Don’t forget kids’ swim lessons
Note: On occasion in this space, adapted excerpts from the EndNotes blog substitute for the column’s usual question-and-answer format.
As you plan your children’s summer schedules, be sure to include swimming lessons. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is second (to birth defects) as the leading killer of children ages 1 to 4. About half of the drownings take place in swimming pools.
“Research shows that early formal swimming lessons reduce risk,” according to the CDC.
Where do you look for lessons for little ones? Parks departments with pools often offer them, as do YMCAs and YWCAs, private health clubs and even some camps. Often, the fees are purposely kept affordable. But whatever the cost, it’s a small one to save your child’s life.
More education equals less smoking and obesity
The CDC recently released statistics on the link between education levels and obesity, smoking and longevity.
• Women 25 years of age and older with less than a bachelor’s degree were more likely to be obese (39 percent to 43 percent) than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (25 percent).
• In 2010, 31 percent of adults ages 25-64 with a high school diploma or less education were current smokers, compared with 24 percent of adults with some college and 9 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
• On average, 25-year-old men without a high school diploma had a life expectancy 9.3 years less than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Women without a high school diploma had a life expectancy 8.6 years less than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
At the Celebrate Life! Expo May 12 in Spokane, Elder Services of Spokane County offered a depression screening. Depression zaps your ability to celebrate life, no matter your age. Answer yes or no to the following questions.
• Are you basically satisfied with your life?
• Have you dropped many of your activities and interests?
• Do you feel that your life is empty?
• Do you often get bored?
• Are you in good spirits most of the time?
• Are you afraid something bad is going to happen to you?
• Do you feel happy most of the time?
• Do you often feel helpless?
• Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things?
• Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?
• Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now?
• Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now?
• Do you feel full of energy?
• Do you feel that your situation is hopeless?
• Do you think most people are better off than you are?
Scoring: The depression screeners have a formula to determine scores and depression levels, but it’s safe to say that if you had more negative-sounding answers – yes, you feel worthless; no, you don’t feel happy most of the time; yes your life feels empty; no, you do not feel full of energy – you’re likely depressed.
Depression puts you at risk for physical problems and it can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s. It’s also treatable – with talk therapy, medication or both – no matter your age.
Your personal Ponce De Leon
In senior circles, you often hear that daily exercise is the “fountain of youth.” Regular exercise won’t keep you looking how you did at 20 or 30. It won’t necessarily keep you fighting trim. But exercise as you age seems to oil the body, keeping things running better. And it can save you money.
The American Heart Association recently reported that physically fit adults have significantly lower health care costs as they age, “compared to their less physically fit counterparts.”
The association’s study tracked Medicare coverage in 20,489 healthy people, free of prior heart attack, stroke or cancer, from 1999-2009. After age 65, for men, annual costs were $3,277 (highest fitness) versus $5,134 (lowest fitness) and for women, $2,755 (highest fitness) versus $4,565 (lowest fitness).
Catherine Johnston, a health care professional from Olympia, and Rebecca Nappi, a Spokesman-Review features writer, welcome your questions. Contact them through their EndNotes blog at