Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Has it Occurred to You . . .

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, , , that, if you’re not getting older,

you’re dead?

Future of Telemedicine is Now

Getting cured in cyberspace sounds like science fiction but it’s already here. Telemedicine – the practice of getting diagnosis and treatment via your laptop or cell phone – has been gaining traction rapidly as the way to monitor and maintain your health.

Accelerating this drive to remote medical servicing is the unavailability of health care in rural (and some urban) areas because of the diminishing number of doctors as the over-65 crowd grows at the rate of 10,000 people a day. As it stands, one out of five residents live in areas that have been identified as being short of health professionals.

Telemedicine opens the door to specialists as well as second medical opinions without taking up too much consulting time by the health experts contacted. It also reduces the stress on the patient as well as eliminating the need to travel to an appointment, which requires the patient to find a driver in many cases.

Seniors fretting about their lack of computer equipment or skills find a telephone conversation may work as well. Medicare has expanded its coverage of medical treatment by phone or computer. While not all health-insurance companies are following suit, several recognize telemedicine helps reduce the cost of health care.

For example, it allows primary care physicians to schedule appointments at any time and not just the traditional “office hours” and reduces unnecessary office and emergency-room visits. It also lowers the cost of patient no-shows.

A barrier in the way of expanding telemedicine is the reimbursement rules that require treatment to be conducted in specific sites, such as the doctor’s office or a health center to qualify. Government licensing laws also get in the way. 

Federal law requires telemedicine health-care providers to be fully licensed to practice medicine in the state where the patient is physically located. Providers in health systems that have locations in more than one state may need to apply for and pay to maintain multiple licenses.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 27, 2022 at 3:00 am

Posted in Health, News / Events

Tagged with ,

A Disease That Sneaks Up On You

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By Tom Morrow

(The author is a long-time friend and colleague of this blogger.)

A 19th century malady that is becoming more prevalent in today’s society is Parkinson’s Disease.

PD is thought to occur primarily with the elderly. There are no easy explanations and it can hit the young. Males are more often affected than females at a ratio of around 3 to 2.

When young people like actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammed Ali are afflicted, the age factor sort of goes out the window. Fox was 27 when he was diagnosed. Ali was 38. Older victims such as well-known actor Alan Alda are more commonplace. Singer Linda Ronstadt was 67.

I was 75 when I was diagnosed.

PD is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor nerves. The symptoms usually emerge slowly, and as the disease worsens, non-motor symptoms become more common. The most obvious early symptoms are tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking and keeping balanced.

By 2015, it was estimated PD affected more than 6 million people and resulted in about 117,400 deaths globally. The average life expectancy following diagnosis is between seven and 15 years.

The cause of PD is unknown but both inherited and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Those with a family member affected by PD are at an increased risk of getting the disease, with certain genes known to be inheritable risk factors. Other risk factors are those who have been exposed to certain pesticides and those who have had head injuries. Cognitive and behavioral problems also may occur with many victims suffering from depression, anxiety and apathy. Dementia can become commonplace in the advanced stages of PD.   

Boxers, such as Ali, and sports figures who have sustained a number of blows to head often develop PD. A lot of football players are victims.

Those suffering with Parkinson’s also can have problems with their sleep and sensory systems. The motor symptoms of the disease result from the dead cells in the mid-brain leading to a dopamine deficit. The cause of this cell death is not very well understood. Diagnosis of typical PD cases is usually based on symptoms when motor skills difficulties are the patient’s chief complaint.

The bad news is that there still is no known cure for PD.

For those of us with PD, treatment can reduce the effects of the symptoms. Initial treatment is done typically with medications such as levodopa or dopamine agonists. As the disease progresses, experience has shown these medications become less effective.

Actor Fox has greatly increased the public awareness of the disease. After diagnosis, Fox embraced his Parkinson’s in television roles, sometimes acting without medication to further illustrate the effects of the condition. He has appeared before Congress without medication to illustrate the effects of the disease. The Michael J. Fox Foundation aims to develop a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Professional cyclist and Olympic medalist Davis Phinney, who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s at age 40, started the Davis Phinney Foundation in 2004 to support PD research, focusing on quality of life for people with the disease.

While boxer Ali showed signs of PD when he was 38, it was not diagnosed until he was 42. He has been called the “world’s most famous Parkinson’s patient.”

A physician initially assesses PD with a careful medical and neurological history. Focus is put on confirming motor symptoms and supporting tests with clinical diagnostic criteria being discussed by a physician and PD specialist.

Multiple causes often mimic PD, making it look similar to the disease. Stroke, certain medications, and toxins can cause “secondary parkinsonism” and need to be thoroughly and properly assessed. Parkinson-plus syndromes, such as progressive palsy and multiple system atrophy, should be considered and ruled out appropriately due to different treatment and disease progression.

For PD victims losing their motor skills, such as walking and difficulties in keeping balance, swallow your pride and use a walker both indoors and out. The results of a bad fall can be worse than any disease.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 9, 2022 at 3:00 am

You Can’t Hide . . .

