Making decisions about your future medical care

Legal documentation that protects a person’s future medical treatment choices is generally known as an advance directive. That umbrella term covers several documents. A living will spells out treatment preferences if a person is unable to make treatment decisions. A health care proxy form names the person who’ll make health care decisions if a person lacks the capacity to make them. A POLST (physician orders for life-sustaining treatment) turns a person’s health care preferences into a medical order that must be followed by doctors, hospital staffers, and paramedics immediately, not after legal interpretation.    (Locked) More »

Danger-proof your walking routine

Physical and environmental dangers may turn a walk outside into a trip to the hospital, sabotaging good intentions to stay healthy. Hazards include gait problems, hearing impairment, distractions from electronic gadgets, and walking alone or without a way to call for help in case of an emergency. It’s best to seek a physical evaluation if any underlying health conditions could put a person at risk of falling while walking, such as back, hip, knee, ankle, or foot pain; muscle weakness; imbalance from neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease; dizziness from inner ear conditions; or vision problems. More »

Malnutrition alert: Load your freezer with healthy foods

For older adults who can’t always go to the store, it’s smart to keep the freezer stocked with healthy, fresh foods all year through. Staples include a variety of proteins (meat, poultry, and seafood), fruits, and vegetables. It doesn’t matter if fruit and vegetables come from the produce aisle or from the frozen food section, as long as the frozen foods are not precooked and have no additives or sauces. It’s best to try to avoid exposing frozen foods to air by covering tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then placing them in sealed, labeled freezer bags. (Locked) More »

What's the latest in cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is considered routine. It involves replacing the eye’s cloudy lens with a new artificial lens. Advances in technology include the use of lasers and 3D imaging, and intraoperative wavefront aberrometry, which measures the total refractive error of the eye. Medicare does not yet cover the costs of most of advanced cataract surgery technologies. Complications such as severe vision loss, bleeding, and infection are rare. Studies on animals have suggested that someday it may be possible to prevent and reverse cataracts with eye drops. (Locked) More »

What to do when medication makes you sleepy

Daytime sleepiness is one of the most commonly reported side effects of some medications. Prescription drugs that may cause sleepiness include antidepressants and benzodiazepines. Over-the-counter medicines may also cause drowsiness, such remedies for insomnia, allergies, or diarrhea. When starting a new medication that may cause drowsiness, one should avoid activities that require alertness until it’s clear if there are side effects. Sometimes the sleepiness caused by medications will lessen over time, as the body adjusts. Resolving drowsiness may be a matter of adjusting the dose or changing medications. More »