Find your "Fitness Age"

This article appears in the Nov. 3, 2013 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Trying to quantify your aerobic fitness is a daunting task. It usually requires access to an exercise-physiology lab. But researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have developed a remarkably low-tech means of precisely assessing aerobic fitness and estimating your “fitness age,” or how well your body functions physically, relative to how well it should work, given your age.

The researchers have used all of this data to create an online calculator that allows people to determine their VO2 max without going to a lab. You’ll need your waist measurement and your resting heart rate. To determine it, sit quietly for 10 minutes and check your pulse; count for 30 seconds, double the number and you have your resting heart rate. Plug these numbers, along with your age, sex and frequency and intensity of exercise, into the calculator, and you’ll learn your fitness age.

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Have you had "The Conversation"?

 When it comes to end of life - what do YOU want?

Most folks say they don't want to unduly burden their families with their final decisions, but also most of them have NEVER discussed this with their family.

My Mother had Parkinson's and due to that she could no longer swallow.  Since she would not talk about it, my brother and I had to make the difficult decision about whether to have a feeding tube inserted or to let her die without food and water.  In addition, she never discussed what she wanted  for a funeral - we made our best guesses.

As it turned out, she couldn't digest the food from the feeding tube, she regurgitated it and it went into her lungs -- she died of pneumonia.

Two things to check out and 

My children know my wishes , I carry my medical wishes in my car and I've put a copy of them with my Dr. and my closest hospital.  Now I'm beginning to carry a copy of them with me when I travel abroad.

Do your family a BIG favor and either have the conversation or use mydirectives if you can't bring yourself to talk about this subject.

I'm also investigating "Final Exit" - which advises people who are ill and don't want to continue to live - more after I've investigated them.

FHA Reverse Mortgage Info

An FHA reverse mortgage is designed for homeowners age 62 and older. The loan can work one of two ways: (1) Either convert the equity in your home into regular income payouts, or (2) as a line of credit that you can simply tap as you need it. The loan does not have to be paid back during the homeowner's lifetime. It can be repaid once the homeowner has passed away or no longer lives in the home, perhaps due to moving into a senior facility or with family. At that point, the family can use other funds to pay back the loan and maintain the home, or the home can be sold to repay the payments. Any proceeds above the amount owed to the reverse mortgage lender will belong to the other spouse or the estate, so any remaining equity can be transferred to heirs. It's important to note that this debt cannot be passed along to the estate or heirs; it must be settled once the owner is no longer in the home.5 

If there is more than one borrower, the age of the youngest borrower is used to determine the amount you can receive. The amount will be based on current interest rates, mortgage insurance premiums and the property's appraised value (up to $625,500).6 

To be eligible for an FHA reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years old, own your home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at closing with proceeds from the reverse loan. You also must show that you're able to pay ongoing property taxes and insurance, and you must live in the home. One additional requirement is that you will have to undergo counseling from a certified HECM counselor to discuss the financial implications - as well as potential alternatives - to obtaining a HECM before you can apply for the reverse mortgage. You can find a HECM counselor by calling (800) 569-4287.7 

Applicants may qualify for the FHA reverse mortgage program even if their original mortgage was not FHA insured. However, the home itself must either be a single family home or a two-to-four unit home in which you live in one of the units. HUD-approved condominiums and manufactured homes that meet FHA requirements are also eligible. With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities and any applicable hazard and flood insurance premiums.8 

You can receive additional free information about reverse mortgages in general by contacting the National Council on Aging at (800) 510-0301 or downloading their free booklet, Use Your Home to Stay at Home. To learn more about the FHA's HECM program, visit the HECM home page at

From Andrew Rafal's newsletter -

Alzheimers and Sleep

Good Sleep Associated with Slower Buildup of Alzheimer’s Plaques - In a brain imaging study of 70 adults, researchers at Johns Hopkins investigated the impact of sleep on the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease. Both the amount of sleep and sleep quality were examined for their potential contributions to beta-amyloid plaque buildup.

The participants in this study were adults whose age ranged from 53 to 91 years old, with an average age of 76. These individuals were part of a longer longitudinal brain imaging study, and their earlier MRIs were used as a reference when the presence of beta-amyloid was measured.

This research suggests that interventions to improve or maintain healthy sleep among older adults could play a role in preventing or slowing the onset or progress of Alzheimer’s Disease. This research may also have significant public health implications, since over half of older adults report having insomnia symptoms.

For more read the full article