Archive for September, 2009

Alzheimer’s Disease Blog — New!

I have started a brand new blog on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Although I have had immense joy in writing this blog (and will continue to do so on a weekly basis — watch for me on Wednesday mornings), I have a special passion and interest in AD. So please visit me at http://aboutalz.com. I look forward to seeing you there.

Related blog posts on Alzheimer’s on this blog:

Oldest Man and His Two-Meal Diet

oldestman

Walter Breuning

Walter Breuning turned 113 this week — the oldest man in the world. For the past 35 years, he’s eaten just two meals a day. According to USA Today, Breuning said, “You get in the habit of not eating at night, and you realize how good you feel. If you could just tell people not to eat so darn much.” So, I’m passing on his message.

Talk about a specimen of health — he takes no medication except for one baby aspirin, drinks plenty of water, and eats a lot of fruit every day. He eats a big breakfast and lunch and has a couple of cups of coffee a day.

He believes his diet has a lot to do with being healthy as well as working until he was 99! Although his eyes don’t allow him to read any more, he keeps his mind active by listening to the radio. And, he’s busy talking to all the visitors who want to meet the world’s oldest man.

Here are some selected words of wisdom from Walter Breuning’s birthday speech:

  • Life begins each morning whether we have succeeded or failed or just muddled along. Life is a school to learn, not to unlearn.
  • Life is short but the influences of what we do or say is immortal. There needs to be much more of the spirit of fellowship among us and more forgiveness. The power of gentleness is little seen in the world.
  • The day will come when light and truth and the just and the good shall be victorious and wrong as evil will be no more forever.
  • Everything just is beautiful; everything beautiful ought to be just.
  • The world is neither a prison nor a palace of ease, but rather for instruction and discipline.

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Positive Aging Fair — Tools for Creative Aging

Mort Gerberg and Positive Aging Fair

Mort Gerberg at Positive Aging Fair

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a wonderful fair on “Positive Aging — Tools for Creative Aging” at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. The keynote address was given by cartoonist Mort Gerberg. What a fun session that was. He showed us cartoons from his book, The Last Laugh. Gerberg said cartoonists react to situations in real life that annoy them and he proceeded to show us several examples. He emphasized the importance of being positive, creative, and humorous.

I then attended a workshop by Virginia Inglese of Total Health Concepts, LLC. She talked about taking charge of your emotional and physical needs and emphasized that life is a balance of all parts. Self-care should be your top priority.

She said that self-care means listening to your body and if you choose to ignore the warning signs, it can lead to injuries and disease states. She had these suggestions for self-care strategies for successful aging:

Total Heal Concepts

Total Healing Concepts

  • Plan and schedule time for yourself in your day
  • Plan healthy nutrition for mental and physical alertness
  • Plan physical activity to reduce the effect of stress and to release tension
  • Get adequate sleep to help mood, concentration, immune system
  • Plan for down time to regenerate and renew the body
  • Relaxation exercises to help relieve anxiety and stress

You are the most important person. Take good care of yourself first, then give to others such as taking care of your grandchildren or an elderly parent.

Other workshops at the Positive Aging Fair included Container Gardening with Healing Plants, Writing Your Memoirs, Sexuality After 50, Wills, Trusts and Creative Estate Planning, and Reducing Your Risk of Memory Loss. There were also vendors to visit. Door prizes and raffles added to the fun-filled, educational, and interesting day. I look forward to attending again next year. In the meantime, I continue to stay healthy with several supplements, including this one. Click here.

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What’s on your Bucket List?

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway courtesy of National Geographic

Sooner or later, we must depart this earth. But before we do, many of us seniors have travel on our “bucket list.” A couple of years ago, the founder of Bottom Line/Retirement published a little booklet called “Get the Best From Life After 50.” In it, he cites Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and 1,000 Places to See in the United States Before You Die. He says the following truly stand out as breathtaking and inspiring — 7 natural wonders.

  1. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
  2. Denali National Park, Alaska
  3. Pacific Coast Highway, California
  4. Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
  5. Glacier National Park, Montana
  6. Gettysburg National Military Park and Cemetery, Pennsylvania
  7. Northeast Kingdom, Vermont

I’ve only been to Gettysburg and part of the Pacific Coast Highway. I would love to go to the other parks on the list. My husband and I have our senior pass to National Parks. It’s one of the best deals around.

What’s on your bucket list of places to see in the United States? Even if you’re not in the best of health, travel is still possible. However, travel (and life!) can only be truly enjoyed when you are in the best of health. Agree?  Vascular and circulatory issues? Check out these special vitamins. Click here for information.

Are Older Drivers Dangerous?

