Saturday, December 31, 2011

Your Gums and Pulmonary Diseases: The Connection

Lung diseases can be severely disabling and debilitating. In fact, two pulmonary diseases, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and pneumonia, are among the leading causes of death in the United States.

A new study of 200 participants suggests that periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth, adversely affects the respiratory system.

Researchers suspect that the presence of oral pathogens may increase a patient's risk of developing problematic respiratory disease.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sleeplessness and Loneliness Connection

University of Chicago Lianne Kurina and colleagues studied the connection between loneliness and sleep deprivation among 95 elderly residents of two Hutterite communities.

Those members who reported sleeplessness were often unhappier and lonelier--leading to poorer health.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Help the Earth and Have a Happy Day!


"Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of plastic trash."

"In the last 8,000 years Earth has lost 11,000 square miles of forest."

"Renewable energy provides 8% of total U.S. energy."

What can we do to help sustain our Earth? Here are a few ways:

Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees.

Reduce your time in the shower.

Wash with cold water and save 90% energy.

Bank online.

Have a great holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Air Inside Can Make You Sick

We all know why we should insulate our homes. The downside is that insulation can trap pollution indoors.

Many of the contaminating substances give no warning and may produce symptoms years later. So it's best to control or eliminate exposure now before they cause any harm.

Asbestos was common in roofing, flooring, well and pipe insulation, speckling, cement, coating, heating equipment and acoustics. Generally if it is sealed or undisturbed, it does not pose a threat. But disintegration and other disturbances can cause small fibers to get into your lungs.

Keep humidity low and ventilation high to thwart the dangers of viruses, bacteria, molds and fungi. Wash bedding materials in hot water and keep a clean house.

Monitor all fuel-burning appliances so that carbon monoxide doesn't build up. Install a detector with an audible alarm.

Reduce formaldehyde-producing sources that can be found in some air fresheners, particleboard, fiberboard, plywood paneling, carpet backing, upholstery and drapery fabrics.

Check for nitrogen-dioxide (maintain vents), radon (in the soil surrounding the house), second-hand smoke and toxic chemicals in household products. Pay attention to the warnings. Consider installing a high-efficient air cleaner with either larger filters or an electronic air cleaner. Ventilate your home-open windows when the weather is nice.

Monday, December 19, 2011

When Shoes Aren't the Keys to Happiness: Experience Rather Than Buy

What do you when the new pair of shoes doesn't keep you happy?

A San Francisco University study suggests that you "invest in your experiences."

Forget the momentary lift and go for experiential happiness. Try a spa treatment, a yoga class, or a nature walk.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Make Your Move Less Stressful

Moving can be less stressful if you plan it right, according to author Gregory Karp.

Choose your type of move: either do-it-yourself, full service or hybrid (the mover may drop off a container, you load and unload, and they transport).

Hire a quality mover. Ask for recommendations. Check out yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and

Declutter. Take photos of things that are hard to part with and then get rid of them. Sell, donate, recycle, throw out.

Be flexible for times. Summer weekends around the 15th and 30th are the most expensive.

Find boxes. Buy used boxes or look for the best prices.

Save on packing materials by using towels, linens and newspaper.

Ship books by mail at the postal media rate.

See if you can consolidate your goods with someone else who is moving to the same vicinity.

Get full replacement insurance from other than your moving company.

See if your moving expense can be tax-deductible or reimbursable.

Tip your movers at $3-5/hour.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mental Illness: Not a Weakness

Mental illness is often seen as a moral issue or an issue of weakness. Ileana Arias, principal deputy administrator of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, claims that "mental illness is a condition no different from cancer or other chronic diseases. People need to accept the difficulties they are having and avail themselves of the resources that are available."

About 50% of Americans will experience some form of mental health problem at some point in their life. Many do not get help. Many hide their problem from others but there is also a big dilemma with under diagnoses and under treatment.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

To Gray Or Not to Gray

Vibrant Nation, a great source of information particularly for boomer women, provides 3 steps to going gray gracefully.

They recommend to carefully plan the change to take place over time. Ensure that your hair is healthy by properly conditioning it, drinking plenty of water and taking your vitamin supplement.
Finally, consider a full style makeover including adding colors to your wardrobe that complement your new hair color.

Every time I write out a check to my hair stylist, I wonder if I'd be better off going gray. After all, mom's hair is beautiful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Caregiving Suggestions

According to's Gilbert Guide, it's better to redirect or validate a person with dementia rather than remind him/her that he/she is demented.

They recommend redirecting the conversation away from the issue to something more pleasant. Be warm and open to reduce stress and tension.

Validate feelings and emotions. "Accept that your loved one's emotions have more validity than the logic that leads to them."

Those with dementia sometimes experience delusions and/or hallucinations. These experiences are vivid and upsetting. Ask simple questions to try to give them some relief.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seniors and Drug Abuse

Free time can kill you.

"When retirement is bereft of fulfilling activities, some people turn to drugs to fill the void," according to Dr. Fred Blow of the Hanley Center.

As of December, 2009, 4.3 million adults 50+ had used an illicit drug within the prior year. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service, a federal agency) reports that "the number of boomers with substance abuse problems will be 5 million by 2020."

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance. Prescription medication and marijuana abuse is also climbing significantly.

Director of the Dartmouth Centers for Health & Aging, Dr. Steve Bertels, reported that "older adults who may be abusing marijuana, cocaine, or other drugs are sensitive to smaller amounts than when they were younger..Substance abuse in an older adult mimics many of the signs of aging. It causes memory loss, cognitive problems, tremors and falls" so it's hard to recognize.

Many boomers seem to feel that if there is something wrong, they'll feel better if they take a pill. "Many doctors unwittingly collude with addicts to keep them armed with pills".

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Buy From the U.S. Government: Unusual Gifts at Fair Prices

Since these holidays are strictly budgeted for in our household, I won't allow myself to be tempted to buy something that I think is really pretty for myself.

But if I were to ease up, there is a particularly beautiful scarf I'd love to own that is sold in a Smithsonian shop. It's like a piece of art.

Consider shopping at the U.S. government: Get National Park passes, stamp collectibles, holiday ornaments, World War II mementos, presidential library gifts,...even folk recordings.

You can do all your shopping online. Some places even have free postage for a limited time only.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Vitamin D to the Rescue

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, can enhance the body's ability to fend off infections, help prevent heart disease, increase bone health, enhance moods, prevent some cancers, and protect against some autoimmune diseases and diabetes.

Because many seniors do not get 15 minutes of sunlight a day and do not each food rich in vitamin D (fatty fish, fortified milk), it may be wise to take a supplement.

Ask your physician if you should be taking the recommended amount for 51-70 year olds (400IU) or 71+ year olds (600 IU).

Studies have shown that vitamin D also helps with memory, attention, and logic.

For more on vitamins and supplements, visit

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Hybrid Approach to Collecting Social Security

Let's say you don't need the money but the Social Security payment would make your monthly expenses easier to swallow.

