Friday, December 31, 2010

Bad For the Heart Equals Bad For the Brain

What's bad for the heart is also bad for the brain. That's what Rachel A. Whitmer's medical research in Oakland, California, has determined.

People who heavily smoke in midlife are at double the risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia than their contemporaries.

Over 25% of the 21,123 ethnically diverse 50-60 year olds tested over a period of 23 years were diagnosed with dementia. Those who smoked more than 2 packs of cigarettes a day in midlife had a 157% increased risk of developing Alzheimer's and a 172% increased risk of developing vascular dementia (caused by damage to the arteries in the brain).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Couple of Preventive Measures For Stroke

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association recommends measures to avoid a second or subsequent stroke: Treat metabolic syndrome and undergo carotid angioplasty.

Patients who have had a stroke or TIA are at high risk of having another one.

Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes. They are caused by a lack of blood to the brain.

Treatment for metabolic syndrome includes changes in diet and exercise to lower blood pressure and high cholesterol.

If safe, patients should undergo angioplasty and stenting in the carotid artery as well as take other measures to reduce chances of recurrence.

Even though the finding may not be conclusive, a new research review reported that "downing a few drinks (3-4 standard drinks) or contracting an infection such as the flu seem to be connected to a short-term spike in the risk of stroke" by as much as 2 - 4 times.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Less Sleep Equals Risky Colon Polyps?

My eyes and ears perk up when I notice "unlikely" medical connections. For instance, once I saw the article entitled, "Lack of Sleep Linked to Risky Colon Polyps," I was hooked.

According to an article by Adam Marcus, dated October 15, 2010, in Reuters Health Information, in one recent study, "people who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to have dangerous polyps in their colon or rectum compared to better-rested patients."

Approximately 10% of these polyps develop into cancerous tumors. But don't be mistaken...the findings don't prove that lack of sleep causes these polyps to occur, only that lack of sleep could be one factor in colon cancer.

The study doesn't show how these two criteria might be connected. However, Dr. Li Li at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center wonders if the sleep hormone melatonin protects against cancer tumors.

At any rate, researchers have much to ponder.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Unusual Climb in Celiac Disease: When to Stay Away From Rye, Wheat or Barley

Just yesterday my husband, CarMan, finally noticed all the hype about gluten. "What is gluten?" he asked.

Gluten is a type of protein found in some but not all grains. Rye, wheat and barley that are found in cereals or many types of bread contain gluten.

The incidence of Americans, especially the elderly, who are intolerant to gluten as doubled every 15 years since 1974, according to findings reported in the September 27, 2010, edition of Annals of Medicine.

Researchers in a 2003 study showed a rate of about 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder identified with gluten-intolerance. The rate of occurrence tends to rise as the population ages. A Finnish study suggested that the disease is 2.5 times more common in the elderly than the population in general.

Physicians may want to test for celiac disease when their patients complain of diarrhea, intestinal boating, stomach cramps, joint pain, chronic fatigue or depression. Left untreated the disease interferes with nutrient absorption and small intestine damage.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gift Cards...Are Sure To Please

Ahhh, one of my favorite gifts is a gift card. I know it doesn't usually come wrapped up prettily and you don't get to dive into a tissue-filled box but the anticipation of using it makes up for any unwrapping frenzy.

This last August an act was passed to extend expiration dates for 5 years. This gives us some time to find those misplaced cards during the non-holiday times of the year.

I can't tell you how often I've cleaned drawers (not my favorite chore) only to find (to my delight) a new or partially used gift card. It almost makes the chore bearable.

The Consumer Action Website provides tips for using your gift cards:

1. Read the terms, conditions and expiration

2. Record the card's ID number and keep the information in a safe place

3. Don't lose your card...but if you do, use the above information to replace it

Have fun, stay well, and happy holidays!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Elderly Kidney Failure Patients More Likely Than Ever Before to Get Transplants

Just the other day I was half-listening to NPR. They were chatting about the likelihood of getting kidney transplants in South Africa. Possible recipients used to be grouped according to age, motivation, BMI, and other factors and complications.

In an October 28, 2010, news release from HealthDay News by Robert Preidt, "elderly kidney failure patients in the United States are twice as likely to get a kidney transplant as they were in the mid-199o's, although the likelihood is still low."

48% of the half a million people who suffer kidney failure are 60+ years of age. This age group should not discount transplantation as chances of finding a living donor or older deceased donor are greater than ever.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your Government Is Working For You: Holiday (And Other) Gift Ideas

Now this is a new one to me. Our government is making gift suggestions! And they are among the best I've seen.

Some come from museums and presidential libraries, some from Amtrak...even some from the post office. Honestly, folks, you can't go wrong at this site.

There are coin sets, folk recordings, jewelry, badges, collectibles, national park passes, photography and prints, tree ornaments, toys, games, apparel, books, food, bath items, event tickets, World War II memorabilia. You can even adopt an animal species.

I personally am going no farther for my future gifts.

Budgeting for a Happy Holiday

I know. You thought I had fallen away from the earth. Well, almost.

Being part of the sandwich generation, I've recently dealt with health issues (my mother), reworking my website (me) and wedding plans (my daughter).

The health issues are getting resolved as we speak (write) and the website is looking better than ever. But the wedding plans still have a ways to go even if the wedding is only 2 months away.

The big problem with weddings is getting what you want but staying within the budget and my kid is vigilant about that (good for her and her fiance!).

Keeping to a budget isn't specific to weddings. It pertains to yearlong (and future) plans.

Now that the holidays are upon us, some personal budgeting might be a wise way to go. Cut down your gift-giving list to the "essential" people. Think "do-it-yourself." Use last year's decorations. Use funky wrapping paper--like the comics. Forego the little things.

I want to share with you a cool site that aids you with your holiday spending. You enter the amount you've budgeted and the actual prices paid. The closer you get to the amount you've budgeted reveals how good you are at this game.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blot Clots In Relation to Alzheimer's Disease

Signs that a stroke has occurred are often found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. And there is new evidence that these blood clots such as these may play a significant role in Alzheimer's Disease--causing poor blood flow to the brain.

The protein fragment that plays a defining role in Alzheimer's, beta-amyloid, can stimulate the formation of resilient blood clots. Using mice, researchers found that anti-clotting drugs improved memory. The downside is that anticoagulants carry a risk of hemorrhage.

Beta-amyloid accumulates in the blood vessels that feed the brain, cutting off the brain's blood supply.