Insurance InstituteIn a report published last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, they stated:  Despite growing numbers on the road, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions during 1997-2006 than in years past…. Crash deaths among drivers 70 and older fell 21 percent during the period, reversing an upward trend, even as the population of people 70 and older rose 10 percent. Compared with drivers ages 35-54, older drivers experienced much bigger declines in fatal crash involvements. Reasons for the fatality declines aren’t clear, but another new Institute study indicates that older adults increasingly self-limit driving as they age and develop physical and cognitive impairments.

In a periodical, onHealth, published by Consumer Reports, they indicate that although many older people practice self-regulation, many more need to do it. They report that people 75 and over are still in more car crashes per mile driven than any other group other than teenagers. Here is their recommendation:

  • Avoid night driving (If you have cataracts or glaucoma or use eyedrops for the problems, they can worsen night driving).
  • Stick to familiar routes and areas.
  • Check yourself out.
    • Get a hearing test and hearing aid, if necessary.
    • Control diabetes — to avoid the possible loss of sensation in your feet.
    • Consider occupational or physical therapy if you’re hampered by arthritis or Parkinson’s or recovering from a stroke.
  • Watch your medications which could impede driving by causing dizziness or confusion (antihistimines, antidepressants, long-acting sleeping pills)

If a family member should stop driving, but won’t, contact AARP (888.687.2277) or www.aarp.org/families/driver_safety. Check on the safety education classes as well. It could mean a reduction for your auto insurance. This is a good thing, don’t you think?

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Coenzyme Q10 — CoQ10

coenzymeq10_mayoclinicLast week I had an opportunity to meet with my mentor, Richard Dennis, author of Evil Medicine. It is a look at how prescription drugs are destroying our health. One of his topics is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). It is produced by the human body and is necessary for the basic functioning of cells.

In the book, he states that your body manufactures CoQ10 for brain health, energy production, and protection against free radical damage. Further, he says that CoQ10 is critical in the synthesis of ATP, our “energy molecule,” the chemical fuel used by all cells.

According to the Mayo Clinic, CoQ10 levels are reported to decrease with age and to be low in patients with some chronic diseases such as heart conditions, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Some prescription drugs may also lower CoQ10 levels.

The following sampling of drugs may deplete CoQ10:

  • certain anti-depressants
  • anti-psychotic drugs
  • cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
  • beta-blockers
  • anti-diabetic drugs
  • anti-hypertension drugs

Dennis goes on to say that some studies suggest congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy are CoQ10 deficient diseases. One side effect of these prescription drugs is that they interfere with your body’s production of CoQ10. This depletion can be very serious in the elderly, because aging already depletes CoQ10 and a deficiency may result in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Symptoms of CoQ10 deficiency include:

  • angina
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • mitral valve prolapse
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • gum disease
  • low energy — feels like you’re “running on empty”
  • weak immune system

He says most doctors don’t know that CoQ10 levels decrease as we age and it leads to disease susceptibility. Heart patients, diabetics, and almost everyone approaching retirement age critically need more CoQ10.

Older persons in good health have difficulty in synthesizing CoQ10, so there is a real danger that the cholesterol lowering drugs, while perhaps reducing the bad cholesterol count, could be damaging the heart’s ability to function effectively because of a deficit of CoQ10. He ends with, “How ironic is that?”

Would you like to try CoQ10 from a company that offers a 30-day money back guarantee on their product? Click here.

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Why a Mammogram

Mammogram Machine

Mammogram Machine

I was sitting in the waiting room of a radiological center waiting for my yearly torture — a mammogram — and catching up on my Prevention magazine. What a coincidence that I saw a small article that said that mammography may identify women at increased risk of stroke. The article said a large number of benign calcium deposits may indicate plaque buildup in the arteries. The study, headed by Paul S. Dale, MD, was done at the University of Missouri. Plaque buildup, or atherosclerosis, in the arteries leading to the brain is a major cause of stroke.

There have also been previous studies that have shown a link between calcium deposits and diabetes and heart disease.  In this new research, researchers examined the mammograms of 793 healthy women, ages 40 to 90, with no history of stroke, heart disease, or diabetes.

They found the following:

  • 86 of the women, or about 11%, had calcification
  • Of 204 women who had a stroke, 115 or 56%, had calcification

Since I’m fortunate to not have any breast cancer in my immediate family, I had tried to talk my doctor out of getting a mammogram, but perhaps there might be more than one reason to have one. I encourage you to get one as well.

Ever heard of a vitamin that cleans your arteries? Click here.

