*** March 2010 ***
* E-zine *

This Month's Highlights:
· Indoor Air Quality
· Good Medicine, Easy to Take
· Scambuster Kit


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Yup. Its true. Indoor air quality is important, and "stuffy air" is bad for all of us. Especially for seniors, or for asthma sufferers living in the home. To a caregiver, stuffy air can be a sign the resident senior needs help with a thorough house cleaning. Good indoor air quality is important enough for the health of Americans that the Environmental Protection Agency even has an online demonstration for you that illustrates some important factors when you consider your own home's indoor air quality:

seniorresource home

During the wintertime, windows and doors are shut, and sometimes sealed, and problems increase. Got pets? Dander and hair build up in a closed-up home. Do you see moisture on the walls of your home, or the home of someone you look after? That is a sign of possible mildew and fungus. If the forced-air furnace system in your home has a dirty filter, your lungs are breathing in the dirt it can't handle, along with any mold, fungus, and mildew spores from the cultures possibly growing in the old filter. Since those filters can be mounted up high, or conversely, down low to the floor, it can be physically difficult for a senior to climb a ladder, or bend down low to change them. If you're a caregiver, be sure and have a look for yourself... and write down the size printed on the filter. You'll find a wide variety of sizes at the home improvement store. You can even find activated charcoal-enhanced filters online to help remove odors.

Dust and mildew spores are not all we have to be concerned with, either, when thinking about indoor air. Your beautiful vintage gas stove needs to be adjusted by a professional to be sure it isn't giving off unburned gas, and that it is properly vented. Carbon monoxide is also very dangerous. And NEVER allow a bar-b-que to be used as a heat source indoors--those coals give off deadly carbon monoxide. The same goes for generators used in colder areas.

Tobacco smoke and household chemicals are a problem, too; try not to smoke indoors, and keep your use of chemicals such as oven cleaners, to a minimum. Do you own a wood stove? These popular heating systems need monitoring. Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are both a danger that must be monitored when a wood stove is in use. And using pesticides indoors with the windows shut isn't the best idea, either.

Sometimes Mother Nature adds to our problems. Radon gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can build up in the home. It has no smell or taste, but you can test for radon simply and effectively with an inexpensive, qualified radon detector. The home itself can be a problem, especially if it's brand new. Formaldehyde can be found in carpet, plywood and wallboard, and a wide variety of glues and coatings employed in building and trailer construction. Formaldehyde can cause skin rash, respiratory problems, and headaches, among other symptoms. Fresh air in the home is the answer. Take note of the dust when you visit? Think "air quality" and make the simple changes for better health!

See books on indoor air pollution books here:

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You'll have to forgive me if I sound like a pusher of heart fitness exercise, but I've recently had two heart attacks, and am now in a cardiac rehab program that, along with dietary and psychological and medical help, are going to help me get stronger generally and set me on a better path to good health.

I must tell you that if you've never suffered a heart attack (it's also called a myocardial infarction) you haven't missed anything. It's terribly frightening, dangerous, and you'll spend a long time recovering. You'll take a lot of pills, your muscles will waste and your ability to walk will decrease from being in bed, and even if you've been a runner, a golfer, a swimmer, a tennis player, you'll have to get strong again by learning to exercise your heart, not just your arms and legs. And if you've been a couch potato, this will be your chance to truly change your life. You'll meet a new group of people who care about their cardiac health, are learning to take good care of themselves, and have a good time doing it. Here's how:

Your heart doctor will most likely refer you to a cardiac rehab program once you've been cleared for exercise (generally a month or so after your "incident"), and there you'll find the most concerned and well trained nurses and therapists you've probably ever met. These people do more than take your blood pressure and watch your heart rhythm on-screen: they'll ask what you eat and perhaps give you information so you can change your diet (say goodbye to steak twice a week), refer you to a dietitian, or a psychologist if you have "post-attack sadness," a common after-effect, encourage you when you're working out on those contraptions you thought only 20-somethings used at the gym while exercising their thumbs on their BlackBerries, and hug you when they say goodbye for the day.

The clients/patients you'll meet there probably have had similar experiences to yours, and they'll tell you their stories if you tell them yours. You'll use those bicycles and treadmills and those machines you turn with your arms, and all the time you're working those machines or walking that track around the gym, your blood pressure will go up to expand your blood vessels and send healthy blood circulating through your heart and the rest of your body. When you finish your workout hour, you'll feel--not tired, but exhilarate--because you've done something positively good for yourself.

