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Wise as Salamon/Links

ssalamon_non_cg_2566Suzanne Salamon, MD is chief associate of clinical geriatrics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.   Email general questions to mdeery@brooklinema.gov or call Maureen: 617. 730. 2743.   These are excerpts. Read the full post in this month’s newsletter.

APRIL:  What does the thyroid do?  It’s below your Adam’s apple with a big job affecting your heart, brain and general good health. Sometimes the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone which may lead to feeling cold or tired but often there are no symptoms.  Sometimes there is too much hormone which may lead to feeling hot, nervous or weight loss but there may be no symptoms.  A simple blood test can check if your thyroid is working.

MARCH:  What can I do about itchy skin?  Dry skin is common; it can be rough, flaky and cracked.  If it’s sudden and new, it may be gall bladder disease, thyroid, kidney, or fungal impairment.  Moisturizers should be used twice a day after bathing or hand washing.  Thick creams like Eucerin, Cetaphil and Nutraderm and petroleum jelly, Vaseline and Aquaphor may help.

FEBRUARY:  How important is calcium?  We need calcium for muscles and bones.  Low intake may lead to osteoporosis, weakened bones, which may make them more likely to break.  Drink milk, eat yogurt and cheese.  Other foods like soy milk, sardines, some cereals, broccoli and collards have calcium and it’s best to get calcium from food rather than pills.  Our bones also need vitamin D, about 800-1000 IU daily.

JANUARY:  Reporter Anne Tergesen  of the Wall Street Journal  writes – –  Why Everything You Think About Aging May Be Wrong      The myths:  1.  Depression is more prevalent in old age – – 2.  Cognitive decline is inevitable – –  3.  Older workers are less productive – – 4.  Loneliness is more likely – – 5.  Creativity declines with age – – 6.  More exercise is better      Read the whole story – click here and the X promo pop-up to make it go away

DECEMBER:  I can’t sleep.  The question is, do you feel rested or tired all day?  Try for 7-9 hours/night.  Anyone can have insomnia:  trouble falling asleep even when tired, trouble getting back to sleep, not refreshed, sleepy during day, hard to concentrate, rely on alcohol to fall asleep and so on.  It may come from stress, depression, anxiety, health problems.  Try turning off TV and computer one hour before, read a book, wear ear plugs, exercise during the day, avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day. Helpful night snacks: milk, turkey and tuna, chamomile tea

NOVEMBERWhat vaccinations do I need?  1.  Influenza:  every fall.  2.  Tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough:  DTaP booster every ten years.  3.  Shingles (over 60):  once  4.  Pneumonia:  there are two, get both, not at the same time

OCTOBER I have osteoporosis.  My doctor told me I have to take medication.  I’ve read about the side effects.  What else can I do?  Bones most commonly broken are hip, spine and wrist.  At this time, recommendations for the prevention and treatment are calcium and vitamin D3.  Calcium should be 1,000 mg daily (milk, yogurt.  Vitamin D3 can be taken by pill, 1,000 IU daily.  Weight bearing exercise walking, stairs, dancing, tennis, yoga and stretching help reduce the risk of falls.  Often, however, medication is needed.  Side effects are not as dangerous as falling.  Some pills are once a week.  There are also injections to help building the bones.  The first step is having a bone mineral density scan.

SEPTEMBER I get painful leg cramps at night.  They’re common in the calves or feet, last seconds or minutes, happen more in summer, and are caused by muscle contractions.  We don’t know what causes them but occasionally, they can be attributed to Parkinson’s, dehydration, low magnesium, some meds, exercise, anemia or vascular disease.  Treatment: stretching, walking, quinine, heating pad, ice.  Daily stretching may help along with riding a stationary bike.

AUGUSTWhy does my knee buckle?  Knee buckling is fairly common while walking or climbing stairs.  It can be caused by an injury or arthritis.  Don’t stop walking or exercising.  Try these:  the squat, holding on to a chair, bend your knees and push up;  Lie on your back with legs straight and point toes , hold, relax.  Sit in a chair, raise one leg to straighten your knee, and down.  Increase the time you hold your leg up.

