Three misconceptions about cognitive aging
Cognitive aging refers to the changes a person undergoes in their ability to think, sense and reason as they get older. It seems simple enough, but in fact, it’s a subject that’s rife with misconceptions. Here are three of them:
1. Cognitive aging is synonymous with cognitive decline
Health professionals judge that it’s incorrect to speak of a decline, given that cognitive aging is a natural process and one characterized by enormous variability. It’s true that a person’s memory tends to become less sharp as they age and their mental processes tend to slow. However, this isn’t the same thing as a change in intelligence. In fact, there’s no reason cognitive aging should interfere with a person continuing to learn new skills as they get older.
2. Cognitive aging is connected to Alzheimer’s disease
While the signs of cognitive aging resemble the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to some degree, the two should not be confused. Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by severe declines in cognitive capabilities. Cognitive aging, on the other hand, isn’t a disease but a natural part of getting older; the changes in cognitive ability to which it refers vary and are gradual.
3. Nothing can be done about age-related cognitive changes.
Cognitive aging may be a natural process, but the extent to which one’s ability to think, sense and reason will change over the years can be controlled. You can be mentally sharp at any age. To attend to your cognitive health, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends the following:
• Be physically active. Physical health goes hand-in-hand with mental health.
• Be socially and intellectually active. Seek out new experiences and new learning opportunities.
• Make sure you’re sleeping well. The quality of your sleep directly impacts your cognitive functioning. Consult a health professional if you’re having trouble sleeping.
• Manage your medications. Certain medications can negatively affect one’s cognitive functions.
Consult with your doctor if you’re concerned about the effect of your medications, or if you want to learn more about maintaining your cognitive health.
Make your back stronger this spring
Though sudden back pain can occur after a twist or a sneeze, most back injuries are caused by years of mistreatment before that final, painful injury.
Stresses such as poor posture, faulty body mechanics, obesity, emotional tension, and lack of fitness over the long term are the cause. With these modern problems, it’s not surprising that back pain is the number one complaint today.
Whether you want to treat it or prevent it, these steps will help.
- Posture: Stand with your ears, shoulders, and hips, forming a straight line. See a physical therapist or trainer if they don’t.
- Body mechanics: Keep the correct alignment of ears, shoulders, and hips while performing everyday activities. Keep lifted objects close to your body, and you reduce your risk of injury.
- Exercise: Make it central to maintaining a healthy back. Your program should include aerobic, flexibility, and strengthening exercises.
Aerobic exercise includes walking, biking, and swimming. Do it for 10 to 15 minutes three or four days a week to start, building to 30 minutes.
Poor flexibility can be a key contributor to lower back and neck pain. If your hips don’t move freely, your spine will move more than it should, leading to back programs. If you have a limited range of motion in an area, you need to stretch that area.
Well-balanced muscle strength is essential in maintaining good posture and a healthy back. Strong back, hip, and abdominal muscles support the spine. Strong trunk muscles help to prevent back injuries.
Remember these top keys to a healthy back: posture, mechanics, and exercise. The season for fun is now. Use it to get your back in shape for summer.
March 19-25: National Poison Prevention Week – Steps to take when poisoning is suspected
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has this important information for you.
If you suspect a child or adult has ingested poison, remain calm first.
- Call 911 if the victim has collapsed. If the victim is not breathing, call 911, then give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- If the victim is awake and alert, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. It is open 24/7.
- Be prepared to give the victim’s age and approximate weight.
- Describe the substance. Read from the container if available.
- Never make the victim vomit unless instructed to do so by Poison Control.
- Give your address and phone number. Stay on the phone for instructions from the emergency operator. The specialist may need to call you back.
- Medicines: Turn on a light when you give or take medicines. Read medication directions. Keep medicines in their original bottles. Store them in a safe place where they can’t be reached by children or teenagers.
- Household cleaners and chemicals: Keep chemicals, cleaners, and beauty products in their original containers. Always read the label before using it.
- Never mix cleaning products together. Doing so could produce toxic gases. Wear clothing that covers the skin when you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
- Open the windows and use a fan when using chemicals in the house.
Protecting young children
- Keep drugs and chemicals in childproof cabinets that children can’t reach.
- Don’t take medicine in front of children since they often try to copy adults. When giving children medication, never call it “candy.”
- Caution guests are not to leave drugs where children can find them. Don’t leave your own next dose on the counter.
Reducing the pain, increasing function with wrist arthritis
Wrist arthritis is common in older adults. Often, it develops as the result of past trauma or fracture, but there are simple steps that can reduce pain and increase function.