After you've completed your thrice-weekly month or so at the rehab gym and learned to eat and live heart-healthy, don't stop there! Enroll at your local Y or gym, and continue your workouts; it's important that you do.

Now for the information you don't want to read: In a seminar given by the American College of Sports Medicine last year, Richard Cotton, MA, National Director of Certification of that organization (, spoke of the need for exercise in our lives, especially as we grow older.

Cotton noted that the benefit of exercise in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease (and heart disease IS chronic once you have it) cannot be denied, and no patient should leave a health provider's office without an assessment of his or her physical activity, and at a minimum, basic exercise guidance or a referral to a fitness professional should be given. It goes without saying that cardiac patients absolutely should have such a referral.

He noted that the leading causes of death in the U.S. as of the end of last year were tobacco use (18.1%), and poor diet and physical inactivity (16.6%) per thousand people. That's pretty alarming--the third most common cause of death is alcohol use, which came in at a paltry 3.5%.

In a nine-year study, 1045 women and men with coronary artery disease were followed. There were 489 deaths in 7,284 patient years of follow-up, and those people's physical activity was assessed at baseline and at three years of follow-up. The main causes of death were low cardiac fitness at 17%, and high blood pressure (16%). Despite recent calls by our presidents, this rate has not changed significantly from 2004 (JAMA, March 10, 2004). Both of these causes of mortality could have been lowered significantly if these people had exercised to strengthen their cardiac health.

S.N. Blair, in "Physical Inactivity: The Biggest Public Health Problem of the 21st Century" (Br J Sports Med 1009;43:1-2) found that the more people exercised, the lower their illness and death rate. That seems like common sense, but many of us don't get enough exercise. I've been talking about heart issues, but here's something you might consider: Dementia is such a common illness that we don't even think of exercise in the prevention or modification of its effects. But both men and women over 65 who exercised lowered their incidence of dementia significantly. All that blood going to the brain helps stir things up, I guess.

And obesity--what an ugly word! Here's the good news:

  • It's better to be fat and fit than skinny and unfit.A low level of fitness is a bigger risk factor for mortality than mild to moderate obesity.
  • The benefits of physical activity are the same regardless how much you weigh.

I'll quit nagging you in just a minute, but I wanted you to know that according to A. Dunn et al, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005, exercise is as good as other treatments for clinical depression. Drug therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy produce remission in about 40% of clinically depressed individuals. Exercise evidently produces a little better than 40% remission--and it costs a lot less than a psychologist visit!

Here's a hint to get you started if you've got a heart problem, if you're depressed, or even if you aren't; if you want to stop smoking, or control your blood pressure, or lose some weight and gain some muscle, maybe want to get rid of some of those drugs you've been taking for these problems--walk!

Check with your doctor, and if she says it's okay, get yourself a pedometer (you can get a pretty good one for under $20) and set a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. Sounds like a lot, but you'll be surprised. I hope that'll be in a good way, but even if you start out at 2000 steps a day, it's your beginning point. Use it as a baseline, and try to increase your walking by a hundred steps a day until you reach that 10,000 goal. You'll feel healthier, heck, you'll BE healthier, you'll have some more muscle, your heart will pump better, you'll lose a bit of fat, and maybe you'll see some new flowers you hadn't noticed blooming, maybe you'll meet the neighbor's kids, maybe a bird will poop on your hat--you never know!

Find exercise gear at:

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1. Failure to Diversify--One of the Leading Retirement Mistakes
Remember what Mom said? "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Investors should buy investments that are not concentrated into one asset class industry, company, or country. Your investments should be in different "baskets." Thus, if some of the baskets underperform hopefully the losses will be manageable. In diversifying it is essential that your investments not be correlated with each other. For example, some companies are more sensitive to the price of oil than others. Having a set of stocks that are all sensitive to the price of oil would not be a conservative investment approach.