It is hoped that researchers will be able "to develop drugs that are capable of safely improving cerebrall blood flow and staving off dementia in Alzheimer's disease."

Neuron, June 10, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kidney Stones And Estrogen Therapy

A clinical study conducted for 5-7 years and included thousands of postmenopausal women indicated that "estrogen therapy increases the risk of kidney stones in healthy postmenopausal women."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Want To Keep The Common Cold At Bay? Try Aerobic Exercise

People who exercise regularly seem to contract fewer and milder colds.

According to a new study, it was reported that people who exercised at least five days a week had 41% fewer and milder cold symptoms than sedentary folks.

It could be, according to lead researcher David C. Nieman, that "exercise activates the immune system at a higher rate than normal and causes immune cells to attack viruses."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Excess Weight Can Help: Glaucoma

When was the last time you ever heard that excess weight can help you?

Harvard researchers say that being overweight can help women actually resist a form a glaucoma called primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), one of the most common age-related eye diseases.

With each unit increase in body mass index (BMI) the risk for normal-tension glaucoma decreased in women of white European descent.

"Glaucoma is a potentially blinding illness that damages the optic nerve. Increased pressure in the eye is linked to optic nerve damage. Effective treatments to control eye pressure are available. But in people with normal-tension glaucoma, optic nerve damage happens even though eye pressure is not high," according to researchers.

They speculate that fatty tissue in the body "may release hormonally related signals that help prevent optic nerve deterioration."

However, researchers warn against gaining weight in hopes of preventing glaucoma since we know about the relationship of overweight and obesity with numerous other ailments including heart disease and diabetes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What You Can Do To Decrease Your Risk For Dementia

In an article by Robert Preidt for MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a new study has shown that "it may be possible to lower the incidence of dementia by reducing rates of diabetes and depression, boosting education, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption."

The exact cause of dementia is still unknown but scientists in the study believe that their are greater risks when you have a history of depression, a diet rich in sugar, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, less of an education and vascular problems. The study of 1,433 healthy people over 65 living in the south of France showed that reducing or eliminating any of the above significantly reduced their chances of contracting dementia.

Eliminating depression decreased your risk by 10%. Increasing education improved your odds of having dementia by 18%.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Advantages of a Health Advocate

With my mother in the hospital and my mother-in-law in a skilled nursing facility, I know what it's like being a health advocate. Just when a doctor delivers a serious diagnosis, the advocate can pay close attention (hopefully) while the patient sits stunned and scared.

Listening to the doctor and asking questions is a vital piece in healthcare issues. The advocate who speaks up for the patient and helps him/her better understand the illness also secures the care and resources to make the journey easier.

The health advocate can be a family member, trusted friend or co-worker or a hired professional (your insurance may cover this cost), someone who knows your medical history in depth and is calm, detail-oriented and can ask questions and convey responses clearly.

This is what a health advocate can do for you:

1. Ask questions and voice your concerns
2. Compile and update your list of medicines
3. Help with after-care--following medication and other treatment instructions
4. Help arrange transportation
5. Research treatment options, procedures, doctors and hospitals
6. Assist with insurance
7. Ask the "what's next" questions
8. Submit an advance directive to your doctor

According to physician and author Dr. Carolyn Clancy, "It's likely that you or a loved one will one day need a health advocate. For many patients, the benefits of having an advocate are priceless because he or she can help you understand your options and give you peace of mind so you can focus on your recovery."

Source: Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Medical Marvel: Cold Caps Save Hair During Chemotherapy

On ABC this morning there was a segment about a medical marvel--about 70% of breast cancer (and some other cancers) patients may save their hair by applying cold caps during chemotherapy. It's not an easy process changing the caps every 30 minutes for 7 hours but my cousin vouches that it has preserved all her hair (and she even grew some!) with her 3rd (or 4th?) bout of chemotherapy treatments for her Stage 4 colon cancer.

She contacted Penguin Cold Cap creator Frank Fronda and through him met a woman in her area who had successfully used the caps. Not only did this woman attend Eve's chemotherapy appointments, she graciously helped and instructed Eve's dream team how to properly apply the caps.

If you or someone you know has cancer and is traumatized about losing their hair, check into this treatment. It cannot help with all kinds of cancer (leukemia, etc.) but it can give you hope.

However, we are reminded (and I ardently agree) that just like a man is not his car, a woman is not her hair.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Angioplasty Does NOT Cut The Risk of Heart Attacks and Death

Angioplasty reduces angina, a cardiac-linked chest pain, in stable heart patients. It does not cut the risk of heart attacks or death in these patients even though the patients believe that they might have a heart attack within 5 years if they don't have the procedure. Consultation with their cardiologist does little to end this common misbelief.

Most cardiologists have reported that angioplasty mainly reduces pain and improves the quality of life. However, medication alone--in many cases--can achieve the same benefit.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cancer Screening: What's New

A screening called virtual colonoscopy is a less invasive means to identify colorectal cancer. According to a study at the American College of Radiology/American Roentgen Ray Society, the virtual colonoscopy examines the entire abdomen and pelvis for cancer. Study author Dr. Ganesh R. Veerappan said that this method of screening "should be considered as an alternative to optical colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening or as a onetime procedure to identify significant treatable intracolonic an extracolonic lesions."

Imagine a simple annual 100% effective blood test to see if you have ovarian cancer. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed this new kind screening.

Typically, patients don't know they have ovarian cancer because it is asymtomatic in its early stages. The new approach can detect this "silent killer" before it has reached very advanced stages (80% of patients are diagnosed at later stages.)

The implications may be "earth-shatteringly important" because "it's possible that there are also signatures for other cancers, not just ovarian, so (they're) also going to be using the same approach to look at other types of cancers."


The majority of biopsies being done are less invasive than ever before. That's because with the help of imaging in the form of CT scans, ultrasound and MRI, a needle is guided to remove tissue or fluids to test for disease. An "image-guided biopsy (also) allows more definitive diagnosis and shorter hospital stays," according to Dr. Robert Quencer, chair of radiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The use of imaging guidance also enables more efficient and safer targeting of lesions.

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on cancer screening and colonoscopy, visit

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chest Compressions Matter

Chest compressions are important in sudden cardiac arrest (total, abrupt and unexpected loss of heart function). Even before being treated with an electrical defibrillator to try to revive the heart's normal rhythm.

Learning chest compressions is simple. The procedure involves putting the heel of one's hand on the chest, locking the wrist, and pushing downward a couple inches repeatedly in a pumping action.