- Apply heat, cold, or both. An electric heating pad or warm water soaks can ease pain and stiffness. An ice pack or cold water soak can reduce pain from a flare-up caused by too much activity.
- Contrast baths can also be helpful. Soak hands in warm water for 10 minutes. Then switch to cold water for one minute. Or cycle back and forth for half an hour and end with warm water.
- Apply a topical prescription pain relievers gel like Voltaren or Solaraze.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and Advil have the lowest risk of side effects.
- Wear a splint to limit movement during a wrist-intensive activity.
- If pain persists, ask your doctor about anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injections.
- Some surgical techniques are available when severe pain is unresponsive to other treatments, including total wrist replacement. Wrist fusion can help younger people with advanced arthritis, but the trade-off is loss of joint mobility.
Brushing your teeth: 5 bad habits to kick
When brushing your teeth becomes automatic, it’s easy to become careless and develop bad habits, harming your oral health. Here are five bad practices you should avoid.
1. Brushing too fast. Do you scrub your teeth a few times and call it a day? Don’t! This doesn’t give your toothpaste enough time to do its job. It also doesn’t leave enough time to clean hard-to-reach areas. You should always brush for at least two minutes.
2. Brushing too hard. Pressing too hard and overzealously brushing your teeth can injure your gums. Over time, it can cause your teeth to become loose.
3. Brushing horizontally. Besides the tips of your teeth, which are used to grind food, brushing from left to right is terrible for your gums. Moreover, it doesn’t allow you to reach every nook and cranny. Instead, brush your upper and lower teeth vertically, from the gum to the tooth.
4. Rinsing your mouth right after brushing. Of course, you should spit out excess toothpaste when you’re finished. However, avoid gargling with water, which will wash away the toothpaste’s active ingredients.
5. Brushing right after a meal. Eating increases the acidity in your mouth. Acid can damage your enamel. Therefore, it’s best to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after eating a meal, so the pH in your mouth has time to stabilize.
The next time you brush your teeth, pay attention to what you’re doing and correct any bad habits.
USE THE RIGHT TOOTHBRUSH!
Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles that gently adapt to the shape of your teeth and slide easily under your gums. Replace your brush every three months or when the bristles become damaged. Finally, rinse your brush after every use and store it upright to allow it to dry properly and prevent the growth of bacteria.
Intense pulsed light treatments: for radiant skin
Sophisticated intense pulsed light (IPL) devices can effectively treat skin imperfections to smooth and even out your complexion. Here’s a look at how IPL works.
How it works
As the name suggests, IPL involves the emission of intense light pulses. This stimulates the body’s collagen production to improve the appearance of specific skin imperfections.
Intense pulsed light treatments can reduce rosacea and treat broken capillaries by cauterizing them and smoothing the skin’s surface. IPL can also repair sun damage, remove dark spots and fade freckles. This technology can minimize the appearance of wrinkles and shrink pores. Moreover, IPL can eliminate unwanted hair on virtually any body part by targeting the hair follicles.
There’s a short recovery period after each session, during which you should avoid exposure to UV light. However, you can resume most of your daily activities immediately after treatment.
If you want to learn more about IPL and find out if you can use it to treat your problem areas, make an appointment at a medical esthetics clinic in your area.
National Kidney Month: Ten things you should know about kidney health
March is National Kidney Month, a time to learn more about kidney health and encourage people to make kidney-friendly choices. Keep reading for ten things to know about kidney health and kidney disease.
1. The kidneys remove waste and excess fluid and maintain the water, salt, and mineral balance in your blood. Healthy kidneys filter about half a cup of blood each minute.
2. Kidneys also produce hormones to help control blood pressure, make red blood cells, and support bone health.
3. Damaged kidneys may filter blood less effectively or, in the case of kidney failure, very little or not at all.
4. Smart food choices, regular exercise and weight management, controlling diabetes and high blood pressure, and drinking plenty of water can all help support kidney function.
5. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in seven adults is thought to have chronic kidney disease or CKD. As many as nine in 10 adults with CKD don’t know they have it.
6. The most common causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure.
7. People with chronic kidney disease often experience no symptoms until the disease is in its later stages. Your doctor can give you a serum creatinine level test that will help determine your kidney function.
8. Kidney failure is only treatable with dialysis (filtering the blood with a machine) or a kidney transplant.
9. NSAIDs like Aleve or Advil can lead to kidney damage if taken incorrectly or for too long. Do not take more than the recommended dosage or use for more than ten days.
10. People at risk of kidney disease should keep up with annual physical exams to stay on top of their health and detect kidney damage early.
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