Try taking the lesser amount when one spouse turns 62 and delaying the larger amount until that spouse turns 70.

Do the numbers (of collecting one or both payments at 62, 66, and 70) or ask your financial planner to calculate them. The results may surprise you.

For more on Social Security, visit

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Skin Care Shouldn't Cost You An Arm and a Leg

Below are some suggestions on how you can look great without spending gobs of money.

1. Apply chilled cucumber slices or chilled used caffeinated tea bags to your eyelids for 10-15 minutes.

2. Take a bath with lavender-scented bath oils.

3. Spray or pat on filtered water on your face and finish with Pond's Cold Cream or Noxema Deep Cleansing Cream.

4. Use an inexpensive microdermabrasion product no more than twice a week. These include Queen Helene Oatmeal 'n Honey Natural Face Scrub or Clearasil Stay Clear Daily Facial Scrub.

For more on skin care and aging skin, visit

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hooray for Rev. Dupin, Inventor of MEDCottages

Look at what Rev. Kenneth Dupin of Salem, VA, has been up to. He invented a portable cottage that gives elderly loved ones a new home.

The occupant of a MEDCottage gets 12X24 of living space plus a built-in system to transmit vital health signs offsite to medical personnel and to family members.

Given that zoning regulations are adhered, a MEDCottage can be installed in the backyard of a single family home.

For more on homes and housing options, check out

Monday, November 14, 2011

Financial Pros Give Tips on Common Deceptions

According to author Ron Burley, there are steps you can take on your credit and home loans.

Place a security freeze on your credit reports until you are ready to apply for a loan. Each freeze and thaw costs $5-20. but it is well worth it.

Hire a real estate attorney to represent you when taking out a home loan. They can protect you from mortgage brokers who often have a conflict of interests.

If you do use a mortgage broker, ask and follow up on three references. Find out first how much they stand to gain from any loan they suggest so you are clear about the charges.

For more on money, visit

Friday, November 11, 2011

Saving at the Supermarket

It looks like hubby and I will be back on a very strict budget. Thanks to Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert we can save mucho dollars at the supermarket if we follow his guidelines.

Know what you already have stocked in your pantry, freezer or fridge.

The departments at the market are run independently. You may find similar items in different departments at vastly different prices.

Buy frozen fish and meat.

Buy only durum-wheat semolina dried pasta.

Buy white eggs that are "certified humane" over more expensive cage-free brown eggs.

Try Select meat and tenderize.

Store brands are comparable to many other brands and often have money-back guarantees.

Instead of a costly cereal, consider buying a high-fiber store brand and adding your own sweeteners, fruit and nuts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Buying Used Cars

I've known about auto brokers who take all the bickering out of purchasing a new car. But I hadn't been aware that there are companies that locate used cars too.

According to Mary Makarushka, "anyone can buy a car this way, in any price range" with such a dealer.

Here's how you can take advantage of this service and save big bucks:

1. Use Consumer Reports to research automobiles.

2. Test-drive similar autos.

3. Prioritize your options.

4. Use Kelley Blue Book for suggested retail values and then visit other sites to see what your dream car is actually selling for. Don't expect to pay less than a sale by private party or a lease trade-in.

5. Find a dealer or independent who's willing to work with you. Ask for references. Do not pay deposits or sign any contracts.

6. Read the Carfax report (the vehicle's history).

7. Get the automobile checked out by a reliable mechanic (the cost is well worth it since he/she can find proof of accidents, etc. that may not be listed on the Carfax).

Good luck!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Help at the Dinner Table: Shed Those Unwanted Pounds

Experts say you can reach your best weight by following a few simple rules at the kitchen table:

1. Stick to quiet conversation.

2. Dine under a soft light.

3. Turn off the television.

4. Chew your food slowly and thoroughly.

For more on eating, visit

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Drug Prices Vary--A Lot!!

Sorry. Just took a self-imposed sabbatical. After all I think I have somewhere between 400 and 5oo blogs and a girl can get tired.

Now here's something I didn't know. You don't have to join a wholesale club like Costco or Sam's Club in order to use their pharmacies (according to AARP author Janet Kinosian).

In a recent survey of the common generic drug, simvastatin, a thirty day supply ranged from $7.71 at Costco to $19.87 at an independent pharmacy. Wal-Mart charges $24.36. CVS gets $63.39 and Walgreens rakes in $89.99 for the same thing!

Call different drug stores to check current prices before purchasing your meds. And remember to check for harmful reactions and interactions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Long-Distance Caregiving: More Stressful Than Local Caregiving

In an article for Oncology Nursing Forum, assistant professor of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, Polly Mazanec, "found that long-distance caregivers were much more anxious than local caregivers, who could see what was happening (on a more frequent basis)."

That's because they often feel guilty, very disconnected and out of the loop.

Ms Mazanec feels there are ways to alleviate this distress by having the health care team keep them better informed through phone calls and email. Even though these family members can't provide hands-on care, "there's no reason why they can't be active participants in the care."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mental Illness, A Bigger Problem Than Once Thought

About 50% or more of Americans will experience some form of mental illness at some point in their life, according to a new government report.

Many do not get help.

Many hide their problem from others.

And the fact is: there is also a big problem with underdiagnosis and undertreatment.

"Mental illness is frequently seen as a moral issue or an issue of weakness...It is a condition no different from cancer or other chronic diseases," stated Ileana Arias, principal deputy administrator of the U.S. Centers fro Disease Control and Prevention. Furthermore, "people need to accept the difficulties they are having and avail themselves of the resources that are available".

For more on mental illness, visit

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thanks, Kim Komando: Best Article For Earning Income

Kim Komando's Labor Day, 2011, newsletter suggests ways to get a job in a harsh job market. That's why she "scoured the Web for resources that can help."

America's Digital Goddess has done her homework once again. She divides the best links into 2 categories:
Getting and keeping a job
Starting your own business

She briefly explains each admission in language even my 7 year old granddaughter could understand. Use the Web to find a job, make money from home or build and market a website for a new business to generate primary or supplemental income.

You need little more to get you going.

For jobs specifically for the older population, check out

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Claim Missing Money

At a crucial time when your assets count as seldom before, you might be able to find money you forgot about.

Kim Komando has shared a site where you can find your money as a first step to claiming it. She fills us in: "Money becomes unclaimed for a variety of reasons. Unclaimed property includes savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler's checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mine Are Cuter Than Yours: Sharing Animal Babies With Your Grandchildren

What's cuter than baby animals? Oh yeah, baby humans.

But animal babies ARE awfully adorable...and fun to share with your grandkiddies.

Go to zooborns and ooh and aah over wild animal young. Then, if you're able, go to see them in person!

Monday, September 12, 2011

2 Separate Realities: Talking to a Person With Dementia

According to's Gilbert Guide, it is better to redirect or validate a person with dementia than remind him/her that he/she is suffering from dementia.

Redirect away from the issue to something more pleasant. Be warm and open in order to reduce stress and tension.