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on CPR, visit

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stent vs. Endarectomy

According to studies by the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and Institute of Neurology at the University College London and the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, North Carolina (CREST):
If you're 70 or older and have a blocked neck artery, opt to surgically widen the artery rather than having a stent put in because research has found that your chances of dying or having a stroke are 50% as likely than inserting a stent.

Until now (September 10, 2010) many experts thought that the lesser-invasive stenting procedure would be safer.

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on heart disease and stroke, visit

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No Rest For Car-Man

We finished a movie. I lingered in my office going over my email. Then I ambled into the bedroom to join Car-man.

I moved over to snuggle into his arms and we fall asleep.

I awakened to his laughter. I had pushed him over to the end of the bed. He had been dreaming about dogs (maybe this is a good sign--I want one). In his dream, one dog in particular, a German Shepherd, leaned against him with his full weight. Car-man moved to steady himself...and he almost fell out of bed.

I gave him half the bed and we both settled into restful slumber.

I don't know what I was dreaming about (I have an overblown imagination) when I yelled, "Help."

Poor Car-man. No wonder he dragged himself out of bed this morning.

This whole scenario could be a problem if it happened regularly. Studies have shown that "men who slept for short periods of time were much more likely to die over a 14-year period."

Why? It may be that sleep problems may contribute to clogged arteries or disrupt the immune system.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lifelong Healthy Weight Ups Your Chances For Not Dying of Colon Cancer

We've heard so much about obesity lately--how it can ruin your health. Well, here's another reason to avoid lifelong obesity: Your chances of survival as a postmenopausal woman are greater if you are diagnosed with colon cancer. And losing weight after the fact may be too late.

There have already been several studies revealing the association of excess body weight to a higher risk of colon cancer. In an Iowa Women's Health Study obese women had a 45% greater chance of all causes of death than women within a healthy weight range and a 32% greater chance of dying from colon cancer.

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on cancer and obesity, visit

Friday, October 8, 2010

Smoking: You Can Get Help to Stop

Nicotine craving is a major hurdle. Some people try to kick the smoking habit by applying an antidepressant drug delivered through a patch on the skin, hopefully to reduce the craving, making it easier to quit. The drug proved not to be better than a placebo.

According to studies taken place at Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, Dr. Joel D. Killen and his team determined that successful smoking cessation has to be a combination of pharmacologic aids and behavioral changes.

Good news from Medicare:

"Medicare will now pay for cessation counseling for any beneficiary who wants to quit (smoking). Until now, this service was covered only for Medicare recipients who had a smoking-related illness or symptoms of such an illness," according to a 9/1/2010 article written by Eleni Berger.

Smokers will be able to get counseling for 2 cessation attempts (at 4 sessions per attempt) but a qualified physician or other Medicare-recognized practitioner must provide the counseling.

Medicare Part D allows Medicare beneficiaries who are eligible to get prescription medication that can help the process.

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on smoking, visit

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

PTSD and Cognitive Impairment

After physicians studied 10,481 veterans 65 and older, it was reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on September 2, 2010 that people with post-traumatic stress disorder are at significantly greater risk for cognitive impairment (dementia) than their peers who had combat injuries but no stress disorder.

New studies will hopefully show whether the risk of dementia can be reduced by effectively treating PTSD.

"Confirmation of a causal link between PTSD and cognitive impairment in late life would have enormous global implication in a world facing a rising societal burden of dementia, a shrinking workforce to sustain its economies, and the difficulties of containing human violence," according to Dr. Soo Borson of the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle. Moreover, "Soldiers and other U.S. war veterans are just one of many groups exposed to deeply traumatizing experiences with lifetime effect."

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on PTSD and Mild Cognitive Impairment, visit

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Be Nice, Work Less and Stay Warm: It May Lower Your Chances of Getting a Heart Attack or Stroke

Those having competitive or aggressive personalities may be at increased risk of heart attack or stroke, a recent study revealed.

It was found that those traits caused a greater thickening of arteries of the neck.

Out-of-shape men need to rethink "working overtime." Working more than 45 hours per week more than doubled their risk of dying of heart disease, according to a recent Danish study.

Winter sports tourists are at greater risk for heart attacks due to low temperatures, high altitude and inadequate conditioning, according to Dr. Berhard Metzler of the European Society of Cardiology.

Source: MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on behavior changes , anger and heart disease, visit

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall Risk vs. Perceived Fall Risk

A study conduct in Sydney, Australia, of 500 people ages 70-90 reported that "both actual and perceived fall risk contribute independently to a person's future risk of falling. People with a high level of anxiety about falling are most likely to suffer a fall."

Most of the participants in the study had a clear perception of their fall risk. But about 1/3 of them either under- or over-estimated their risk.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on falls, barrier-free aids, and accident prevention, visit

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Research on Mild Cognitive Impairment

On September 7, 2010, the National Institute of Health reported that older men may be at greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than older women.

MCI is often a precursor to Alzheimer's Disease.

The results of a study of almost 2,000 men and women indicated that:

1. MCI was more prevalent in men than women.

2. Most of those affected by MCI were much more likely to have a form of MCI referred to as amnestic MCI.

3. MCI was higher among seniors with the APOE e4 gene. This gene is a known risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's Disease.

4. MCI is prevalent more with those who have attended fewer years of schooling.

5. MCI is higher in never-married people.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on MCI, visit

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reversing the Effects of Aging Skin

The 2010 Summer Academy meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology released good news to those who want to reverse aging skin non-surgically.

There are new deeper, thicker skin fillers that can recreate cheek volume which gives a more youthful appearance.

In addition, new technology shows promise for skin tightening and moderate lifting by using what is called fractionated bipolar radiofrequency energy (RF). This process causes thermal skin damage that stimulates wound healing with new collagen forming thicker, more elastic tissue.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on aging skin, visit

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nutritional Supplements Help With Major Depression

Up to 10% of people will suffer from some major depressive disorder some time in their lives.

A small study lead by a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. George Papakostas, found that adding a costly nutritional supplement to a patient's antidepressant treatment improved their symptoms.

Called S-Adenosyl Methionine or SAMe, the supplement that is sold over-the-counter had fewer side effects than some FDA-approved prescribed medications.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on depression and nutritional supplements, visit

Monday, September 20, 2010

Help For Thinning Hair

Thank you, American Academy of Dermatology, for addressing an aggravating condition I am dealing with now--thinning hair. Fortunately, there are many different hair care products, or hair cosmetics, that can help conceal my balding spots.