Spinal Research Foundation

Spinal Research Foundation

This is a continuation of information from a seminar I attended called, “Osteoporosis: Taking Steps Towards Bone Health” sponsored by the Virginia Spine Institute and the Spinal Research Foundation. The presenter was Christopher R. Good, MD. Osteoporosis is a serious disease where bone mineral density is reduced. It is a myth that bone loss is not serious. It is a progressive disease and irreversible. Even a minor trauma can cause a debilitating fracture.

What action can you take if you are at risk for osteoporosis? Sure, you can take medication, but there are side effects to prescription medication. Calcium is a must and is best accomplished through fresh fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products. In addition, you can protect yourself by the following:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation
  • Fall prevention
  • Hip protectors
  • Balance and exercise programs

There are so many choices for calcium. Check to see that your calcium has Vitamin D added. You can check the absorption rate of your calcium with the vinegar test. Personally, I take coral calcium and if you do the vinegar test, this particular one does not fizz and dissolve immediately. It takes awhile, but it also contains enzymes which help with absorption and digestion. This is particularly important for those with digestive problems.

How much calcium do you need? Here is a guide.

  • Under 50 years of age: Calcium 1000 mg/day, Vitamin D 200 IU/day
  • 50 and older: Calcium 1200 mg/day, Vitamin D 400 IU/day
  • 70 and older: Calcium 1200 mg/day, Vitamin D 600 IU/day

There are so many more areas of discussion, but if you have the following warning signs, see  your medical practitioner right away.

  • Persistent, unexplained back pain
  • Loss of height
  • Can no longer stand upright
  • Spinal deformities

One of the tests that might be recommended is the bone density test or DEXA scan. According to the spring 2009 issue of the Journal of the Spinal Research Foundation, osteoporosis is classified by a t-score value of greater than -2.5 and osteopenia is classified by scores in the range of -1 to -2.5. The journal states:

Physical activity has been found to have a significant influence on reducing the effects of osteoporosis. As stress of force is placed on the bone (possibly through exercise), osteocytes are activated which will increase bone mass over time. Conversely, decreased load will result in decreased bone mass over time. Research has shown that greater loads and lower repetitions result in greater gains in bone mass, however, any type and amount of loading and resistance has been found to be effective. Physical activity, especially an exercise program involving weight bearing and resisted exercise, has been shown to be effective in preventing the onset of osteoporosis, as well as reversing the effects, if present. Individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis must be cautious when beginning an exercise program. As the disease progresses, certain exercises and positions are contraindicated due to the risk of injury, or more specifically, fracture. Physical therapists are specially trained in exercise prescription and will be able to develop an exercise program that is safe and effective in preventing or treating the effects of osteoporosis. In addition to strengthening, a physical therapist will also address other key topics   associated with osteoporosis. These will most likely include posture, balance, strength, flexibility and nutrition.

If you have the symptoms as discussed in Part 1 of this two-part series, be sure see your medical practitioner as soon as possible. Osteoporosis is a progressive and irreversible disease.

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Spinal Research Foundation

Spinal Research Foundation

Last week I attended a seminar called “Osteoporosis: Taking Steps Towards Bone Health” sponsored by the Virginia Spine Institute and the Spinal Research Foundation. The presenter was Christopher R. Good, MD. Osteoporosis is a serious disease where bone mineral density is reduced. It is a myth that bone loss is not serious. It is a progressive disease and irreversible. Even a minor trauma can cause a debilitating fracture. As a person with osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis), “irreversible” scared me.  Currently there is medication being developed to grow bone, but Dr. Good was not aware of when that might become available.

The number of people affected is staggering: 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. There are 1.5 million fractures annually in the following categories:

  • Vertebral fractures: 700,000+
  • Hip fractures: 300,000+
  • Wrist fractures: 200,000+
  • Other fractures: 300,000+

Not only is the disease itself a problem, the costs associated with the disease are very high. Most patients with hip fractures are hospitalized for a week. One in four adults who lived independently before the hip fracture has to stay in a nursing home for at least a year after their injury. One in five hip fracture patients dies within a year of injury. I recall my father passing away within a few days of his hip fracture surgery, although he was never tested for bone density so it remains unknown as to whether or not he had osteoporosis. But mother’s osteoporosis showed prominently with the dowager’s hump.

If you fall in any of the following categories, it behooves you to take note. The risk factors are:

  • Female
  • Thin or small frame
  • Low body weight
  • Smoking
  • Advanced age
  • History of fragility fracture
  • Family history — primary relative with osteoporosis or fragility fracture
  • Post menopausal — women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in 5 to 7 years
  • Amenorrhea
  • Eating disorders
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Certain medications
  • Low testosterone in men
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Ethnicity — Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian-American women

What action can you take if you are at risk for osteoporosis? Sure, you can take medication, but there are side effects to prescription medication. Part 2 will discuss your options.

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