Good day to you,

Here it is November and with the change in time/clocks I now awake in morning light. Nice.

This month I offer you three short pieces. The first is science/health; the second a bit more about elderhood, our third big stage of life, and the third part offers an idea for enhancing your life

1. Chemistry. Homocysteine, aging and longevity.

In human beings, high homocysteine concentrations are a predictor of age related diseases - especially heart attack, stroke, vein blood clots and cognitive impairment.

A simple blood test will let you know your homocysteine level. Normal levels are in the range between 5 to 15 micromoles BUT most health care providers advise keeping you level towards the lower end eg. 5-8 micromoles.

High homcystein is often treated by increasing B12 and folic acid. BUT SOME PEOPLE have a missing gene which makes it impossible for their body to process these correctly. If your homocysteine is on the high side and remains there despite taking folic acid (800 ) and B vitamins, you might want to ask your health care provider for the simple blood test to see if you have this genetic anomaly. Why?

If you have the genetic issue there is a prescription form that can resolve your problem and thus lower your risk of dementia, heart and stroke issues. Worth doing? I think so.

2. It is not how long you live but how much meaning you find in your days. As I talk to elders I find that many go through a period when they seem to have 'lost the passion or the energy' that used to characterize them in their adult years. They used to be engaged....but it no longer engages them as much.

THIS IS NORMAL. It is a mark of a shift out of adulthood which was filled with activity and responsibility into elderhood which moves in a new direction. Still it is an uncomfortable feeling - if you are in it. Some find themselves thinking: What is wrong with me? Is my life over? Is this a sign I am going to die soon?

Well, you may be dying to adulthood (just as teen years mark a dying to childhood.) But you are NOT dying. Your elder years are well worth living. But what can be difficult is that there are few role models for shifting from adulthood into elderhood if you live in the developed world.

In the industrialized world OUR generation is the one carving out this role of elder. Go to the non-industrialized world and you will find many elders - elders with different roles in their communities.

Our shift in perspective calls us to take a deeper look at who we are, who we want to be and how we will fit into society as a whole. Here are four areas where elders often find new meaning and new direction for their lives.

1.Nature - I recently read that bird watching is done by more older people than any other segment of the population. You can start with little equipment - just a simple windowsill bird feeder will do. Or you can join the Audabon society or check out birding sites on line. You can even take a birding course or vacation to jump start your knowledge and experience.

There are so many nature trips: Whale watching, safaris, birding. If you can afford it, these make excellent vacations. But you can also go on line. Start researching. Join a discussion group or two. Nature provides special rewards and elders often reap them.

2. Attending Sports events. I know that many elders watch sports on TV .... BUT to be part of the crowd at a live game, cheering the home team. Too expensive? Never.

Look to your local high school or college. Get the schedule. Show up. Cheer for the home team. Keep this up for a few years and you may find yourself a 'team treasure'. Oh, yes and if you are a woman REMEMBER that womens sports teams NEED spectators and fans. Have fun. Encourage youth. Become a regular.

3. Gratitude. YOU have done much on your own to bring you to this stage of your life. But there were others - family members, teachers, on the job mentors or friends...sometimes even strangers who gave a hand along the way.

Developing a 'grateful heart' is one of the real assets of elderhood.

If you would like to engage in a trans-formative exercise, try this. Get a notebook or start a log on your computer. Spend 10 - 20 minutes at least twice a week recalling ALL the people (or animals and events) that helped you become the person you are. Make a list. Number the names. Bring to mind what the person was like - what they looked like, how they sounded. Think about what you learned or how you developed as a result of your encounters.

As you do this task you may become aware that even some unpleasant people or encounters helped you develop some fine habits or characteristics. Do not be afraid to 'give the devil its due'. Say your 'thank you' now.

If you take time to do this about your past, you will find yourself feeling 'better about yourself'. And once you have finished 'gratitude for what has been in my past', you might consider doing a 5 minute gratitude review at the end of each day. Many people do this after supper or while they are getting ready for bed.

A grateful heart is one of the marks of a 'great elder'. A grateful heart also helps our general health and makes us much more pleasant to be around. Try setting up a 'gratitude time' in your day this month. I guarantee that by December you will find it a worthwhile task.....and you may decide to continue you it 'all the days of your life'.

Be well. Be happy....and be grateful.