“Dem bones” can cause pain as we age

“Dem bones” can cause pain as we age

Our body is a wonderous interconnected organism.

We learned that fact as kids. Remember that old song, “Dem Bones.” The leg bone's connected to the knee bone. The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. Now shake dem skeleton bones!

As we get older, that system is more fragile, and when it is thrown out of balance, a warning, in the form of pain, may appear in a totally new place. That’s what happened to me.

At almost 66 years old, I have been fortunate to never have lower back pain. Until now.

Lying in bed hurts, sitting in a chair hurts, walking hurts and bending down to pick up something off the floor hurts. Not incapacitating hurt, but I certainly have new appreciation for the folks who have back pain in their lives.

End of life talks are difficult but important

End of life talks are difficult but important

I am unsure how it came to be, but over the last number of years I have become rather involved in the topic of end-of-life choices.

For one, I sit on the Steering Committee for the Ventura County Coalition for Compassionate Care (VCCCC), a nonprofit organization advocating for the discussion and documentation of end-of-life wishes.

One of our projects I am most proud of is a 15-minute public service video we produced with Kerri Kasem, the daughter of radio host Casey Kasem. Along with others in the video, she demonstrates the importance of making healthcare decisions in advance, documenting them, and discussing them with physicians and family. You can view the video at www.vcccc.org.

Secondly, I sit on the Clinical Ethics Advisory Committee for a local hospital.

Men are reluctant to share health concerns

Men are reluctant to share health concerns

I’d like to start a campaign to encourage older men to address their health issues with their doctor.

I have a dear sixty-something friend who recently expressed frustration because her husband refuses to get medical attention.  

Statistically, men are more likely than women to be stubborn about seeing a doctor, even when they are sick or in pain.

According to a Cleveland Clinic survey only 3 in 5 men go to the doctor for a routine check-up, and when something is wrong, 61% of men say it has to get unbearable before they'll go see a doctor.

This same study found that 72% of men would prefer to do household chores, like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, than go to the doctor.

Be diligent when taking generic medications

Be diligent when taking generic medications

When it comes to taking prescription medications, I am fortunate that I take only one medication and it’s a generic one.

I have taken this medication for years now. Each time I get a refill, I receive the same familiar yellow colored, flat oval tablet with tapered ends.

I don’t use a pill dispenser since I am only taking this one medication, once a day. I just combine the few supplements I take with my prescription medication in one bottle and each morning pop one of each into my mouth during my morning routine.

So, when I visited my mother recently, I was left speechless by the navigating she had to do in her medication journey.

My mother showed me a huge supply of pills that her online pharmacy has sent her, as well as some she received from her local CVS.

For older adults, preparing for doctor’s appointments is essential

For older adults, preparing for doctor’s appointments is essential

I call January my health month because it is when I schedule my annual doctor appointments, with my primary care physician as well as the specialists I see.

One certainty is that almost all of us will have an annual wellness exam or an appointment to address a specific health concern in the coming year.

No one ever teaches us how to prepare for these appointments, but it is important if you want to get the most out of your visit. Most physicians have limited time to devote to a patient visit, so being prepared and succinct can go a long way to getting your concerns addressed.

The first place I like to start is to have a list of my supplements and medications, with dosage levels, ready to hand to the doctor or nurse.

The benefits of lipreading for older adults

The benefits of lipreading for older adults

Many older adults are relieved that most people no longer feel the need to wear face masks.

The reason is one you may not suspect; Unmasking gives us the ability to lipread.

Lipreading is defined as the art of being able to see speech sounds. It is often called speechreading because people use other clues - such as facial expressions, gestures, and surroundings - to help them understand what is being said.

Most people who can hear clearly process some speech information by watching the moving mouth. In fact, in good conditions, about 40 percent of the sounds in the English language can be seen on the lips. Lipreading is very helpful in communicating during noisy situations.

Nutrition requirements change as we age

Nutrition requirements change as we age

Restaurant dining has always been a joyful experience for me.

In terms of aesthetics – at lunch, I enjoy the respite from my workday and at dinner, conversations with my husband or friends.

Regarding the food, in both cases I like trying new dishes as well as appreciating old favorites.

But in these last few years, something has changed with regards to my dining out; the amount of food I eat during those meals.

There was a time I could eat a whole sandwich at lunch or a full plate of pasta for dinner. Now, as I search menu options, I look for cups of soup, smaller appetizer portions, side salads or half orders of pasta.

Primary care providers are hard to come by

Primary care providers are hard to come by

Primary care providers are hard to come by

In the past five years I have had four primary care physicians. No, I am not a difficult patient, I am the product of changing dynamics in the practice of primary care.

Five years ago, I had a primary care physician I really liked. She listened to me and provided good quality care.

However, she was struggling. As the healthcare industry shifted to volume-based care, it limited her ability to offer a quality experience for her patients. She was challenged with rising operating costs, a larger administrative burden, and cuts in insurance reimbursement. 

So, she decided to “go concierge.”

Change of pace: Consider walking for your next get together

Change of pace: Consider walking for your next get together

It might sound like a random invitation, but at a recent holiday gathering of women friends, a community acquaintance, Terry, invited me to go for a walk.

We had been talking about feeling a bit stressed and sad watching some of the rude behavior of others whether in the media or in our daily lives.

Always a positive person, Terry explained that she had some therapy she wanted to share with me. She explained how she recently invited a friend on a long beach walk, and how wonderful she felt afterward. 

She noted that her mood had improved. She said because of the conversation during the walk, she felt a closer connection to her friend. 

Be mindful: Most bad falls have a cause

Be mindful: Most bad falls have a cause

For weeks, friends and neighbors worked on planning a surprise block party for my friend Margaret’s 90th birthday. On the big day, over 50 people showed up with food, drink and gifts to celebrate this amazing lady.

Several of the neighbors who attended the party had read my Acorn column about my fall. Soon I had a group of women surrounding me talking about their recent falls—their broken bones, black eyes and ongoing recoveries. In each case, these women recounted the accident that resulted in their fall. We all listened with sympathy and understanding.

Since my fall, I have

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