Thursday, June 4, 2015

Life Expectancy Higher for Women

If God made Eve from Adam's rib, perhaps he learned a few things after making Adam that he was able to apply to Eve. It turns out that women are just biologically superior to men - and they're made that way.
women are made better

Life expectancy in the U.S. is different for girls and boys: A girl born in 2012 can expect to live to 81.2 years—almost 5 years longer than a boy baby born the same year, who’s likely live to age 76.4.

Did you know that two and a half as many boys are conceived as girls, but they’re so much more likely to succumb to prenatal infection or other issues in the womb that by the time they’re born, the ratio is close to one to one. Guys also slower to develop physically than girls prenatally, which means they’re more likely to die if they are preemies due to underdeveloped lung or brain development. Women start out from the womb as superior beings. That's why guys don't have a chance.

Men are born daredevils
Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in men, for women it’s only the sixth. You can blame it on biology: The primordial frontal lobes of the brain—which deal with responsibility and risk calculation—develop much more slowly in males than females. No wonder that they’re always more calculating.

Guys often take many more risks and long for thrills a women would avoid. It’s in their blood. It’s the way they were made. It's the way that they attract women - at least that's what they believe.

Men succumb to heart disease earlier
Heart disease is still the leading killer of both men and women, but men are more likely to develop it—and die from it—as early as their 30's and 40's. Women, on the other hand, typically develop heart disease 10 years later than men. They’re protected from it until menopause, since their bodies churn out estrogen, which helps keep their arteries strong and flexible.

Men lack strong social networks
Friends make good medicine: People with strong social connections have a 50% lower chance of dying than those with few social ties, according to a 2010 study at Brigham Young University. Men tend to hold in their stress and worries, while women tend to reach out and talk to others.

Men don’t take care of their health as well as women
Men are 24% less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year and are 22% more likely to skip out on cholesterol testing, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In fact, more 28% of men don’t have a regular physician and about one in five didn’t even have health insurance in 2012.

Maybe we can blame it on the machismo of men,  so-called "John Wayne syndrome": “Men often deny illness; they minimize symptoms because they don’t want to go to a doctor and find out something is wrong.” 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Younger Dementia Patients Experience Different problems

While memory loss is thought to be a classical first sign of Alzheimer’s disease, some middle-aged people and younger seniors may initially experience different cognitive problems - such as trouble with language or problem solving, a large U.S. study suggests.

This can be a scary experience as most of us older workers have probably already seen our younger counterparts figure things out faster in the workforce.

In a new study, researchers reviewed data on early symptoms for almost 8,000 Alzheimer’s patients and found one in four people under age 60 had a chief complaint unrelated to memory, although memory was still the common problem overall.

Inside the brain, Alzheimer’s is associated with abnormal clumps known as amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers, often called tau or tangles. Scientists suspect that the damage begins in the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in memory. 

A new study reviewed neurological test results from a large U.S. database of Alzheimer’s patients to see whether the early symptoms people reported differed by age.

On average, patients were 75 years old when they first sought treatment for Alzheimer’s, though they ranged in age from 36 to 110. Most of them had mild to moderate forms of dementia. 

Among the patients who reported cognitive difficulties as their first symptoms, the proportion citing something other than memory (like confusion, getting lost, or not being able to find the right word) shrank with increasing age. One in five patients in their 60s cited difficulties unrelated to memory, but this dropped to one in 10 for people in their 70s. 

So what does this mean? That at first we're just confused but eventually we just give up and accept that we're useless and old? Perhaps another study will tell.

Understanding how Alzheimer’s or symptoms of dementia might surface in younger patients is crucial for diagnosing them sooner and starting treatment at a point when it can do the most good. Unfortunately,
the best available medicine today can only turn back the clock, reversing symptoms enough to give patients the same abilities they had up to a year earlier.

Right now with the medicines available you can’t slow the clock down, you can just reset it. It would be much better if we could take a pill to dial our memory back to repeat a year in our 60s - rather than in our 80s. Perhaps science will find a way.

