Once You're Through Learning, You're Through"
-John Wooden, retired UCLA basketball coach, 97 years old-
So much news to catch-up on. Here we go. In no particular order. I just need to download quickly, to make room for new information. And this is just a fraction! My apologies.
The Best Advice for Adult Children Caring for a Seriously Ill Parent
This comes from Wise Counsel at Unexpected Moments, by Dale Russakoff in the NYT. Ms. Russakoff was a young working mother, with 2 small children when she was suddenly plunged into caring for her 78 year old mom with dementia, depression, angry outbursts & later, loss of speech. This essay is powerful. Having gone through long difficult illnesses with my own parents, I can attest to this wonderful advice. We all get there sooner or later.
1. Just Don't Hurry - dressing, eating, talking, getting in & out of wheelchairs, going to the bathroom - it all takes lots of time. Advice from a flight attendant.
2. "Your mother could live another 20 years. And if she does, you won't." You can't keep up the pace of everyday caretaking, or daily visits, without running yourself into the ground - or neglecting your own family. Be gentle on yourself. Advice from a nursing home nurse.
3. Be a duck. When an ill parent (or anyone else for that matter) lashes out at you with anger or frustration, "be a duck" - let it roll off your back. This mental trick will short-circuit your hurt & anger, & stop you from "sweating the small stuff". Advice from the author's Aunt Sherry.
4. People communicate all the time without words. One-way conversation are tough & isolating when a parent can no longer speak because of dementia or strokes. Remember music, touch, photos, art, taste, smiles, walks outside & always the eyes. Advice from Suzanne Southworth, a clinical psychologist.
5. “Mommy, when you get old, are you going to be like Nana?” Remember, you're not just a daughter or son--you're a parent. For better or worse children are watching us carefully, and perhaps drawing lifelong lessons. Advice from the author's 7 year old son.
What's Wrong with Cancer Tests
Last week's news brought questions about the wisdom of screening men for prostate cancer with the PSA test. Past research has brought up questions about mammography and colonoscopies.
I just had my annual mammogram and I had a colonoscopy last year. I'm not willing to give up on these diagnostic tools, but it's worth getting a balanced view of how overtreatment & screening tests can sometimes cause more harm than good. Better to be knowledgeable of what your tests results might really mean.
Shannon Brownlee, the author of Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker & Poorer, is a senior fellow at the New American Foundation. If you want to be an informed consumer, and don't have the time to read her book, take a look at her article in the April 2009 Reader's Digest. Click here. You'll be glad you did.
The Ick Factor. When Medical Advice Gets Mixed Up With Marketing. Dr. Oz & the RealAge Quiz.
Everyone has heard of Dr. Oz, seen him Oprah, read or heard of his books, and maybe even gone onto the RealAge website to take the Quiz that will tell you "How Old You Really Are!"
Recently the New York Times ran an article about how drug companies pay RealAge for the email addresses of the people who take the RealAge quiz. With email addresses in hand, drug companies can provide us with "targeted information" on the drugs that will help our most pressing concerns: heart disease, high cholesterol, menopause, or osteoporosis.
27 million people have taken the Quiz. 9 million people have become RealAge "members".
The catch. If you want to become a member of RealAge & get "personalized" health updates, you are opting into drug company advertising. This doesn't seem like much of a revelation to me. But, it's still disappointing to hear that on one hand Dr. Oz is touting drug-free wellness behaviors, while at the same time he's selling his audience off to drug company marketeers.
So forget about the RealAge Quiz & get some wise counsel on your risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis & diabetes from a medical university site.
Washington University & Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation of St. Louis have an excellent research-backed health risk assessment quiz site. There's no sign-up, advertising or pharmaceutical backing. Here's the quiz link.
I took 2 of the quizzes & found the questions relevant & the results on-target. Thanks to Tara Parker-Pope for providing this resource.
How Healthy is Your Daily Diet? An $8 Urine Test Might Tell You
Sometimes the most simple ideas are the best. Not for general consumption yet--but this well designed study published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition accurately measured the quality of one's diet far better than any food diary is able to do.
By measuring the level of potassium in one's urine the researchers got an accurate measurement of what their study participants had eaten in a 24 hour period. A high potassium level meant a diet high in fruits, vegetables & whole grains. A low potassium level correlated to a diet high in red meat, fast food, and sugar. The higher the potassium level--the lower the BMI & the lower the blood pressure.
Thanks to Gwen, at the Low Life Cholesterol Blog for sharing this story.
An Apple a Day Just May Keep Breast Cancer Away
Six studies published in the past year by a Cornell researcher add to growing evidence that an apple a day -- as well as daily helpings of other fruits and vegetables -- can help keep the breast-cancer doctor away. OK--I admit it, the research was done on rats, but it confirmed the research group's earlier studies, and it's certainly worth paying attention to. Apple eaters had fewer tumors and they were slower growing & less malignant, as compared to the non-apple-eaters. The lowest tumor levels were in the group that ate the equivalent of 6 apples a day. To read more, click here.
For some guidance on choosing your fruits. Americans get about 33 percent of phenolics from apples. This chart from one of Liu's recent papers shows the percentage of phenolics (phytochemicals) that Americans get from various fruits. (Credit: Image courtesy of Cornell University)
8 Tips for Making Yourself Feel Better in a Crisis
Don't even ask. Everyone has some kind of crisis on their plate these days. This comes from Gretchen Rubin, the happiness guru/student from The Happiness Project. It's complete, wise, and at one time or another I've put everyone of these into play.
1. Remind yourself, "It could be worse."
2. Remember your body. Exercise, eat right, get rest.
3. Do something fun. Distract yourself & re-charge your batteries.
4. Take action. Identify the problem in order to take the best action.
5. Look for meaning. Look for the positive in the negative.
6. Spend time with friends & family. DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF!
7. Make something better. If you can't fix the big thing--fix something little. Clean a closet or work in the yard.
8. Act toward other people the way you wish they'd act toward you. When you're feeling very low, it can be hard to muster the energy to help someone else, but you'll be amazed at how much better it will make you feel.