A1. GET READY FOR FLU SEASON… SWINE FLU SEASON, TOO
We hear about it in so many different tones: Is it here? Is the vaccination
ready? Is there still time? Does it even matter?
Avoiding Sickness Always Matters.
More so to any senior, so the answer to the last question is the obvious:
"Of course it does." This kind of common sense can be applied
to many of the other questions surrounding the H1N1 virus, or as it is
commonly called, "swine flu."
Swine flu does indeed come from pigs. Pigs can become infected with both
avian and human virus, and when that happens the simple yet effective
building blocks of virus can swap around with each other. Scientists call
this effect "reorganization," and the result is a new virus
type. The H1N1 virus can be especially dangerous for young children, pregnant
mothers, and seniors.
How Should we Avoid it?
How should one avoid getting sick with a cold or flu? H1N1 is, after all,
a flu virus. The best advice is wash your hands for a full twenty seconds,
and do so often throughout your day. Be aware of what you touch in public
areas and you'll find yourself being compulsive about it, though you don't
need to be. Just wash often, and always before meals, or before handling
food, just as your mother told you. As with any other cold or flu, remember:
It is very important to cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve
when you cough or sneeze, and stay away from risks like overexertion,
under-eating, and chills, as you normally would. Carrying small bottles
of hand-sanitizers can be of great help-your hands won't get chapped,
and some brands smell good, while some have no odor at all.
If you're looking after someone in your life who is living alone, be
sure they are running their heater at night when appropriate, as well
as the air conditioning in hot weather.
Be sure they are eating regular meals, like you always do, and that they
are generally practicing good hygiene and housekeeping. It seems so simple,
yet these daily factors of living are important protections against disease.
Who is at Risk?
Well, most of us. However there are certain populations that need to be
- Adults over 25, and up to age 64 who have long-standing medical conditions
such as asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or heart disease;
- Pregnant women;
- Parents and caretakers of babies under six months, or children who
have naturally low immune response;
- Health-care and emergency workers.
How is it Administered?
The vaccination can be made by injection or by nasal spray. You will need
two doses of the vaccine. The reason for two shots has to do with how
the human body responds to vaccinations. The first shot makes the body
aware of the virus. The second injection really starts the body's natural
building of antibodies to fight the invader. If you had been exposed to
the virus previously your body would be better prepared. But since you
probably haven't, it takes two doses that build upon each other to produce
the desired antiviral response in the body. It takes time for the body
to build up resistance, so the sooner you get vaccinated the better.
What is the Season?
The season is underway now, and may continue through March or April. The
new school year will likely cause a spread of the disease through classrooms,
but the vaccine will not be available until mid- or late October because
of the time it takes to make the millions of doses required.
Is it Safe?
This vaccine is made the same way that modern, successful seasonal influenza
vaccines have been made for decades. The CDC is actively screening for
post-vaccination side effects, as well.
What About Thimerosal?
Thimerosal is a preservative used in multi-dose vials of vaccine. It is
made from mercury, and although claimed by the manufacturers of vaccine
to be safe, many people wish to avoid it, nonetheless. You may wish to
as well, and you may be able to. There are nasal-spray and single-dose,
pre-measured syringes available for children and pregnant women. However,
people who suffer asthma may not be able to use the nasal spray.
Are You Allergic to Eggs?
If you are allergic to eggs you should not take the current vaccine. It
is egg-based, and any person who is allergic to eggs may have a negative
reaction. Your physician can provide you with antiviral alternatives should
you become sick with the H1N1 virus, so contact him or her immediately
should you become ill.
The federal government has a lunched a site to help us all out here:
You'll find more here as well:
Additional health information may be found at: http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm
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A2. FOOD THAT TASTES GOOD AND IS GOOD FOR YOU
We're eating more chicken, less beef. What else can we do to keep-or
make ourselves-healthier, and still enjoy our food, and, incidentally,
eating more on the cheap?
