Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Take a Break: Walk on Air Against Your Better Judgment

The epitaph of the Irish poet, and Nobel Prize winner, Seamus Heaney, is the inspiration for today’s “take a break.” Walk on Air Against Your Better Judgment. This line is from “Gravel Walks,” which is about heavy work. I like the in-betweenness of up and down, of being on the earth and of the heavens. I think that’s where poetry should dwell, between the dream world and the given world, because you don’t just want photography, and you don’t want fantasy either.”

So today, try something marvelous that is a bit dreamy but also grounded. Take a risk.
• Write a poem
• Draw a picture
• Call a friend who you haven’t talked to in 10 years
Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The “Forever Home” Search When You Have a Chronic Condition

After living for many years in the “forever home” a friend had designed and her husband built, they were “taxed out” and having to move. Because it could accommodate their eventual aging, and not everyone wants a doorway big enough for a wheelchair, they were finding it a difficult sell. At the same time, another friend, who has multiple chronic conditions, is coming to visit to see if this could be their “forever home.”

When we reach a point in our life where we want to put down permanent roots for the long haul, hence the name “forever home,” there are many factors to consider. Should I own or rent? Is it a community I can afford to live in now and in the future? Can I do the things there I want to do? Weather, friends, schools, church, family, jobs, volunteer opportunities, transportation etc. need to be thought about. However, when you are affected by a chronic condition(s) it’s also important to consider the following:

Reason for Moving: Be clear about your reasons for moving. Are you moving to be closer to family or friends? Do you find your current home difficult to manage, or does it have aspects that seem to be making your health issues worse instead of better? Whatever the reason, write it down so that as you go looking for new property you can check back to see if the new house is meeting your needs.

If you like your current living situation, look for solutions to the issues that are making you consider a move. A roommate can help with expenses, while a college student can provide chore services in exchange for a place to live. If the issue is accessibility, contact your states Independent Living Center,  or the local chapter of a condition specific organization  (e.g. American Lung Association) who can help arrange for an assessment as well as corrective measures.

Location- Community/Neighborhood/State: If you are considering moving to a different state, it’s important to know what kind of programs are available for people with chronic conditions, tax structure both income and property, and other issues that might be relevant to your situation.  Contact the local chapter of your condition specific organization e.g American Diabetes Association to learn as much as possible about resources. The state’s 2-1-1 directory  can also be a good resource as well as the state’s office on aging. While websites offer a lot of information, they can also be outdated and not accurately reflect changes in programs. It’s important to make calls and talk to people.

Other things to consider include:
• Is there an infrastructure to accommodate your needs as they change?
• Are friends/family nearby that are willing to help out if you need it?
• Do like the community?
• Is Public transportation or other mobility options readily available so car dependence is not an issue? Neighborhoods with bike lanes and sidewalks that connect homes have much higher activity levels, with fitter and more social residents.
• Could the climate pose a problem?
• Are there recreational activities and other activities of interest that are readily available?
• What about medical services that you require now and may need in the future?
• Is it affordable? Be sure to check whether the state: taxes pensions and/or social security; provides property and income tax relief for veterans, disabled and/or seniors.
• Are job and/or volunteer opportunities readily available?

Housing: There are all kinds of housing options from an apartment/condo in an intentional community to a large house located off a dirt road. It’s important to consider current needs as well as what you might experience in the coming years. Such options can include
- Age restricted communities, also known as active adult (usually over 55)
- Senior Apartments: Will often be handicap accessible
- Cohousing: Residents privately own their homes but there are common facilities for daily use. Decisions are made cooperatively, rather than by top-down hierarchy or majority-rules voting.
- Continuing Care Retirement: These facilities feature independent-living apartments and homes and offer the various social, recreational, and cultural activities of other retirement communities. They also have assisted-living and nursing-level care.
- Tiny House: Very popular, these are very small homes which can be located on limited space and are often made to be mobile. MedCottage  creates small modular homes specifically for those with medical or aging issues. With sizes ranging from approximately 300 to 600 square, prices are between $40,000 to $60,000. There are lots of companies getting into the business, so it’s best to research carefully.

• Location, location, location. Is the property located in such a way that you can take advantage of what your community offers?  What are the immediate surroundings like? If it’s an apartment or condo, a first floor may be easier to handle than a sixth floor walk up. Be sure to visit the property at various times of day-the sunlit windows during the day could become a major privacy issue at night.

• Don’t buy the best house on the block: Generally speaking, it's much better to buy the worst house in the neighborhood than the best. The worst can only go up in value but the best is as good as it's going to get. If you buy the worst house, you can improve it to meet your needs and add value to it.

