give up your driv- do so. Your loved ones are sharing their er’s license. In fact, your doctor might be able feelings out of genuine concern for your to prescribe therapies or medicines or suggest well-being, so don’t look at it as an assault a fitness regimen that can make it easier for on your self-sufficiency. Some organizayou to comfortably drive a car. In addition, if tions, including the AARP and AAA, offer you’re having trouble steering or operating a driving classes for mature drivers to help motor vehicle in any way, you might just want them more adequately handle the chalto find a vehicle that’s easier to drive, such as lenges aging drivers might face. one with an automatic transmission that has Aging drivers face obstacles they may power steering and brakes. or may not be prepared for. When such When assessing your comfort level, challenges arise, that doesn’t necessaralso examine your mental state while driv- ily mean it’s time to stop driving entirely. ing. If other drivers make you uncomfort- Instead, honestly weigh a host of factors able or traffic signs are confusing, this before deciding if it’s still safe for you to can make it difficult to safely operate an be behind the wheel.

Assess your comfort level

Address loved ones’ concerns

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Living comfortably possible on a fixed income Seniors are one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, as medical advancements have increased life expectancies considerably. Many Baby Boomers have entered retirement age and are joining the ranks of other seniors on fixed incomes. This means they’ll also have to implement strategies to live comfortably on less money. Statistics Canada states that as of a 2005 survey, the average net worth of individuals age 65 and older was roughly $303,000. This amount is characterized by money in savings, income provided by pensions and government assistance. In the United States, the average income of seniors in 2008 was around $29,000 according to the Congressional Research Service tabulations of data from the March 2008 Current Population Survey. Upon retirement, many retirees are faced with quite a reduction in income and the stark reality of making ends meet with this new level of income. Those who are successful are often those who are adapting and are able to budget cleverly. Here are some ideas to do just that. * Set priorities. What are the necessities that you absolutely cannot skimp on? These may include a mortgage or rent, utility bills and any other loan payments that have already been established. These amounts will have to be deducted from monthly income before you will discover just how much money will be leftover for other things. * Downsize. There is the option to cut back on

Living on a fixed income requires making changes to avoid running out of money.

certain things to free up more money. Many people find it is wise to sell their home and move into a smaller condo or apartment. Not only will the expenses be less, there’s a good chance the complex will offer maintenance -- further saving you on unexpected expenses. Consider downsizing your car as well. Rather than

making high monthly payments for a brand-new auto at the dealership, you may be able to get a preowned vehicle for a lower payment schedule. Or you may have enough in savings to pay for the used car outright, saving you the expense of a monthly payment. * Consider shopping at consignment stores. Con-

signment stores are popping up in all different areas, including exclusive cities and towns. Shopping consignment stores no longer carries the stigma it once did. Many times the merchandise in consignment stores is brand new or has only been used once. This could be the ideal place to turn for housewares, clothing, accessories, and even gifts for others. The prices are typically marked well below retail value, and you may find some well-known brands. * Shop store sales. With the popularity of shows teaching others how to save big with coupons, many people believe this is the best way to save at grocery stores. However, the people doing the couponing are often capitalizing on buying in bulk and clipping mass amounts of coupons -- not practical for senior households. It could be in your best interest to simply shop for the items you buy frequently at the store that is selling it at the lowest price. It may increase the number of stops on your shopping trip, but you can get a really good deal in the process. * Get crafty. Sometimes things that are sold at stores for a high price can be replicated at home easily with just a few materials. From tufted headboards to curtains to decorative pillows, chances are with a little ingenuity you can make these items yourself. Or, enlist the help of a friend or family member to assist you in a project that is slightly beyond your level of expertise. Living on a fixed income can require reassessing priorities and making a few changes to the household budget.

Risk of developing cataracts increases with advanced age As men and women age, they can experience certain physical changes and health challenges. Vision impairment is one condition that many associate with aging, and cataracts are a primary concern for those of middle-age and older. Today, more than 22 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts. According to the National Eye Institute, by age 80, more than half of all Americans will either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Cataract is clouding of the eye’s lens that blocks or changes the passage of light into the eye. Normally the lens is clear, which allows light to pass through to the back of the eye, so that a person can see welldefined images. If a cataract forms and the lens becomes covered in an opaque film, light cannot pass through easily. The result will be fuzzy vision, almost like looking through a fogged-up window. If

cataracts are not treated, an individual may eventually lose most of his or her vision. One or both eyes can be affected by cataracts. In the case of both eyes being compromised, one eye is usually worse than the other. The primary risk factor for developing cataracts is age. The older a person is, the greater their risk. However, there are several other risk factors as well. * Intense heat or long-term exposure to UV rays from the sun * Certain diseases, such as diabetes * Obesity * High blood pressure * Inflammation in the eye * Hereditary influences * Long-term steroid use * Eye injuries * Other eye diseases * Smoking Prevent Blindness America provides free information to the

public on everything from cataract basics to tips on what to expect from cataract surgery. Visit or call its toll free number at (800) 331-2020. And, as part of its new Healthy Eyes Educational Series, PBA offers a specific online module on cataracts, including a Power Point presentation and guide. The organization shares this information about cataracts: * Early symptoms of a cataract may include cloudy or blurry vision. * Lights may cause a glare, seem too dim or seem too bright. * Sufferers may also find it difficult to read or drive, especially at night. * Individuals may have to change

their eyeglass prescriptions often. There are no medications or other treatment options besides surgery to correct cataracts. In the United States, cataract surgery has a 95 percent success rate, and patients often have 20/20 or 20/40 vision post-surgery. Cataract surgery is also the most frequently performed surgery, often performed as an outpatient procedure. In Canada, where, according to Statistics Canada, seniors will make up 21 percent of the population by 2026, cataract surgery is also frequent and well tolerated. Approximately 250,000 cataract surgeries take place in Canada each year, according to The National Coalition for Vision Health. It is widely recommended to

get regular eye exams to check for cataracts early on. “By getting a complete, dilated eye exam, your doctor can discuss with you the best strategy to protect your vision well into the future,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and

CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “We encourage everyone, especially those ages 40 and older, to make their vision a priority by scheduling an eye appointment today.”