Validate feelings and emotions. "Accept that your loved one's emotions have more validity than the logic that leads to them"

Those with dementia sometimes experience delusions and/or hallucinations. Their thoughts can be vivid and upsetting so ask simple questions to give them some relief.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Grey is Good: Greying Gracefully

Every time I write out a check to my hair colorist/stylist, I wonder if I'd be better off going grey. After all, mom's and grandma's hair was a lustrous color, not the drab grey I fear.

Vibrant Nation, a great source of information particularly for boomer women, suggests 3 steps to going grey gracefully.

First, plan with your colorist how you can implement the stages to turning grey.

Second, ensure your hair stays healthy. Properly condition it with shampoos and rinses. Drink plenty of water and take your vitamin supplements.

Finally, consider a full style makeover including adding colors to your wardrobe that complement your new hair color.

For some other ways to improve your hair, visit

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Drowning in Debt: What You Can Do

Do you feel like you're drowning in debt? Relax, you have a lot of company. The U.S. government can guide you in the problems you are facing by suggesting realistic budgeting, credit counseling from a reputable organization, debt consolidation, bankruptcy or debt settlement.

1. Assess how much money you take in and how much you spend. List your "fixed" expenses and your "variable" expenses.

2. Contact your creditors immediately and try to work out a modified payment plan.

3. There are laws regarding debt collectors. Be aware that they may not harass you, lie, or use unfair practices.

4. Secured debts are tied to an asset and can be repossessed or foreclosed upon default of payment. Consider selling a car to pay off that debt and to avoid added costs of repossession and bad credit. Work out something with your lender if you are close to facing foreclosure. Most lenders are willing to work with you.

5. Get help from a credit counseling organization. It's best to get in-person counseling so that you can get a handle on you money management.

6. You might choose to enroll in a debt management plan (DMP). You deposit money each month and they pay your unsecured debts to creditors who may agree to lower your interest rates or waive certain fees.

7. Check out debt settlement companies by entering the name and the word "complaints" into a search engine.

8. Remember that the IRS considers any amount of savings as income and is taxable.

9. The costs of debt consolidation can add up. Take care before you use a home equity line of credit where you use you home as collateral.

10. As a last resort, consider bankruptcy where the court says you don't have to repay certain debts. Bankruptcy information stays on your credit report for 10 years.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Clogged Arteries Interfere with BOTH Heart and Brain Function

You already know clogged arteries contribute to heart disease. But did you know they can also interfere with blood flow to the brain and cause dementia?

Dementia affects nearly 1/3 of those over the age of 80. It includes problems with thinking, reasoning and memory.

Dr. Philip B. Gorelick, director of the center for Stroke Research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, suggested "that people may be able to reduce the risk of dementia by taking the same steps they would take to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in physical activity."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hold the Bold: Suggestions on Looking Thinner

Image consultant Glam Gals share 5 ways to not look fat after 50. These suggestions are good enough to repeat:

1. Don't use too many bold patterns, especially if you're short and full figured. You may choose, however, a solid pant with a patterned top.

2. No puffy sleeves. They're too young and cutesy and draw attention to puffy arms.

3. Stick to lighter colored (lighter than your skin tone) shoes since darker colored ones make calves and ankles look heavier. No ankle straps.

4. Stay away from wild color combinations and pair your favorite shades with neutral colors like white, taupe or black.

5. No glitz where it shouldn't be. Avoid the rhinestones, etc. around a round middle. You get the idea.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making Thin Hair Look Good

Like sagging skin and wrinkles, thinning hair appears to be a reality with aging. Thus, I paid particular attention when Vibrant Nation and it cadre of experts tackled this age-old dilemma. Here's what they recommend:

1. Identify the best hair loss treatment for you by determining the cause s of the loss with your internist, endocrinologist or dermatologist. You'll need to consider genetics, hormones, thyroid dysfunction, iron or protein deficiency, disease, stress, fad diets or medications or a combination of these factors.

2. Learn where you are losing your hair. There is a difference between a lot of space between hairs vs. a look of overall thin hair.

3. Learn how to keep your hair fuller and healthier. Rogaine can help women who are just starting to experience thinning hair and is widely available over-the-counter. Stay away from shampoos and hair treatments that claim to accelerate or re-grow your hair. However, some shampoos and hair treatments can prevent breakage and give short-term volume, body and lift by minimizing weighing the hair down.

4. There are things women over 50 can do to stop or minimize hair loss and help jumpstart regrowth: these include Rogaine, Propecia (it inhibits production of the hair follicle killer), spironolactone (prevents shrinkage of the follicles), corticosteroid injected directly onto the scalp, 300-5,000 mcg of biotin vitamin B 7. Keep in mind, however, that not everything works for every woman. Oftentimes the solution is a series of trial by error.

5. Get a great hairstyle for fine or thinned hair, choose the right hair color, and use the right blow dry technique, and styling product.
"Quickly rough dry your hair with your blow-dryer on a high heat setting using your hands and fingers to lift and move the hair." Eliminate most of the water before applying a light non-greasy lotion or mousse styling product. Continue to rough dry and then polish the end with a round or flat brush.
Use a permanent color to thicken hair. Go for color variations (highlights) with the darkest color at the scalp.

6. Check out hair transplants, wigs, hairpieces. and fillers (as opposed to extensions). For a receding hairline, famous specialist in supplemental hair John D'Orazio has developed a great filler that tapes on like a bandaid. If you ever look for a synthetic (vs. human hair) wig, make sure it is not too shiny and can be restyled easily.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"The Best of" Travel Itineraries For Mostly European Cities

With the exception of New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Toronto in North America you can get suggestions for trip planning in Europe by logging onto this free recommended website.

First, you'll be asked the date you plan to be there and for how many days.

Then you can base your vacation around your kids, outdoors, culture, or "the best of" for a first-time visitor.

Maybe you want to rest. There are suggestions for you as well as for the ones who want to see everything.

Depending on how much you want to spend, the site provides hotel choices (then you make the reservations on your own.)

After calculating, your days' itineraries are shown. Often you will be traveling "by walking" and the approximate time is included.

A fun site. I suggest you try it.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Doggone It: He Looks Just Like Me!!

You know how they say that your dog looks like you?

According Kim Komando's "Cool Site of the Day," you really can find a dog that most resembles you using a recommended website.

The only drawback (!) is that the dog (rescued) is in New Zealand. Still, the site is fun.

Kim said the dogs that resemble her were cute. Mine, however, looked like the mutt that I am!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Be First For Your Colonoscopy

People ages 50 and older should be screened for colon cancer. Often this means that the patient would undergo a colonoscopy.

During colonoscopy, doctors look for abnormal growths, polyps, by "inserting a tiny camera into the rectum. The camera is attached to a tube that can also be used to remove polyps before they turn cancerous."

When you set up your appointment for a colonoscopy, get a first appointment. That's when your doctor is most alert.

