DEAR DR. ROACH: I recently had a hip replacement. I am 84, with hearing loss. My family says my hearing is worse after the operation. My daughter talked with several seniors who experienced the same thing. They think it has to do with the anesthesia. Fact or fiction? — D.W. ANSWER: Possibly fact. Hearing loss is a known and rare occurrence after surgery, and there are several ways in which it can happen. You mentioned anesthesia: Several anesthetic agents, especially nitrous oxide, can cause temporary hearing loss, but nitrous oxide is not used as often during surgery as it once was. Changes in the fluid pressure in the ear also can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss. Finally, antibiotics given around the time of an operation can cause hearing loss. • • • DEAR DR. ROACH: I recently attended a free introductory visit at my local health spa. It’s an interesting process. There is a circuit with 12 machines and 12 mats for doing cardio. Each exercise is done for 30 seconds, then you move to the next station. The circuit is supposed to be done twice at each session, three times per week. Can this really work to help you lose weight and get fit? Need I say again, 30 seconds ... really? Your opinion please. — E.Y.M. ANSWER: There are two questions, and the first is on fitness. There, the answer is a resounding yes. High-intensity interval training has been clearly proven to improve muscle and cardiovascular fitness. If you were to follow the program at the gym, working hard but not overdoing it, you certainly would find that your ability to do the exercises would improve, your stamina would increase, and you’d likely feel better and have more energy. A 24-minute workout (24 stations of 30 seconds each, done twice) is enough (and a LOT better than no workout at all).
Unfortunately, just doing the exercise will not make you lose much weight. Losing weight comes from better dietary habits, which can help you eat less food and still feel satisfied. The combination of increased exercise and a little less food, especially less low-quality (“junk”) food, may help you lose a few pounds.
Losing weight shouldn’t be the goal, in my opinion. Losing weight and keeping it off is tough to do, but by exercising regularly and eating well, you can dramatically improve overall health and well-being even without weight loss. • • • DEAR DR. ROACH: I have an itchy-ear problem. It even wakes me up at night. I’ve tried Cortizone-10, hydrogen peroxide solution, ear baths and cotton swabs. Nothing seems to work for long. Can you help me? — G.P. ANSWER: Stop the hydrogen peroxide — it is very drying and can damage the sensitive skin in the ear. The hydrocortisone should work for many common conditions, but if it hasn’t, then your regular doctor, a dermatologist or ENT doctor should take a look in your ear and see what is going on. Seborrheic dermatitis and eczema are common conditions that can affect the skin in the ear. • • •
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu. To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to Good Health, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
Bring on the sweet corn! Here in Iowa we enjoy some of the best sweet corn in the country, so we are always coming up with new recipes to use it in. This side dish will add great flavor and color to your next BBQ.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoonI Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light Margarine
2 cups fresh or frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1. In a large skillet sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, melt margarine. Add corn, red pepper, green pepper and onion. Saute for 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Stir in parsley and lemon pepper. Continue to saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve at once. Makes 4 (1 cup) servings.
TIP: Thaw corn by rinsing in a colander under hot water for one minute.
Be The Boss Of Your Diabetes: Three Self-Management Tips
Doctors agree: Learning all you can about your diabetes can help you stay in control of the condition.
(NAPS)—Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing conditions in the U.S. Today, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes has skyrocketed to nearly one in 10, compared to one in 100 just 50 years ago. Chances are that you or someone you know is coping with it.
What You Can Do
Hearing from your doctor that you have diabetes can be an overwhelming experience. From that day forward, your “new normal” may involve some lifestyle changes. Managing diabetes is a 24/7 responsibility, and many people don’t know where to turn for help to get started. The good news is that diabetes self-management education classes and resources are widely available. Diabetes education can help you to navigate changes and learn simple ways to improve your overall health.
Diabetes self-management means a number of key behavioral changes, including tweaks to diet and exercise, and learning to manage your medication. And while you can attempt those tweaks by yourself, you don’t need to go it alone. Most insurance plans, Medicaid and Medicare cover diabetes self-management education. Unfortunately, studies show only 6 percent of people take advantage of diabetes classes meant to help them manage their diabetes within the first year of being diagnosed.
