Archive for July, 2009

7 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power

BrainOne of my favorite magazines is  Prevention. An article in a recent issue, “7 Surprising Ways to Boost Your Brain” caught my attention. Seniors have a fear of Alzheimer’s, so many of us are looking for ways to prevent it. The article says, “…according to a flurry of new reports, you can counteract age-related changes in the brain with a surprisingly simple regimen of activities guaranteed to nurture and fortify your mental musclepower.”

Here are 7 amazingly simple things suggested by Prevention that we can do to keep our brain active and alive.

  1. Google. Spend just 20 minutes a few days a week researching topics that you always wanted to learn more about no matter how frivolous.
  2. Exercise. Spend as little as 50 minutes of brisk walking 3 times a week.
  3. Brush and Floss. Floss daily and spend 2 minutes brushing at least once a day.
  4. Drink Sparingly. Alcohol consumption should be no more than 1 drink a day.
  5. Eat Blueberries. Fresh or frozen, sprinkle them on your cereal or yogurt or fold them into your smoothie.
  6. Play Sudoku.  Start on easy ones and work on them whenever you have to wait for anything.
  7. Meditate. Start with 10 or 15 minutes and focus on whatever you’re experiencing at the present moment from hearing birds chirp to the sound of your breathing.

Aren’t these suggestions amazingly simple? Numbers 1 to 5 and number 7 are pretty much a part of my regimen, but number 6 is not. I’ve seen varying levels of Sudoku and since it’s not a favorite of mine, I’ll need to check out some elementary ones. They range from easy to evil, according to one Web site. Now, do number 1 above and find some Sudoku Web sites.

Personally, I would add an 8th simple step and that is to take nutritional supplements. There are so many on the market that it can be confusing. Click here to check out one thing I take to boost my brain power. Have fun boosting your brain power!

How to Ease Shoulder Pain

shoulder_rotation2Pain … ouch! Every decade seems to assure most of us that there’ll be more pain in some part of the body that we never felt before. One of the typical places is the shoulder where many muscles, tendons, and ligaments stabilize the joint. Years of activity as simple as reaching up for something or playing a musical instrument can lead to wear and tear on the joint and make the shoulder prone to injury. Falls or other accidents can also lead to injury.

You can keep your joints supple and strong by doing some exercises like the illustrations. However, if

SideDelt

you are already feeling pain, you want to nurse that area and make sure you do not cause further injury and pain. Once the inflammation is down by using ice packs and perhaps over-the-counter medication, you can start exercising.

One exercise shown to the right is a deltoids stretch. You bring your arm across your body and press gently with the opposite arm either above or below the elbow. Hold for 30 seconds. For more information, check http:exrx.net.

http://familydoctor.org also offers some exercises below you can do. Having been through physical therapy myself, I know these were exercises that were recommended to me.

268a.Par.0001.Image

Exercise 1

Exercise 1: Range of motion. Stand up and lean over so you’re facing the floor. Let your sore arm dangle straight down. Draw circles in the air with your sore arm. Start with small circles, and then draw bigger ones. Repeat these exercises 5 to 10 times during the day. If you have pain, stop. You can try again later.

Exercise 2

Exercise 2

Exercise 2: Rotator cuff strengthening. Use a piece of rubber tubing for these exercises. Stand next to a closed door with a doorknob. Loop the tubing around the knob. With your hand that is closest to the door, bend your arm at a 90° angle and grab the loop of the tubing. Pull the band across your tummy. At first, do 1 set of 10 exercises. Try to increase the number of sets as your shoulder pain lessens. These exercises should be done every day.

Exercise 3

Exercise 3

Exercise 3: Upper extremity strengthening. As your pain goes away, try adding a general upper body weight-lifting program using weight machines or free weights. Lie on your right side with your left arm at your side. With a weight in your left hand and your forearm across your tummy, raise your forearm. Keep your elbow near your side.

Topical pain relievers like creams and patches might also give some relief. They are widely used in other countries, but are less popular here. Topical analgesics might cause skin reactions, but pills affect the gut and blood.The one I use before I sleep is called Sunjing. For more information, click here.

Hopefully, this discussion of exercises and pain relievers will give you some relief if you are suffering from shoulder pain.