Dr. Brennan Spiegel of UCLA suggested that "a repetitive procedure...can lull you (the physician) into complacency over a long work shift."

In a 4-month study of 28 colonoscopy doctors, "for each hour that lapsed throughout the day, there was a four percent reduction in the number of polyps the doctors spotted."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hotel Rooms' Nasty Little Secrets

What nasty little germ is awaiting you in your hotel room and what you should do to get rid of it before it harms you. Use disinfecting wipes abundantly.

A sparkling clean room is deceptive. Lots of hidden germs are lurking on "clean surfaces."

Telephones, toilets, shower floors, travel guides, light switches, faucets, door handles, remote controls and clock radios breed germs. Forget the bath. Drink from sealed cups only. Clean the ice bucket. Remove the bedspread. Take care around upholstered chairs and curtains.

And don't be shy about asking for another room should yours be unsanitary.

Monday, August 8, 2011

FDA's New Website Can Save Your Life: Recalls

As of April, 2001, consumers can search the FDA's consumer-friendly website for food and other product (including drugs and cosmetics) recalls. Consumers are provided data from news releases and other recall statements; date, product brand name, product description and reason for the recall are displayed.

A video is provided to help identify recalled products.

Flickr shows the recalled products in photos.

The procedure carried out by the FDA is explained.

Friday, August 5, 2011

UD: Universal Design, the Wave of the Future

Building or remodeling a house that ages with you is a smart way to go. Lifespan design or universal design (UD) is the design of product and environments that are usable by most people regardless of their age or abilities. Because UD is so desirable and accessible to all stages of development, it adds value to your home.

The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University illustrates some of the factors of this current and future plan:

1. Living spaces are useful and appealing to all. There is a no-step entry, a lever-handled front door, mirrors placed at medium height, no changes in floor heights.

2. UD allows for a variety of usages. A bedroom, full bathroom and laundry room should be located on the main floor and away from living areas. Use paddle-handled handles at the kitchen sink. Employ a small rolling cart in the kitchen for additional workspace. Install pull-out work boards at different heights. Pocket doors give privacy but not the akwardness of getting around a door.

3. Getting around the house should be intuitive. Use shower smart handles. Adjust shelving, install lazy Suzans and D-shaped drawer pulls.

4. Essential information is presented clearly. This means more keyless locks and universally designed appliance controls.

5. Avoid potential hazards by installing handrails on both sides of the staircase. No curbs on shower stalls. Use grab bars. No-slip and other tightly woven materials are preferred.

6. Very little physical force is necessary. Pull switches and controls are placed low for the wheelchair-ridden.

7. Put kitchen outlet and garbage disposal controls are preferred.

8. Purchase front-loading washers and dryers.

9. Raise or adjust toilet seats.

10. Use a molded seat in the shower stall.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Prozac and Aspirin Don't Mix: Study Shows That the Use of NSAIDs With SSRIs Inhibits the Effectiveness of Antidepressants

If you are taking antidepressants such as Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft (common antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs) and also taking painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen (common painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs), then you may be reducing the effectiveness of the antidepressants.

A study authored by Jennifer Warner-Schmidt at the Rockefeller University claimed a much poorer depression treatment outcome for patients taking both kinds of drugs simultaneously.

Until a double-blind real clinical trial is performed, however, scientists can't figure in dosages and time courses.

Dr. Charles Nemeroff, the Leonard M. Miller Professor and chairman of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, claims that "depressed patients with chronic pain are difficult to treat" so "if it is possible that drugs that treat pain in any way antagonize the effects of antidepressants, it's really important to know because of the widespread use of both agents."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wigs to Get a New Look

When I had my children I was often too tired or uninspired to want to fix my hair. So I resorted to wigs in different styles and hair colors.

The wigs were tight, heavy and too hot for summer days.

Lately, my husband asked me to change my hair color--he wanted blond highlights in my brown/gray hair. Rather than take the plunge blindly, I went to a respectable wig store in my area and consulted (for a fee) with the owner.

After we decided on the best color and cut for me, I showed my hairdresser who duplicated the look. I am very happy with the results.

I also selected a hairpiece that can help cover my thinning hair on top. Even though I didn't purchase it yet, I know that when the time comes, I can get a light-weight natural-looking hairpiece.

Vibrant Nation provides some valuable information for selecting a wig online:

1. Find a store with an online presence too. You want a professional that works hands-on with wigs everyday.

2. Watch out for big name internet wig retailers who charge less for inferior quality.

3. Find a trusted company featuring authentic merchandise at competitive prices.

4. Find someone locally to style your wig to fit your face and complexion.

5. Make sure your internet retailer has a phone number, street address and an expert reachable by phone.

For more on wigs and hair, visit

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thyroid Drugs Increase Fracture Risk

Drugs used to treat thyroid problems may increase the risk for fractures in many seniors.

That's why dosages need to be monitored closely by their physicians.

According to a study conducted at the Women's College Research Institute in Toronto, evidence was found that "levothyroxine treatment may increase the risk of fragility fractures in older people even at conventional dosages."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Help For Dental Problems

It's not the kiddies that have the greatest amount of tooth decay. It's people over 65.

That's because older people produce less saliva that's needed to clean the teeth. According to the American Geriatrics Society's Foundation for Health in Aging, "gums shrink with age, exposing the tooth to decay or infection." Often the elderly have trouble flossing and brushing because of sight and mobility limitations.

Here are some solutions:

1. Visit the dentist yearly.

2. Make sure to floss and brush regularly. An electric toothbrush used properly can help.

3. Have dentures checked and refitted regularly.

4. Moisten a dry mouth.

5. Make an appointment with your dentist or physician if you find red or white spots or sores in your mouth that do not disappear within 2 weeks.

For more on dental care, visit

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unsolved Crime: Oscar Silent About Theft

Here stands the accused: Oscar Levine (birthdate 1/29/08)

Gender: Male
Sex: No (neutered)
Height: 10 inches
Weight: 12.5 lbs.
Eyes: Dark Brown
Hair: Mostly white
Nose: Black
Outstanding features: Tongue sticks slightly out of mouth
Crime: Theft

Upon entering obedience class (exhibit #1), the accused was judged to be "uninterested in treats," thereby making the job of training him more difficult. He sneered at the pricey chicken jerky and barely tolerated the beef jerky cut in pea-sizes and placed in a nail apron from which the treats would be fed to said dog upon completion of a satisfactory response to, let's say, "sit."

Given his unsavory background (he was rescued from a shelter) and much to the surprise of both owners and trainer, Janet Bourque, he responded well to commands. Granted he was lavished with abundant praise ("you are the best dog ever," "you can chew on all the slippers you want," "the backyard is yours and yours alone"), he heeled and sat.

Fast forward to yesterday: Owner reported that the said dog's goods which were on the outside table next to the front door were disturbed. Owner took all items including nail apron filled with treats and placed them into a shopping bag on a low ledge in the kitchen.

