Stay driving to stay independent

Aging brings physical changes that can jeopardize driving skills. Changes in eyesight may make it harder to see at night and read traffic signs. Hearing loss can mask outside noise such as sirens and horns. Chronic physical challenges such as arthritis pain may cause difficulty gripping a steering wheel, turning to look for traffic, or pressing the brakes. Problems with thinking skills can cause drivers to get lost or become confused in high traffic. It’s important to address potential driving issues as soon as possible to stay safe on the road. More »

Are you short of breath?

Shortness of breath can indicate serious heart or lung disease. However, it may also be a symptom of obesity and anemia. No matter the cause, shortness of breath should be taken seriously. Important warning signs include new onset or sudden shortness of breath, rapidly worsening shortness of breath, or accompanying symptoms such as chest pain, chest pressure, or lightheadedness, which should be reported to the doctor promptly. (Locked) More »

Fall vaccination roundup

Autumn is a good time to review vaccination histories. A flu shot is recommended annually. Some people think it’s okay to skip this vaccine, but the CDC reports that up to 49,000 people in the United States die from the flu in a bad year. A pneumonia vaccination is recommended just once for adults ages 65 and older. Tetanus boosters are needed once every 10 years. And a vaccination against shingles is recommended for people 60 and older. (Locked) More »

The importance of stretching

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which is needed to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when muscles are called on for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That increases the risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. If possible one should stretch daily, focusing on the lower extremities. It’s important to stretch after a workout, not before. (Locked) More »

Improve sleep by eating right

Many foods can either interrupt sleep or keep people from falling asleep. Spicy foods and some medications may cause heartburn, and they may stimulate chronic heartburn known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Foods with lactose may cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and diarrhea in people who are lactose intolerant. Food, drinks, and medicines containing caffeine make it hard to fall asleep and cause sleep to be fragmented. And alcohol consumption results in fewer restful stages of sleep. (Locked) More »

Meat lover's guide to healthy eating

Cutting back on red meat consumption is a worthy goal. Research shows that even modest amounts of red meat increase the risk for developing heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes. Red meat should be an occasional food, no more than two servings a week, with a serving size between 1.5 and 3 ounces. Meats that are labeled “prime” should be avoided. Leaner cuts, which are graded as “choice” or “select,” are a better choice. Leaner beef cuts include chuck, flank, and roasts. (Locked) More »

The magic of mindfulness

Learning to focus attention on the present moment can have benefits that affect attention span as well as health. That’s why a practice called mindfulness has become a popular form of meditation. Mindfulness can help someone become more engaged in daily activities and better appreciate life’s pleasures as they happen. That can lead to improvements in concentration and happiness. But mindfulness also brings about a well-studied physiological change that can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. (Locked) More »

What you should know about: Generic vs. brand-name statins

Statins are among the most widely prescribed medications in the world, and their cholesterol-lowering properties are reducing heart disease risk for millions of people. Statins are available in generic and brand-name versions. The cost differences can be significant, with some generics costing about $12 a month, compared with brand-name statins that can run $500 a month. There are seven different types of statins approved for use in the United States, and each one works in the body a little differently. Patients also report different responses to various statins, as well as to generic and brand-name versions of the same statin type. (Locked) More »