Preventing seasonal maladies

Older adults are especially susceptible to winter illnesses. This is partly because of a weakened immune system. Common winter illnesses include the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, and stomach bugs. To ward off winter illness, one should get the proper vaccines, wash hands before eating or touching the face, carry hand sanitizer, avoid close contact with people who’re under the weather, and stay away from shared food like potlucks and buffets. More »

How many steps should I take each day?

Evidence from Harvard suggests that taking 7,500 steps per day is associated with a 40% reduction in risk for an early death, compared with getting less than 3,000 steps per day. Doctors say that makes 7,500 steps per day a good daily activity goal. Regular exercise also reduces the risk for premature death. Doctors recommend moderate exercise—like a brisk walk (at about 3 mph) for 30 minutes, at least five times per week. More »

Is your CPAP machine making you sick?

Using a dirty continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system can lead to illness. Germs can grow in the mask or in the water reservoir in the CPAP pump. Cleaning the CPAP system regularly will help reduce illness risks. The CPAP mask, water chamber, and tubing should be washed with hot, soapy water every morning. The CPAP headgear and filter should be washed once a week. There are also two types of machines that automatically sanitize CPAP components at the touch of a button. (Locked) More »

An older adult's guide to exercising in cold weather

Exercising in cold weather has benefits, but poses numerous risks for older adults. Exposure to cold weather for long periods increases the risk for hypothermia or frostbite. Also, cold weather causes blood vessels to narrow, increasing the risk for heart and muscle strain. To avoid the risks, older adults should wear layers of warm clothing (preferably athletic clothing that wicks away moisture and retains heat), including a hat, gloves, and socks; use sunscreen and lip balm; do an exercise warm-up; and stay hydrated. More »

Comfort food without the guilt

To reduce dietary risks of comfort foods, it’s best to swap out unhealthy ingredients with healthier alternatives. For example, one could ditch full-fat dairy products like cream and butter, and instead use nonfat Greek yogurt or skim milk; ditch red meat in favor of poultry, fish, or legumes; ditch salt and use herbs and spices, such as oregano, rosemary, or basil; or ditch refined-grain noodles and use noodles made of whole wheat, black beans, lentils, or zucchini. (Locked) More »

Are the new migraine medications working?

Three new medications—erenumab (Aimovig), fremanezumab (Ajovy), and galcanezumab (Emgality)—appear to be helping people with frequent, debilitating migraine headaches. Studies suggest that people taking the new drugs experience about 50% fewer migraine headache days per month, compared with people who aren’t taking the medications. However, clinical trials for the new medications have included relatively few older adults, so it’s not known if older adults might react differently to the medications than younger people. Doctors urge older adults to start out taking the lowest dose possible. (Locked) More »

Cafeteria strategies that may improve your diet

Two strategies appear to help people in cafeterias make better food choices. One is labeling foods with traffic-light stickers to indicate if a food is healthy. The other is placing unhealthy foods in less accessible locations. More »