• Is it handicap accessible? If it’s not, what will it cost to make it so that it can accommodate eventual need? Be sure to check entrance widths since it become very expensive if you need to widen doorways to accommodate a wheelchair. Accessibility can be designed and built in without drawing attention to it.

• Understand what you are buying: If the listing states the property is to be sold “as is,” it usually means repairs will be required and the seller isn't making them. If you aren't willing to take on a project, it's best to keep looking. Have a home inspection done before purchase so you know exactly what the issues are.

• When considering costs, be sure to factor in taxes, condo fees, homeowner association fees etc. Ask to see utility bills so you know what to expect. Also ask to see tax bills for the last several years.  Is this a property where re appraisals are frequent? Look at local news and talk to your Realtor about how taxes are used in this area. In some cities, schools are substantially funded through property taxes, which means you can count on yours increasing regularly.

• Check news sources: Examine the factors you can’t see. For example, perhaps the municipal water well has high levels of contaminants, or a perhaps a high-voltage power line may soon be coming through your back yard. You can also check with the city or county to see if there are any proposed projects.

• Talk to the people who live there: What do they see as the pros and cons.

• Telecommunications are important. Who is the Internet carrier for the area? Will you be able to use a cell phone? What are speeds like. 

Other Posts Related to this topic

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Take a Break: Peeps 2016, Videos

With Easter just a few weeks away, it’s time for all things Peeps. Easter Peep videos abound. If you don’t want to make one yourself, enjoy one of the following listed below. At the end of the post are links to previous years Peep activities.

•The Peeps: What would have happened if Alfred Hitchcock worked with Peeps when he made The Birds. 
The Harlem Shake (Peeps Style) 
 Peeps!!! A killer peep bunny is loose in Lego Land! 

Past Peep activities:
2012:Peep novelties-peepshi, peep pelting, s’mores etc. 

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Journal Watch March 2016

• Botox Like Injection to Treat Knee Pain: A painful knee condition (pain in the front and side of the knee joint) that affects more than one in eight active people has been treated effectively with a botulinum toxin injection and physiotherapy. American Journal of Sports Medicine 

Platelet rich Plasma Injections May Help: A pilot study on patients with shoulder injuries-rotator cuff tendinopathy due to normal aging- found that platelet rich plasma therapy works on average people not just elite atheltes. For the first time, we were able to not only find reported improvements in pain and mobility, but also in the tissue -- the MRI before and after showed structural change and a decrease in the size of tears. Plos One 

New Guideline for Use of Prescription Painkillers: Hoping to stem an epidemic of drug abuse tied to prescription narcotic painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued tough new prescribing guidelines to the nation's doctors, especially primary care physicians. Avoid addictive "opioid" painkillers whenever possible for patients with most forms of chronic pain. For example, this would include patients suffering from joint or back pain, dental pain (tooth extraction, for example), or other chronic pain treated in an outpatient setting. It would not include the use of narcotic painkillers for people dealing with cancer-related pain, or terminally ill patients in palliative care, the CDC said. JAMA 

Acetaminophen Won’t Help Arthritis Pain: Acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, isn't an effective choice for relieving osteoarthritis pain in the hip or knee, or for improving joint function, a new study finds. Although the drug rated slightly better than placebo in studies, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or diclofenac are better choices for short-term pain relief. The Lancet 

Spinal Cord Stimulation Reduces Emotional Aspect of Chronic Pain: Researchers have shown that patients with chronic pain can reduce their emotional response to the pain through spinal cord stimulation. Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface 

Psychosis Plus Pot a Bad Mix: People diagnosed with psychosis will probably have a longer, harder struggle to maintain their mental health if they're regular marijuana users, British researchers report. And those who just experienced their first episode of psychotic illness are 50 percent more likely to need subsequent hospitalization for their condition if they use marijuana. They also spend longer periods in the hospital, averaging 35 more days in mental health wards during a five-year period than those with psychosis who don't use pot. Finally, marijuana users don't seem to respond to anti-psychotic medications as well as non-users BMJ Open. 