This morning the nail apron was found on the master bedroom floor sans treats. The kitchen floor is littered with treat crumbs and owners are tempted to surround the crime scene with yellow tape until investigation is complete. Suspect was last seen walking around the house with a chew stick (part of the treat package) dangling from his mouth. Both owners deny any involvement. Suspect was informed of his rights but declined legal representation.

For more on pets, visit

Friday, July 22, 2011

Save on Travel

Here are a few ways to save on travel (I've picked them up from various sources):

Buy your flight at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning in the time zone the airline is based.

Fly during off-peak times and days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at midday).

Consider alternate airports.

Rent cars other than at the airport where additional taxes are charged. Watch for last-minute specials, weekly rates, and pre-payment plans.

Don't assume you are saving money by using an airport shuttle--a cab may be cheaper, particularly if you are not traveling alone.

Ask the hotel manager for discounts or upgrades at the check-in desk.

Consider the concierge floor--it may cost more upfront but be worth it if you get breakfast and appetizers thrown in (the snacks are enough to fill us up!).

Stay with locals or exchange your home with one in a foreign country you'd like to visit.

Check out colleges and universities for dorm rooms.

You might enjoy camping or hostels.

Book an all-inclusive vacation package.

Go to a destination that recently hosted a major world event--like Vancouver or Beijing.

For more on travel, visit

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

MRI Helps Detect Breast Cancer in High-Risk Women

When a friend wrote me the other day that she found a lump in her breast, I was at first relieved when she told me she had had a mammography in February, 2011. But then she went on to write that the lump proved to be Stage III breast cancer that had already spread to her lymph nodes.

According to an article by Amy Norton for Medline Plus, "breast cancer screening that includes MRI scans might help find cancers at an earlier stage in high-risk women, reducing the likelihood that the tumors will become advanced before they're diagnosed."

Women who have mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at higher risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer. Their chances for developing the disease are 60% (vs. 12% by the general population).

Therefore, the American Cancer Society advises that these high risk women be screened with both a mammography and an MRI.

The MRI screening, however, has its drawbacks. It's much more expensive than mammograms (about $1,000) and the test needs to be repeated every year. There comes a higher risk of false-positives with an MRI.

Some of this group opts for preventive mastectomy, a less expensive way to deal with a possible cancer in the future.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Electronic Medical Records Available to You

People who have basic computer skills and are associated with a physician that provides online "personal health records" can review lab-test results and communicate by email with their health care providers, among other things."

It is estimated that more than 70 million Americans now have access to some form of their online medical history. Less than 10% of them appear to be using this Internet tool.

"It's really to the patient's advantage to be more informed about the care they're getting, " said Dr. David Bates at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, because "it should improve the patient experience and quality of care."

Be like Mikey. If you have access to your electronic medical records, try it. You might like it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Pack It In: Travel Essentials

It's that time of year again--when many of us take our vacations. I just returned from San Antonio for a wedding.

This is my list of travel essentials:

Swim suit


Book --read a couple of chapters prior to your trip

Medication--always in your carryon


Sandals (summer)

Boots (winter)

Shoes (preferably waterproof)


Light sweatpants




Credit cards

AAA card


Discount coupons


ID inside luggage pieces

Phone numbers

Extra flat carryon--for trip purchases

Clear plastic bags

Pen and paper

Camera and charger

Alarm clock (or alarm on cell phone)

Cell phone recharger

To this list, I add Vibrant Nation's 13 travel essentials:

1. A large scarf to serve as a shawl, blanket or pillow.

2. Duct tape for simple, easy repairs.

3. Travel yoga mat for exercise or luggage padding.

4. Cozy socks for relaxing on the airplane.

5. A small headlamp to use as a lamp or flashlight.

6. Multi-plug electrical adaptor.

7. Comfy running shoes.

8. Your own face soap and moisturizer.

9. Saline nasal spray for dry airline cabins.

10. Tums for stomach upsets.

For more on traveling, visit

Have a great time!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Heart Smart: How Health Literacy Directly Affects Your Heart Health

"Health literacy refers to the ability to acquire, process and understand basic health information and services required to make appropriate health decisions", according to author Robert Preidt of HealthDay.

The lower the level of "health literacy," the more likely the patient will be at risk for hospitalization and death due to heart failure.

Therefore, the question is posed as to whether heart failure patients should be screened to determine how educated they are about their health.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cardiac Stem Cells Provide New Hope For Heart Patients

Elderly patients suffering from heart disease have hope.

Last year the American Heart Association reported that cardiac stem cells--even their own--could generate new heart muscle and vessel tissue in heart and diabetic patients.

A study showed that most of their patients (who had enlarged or weakened muscles due to coronary artery disease) can potentially use cardiac stem cells (CSCs) that have been harvested and multiplied in labs to rescue the decompensated human heart.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cardiac Risk For Victims of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a cluster of symptoms including emotional numbing, avoidance in certain situations, hyperarousal, sleep disruptions and impaired concentration.

At the end of last year the American Heart Association reported that "post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more than doubles a veteran's risk of death from any cause" because PTSD appears to clog arteries with greater calcium buildup.

Veterans who suffer from it should be diagnosed and treated aggressively for cardiovascular risk.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grandparent Essentials

When advertised its 30 essential items every grandparent should have, I paid attention. After all, who's more important than the grand babies?

Author Paul Rogers divided the essentials into 3 groups--safety, snacks, and fun.

Safety essentials included a first aid kit, emergency information, ice packs, sunscreen and more.

For snacks grandparents should keep foods such unprocessed cereals, yogurt, cut-up veggies and fruit, peanut butter, whole-wheat tortillas, unbuttered popcorn.

Include in your fun pack: sidewalk chalk, washable markers, old photo albums, a library card, a deck of cards, board games, jigsaw puzzles.

Learn more about bonding, long-distance grand parenting and investing in your grandchildren's future at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RealAge, a Real Help

I admit it. I'm jealous. RealAge has so much valuable information that I can't stop reading. Nor can I compete with its scientific advisory board. Their team of experts includes physicians, epidemiologists, and medical writers who research the latest findings.

How come I didn't have the wisdom to produce a site such as this years ago???

The only thing I can do is synopsize some of their information for my own readers. According to RealAge, you need to make sure you are getting enough magnesium, calcium, vitamins C, D3 and E. Speedy eaters are three times more likely to be overweight. Certain herbs can freshen your breath. Try parsley, basil or cilantro.

I was turned on to this site by my financial advisor who had a life-threatening medical issue.

I'm hooked. And you should be too.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Age and Rate of Cancer

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, children who have survived cancer are more likely than the general population to have cancer return. Those who were first diagnosed under the age of 15 were most likely to have a tumor either in the central nervous system or non-melanoma skin cancer.

Adults older than 40 and experiencing their first diagnosis were more likely to develop a new tumor in the digestive, urinary or genital tracts.

Whereas the general 60-year old population may develop tumors at the rate of 8.4%, cancer survivors develop them at the rate of 13.9%.

