Thanks to increased awareness and major advances in medical research over the last 30 years, cancer survival rates have drastically improved. Let’s keep doing our part to fund organizations working hard to find cures and share information so that the number of deaths from cancer in the United States continues to decrease.
Prostate cancer mortality rates among men decreased by 52% between 1993 and 2015, thanks to the introduction of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings.
The leading cancer killer in the United States, lung cancer mortality rates decreased by 45% from 1990 to 2015 among men and 19% from 2002 to 2015 among women. The decline can be attributed to greater public awareness about the dangers of smoking tobacco.
Breast cancer mortality rates decreased by 39% between 1989 and 2015. This progress is due to increased emphasis on early detection and advances in mammography.
Music: a hobby with many benefits
Hundreds of studies support the idea that listening to music can help improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. However, for older adults adjusting to retirement, music can provide many additional benefits. Here’s some ways you can make music a part of your life and the advantages of doing so.
Learn an instrument
Playing a musical instrument is a great way to incorporate music in your life. If you previously played one, consider picking it up again and if you didn’t, it’s never too late to learn. Playing music improves coordination, memory and cognition in addition to bolstering self-esteem and confidence.
Take dance classes
Staying active is a crucial part of aging well, so why not take a dance class and enjoy the benefits of music at the same time? Revisiting the popular dances from your youth with your spouse, friends or new acquaintances is the perfect way to stay in shape while enjoying timeless tunes.
Join a choir
You don’t need to learn an instrument to reap the physical and psychological benefits of music. Joining a choir is a great way to stimulate your memory while increasing your confidence. You’ll also get to meet new people and might even become friends with some of the other choir members.
Participate in activities
If you live in a retirement community or an assisted living facility, it’s likely that there are musical activities you can take part in. These events offer seniors the opportunity to listen to music together and participate in singalongs. They also foster social interactions and help new arrivals feel welcome.
Finally, live musical performances are presented throughout the year by the theaters and various other venues in your community. Some venues may even offer special rates for seniors. Whatever your situation, there’s a way to enrich your retirement years with music.
11 questions to ask when starting a new medication
Anytime you’re prescribed a new medication, it’s important that you understand its effects and how to use it. This makes it possible to avoid dangerous drug interactions and safely navigate side effects. You or your caregiver should ask your doctor the following questions when starting a new medication.
1. What’s the name of the medicine and why do I need to take it?
2. How often should it be taken, and when specifically should the doses be taken?
3. What’s the correct dosage?
4. Do I need to take it with food? Are there foods or beverages I should avoid when taking this medication?
5. If I need to take the medication “as needed,” what does that mean?
6. How long will the medication take to work?
7. Will the medication interact with other medications, supplements or vitamins I’m taking? Should any of these be discontinued or adjusted?
8. Can I drive when taking this medication?
9. If I miss a dose, what should I do?
10. What are the possible side effects? Should some of them prompt an appointment or an emergency room visit?
11. Will I need a refill? If so, do I need a new prescription each time (as is the case with some opioids)?
While it may seem excessive to ask so many questions, doing so will ensure your safety.
Andropause: what is it?
Testosterone levels in men gradually diminish as they age. As a result, many experience an array of changes as they get older. While there’s no such thing as a “male menopause,” some doctors refer to the collection of symptoms caused by shifting hormone levels in men as andropause.
As testosterone levels decline, men may experience the following:
• Sexual changes. This can include reduced libido, erectile dysfunction and infertility. In addition, the testes may become smaller.
• Sleep changes. Insomnia, disrupted sleep patterns and increased sleepiness are common.
• Physical changes. Increased body fat, decreased bone density and loss of muscle mass may occur. There could also be a loss of body hair and the breasts may become tender and swollen. Though rare, hot flashes and a decrease in energy are also possible.
• Emotional changes. Loss of motivation, decreased confidence, heightened irritability and even depression can occur as a result of declining testosterone levels. Memory and concentration issues can also arise in some cases.
Since these symptoms can be caused by many conditions as well as by poor lifestyle choices, it’s important to visit a doctor if you notice them.
Self care as you age
In many cases, the symptoms of low testosterone levels can be mitigated by a healthy diet and staying mentally and physically active. In addition, eliminating unhealthy habits (like smoking and drinking) will help improve your overall well-being.
It’s also important to consult your doctor if you notice any worrisome symptoms and to follow their recommendations.
Testosterone supplements can be used to treat age-related low testosterone, but it’s a controversial solution. It can relieve symptoms in some men but has little effect for others and carries significant risks of cardiovascular problems and could increase the incidence of prostate cancer.
The flu vaccine: a necessary precaution for seniors
Contrary to popular belief, influenza infection, better known as the flu, isn’t always benign. Elderly people and those with a weakened immune system are at risk for experiencing potentially fatal complications. This is why the flu vaccine is so important.
While its efficacy isn’t guaranteed, the vaccine can prevent vulnerable people from contracting the flu. Even when infection does occur, being vaccinated can mitigate the symptoms and prevent complications from arising. Finally, the risk of hospitalization is much lower for someone who’s been vaccinated.
Remember that you need to receive the vaccine every year as the flu virus mutates constantly. Speak to your healthcare professional to find out where and when you can receive the vaccine.
Always do this 1 thing before traveling abroad
Are you planning to leave the country? If so, be sure to visit a doctor who can help you protect your health while you’re away.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you see a healthcare provider or visit a travel clinic at least four weeks before your departure. Depending on your destination, you may need to take precautions.
The doctor you consult with will review your immunization history and give you any required vaccinations and preventive medications.
Taking this simple step will protect you from potentially severe diseases you can contract abroad.
For more information about travel immunization, consult cdc.gov/travel.
11 essential questions to ask about your treatment
Undergoing treatment for breast cancer can be worrisome. One of the best ways to prepare, however, is to get informed about what’s involved. Here are 11 essential questions to ask your doctor.
1. What are the different available treatments?
2. What are their risks and advantages?
3. Is there a treatment that’s more appropriate for my situation?
4. Will I need to be hospitalized?
5. How long will the treatment take?
6. How can we assess the treatment’s effectiveness?
7. What side effects should I expect? How long will they last?
8. If I need to have surgery, what are the different options? What’s the difference between them?
9. If I need to have a mastectomy, do I need to have both breasts removed? If I do, when should I have it done?
10. If I have breast reconstruction surgery, what will my breast look like? Will it look like my other breast?
11. When will I be able to wear a bra again?
In addition to these questions, write down a list of your own so that you don’t forget anything when meeting your treatment team. Feel free to ask a friend or family member to accompany you. They can write down the answers to your questions so you can refer to them when you need to.