For women who don't want to resort to medical or surgical treatment, here are a few tips to make your hair appear thicker:

1. Pressed powder matched to your hair color and applied to the scalp with a eye-shadow-type applicator

2. Keratin fiber hair cosmetics can be sprinkled over the hair to thicken its appearance--these are safe and effective and add volume to areas of thinning hair

3. Avoid "conditioning shampoos" and use "volumizing shampoos

4. Look for "fine hair" conditioners and apply primarily to the ends rather than the scalp

Test a number of shampoos and conditioners to find the formula that is right for you.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on thinning hair, visit

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cancer Breath: New Cancer Research

All cancers are much easier to treat in early stages--when they haven't spread to other parts of the body.

An "electronic nose" may be used in the future to discover cancer.

Israeli researchers are using a simple breath test to detect lung (the leading cause of dancer death in both women and men in the United States), breast, bowel and prostate cancers.

Hopefully, this will lead to the development of a cost-effective, easy-to-use, portable test that will enable physicians to diagnose and treat cancer early.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stroke Patients Stop Taking Medications

Stroke patients who implicitly followed doctors orders generally understood why they were taking their medications and/or had adequate health insurance to pay for them.

However, one study recently published noted that 25% of stroke patients "stopped taking one or more of their stroke prevention medications within three months after their stroke." And patients who are either more severely disabled or without insurance are even more likely to discontinue medications.

Doctors need to be aware of this event so that they can properly handle medical incidences.
According to a lead researcher both patients and caregivers need clear streamlined instructions and follow-up on new risk factors.

Over the last 15 years, there has been very little improvement in the use of medical therapies that have been shown to improve outcomes in outpatients with heart failure. Certain medications such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers need to be prescribed more. Why doctors are not prescribing them as much as they once did is a mystery. Perhaps doctors are getting tired of using the same old drugs in favor of the newer, more expensive ones.

Information taken from MedlinePlus, health information from the National Library of Medicine

For more on strokes, visit

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Prayer Healing

In a sight and hearing-impaired study in Africa, many reported that when the healer is in close proximity to the patient (often touching or hugging them), the patient shows remarkable improvement--even more than previously seen using hypnosis.

Candy Gunther Brown, associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University, reported that significant progress was made with patients with moderate to severe auditory and visual impairments.

"Placebo effects are certainly the best known of these kinds of mind-body interactions that take place," said Brown. "The effects could also be attributable to subjects being more motivated simply because they are being studied.

One physician believes that prayer and the power of touch and human connection may have some as-yet unexplained power to heal.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Belly Fat Can Damage Blood Vessels

Even a little belly fat can hinder the function of blood vessels causing higher blood pressure, blood vessel disease and other problems. It doesn't take much of a weight gain (like around the holidays) to produce these potentially harmful effects.

The damage occurs when the abdominal fat interferes with blood vessel's contracting and dilating.

But there's good news: The dysfunction is entirely reversible once the person loses the excess weight and abdominal fat.

1. Think about what you eat and why

2. Cut down on portions

3. Resolve stress and negative feelings

4. Get support from family and friends

5. Get a buddy to give you moral support

6. Don't be hard on ourself if you slip every once in a while

Friday, September 10, 2010

Having Surgery? What You Need to Know

Every year more than 15 million Americans have surgery. Most operations are not emergencies.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRC) has a document that may help you and your family understand more about your surgery--whether it has to be done immediately or whether it can wait. Don't be afraid to bombard your physician with questions. Make sure you understand your instructions when you return home. This will increase your chances for a good and steady recovery.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Why do I need an operation?

2. What operation are you recommending?

3. Are there alternatives to surgery?

4. How much will the operation cost?

5. What are the benefits of having the operation?

6. What are the risks of having the operation?

7. What if I don't have this operation?

8. Where can I get a second opinion?

9. What kind of anesthesia will I need?

10. How long will it take me to recover?

10. What are your qualifications and how much experience do you have doing this operation?

11. At which hospital will the operation be done?

12. How long will I be in the hospital?

13. Will you mark the site of the surgery with a marking pen the day of the surgery?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Heart News: The Latest in Heart Research

What do Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the San Joaquin Valley, California, Birmingham, Alabama, Salt Lake City, Utah, Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Michigan have in common? They are among the most polluted cities in the United States.

According to an American Heart Association Report, July, 2010, there is a scientific evidence that ozone might trigger cell death in the heart.

Tests on rats overseen by Rajat Sethi, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, and other researchers proved that ozone or O3 negatively affected a heart-protective protein. In other words, ozone which decreased levels of the good protein also makes a chemical available that is known for "telling the heart cells to die."

In another July,2010, report by the AHA, researchers in Germany found that rats that were implanted with genetically engineered stem cells may have less heart damage and improved cardiac function after a heart attack. More research is needed before human testing can begin.

According to the July 28 HealthDay News (taken from the New England Journal of Medicine), "if you haven't been well-trained in CPR and you see someone having what appears to be a heart attack, just doing chest compressions to help keep the blood flowing can be as effective as CPR that includes mouth-to-mouth breathing."

It is now hoped that bystanders might be more willing to attempt CPR, doubling the chances for survival. Emergency dispatchers can provide instructions on where to place your hands. Dr. Thomas Rea, medical director of the Emergency Medical Services for Seattle and King County, WA, hopes that lay people will start doing chest compressions in an emergency. "You don't have to be perfect," he said, "Your actions can save a life."

Heart patients who have needed an aortic valve transplant from a dead donor now have another option. Researchers are showing that use of the patient's own pulmonary valve to replace the malfunctioning aortic valve may be a better way to go. A dead donor's pulmonary valve can then be transplanted into the heart patient.

An Italian study found that personality is linked to a thickening of the neck (carotid) artery walls. If you're hostile and tend to be manipulative or aggressive, you have a 49% greater risk of causing your arteries to narrow--thus increasing your chances for cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Elderly Have Difficulty Administering Eyedrops

Buildup of internal eye pressure (Glaucoma) is one of the main causes of vision damage. Standard treatment relies on the patient administering pressure-lowering drops to each eye.

In a recent study patients frequently applied drops to their eyes incorrectly by either adding too few or too many drops or by touching the eye with the applicator. Many of those participants who thought they were applying the drops correctly were in fact not, according to numerous videos of their home routines.

Eye care providers need to teach their patients the best procedure to administer the drops, "which is usually with a mirror, tilting the head back and placing the drop in the eye while holding down the lower eyelid."

For more on eye disorders, including "How to take eye drop medicine," visit

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fibromyalgia: Pain At Its Worst

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by widespread pain. It strikes about 10 million (90% women) Americans. There is no cure and pain medications are of little help. And for years it has been highly misunderstood.