You can download a free form for helping you see the warning signs of dementia on:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sometimes the worst cognitive decline comes form being alone

There is a general belief that activities that stimulate the mind help to slow its decline in people with dementia. Cognitive stimulation provides older people with activities intended to stimulate thinking, memory and social interaction, in order to delay the worsening of dementia symptoms.
What is "cognitive stimulation"? Basically, small groups of people getting together in a controlled setting and having discussions, playing word games or listening to music and even baking.
All activities should be designed to stimulate thinking and memory. In recent tests, "cognitive stimulation" was compared with "standard care giving" for elderly people. "Standard care giving" usualy includes medicine, day care or visits from community mental health workers, or in some cases alternative activities such as watching TV and physical therapy.
The cognitive stimulation activities left positive effects in each participant, when tested afterwards. Those who received "cognitive stimulation interventions" scored significantly higher in cognitive function tests, which measure improvements in memory and thinking. These benefits were still being seen one to three months after treatment. In addition, positive effects on social interaction, communication and quality of life or well-being were observed in a smaller number of the trials, based on self-reported or carer-reported measures.
This testing showed that social interaction, when based around memory and thinking, has positive effects. So playing cards, mah-jong, or gin rummy really can deliver big benefits amongst the elderly.
So if you know someone old. Don't let them sit in front of the TV alone. Stimulate their mind and they might stay an active participant in this world a while longer!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why 60's Music at Ski Lodges?

I was skiing over the Holidays in the local mountains and stopped in for a rest when suddenly I heard an old Doors song blaring out o the lodge. The song was "The Spy". It transformed me back to a previous ski trip at June Lake where there were no lift lines, no dour-faced kids on snowboards trying to be the baddest or the coolest, there were just old skiers.

On this particular day at June Lake, I was with my sister and brother-in-law at some highly remote "blue square run" at what must have been the top of June Mountain . This particular run took a 3-hour chair lift to reach the top. We laughed, and drank lots of some liquor called "Drambuie", so the time passed quickly, though it seemed we had reached somewhere near the Himalayas. There were no other skiers to be seen, the sun was bright, the snow, powdery and white, and as we skied down to another lift, we stopped at this rustic, remote, log cabin outpost that was serving up burgers and beer. We and sat back to enjoy the scenery and breathe in the cool mountain air when suddenly, in full-bore, the music blares out over the loudspeakers and it's Quicksilver Messenger Service playing "The Fool".

Quicksilver Messenger Service was a 60's San Francisco band that played long guitar solos and incredible riffs that made you feel like dancing. They had an unforgettable sound. This particular song (The Fool) came from an album that was one of my favorites. I think it had a black cover with artistic red lettering drawn by artist Rick Griffin. On the back of the album was the images of the band members and they all had hair down to their asses and they looked all soulful and into the Haight love theme.

I never saw Quicksilver on any of my my trips to the Avalon Ballroom. If anyone reading this did, I hope that they'll share their experience here. I do know that after an album called "Happy Trails" they did another album with some Italian guy named "Dino" and he kind of took over the original Quicksilver sound with his nasal wails.

So there we are, looking out at the bright sun on snow, quaffing a Heineken, and having a severe 60's flashback.

I guess this begs the question -- why do they always play 60's music at ski lodges? Does anyone know the answer?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hernia Repair Surgery

Having a hernia is bad, but having a hernia repaired can be worse. At least for the first three weeks after surgery -- especially if you're over 50 years old.

My hernia surgery was to repair a large hernia I had fixed 20-something years ago. It popped out while I was surfing. While having a hernia wasn't acutely painful, it did offer a vague feeling that my guts were hanging out of my abdomen if I stood up for over ten minutes. It just felt "wrong" like there was a weakness in my right groin.

Surgery for a hernia begins like most other surgeries. You make an appointment, you show up at the surgery center, pay an enormous co-pay, and then eventually are escorted to a little room where you are requested to don your special hospital clothes (paper shower cap, paper booties, and a gown that lets your butt flap around in the wind).

Eventually you're escorted onto the big surgical table and there is a blanket that looks like bubble wrap. But there's hot hair blowing into it -- kind of like a hair dryer from the 1950's. Once they put warm bubble-wrap on you don't even care that they're poking some giant-ass needle in your arm.

Next thing I know I'm in a recovery room with other people, and my groin hurts like hell! The nurse arrives and asks me in a pleasant low voice how I'm doing. I'm trying to be polite and not shout but it feels like someone has my right nut in a vice and it's extremely hard to talk softly when the vice is tightening on my right nut.

The nurse reappears with crackers, water and a giant Vicodin which I gobble up gratefully. Now the vise is no longer tightening on my right nut, but the pain is throbbing like my insides are tisted in a knot. The nurse politely asks me to "quantify" the pain on a scale of one to ten. It's really hard to concentrate on a scale of one to ten when your insides are twisting in a knot, and cracker crumbs are all over your face, and your ass is hanging out of a gown. I said something like "nine" and was rewarded with another Vicodin and more water and soda crackers. Now I'm feeling pretty good until some alarm starts ringing because my blood pressure is too high. By relaxing with the Vicodin, and finding the "zen within" the ringing alarm stops and I can go home.

