How to protect seniors -- older parents, relatives and loved ones -- who live alone. Tips on what to do in case of an emergency. Safety ideas.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Reach Out and Hug Someone... Virtually

Based on a posting by Roba at the website "And Far Away"

Edited by Don Rose


Here is an invention designed to provide"The Hug" you cannot give because you are too far away.

Robotics researchers have designed a soft, huggable pillow that uses sensing and wireless phone technology to provide a physical touch, and thus better social and emotional support, for distant family members. The device, which is about the size of a throw pillow but as firm as a seat cushion, is shaped like a person about to give a hug, with two arms reaching up and out from a small torso. The outside is covered in velour, "making it soft and plush and something you would want to hold up against your body."

Another example of technology bringing us closer together. To paraphrase an old phone commercial, now you can "Reach out and hug someone."

I believe The Hug device could prove useful for enhancing the feeling of closeness between family members -- in particular, between mature adults living alone and their children. For the kids, it's the next best thing to being there (with grandma or grandpa). I also believe The Hug and products like it are just initial examples of an inevitable wave of products geared toward making older folks feel more companionship and love while living alone at home.

For more on The Hug, read the article here.


The article above and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Free Medicine Foundation Helps Patients Taking Costly Cholesterol Drugs Receive Prescription Assistance, But Exercise Caution

Free prescription drugs for people with high cholesterol and a history of heart problems are available to households with incomes as high as $80,000, according to an organization called the Free Medicine Foundation ( They say that most brand-name prescription drugs are accessible through free or low-cost assistance programs. However, you should note that the FMF does charge a "one-time refundable $5 processing fee for each medication requested." Below, we present a press release from the FMF, then a word of caution from the site.

Doniphan, MO (PRWEB) December 6, 2006 – People with high cholesterol or a history of heart problems, concerned over how to pay for their prescription medication, now have a resource to help them: Free Medicine Foundation. Although free medicine assistance has been around for more than 50 years, most people have never heard about and do not know how to apply for free medicine. Free Medicine Foundation's mission is to inform the media and the public of assistance that may be available to thousands of Americans who don't even realize they qualify for such help.

People with bad cholesterol, or LDL, know that it can be inherited from their family members with a history of heart problems or it can be a result of their body chemistry. It can also be the result of a diet high in saturated fats, lack of exercise or diabetes. Changing one's diet and losing weight help in reducing high cholesterol levels, but many people also need to take medicine to keep their bad cholesterol levels down. That's where Free Medicine Foundation can help.

Many lipid-lowering treatments are available for free or low-cost. The following medicines may be available through a free or low-cost plan located through Free Medicine Foundation: Lipitor, Zocor, Vytorin, Lescol, Altocor, Mevacor, Simvastatin, Aspirin and Pravastatin, Atorvastatin, Atromid-S, Clofibrate, Ezetimibe, Fluvastatin, Gemfibrozil, Lescol XL, Lopid, Lopid Tablets, Lovastatin, Pravigard Pac, Zetia and hundreds more. Patients can apply for as many medicines as they need; there is no limit. Keep in mind that prescription assistance is available for most all medications.

Free Medicine Foundation works tirelessly to match patients with hundreds of free or low-cost available programs by scouring available medicine assistance plans to find plans that match applicant needs. "Since our inception, we have helped countless families across the nation completely eliminate or substantially reduce their prescription drug bills," says Cindy Randolph, spokesperson for the Free Medicine Foundation organization. "Although we cannot guarantee your approval, if you believe you may qualify to participate, we will be diligent in our efforts to assist you. Past results have proven our program successful."

This program is for those who are falling through the cracks financially, and make just enough money so they don't qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford a prescription coverage plan or to buy their own medications. Keep in mind these programs are not just for poor people. For people who find it a hardship to buy their medicines, should apply for prescription assistance.

Drug sponsors recognize that sometimes exceptions need to be made based on a patient's individual circumstances. Individuals who do not meet these criteria may still qualify if both they and their physicians attest that the patients have special circumstances of financial and medical hardship, and their incomes are below an established limit. With each medication, the income criteria varies from below the poverty level up to $39,200 for individuals, $52,800 for couples, and as high as $80,000 for a family of four.

Upon approval, brand-name free medicines typically arrive in two to three weeks, sent directly to the patient's home, or a coupon is given to take to a local pharmacy or sent to the doctor's office, typically in a 90-day supply. These programs can provide an ongoing lifetime supply of free medication. If the patient is not approved, and receives no medicine assistance, Free Medicine Foundation refunds the full processing fee per no risk money back guarantee. The patient has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

3.4 million seniors will enter the uninsured "donut hole" and start paying the next $2,850 out of their own pockets. Free Medicine Foundation can help cut this cost by over 90%. Pet medicines are also available through low-cost assistance programs.

Caregivers, churches and social organizations are encouraged to utilize Free Medicine Foundation's services. Volunteers are needed to help spread the word to those who cannot afford the high costs of prescription medication. Send Free Medicine Foundation an e-mail or call 1-573-996-3333 to request a free supply of brochure-enrollment forms that are designed to provide the patient/applicant with information and an application for the program. Patients can apply directly online or print the application in English or Spanish. Free Medicine Foundation requires a one-time refundable $5 processing fee for each medication requested.

For patients who require ongoing cholesterol lipid-lowering treatments, Free Medicine Foundation can be a lifesaver. To learn more, apply or request a free brochure visit: or call 1-573-996-3333.


Caution on “Free” Drug Programs

The website says the following, related to the Free Medicine Foundation:

"An organization called the Free Medicine Foundation has been recently marketing their services. The Better Business Bureau indicates the Free Medicine Foundation has an unsatisfactory standing with their organization. The BBB points out that this organization is not registered as a “foundation” and they don’t actually provide their services for “free.” The application process for the Free Medicine Foundation requires that the individual pay them $5 per medication, in order for them to
check on whether you qualify for one of the pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance programs.

There are other organizations that advertise similar services, stating they will attempt to connect individuals with these free or low cost patient assistance programs for a fee. The fee is usually $5-10 per medication, without a guarantee that they will be successful. Consumers should exercise caution when considering using such a service.

NOTE: Information about these patient assistance programs is available for free through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance or 1-888-477-2669. They are a reputable organization that does provide this information and referral service for consumers for free (“free” in this context actually meaning no cost to the individual). "


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Anti-Aging Advice to Keep Skin Looking Nice

Based on “Skin Aging-Are You Speeding Up The Process?” posted by Constance Wherrity at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Skin is the body’s largest organ, so it’s important to know how to take care of it. Especially crucial is the facial area; we all want it to look its best, since the face is usually the first thing people see about us, and something we have to experience with every gaze into a mirror. This article presents some tips to help slow down the inevitable process of aging skin, which will hopefully give our face something to smile about. --D.R.


It's no secret that our society is obsessed with looking young. As baby boomers turn 60, statistics show the U.S. market for anti-aging products and services is "growing at an average growth rate (AAGR) of 9.5%” and “will reach nearly $72 billion by 2009"*. While science has made advancements in both topical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures, certain lifestyle factors -- such as smoking, sleep loss and sun exposure -- can unknowingly sabotage your personal aesthetic goals.

Although natural aging is a given, inherited via our genes, we do have control over extrinsic aging. The process of premature aging is caused by poor lifestyle habits that actually accelerate skin aging, including wrinkles, rough texture and uneven pigmentation. According to leading dermatologist Jeannette Graf, current research reveals that the following dynamics accelerate the skin's aging process:

• Sun exposure - No surprise here: the sun does not do a complexion good. From basic dryness to a high risk of melanoma and other skin cancers, UV rays cause daily damage to skin. "Wearing a high SPF sunscreen every day is the one product I recommend to all of my patients," says Graf.

• Smoking - Another culprit that robs skin of its health. Smoking not only directly damages the fibers that provide elasticity and support, causing skin to prematurely wrinkle and droop, but it also decreases the flow of both blood and vital nutrients to the skin's surface, leaving it dry and crinkled looking.

• Diet - What you put into your body is just as important as what you put on, says Graf. A high-fiber diet rich in antioxidant fruits and vegetables will result in a healthier and more radiant complexion. Bottom line: limit alcohol and cola consumption, which depletes the body of its nutrients, and add more wholesome foods, such as lean proteins, fruits, green leafy vegetables and plenty of fresh water.