Childhood cancer survivors who were treated with direct radiation near their abdominal or pelvic region may develop colorectal cancer in particular by the age of 50.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

To Nap or Not to Nap? That Is the Question

Some of the world's great minds savored midday naps. Brahms, Napoleon and Churchill understood the benefits of a siesta.

According to sleep researchers, "the urge to nap in the afternoon is nearly universal."

Here are some tips for a restful nap:

1. Short naps are better--even a mere 10 minutes.

2. Don't nap close to your bedtime.

3. Not everyone feels better after a nap. Those people need to find other ways to get through a midday slump such as a brisk walk.

If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, speak to your doctor. You may be suffering from depression, sleep apnea, medication effects, or another health issue.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Head For the Pillows

Here's something you don't know about me? I often dread going to bed because I have a hard time getting to and staying asleep. I'm open to any suggestions including the ones from UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, March, 2011:

1. Use a pillow to keep your neck aligned with your spine.

2. Pull the pillow down between your chin and shoulder if you sleep on your back or side.

3. Look for a softer pillow if you sleep on your back; a firmer one if you sleep on your side.

4. Try a cervical roll for good neck support.

5. Use a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back or one between your knees if you sleep on your side.

6. It's best not to sleep on your stomach.

7. A firmer mattress calls for a thinner pillow. A soft mattress calls for a fatter one.

8. Replace your pillow if it is thin and lumpy.

9. More expensive pillows are no better than reasonably priced one.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Not Overindulge in Food Just Once

Just this once I'll try everything on the table at the holidays or at a festive meal. It can't hurt, right?

Wrong, says The UC Berkeley Wellness Letter (March, 2011) about a one-time food splurge. One large fatty meal can have a variety of immediate adverse effects.

Fatty foods can interfere with the ability of blood vessels to dilate or expand--meaning that with exercise after such a meal, you might get angina or a heart attack. A large meal can cause your heart rate to increase because so much energy is used for digestion.

Your blood pressure and heart rate might increase.

The larger the meal, the more heartburn many people experience.

If you're young and healthy, overindulgence may not pose any problem. But if you're older and already have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or a pre-existing heart disease, or if you are overweight and smoke can be hazardous.

Don't arrive ravenous at parties. Eat slowly. Stay away from buffets. Stick to salads, fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunscreens: Better Than a Watchdog

Because I am fair-complected and live in a sunny climate, sunscreens are very important to me. They are often misunderstood and underused.

Sunscreens (at least 15-30 SPF) reduce the risk of burning, photoaging, and tanning. They help prevent skin growths and protect against some skin cancers. People who take certain medications or persons with some medical conditions may be more at risk.

If you spend time in the sun, the ultraviolet (UV) light can penetrate and damage your skin, no matter what your skin type is. Ultraviolet lights A (UVA) and B (UVB) lead to aging and burning if a person goes outside unprotected so it is crucial that your sunscreen guards you from both.

If you are using a spray for your face, apply it first to your hand and rub it on.

Put on about an ounce of lotion 15-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply at least every 2 hours. There's no such thing as completely waterproof so reapply sunscreen every time you come out of the water.

Use sunscreen even on overcast days.

Wear the right clothes, preferably darker, tighter weaves.

Use a lip balm with sunblock.

Wear UV-protective sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

If you're in a car on a sunny day, wear long sleeves or use a sunscreen.

Limit your sun exposure, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The best sunscreens contain ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) combined with avobenzone and octocrylene.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Teaching Your Grandkids About Money

As grandparents we often agonize about what to get the grandkids on holidays and birthdays. Sometimes it's apparent. More often we just don't know where to start.

The Wall Street Journal had an article on how to give children (probably 10 and older) the gift of investing.

Stocks: Combine interest in a toy or videogame with the company that produced it. Create a spreadsheet to follow the ups and downs. Discuss new releases and their implications on the stock price.

Bonds (with variable rate adjustments for inflation): This is a means to study the changing buying power of the dollar and risk of bonds vs. stocks.

Investment Accounts: Expose kids to more complex investments such as mutual funds. Choose a sector that particularly interests them such as a tech-sector fund.

Roth IRA: Consider opening a Roth individual retirement account in their name and matching a certain percentage of their earnings. Talk about tax benefits.

529 Plans: Consider a 529 college-savings plan in which withdrawals are tax-free as long as they are used for qualifying college expenses.

Your holiday gift can teach and inspire and last longer than we have time on earth.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Prevent Falls By Listening to Cicetti

Falls are real. Among older adults they are the major cause of injury deaths. Hip breaks cause the greatest number of deaths and lead to the most severe health problems.

Fred Cicetti, the Health Geezer, provided us with one of the best list of fall preventatives I've seen:

1. Get bones tested.
2. Regularly exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, to slow bone loss.
3. Drink alcohol sparingly.
4. Avoid temperature extremes in your home.
5. Wear low-heeled rubber-soled shoes.
6. Hold onto handrails.
7. Use a grabbing tool instead of risking a fall from a ladder or chair.
8. Get rid of debris on your floors.
9. When carrying items, take special care to look out for your next step.
10. Install grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
11. Use non-skid mats or strips in bathtubs and shower stalls.
12. Don't move around in the shower until the soap suds have disappeared down the drain.
13. Use night lights
14. Put light switches by your bed.
15. Use bright bulbs.
16. Always have a telephone nearby; carry a portable phone.
17. Tack down carpets and area rugs.
18. Close cabinets and drawers.
19. Use a cane in the rain or snow.
20. Be aware of differences in floor levels.
21. Keep your hands free by using a fanny pack, backpack or shoulder bag.
22. Evaluate curb heights before stepping down.
23. Install light switches next to the entrance of each room.
24. Practice balancing.
25. Be careful around pets.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thirdhand Smoke Poses a Real Danger

Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 50,000 Americans a year. We don't know yet how many are lost to thirdhand smoke, the residue that smoke leaves on furniture, drapes, walls, clothing, food and dust but it is clear that it is a problem.

Hundreds of carcinogens and other toxic chemicals are in tobacco.

When staying in a hotel room or renting a car, insist on a smoke-free one and keep both you and your family out of danger.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Exercise Balls, a Good Replacement for the Common Desk Chair?

Save yourself the cost of a posture-improving chair by purchasing an exercise ball? These inflatable balls require "active sitting" and may improve your posture by strengthening your core muscles.

But they may also cause you discomfort. You might not have enough space under your desk. There are no armrests. You may not be able to reach other items at your work station. And you may fall.

A better option is to choose a chair of good ergonomic design--with an adjustable back, seat and armrests. Wheels help too.

Make sure you vary your position, lean back, stand up and move around.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mom's Miracle: Why It's Important to Plan Ahead

It's been a while since I last posted. That's because my mom, age 92 years, landed in the hospital three times since March.

This last visit looked like the final one. The rabbi lead the family in prayer for a miracle or for gentle passing (honestly, I don't remember because I was so distraught). Because mom was obviously struggling and in discomfort, I, as the health care advocate who knew her Do Not Resuscitate wishes, agonizingly ordered the removal of the breathing tube.