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. . . from the sun.

So slather on sun screen whenever you go outdoors

to avoid being harmed by UV rays that pour down,

even through clouds,

and are reflected by water, pavement, sand and other smooth surfaces.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

April 28, 2022 at 3:00 am

Posted in Health

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Revitalizing Sight Doesn’t Mean Sore Eyes

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“Certainly we encourage you to eat breakfast,” the doctor’s assistant smiled through the phone when I called a couple of hours before my scheduled laser eye surgery.

I hadn’t been able to eat after midnight on each of the two days when my cataract-clouded lenses were replaced with modern-technology’s prescription lenses designed to end some six decades of requiring spectacles to see.

And I asked how long we would be. The technician checked my file and said, “I see we’re doing both eyes so you should be in and out of here within an hour.”

Both eyes! No one had told me that.

Free Eye Exam Pictures, Download Free Eye Exam Pictures png images ...

Which is one of the major reasons for this piece.

Always ask, and keep on asking, whenever you undergo anything medical. No matter what. In this case, it wasn’t shocking to hear both eyes would be repaired at the same time. But not knowing could have been a problem when I filled out the required pre-surgery paperwork.

Right at the beginning, the form asks what you’re in for: Right Eye, Left Eye, or Both Eyes. I knew they were going to correct the major astigmatism in my right eye because computer images showed a major flaw on the orb. I would have circled Right Eye and set myself on a course that would have been trouble for the team assembled to correct my vision.

Both sides were to blame for this communications gap. I hadn’t asked and they must have assumed someone told me.

It all began more than a dozen years earlier when my eye doctor, during a routine annual eye exam, commented that I should look forward to removal of my cataracts because I would be able to junk my glasses. I had been wearing “Coke bottle” prescription glasses since I was nine when we moved from a rural hamlet into the city and a school nurse discovered I had to look cross-eyed to read.

I had noticed I was losing some of my night vision. It was nothing drastic but the ey doctor got me thinking and I began shopping around for prices. The question was how much it would cost and what was entailed in removing my cataracts and eliminating my need for glasses, which were costing around $500 a year. I went to three other doctors besides my own.

All four described what I call Steps 1, 2 and 3. Step 1 entailed the removal of my cataract-clogged lenses and replacement with a plain lens and continue wearing glasses as I had most of my life. Medicare covered almost all the cost of this.

Step 2 was to have a short-sighted lens placed in one eye and a far-sighted lens in the other eye and, while my eyesight would improve, I would still require reading glasses. This required some additional out-of-pocket costs.

Step 3 entailed removing the impaired lenses, and replacing them with prescription lenses. This involved the most out-of-pocket costs. The extra costs involved in Step 2 and Step 3 ranged from about $2,000 for each eye to $7,000 per eye.

I decided to stick with my doctor, because his prices, while not the lowest, were on the lower side of the median. I chose Step 3 because it also included the cost of correcting the astigmatism in my eyes. Reviewing what I paid for eye exams and eyeglasses each year, my surgically new eyes would pay for themselves within five years.

I chose to have the second lens implanted two weeks after the first. I had trouble waiting that long after receiving the first implant. The result was fantastic. I could see out of that news lens immediately. The procedure ate up most of the morning but the surgery itself took about 10 minutes. Stated simply, the clouded lens is sucked out and a plastic lens – think of a small contact lens – with spring-loaded sides to hold it in is set into your eye. The rest of the time was used up in preparing for surgery and staying put for observation immediately afterwards.

About a month later, I was waltzed into surgery again to have astigmatism in each eyeball corrected by laser surgery. That, too, was a breeze.

But I wasn’t through, and that’s what we were dealing with in this latest development. What occurred to me happens in one-third to half of the cases of lens-implant procedures. I had to have what is called secondary cataracts removed.

Your natural lens sits in a small sac in your eye. When the natural lens is removed, the front of that membranous sac is opened to remove the cataract lens and insert the artificial lens. In cases such as mine, the portion of the membrane remaining behind the artificial lens can cloud over, becoming what medics refer to as a secondary cataract.

The process was simple and discomfort free. I was taken in for an eye exam, my pupils dilated with eye drops and, while the doctor peered into my eyeballs with those white lights like he usually does, I heard a series of muffled “pop-pop-pops.” Each eye took less than a minute. I felt nothing. The popping was laser shots poking holes in the remaining membrane to let light through.

But the results were immediate. I was back to reading the newspaper with ease without reading glasses.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 9, 2022 at 3:00 am

Posted in Health

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Hit Some Sort of Record . . .

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. . .with the following review I posted after a visit to Sunrise Urology, where I go every four months to have a camera peer into my bladder in search of cancerous growths, which have been spotted and excised twice in the past three years. When none have grown, I undergo chemo therapy for three weeks after each visit.

Apparently hundreds of folks interested in Sunrise Urology have lauded the following.