Once home I fall esleep and wake up in two hours to pee. Only to get out of bed is a slow, very painful procedure that involes rolling over in slow-motion, eventually getting one foot on the floor, then the other foot, and then the extremely painful part of lifting yourself up from this half-ass position to full upright. It feels exactly like there is a giant vice grip pinching the hell out of your right side. It's so painful you feel like you're going to pass out, and a couple of times I was so light-headed I saw stars. But then, once mastering the "getting up" maneuver, you waddle, very slowly, and bowlegged, as your nuts are the size of pool balls and your nutsack is so swollen it's stuck to the side of your legs, into the bathroom.

Once in the bathroom you make a new discovery. You have to pee, but dispite the agony you've endured to get there, nothing wants to come out. It's really quite discouraging. There is no relief. I found that standing at a 45-degree angle bent over the toilet and achieving a total zen-like state of relaxation allows the dribble to start. I'm willing to settle for a dribble , it's a hell of a better option than a cathether! By now it's 20-minutes later and my forehead is resting on the cabinet behind the toilet so I can keep this 45-degree angle without falling over on my face, but the pee is still slowly dribbling out.

This process is repeated every two hours throughout the night. Apparently, when you get a hernia operation after age 50, all your body parts tend to swell up. Body parts like your bladder, and your prostate and all the great things that help you pee. But the exercise of getting out of bed or off the couch to pee is good medicine, even though it may not feel like it at the time. Just remind yourself how awful it would be to have some nurse who was just beaten by her husband cramming a tube down your tiny little bruised weenie. Suddenly, the whole painful process of getting out of bed and standing there dribbling over the toilet will feel a whole lot better.

Within a few days my privates were looking like I would imagine you'd find on some huge black stud like "Shaft". Everything was huge, black, and swollen. Even though I was looking like a "bad mother..." I can't walk without shuffling bowlegged like an 80-year-old as my nuts were so swollen they wanted to stick to my legs. I tried wearing bunhuggers, and finally tried on a jockstrap -- which offered major support and changed my life.

The pain pills were good, at first. But they make you constipated and when everything hurts, taking a dump becomes a major feat. Just getting off the toilet by yourself is a major deal. So be sure and eat tons of bran, and metamucil. Stool softeners often contain salt, which makes your blood pressure soar. Check with your pharmacy as there's some stool softeners made with calcium instead of salt. They cost more, but won't effect your blood pressure.

So now, three weeks later I'm almost normal. I can pee standing vertical, and the pain is almost gone and life is becoming good again. Just remember, things will get better. Your nuts will eventually shrink and turn back to your original color, and you might even have a few pain pills left over for other painful events in your life that are still to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Woodstock -- Were You There?

I never made it to Woodstock. By 1969 I was through with musical events filled with masses of stoned people. From a California perspective it seemed as though the era had ended. The hippies had gone home and masses of nuts and crazies were arriving from God-forsaken backwoods communities with long hair and a yin for acting self-absorbed and cool. I hated them.

But George Thoren has just written a great short story about what it was like to travel from a small conservative Southern California town to Woodstock, NY in 1969. Read it and you can almost smell the haze of sickly-sweet smoke as the bands start up. George finagled his way to the front -- right behind the wood fence, near where this image was taken. His story takes you back in time, to a place where people cared for each other -- and complete strangers.

Read George's The Road to Woodstock by clicking this link.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dementia in Aging Tracked to High Cholesterol

People as young as 40 with borderline or high cholesterol levels are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia when they grow old and feeble

Researchers tracked nearly 10,000 people for four decades, starting when the participants were between 40 and 45. After controlling for weight, hypertension and diabetes, researchers discovered a significant link between borderline-high cholesterol and dementia, according to the study.

Participants in the study who had high cholesterol, or a value of 240 or more, had a 66 percent greater risk of developing dementia later in life. People with borderline-high cholesterol, between 200 and 239, had a 25 percent spike in risk.

Dementia workers and assisted living homes are preparing now for the influx of Boomers to arrive soon! More than 106 million Americans have borderline-high cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association. That’s big business for residential care facilities.

The first step to lowering high cholesterol is to use a three-pronged approach of daily exercise, stress reduction and nutrition – or take the easy way and head to the doctor and get a prescription for statin drugs. A diet rich in olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fiber, fresh fruit, vegetables is best. Limit your red meat intake to almost none. Maybe none is better.

Supplements such as plant sterols and red yeast rice are also effective when taken in conjunction with a healthy diet. A recent study showed that red yeast rice decreased the body's production of cholesterol and lowered a person's LDL, or bad, cholesterol by 27 percent over a three-month period.

So if you want to avoid some stranger making wiping your butt and spooning your food in your old age, the time is now to start eating tons of yummy food like red yeast rice, or oat bran, oatmeal and fish oil. hmmm sounds real good huh?.

Click here to find out more about symptoms of dementia.