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Wise as Salamon/News 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 (link on front page)

DECEMBER:  Sleep. “I’m tired when I go to bed and then I cannot sleep.” As we get older, our usual sleep habits may change.  We think the ideal amount is 7-9 hours.  Possible sleep disorder: trouble falling asleep, trouble getting back to sleep, not refreshed, irritable, rely on sleeping pills or alcohol.  Try: turn off TV and computer one hour before, read a book, block out snoring, aerobic exercise, melatonin, short naps, no alcohol or caffeine late in the day, chamomile tea.

NOVEMBER:  Men’s Health Prostate health.  Heart disease, the number one cause of death in the US.  Men are affected earlier without the effects of estrogen. Risks for men and women are cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity and weight.  Depression and suicide: white men over 85 are more likely to commit suicide than Americans in any other age group. Possible signs: withdrawal from activities, negative thoughts, talking about death, impoverishment or physical decline, getting wills and finances in order.

OCTOBER:  Osteoporosis describes bones that are weaker either because one loses too much bone or is not making enough bone.  It is common.  It’s diagnosed with a bone mineral density scan that’s painless.  Prevention and treatment:  calcium, vitamin D3, walking, stairs, dancing, tennis, yoga.  Medication may be needed: pills, intravenous and injections.

SEPTEMBERHepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that spreads mostly through infected blood.  This can come from sharing drugs, needles, sex with an infected partner and tattoos.  Most people have no symptoms; other have jaundice, abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue.  It can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.  Have a blood test if you had a transfusion/transplant before 1992, got a clotting drug before 1987, were born between 1945-1965, are on long-term dialysis, have HIV or abnormal liver tests.

AUGUST:  Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by deer tick bites.  Not all deer ticks carry Lyme disease.  After the tick bites, it stays attached to the skin.  Symptoms are often vague:  fever, chills, sweats, fatigue, arthritis, headache and aches.  Some people have a rash that looks like a bull’s eye.  If Lyme is treated with antibiotics early, it is curable.  Prevention is important:  spray skin and clothes with repellent.  Wear long pants and pull socks over pants.  Check yourself for ticks and rashes after hiking and gardening.

JULY:  Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes you to stop breathing.  One symptom is snoring, long pauses in breathing, choking sounds and daytime fatigue.   Risks: being overweight, a large neck, male, high blood pressure and family history.  Some devices to treat can be fitted by a dentist like a mouth guard to pull the lower jaw forward and hold the tongue in place.  A sleep physician or clinic can advise what’s best.

JUNE:  The sun  Too much can cause problems like photo aging (wrinkles, age spots).  Use sunscreen of 15 SPF and higher.  Between 10 am – 4 pm the sun is at its strongest.  Skin cancer, melanoma, is often related to exposure.  Some research suggests foods may help prevent cancer:  carrots, squash, mangoes, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, collards, tomatoes, watermelon, guava, apricots, milk, eggs, mozzarella.  Wear a hat and sunglasses.

MAY:  Allergies  Pollen from grass, trees and flowers bring hay fever with runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and coughing.  Most symptoms resolve as the season goes on but asthma can be worse.  We are seeing more allergies now because we’re “too clean.”  Try air purifiers and after gardening, wash clothes and hands and remove shoes.

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.


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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