You can get a better handle on self-management for your “new norm” with these three tips:
• Attend a diabetes education class. Most health care providers offer classes to help people with diabetes learn how to manage their condition. You’ll learn best practices and tips for meal planning, monitoring blood sugar, medications, stress management and more. In addition, many community organizations offer classes to support continued learning and management of diabetes.
• Discover healthy lifestyle ideas. As diabetes becomes increasingly prevalent, more organizations are offering a variety of classes to help support healthy living. These classes can include healthy eating tips and recipes, or a variety of fitness opportunities such as ballroom dancing or yoga. You can check a nearby community center or fitness center to see what classes they offer. Some health insurers also offer diabetes resources and classes for members and nonmembers alike at brick-and-mortar retail stores. Check with your health insurer for options.
• Get moving with easy-to-use fitness technology. Physical activity offers huge benefits for people with diabetes, including lowering blood glucose levels, helping with weight loss, and controlling blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Fitness trackers and apps for phones and tablets make it easier to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. For example, the Blue Cross “do.” app can help you choose activities and set reminders throughout the day to stand up, stretch, walk and more.
By successfully managing your diabetes, you can improve your quality of life and help prevent complications down the road—including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, eye damage, hearing impairment and more.
A diabetes diagnosis changes your life, but your new norm can lead to changes that can help you feel better and stay healthier.
For further information about diabetes self-management education and how you can help take control of your diabetes, go to www.bluecrossmn.com/newnorm.
Protect Yourself Against Financial Exploitation
“Financial exploitation is the unauthorized and illegal use of an individual’s funds, property or resources and includes identity theft,” said Susan Taylor, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Human Sciences Specialist, Family Finance. Financial exploitation is an increasingly prevalent problem throughout the United States and Iowa, and committed by a family member, friend, neighbor or a complete stranger.
Everyone is at risk of being a victim of financially exploited, but older adults are particularly vulnerable, as they often are targets of scams or depend on someone else to manage their resources.
The best way to protect yourself and those you love against financial exploitation is to be aware and guard against it through preparation.
Identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else’s personal information (name, Social Security number, Medicaid, or Medicare number, credit card, etc.) without permission. Individuals targeted through personal contact, phone cards, mail, or email. Warning signs that you or your loved one may be the victim of identity theft include:
Discovering missing money or resources.
Noticing financial activity that is inconsistent with the individual’s financial history.
Having no recollection of making financial transactions or signing paperwork.
Receiving threats of harm, neglect, restriction of visitors or abandonment if agreement to financial demands is not given.
Appearing neglected or not seeming to have money.
Ways to guard yourself against financial exploitation:
Never deal with someone who is unwilling to answer your questions or does not allow you time to confirm answers with other sources.
When purchasing a financial product or any type of service, ask the person if they are licensed or registered, ask for their number and confirm it with the suitable person.
When making a financial decision, including loaning money, insist on documentation to record the transactions, even if it is between family members.
If you are feeling pressured, tell the person that you will not make decisions without talking to someone else first.
If it your right to say “no” and you are free to hang up, leave the situation. If you are concerned for your safety, do not ever be embarrassed to mention it, about voicing your concerns or reluctant to ask questions, it is a good sign that you need to give a decision more thought.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:
Shred old financial statements, documents, credit card offers, unused credit cards and credit card convenience checks.
Keep your personal identification cards – (driver’s license, Social Security card, Medicare in a safe place or with someone you really trust.
Store financial statements, credit cards, debit cards, checks, etc. in a secure location and only carry the cards when you need them.
Only provide personal or medical information to those asking when you know who they are and why they are asking.
Beware of “free” offers for products or services that require you to provide a Social Security number, credit card information, insurance plan number, etc.
Keep a list of all your credit cards with account number, expiration date and telephone number of the customer service department in a secure place.