• Sleep loss - While sleep deprivation is known to cause weight gain and loss of mental concentration, it also affects skin health by robbing it of its precious rejuvenation time. During slumber, your skin, as well as your body, undergoes a period of revitalization. Loss of sleep interrupts this phase, imparting telltale signs such as dark under-eye circles and dry, flaky complexion.

Aging is inevitable, but you can certainly make small efforts to ensure that you don't help speed it along. By getting a good night's sleep, eating a healthful diet and using sun protection each day, you'll be sure to keep both your skin and the rest of your body looking young and vibrant.

* Julia Dvorko, BCC Research 2005

# # #

The article above and the content it is based on are covered by a
Creative Commons License.

Jeannette Graf, M.D., F.A.A.D., is a board-certified clinical and research dermatologist specializing in the research of ingredients that inhibit the signs of aging.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

RealAge Test Makes You Realize What's Really Important Re: Aging

or, Subject In Mirror May Be Younger Than They Appear

by Dr. Don Rose


The website offers a free test. They say that "Your RealAge is the biological age of your body based on over 100 factors – many that you control." I have heard this before, so it seems worth a try. The test's goal is to answer this question: are you biologically younger, older, or the same as your birthday age? Here is what they say you’ll get: (1) A personalized plan to feel younger, and (2) A list of what’s making you younger or older.

I like what this test is all about, for several reasons. First, it gets you in the mindset of "I am not a number" -- that age, as defined as "years since birth," is ultimately not important. Fitness level (mental and physical) is. If nothing else, finding out that you are really years younger (in biological terms) than your chronological age should give your happiness quotient a boost. And, coincidentally, that act of feeling happier happens to help your health, too. It's win-win.

Of course, if the test shows you are biologically older than your chronological age, well... you may feel a bit down for a bit, but let that kick you in the pants to do something about it. (The RealAge site, and some of the other articles on this blog, will hopefully help you in that regard.)

I also like the RealAge site's sidebar section -- their "DID YOU KNOW..." tips. One example: "Laughing often can make your RealAge 8 years younger." Which makes me wonder: if health insurers wanted a wonderful win-win -- healthier customers, and hence lower costs over time -- wouldn't more of them proactively pay for preventive procedures? Can't creative companies cover the cost of comedy clubs? Or Comedy Central on cable?


Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

Good Mood Food: Feeling Finer From Fats

Based on the posting “Mood and Food: The Oil Connection” by Christine Cox, at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Fit fats? From fish? Fatty food’s fabulous? Find facts! Findings about foods filled with fatty acids have been published often in recent years – for example, in reference to the consumption of fish. Read below for info on how intake of omega-3’s (found in certain fish and in other sources) can mitigate depression, as well as other examples of how fats can improve our state of mental wellbeing. --D.R.



It's no news that the kind of fat you eat affects your heart, but did you know that it also affects your head? Mind you, I’m talking about the mind. Studies seem to point to this conclusion, as anxiety, depression, memory and even schizophrenia appear to be influenced by the amounts and types of fat you choose or avoid.

Fats and Mental Health

While low-fat diets appear to be good for our physical health, several studies indicate that cutting down the fat too much may be bad for our mental health.

British researchers found that young adult test subjects had substantially less anxiety and hostility on a diet getting a whopping 41% of its calories from the greasy stuff than they did on a moderate-fat diet of 25% calories from fats.

Researchers in Louisiana fed rats diets high in protein, carbohydrates or fat, and watched their responses to anxiety-provoking situations. Like their human counterparts, the rodents on the high-fat chow had less anxiety when coping with new, slightly threatening situations.

Cholesterol and Depression

Another piece of the puzzle is the common finding that very low cholesterol levels, which are partly linked to low dietary fat intake, are associated with depression. This doesn't indicate, however, that those enviable low levels are the cause of the low mood. Researchers suggest it's possible that the low levels could be the result of the depression, through mechanisms not yet understood. Nevertheless, this cholesterol-and-depression link, together with the studies cited above, certainly seems provocative, and worthy of further inquiry.

Does this mean that when we get especially stressed we should drench our baked potatoes with butter and reach for more cheesecake? Not really. Many studies indicate that, when it comes to affecting mood and mind, it's not necessarily the amount of fat in the diet that counts, but rather the type of fat.

Omega-3: A Mega Good Fatty Acid

A certain type of fatty acid, called omega-3, is found in fish as well as in plant sources such as walnuts, flax seed and purslane. It is also widely available in supplements. The good news: it appears to have a remarkable capacity to help us fight both anxiety and depression. Since omega-3 makes up a large part of the fat in the brain, perhaps it isn't surprising that diets rich in this type of fat can influence the way we feel on a Monday morning.

Recently, a broad-based study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism looked at the relationship of eating patterns around the world to clinical depression. They found this causal link: the more fish eaten (and hence the more omega-3 consumed), the less the amount of depression. And a 1998 British study found that those people having the severest depressions were those who consumed the lowest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Even schizophrenia seems to respond to an increased intake of omega-3, according to two British studies. Symptoms of this severe disease decreased significantly with the addition of this fatty acid.


While these studies are certainly suggestive, it isn't clear that we should start piling oily foods on our plate. First, a high fat diet is correlated with increased heart disease and cancer. Second, studies indicate that even if we add omega-3s to our diet, they won't do much good if we're also eating a lot of fats of other types, such as animal fats and even vegetable oils.

The wisest course may be to follow a generally low-fat diet, but to add small amounts of oils rich in omega-3, such as canola or olive oils, to our salads and stir-fries.


Belzung C et al. Alpha-linolenic acid deficiency modifies distractibility but not anxiety and locomotion in rats during aging. J Nutrition September 1998.

Edwards R et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients. J Affect Disord March 1998.

Edwards R, Peet M, Shay J, Horrobin D. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients. J of Affect Disord March 1998.

Laugharne JD, Mellor JE, Peet M. Fatty Acids and schizophrenia. Lipids March 1996.

Peet M, Laugharne JD, Mellor J, Ramchand CN. Essential fatty acid deficiency in erythrocyte membranes from chronic schizophrenic patients, and the clinical effects of dietary supplementation. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids August 1996.

Prasad A et al. Short-term consumption of a diet rich in fat decreases anxiety response in adult male rats. Physiol Behav September 1996.

Prasad A, Prasad C. Short-term consumption of a diet rich in fat decreases anxiety response in adult male rats. Physiol Behav Sep 1996.

Wells AS, Read NW, Laugharne JD, Ahluwalia NS. Alterations in mood after changing to a low-fat diet. Brit J of Nutr Jan 1998.

Wells et al. Alterations in mood after changing to a low-fat diet. Br J Nutr January 1998.


The article above and the content it is based on are covered by a
Creative Commons License.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Full Body CT Scans: Info to Know Before You Go (Part 1)

Based on the article “Guidelines for Full Body CT Scans?” on the BioEthics Web Log, at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


You may have seen the ads in newspapers, offering to scan your body (for a fee) in order to learn what things may be wrong with you, before these things cause major problems. In theory, it sounds great, but this article raises some questions and concerns one should think about before deciding on a specific type of scan: the full body CT (Computed Tomography) scan. –D.R.


With the convenience and popularity of full body CT scans increasing as a simple solution to detect the ever growing number of maladies cropping up in aging bodies, Menlo Park's Almanac reports that some doctors are warning of the risks inherent to the technology. Advertisements for body scans espouse the procedure’s ability to identify heart disease, lung disease and cancer and other ailments, but do not mention the plausible health side effects of the scan itself. In addition, the FDA provides no regulatory standards for the scanning industry.

When considering the potential dangers of false positives (indicating that you have a problem when in fact you don’t) and radiation exposure, one should think hard and evaluate all options before jumping right into a full body scan. For health care professionals, it may not always be the wisest move to steer people showing no symptoms or signs of problems toward a treatment that could damage an otherwise healthy body. (Remember the famous phrase that medical practitioners have long been taught: “First, do no harm.”)

Should there be professional standards or guidelines stating when it is or is not appropriate for someone to receive a body scan? Or should this aspect of medicine remain “Caveat Emptor” (buyer beware) – with the hope that "informed consent" will wash away any problems?