Insomnia and fatigue are common. Heart conditions and overweight plague sufferers because exercise causes muscle pain and tender joints. Women with fibromyalgia die of liver disease and strokes at a higher rate than the general population.

The syndrome can also bring on psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, memory and concentration problems. Suicide urges occur to fibromyalgia sufferers more than others.

Researchers have discovered lately that those afflicted with fibromyalgia feel a given amount of pain more intensely than the average person even when there is no obvious cause. This is because of abnormalities in the brain's pain-processing centers.

If you are plagued with this condition, make sure your physician is aware of both your mental as well as physical health.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doctors Notes At Your Disposal; Know What Your Physician Is Entering In Your Records

How much would you like to read what your primary doctor is entering on your chart?

In an effort to improve and expand dialogue between doctor and patient, 3 hospitals are participating in a trial called OpenNotes project.

With a click of a mouse, patients can retrieve notes, eliminating the often-laborious efforts currently in place.

Participants and physicians will be asked after the 1-year trial how they like the system.

It is hoped that patients will become more involved in their own care.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Alcohol And Rheumatoid Arthritis: How Alcohol Can Help

There is a new and welcome report for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis:

Dr. James Maxwell, lead author of a study and a consultant rheumatologist at The Roterham NHS Foundation Trust in England compared 1,004 healthy participants to 873 patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

They "found that arthritis was progressively less severe as alcohol frequency increased, with a definite difference compared to nondrinkers even in the least frequent alcohol consumption group."

There was less damage to joints and less inflammation the more often one drank.

It is thought that perhaps alcohol may reduce immune response (which leads to inflammation) and it might also contribute to reducing pain.

Still, the evidence needs to determine the amount of alcohol for the desired effect and the study needs to be replicated for scientific purposes.

For more on rheumatoid arthritis, visit

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Lasting Effects of Combat: Injuries May Cause Epilepsy

It may be as late as 30 years...that a soldier can still develop epilepsy from a head injury, according to a new study of Vietnam veterans.

Brain injuries sustained in combat can cause seizures or post-traumatic epilepsy. "With severe injury, almost half develop epilepsy" (Dr. L. James Willmore) Of Vietnam vets who had injuries involving penetration of the skull (like from shrapnel), 44% suffered from post-traumatic epilepsy.

For more on head injury, visit

Friday, August 27, 2010

Relationship Problems Spur Chronic Disease

"Insecure attachment(s) may be a risk factor for a wide range of health problems, particularly cardiovascular diseases. "

A new Canadian study surveyed 5,645 adults ages 18-60 and found out that those who were insecure in their relationships or those who avoided getting close to others were at greater risk for developing several chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain and stroke.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fatty Fish Helps With Age-Related Macular Degeneration

There may be help for older people with a risk of serious age-related vision loss. Recent studies have suggested that those who eat fatty fish at least once a week may lower their risk--as much as 60%--from getting advanced AMD (age -related macular degeneration) than those who ate less than one serving of fish per week.

Ingesting omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel may prevent or delay the progression of AMD (age-related macular degeneration).

Of course, other factors such as sex, race and smoking habits increase the probability of getting AMD.

Speak to your ophthalmologist about your "dietary options."

For more on macular degeneration, visit

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Being Eco-Friendly Can Be Innovative, Attractive And Hip

As I was sifting through my daughter's bookshelves I found "An Eco-Friendly Online Shopping Guide" by Hillary Mendelsohn and Ian Anderson. I've only gone as far as "E" but these are the sites that particularly grabbed my attention: 's mission to to present alternative energy ideas to people who don't "live" alternative energy. Not only do their "products match the aesthetic & hip style of the world today but also the world's ever-changing needs."

Did you know that there was such a thing as a solar backpack or a solar-powered iPod or a solar-powered cell phone charger? Yup, they have them. And solar lighting, crank flashlights and radios, fingerprint safes and door locks and other gadgets.

The company is commended over and over about the products and the service.

Then I checked out Recycled cardboard is used to create ecologically friendly modern furniture and accessories. Check out the new American-made "WishFrame," the "HemisphereChair" and liquid cardboard "things."

Finally, has some very cool unusual items, including a chair made entirely of recycled plastic waste, a 100% cork chaise lounge, and felt napkin hugs.

Being eco-friendly can be very useful and attractive, indeed!

For more on going green, check out

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sleep Apnea Raises Risk of Heart Disease

This may be no news to some of you but severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) raises "the risk of heart failure for middle-aged and older men--and significantly raises the risk of coronary heart disease in men up to age 70," as reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association referring to a recent Sleep Heart Health Study.

Compared to men who did not have obstructive sleep apnea, men with the most severe OSA were 58% more likely to develop heart failure and men 40-70 years of age with the most severe OSA had a 68% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes the airway to collapse during sleep causing the person to struggle to breathe. When this occurs the person reacts with a burst of adrenaline that increases blood pressure which may in turn contribute to vascular problems.

OSA requires medical attention. Many patients often forget to mention this ailment when speaking to their physicians.

It remains to be seen (through clinical studies) if treating the apnea will improve heart functioning.

For more on sleep apnea, visit

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Hope for Alzheimer's Disease: Insulin Sniffing

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is a fatal and incurable deterioration of the brain. Globally it affects 26 million people.

Dr. Suzanne Craft of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System of the University of Washington, Seattle, presented the results of a study of patients who had different doses of insulin loaded into a nebulizer and squirted up their nose daily over 4 months. These non-diabetic patients who have mild cognitive impairment showed improvement in memory tests that lasted for 2 months.

Insulin is important for communication between brain cells. Several studies have shown that Alzheimer's patients have reduced levels of insulin in the brain, even in the earliest stages.

Hopefully, larger clinical trials will be conducted to determine if insulin can be used even more effectively to reduce or delay the effects of Alzheimer's.

For more on Alzheimer's disease, visit

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Personal Electronic Health Records Help Lower Cost of Health Care


Patient Name Date Email

Mailing Address

Current Complaints

Insurance Information

Billing Address

Don't you get tired of filling out the same forms for every new doctor you visit? Me, too.

For years, health policy leaders of both parties have urged adoption of electronic health records throughout our health care system in order to improve quality of care and lower costs.

Eligible health care professionals and hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Mediaid incentive payments when they adopt electronic health records and use them to achieve specified objectives.

