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Senior Health Articles

Shingles: Chicken Pox Redux

Thought that childhood disease was behind you? Maybe not.

iStock 000024594724SmallThe majority of Americans who are adults today had chicken pox when we were kids. And if you did, that means you might get shingles later in life. Shingles disease, also known as herpes zoster, is an acute infection of the nerve roots caused by varicella zoster--the same virus that gave you chicken pox as a youngster. There are about a million cases of shingles every year in the U.S., and about half of those occur in people over 60 years of age. In fact, one of every two people who live to age 85 or beyond will experience the joy of shingles at some time in their lives.


Sweet Dreams

Optimizing the cycle of sleep and health

iStock 000011898433SmallAs a physician, I’ve seen time and again how factors related to good sleep affect a person’s health and overall well-being, and vice versa. Good sleep has a direct impact on vibrant health and healthy people tend to sleep well. Conversely, people who are unwell often sleep poorly, which can exacerbate existing problems and impair the healing process. Either way, sleep and health create an interdependent cycle with one another.


Take Control of Your Pain

How to be an active participant in your own condition

iStock 000011824811Small 1Aging, as they say, is most decidedly not for sissies. As we get older, a myriad of conditions and symptoms can cause various and sundry types of pain in our bodies. Of course, some aches and pains are temporary. They resolve and heal within a reasonable amount of time, allowing us to go back to life as usual. Chronic pain, on the other hand, can often be a dull, nagging pain that feels like it will just go on forever. And, indeed, sometimes it does. There is not always a cure for chronic pain. In some cases, the best we can do is to learn how to live with and manage it.


Taking Advantage of Palliative Care

Don't Hesitate to Ask for the Help Available to You!
There’s no mistaking it: every day, technology is changing our lives in ways that we probably never imagined. We’ve seen some astounding technological advances which have dramatically improved safety and patient outcomes. When medical interventions are required today, they are generally safer and less painful; patients get better more quickly and stay better longer.
Let’s follow the story of Henry, a typical 65-year-old man, from his first chest pains through heart surgery--all the way to his full recovery at home.

iStock 000009796381SmallIn my primary care geriatric practice, I sometimes see patients with serious medical conditions who are struggling with difficult symptoms and pain that can be alleviated. While we primary care physicians do the best possible job to help during the time we have with our patients, at times it isn’t enough. And that’s where palliative care can be an invaluable resource. Sadly, the patients who need help may not even be aware of the good services they can access by using a palliative care team. Or, they may have a negative perception about palliative care and what it means. So I’d like to clear up the misconceptions and encourage you to use palliative care services when they are appropriate for you or someone you love.


The Communication Triad

Physician/Provider, Patient, and Caregiver

iStock 000016042817SmallIt may surprise you to learn that clear and thorough communication is an essential element in diagnosing and treating medical conditions. The questions we ask and the way we listen are the most important part of any health encounter. The physician or other medical provider must gain a comprehensive picture of the patient’s history and current physical status while the patient must understand the physician’s instructions and treatment plan.


The History of Geriatric Medicine

iStock 000010543922SmallIn 1900, there were 3.1 million Americans age 65 and older. Today, that number is close to 40 million. By 2030, twenty percent of all Americans will be over the age of 65. People age 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the entire population, with expected growth from 4 million people today to 19 million by 2050.


The Powerful Little Gland That Controls Your Life

Understanding the Thyroid

iStock 000026573950SmallMost of us are familiar with a host of physical maladies attributed to “thyroid issues.” But do you understand what the thyroid is, or how it functions in your body? In this primer on the thyroid, we’ll shed some light on this complex and powerful little organ.


The Quick Fix Never Lasts

Sustainable weight loss takes time and patience

iStock 000018798545SmallIf you’re like countless other Americans, you probably wish there were an easy way to maintain a healthy body weight. This is a struggle that so many of us face year after year and, it seems to be true that, the older we get the more difficult it is. Some people were slim and fit in their younger years and have become frustrated by their inability to stay that way as they age. Some have carried extra weight throughout their lives and have experienced related health problems, especially as they’ve grown older. And others have battled their weight, watching the numbers on the scale go up and down like a rollercoaster throughout their adult lives – jumping on every fad diet bandwagon only to fall back off in humiliation and defeat each and every time. 


Thinking Ahead: Talk to Your Loved Ones Now

A Physician’s Thoughts on Advance Medical Directives and End of Life Decisions

iStock 000034298194SmallToo many times, as a physician, I have watched families struggle to make decisions on behalf of loved ones who are unable to make those difficult choices for themselves. Sometimes it is peaceful and clear but, oftentimes, family members agonize or even fight over what they feel is the right thing to do. You can ease this burden for those who will survive you by thinking through some basic issues now, and making your end of life preferences clear.


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Senior Health Articles