The answers are not easy, but Part 2 of this article provides additional information regarding full body scans that sheds more light on these issues.


This work (Full Body CT Scans… Part 1) and the work it is based on are licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


Full Body CT Scans: Info to Know Before You Go (Part 2)

Below is the second half of our article on Full Body CT (Computed Tomography) Scans. Providers of CT (and similar) body scans point out that serious problems often have no symptoms, especially in their early stages. On the other hand, some sources (see below) say that healthy folks without symptoms should not be advised to undergo such scans. Hence, it is not a simple choice; doing due diligence and gathering data from multiple sources is recommended before making a final decision. –D.R.


Dozens of clinics nationwide are touting a new service for health-conscious people: full-body CT scans -- high-tech computerized X-rays that promise early warnings for cancer, cardiac disease, and other abnormalities. But the practice is controversial because the long-term benefits and risks have not been researched. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the CT X-ray system only as a diagnostic tool to be used when symptoms exist, or when there is reason for further testing. But no studies have been done to support using CT scans for screening people without symptoms, or when there is no suspicion or indication of a problem or disease.

Thomas B. Shope, Ph.D., a radiation physicist in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, says the agency's concern is that "some of the kinds of things screening CT may find are not necessarily of any health significance." In addition, because no screening test is 100 percent accurate, the FDA is concerned that many people will get false-positive results, leading them to seek additional, possibly risky tests or surgical procedures. While there is a small danger of this when symptoms exist, its occurrence is far more probable when they do not.

Furthermore, the use of any X-ray imaging procedure is always accompanied by a concern about the possible effects of radiation exposure. "The effective dose from a CT procedure can be hundreds of times larger than the effective dose from a conventional radiographic procedure," says Shope.

During a CT scan, an X-ray tube housed inside a doughnut-shaped machine rotates around and transmits radiation through a person's body at various angles. Detectors inside the machine measure the radiation transmitted through the body and these data are converted into electrical signals. A computer gathers these signals and produces three-dimensional images that are displayed on a monitor. A technologist or radiologist can change the contrast or brightness of the displayed image, or use other image processing or display techniques to emphasize areas or tissues of interest.

Using CT systems for diagnosis in medicine has been accepted as a valuable medical practice based on a wealth of experience. Physicians may use it for any condition or disease, as long as they deem the use legitimate within the doctor-patient relationship. Therefore, although the device was approved as a diagnostic tool for specific purposes, the FDA has limited authority to control how it is actually used. The agency continues to approve CT systems and their enhancements on the basis that they are to be used in the diagnoses of symptomatic people.

The American College of Radiology "does not believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to justify recommending total body computed tomographic (CT) screening for patients with no symptoms or a family history suggesting disease." The organization says there is no evidence that the procedure is either cost-effective, or effective in prolonging life. Robert Smith, director of cancer screening at the American Cancer Society, says his organization also "discourages full-body scanning" for the same reasons.


Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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Microwaving Veggies Not so Negative for Nutrients

Based on the article “Does Microwaving Veggies Kill Nutrients?” on

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Many people believe that microwaving tends to be bad for certain foods, such as vegetables, because it may kill vital nutrients in the food. However, this article cites sources that seem to reverse some of these negative beliefs – and point to a different cooking culprit. --D.R.


Anahad O'Connor, writing in his "The Claim" column, takes on the widely-held conviction that cooking vegetables in the microwave destroys valuable nutrients. The truth, O'Connor tells us, is that microwaving destroys far fewer nutrients than other means of cooking, largely because microwaving uses less of two things that destroy nutrients during cooking: heat and water.

O'Connor directs our attention to studies at Cornell University, which looked at the effects of cooking on water-soluble vitamins in vegetables. That research found that spinach retained nearly all its folate when cooked in a microwave, but lost about 77 percent when cooked on a stove. It also found that bacon cooked by microwave has significantly lower levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines than conventionally cooked bacon.

O'Connor also points to a study published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2003 that found that broccoli cooked by microwave — and immersed in water — loses about 74 percent to 97 percent of its antioxidants. However, when steamed or cooked without water, the broccoli retained most of its nutrients.

The moral of the story: cooking in water seems to be more of a negative than cooking in a microwave, at least as far as preserving nutrients in vegetables is concerned.


This article and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Top Ten Tips for a Tip Top Torso

by Dr. Don Rose


Which do you want: a tip top torso, or a wide wobbly waist? Do you want to look like a Greek god in sandals, or get a big gut with large love-handles?

It gets harder to avoid the latter as we age; that’s why bloated bellies tend to be seen more often on older folks – like Boomers and seniors -- than on the younger set. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Anyone at any age can have a great looking bod, and not fear their rear, if one follows some exercise and eating rules of thumb. The rules presented below offer ideas on how to get fit and fight fat – something especially useful around holiday time, when calories tend to tempt us time and time again. The modern middle-aged male’s midsection is often more massive than it should be, which can mean many medical maladies if not modified. The good news: most midsections can be trimmed and tightened with time, through tenacity and tried-and-true techniques.

1. Moving Morning: move your workouts to the A.M. if possible -- the earlier the better. Early exercise increases the metabolism, which stays high for several hours afterwards. Benefits of getting your body moving early: more calories burned during the rest of the day and your appetite tends to decrease for a few hours after a workout.

2. Big Breakfast: eat more in the morning (and at lunch) than in the evening. Not only will this get your metabolism going, but you also have all day to burn off “early calories.” Think of your ideal daily calorie intake as an inverted triangle -- more in the morn, tapering off till twilight.

3. Welcome Water: try to drink at least 8 glasses (cups) a day, if possible. Besides the many benefits from the water itself, drinking water before a meal makes you feel fuller and hence you are less likely to overeat. Everyone’s needs are different, of course, but the common maxim says to drink 8 cups a day for optimal health. (Note: urine color indicates whether you need more or less H20; a deeper darker color means you probably need more water.) Tip: try drinking 1 or 2 cups upon waking, before you do anything else; my friend said her friend lost several pounds via this tip alone.

4. Healthy Half: some folks have lost pounds by eating and drinking whatever items they want, but half the usual amount. By doing this, you’re not denying yourself any particular food or beverage – but half the portion means half the calories, which helps you lose weight. For example, one might eat a sandwich with only one side of the bun. (This not only halves the bun calories, but less bread means less carbs -- so it’s a double salvo in your weight loss war.) You also stretch your food budget twice as far.

5. Ditch Dessert: a variant on the previous rule, where you eat whatever you want, with one restriction. In Rule 4, the single restriction was halving portion size; in this rule, it is eliminating any item that is sweet (that is, items with sugar, since sugar is dense with calories). Combining Rules 4 and 5 can be especially effective.

6. Best Buddies: it’s often helpful to have a buddy (or significant other) following the same or similar rules and routines as you -- for support, and to compare notes. Your buddy may discover a useful technique, trick or tip you didn’t think of (or vice versa).

7. More Meals: eat more often, but less per meal. This keeps the metabolism constantly in high gear to burn off calories. Try to keep the smallest meals (i.e., snacks) healthy, too. Using this rule along with Rule 4 can be a sensible combination. For example, instead of 3 or 4 “normal portion” meals per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and an occasional late supper/snack), try eating 6 to 8 small meals, each at half a “normal portion” or less. This keeps you feeling full and your metabolism high all day. If possible, reduce portion size as the day goes on (see Rule 2).

8. Food Focus: paying attention to what you eat can pay big dividends. First, you’ll enjoy your meal more, since your increased attention will lead you to savor the eating process. Second, the seconds will seem like minutes the more you focus on what you are eating; it will seem like you are eating for a longer time. Third, you will end your eating earlier, because you’ll be aware of the onset of “feeling full” faster – which means less calories taken in, and the gift of extra time to do other things. It’s win win win. Combining this rule with Rule 4 can be effective; the more you truly focus, the more your “half portion” will seem as filling as your former “full portion.”

9. Ending Eating: evening calories are less likely to get burned off that day, and eating right before bed can lead to heartburn or restless sleep, so try to consume less at night (as touched on in Rule 2). Ideally, stop consuming calories at a set time each night. For example, no food after 8pm. Make a rule and stick to it – whatever works for you. The goal: put as many hours as you can between “last bite” and “good night.”