In order to qualify for the payments, professionals and hospitals must meet the 25 or so requirements and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that strengthen and expands privacy, security and enforcement protections.

Monday, August 9, 2010

House-Sharing, A Housing Option For Boomers and Seniors

Journalist Sarah Mahoney related how some single women (often newly-divorced or widowed) have decided to house-share to lessen some of their financial burdens. Much to their delight, many of them have found that living with a friend or even a stranger has also increased their quality of life.

The home or condo owner needs to run a credit report and ask for a security deposit. With the help of an attorney, the owner needs to clarify all the rules and conditions so each party is protected by law.

The renter should interview former lodgers and check on zoning or association rules. In addition, there should also be an agreed-upon trial period.

Rental income is taxable but depreciation is a tax-benefit for improvement and repairs.

If you want to know more about housing options, visit

Friday, August 6, 2010

Patient Misdiagnosis: More Common Than We'd Like to Think

According to HealthDay News, July 13, 2010, a large survey of American doctors found that more than a third of them would hesitate to turn in a colleague they thought was incompetent or compromised by substance abuse or mental health problems even though the American Medical Association says that physicians have an ethical obligation to report impaired colleagues.

Many of those physicians said that they thought the problems was being taken care of by someone else. Physicians, particularly in smaller practices or small-town medical situations, were afraid of retribution.

Don't despair, though. There are other checks in place. Doctors have to take tests to demonstrate competency every 10 years. Some feel that there should be built-in redundancies to our current medical systems to ensure better quality monitoring.

Dr. Jerome Groopman reported that about 15% of all patients are misdiagnosed. And because of this, about half of them face serious harm.

Your physician needs to know all your symptoms (even the ones that embarrass you). He or she may make snap judgments based on their perception of you as a complainer or hypochondriac.

In order for you as the patient to prevent misdiagnosis, pose these questions to your doctor:

1. What else could it be?

2. Could 2 things be going on to explain my symptoms?

3. Is there anything in my history, physical examinations, lab findings or other tests that seems not to fit in with your diagnosis?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Alarming Trend Involving Medicare

David Olmos of Bloomberg Press reported that as of January of this year, the Mayo Clinic in Arizona has stopped accepting Medicare patients at one of its primary-care clinics unless they are paid in cash for their services.

"It's simply a matter of dollars and sense," some say.

Often physicians cannot afford to treat Medicare patients when increasing medical costs are not covered by Medicare payments. Statistics show that fewer American family doctors are accepting new Medicare patients.

For more on Medicare, visit

Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking Is Great For Everyone--Or Is It?

By now we all should have learned that walking is the preferred exercise for older adults. Easy, right? Not for the folks that have suffered common walking injuries.

If you get blisters, make sure that your shoes or socks are not rubbing against your skin. Keep the blisters covered with an adhesive bandage.

If shin splints plague you, avoid hilly terrain. Elevate your legs and apply ice. If all else fails, try water aerobics.

Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes may be causing pain in the ball of your foot. Try ice and orthotics to reduce stress on the area.

Wear shoes that give proper support or you might develop Achilles tendonitis. Get rest and use orthotic devices to elevate the heel.

Either take a hiatus until your foot has heeled or decrease the duration and intensity of your walking routine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

3 Cheers for New York City

Yellow school buses that transport our l'il darlings have new riders in New York City--some of its 1 million+ senior citizens!

No longer do the school buses sit idle for a good part of the day. They actively shuttle older adults from senior centers to grocery stores and elsewhere for free.

The cost impact on the city is low because drivers get paid for the full day even though they are actually working far fewer hours.

Many seniors are opting to live in cities where they can live close to all amenities. Yet, transportation becomes an issue as their ability to drive or as their health weakens.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tai Chi Helps With Arthritis

Because studies of tai chi has shown that people over 65 with knee osteoarthritis who took tai chi exercises twice a week for 12 weeks experienced less pain and improved physical function, this form of exercise is promoted by the Arthritis Foundation.

Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician and tai chi expert, offers 12 lessons on disk for purchase. But he also is available to answer your questions.

Tai chi uses slow, deliberate, gentle, fluid and flowing circular movements that "improve the body and the mind." It is sometimes referred to as moving meditation.

This ancient Chinese martial art improves strength, balance and flexibility in older people but it also helps with chronic health conditions such as multiple sclerosis and sore joints and muscles.

For more on tai chi and arthritis, visit

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garage Sale Heaven: Enjoy Traveling and Hunting at the Same Time

I am a great believer in garage and yard sales. In fact, my oldest thought "garages" were "garage sales" because I'd call out, "There's a garage sale!" It wasn't until he was quite a bit older when he realized they were two separate things.

Buying at these kinds of events happens to be my personal favorite for recycling (and getting slashed prices). Some of our best toys and books came from local yard sales.

Have you ever thought of combining travel and the most humongous, glorious, amazing yard sales? I didn't until I read JenniferHaupt and Brooke Howell's article in an old AARP magazine.

August 5-8 is this year's The 127 ( Corridor) Sale , "The World's Longest Yard Sale," stretching from Gadsden, Alabama, to Hudson, Michigan.

The brochure reads: "Yard sales can be found along the route at homes located on the designated route, in business parking lots, along side streets adjacent to the route, in wide open fields and pastures...and basically anywhere people can find to set up."

Along the way, check out the 100 year old jail in Jamestown, TN (headquarters of 127 Sale). Visit the nation's newest national park at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Honor World War I's most decorated hero at Sergeant Alvin C. York Grist Mill and Homeplace. Find natural rock formations, bridges and arches unique to the area.

Continue on to Highway 64 from Fort Smith to Beebe, Arkansas, from August 10-12. You'll find 160 miles of yard sales, antiques and collectibles and flea markets.

But don't forget to take a narrated tour on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.

If you can wait until October 20-22 you can enjoy hundreds of vendors along 354 miles of U.S. 80 from Mesquite Texas, to Vicksburg, Mississippi, via Louisiana. An extra plus for this event: it shares its highway with classic and not-so-vintage vehicles.

If you can't get away and want to find garage sales in your area, go to Yard Sale Treasure Map.
You'll be notified about sales within a certain radius of your starting point.

Finally, for more discount shopping ideas, visit

Monday, July 19, 2010

Please Pray For Eve

I beg you all to send your positive thoughts, blessings and prayers to my dear cousin, mother of 7-year old twin girls, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer.

