Age-proof your knees

Image: © jacoblund/Thinkstock Knee pain is common in older age, often caused by osteoarthritis (the wearing away of knee cartilage). Fortunately, there are ways to fool Father Time and postpone knee problems or even prevent them entirely. "In many cases, you can delay or avoid the need for surgical intervention, such as a knee replacement," says Dr. Lars Richardson, an orthopedic surgeon with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Your knees absorb a huge amount of pressure with every step — typically one-and-a-half times your body weight. That pressure, plus regular wear and tear, takes a toll over time. Muscles and ligaments get weaker. The knee's two shock absorbers — pads of cartilage called menisci — start to deteriorate. So does the articular cartilage protecting the ends of the leg bones where they meet at the knee. If you have a family history of osteoarthritis, if you're overweight, or if you've had some knee injuries, you may be more prone to this deterioration. (Locked) More »

How depression affects your thinking skills

Often, one of the first signs of depression in people ages 70 or older is a change in thinking. This may show up as trouble with attention, memory, decision making, information processing, or executive function. Because the symptoms of depression are similar to those of other conditions, depression is often overlooked. When these symptoms occur, a primary care physician should do a depression screening. Treating depression leads to marked improvement in thinking, memory, and executive function. (Locked) More »

Make your voice heard!

Aging changes the voice, typically because the vocal cords thin out, the lungs don’t work as well as they used to, and cartilage in the larynx hardens. What’s not normal is when voice changes are so dramatic they interfere with the ability to communicate. These changes may reflect such causes as neck or chest surgery, smoking, or silent acid reflux. But almost all voice disorders are treatable. Treatment usually involves addressing underlying conditions and a course of voice therapy with a speech therapist. (Locked) More »

Is your salad dressing hurting your healthy diet?

Store-bought salad dressings often have extra calories, sodium, added sugar, saturated fat, and preservatives. One should look for dressing that has no more than 120 calories, 200 milligrams (mg) of sodium, 2 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving. If a favorite dressing exceeds those limits, dietitians recommend using only half a serving and mixing it with vinegar. It’s best to make a salad dressing at home with healthy ingredients such as olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, spices, and citrus juice. (Locked) More »

Are you at risk for gout?

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It’s caused by a buildup of uric acid, a waste product from the breakdown of natural chemicals in the body. Symptoms—such as excruciating pain, warmth, redness, and swelling—often appear suddenly, especially in the toes (mainly the big toe), feet, and ankles. Medications can decrease severity and pain and help to lower uric acid levels. Other ways to treat gout include losing weight, staying hydrated, treating underlying conditions that may be linked to gout, and avoiding foods that increase uric acid. (Locked) More »

What to do when your medication causes nausea

Nausea is a common side effect of many types of medication, such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and some antibiotics and antidepressants. The drugs may cause nausea because of the way they work or the way they are digested, among other reasons. Taking medication with food, such as toast, may help to reduce or avoid nausea. Other tips include avoiding fatty or fried foods; avoiding lying down flat when resting; and taking a medication at bedtime, to “sleep off” potential nausea. (Locked) More »

Take steps to protect your hearing now

It appears that hearing loss among adults 20 or older in the United States will go from about 44 million in 2020 to almost 74 million in 2060, with the greatest increases among older adults. More »