10. Sound Sleep: sleep is when muscles repair, and in general the body uses this time to heal itself. Make sure you get enough hours of shuteye each evening (most people need around 8 hours per night). They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing!

Refer back to these rules when you need to remind yourself of some good habits to follow. These rules are by no means exhaustive, but I hope they provide a general roadmap that will take you closer to your final destination: a fine, fit physique.

If you find it hard to remember all of the information presented above, here is a closing two-line poem that may help, summarizing the rules in ultra-brief form:

Work out mornings, more food early. Focus, buddy; half, no sweet.
8 cups water, 8 small servings. 8 o’clock stop, 8 hours sleep.


Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Bad Breath and Gingivitis

Article by David Snape at

Introduction by Dr. Don Rose


People of all ages may suffer from bad breath, which is caused by bacteria in the mouth. Gingivitis is a common gum problem, also a result of the action of bacteria. David Snape’s article below discusses these two related problems and ways to deal with them. –D.R.


Does this sound familiar to you? My dentist and hygienist mentioned that I had irritated gums as they cleaned my teeth. This is a symptom of gingivitis.

Gingivitis can be a stepping stone to major problems in the mouth and gum line. It can lead to periodontal disease, which is a much more serious problem with the potential for actual bone loss.

Halitosis (bad breath) could be related to a gingivitis infection as both are caused by bacteria. Red, swollen and/or bleeding gums characterize gingivitis. These symptoms are most evident upon flossing and sometimes from brushing.

Bacteria cause gingivitis. And bacteria are considered to be responsible for bad breath.

Sometimes, I could even see the bloodstains that the hygienist quietly wiped away with a towel. It was embarrassing enough to know that I wasn't controlling my gingivitis problem, but to know that she was actually trying not to make a big deal out of it was troubling.

I knew my dentist was concerned because she gave me a bottle of alcohol based mouthwash to try and mentioned that she wanted to see how I looked next time. I don't like using it; there is too much alcohol and the taste is not very pleasant. Alcohol may also dry the mucous membranes in the mouth.

The Problem

Bacteria can stick to your teeth and secrete acid onto them contributing to cavity formation. They can also infect the gums, particularly around the gum line, causing gingivitis. This can manifest initially as bleeding and irritated gums.

Having a lot of uncontrolled bacteria multiplying in the mouth may also lead to bad breath, but there is a natural and normal amount of bacteria in the mouth, and you will never completely get rid of them all, nor would you want to.

Theory has it that it is actually the anaerobic bacteria that live in the tongue and throat that produce sulfur that in turn produce hard to get rid of bad breath. These anaerobes create VSCs or volatile sulfur compounds. One type is the familiar rotten egg smell. There are other odors coming from VSCs as well. These sulfur-producing bacteria may feed on certain foods, like coffee, alcohol and meats.

A gingivitis problem can offer a way for bacteria to easily enter your blood stream and that can lead to additional problems. Systemic infections could come from this. Gingivitis can be something that makes your gums bleed easily in a mild case or it can be the root of deep gum recession, leading to bone loss in the worse case scenarios (periodontal disease).

Loss of gum line can be discouraging. A friend of mind once described the process as "getting long in the tooth". Sometimes, people experience this problem by brushing too hard. TIP: Using a soft bristled toothbrush with the type of motion that your hygienist recommends may help prevent eroded gum lines.

Treatment and Prevention

Had you ever heard of under-the-gum cleanings? This could be part of the protocol your dentist might invoke, should you develop periodontal disease. If you know people that have had an under-the-gum cleaning, they may tell you that it is not very pleasant.

Your dentist can deal with this problem in a variety of ways. However, prevention probably is the best option. Include good flossing and brushing habits - see your dentist for details. And you could add a non-alcohol based mouthwash alternative to your regimen.

I'm currently using a special toothbrush that uses vibration to clean the teeth. This device does a better job than a regular toothbrush in keeping my teeth clean. It does take a little while to get used to because of the vibration. It makes many, many vibrations per second. This helps to give it such wonderful cleaning abilities.

Don't feel sad if you have excellent oral health habits but you still have bad breath. This is common and many people experience this same situation. Oral health products that don't contain sodium lauryl sulfates or artificial flavors that can still kill the bacteria that cause bad breath without using harsh alcohol or tough chemicals may be helpful.

I am not a dentist. This article is for information purposes only. This article is not meant for diagnosis, treatment or prevention nor is it meant to give advice. If you have or suspect you have gingivitis, periodontal disease or any other dental problems, visit your dentist for a consultation.


David Snape is a health, fitness and well-being enthusiast. He maintains a site: on the same theme.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.


Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on many topics, including computers, the Internet, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

Diet and Recipe Book Focuses on Anti-Inflammation to Help Save and Enhance Lives

Based on the article “Available Now, First Diet and Recipe Book to Focus on Anti-Inflammation -- Naturopath's Delicious Recipes Will Help Save Lives” at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


A big buzzword in the medical/nutrition/healing communities today is inflammation. Recently, the connection between inflammation and disease has become established. Chronic inflammation within our bodies erodes our wellness, paves the path for ill health and speeds up aging. Hidden food allergies can overstimulate the immune system, causing inflammation; any inflammation in the body interferes with and slows down metabolism and our natural healing response. Unfortunately, imbalances in our standard diet cause most Americans to suffer from fairly high levels of inflammation. Older Americans are especially at risk; the effects of inflammation can manifest in seniors as heart disease, arthritis and other problems.

The good news is that disease caused by inflammation can often be controlled or prevented through proper nutrition. “The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book” gives readers specifics on how to eat and cook in order to prevent and counter inflammation, promoting simpler and easier digestion, and offering less insult to the body by reducing intake of toxins and other difficult to digest foods. –D.R.


Medical research shows that chronic inflammation in our bodies erodes wellness, makes us age faster, and leads to degenerative diseases. Hidden food allergies can over-stimulate the immune system, causing inflammation, which in turn slows down metabolism and our natural healing response. Unfortunately, due to imbalances in the standard American diet, most Americans suffer from fairly high levels of inflammation. As a result, many people develop chronic diseases that could be controlled or prevented through proper nutrition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven out of ten deaths are caused by chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, all of which have a direct connection to inflammation and nutrition.

What can be done to ensure optimal health and healing? "The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book," written by leading naturopathic doctor Jessica K. Black, N.D., helps readers reclaim health by guiding them to practices that facilitate cellular regeneration rather than cellular degeneration and disease. Dr. Black educates readers on making diet choices that promote easier digestion, reduce the intake of toxins, and allow greater absorption of nutrients. The result is improved cellular function and metabolism, and possibly greater vitality and beauty -- not to mention a longer life.

Appropriate for men and women of all ages (even children), Dr. Black's book offers specifics on what to eat and how to cook in order to counter and even prevent inflammation. While providing delicious food choices, the diet eliminates allergens and reduces the intake of pesticides, hormones and antibiotic residues. It encourages whole foods; reduces processed foods, sugars, and other potential toxins such as hydrogenated oils; and encourages ample intake of vegetables and fruits for essential nutrients. Changing one's diet, preparing healthy meals, and enjoying nutritious foods were never so easy.

"The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book," in bookstores nationwide, will help people learn to eat and cook healthily. The first half explains the benefits of healthy eating, and provides information about the scientific background of anti-inflammation diets. The second half contains 125 easy-to-prepare recipes, a week's sample menus for summer and winter, nutritional analysis for all recipes and a food substitution chart, so that readers can modify their favorite recipes and make them healthier.

Book Title: “The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book: Protect Yourself and Your Family from Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies -- and More.”
Author: Jessica K. Black.

Category: Health & Fitness / Diets.
ISBN 0-89793-485-7 / Paperback $14.95.
About the Author: Jessica K. Black, N.D. co-founded and runs a primary care center called A Family Healing Center in McMinnville, Oregon with her husband, Jason Black, N.D. She specializes in women's medicine including menopause, as well as allergies, asthma, pediatrics, nutrition, detoxification, and herbal medicine.


