Category Archives: Health

Bad oral health can hurt your heart, bones, kidney….

Links have been bound between heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's and even some cancers.

“Don’t look a gift horse in the teeth,” the old saying goes.  New information about the link between bad oral health and heart disease brings a new slant to this old saying.

Since I have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), I’m alert for information that affects the heart.  Imagine my surprise when I read that the health of your gums can affect your health.  In a recent  article by Dr. Ranit Mishori,  she explained that in a study published in the International Journal of Cardiology, researchers studied the health of people who had recently suffered a heart attack, and found that those patients had bad oral health than the control group.

How could bad oral health cause heart attacks?  The report didn’t say it caused them, but did show an association between the two.  In periodontitis, the advanced stage of gingivitis, bacteria, or plaque, accumulates in the gums. These organisms release toxins that can circulate, via blood vessels, through the body. 

Multiple studies from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology revealed that, the more advanced the gum disease, the thicker and harder the walls of the arteries.  Even more startling: they found this to be true even for young, health patients with no other heart problems. 

These circulating toxins can cause more havoc in your body. Scientists are finding more links between bad oral health and diabetes, kidney disease, pre-term labor, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even certain types of cancer.

Bottom line:  we need to protect our gums and teeth.  The American Academy of Periodontology says that one in three adults over 30 have periodontal disease.  Avoid being one of these statistics, and you may very well be on your way to a healthier heart.  So — your horse owners out there, is that why horse buyers always check a horse’s teeth?


Reject “old age” messages, explore new roads

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, and old dog who learned many new tricks

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, an old dog who learned many new tricks

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’m having a senior moment.
He’s ready for the rocking chair.

I recall writing an article for Network Magazine in which I visited belittling expressions about women. Terms like babe, chick, hen (and the more crass references we won’t mention here but all of us know) tend to dismiss women, to undermine their intelligence and capabilities.

In fairness, there are similar terms for men: hunk, bull, ox, mule, and so on.

Many such limiting labels have been placed on aging, as well. Old dog, bats-in-the-belfry, put him out to pasture, these and many more expressions leave lingering impressions on our minds, leading us to believe, as we approach and pass retirement age, that the best of our lives lies behind us.

Is that all there is?  Should we now rock our way to our final day?

Not me.  If aging is so devastating, why do we have a Supreme Court peopled with judges over seventy? The average age for a President to take office is 54.8 years old. The median age is 55. Eight men became President in their 40’s, 24 in their 50’s, and 10 in their 60’s.

There are countless examples of people achieving their best life works–in established or new fields of venture–in their seventies and eighties.

Why, then, do such generalities about fading proliferate?

It reminds me of the “dumb blonde” syndrome. There are many blonde-haired women who are bright and successful, but that’s not entertaining.  How much more fun it is to point at the ditzy one and make jokes.  So, humor at the expense of the aging is one answer.

Another reason may be fear. One witnesses the ravages of age in some–the decline in mobility, continence, health, memory–and releases the anxiety through comedy.

The biggest reason, though, may be one of being informed and aware of the whole picture.

While it’s true that age brings health challenges, it’s also true that quality of life can continue if we:
* keep an open mind
* accept adaptive methods that can neutralize some of life’s challenges
* point to one positive trait of aging for every negative we hear
* acknowledge both physical decline and the increased creativity that comes with age
* focus on an individual who overcomes aging challenges and shines in spite of them

There are others, but I have not yet enjoyed my second cup of coffee.
Maybe you’ll add some for us.  I would enjoy hearing from you.

The ageless fairy-tale story of Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's finalist, proves that we're never too old to have a dream, never too old to pursue it.

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's finalist, proves that we're never too old to have a dream, never too old to pursue it.

I dreamed a dream –

The ageless fairy-tale story of Susan Boyle


Who hasn’t heard of Susan Boyle, the “older” woman with the angelic voice who inspired the world? She stood before the Britain’s Got Talent judges, enduring their eye-rolling and other visible expressions of dismissal. Patient and gracious, she answered their questions, revealing her age (good grief, 47!), the fact she’d never been given a chance with her singing, and most of all her dream, to sing with the likes of Elaine Paige, a famous English singer. That brought another round of cruel eye-rolls from judges and the audience as well.

Then she sang, and the rest truly is history. Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables gave me goosebumps, and I didn’t hear it live – like hundreds of millions of other people, I saw this remarkable audition on YouTube.


I needed to hear more. I listened to her Cry Me a River, and I saw her second performance on Britain’s Got Talent when she sang Memories, from Cats, one of my lifetime favorite songs. More goosebumps. Her voice is, quite simply, fantastic, but it’s also her interpretation of the songs, the life and passion she gives them. She delivers, and she delivers with a straightforward honesty I’d almost forgotten.

Contrast her performance with the current video pop star kings and divas. Always aware of where the camera is, they “act” their way through songs, delivering carefully rehearsed expressions and movements meant to convince you that their songs are filled with the passion of the lyrics and essence of the song.

Not so with Boyle. She simply sings.

In addition to her unaffected delivery and her angelic voice, she represents hope for women “of a certain age,” for people who have lost the golden glow of youth but have been touched by the rich silver of wisdom and life experience. It’s a tale as old as time itself, embraced more passionately in the United States than anywhere else in the world: Cinderella. Rags to Riches. Rocky Balboa, from downtrodden to triumphant.