To our surprise (and the doctors consternation!) Mom started breathing on her own.

She is now home. She'll have nurse aide visits and physical therapy for as long as Medicare will cover the costs.

She uses a walker but is anxious to get rid of it. She continues to do her exercises as she brushes her teeth twice a day. She is feisty and sharp as ever.

And I am lucky to have her around for however much precious time she has left.

Please, please, please plan ahead. Have your loved one select a health care advocate. Provide your physician and hospital with a copy of your health care directive. Keep a copy of current medications in the medicine cabinet and/or above the refrigerator. Check out how hospice or palliative care can help. And do a lot of praying. I did.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Noise and Stroke

A new Danish study found that prolonged exposure to loud traffic noise is strongly associated to stroke risk among people 65 and older.

Dr. Mette Sorenson of Institute of Cancer Epidemiology of Danish Cancer Society explained that "Exposure to traffic noise is believed to provoke a stress response and disturb sleep, which might increase the risk for stroke."

Some researchers questioned the validity of the study because there were too many other factors that could have affected the outcome--like diet, socioeconomic status, etc.

Still the Danish researchers insisted that noise-deafening building materials could have a positive effect.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chemical Highlight Alzheimer's Disease in the Brain

Current medications are most effective in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. That's why the FDA may approve a new chemical that can highlight Alzheimer's signs in the brain.

Eli Lilly's Amyvid is injected into patients who then get a PET scan. A negative diagnosis rules out Alzheimer's.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CAM Helps Hospices

Even though complementary and alternative therapies are not typically covered by medical insurance, these treatment are utilized in nearly 42% of U.S. hospices.

Massages, support group therapy, meditation and music are employed to make end-of-life more calming, alleviating pain and anxiety.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Genetic Test Identifies Certain High Risk Cancer Patients

German researchers report that a genetic test seems to be able to identify stage II colon cancer patients who have a higher risk of recurrence.

According to cancer experts, "this would be a huge help to doctors in determining which patients need follow-up treatment after initial surgery and which do not, and it would be an improvement on existing ways to predict recurrence."

80% of stage II colon cancer patients are cured with surgery. The new test aids in decision-making on chemotherapy and radiation.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg at University Hospital, Technical University, Munich, said that those patients identified as high risk by the test were over four times as likely to develop a distant metastasis.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Protect Yourself From UV-A Rays

Many popular daily skin creams do not give you enough UV-A protection.

UV-A penetrates much deeper into the skin than UV-B and is useful in keeping skin firm and without wrinkles by degrading elastins and collagen.

Facial creams that claim UV protection prevents damage only against UV-B rays. At this time, companies are not required to back up UV-A claims on their labels.

UV-A penetrates windows so even if work work indoors, you still need to be protected from UV-A rays.

More expensive creams do not give better protection. Ask your dermatologist for specific recommendations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stroke: Exercise at Home For Less

In one of the largest stroke rehabilitation studies in the U.S., stroke patients with physical therapy exercise program at home improved just as much as those using expensive exercise equipment.

Home exercise programs require less expense, less training for the therapist, and less staff.

It was previously assumed that recovery can occur early and can get no better after 6 months. The study indicated that patients can continue to improve up to 1 year after a stroke.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pain After Cancer

One person in five say that their pain persists at least 2 years after surviving cancer. Women in particular reported more pain flare-ups and more disability caused by pain and more depression due to pain.

Physicians who are more concerned with the side effects of pain medication should consider recommending pain management.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Get Your Dosages Correct

Daily pill dispensers are handy in correctly monitoring doses of your medication. A tray or cassette with compartment for one or more doses for a particular day or a given time not only simplifies drug doses but also significantly reduces the risk of medication errors.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Think Berries For Parkinson's Disease

Those who eat foods such as berries, apples, citrus fruit and red wine may be protecting themselves from developing Parkinson's disease because they are heavy in antioxidants called flavonoids.

A 22-year old study showed that those people who consumed flavonoid-rich foods such as berries in particular were less likely to develop this devastating neurodegenerative illness.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sleep Drugs Can Make You Confused

Those who are sleep-deprived and take some popular drugs such as Ambien need to be aware that for at least one half hour after waking, they may experience grogginess and confusion. They could stumble or fall.

However, "people should not avoid taking it (Ambien, etc.) but should be aware of the drug's effects," advised Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stroke Victims Don't Get Clot-Busting Drug

Of 25,5000 hospital patients who suffered a stroke due to a blood clot, only 26.6% received an injectable clot-busting drug that is recommended by the American Heart Association.

The study confirmed that the busiest stroke centers were fastest in giving this life-saving drug.

When witnessing a stroke, call 911 without delay since time lost is brain lost.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Catching Glaucoma In Its Early Stages

It's too early to be certain.

A new study at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has determined (inconclusively because more testing is needed) that a test known as a pattern electroretinogram measures the function of nerve cells in the retina and may detect glaucoma early enough to prevent or slow vision loss.

This non-invasive test can detect dysfunction and abnormal changes in retinal cells before they destroy the optic nerve.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Demanding Relatives May Raise Heart Risks

As a symptom of coronary artery disease, angina is chest pain or discomfort when the heart doesn't get enough blood.

Dealing with worries or demands from family members can increase a person's risk of developing the painful symptoms of angina.

In a 6-year Danish study of 4,500 men and women in their forties and fifties, 9.5% of the men and 9.1% of the women suffered from angina. Most of these participants were in their 50's, less affluent, more depressed and endured the most demanding relationships with their relatives.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New 3-D Device Improves Breast Cancer Detection

On February 11 the U.S. FDA reportedly approved the first mammography device that gives 3-dimensional images of the breast for cancer screening and diagnosis.

The unique and innovative new system is significantly more accurate and provides both 2- and 3-D x-ray images of the breast. Because of difficult screening, the previously conventional 2-dimensional system recommended that 10% of the patients undergo additional testing.

While the dose of radiation will double, it will improve the accuracy by at least 7% with which radiologists will detect breast cancer.

There is a 98% survival rate when breast cancer is detected early and still localized.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

There Are Fish and then There Are Healthy Fish; Which Are You Eating?

The McDonalds and Wendy's commercials hit home. In one you see 3 fishermen looking into a barrel asking, "What is it?"

Fish may be yummy to some (not my daughter-in-law!) but how healthy is it really?

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish helps improve blood pressure, keeps blood vessels healthy and reduces the risk of stroke. That's why the American Heart Association recommends that we should be eating fish like salmon and mackerel that are high in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week.

Most fried fish is not high in omega-3 fatty acids. The process of frying removes the fatty acids and replaces them with cooking oil.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Most People Regain Happiness After Job Loss

A new study in Germany reported that within a year of losing a job, most people return to their former level of happiness. Sixty-nine percent of the participants who were originally distressed about losing their jobs said that they had recovered in about a year.