The article on this website and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for more information on the CC license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Gilligan's Island Professor Promotes Pipe-Protecting FreezeAlarm

Based on the article “Gilligan's Island Professor Promotes FreezeAlarm” on

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


It’s a safe bet that many (if not most) Boomers and seniors know the name Russell Johnson. He is the actor who played The Professor on the 60’s sitcom Gilligan’s Island (who could fashion a radio out of coconuts but couldn’t fix the boat). Now Mr. Johnson is helping to promote FreezeAlarm -- a system that, like Life Alert, has been around for two decades and provides protection 24/7 for your home. However, whereas Life Alert protects and saves lives, FreezeAlarm literally protects a part of your home: your pipes. Read below for more details. –Don Rose


Russell Johnson, better known as "The Professor" from the hit television show Gilligan's Island, is lending his talents to a national radio campaign promoting the 20th Anniversary of the FreezeAlarm, manufactured by Control Products.

The FreezeAlarm, which comes in Basic, Intermediate and Deluxe models, is a product that protects unoccupied homes and vacation property from damage caused by frozen, burst pipes. If the temperature gets too low or the power goes out, the FreezeAlarm automatically calls up to three phone numbers of the owner's choosing, warning them before the pipes freeze and burst. The popularity of the FreezeAlarm is due in part to its ease of installation. It simply plugs into a standard telephone line.

The Deluxe FreezeAlarm can also monitor rising temperatures -- in a home, cabin, refrigerator, walk-in cooler/freezer, computer room or greenhouse. The Pre-Heat/Cool Feature allows a user to turn the heat or air conditioning up (or down) with a phone call.

"The Professor knows a little bit about being away from home for a long time, so who better to promote the FreezeAlarm, a product that protects your home while you're away?" said Chuck Guerin, National Sales Manager. In the radio ads, Johnson incorporates some of the familiar lines from the Gilligan's Island show to help promote FreezeAlarms, such as: "Pick one up today… before the weather starts getting rough.” The ads featuring Johnson as the Professor began running the week of November 13, 2006, in over twenty markets nationwide.

Since 1986, Control Products and its Protected Home division has manufactured products to protect a home or vacation property from damage caused by frozen pipes, leaky plumbing fixtures, and overflowing sumps through affordable, easy to use products that automatically call up to three phone numbers to alert of problems in the home. The products are available at local hardware stores or heating contractors nationwide.


The article on this blog and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for more information on the CC license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Osteoarthritis: Signs, Symptoms, Supplements and Suggestions

Based on excerpts from the Wikipedia page “Osteoarthritis

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Other articles have discussed the benefits of a Mediterranean diet for those with a specific variant of arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a painful disease of the joints). The article below discusses the most common form of the disease, osteoarthritis (OA) -- which, like RA, afflicts many seniors. The article also lists some supplements that may, in some cases, be helpful in preventing or mitigating OA, and provides suggestions for beneficial lifestyle changes. --D.R.



Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease -- and sometimes referred to as "arthrosis" or "osteoarthrosis" or even "wear and tear” -- is a condition in which low-grade inflammation results in pain in the joints, caused by wearing of the cartilage that covers and acts as a cushion inside joints. As the bone surfaces become less protected by cartilage, the patient experiences pain upon weight bearing, including walking and standing. Due to decreased movement because of the pain, regional muscles may atrophy, and ligaments may become more lax.

OA is the most common form of arthritis. The word is derived from the Greek word "osteo", meaning "of the bone", "arthro", meaning "joint", and "itis", meaning inflammation, although many sufferers have little or no inflammation. OA affects nearly 21 million people in the United States, accounting for 25% of visits to primary care physicians, and half of all NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) prescriptions. It is estimated that 80% of the population will have radiographic evidence of OA by age 65, although only 60% of those will be symptomatic (Green 2001).

There is no cure for OA, as it is impossible for the cartilage to grow back. However, if OA is caused by cartilage damage -- for example, as a result of an injury -- Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation may be a possible treatment.

Signs and symptoms

The main symptom of OA is chronic pain, causing loss of mobility and often stiffness. "Pain" is generally described as a sharp ache, or a burning sensation in the associated muscles and tendons. OA can cause a crackling noise (called "crepitus") when the affected joint is moved or touched, and patients may experience muscle spasm and contractions in the tendons. Occasionally, the joints may also be filled with fluid. Humid weather increases the pain in many patients.

OA commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, although in theory, any joint in the body can be affected. As OA progresses, the affected joints appear larger, are stiff and painful, and usually feel worse the more they are used throughout the day, thus distinguishing it from rheumatoid arthritis.

In smaller joints, such as at the fingers, hard bony enlargements may form, and though they are not necessarily painful, they do limit the movement of the fingers significantly. OA at the toes leads to the formation of bunions, rendering them red or swollen.


OA often affects multiple members of the same family, suggesting that there is hereditary susceptibility to this condition. A number of studies have shown that there is a greater prevalence of the disease between siblings and especially monozygotic twins, indicating a hereditary basis. Up to 60% of OA cases are thought to result from genetic factors. Researchers are also investigating the possibility of allergies, infections, or fungi as a cause.


OA may be divided into two types:

Primary osteoarthritis

This type of OA is caused by aging. As a person ages, the water content of the cartilage decreases, and the protein composition in it degenerates, thus degenerating the cartilage through repetitive use or misuse. Inflammation can also occur, and stimulate new bone outgrowths, called "spurs" (osteophyte), to form around the joints. Sufferers find their every movement so painful and debilitating that it can also affect them emotionally and psychologically.

Secondary osteoarthritis

This type of OA is caused by other conditions or diseases, such as:
  • Congenital disorders. For example:
    --Congenital hip luxation.
    --Abnormally-formed joints (e.g. hip dysplasia). People with such joints are more vulnerable to OA, as added stress is specifically placed on the joints whenever they move.
  • Cracking joints. Some say evidence is weak that this has a connection to OA.
  • Diabetes.
  • Inflammatory diseases and all chronic forms of arthritis (e.g. gout and rheumatoid arthritis). In gout, uric acid crystals cause the cartilage to degenerate at a faster pace.
  • Injury to joints, as a result of an accident.
  • Hormonal disorders.
  • Ligamentous deterioration or instability.
  • Obesity. Obesity puts added weight on the joints, especially the knees.
  • Osteopetrosis (High bone density).
  • Sports injuries, from exercise, athletic activity or work. For example, certain sports, such as weightlifting, running, or even football, put undue pressure on the knee joints. Injuries resulting in broken ligaments can lead to instability of the joint, and over time, wear of the cartilage and eventually osteoarthritis.
  • Surgery to the joint structures.


Diagnosis is normally done through x-rays. This is possible because loss of cartilage, subchondral ("below cartilage") sclerosis, subchondral cysts, the narrowing of the joint space between adjacent bones, and bone spur formation (osteophytes) show up clearly in x-rays. Plain films, however, often do not correlate with the findings of a physical examination in the early stages of the disease.

With or without other techniques -- such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), arthrocentesis and arthroscopy -- a careful study of the duration, location, and character of the joint symptoms, and the appearance of the joints themselves, will help the doctor to determine whether his patient suffers from OA.

OA and Supplements

Supplements which may be useful for treating OA include:

--Antioxidants, including Vitamins C and E in both foods and supplements, provide pain relief from OA. (McAlindon TE, et al, 1996).

--Chondroitin sulphate improves symptoms of OA, and delays its progression (Poolsup N et al, 2005).

--Collagen hydrolysate (a gelatin product) may also prove beneficial in the relief of OA symptoms, as substantiated in a German study by Beuker F. et. al. and Seeligmuller et. al. In their 6-month placebo-controlled study of 100 elderly patients, the verum group showed significant improvement in joint mobility.

--Ginger (rhizome) extract - has improved knee symptoms moderately (Altman RD, 1991).

--Glucosamine: A molecule derived from glucosamine is used by the body to make some of the components of cartilage and synovial fluid. Supplemental glucosamine may improve symptoms of OA and delay its progression (Poolsup N et al, 2005). However, a recent large study suggests that glucosamine is not effective in treating OA of the knee (McAlindon et al 2004).

--Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): A small study by Kim et al. suggested that MSM significantly reduced pain and improved physical functioning in OA patients without major adverse events (Kim et al). The authors cautioned that although this short pilot study did not address the long-term safety and usefulness of MSM, they suggest that physicians should consider its use for certain osteoarthritis patients.

