The health benefits of shared living

Living with others in older age has many benefits. It may help stave off health risks brought on by loneliness and isolation, and it may provide companions who are able to assist older adults with household chores, personal care, and transportation. Common living situations for older adults include moving in with adult children, taking on boarders, or living with friends. In these situations, it’s important to set boundaries and establish ground rules about privacy and expectations. More »

What causes hiccups?

 Image: © didecs/Getty Images Q. Why do I get hiccups, and what can I do about them? I know they're not serious, but they sure are aggravating. A. Hiccups are one of those minor maladies of man that they don't teach you about in medical school. But they can affect a person's life — particularly when they start at the wrong time. The first time I realized this was when hiccups started just as I was in the middle of giving a lecture to medical students. You want your lectures to be memorable, and this one may have been — not for what I said, but for the way it came out of my mouth. (Locked) More »

What's that chest pain?

The big fear about chest pain is that it’s the result of a heart attack. Symptoms can include pressure or squeezing in the chest, lightheadedness, and pain in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. However, chest pain can have any number of causes, such as heartburn, a panic attack, an overuse injury that inflames the chest wall, or a lung condition. Chest pain that is sudden or severe warrants a call to 911. If it’s been going on for months, it’s probably okay to be evaluated at a doctor’s office instead of the emergency department. (Locked) More »

Wearable weights: How they can help or hurt

When you want to add strength training to your routine, wearable weights seem like a handy shortcut. Just slip them on and do your regular workout. But it's not that simple. "They're great for specific exercises, but they have some risks," says Terry Downey, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. You may see people walking around with weights around their ankles. The weights are typically built into a wide neoprene strap that wraps around the ankle and attaches with Velcro. But Downey warns that it's not a good idea to use wearable ankle weights while you're walking or during an aerobics workout, because they force you to use your quadriceps (the muscles in the fronts of the thighs) and not your hamstrings (in the backs of the thighs). "That causes a muscle imbalance," Downey says. Wearable ankle weights also pull on the ankle joint, which poses the risk of tendon or ligament injuries to the knees, hips, and back. More »

Ways to dig out of a dietary rut

Sometimes older adults get into a menu rut or stop eating healthy, nutritious foods. This may reflect issues with money, mobility, or loneliness. A dietary rut may lead to a reliance on prepackaged foods, and even malnutrition. Suggestions to break out of a dietary rut include trying new foods; cooking in large quantities, with leftovers that can be eaten throughout the week; signing up for subscription meal kits; inviting friends to dinner; and asking friends to pitch in with a meal, with each person taking turns shopping and cooking. (Locked) More »

Managing your medications before a medical procedure

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anticoagulants, and certain herbs and supplements can increase the risk of bleeding with surgery. They may need to be stopped before a procedure. However, some medications, such as those taken to manage blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, or type 2 diabetes, may need to be taken on the day of surgery. Instructions for stopping or restarting medications and supplements should come from one’s doctor, at least one week before the surgery. (Locked) More »