• Pot Smokers May Face 5 Times Greater Alcohol Abuse: People who smoke pot may be five times more likely to develop a problem with alcohol, such as addiction, a new study says. Marijuana users who have an alcohol problem may also be less likely to quit drinking, the researchers said. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 

Can Yoga Help Those Experiencing Depression, Anxiety or PTSD?: A meta-review of 185 articles published between 2000 and 2013 found that yoga holds potential promise for helping improve anxiety, depression, PTSD and/or the psychological consequences of trauma at least in the short term. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 

Practicing Tai Chi Reduces Risk of Falling in Older Adults: Researchers have compared the effects of tai chi to leg strengthening exercises (a physical therapy called 'lower extremity training,' or LET) in reducing falls. After six months of training, people in the tai chi group were significantly less likely to experience an injury-causing fall than were people in the LET group. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 

• Yoga Improves Quality of Life in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation: Yoga improves quality of life in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, according to research published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. Heart rate and blood pressure also decreased in patients who did yoga. 

• Mindfulness Meditation Provides Opioid free pain relief: Cognitive-based approaches found to reduce pain, such as hypnosis, acupuncture, distraction and even the placebo response, have been shown to work through this system. But does meditation also use opioids to reduce pain? A study published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience reports that mindfulness meditation does not employ the endogenous opioid system to reduce pain. 

Ordered Black Box Warning Label on Essure long acting implantable birth control device
• Approved Xalkor for rare genetic form of lung cancer

Computer Use May Help Deflect Seniors’ Memory Problems: Seniors who use their computers as little as once a week may help ward off age-related declines in memory and thinking, new research suggests. The study found that those who did use a computer showed a 42 percent lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to dementia. American Academy of Neurology annual meeting 

• Different Kinds of Physical Activity Shown to Increase Brain Volume, Cut Alzheimer’s Risk in Half: A new study shows that any aerobic exercise, from walking to gardening and dancing can improve brain volume and cut the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 50%. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 

Want to Keep an Aging Brain Sharp-Try the Stairs: Fitness seemed key to sharper minds as people got older, a Canadian study found, as was more time spent reading and studying. The findings show "that education and physical activity affect the difference between a physiological prediction of age and chronological age, and that people can actively do something to help their brains stay young.” Neurobiology of Aging

• Six Ways to Lower Risk of Colon Cancer: Six evidence-based measures you can take to try to lower your risk of developing colon cancer: Maintain a healthy weight and control belly fat; Get regular moderate physical activity, which can range from house cleaning to running; Eat plenty of high-fiber foods. For every 10 grams of fiber (a bit less than a cup of beans) in your daily diet, your risk of colon cancer falls by 10 percent; Reduce red meat consumption and avoid processed meats, such as hot dogs, bacon, sausage and deli meats;  Avoid alcohol or limit your intake to no more than two standard drinks a day for men and one for women; Go heavy on the garlic. Evidence suggests that a diet rich in garlic reduces the risk of colon cancer. American Cancer Society 

• Cold Turkey May Work Best for Quitting Smoking: New research suggests quitting all at once beats a more gradual approach. The study found that after four weeks, nearly half of those who quit "cold turkey" were still not smoking. But, among people who quit gradually over two weeks, only 39 percent were smoke-free at four weeks, researchers said. Annals of Internal Medicine 

• Long Hours at the Office May Raise Your Heart Disease Risk: Researchers analyzed data from more than 1,900 people in a long-term study of work. They found that 43 percent had been diagnosed with a problem related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as angina, coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart attack, high blood pressure or stroke. Among full-time employees, the risk rose 1 percent for each additional hour worked per week over 10 years or more. Starting at 46 hours, additional work hours increased the risk of heart disease even more. Compared to those who averaged 45 hours a week for 10 years or more, the risk of heart disease was 16 percent higher among those who worked 55 hours a week and 35 percent higher among those who worked 60 hours a week. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 

Biking or Walking to Work Helps Keep You Fit: Walking, cycling or taking public transit to work helps middle-aged adults lose body fat and weight, new research suggests. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 

Will a Sit-Stand Desk Make You Healthier?: Sit-stand desks are fixtures in many offices today. But new research finds little proof of health benefits associated with their use. Cochrane Library 

A Healthy Heart May Protect An Aging Brain: Seniors who met more of seven goals for heart-healthy living-manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduced blood sugar, active, eat better, healthy weight and not smoking- showed faster thinking speeds initially and less decline in memory and thinking skills six years later. Journal of the American Heart Association 

• Heavy Coffee Drinkers Show Lower Risk of MS: Researchers found that among more than 6,700 adults, those who downed about six cups of coffee a day were almost one-third less likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) than non-drinkers were. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, online 

• Drinking more Water Associated with Numerous Dietary Benefits: A new study has examined the dietary habits of more than 18,300 US adults, and found the majority of people who increased their consumption of plain water by 1 percent reduced their total daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.  Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics