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Risk Factors for Heart Attack and Stroke

CigaretteA  female friend in her 70’s recently had a heart attack. She seemed to be perfectly healthy (although previously had had open heart surgery). It happened suddenly and she’s now recovering. How scary, I thought, and what’s the possibility that I could become a statistic as well. I found a booklet that I’d previously picked up and not paid attention to called, “Are You at Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke” jointly published by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Here is the quiz.

  • Age and Sex. I am a man over 45 years old or I am a woman over 55 years old.
  • Family History. My father or brother had a heart attack before age 55; or my mother or sister had one before age 65; or my mother, father, sister, brother or grandparent had a stroke.
  • Heart Disease Medical History. I have coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation or another heart condition(s) or I’ve had a heart attack.
  • Stroke Medical History. I’ve been told that I have carotid artery disease; or I’ve had a stroke or TIA (transient isclemic attack); or I have a disease of the leg arteries, a high red blood cell count or sickle cell anemia.
  • Blood Pressure. My blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, or a health professional has said my blood pressure is too high, or I don’t know what my blood pressure is.
  • Tobacco smoke. I smoke or live or work with people who smoke regularly.
  • Total cholesterol. My total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL or higher, or I don’t know my level.
  • HDL Cholesterol. My HDL (“good”) cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL or I don’t know my HDL cholesterol level.
  • Physical Activity. I get less than a total of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.
  • Overweight. I am 20 pounds or more overweight for my height and build.
  • Diabetes. I have diabetes (a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or higher), or I need medicine to control my blood sugar.

Heart disease can be a silent killer. Besides controlling what I can, I take a vitamin for circulatory health that is like the arcade game, Pac-Man. It’s Pac-Man eating the plaque in the arteries. For more information, click here. To listen, click here.

Cell Phone for Seniors

Clarity cell phoneTwo problems faced by many seniors: diminished vision and hearing. The ClarityLife C900 shown to the left helps solve those two problems. The phone has extra large buttons and oversized text on its video screen. In addition, to assist with hearing, it has a 20-decibel amplification, twice as loud as the ordinary cell phone.

Particularly of interest to the elderly, it has a one-touch emergency button to contact a relative or friend and it also has a built-in flashlight. In addition to sound, it has a flashing ringer and a vibrating ringer.

This phone can be purchased at http://shop.clarityproducts.com/products/listing/item3289.asp. You can then bring it to a wireless carrier (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) and they will provide you with a “SIM card” to activate your service.

Nursing Homes and Medicare

Goodwin House Alexandria VA

Goodwin House
Alexandria, VA

Nursing homes … does that send a shiver up your spine? I recently became aware of a government Web site that actually ranks nursing homes. It is the official Web site for Medicare. I’m glad I found it because I will qualify for Medicare next year. http://budurl.com/d3am

Although some are run by the government and some are run by non-profit corporations, most are for-profit corporations. A nursing home is a business and they must keep the beds occupied.

One of the worst experiences in my life was the day that my father was admitted into a nursing home. He had been on a wait list, but there’s no waiting once the bed opens up. We were given just a couple of days; mom was at once relieved that dad would get the care for Alzheimer’s that she could no longer handle and anguished and distressed that she would be separated from a man she had been married to for over 50 years.

Dad never wanted to go into a nursing home. Ironically, he’d been on the board of directors of a related nursing home he was admitted to. As we walked up to the entryway, he knew exactly where he was and he didn’t want to go in. There was fear in his eyes. The pain I felt cannot be described. He had to be coaxed in. Just a couple of hours earlier, mom and I had taken him to the barber and we’d taken him to lunch at a Chinese restaurant, trying hard to pretend that nothing was about to happen.

I don’t remember the exact date he was admitted, but there were probably one or two more visits. At the last visit,  I told him I had to go back to Virginia; I did not know that would be the last time I would see him. He lasted for three weeks in the nursing home. In checking out the nursing home he was in, Oahu Care Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii, I’m glad to know that they received 5 out of 5 stars for their overall rating.

Goodwin House in Alexandria, VA seen in the picture above, also has the highest rating. The model for many assisted living places now is to have graduated living facilities so that the nursing home would be available later on, should you need it. In that way, it’s not such a dramatic change to go from living in your own home to moving to a nursing home. Such living arrangements make it easier for the spouse to visit.

