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Vaccines Are for All of Us

Americans are largely attentive to the use of vaccines in children but many do not recognize that the need for immunization continues through adulthood.  The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases estimates that illnesses that could be prevented by vaccines account for 50,000 adult deaths a year, more than breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and traffic fatalities combined. Millennia ago, the Greeks knew that people who survived an outbreak of diseases we now term “infections” frequently became protected from further incidents and...

Medicare Open Enrollment Made Clear

OPEN ENROLLMENT 2016 IS HERE. According to a recent survey by United Healthcare, one in five (that’s 20%) of Medicare beneficiaries describe Medicare open enrollment as confusing.  Even worse, most survey respondents couldn’t clearly identify what is covered by Medicare Parts A, B, C and D. Considering that Medicare open enrollment starts on October 15 and runs through December 7, these statistics are pretty serious.  How can you make informed decisions about your healthcare coverage if you don’t understand it?...

10 Commandments for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. OPINION – It really appears that the area I live in is in the midst of an epidemic of breast cancer.  I cannot figure out if this is true because we are fortunate to have access to some of the nation’s best doctors and thus we are reported on with more accuracy and frequency or whether we are, in large proportion, a privileged pocket of educated people who have in many cases the...

Learning a Language Later in Life

AM I TOO OLD TO LEARN? You think back to that Spanish or French class in high school and wonder why you can only remember 11 words of your second language, and in the back of your mind you’re always telling yourself, “I really wish I had time to take a class.”  You might also worry that you’re too old to learn a language later in life. Trouble is, you were more likely to learn another language before age...

Crossword Puzzles for Brain Health

CROSSWORD PUZZLES MAY NOT CURE DISEASE… But who cares? Crosswords were recently quasi-debunked by scientists who found that, while certainly challenging, they will likely not prevent Alzheimer’s.  Last we checked, though, nothing prevents Alzheimer’s at this point, so such a study seemed a bit lofty in the first place.  Yet the fact that crosswords were even in the running says something about them, right?  That a puzzle that could potentially expunge a debilitating illness elevates this grid invented over...

Vaccines for Adults Over 60: INFOGRAPHIC

Vaccines aren’t just for kids. You may think of shots as something your grandchildren have to get.  But vaccines are some of the most effective methods of preventive healthcare ever devised.  They’re an important part of most people’s preventive health plan throughout their lives. These are the most commonly recommended vaccines for adults over 60: Flu shot Make this the first item on your vaccines checklist.  Because our immune systems weaken over time, the flu can be especially serious...

High Blood Pressure… and Marriage

LOVE AND MARRIAGE… AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE Does high blood pressure come with the territory of being married? I’ve never had a problem with high blood pressure, although on more than one occasion I’ve accused my four daughters, my wife and my dog of conspiring against me to raise my blood pressure, or cause me to suffer a debilitating case of what we Italians call “agita,” which as far as I can determine has no suitable English translation. (I...

Medicare at 50: Healthier than Ever

STUDY LOOKS AT MEDICARE AT 50 Medicare turned 50 in July 2015.  Time for a complete check-up?  According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the news is good. Older Americans on Medicare are spending less time in the hospital… They’re living longer… The cost of a typical hospital stay has actually declined over the past 15 years. Doctors, hospitals and government administrators have been tasked with making Medicare more efficient, and their efforts are now reaping rewards....

Meditating On It

MEDITATING SOUNDS SO EASY Calm thinking and breathing. How difficult can that be? Try this meditation exercise and see how long you last.  Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes and sit in a chair, facing an outward window and closing your eyes.  Sit up straight.  Now, all you have to do is breathe in and out through your nose, keeping your mind only on your breathing, not letting your mind roam. Your thoughts will wander for...

Here Come the Healthcare Robots?!

HEALTHCARE ROBOTS: MY NEW BFFs? My son-in-law can’t stop talking about that movie Ex Machina, where sexy robots are going to take over the world—robots that are seductive and have bodies like Kim Kardashian, robots who will dupe middle-aged men into thinking they’ve found true love.  But who cares?  (Let me say up front that I, for one, plan to stick with my wife, regardless of the sexy robots coming off the assembly line.) I keep reading about how...

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