Here are some suggestions, adapted from RealAge.com:
- Eat more fruits: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches,
nectarines. That's not too difficult at this time of the year. We should
also eat more of other colorful fruits, such as grapes, pomegranates,
plums, tomatoes, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, and even avocadoes
(yes, they're fruits, too). Try stuffing them with shrimp, tuna, or
crab salad. I like to scrape them right out of their skins, spritz them
with a little lemon or lime juice, and eat them with a spoon. The Haas
avocadoes are the pebbly ones, and they have the most flavor. Aim for
two cups of fruits or more a day, along with the same amount of vegetables.
They help prevent heart inflammation.
- More whole grains and mixed grains: Who doesn't love rye bread, either
with caraway seeds, or, for those of us who can't digest them, seedless
(and they now make seedless rye with caraway flavoring)? Try whole wheat
bagels, whole-grain cereals, brown rice, tofu (yes, take the plunge!
Stir-fry it in olive oil instead of heavier shortening. Your heart will
thank you). And, though it doesn't quite fit in here, eat more peanut
butter. Personally, I hate peanut-butter sandwiches (can't stand that
stick-to-your-teeth feeling), but I love peanut butter smeared on lettuce
leaves, and then rolled up. If you like the taste of onion try putting
a little bit of peanut butter or cashew butter on scallions. Better
still, put the scallions in your sandwich. It cuts the sticky, and,
combined with whole-grain bread, gives you lots more nutrition-bang-for-your-buck.
And instead of breading your chicken or fish with ordinary breadcrumbs,
try using crushed dry whole-grain cereal.
- Which brings us back to nuts. In addition to peanut butter, peanuts
are a terrific TV-watching snack, if you don't drop the shells all over
the couch. Walnuts, peanuts and pistachios take some time to shell and
eat, so you're not consuming as many calories as you would if you were
eating peanut-butter cookies or walnut brownies, and they're a lot better
for you. They come in both salted and unsalted, roasted and natural
varieties. Peanut butter is also pretty good in stir-fry type recipes,
such as the one below. Try the natural brands. They don't have added
corn syrup and artificial flavorings. Don't forget cashews and cashew
butter. If you like them you'll probably like the tuna-cashew salad
recipe below. Soybeans, salted or dried, are good for your heart and
are very tasty. Keep your consumption to about a handful a day. Fresh
soybeans can be consumed as vegetables. Think of them as furry string
- Dark chocolate and alcohol: Who would have thought? Again, a little
bit every day, not a lot, is good for your heart. We're told that a
glass, not a bottle, of red wine every day does your heart good. Women
should consume less. Ask your doctor about alcohol consumption in your
particular case. Less than an ounce of dark chocolate daily helps keep
a healthy heart. And it tastes so good!
- Fish: Salmon, tuna (canned, and not in oil) and other lean fish are
good for your heart, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While it's recommended
that you eat three portions a week, this can seem a lot until you realize
you've been eating tuna fish sandwiches a couple of times a week all
along, so knock yourself out ? have a piece of flounder or halibut for
dinner once a week, as well. Shrimp and lobster may not be as healthy
for you, as they contain fats that are not unsaturated, so take it easy
Try to avoid the foods that age your heart, such as salt, sugar, and
saturated fats such as butter. If you're used to having cream in your
coffee, switch to half-and-half for a week, then work your way down to
whole milk and then to two-percent milk. The taste and mouth feel is pretty
much the same, and you may not be aware of the difference. Too much salt
isn't good for you, either. Watch out for hidden sodium in soy sauce,
oriental foods, canned vegetables and soups ? read the labels and choose
low-sodium versions and overdoing snack foods such as pretzels and potato
chips can be dangerous.
Tuna Salad and Cashew Sandwiches (2 to 4 servings)
1 6 oz. can water-packed tuna
1/2 cup diced celery or cucumber, or combination
1/2 cup roasted cashews (unsalted), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
lettuce leaves (green ones ? iceberg lettuce is mostly water)
Optional: capers, minced onion, chopped parsley, pickle relish
Mix everything together and make sandwiches on good
bread, or serve on lettuce leaves.
Broccoli With Garlic Butter and Cashews (serves
1/2 lb. fresh or ¾ lb. frozen broccoli (defrost
first), cut into bite-size pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 clove garlic, minced; or ½ teaspoon powdered garlic
1 tablespoon whole or halved AND 1 tablespoon chopped salted cashews
(use a rolling pin)
- Cook frozen broccoli a little less than package instructions (to
keep it crisp), or, if fresh, 7 minutes, with one inch of water in
pan. Drain, arrange on serving plate.