--S-adenosyl methionine: small scale studies have shown it to be as effective as NSAIDs in reducing pain, although it takes about four weeks for the effect to take place.

--Selenium deficiency has been correlated with a higher risk and severity of OA, therefore selenium supplementation may reduce this risk.

--Vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin) taken in large doses significantly reduced OA hand pain, presumably by reducing systemic inflammation (Flynn MA 1994).

--Vitamin D deficiency has been reported in patients with OA; supplementation with Vitamin D3 is recommended for pain relief (Arabelovic, 2005).

Lifestyle changes

Other nutritional changes shown to aid in the treatment of OA include elevated saturated fat intake (Wilhelmi G, 1993) and elevated body fat (Christensen R, 2005). Reducing sugar, processed foods, and fatty foods (despite the apparent contradiction) have helped many. According to Dr. John McDoughall, a low-fat vegetarian diet can reduce arthritis symptoms. A macrobiotic diet has been known to reduce symptoms as well.

Lifestyle change may be needed for effective symptomatic relief, especially for knee OA (De Filippis L, 2004). No matter what the severity, or where the OA lies, conservative measures such as weight control, appropriate rest and exercise, and the use of mechanical support devices are usually beneficial to sufferers. In the case of OA of the knees, knee braces, a cane, or a walker can be a helpful aid for walking and support. Regular exercise, if possible, in the form of walking or swimming, is encouraged.

Applying local heat before exercise, and cold packs after, can help relieve pain and inflammation, as do relaxation techniques.


Altman RD, Marcussen KC. Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Nov; 44(11):2531-8.

Arabelovic S, McAlindon TE. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2005 Mar; 7(1):29-35.

Christensen R. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2005 Jan; 13(1):20-7.

Curtis CL et al. Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 Aug; 61(3):381-9.

De Filippis L et al. Reumatismo. 2004 Jul-Sep; 56(3):169-84.

Flynn MA, Irvin W, Krause G. J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Aug; 13(4):351-6.

Green GA. Understanding NSAIDS: from aspirin to COX-2. Clin Cornerstone 2001; 3:50-59. PMID 11464731.

McAlindon T, Formica M, LaValley M, Lehmer M, Kabbara K. Effectiveness of glucosamine for symptoms of knee osteoarthritis: Results from an internet-based randomized double-blind controlled trial. Am J Med 2004; 117:643-9. PMID 15501201.

McAlindon TE, Jacques P, Zhang Y, et al. Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheum 1996; 39:648-656.

Mooney V. Spinal arthritis complete treatment guide., May 25, 2005.

Wilhemi G. Z Rheumatol. 1993 May-Jun; 52(3):174-9.


Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seniors, Sex and Staying Safe

Based on the article “Seniors Having Sex” on

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Yes, it is true -- seniors have sex too. Not surprising, since older Americans today are living longer and keeping in better shape than ever before. Not to mention the availability of better and safer, um, “tools of the trade.” Like Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and vitamin supplements that can at times achieve the same goal: improvement in sexual function. However, there is a potential danger for seniors: lack of knowledge, especially if they have been “out of the game” or “off the bike” for a while. This article discusses these issues. –D.R.



No, the title does not refer to seniors in high school, nor seniors in college. This is about, yes, sex for grandma and grandpa. Most people don’t want to think about their parents making whoopie, let alone gramps and grannie, but the fact is older folks are having more sex than ever before -- since there are more of them, and more of them are staying healthy into their later years.

Senior sex: courting danger?

While most people associate sexual risk with youth, sex for seniors can be more dangerous than sex among younger age groups. Many seniors haven’t been exposed to sex education, including STDs, HIV and AIDS -- issues that have impacted so many younger Americans. The young are used to dealing with these matters, whereas some seniors may be in the dark about sexual dilemmas of the day – especially those newly single, coming off a divorce or death of a spouse after years of marriage. Reports have stated that 20% of new HIV cases are seniors -- a surprisingly high figure, one which suggests a lack of knowledge.

One problem is that some seniors just think of condoms as a device to prevent pregnancy. Since most male seniors aren’t worried about impregnating female seniors, they may feel condoms are unnecessary. They may not care or even know about other things condoms can protect them from. Another problem: seniors often find talking about sex to be rude or improper, even if they are sexually active. It is a topic that many feel belongs behind closed doors.


If we want to keep grandma and grandpa alive and kicking for a long time, they need to be exposed to updated sexual information. Sex in the golden years is happening whether we want to believe it or not. They have Viagra and other drugs that can help out. Their doctors need to talk to them about sexual diseases and protection.

Maybe we’ve reached an ironic time in history where kids need to sit their parents down to have a sex talk. A little weird, perhaps, but it can save a life.


This article and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for more information on the CC license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More online tests for cancer or other diseases?

Does anyone out there have experience with any online tests for diseases that affect seniors?

If so, please let us know. I, as well as readers of this Senior Protection Blog, would like to know.

The previous post mentioned a free online test for Prostate Cancer risk, but we'd love to post other tests as well. For men or women, and especially those related to seniors.


Website Helps Men Evaluate Risk of Prostate Cancer

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


This article discusses prostate cancer, some state-of-the-art treatment options, and a website that features a risk test for this type of cancer. The free test promotes prostate cancer screenings and early detection, which maximizes a man’s chance for survival and helps reduce the chances that drastic treatment will be needed. Hence, this test is something that men over 50, especially senior citizens, should look into. –D.R.



In 2006, more than 234,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 27,000 men will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. While it is estimated that 1 man in 6 will suffer from prostate cancer in his lifetime, only 1 man in 34 will die from it. The earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the more likely it is for patients to survive and remain disease-free.

Online prostate cancer risk test

A new website published by Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers in the Southwest Chicago area ( encourages men to learn more about prostate cancer, and to take a free confidential online test to evaluate their prostate cancer risk. The website’s test evaluates a man’s risk based on certain genetic and lifestyle factors that scientists believe affect one’s prostate cancer risk.

Knowledge and survival

Knowing one’s risk can significantly increase a man’s chance for surviving prostate cancer. According to Dr. Paul Y. Song, a prostate cancer specialist at Little Company of Mary, “Knowing your risk and early detection provide the best tools to fight prostate cancer. If the disease is diagnosed early, a patient has an excellent prognosis, many treatment options, and typically suffers from fewer side effects.” When the disease is still confined to the prostate, the five-year relative survival rate is nearly 100 percent.

Treatment options

“Men whose cancer is diagnosed early may be candidates for any of the accepted prostate cancer treatments,” Dr. Song said. Some of the treatment options include radiation therapy and surgery. The doctor notes that “during the last 20 years, major clinical evidence has shown that both surgery and radiation therapy offer an equal chance for cure in the treatment of prostate cancer.”

Little Company of Mary Hospital is the only hospital in the entire greater Chicago area to offer both High Dose Rate brachytherapy for prostate cancer treatment and the da Vinci robotic prostatectomy.

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy provides the most precise delivery of radiation possible in the treatment of prostate cancer. Unlike permanent seed implants, patients have temporary placement of radioactive catheters which can be custom tailored to deliver precision internal radiation and better avoid the urethra, rectum, and nerves to reduce overall toxicity without being radioactive and exposing family members to radiation. It is a one-day procedure where patients can go back to work the next day. According to Dr. Song, “HDR brachytherapy takes the prostate implant procedure to a whole new level, and is more precise and less toxic than conventional seed implants.”

The da Vinci robotic surgical system is a state-of-the-art minimally-invasive technology which allows surgeons to perform complex surgeries through tiny openings. Patients who undergo daVinci prostatectomies typically enjoy fewer overall side effects, shorter hospital stays, and earlier resumption of normal activities.


At its earliest stages, prostate cancer does not present with any symptoms. Therefore, knowing one’s risk and early detection for prostate cancer are a man’s best defenses. “Once cancer cells are found outside the prostate, a man has much fewer treatment options and less potential for cure,” Dr. Song explained. Little Company of Mary’s online prostate cancer risk test at “is a great tool to become more knowledgeable about prostate cancer.”


For more information, see the above website, or contact Kelly Cusack at 708.229.5049.