Sunrise Urology, P…

8/1/18

It’s not easy to like someone who shoves a tube up into your bladder, but Dr. Lin and his team make everything work quickly and as comfortably as possible. ciao

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 24, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Health

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All Group Activities Cancelled . . .

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. . . for two weeks at Sunrise of Gilbert in the wake of three COVID-19 quarantines

in the Independent Living wing and reports of other cases elsewhere in the facility along with reports of the rising number of new cases out there in the world.

You could hear a huge sigh of relief whoosh through the building because someone has taken charge. There have been a couple of yowls about the cessation of the free-booze happy hour. But the inmates responded readily to the fact that everybody can do whatever they want, there just aren’t any group activities for this period other than meals in the dining room and bus trips for shopping.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 23, 2021 at 5:00 am

“I’m Allergic to Sex” . . .

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\

. . . I tell those standing around when I have a sneeze attack.

Then, after getting their looks of askance, I explain:

“I was just thinking about it.”

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 14, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Health, Humor / Quote

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A Simple Torture . . .

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. . . has been devised by my urologist.

Once a a week, he places me in the hands — literally — of a pleasant young lady who proceeds to jam a tube up into my bladder to fill it with a half-cupful of a tuberculosis vaccine that also combats bladder cancer. Rather than put up with my screams in their office, I am told to go home and hold the caustic solution for at least an hour but no longer than two hours and to make sure I pour bleach into the toilet bowl right after I empty my bladder —

but no estimate on how many days he expects me to scream when I pee.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 13, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Health

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Coffee Worth the Break

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Coffee breaks are being recognized as more than just a brief respite from work.

Caffeine can be good for you.

Moderation matters in all corners of our lives but up to three cups a day can be healthy.

Critics warn that caffeine dehydrates your system, increases hypertension and the risk of heart attack, cuts down on your ability to sleep, is linked to gout attacks, raises blood pressure, and brings on anxiety, heartburn and stomach problems.

While coffee fans admit much of this may be true, there’s a growing list of benefits for those who drink coffee.

Surprisingly, it’s been discovered that an eight-ounce cup of java contains more disease-fighting antioxidants than a regular serving of oranges or blueberries.

Coffee drinkers reportedly have a lower risk of such chronic conditions as diabetes and heart disease as well as less cognitive decline as they age.

Researchers have found that seniors who have as many as four cups of coffee a day cut in half their risk of heart disease compared with those who take in less caffeine.

Medical experts point out caffeine interacts with many medications so go over your list of prescriptions and supplements with your primary care physician to make sure coffee is compatible.

Among the benefits being attributed to coffee is the ability to relieve a headache as well as protecting the liver and offering defense against strokes and cancer of the mouth and throat.

Coffee drinkers who get agitated or jittery after too many cups of coffee have found that drinking decaf soothes the nerves while providing the same benefits.

Cutting back on the milk and sugar also limits your calorie intake. If coffee straight doesn’t suit your taste, try adding such flavor enhancers as cinnamon that not only improve the taste but add healthy benefits of their own.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 20, 2021 at 5:00 am

Posted in Health

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Traipsing Through Space Could Keep us Healthy

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Space exploration could be good for our health.

While it might be of faint benefit to you, the health and wellbeing of your great-great-great kids could depend on it.

It has to do with the fate of planet Earth and its residents. Will climate change make it unlivable? Will the globe become overcrowded with people? Will viruses and other critters overpower humans?

A means of escape and a place to escape to already are being explored as the road to survival for the human race.

The media has been treating upper-space flights by Tesla’s Elon Musk, Amazon founder and ex-CEO Jeff Bezos as fun-filled fillips of flabillionaires. But these gravity-beating sorties by far-seeing individuals may be giving us a pee into what will save mankind.

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope reached its Mars orbit in February and is man’s first mission to study the possibility of humans living on another planet. Chinese and U.S. orbiters joined it shortly that. They’re collection of data to determine if it’s feasible to colonize the red planet is more than mere curiosity.

Extinctions have barraged the earth a handful of times, the last occurring some 65 million years ago after a giant asteroid smashed into the Gulf of Mexico resulting in a catastrophic wipe-out of half of all marine organisms and a major chunk of land creatures, including the dinosaurs. There’s no certainty that a similar event can’t happen again.

Mr. Musk argues for making life multiplanetary to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something similar was to happen again.

“We need to get to Mars as quickly as possible,” he said, “to establish a base.” But he doesn’t expect us to stop there.

“One does not simply hopscotch to the stars on a whim,” he said. “It will take decades, if not centuries, to progress. We need to start now.”

The process actually began back in the ‘50s when the Russians launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth. 

In the meantime, we enjoy a bundle of health benefits spawned by the space race. They include the development of memory foam mattresses and pillows that help us sleep better, more comfortable sneakers that ease pressure on legs and feet, and scratch-resistant lenses that keep our glasses clear so we can see better and avoid falling.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

October 18, 2021 at 7:15 pm

Posted in Health

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