- While broccoli cooks, melt butter in a small fry pan, add all ingredients
except cashews. Bring to boil, add cashews, pour over broccoli, serve
Hot Peanut Sauce (about 4 servings)
4 tablespoons natural peanut butter
4 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Combine peanut butter and water to make a smooth
paste, stir in soy sauce, then brown sugar, mix together until smooth.
Add the cayenne and lemon juice.
Serve over cooked noodles and broccoli or green beans and chicken chunks.
The latter two recipes are from http://SuperTarget.com
While we're cooking, let us not forget that we still need lots of protein,
even if we are cutting back on the beef and other red meats. An adult
over the age of 60 needs even more (though just a little more) protein
than a younger adult of the same height and activity level. Canned anchovies
and sardines are so good for us, as are good-quality salmon and tuna.
And though it can still be pretty darn warm out there, your homemade chicken
soup will still hit the spot on a cool-ish summer evening.
Eat well, be healthy!
Find related books of interest at
Additional health information may be found at:
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B. DID YOU KNOW...?
1. No Social Security COLA Raise for 2010
The Social Security trustees are projecting that there will not be a cost
of living adjustment (COLA) for 2010 or 2011. This will be the first time
since 1975 that there has been no raise. The table lists the recent COLA
percentages. COLA is tied to inflation, which this year has been negative.
This is mostly because of significantly lower energy costs. The law does
not allow Social Security benefits to go down. However, Medicare prescription
drug program premiums are slated to move up a bit. These premiums are
deducted from Social Security payments, thus lowering the amount of your
Additional insurance information may be found at http://www.seniorresource.com/insur.htm
2. Help for Vets at State Nursing Homes
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to implement a two-year-old
law requiring it to reimburse severely disabled veterans for the cost
of care at state-run nursing homes. President George W. Bush signed into
law a bill in 2006 that required the VA to reimburse the full cost for
veterans with a 70 percent or greater service-connected disability who
require nursing-home care. Congress intended the law to be implemented
by March, 2007; however the VA did not comply with this requirement.
The implementation delay has forced some elderly veterans to spend their
life savings before they could qualify for Medicaid payments to cover
the cost of care at a nursing home.
Additional insurance information may be found at http://www.seniorresource.com/insur.htm
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C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
Buster Keaton - "Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot."
Alicia Silverstone - "I don't feel like a dream girl; in my real
life, I'm this weird, dorky girl who just hangs out with her dog."
Grant Hill - "Parents, they're strict on you when you're little,
and you don't understand why. But as you get older, you understand and
you appreciate it."
Karen Allen - "Eventually you love people-friends or lovers-because
of their flaws."
Kate Winslet - "Life is short, and it is here to be lived."
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
1. Appliance Repair - You Can do it!
For saving money, little is better than fixing your broken electronics
and small appliances on your own. You can post your problem on http://www.fixya.com
The site will help you conduct repairs via tips from online technical
experts. The site has a searchable database to locate your item by manufacturer
or type of appliance. Your item may have come with a users' guide for
troubleshooting. It should be the first thing you consult before beginning
repairs. If you can't find it, look for the manufacturer's website and
the online user's guide for the item of interest.
2. Those Pesky Navigation Device Errors
If you have used a navigation device with any regularity, you probably
have encountered the pleasure of mistakenly being sent down a dead-end
street-or worse. To help yourself and others in the future, report such
errors to the mapmakers. The maps in most devices are made by either Navteq
or TeleAtlas. Visit their website (http://www.teleatlas.com
and report the error you have experienced.
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E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
1. Things to Ask Your Smart Friends
- How come hard work pays off in the future and laziness pays off now?
- How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
- Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
- What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
- Why do psychics have to ask you your name?
2. For Those Who Love the Philosophy of Ambiguity
- Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
- If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to
- Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?
- How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road
- What was the best thing before sliced bread?
For more fun and jokes visit "Oh My Aging Funny Bone" at:
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