Eve's Blog

The Journey Continues

Posted: 13 Jul 2010 10:49 PM PDT

Before I talk about my medical diagnosis and my spiritual journey, I wanted to share with all of you something that happened yesterday. I arrived home to discover a letter from a former colleague of mine. In it was a lovely necklace with a medallion of Saint Peregrine (the patron saint for cancer patients). Along with the necklace was a note indicating that my colleague was in a neighborhood grocery store and had asked the man who handled the fruits and vegetables to put me on his prayer list. In response to her request, he took this medal off of his neck and gave it to her to give to me. Apparently, a friend had given it to him before his colon cancer surgery 3 years ago and now he is totally clear of cancer. He told my friend that he is healed so he was giving it to me so that I will be healed as well. This completely took me by surprise and I am so very grateful for his kindness. But, this is not the only example of the kindness of strangers (and many many many friends). There is something about this diagnosis that has brought out the most beautiful and loving behaviors in others. I feel blessed that I have been witness to the best in human nature.

Now – I think it’s probably time that I caught all of you up regarding my latest diagnosis. Unfortunately, I now have Stage 4 colon cancer. It has not only moved into my female area (for the delicate among you), but has also reappeared in my colon at the location of my original colon cancer surgery. They have also determined that my form of colon cancer is the more aggressive type of colon cancer. They are not sure if the two cancers are physically connected or if they are in two separate locations. Unfortunately, they will not know very much more than what I have outlined until they go in and look around.

So – on July 28th (please put this date on your calendar to send strong prayers my way), I will be heading to Stanford for major surgery. First, they will look laparoscopically to determine if there is any more cancer inside of me in addition to what they could see on the PET and CT scans. If there is more cancer, then they will not proceed with the surgery, but rather will start with chemo to try to blast it out of me and follow the chemo with surgery. If, however, I only have the 2 spots mentioned above, then 3 separate surgeons (gynecological, colorectal and urological) will then proceed with major surgery. Unfortunately, I will not be looking very good following the surgery. I am not going to go into the possible things that could happen, but let’s just say that I really really wish that I wasn’t doing this surgery.

Once the surgery is complete, I will most likely begin an extremely tough chemo regimen in addition to radiation. They are looking at giving me Irinotecan and potentially Avastin. Not only will this suppress my immune system, but it may also result in me losing all of my hair. I know it seems so petty to worry about my hair when my life is at stake, but my hair is what made me look normal to my kids over the past couple of years. I so worry that if I become bald that it will scare them more than they already are.

I am devastated. I am scared. I want my life back. This is not like having concerns with money or a job or your children. Those things can be changed. You can move, you can quit your job, you can give time outs to your children or at the extreme, you can just simply run away. But, I can’t run. I can’t escape. It goes with me everywhere. I keep asking “why me?” But there is no good answer. I know that it doesn’t help to ask the question, but I can’t stop asking it. I’m so jealous of everyone else. I want petty problems. I don’t like having to think about my health every moment of every day. I am so very tired and so very sad.

However, I feel very fortunate to have the top surgeons at Stanford lined up to work on me on the 28th. For example, Dr. Andy Shelton (my colorectal surgeon) is known as the surgeon who takes the hardest cases and treats his patients as if they are members of his family. Interestingly, his physician assistant ended up spending over an hour with Pat and me last week to talk about how to get through all of this in a holistic way. When I told him that one of the things that I was focused on was nutrition, he agreed that while nutrition was important, he said that I also needed to focus on feeding my soul.

So – what do I do? How do I deal with this profound challenge? I have lined up the best surgeons and one of the top oncologists. And – most likely I will get a second or third opinion on my chemo protocol prior to starting treatment. So what can I do now to help my body to heal itself?

I know that over the past 2 years I have alluded to my spiritual journey. I have done a lot of work on that front, but this most recent diagnosis has brought me to a whole new level of effort. The gravity of my situation cannot be ignored. So I am not only doing a lot of internal work to bring peace to my life, but I am also reaching out to others who are farther along the spiritual journey than I am.

This next part I have debated even writing on this blog, since I know that so many of you will think that I’ve lost it. But hell, I’m fighting Stage 4 colon cancer and I have 2 young beautiful children, so I’ve decided that you will understand why I am doing what I’m doing. And so, I will share my plans for the next part of my journey with all of you.

I am going to Brazil next week to see John of God. Ok – I’ve said it. I have decided to meet with an internationally known healer to ask for his help in healing me. Many of you may have heard of him (I’m sure many of you are googling him right now…) I have been told about him several times over the last couple of years, and I always found it to be an interesting idea, but I never seriously considered going.

But, things have changed. About a week ago, it was strongly recommended to me that I go and see John of God prior to my surgery. That seemed completely crazy. How could I possibly put together a trip BEFORE my surgery (the surgeons wanted to operate within a few weeks.) Then, a day later, a dear friend of mine offered to give me his airline miles which were expiring in September so that I could have a free flight to Brazil. Then, one of the official guides offered to bring me at a very good price because he was inspired by my story. Then, a business colleague of Pat’s went to the Brazilian consulate and pleaded with them to expedite my visa (which they are doing). Furthermore, my children were already going to be out of town visiting my parents that week, so there were no childcare issues. The door opened up to me and so I’ve decided to walk through it. I am nervous, excited and hopeful.

So – off I go on July 19th to embark on this healing journey. I will return on the 25th and will plan to rest for a couple of days prior to my surgery on the 28th.

In addition to my upcoming adventure in Brasilia, I am also exploring Jewish activities that will help me on my spiritual journey. For example, I am scheduled to go to the Mikvah to pray with a local Rabbi’s wife when I return prior to my surgery. Apparently, this is a very powerful time for prayer. I’ve never been to a Mikvah, but I am now open to so many things that I would have dismissed such a short time ago.

What has been one of the most difficult things is that physically I feel great. Until this diagnosis, I had no idea what ugliness was inside of me. It is difficult knowing that I am going to go from feeling just fine, to being in extreme pain. I can understand why some people just choose not to deal with their diagnosis and just see how things play out. But that’s not an option for me. I must continue to do everything in my power to heal – with western medicine, eastern medicine and everything else that’s out there. That is my responsibility to my children.

I choose to believe that this cancer was meant to make me a better person and to help others recognize the blessing of good health, friends and family. I am learning. I am becoming a better person. And, it seems to be having some positive impact on others. I received an e-mail this morning from a dear friend who wrote the following to me: “your life journey has helped bring me closer to all that matters in my life. You saying “yes” to this adventure (Brazil) and living fully your life now, is inspiring to me – propelling me forward on my path, sparking me to consider the “yeses” in my life with renewed gusto.”