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Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Study: Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Based on the article “Mediterranean diet reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease, study concludes” on

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Given the positive results discussed in our article on how a Mediterranean diet benefits rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, it was not surprising to learn that this same diet also reduces risk for another disease. The article below discusses the benefits related to Alzheimer's disease -- an affliction that can manifest in any adult, but is especially prevalent among senior citizens. –D.R.



U.S. scientists analyzed the health and eating patterns of 2,258 study participants and found a link between a Mediterranean diet (MD) and a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia.


Participants were scored on their use of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals and fish (which were considered beneficial in this study), as well as dairy products and meat (which were considered detrimental to the subjects’ health). Moderate fat and alcohol intake was also considered part of a typical MD. Potential statistical confounders ("hidden" variables that might affect or distort results) -- such as age, sex, ethnicity, education, Apo E genotype, caloric intake and body mass index -- were taken into account.


"This large study in a leading journal adds to the growing weight of evidence that diet and lifestyle are very important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease" was the reaction of Professor Clive Ballard of the Alzheimer's Society.


Rob Stein, "Mediterranean diet could limit Alzheimer's". The Washington Post, October 14, 2006.

"Med diet 'reduces dementia risk'". BBC News Online, April 17, 2006.

Scarmeas N, Stern Y, Tang MX, Mayeux R, Luchsinger JA. Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer's disease. Ann Neurol, 2006; 59 (6): 912-21. PubMed.


The article on this website and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for more information on the CC license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.


Study Shows Mediterranean Diet Helps Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Based on the abstract for “An experimental study of a Mediterranean diet intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis” by L. Skoldstam, L. Hagfors and G. Johansson

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Much has been written about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which features greater consumption of fish, olive oil, and cooked vegetables. This study discusses such benefits as they relate to rheumatoid arthritis, a painful disease of the joints that many seniors suffer from. –D.R.



The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a Mediterranean diet (MD) -- with its greater consumption of fish, olive oil, and cooked vegetables -- as compared to an “ordinary” Western diet for suppression of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Patients with well controlled although active RA of at least two years' duration, who were receiving stable pharmacological treatment, were invited to participate. All patients were randomly allocated to the MD or the control diet (CD). To achieve good compliance with prescribed diets, all patients were (for the first three weeks) served the MD or the CD, respectively, for lunch and dinner at the outpatient clinic's canteen.

Clinical examinations were performed at baseline (the beginning of the study), and again in the 3rd, 6th, and 12th week. A composite disease activity index (DAS28), a physical function index (Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ)), a health survey of quality of life (Short Form-36 (SF-36)), and the daily consumption of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were used as primary variables to judge the MD’s effectiveness.


From baseline to the end of the study, the patients in the MD group (n=26) showed a decrease in DAS28 of 0.56 (p<0.001), in HAQ of 0.15 (p=0.020), and in two dimensions of the SF-36 Health Survey: an increase in "vitality" of 11.3 (p=0.018) and a decrease in "compared with one year earlier" of 0.6 (p=0.016). For the control patients (n=25), no significant change was seen at the end of the study. This difference between the two treatment groups was notable only in the second half of the trial.


The results indicate that patients with RA, by adjusting to a Mediterranean diet (MD), did obtain a reduction in inflammatory activity, an increase in physical function, and improved vitality.


According to the full paper that describes this research, “[case]-control studies indicate that lifelong consumption of fish, olive oil, and cooked vegetables may have independent protective effects on the development or severity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).”

Other studies, from selected geographical regions, support these hypotheses. In the Faroe Islands, where the typical diet is high in fish and whale meat, RA reportedly was mild. In northwestern Greece, where people consume high amounts of olive oil, the number of RA occurrences has reportedly been relatively low.

Other lessons learned regarding diet and RA:

· Supplementation of an “ordinary” Western diet with fish oils has been shown to “induce a weak anti-inflammatory effect”. In RA sufferers, “this effect was not detectable until after six weeks.”

· “Besides investigating the effects of specific nutrients and food items, attention should also be drawn to the diet as a whole. Ever since the Seven Countries Study, the MD -- particularly the Cretan MD -- has been regarded as a healthy and disease-preventing diet. The traditional Cretan MD is characterized by a high consumption of fruit, vegetables, cereals, and legumes. Compared with common Western diets, the MD contains less red meat and more fish. The Cretan MD typically uses olive oil as the primary source of fat, and also includes a moderate intake of wine.”

· “The fish consumed in Greece contain fewer n-3 fatty acids than deep ocean fish. This may explain why Linos and coworkers in their Greek case-control study found no significant evidence that fish consumption was an independent predictor of risk for RA. Instead, the two independent predictive factors turned out to be consumption of olive oil and cooked vegetables.”

· “Olive oil is rich in oleic acid (18:1n-9), which can be metabolized to eicosatrienoic acid (20:3n-9) -- with anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of n-3 PUFA from fish oils. Olive oil also has antioxidative properties. Greeks mainly consume the unrefined and unbleached virgin oil, which is rich in natural antioxidants including tocopherols.”

· “The other independent predictor of risk was consumption of cooked vegetables. Vegetables are particularly rich in a variety of natural antioxidants, which contribute to better control of inflammation. Antioxidants limit pathological aspects of the cytokine mediated response to inflammation. They also inhibit direct damage to tissues from all kinds of oxidative molecules that are released.”

· Other beneficial results noticed during this study: a fall in body weight and in serum cholesterol within the MD group.

While the results of this study are promising, the authors state that a “complete therapeutic evaluation will require larger numbers of patients to be followed up for a longer time, another budget, and collaboration with other [centers].”

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Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

AARP Survey: Public Strongly Opposes Social Security Private Accounts

Based on the article “New AARP Survey Shows Public Strongly Opposes Social Security Private Accounts” on (website edited by William Hoehne and Joyce Chow)

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


A recent survey by AARP, the organization devoted to seniors over 50, indicates that a majority of boomer voters and politicians alike seem to dislike using Social Security taxes to fund private accounts. More details on the survey results below. –D.R.


A recent AARP survey finds that “boomer-plus” voters (age 42 and older) are strongly opposed to using Social Security taxes to fund private accounts. Of those polled, 72 percent said they oppose private accounts. Just 16 percent of those polled said they support such accounts.

An analysis of candidate responses to the 2006 AARP Voters' Guides in 45 competitive Senate and House races reflects that candidates are hearing the public's rejection of private accounts. AARP's 2006 Voters' Guides asked candidates whether they "support or oppose using Social Security taxes to fund private accounts." Out of 20 Senate candidates in some of the closest races in which Guides were available, 14 (70 percent) checked the box in opposition; only one (5 percent) expressed support, while 5 (25 percent) did not give an answer. Similarly, in 35 competitive House races, 60 percent of the candidates checked the box in opposition; only 3 percent expressed support, while 37 percent did not respond.

The guides also asked candidates whether they will "support or oppose a balanced Social Security plan to continue the program's guaranteed benefits for future generations." Of the 20 Senate candidates, 15 (75 percent) checked the box in support, one (5 percent) opposed and 20 percent did not respond. For the House races, 63 percent of the candidates supported a balanced plan, only 1 percent opposed, and the remaining candidates did not respond.

"It is clear from the responses to our Voters' Guides that an overwhelming majority of candidates oppose private accounts and support a balanced Social Security plan to continue this critical program for future generations," said AARP Director of Government Relations David Sloane. "These candidates have committed to strengthening and preserving Social Security, and voters will expect that they follow through on their promises."

The Election Watch survey was commissioned as a national telephone survey of 1,503 individuals age 42 and older. AARP wanted to take the pulse of the public's opinion on issues that members have indicated they want to hear about in the public discourse. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.

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The article on this website and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for more information on the CC license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp Site Speeds Filing for Medicare Extra Help and Other Benefits

Based on the posting “NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp Now Allows Automatic Filing for Medicare Extra Help and Other Needed Benefits”, at

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


If you are a senior citizen, and you think you may be eligible for Medicare’s Extra Help benefit, this article is for you. Or perhaps you know someone who may qualify for Extra Help, or other benefits, but is unaware of them. Whatever the case may be, this article is for you, as it discusses how the BenefitsCheckUp website is assisting older Americans with automatic filing for benefits they are entitled to. More specifically, could be especially helpful to the more than 630,000 who were "deemed eligible" in the first Medicare Part D enrollment period, but have lost their eligibility for the low income subsidy and must now apply for it. --D.R.