Susan Boyle touches all people who have hope in their hearts, all people who have a dream. She demonstrates, with an abundance of grace and patience, that people of all AGES can have a dream. We don’t have to possess decades and decades of a future to strive for something new and wonderful in our lives. We can be over 40, over 60, over 80 – it’s not the age, but the passion in our hearts that counts.

Boyle is exceptional. Youngest of four brothers and six sisters, she never left home. She stayed long after her siblings left, sacrificing her own pursuits by taking care of her 91-year-old mother until her death in 2007. She believed in her dream – learned from a voice coach, attended Edinburgh Acting School, and spent her entire savings to produce a professional demo tape which she distributed to record companies, radio talent competition and local and national TV. She endured such mocking in 1995 at a local talent competition called My Kind of People that she almost backed out of her audition with Britain’s Got Talent.

She came this close to not doing it. She was too old. Not pretty enough. Had tried and tried and failed. Why subject herself to more public humiliation?

Her mother believed in her, that’s why. When it came down to something balancing on those scales we use to make our decisions, her mother’s faith in her, her mother’s urging her to try Britain’s Got Talent, tipped the scales and made her keep that audition date.

There are many fascinating aspects of Susan Boyle’s meteoric rise to fame. From the aspect of age, she gives a precious gift to us, a message. A reminder.

You’re never to old to dream.

Go for it.

“Power” handshake can strain fingers, joints

A "power" handshake put Cindy McCain's arm in a sling. Use courtesy and caution to avoid hand injury.

A "power" handshake put Cindy McCain's arm in a sling. Use courtesy and caution to avoid hand injury.

Avoid the gorilla grip when shaking hands

Didn’t you sympathize with Cindy McCain when she was injured during her husband’s campaign by a “power” handshake? Cindy has had surgeries for carpal tunnel syndrome, and the overly energetic handshake exacerbated her condition.

The accumulated damage of sports injuries and car accidents has taken its toll on my hands and wrists, so I find myself in a vulnerable position during hand-shaking “opportunities.”  I’ve encountered these power-shakers in many places:  businesses,  school functions, even church. The shakers look friendly, eager to mingle and happy to meet me. We’re introduced, and they offer a hand to shake.

He or she could be the size of a linebacker, and I’m afraid they might inadvertently hurt my hand.  What to do?

He or she has no idea how vulnerable my hand is, from injury, arthritis or simply a matter of time.

We don’t have to put our arms in a sling as Cindy did, to protect ourselves, nor do we have to run screaming, or hide behind someone, or mumble about being of “an advanced age.”

This is the defensive position I’ve taken to protect my hands. I give a genuine smile and offer my right hand, using my left hand to “present” my right hand, almost as if offering a plate. I keep my hand close to my body as I do this, so he or she sees I’m protecting it. Then I just say, “It’s sprained. Please be gentle.” Only then do I extend my hand.

The reaction is beautiful. People would never want to intentionally hurt us, so they’re amazingly responsive, often taking my hand in both of theirs in a protective embrace. Very nice!

White lie? Not really.  My hand-shaking equipment *is* strained, with injury and age. My hand is in a vulnerable position and it is easy to sprain. this method is polite, doesn’t require a lengthy discussion about aging and infirmities, while still allowing the warmth of meeting someone to come through – without the danger.

What’s your “healthy-hand strategy” against the power hand-shake?

4 E’s of hand injury prevention

Be your own advocate for hand health

Be your own advocate for hand health

When thinking of my past injuries, which include tendonitis, sprained wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of others, it occurred to me that most of these injuries could have been prevented by what my mother called moderation.

In a recent blog, Marji Hajic, a certified hand therapist from California, agrees. Her 4 E’s of hand injury prevention:

1. ERGONOMICS – using body mechanics and common sense when completing tasks to avoid excessive wear and tear.

2. EXERCISE – WARM-UP and STRETCHING – It’s just as important to stretch the hands before and during a strenuous hand-related workout as it is to stretch hamstrings before running.

3. EDUCATION – learn how to “address” the keyboard – posture, wrist position, finger position. Even the length of your fingernails can affect hand health.

4. ENERGY – healthy hand habits will not only prevent injury but help the body heal from strenuous hand workout sessions.

Read more about the 4 E’s of hand health at Marji’s blog,

Do you have tips for hand health? Your comments count!  Share with us by clicking on Nocomments or comments, below.

Rheumatoid “Heart-thritis” and other heart disease factors

"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine" -- necessary if you have RA

"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine" -- necessary if you have RA

According to the Arthritis Foundation, roughly 1.3 million people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA. It involves painful, swollen joints, but two recent studies suggest that RA sufferers also are at increased risk for heart disease. Read more at USA Weekend

The American Heart Association reveals other factors over which we have no control:

* Increasing age – 65 or over.  (At older ages, women who have heart attacks are more likely than men are to die from them within a few weeks.)

* Gender. Men have a greater risk of heart attack and experience them earlier in life.

* Heredity (Race) Those will increased risk include African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans.

Risk factors we can modify – what we can do:
Stop smoking
Lower blood cholesterol levels
Regular physical activity/exercise
Maintain a healthy weight
Manage your diabetes
Drink only moderate amounts of alcohol

Click here American Heart Association to learn more.