If you feel you are a victim of being exploited, for more information, contact the Iowa Department on Aging (800) 532-3213.
• “For gorgeous biscuits, add a bit of sugar to your biscuit mix. They brown well and have lovely golden tops. To add depth to your sausage gravy, add a tablespoon of strong coffee just before serving. My granny did both of these, and her biscuits and gravy were famously good.” — J.R. in Alabama
• “Tape pool noodles together to form a long line and secure across the width of your backyard pool to partition off an area just for the little kids. It’s not about safety, since you should be watching your kids every minute. We do this so that the bigger kids — who like to splash and dive — don’t run into the littler ones who are just floating or practicing swimming.” — W.L. in Florida
• “When my children were little, they liked to do puzzles. We had quite a lot of them. So we wouldn’t get them mixed up, as soon as we opened the box, I would put a color on the back of all the pieces. Each puzzle had a different color, of course. It saved a of time and energy.” — P.H. in Pennsylvania
• “How to bring the squeak and shine to glassware: Put 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into the water and dish soap. Try it and you’ll see it works!” --T.G. in New York
• Try a toilet brush from the dollar store to clean the gunk and dirt off your tires the next time you wash the car. It has stiff bristles that go in all directions, and a handy holder, to boot!
• Need to organize your ratchet wrenches? Use a tie rack or belt hanger and hang it off a nail on your shop wall.
• You can save dollars in the bathroom by installing low-flow showerheads. These days, there are several models that are earth-friendly but still give you a good showering experience. Always turn the water off while brushing your teeth, too!
• “My friends and I have a summer vegetable club. Each week one of us goes to the farmer’s market and buys several varieties of fruits and vegetables. Then we split it up among us. Since many of us are in single households, it makes getting a small amount of fresh produce possible, and it’s always a great surprise to see what we’ll be getting for the week.” — C.C. in Virginia
Send your tips to Now Here’s a Tip, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
When it comes to taking medication, little details can make a big difference.
(NAPS)—For people who are on one or more daily prescription medicines, forgetting to take a pill can happen from time to time. Planning ahead for such schedule-disrupting events as vacations and special events can help you stay on track and minimize any health risks that might result from not “taking as directed.”
“It’s really important to take your medication exactly as prescribed, even if you don’t feel different after missing a day or two,” explained Dr. Victoria Losinski, director of pharmacy services at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “This is especially true for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, because their risk of ending up in the hospital is 2.5 times greater when not following a doctor’s treatment plan.”
The mantra “you have to take the medicine for it to work” goes beyond diabetes control. People who don’t take their prescribed high blood pressure medication on a regular basis have a 42 percent higher chance of developing chronic heart failure. And people on high cholesterol medications are twice as likely to develop heart disease if their cholesterol is not under control.
What You Can Do
To help, here are five tried-and-true tips for strengthening your everyday prescription medication habits:
1. Talk to a pharmacist. Some drugs have very specific instructions on when to take them, whether to take them on an empty stomach, with certain foods or to avoid in conjunction with certain medications. Your pharmacist can help you understand your medications and map a plan to stay on track. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota members can also call the number on the back of their cards and speak with a nurse guide.
2. Write it down. If you’ve got several medications to manage, write down the details to keep them straight. Consider using a small one-page calendar, such as the kind found in a checkbook or available through a downloadable tracker, to mark off that you have taken your meds each day.
3. Get organized. Using a pillbox is a simple low-tech way to make sure you take exactly what you need when you need it. There are also pharmacies, including PillPack, that sort your prescriptions, vitamins and other over-the-counter medicines into dated packets to make taking your meds even easier. You can also ask your pharmacy if it offers a similar program.
4. Set an alarm. Use your smart-phone to schedule reminders. If you’re looking for an app, try Rxremind, which can be downloaded for iPhone or for Android.
5. Refill on time. Accessing your pharmacy’s auto-refill program, requesting a 90-day supply and using a mail-order prescription service are all good ways to help make sure you don’t run out and miss your medication.