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Changing Aging. Ecumen resident Jim, with dog Sofie

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Reducing risk for heart disease could save your life Heart disease doesn’t discriminate, affecting men and women regardless of their age or where they live. In the United States, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death, according to the American Heart Association. North of the border, one Canadian dies from heart disease or stroke every 7 minutes. So says the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, a charity that annually spends millions of dollars researching heart disease and promoting healthier lifestyles. For most men and women, the prevalence of heart disease is no great surprise. Nearly every adult can point to a loved one who has dealt with heart disease. Many men and women can even point to a friend or family member who lost their battle with heart disease. That familiarity should make people even more willing to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle, something the AHA admits is the best defense against heart disease and stroke. Though not all risk factors for heart disease can be controlled, there are ways to reduce that risk considerably.

Control your blood pressure High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke and a major risk for heart disease. Blood pressure measures the pressure or force of blood against the walls if your blood vessels, also known as arteries. Having your blood pressure taken is a routine on most doctor visits, but many people are unaware what the number actually measures. The top number measures the pressure when the heart contracts and pushes blood out, while the bottom number is the lowest pressure when the heart relaxes and beats. Blood pressure that is consistently above 140/90 is considered high. A normal blood pressure is one between

120/80 and 129/84. Because of the relation between blood pressure and heart disease and stroke, men and women must take steps to control their blood pressure. Having your blood pressure checked regularly is a good start. Once you get checked, reduce the amount of sodium in your diet, replacing highsodium snacks with healthier fare and monitoring sodium intake during the day. The Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends eating less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, and that includes salt added when making meals or eating at the table. Maintaining a healthy body weight and successfully managing stress are additional ways to control blood pressure.

risk of blood clots, reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and increases blood pressure. As if that’s not enough, smoking also harms those around you. According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke is responsible for 3,400 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in the United States each year. In Canada, nearly 8,000 nonsmokers lose their lives each year from exposure to secondhand smoke. What might surprise some people, however, is how quickly quitting smoking can reduce a person’s risk for heart disease. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, within 48 hours of quitting a person’s chances of having heart disease have already started to go down. For those who successfully avoid smoking for one year, the risk of a suffering a smoking-related heart attack has been cut in half. After 15 years, the risk of heart attack is the same as someone who never smoked at all.

Limit alcohol consumption The AHA notes that excessive consumption of alcohol can contribute to high triglycerides, produce irregular heartbeats and eventually lead to heart failure or stroke. There is some evidence that people who drink moderately have a lower risk of heart disease than nondrinkers. But it’s also important to note that people who drink moderately also have a lower risk of heart disease than people who drink excessively. So when it comes to alcohol, moderation reigns supreme. One or two standard drinks per day is enough depending on gender. The Heart & Stroke Foundation suggests that women who drink should not drink more than nine drinks a week, while men should not exceed 14 drinks in a single week. Of course, if there are extenuating circumstances then all bets are off. Men and women with liver disease, mental illness or a personal or family history of alcohol problems should avoid alcohol entirely. In addition, those taking certain

Embrace physical activity People who are physically inactive are twice as likely to be at risk for heart disease or stroke than people who are physically active. The AHA notes that research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days of the week can help lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol while helping to maintain a healthy weight. If starting from scratch, even light physical activity can Getting plenty of exercise — the save way, of course — is one of many ways to limit risk of heart provide some health benefits. Gradually work your way up to disease. more demanding activities, and make physical activity a routine medications should avoid alco- a prescription. a host of potential physical ail- part of your daily life. ments, not the least of which is hol consumption as well. For More information on heart the latter group, discuss alcohol heart disease. Smoking contrib- disease and stroke is available consumption with your physiThe decision to smoke to- utes to the buildup of plaque online at and cian when he or she writes you bacco is the decision to invite in the arteries, increases the

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and prom ote a healthier y ou! M edications are powerful, and because of their potential to interact with each other, it is important that we learn to manage them properly. M ak e sure your physician, as well as your pharmacist, is aware of all the medications you tak e, including any dietary supplements, and read and follow the labels on all of your medications with care. Should you have any q uestions, don’t hesitate to call your physician or speak to one of our professional pharmacists.

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Swing beds are hospital beds that can be used when patients no longer need acute care but still need skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. • Private room and private bathroom • DVD players and cable TV in each room • Select your favorite foods from a menu • Snacks throughout the day • Physical, Occupational and Speech therapy on site • Book Cart • Dress in your own clothing every day

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1900 N. Sunrise Drive 200 East Bowler Street St. Peter, MN 56082 Le Center, MN 56057 Hospital (507) 931-2200 | Clinic (507) 934-8480 Toll Free 1-877-355-8450

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