Another 13%, however, were still unhappy. This group remained depressed and were least likely to be re-employed.

What the study did not take into account was:
How these figures translate in the United States;
The influence of age; and
The nature of the work and whether the people can be retrained.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Exercise, Vitamin D Tied to Fewer Falls

Falls are the leading cause of death, disability and loss of independence for people 65 and older.

According to a new review of 54 studies and 26,000 participants in the United States, exercise that includes balance, strength, flexibility, weight training and general physical activity reduces the risk of falling by 13%.

Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of falling by 17%.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cancer Cells May Be Able to Urge Own Death

Researchers are hopeful they can influence cancer cells.

In a study published online in December, 2010, it was announced that "many cancer cells are equipped with a kind of suicide pill." A protein found on their surfaces give them the ability to send an "eat me" signal to immune cells to destroy them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Many at High Heart Risk Don't Get Enough Drugs

According to Dr. Gregg Fonarow, cardiologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, people hospitalized for heart attacks often aren't getting the intensive cholesterol-lowering statin drugs that could both lower their chances of getting another heart attack and save their lives.

The National Cholesterol Guidelines recommends an intensive lipid-lowering therapy that uses high doses of certain statins both at the medical facility and upon discharge.

The problem is that:
Many doctors think that lower dosage is better (a conservative wait and see policy);
Some physicians don't understand the recommendations;
Some medical personnel think that the guidelines don't apply to their patients, especially if those patients are older;
It takes time for doctors to accept and adopt new guidelines.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Echinacea No Cure for Common Cold

A study of a small group of participants at the University of Wisconsin found that the herbal remedy echinacea was no better than a placebo in relieving symptoms and for shortening the duration of colds.

Lead research Dr. Bruce Barrett advised, "if you are an adult and believe in echinacea, it's safe and you might get some placebo effect if nothing else."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Phone Chats With Online Smoking Cessation Program Doubles Results

Researchers used an online smoking cessation program plus telephone counseling on smokers who had tried multiple times to quit. Talking on the telephone with an experienced counselor for an average of 5 calls for the first month was most helpful in combination with, a program where the basic membership is free. The success rate was approximately double the online program only rate.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Inhalers for Asthma and COPD Sufferers May Bring On Diabetes

Sufferers of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who use inhaled corticosteroids may be at increased risk of developing or progressing diabetes.

In a study at McGill University in Montreal involving 380,000 participants it was found that inhaler use was associated with a 34% increase in new diabetes diagnoses and diabetes progression (intensifying therapy to the point including insulin).

Other researchers suggest that steroids could not be fully responsible for the risk. More concentration must be devoted to lifestyle choices especially diet and nutrition.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eating a Diet Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids Might Fight Against AMD

Don't go out and purchase omega-3 supplements yet.

More studies need to confirm that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids appears to protect seniors against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a serious eye disease that can lead to severe vision impairment or blindness.

In just a one year analysis covering nearly 2,400 seniors 65-84, "those who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega-3 fish and seafood," according to study lead author Sheila K. West of the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Smoking Cessation More Effective When Treated With PTSD

People with mental health difficulties or addictions tend to smoke more than the general public.

In a study by the Veterans Administration, "combining post-traumatic stress disorder treatment with smoking cessation is the best way to help such veterans stop smoking".

Veterans who were in both treatments concurrently were twice as likely to stop smoking as the participants treated for PTSD and sent separately to a smoking cessation clinic. In a 48 months follow-up to both approaches, those who stopped smoking were 9% in the integrated group versus 4.5%.

The results of the study also invalidated the assumption that smoking is a needed "coping mechanism and that encouraging people to quit smoking is a lost cause."

Data now shows that "smokers with mental concerns are just as ready to quit smoking as smokers in the general population," according to Judith Prochaska, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco.

The "integrated-care" participants ended up attending more smoking cessation sessions and were more likely to use medications to help, such as the nicotine patch.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Vitamin D May Or May Not Help Older Women

Vitamin D deficiency and frailty are common with aging. Vitamin D supplementation has grown in popularity.

However, a new study has found that both low AND high levels of vitamin D are "associated with increased risk of frailty in older women (69+years."

More trials need to be completed to make definitive conclusions.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Radiation Before Surgery, A Possible Deterrent to Recurrence of Rectal Cancer

Robert Preidt wrote for Medline Plus Monday, october 25, 2010, that a new Dutch study found that patients who receive short-term radiation before surgery for rectal cancer "are about 50 percent less likely to experience a return of their cancer."

After studying more than 1,800 rectal cancer patients, Dr. Corrie Marjnen suspects that "tumors in the middle rectum and stage III rectal cancer patients will most greatly benefit from receiving radiation before surgery."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Definitive Study On The Advantages Of Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen helps to protect against deadly skin cancer. Melanomas are only about 5% of skin cancers but they cause most skin-cancer deaths.

Researchers in Australia studied 1,600 white adults 25-75 for five years. Those who were vigilant in using broad spectrum SPF 16 sunscreen on the head, neck, arms and hands were 50% as likely to develop melanomas.

"Sunscreen also seemed to protect from invasive melanomas, which are harder to cure than superficial melanomas because they have already spread to deeper layers of the skin."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hope For Blood Cancer Patients

Having two cousins with multiple myeloma (one passed away) makes me pay special attention to any advances toward improving her survival.

In a study published December 4, 2010, researchers found that treating multiple myeloma patients early with a type of bisphosphonate called zoledronic acid improved survival. It also bolstered bone health and the risk of fracture and bone pain, common to the disease.

Of the 1,960 multiple myeloma participants, about half were treated with zoledronic acid in combination with either intensive or non-intensive chemotherapy. Even though chemotherapy intensity did not appear to affect fatality or survival outcomes, those taking zoledronic acid in proper dosages had notably higher survival rates.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Drug Brings Hope To Heart Patients

Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) researchers have found a new drug, anacetrapid, that raised good cholesterol (HDL) by 138% and also cut bad cholesterol significantly, according to Dr. Christopher Cannon, cardiologist and senior investigator.

In a study of 1,623 participants over an 18-month period, it was determined that "up until this point there have been very few drugs available to treat low levels of good cholesterol, and this new drug is 4 to 10 times more effective in raising good cholesterol compared to current therapies".

Additionally, the drug appears to be well-tolerated by patients and is not associated with the dangerous blood pressure changes in other similar-type medications.

Finally, those in the study who took the new drug rather than the placebo were significantly less likely to need angioplasty or bypass surgery.

This drug has a long way to go but it is a welcome sign for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Radiation, Tamoxifen and Breast Cancer

In a December 7, 2010, news release Dr. Lauren Cassell, chief of breast surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City announced that a three-nation study on localized breast cancer revealed that:

1. The drug tamoxifen greatly reduced the risk of the recurrence of localized cancer and decreased the risk of new cancer in the other breast by more than 65%;

2. Radiation after surgery greatly reduced the risk of invasive cancer in the same breast.