Whether you have stocks or mutual funds, here are some techniques to diversify your portfolio:

  1. Industry: Be sure there is proper participation from non-correlated industries.
  2. Asset classes: Since stocks and bonds do not generally correlate with each other, having some of each will help you diversify.
  3. Country: Investing can be an equal country opportunity. Investing in foreign stocks and bonds provides diversification. This can be done directly or via a mutual fund.
  4. Target-Date Funds: These mutual funds are geared toward a specific age group. The funds invest in a mix of stocks and bonds, a mix that automatically becomes more conservative as its investors approach retirement.
Get investment-related books at


2. Delaying the Aging Process Protects Against Alzheimer's Disease
Aging is the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. In their latest study, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that simply slowing the aging process in mice prone to develop Alzheimer's disease prevented their brains from turning into a neuronal wasteland.

"Our study opens up a whole new avenue of looking at the disease," says the study's leader, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Andrew Dillin, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Salk Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory. "Going forward, looking at the way we age may actually have more impact on the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease than studying the basic biology of the disease itself."

Their finding, published in the Dec. 11, 2009 issue of the journal Cell, is the latest clue in the Salk scientists' ongoing quest to shed light on the question of whether Alzheimer's disease onset late in life is a disastrous consequence of the aging process itself or whether the beta amyloid aggregates that cause the disease simply take a long time to form.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies (10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037) is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions.

Additional aging process information may be found at
Get aging-related books at

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We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Kathy Ireland - "Beauty comes in all ages, colors, shapes, and forms. God never makes junk."

Niki Taylor - "Stick to the basics, hold on to your family and friends--they will never go out of fashion."

Raul Julia - "What's behind me is not important!"

Rob Reiner - "People can be ignorant and still have loving, human qualities."

Willard Scott - "Positive feelings come from being honest about yourself and accepting your personality and physical characteristics."

More "Thoughts" at: get some books at

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1. Guide or National Guard Retirees
Army Retirement Services provides information on benefits and entitlements to active duty soldiers and their families preparing for retirement and to retired soldiers and their families through their website and Army Installation Retirement Services Officers (RSO). In addition the army has published a 56-page retirement guide for National Guard soldiers and their families. The guide covers subjects ranging from retirement point credits to how to apply for retirement pay. The "Army National Guard Information Guide on Non-Regular Retirement" was a collaboration between the Army Retirement Services division and the National Guard. The guide helps ensure that National Guard soldiers and their families receive the army's full support before and after retirement.

The guide is also available online at:

2. Senior Scambuster Kit at No Cost to You
The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) offers a Senior Scambuster Kit. This kit includes a number of DCA publications of particular interest to seniors. It's a great resource to have handy wherever seniors, or those who care for them, gather. The kit is available at no cost, and you don't have to live in California to take advantage of some of the tips.

The publications included in the Senior Scambuster Kit can also be viewed online at If you would like hard copies of the kit, call DCA's Policy & Publications Development Office toll-free at (866) 320-8652

Here are some of the publications included in the kit:

- Lemon-Aid for Consumers
- A Consumer's Guide to Auto Repair
- In-Home Services Fact Sheet
- Top 10 Tips for Identity Theft Victims
- What Seniors Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor
- Basic Facts About Telemarketing
- Sound Advice About Hearing Aids
- Generic Drugs: Real Medicines at High Quality, Low Cost

While the publications may have a California slant, they provide sound information for all seniors

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Cogent Quips From Officer O'Quin

- "Take your hands off the car, and I'll make your birth certificate a worthless document."
- "So you don't know how fast you were going. I guess that means I can write anything I want on the ticket, huh?"
- "Yes, Sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh ... did I mention that I AM the shift supervisor?"
- " Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."
- "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog?"
- "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy, and step in goat poop."

Strength of the Irish
Sean was trapped in a bog and seemed a goner when Big Paddy O' Patrick wandered by.
"Help!" Sean shouted, "Me 'orse and Oi'm sinkin'!"
"Don't worry," assured Mick. "Next to the Strong O'Kennedy, Oi'm the strongest man in Erin, and Oi'll pull ye right out o' there."
Paddy leaned out and grabbed Sean's hand and pulled and pulled to no avail.
After two more unsuccessful attempts, Paddy said to Sean, "Shure, an' Oi can't do it. The Strong O'Kennedy could do it alone, mebbe, but Oi'll have to get some help."
As Mick was leaving, Sean called " Paddy! Paddy! D'ye think it will help if Oi pull me feet out of the stirrups?"

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:

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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day ([email protected]).

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