The body’s overlooked defense system

The skin is one of the body’s important defense systems. It keeps moisture in the body and protects the body from toxins in the water or air, ultraviolet rays, and bacteria. In older age, the skin becomes thinner and drier, and it is more prone to tearing and splitting, increasing the risk that germs can get inside the body. Petroleum jelly, creams, oils, and humectants can all help maintain a healthy skin barrier. They are most effective if applied right after hand washing or bathing. More »

Will there be a COVID-19 vaccine?

There are many different ways to produce a vaccine. All are being tried simultaneously in the effort to fight COVID-19. Vaccines typically include a killed or weakened virus, or a protein from the virus. When the vaccine enters the body, the immune system "sees" and remembers it. Then, if the real virus enters the body later in life, the primed immune system attacks and eradicates it. Growing the large amounts of virus needed for a vaccine, or making the virus’s proteins in a laboratory, takes a lot of time and money. So, faster and cheaper approaches have been developed. (Locked) More »

5 Internet recommendations for joint pain: Do they work?

Some methods touted on the Internet to relieve arthritis pain may do little to help with joint problems, even though they seem sensible. Music therapy and meditation may provide temporary distractions to pain. Eating a high-fiber diet can help with loss of excess weight, which can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms in weight-bearing joints, but there’s no evidence it will reduce arthritis inflammation. Therapeutic massage can make sore muscles, tendons, and joints feel better, at least temporarily. Getting more sleep is important to overall health but probably won’t relieve arthritis pain. (Locked) More »

Is it time to consider using medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana use among older adults is increasing, especially to treat insomnia or pain. The term "medical marijuana" refers to either the dried flowers of the unprocessed marijuana plant, which contains hundreds of chemicals; or two specific chemicals of marijuana that are known to have medicinal properties: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces a high; cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce any sort of high or cognitive impairment. (Locked) More »

Giving telemedicine a try

Telemedicine has become an important means of seeing a doctor. A number of steps will help individuals prepare for a virtual visit, such as making a list of questions to ask the doctor; having a family member present to take notes or listen to instructions; and making sure that the home computer, laptop, or smartphone that will be used in the visit is charged and the microphone and camera are working. During a virtual visit, a patient should speak loud enough to be understood by the doctor, and describe symptoms or concerns with as much detail as possible. (Locked) More »

Tips to avoid constipation

There are many ways one can try to avoid constipation. For example, lifestyle remedies may help—such as increasing dietary fiber, getting regular exercise, and drinking three to six cups of water per day. If those approaches don’t work, doctors recommend using fiber supplements, such as psyllium husk (Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), or wheat dextrin (Benefiber). Another supplement that might help is magnesium. When all strategies fail, it may be time to try over-the-counter medication. One option is an osmotic laxative such as polyethylene glycol (Miralax). (Locked) More »

Another strategy to cope with life’s dark times

Evidence suggests that attending a religious service at least once per week is associated with a much lower risk of "death from despair" (suicide, drug overdose, or alcohol poisoning), compared with never attending religious services. More »