Like my father, I don’t think anyone would ever want to enter a nursing home, but it’s good to know that if the need arises, the Medicare Web site makes it simpler to look at the choices. Keep in mind, though, these numbers don’t tell the real story. They are simply numbers. If you have the time, an extended visit to the nursing home is always the best option. However, in many instances this is not always possible.

As always, I advocate taking high quality vitamins and nutritional supplements as well as eating well and exercising. Taking good care of yourself should always be a top priority. That’s one way of staying out of a nursing home as long as possible. Seems like a good option to me. How about you?

Prescription Medication and Nutrient Depletion

I came across an interesting study done in 2005 in Minnesota showing an increase in the use of prescription drugs as one ages. The survey results are staggering. Two-thirds of seniors in their 50’s are on prescription medication and the numbers get worse as one ages. So those of us who are not on any prescription drugs are in the minority. Drugs can produce undesirable and even tragic results, but we don’t think often about the nutrients they deplete.

2005 Survey of Older Minnesotans (Statewide Population 50+)
Take Prescription Drugs on a Daily Basis

Age Total Weighted # Take Prescription Drugs Daily No Daily Prescription Drugs
50-59 40,638 59.9% 40.1%
60-74 33,418 78.2% 21.8%
75+ 21,107 87.1% 12.9%

Age Differences Statistically Significant

http://www.mnaging.org/advisor/survey/SOM2005Tables.pdf

Prescription drugs have side effects. Ever notice the small print accompanying all prescriptions? Ever notice the last words of TV commercials for prescription drugs? More importantly, though, we don’t realize the nutrients that it depletes from our bodies. Check out this table taken from Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, 2nd ed.

Medication (RxDrug) Nutrients Depleted
Antacids Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Zinc
Prevacid, Prolosec Vitamin B12
Antibiotics General Aminoglycosides (tentomycin, neomycin, streptomycin), Cephalosporins, Penicillins B Vitamins, Vitamin K
Friendly beneficial intestinal bacteria
Tetracyclines Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin B6
Anti-Diabetic Drugs Micronase, Tolinase Coenzyme Q10
Glucophage Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid
Anti-Depressants Adapin, Aventyl, Elavil, TofranilPamelor,Sinequan, Norpramin Vitamin B12, Coenzyme Q10
Anti-Inflammatories Aspirin & Salicylates Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Iron, Potassium
Advil, Aleve, Anaprox, Dolobid, Feldene, Lodine, Motrin, Naprosyn, Orudis, Relafen Folic Acid
Betamethasone, Cortisone, Dexamethasone, Hydrocortisone, Methylprednisoone, Prednisone Vitamins C, D, Folic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc
Cardiovascular Drugs Apresoline Vitamin B6, Coenzyme Q10
Catapres, AldometCorgard, Inderal, Lopressor Coenzyme Q10
Betapace, Tenormin, Sectral, Blocadren Coenzyme Q10, Melatonin
Diuretics Lasix, Bumex, Edecrin Vitamins B1, B6, C, Magnesium Calcium, Potassium, Zinc, Sodium
Enduron, Diuril, Lozol, Zaroxolyn, Hygroton Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc
Lescol, Lipitor, Mavacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Crestor Coenzyme Q10, Sodium
Cholesterol Lowering Agents(Statins) Lescol, Lipitor, Mavacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Crestor Coenzyme Q10
Colestid, Quetran Vitamins A, B12, D, E, K, Beta-Carotene, Folic Acid, Iron
Ulcer Medications Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac Vitamins B12, D, Folic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Protein
Prevacid, Prilosec Vitamin B12, Protein
HTR – Hormone Replacement Therapy Evista, Prempro, Premarin, Estratab Vitamins B2, B6, B12, C, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc
Oral Contraceptives Norinyl, Ortho-Novum, Triphasil, etc. Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, C, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc

Prescription drugs are expensive. In many cases, generics are not available. Consumer Reports has a free service where you can check on best buys for drugs you may be taking.

http://www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/drug-report-archives.htm

If you are on prescription medication(s), one of the best and least expensive vitamins on the market today that would help you replace the lost nutrients is VitaOne. Click here for complete information.

Diabetes and Foot Problems

If you have diabetes, you want to watch carefully for the development of foot problems.   Over time, elevated sugar levels can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels.  The nerve damage, neuropathy, can cause pain and tingling or a complete loss of sensation.  Narrowing of the arteries can impair circulation, especially in the feet and lower legs.  This can reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the tissues, making them more vulnerable to injury and impairing their ability to heal.