So my journey continues. I want to thank all of you for the important role that you have played thus far in my travels. I have received countless beautiful messages that have inspired me and given me strength. Although I haven’t had the ability to respond, please know that I am so very grateful for your continuous love and support.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cancer Studies: News Releases

According to a 7/13/10 news release in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study called Indiana Cancer Pain and Depression (NCPAD) shed more insight into cancer pain and depression. Included were 405 patients in 16 community-based urban and rural cancer practices.

Half were part of the intervention group, some experiencing depression or pain only and some experiencing both. They were assessed at the beginning, one month, three month, six month and 12 months. The patients in this group received automated home-based symptom monitoring by interactive voice recording or the Internet and centralized telecare management by a doctor-nurse specialist team.

This group of 202 patients reported significants improvements in both pain and depression, suggesting that collaborative care intervention (human and automated) is an effective way to treat both the physical and psychological conditions often associated with cancer.

On 7/14/10 the American College of Cardiology reported that an increase in HDL or the good cholesterol lowers your chances of getting cancer. In the study, participants who increased their HDL by 10 mg had a 36% greater chance of not contracting the disease.

Ways for us to increase our HDL include:

Losing excess weight

Getting plenty of exercise

Certain medications

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vitamin D

In a study of American women over 70, those with low blood levels of vitamin D were 2 1/2 times more likely to die in 6 years than those with high blood levels.

The recommended daily dosage, according to the National Academy of Sciences, should be increased to 800 - 1,000 units of Vitamin D.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

HUD Helps Very Low Income Seniors With Housing

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that more than $550 million will help very low income elderly and people with disabilities find affordable housing.

The funding will provide interest-free capital advances to non-profit developers so they can produce accessible housing, offer rental assistance and provide supportive services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The grants are provided through HUD's Section 202 and Section 811 supporting housing programs and will fund 169 projects in 36 states.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Agave Syrup Nature's Alternative Sweetener?

A cousin recommended it so I went out and bought it--agave syrup, that is. I thought it would be the healthy, "natural" answer to my sweet tooth.

The syrup, however, is slightly more caloric than sugar. Some scientific studies reveal that agave syrup is up to 90% fructose and can harm the heart, increase diabetes risk and lower "good" cholesterol.

One recent study suggested that agave syrup has minimal antioxidant benefits--similar to refined sugar and corn syrup.

I hope I kept the receipt.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Renting a Room Out of Your House

If you have a spare room that you can rent to travelers and would like to pay only $10-20 per night when you go on vacation, consider joining a bed and breakfast club.

The Evergreen Club is a "practical resource for travelers over 50 who enjoy people-to-people contacts."

There are over 2,500 guest rooms in the United States and Canada that are part of the club. Members retrieve accommodation information online and may contact the hosts by email.

Breakfast and an hour or so of the host's time helps travelers learn about unique sites in the area.

Dues are fully refunded if you aren't entirely satisfied.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Money From Your Home Without Selling It

Property-rich but cash-poor boomers and seniors may sleep better once they've investigated a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), a federally insured reverse mortgage. With a HECM you can have a line of credit to draw on to pay your bills. And you won't have to sell your home or take out another type of loan because the lender pays you as long as you remain in your home.

The glitch: When you sell your home, move out permanently, or die, you or your children sell your property and repay the loan, both principal and interest.

Most people consider reverse mortgages for several reasons but paying for in-home care ranks first.

Some consider reverse mortgages as a last resort because they're expensive. So consider all private loans, a home equity loan, downsizing, or selling and moving.

Upfront costs are high so it doesn't make sense unless you plan to remain in your home for a long time.

Discuss your plans with your family so that they understand any impact on your estate.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Increasing Monthly Benefits for the Rest of Your Life

Many people continue to work and still receive retirement benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, you can work and still receive your full Social Security benefit payment.

But if you are younger than full retirement age (66 years if you were born 1943-1954) and if your earnings exceed certain dollar amounts, some of your benefit payments will be withheld.

If you work and earn more than the exempt amount, you should know that it will not, on average, reduce the total value of Social Security lifetime benefits--and may increase them.

If you reach full retirement age and have earned enough so much that you collect reduced social security payments, the SSA will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for any months in which you did not receive benefits. Every year you continue to work, the SSA will check your earnings to determine whether or not your monthly benefit should be increased.

P.S. Even if you don't plan to receive monthly benefits, you should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Organic, The Way To Go

Sustainability: Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs

If you and I patronize the companies and farmers who practice sustainability, we are sending them a powerful message: we don't want to buy products that come at too high a cost to the earth.

When you grow or buy organically, you are preserving farming the way it was done for thousands of years--without man-made chemicals or genetic tampering.

Buying for sustainability doesn't have to have a major impact on your finances. You can make your own cleaning agents inexpensively rather than buying name-brands. You might have to be more selective but you can purchase local fruits and vegetables that are healthier and may last longer in your refrigerator. Buying locally also means that you are reducing pollution caused by packaging and transportation.

Paper or plastic? Plastic not only consumes more energy to produce, it also creates pollution--so paper is the better choice. Nowadays more and more people are opting for hemp or cotton reusable bags, the BEST choice.

By implementing a few simple changes to your shopping habits, you can leave a healthy legacy and be a part of the burgeoning organic movement.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Giving Back Can Be Loads Of Fun!

There are other ways to give back:

1. Send upbeat letters or packages (homemade cookies and beef jerky are sure hits)

2. Help a national park by volunteering hours for various projects, including lecturing and leading tours.

3. Teach low-income parents how to cook nutritiously and economically.

4. Volunteer in schools to inspire students looking for career paths.

5. Join Peace Corps 50+.

Feel free to share your ideas with our readers!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Retirees Give Back

Now that many of us are retired, we have the chance to give back. That's what U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Richard D. Moody (Danvers, MA, VFW Troop 2359) and his wife Christine did.

When they heard from their deployed daughter that soldiers stationed overseas had to make-do without many personal items, they jumped right in to help by founding Operation Troop Support in 2003.

Before long they weren't alone. Volunteers from Boston's North Shore also wanted to show their gratitude to the young men and women in service. Together, they have sent hundreds of thousands of individually-wrapped care packages consisting of such items as toiletries, magazines, books, socks, phone cards, disposable cameras, pens, stationery and stamps each week.

As a grassroots non-profit organization, Operation Troop Support has expanded its services to families of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dick, Christine and their cadre of dedicated volunteers welcome and would be mightily grateful for any support in the form of donations of goods or money.

Now is your time to get involved.