Vitamin D a No Go for Arthritic Knee: Vitamin D supplements didn't relieve pain or slow the progression of knee osteoarthritis in a new study, even though the patients involved had low levels of the vitamin. JAMA 

• Green Tea and Iron, Bad Combination: Green tea is touted for its many health benefits as a powerful antioxidant, but experiments in a laboratory mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease suggest that consuming green tea along with dietary iron may actually lessen green tea's benefits. The American Journal of Pathology 

Time to Rethink Your Vegetable Oil: Risk of heart disease and diabetes may be lowered by a diet higher in a lipid found in grape seed and other oils, but not in olive oil, a new study suggests. This finding could have obvious implications in preventing heart disease and diabetes, but also could be important for older adults because higher lean body mass can contribute to a longer life with more independence. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 

Maple Syrup May Protect the Brain from Alzheimer’s: Researchers found real maple syrup -- the kind that comes from the sap of a maple tree -- helps prevent two types of proteins found in brain cells from clumping together. When these cellular proteins, beta amyloid and tau peptide, improperly accumulate together, plaque is formed in the brain, causing Alzheimer's and other brain diseases. The maple syrup extract could also prolong Alzheimer's patients lifespans by protecting the brain cells from fibrillating, or clumping together. Maple syrup keeps beta-amyloid from sticking together or becoming tangled, the scientists found. American Chemical Society’s Annual Meeting 

• Daily Low Dose Aspirin Linked to Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers: Taking low-dose aspirin every day may lower the overall risk of cancer by 3 percent, mostly because of larger reductions that were seen in the risk for colon and gastrointestinal tumors, researchers are reporting. But the benefit was only seen after six years of taking aspirin almost daily, the study authors said. JAMA Oncology 

Smart phone Blood Pressure App Often Wrong: A popular app that uses your smartphone to check your blood pressure is inaccurate, missing high blood pressure readings in four out of every five patients tested, researchers report. JAMA Internal Medicine 

• Experts Undecided on Whether Seniors Should Get Routine Vision Checks:There's just not enough good data to say whether or not seniors should be routinely screened for vision trouble by their primary care physicians according to the US Preventive Services Task Force. 

• Female Libido Pill May Not Be Worth It: The much-touted "female libido" pill seems to cause a host of serious side effects while failing to spark much additional passion in a woman's life, a new review suggests. JAMA Internal Medicine. 

• Fluoroquinolonesare too Risky for Common Infections: An FDA panel says popular antibiotics such as Cipro are overprescribed and should have stronger warnings about side effects. The 21 member panel voted overwhelmingly that, in most cases, the benefit of fluoroquinolones to treat three common illnesses—bacterial sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and some forms of bronchitis in people with chronic lung disease—was outweighed by the risk of rare, but serious side effects, including irregular heartbeats, depression, nerve damage, ruptured tendons, and seizures. While the fluroquinolones are essential for treating serious infections such as anthrax, the FDA panel members noted that they are overprescribed for common infections where other treatments would work just as well with less risk. Consumer reports 

As Caregivers, Women May Suffer More Than Men: Women may face greater challenges than men when looking after a loved one with a serious illness, a new study suggests. The researchers questioned more than 280 family caregivers and found that women had much lower self esteem, less family support and more harmful consequences in terms of their health and schedules than men. Journal of Palliative Medicine 

• Stress of Caring for Sick Spouse May Raise Stroke Risk: Husbands and wives who feel the strain of caring for a sick or disabled spouse are at a higher risk of stroke than those who do not have to care for their significant other, a new study suggests. Spouse caregivers who said they were stressed had a 95 percent higher stroke risk when compared to "matched" non-caregivers with similar demographic, lifestyle and stroke risk factors, according to the study. American Heart Association Meeting 

• Poor Sleep May Not Add to Cholesterol Problems: Sleepless nights don't appear to be linked to an increase in cholesterol levels, a new study indicates. The exception seems to be people who take sleeping pills to treat insomnia, the researchers said. Sleep 

Certain Jobs Hazardous to Your Heart Health: Middle-aged employees working in sales, office or food service jobs appear to have more risk factors that can harm heart health than people with professional or managerial jobs. Police, firefighters, truckers and health care support workers also are more likely to have these risk factors. AHA Meeting 

Agent Orange Linked to Bladder Cancer, Thyroid Problems: There is stronger evidence of a link between the herbicide Agent Orange and bladder cancer and thyroid problems among U.S. military personnel exposed to the chemical during the Vietnam War, a new Institute of Medicine report shows. However, there is little to no evidence of an association between the birth defect spina bifida and a mother's or father's exposure to Agent Orange, according to the report. National Academy of Sciences