The combination of numbness and poor circulation can lead to the development of foot ulcers. Here are some interesting points.

  • Foot complications are the most frequent cause for hospitalization of patients with diabetes.
  • About 30% to 50% of diabetics will develop foot problems related to the disease and about 15% of will develop a serious foot ulcer problem.
  • Foot ulcers precede 85% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations.
  • 50% of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations are performed on diabetics.
  • The cost of treating a foot ulcer in 2005 was estimated by the International Diabetes Federation to be $7,000 – $10,000 without amputation.
  • With amputation, the cost of treatment was estimated to be as high as $65,000.
  • Up to 60% of diabetic patients with a history of foot ulcers will develop another within one year.

Fortunately, there is an inexpensive and very effective way to combat peripheral lower limb neuropathy.  Unfortunately it is still relatively unknown among the people who need it most.  Dr. Michael Weintraub of the NY Medical College Department of Neurology and Medicine conducted an historic study on the effects of magnetic insoles on neuropathic pain which was published in the May 5, 2003 issue of the Archives of Physical Medicine.

The report concludes that the “study provides convincing data confirming that the constant wearing of static, permanent, magnetic insoles produces statistically significant reduction of neuropathic pain.”  The study involved nearly 400 patients, and the insoles were Magsteps produced by Nikken.  Dr. Weintraub says it’s only a certain kind of bipolar magnetic insoles that seems to help enough to make a difference.  These insoles were lauded by the researchers for “their safety and minimal cost.” Dr. Weintraub concluded that magnetic therapy is “comparable or superior to that observed with various conventional drugs,” and it also has the advantage of being non-invasive and less expensive (at a cost of $60) with no side-effects.

Click here to view a short video about Dr. Weintraub and the insoles. Click here to view a timelapse thermographic imaging video of the effect on feet of a pair of Nikken insoles.

Ann FinnGuest author Ann Finn, a Nikken representative. has seen the Nikken products work for herself as well as her clients and takes much joy when the lives of her clients improve. She can be reached by e-mail at wellnessmaven@yahoo.com or via her Web site at www.nikken.com/wellnessmaven.

Parkinson Disease and Your Pharmacist

The National Parkinson Foundation sponsors many Parkinson Disease (PD) support groups. (Most people refer to Parkinson as Parkinson’s, but that is incorrect). I had the opportunity to visit a support group in Northern Virginia and found them to be a very friendly, supportive group. No matter how mild the PD, a support group can be very uplifting. Additionally, the speakers for the meeting give valuable information.

Centreville Medical Arts PharmacyOn the day I visited, one speaker was Ernest Dixon, RPH, owner of Centreville Medical Arts Pharmacy. He explained that PD is a degenerative disease mostly of the aged. There are over 1 million people in the United States and 4 million people worldwide with the disease. It is characterized by tremors, rigidity with stiffness and slowness, and postural instability, all because the nerves in the brain become impaired when it stops producing dopamine.

Early treatment is best and Ernest recommended the following:

  1. Know yourself and your body.
  2. Know your medical provider and the medication prescribed, including side effects.
  3. Know your pharmacist. Build a relationship with the pharmacist.

Centreville Medical Arts Pharmacy is an independent pharmacy located in Northern Virginia. Ernest is a gregarious Ernest Dixonand friendly pharmacist who truly enjoys helping people. After his many years of experience with chain pharmacies, he decided he wanted to really work with people counseling them on their medication and not just filling prescriptions all day. In addition, the pharmacy is a “compounding pharmacy” meaning that they are able to “mix” drugs, such as changing the form of the medication from a pill to a liquid or to remove a non-essential ingredient that the patient might be allergic to.

Getting to know your pharmacist is a really good idea if you take many different kinds of prescription medication prescribed by different doctors so that the pharmacist can be on the lookout for any potential problems. Additionally, if you want to add over the counter medication to the mix, you need to talk to the pharmacist. Or, if you simply want to add high quality nutritional supplements such as vitamins, consult your pharmacist. A pharmacist like Ernest Dixon will be happy to give you professional advice. When we’re all surrounded by big chain pharmacies and pharmacies in supermarkets, it is refreshing to know that there are independent pharmacies with people like Ernest Dixon, RPH.

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