JULY I have cataracts that must come out. Cataract surgery is common with three million done a year.  It is generally safe, effective and painless.  It lasts an hour and you may stay awake.  Most people go home the same day.  The surgeon removes your darkened lens and replaces it with clear plastic.  Tell the doctor all the medications you are taking.  90% of people regain excellent vision.

JUNE When do I stop driving?  Nearly 80% of people over 70 drive. People over 65 say their number one fear is being diagnosed with a fatal illness and number two is losing a license and the ability to drive.  Consider:  crash history, family concerns, seizures, arthritis, vision, hearing and cognitive function.

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Links from New York Times, Huff Post, New Yorker

  • For Diabetics, Health Risks Fall Sharply, by Sabrina Tavernise and Denise Grady, Times, April 16
    Progress Report
  • Younger Skin Through Exercise, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, April 16
    Time Passes
  • A Number That May Not Add Up, by Jane E. Brody, Times, April 14
    Weight Matters
  • The Sixth Stage of Grief, by Joel Yanofsky, Times, April 11
    Buying a Puppy
  • Why a Brisk Walk Is Better, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, December 4
    Pick up the pace
  • The Power of a Daily Bout of Exercise, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, November 27
    Eat and run
  • In the End, It’s Not About the Food, by Corey Mintz, Times, November 26
    Just a little
  • Think Like a Doctor, by Lisa Sanders, MD, Times, October 3
    A Green Heart
  • A Youthful Glow, Radiating From Within, by Jane E. Brody, Times, September 30
    You look mahvelous
  • A Family Says ‘Enough’, by Paula Spahn, Times, September 13
    A Dilemma
  • Manson Whitlock, Typewriter Repairman, Dies at 96, by Margalit Fox, Times, September 8
    Work works
  • Online Lessons in Dementia Management, by Judith Graham, Times, Sept 5
    Caring and Coping
  • On Becoming an ‘Orphan,’ by Paula Spahn, Times, July 1
    Profound Shift
  • When Aggression Follows Dementia, by Paula Spahn, Times, July 12
    Heart Breaker
  • When Exercise Stresses You Out, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, March 13
    Hate it?
  • Eat Your Heart Out, by Gretchen Reynolds, Times, March 7
    Your Heart
  • The 20 Million, by Mark Bittman, Times, June 12
    Hardly eat
  • Gross Ingredients In Processed Foods , by Sarah Klein, Huff Post, May 14
    Eat no meat
  • We Could Be Heroes, by Mark Bittman, Times, May 15
    Eat less meat
  • The Disconnect: Why are so many Americans living by themselves?, by Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, April 16
    Love story
  • Nutrition: Options Play a Role in Healthier Choices, by Nicholas Bakalar, The Times, February 13
    Food story
  • The Fat Trap, by Tara Parker-Pope, The Times, December 28
    “. . . The body continues to fight against weight loss long after dieting has stopped.”
    Sad story
  • In the Body’s Shield Against Cancer, a Culprit in Aging May Lurk, by Nicholas Wade, The Times, November 21
    “. . . if you purge the body of its senescent cells, the tissues remain youthful and vigorous.” Old story
  • For Beginning Runners, Advice Can Be a Hurdle, by Gina Kolata, The Times, November 14
    “There is nothing like starting your Saturday morning being beaten by 75-year-old men and passed at the finish line by 8 year-old kids.” Running story
  • What Boomers Do Best (and how you can prosper after 50), by Julia Moulden, Huffington Post, June 12
    Loud story
  • When the Roommate Has Four Legs, by Antoinette Martin, The Times, October 20
    Buildings with pet-related culture in mind . . . Dog’s life
  • Redefining the Hot Dog, a Cart at a Time, by Jeff Gordinier, Times, August 9 “There are children in New York who have never eaten a hot dog.” Very sad story
  • When Are You Too Old to Exercise?, by Judith J. Wurtman, Huff Post, April 13
    “The Miami Herald had a front page article about recreational baseball players who ranged in age from 69 (the baby) to 93.” Old story
  • How to Save a Trillion Dollars, by Mark Bittman, Times, April 12
    “And we could do that by preventing disease instead of treating it.” Now that’s real money
  • The D Word, by Nora Ephron, Huff Post, 11/8/2010 “Of course, there are good divorces, where every­thing is civil, even friendly. . . In my next life I must get one of those divorces.” The D word