The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has added a new feature to its Web-based BenefitsCheckUp service that could assist several million people who are eligible for (but have not enrolled in) the Extra Help benefit, available through Medicare's Prescription Drug Coverage (also known as Part D). The new service, available at, could be especially helpful to the more than 630,000 people who were "deemed eligible" for Extra Help in 2006, but who have recently lost their automatic eligibility for this assistance and must now apply for it.

Speeding up Extra Help

"If someone with Medicare has limited income and resources, there's no reason not to apply for the Extra Help," said James Firman, NCOA president and CEO. "And now, anyone anytime can use the Web to speed up this process and find out if they can also get extra income or other help with paying for their medicines or health care expenses."

How to get Extra Help, and how much it helps

People must apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) first to find out if they qualify for Extra Help. If someone qualifies, they can save on average $3,700 a year since Medicare's Extra Help will pay their cost sharing, and they will have no gap in coverage (the donut hole). This year’s deadline for enrollment in a Medicare Part D plan is December 31, 2006.

People with Medicare, family members or caregivers can now use NCOA's BenefitsCheckUp site (at to submit their applications for Extra Help electronically, and receive immediate confirmation that SSA received the application.

The extra benefits of BenefitsCheckUp

In addition, without filling out any other questionnaire, the “BenefitsCheckUpRx - Extra Help with Prescription Costs” feature will tell users if they qualify for other federal or state benefits programs. These include programs that can save them money on health care (Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid), provide extra income (Supplemental Security Income), find other prescription savings (State Pharmacy Assistance Programs) or help in paying for food (Food Stamps).

Fast, free feature fits technology to need

"We added this new feature to BenefitsCheckUp because we received lots of requests from individuals and feedback from organizations involved in finding and helping people with Medicare that some other tool was needed," said Stuart Spector, senior vice president of the NCOA's Benefits Access Group. "The new BenefitsCheckUp Extra Help feature is free, it's fast and it is confidential."


NCOA, which led far-reaching outreach and enrollment efforts during the initial Part D enrollment period, continues its work in helping to find and enroll those who may be eligible for Medicare Extra Help. The Council is doing this through its ongoing support of local Access to Benefits Coalitions in 44 areas, and the second phase of its My Medicare Matters campaign.

Seniors nationwide should take advantage of NCOA’s efforts, since the only thing you have to lose is the size of your Medicare bill.

About the National Council on Aging

Founded in 1950, the National Council on Aging is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the health and independence of older persons and to increasing their continuing contributions to communities, society, and future generations. For more information on NCOA, visit the National Council on Aging website (

About BenefitsCheckUp

Since 2001, 1.8 million people have used BenefitsCheckUp and 400,000 have found benefits programs that help them pay for prescription drugs, health care, rent, utilities, and other needs. For more information about how to become a BenefitsCheckUp Organizational Edition user, please send email to

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The article on this site and the content it is based on are covered by a Creative Commons License. Please go to the Creative Commons License site for information on the license that applies to this work.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

A Medicare Prescription Drug Primer, Part 1: Coverage Basics

Based on the “ - MPDPF: Supporting Information” and “Prescription Drug Coverage: Basic Information” webpages on the Medicare website

Edited (with Introduction) by Dr. Don Rose


Now that the 2007 active enrollment period for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit is here (the active period runs November 15 to December 31, 2006), we thought an overview article covering the basic concepts involved in choosing a plan would be useful. Such a primer follows below. We urge all seniors to gather information that can assist in their decision making, whether they are contemplating a plan change or deciding on a plan for the first time.(Below is part 1 of our two part article.) --D.R.


What is Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage?

Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance that covers both brand-name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies in your area. Medicare prescription drug coverage provides protection for people who have very high drug costs. This coverage may help lower prescription drug costs and help protect against higher costs in the future. It can give you greater access to drugs that you can use to prevent complications of diseases and stay well.

Medicare offers prescription drug coverage for everyone with Medicare. This coverage is called “Part D.” If you join a Medicare drug plan, you pay a monthly premium.

Part D is optional. If you decide not to enroll in a Medicare drug plan when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a penalty if you choose to join later.

There are two ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage:

1. Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that adds coverage to
· the Original Medicare Plan,
· some Medicare Private Fee-for Service Plans,
· some Medicare Cost Plans, and
· Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans.

2. Join a Medicare Health Plan (like an HMO or PPO) that includes prescription drug coverage that is a part of the plan. You get all of your Medicare health care including prescription drug coverage through these plans.

Read Quick Facts about Medicare's New Coverage for Prescription Drugs

Who can get Medicare prescription drug coverage?

Everyone with Medicare is eligible for this coverage, regardless of income and resources, health status, or current prescription expenses.

How does Medicare prescription drug coverage work?

Your decision about Medicare prescription drug coverage depends on the kind of health care coverage you have now. There are different ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage. You can join a Medicare prescription drug plan, or you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare Health Plan that offers drug coverage. Whichever plan you choose, Medicare drug coverage will help you by covering brand-name and generic drugs at pharmacies that are convenient for you.Like other insurance, if you join, generally you will pay a monthly premium, which varies by plan, and a yearly deductible (between $0-$265 in 2007). You will also pay a part of the cost of your prescriptions, including a copayment or coinsurance. Costs will vary depending on which drug plan you choose. Some plans may offer more coverage and additional drugs for a higher monthly premium.

If you have limited income and resources, and you qualify for extra help, you may not have to pay a premium or deductible. You can apply or get more information about the extra help by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting

What are Medicare Prescription Drug Plans?

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. They add coverage to:

· The Original Medicare Plan,
· Some Medicare Cost Plans,
· Some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plans, and
· Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans.

With a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan:

· Generally, you pay less for your prescriptions
· You will get a plan member card after you enroll. You use this card when you get your prescriptions filled
· You will pay the copayment, coinsurance, and/or deductible, if any.

If you have limited income and resources, you may get extra help to pay for your Medicare drug plan costs.

What are Medicare Health Plans that cover drugs?

Medicare Health Plans (like HMOs and PPOs) often cover prescription drugs. Medicare Health Plans include:

· Medicare Advantage Plans
· Other Medicare Health Plans.

Medicare Advantage Plans (like HMOs and PPOs) that include prescription drug coverage as part of the plan are health plan options that are approved by Medicare but run by private companies. They are part of the Medicare Program. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan you are still in Medicare. With Medicare Advantage Plans:

· You generally get all your Medicare-covered health care through that plan
· You may get extra benefits, such as coverage for vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs
· You usually will have to pay some other costs (such as copayments or coinsurance) for the services you get. Out-of-pocket costs in these plans are generally lower than in the Original Medicare Plan, but vary by the services you use
· You may have to see doctors that belong to the plan or go to certain hospitals to get covered services
· You don’t need to buy a Medigap policy.

Medicare Advantage Plans

These include:

· Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
· Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
· Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS) Plans
· Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans
· Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNP).

Other Medicare Health Plans

There are some types of Medicare Health Plans that include prescription drug coverage as part of the plan, and aren’t part of Medicare Advantage, yet are still part of the Medicare Program. With these plans, you generally get all your Medicare-covered health care through that plan.

Other Medicare Health Plans include:

· Medicare Cost Plans
· Demonstrations/Pilot Programs
· PACE (Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly).

Why should I get Medicare prescription drug coverage?

Medicare prescription drug coverage provides greater peace of mind by protecting you from unexpected drug expenses. Even if you don't use a lot of prescription drugs now, you should still consider joining. As we age, most people need prescription drugs to stay healthy. For most people, joining now means protection from unexpected prescription drug bills in the future.


For more information, please read The Facts About Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

Also, you can read other fact sheets about Medicare Prescription Drug coverage as it relates to the following topics:
- People with Limited Income
- Residents of Nursing Homes / Long-term Care Facilities
- People who get help from state pharmacy programs
- People with Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) Policies
- People who get Supplemental Security Income benefits or an MSP program
- Bridging the Coverage Gap.

For more details about Medicare benefits, contact:
Toll-free ................1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227);
TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Seniors can also read the Medicare & You 2007 handbook that was mailed to many homes in October.

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