Fibromyalgia – New Hope

fibromyalgia treatments, natural fibromyalgia treatments, fibromyalgia symptoms, fibromyalgia treatment care
New Fibromyalgia Treatments

Her diagnosis, shocking at first, was far less painless than her symptoms. She quickly searched for treatment from the region’s best physicians and found herself with 5 specialists and over 15 prescriptions daily.  She thought she was in a nightmare.

This scenario is occurring for over 5 million Americans – up to 90% of them female.  Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disorder with symptoms that encompass pain, fatigue, and depression.  It mimics symptoms from many other diseases; Lyme disease to chronic fatigue syndrome.  It is tricky to diagnose and even harder to treat.  A single pill, specific treatment or therapy cannot address the widely varied, individualized symptoms.  With diagnosis in hand, patients find themselves in a medical web.  Multiple pills treating specific symptoms quickly become confusing and dangerous.

On a positive note, new advances in 4 areas of fibromyalgia treatment offer more options than every before; Sleep Therapy, Movement Therapy, Music Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.


Fibromyalgia-related sleep dysfunction – the hallmark complaint of sufferers.  Pills are usually needed to get a full night rest and success is varied.  Studies have proven that fibromyalgia patients get less slow-wave sleep, non-rapid-eye-movement, so their sleep is less restorative.  3 areas of treatment now offer positive outcomes.  

First step: make sure your bedroom is the perfect place to sleep by creating the perfect bedroom.  Second: firmly establish your times for going to bed and rising the next morning.  Thirdly: learn relaxation techniques to reduce nighttime worrying.  If you are experiencing restless leg syndrome, RLS, you may need more pharmaceutical assistance and restorative rest.  The NIH, National Institute of Health, states that testing iron levels are instrumental in the diagnosing of RLS, where iron levels are characteristically low.  NIH Study on RLS Causes


Exercise is vital in the treatment of fibromyalgia.  Over 70 published studies prove its benefits.  In 2010, the NEJM published a study reporting positive, prolonged benefits for ‘tai chi’, a form of martial arts.  Compared to traditional stretching treatments, patients reported definite improvement, particularly in the most severe symptoms and sustained their results three months later.  Tai chi focuses on strong mind-body focus through gentle, precise movement.  Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia


Love music?  Recent research has shown that listening to music once a day may significantly reduce both pain and depressive symptoms.  Brain stimulation through pleasant sounds block negative thoughts and enhance positive ones.   It helps the brain to process sensory input in a healthy way.  


Because the processing of pain of fibromyalgia patients is not normal, patients can often benefit from behavioral therapy.  The American Academy of Neurology reports that consistent self-help steps can reduce or alleviate pain, weakness, and fatigue.  CBT can help to retrain the brain to manage symptoms through the replacement of negative feedback loops with positive ones.  

Sounds simple?  It isn’t.  It’s hard – very hard.  The good news is the end result – a positive reduction in symptoms.  Start today, one area at a time – one step at a time – one day at a time until you have mastered these 4 areas of your life.  

I hope this news helps improve the quality of your life,


New Alzheimer Study plus 3 Memory Tests

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New Study on Alzheimer's links women and insulin health to Alzheimer's risk.

Age, gender and family history are the Alzheimer’s risk factors you can’t control. After 65, your risk doubles. If you have a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s, like a parent or sibling, your risk can double or triple. And lastly, being a woman is a risk factor in itself.  

I am 61, my oldest sister has dementia and I’m female. That’s 3 for 3.   Before running to the doctor, I decided to see how my memory was holding up.  I found more information than even I could process.  After spending considerable time researching, I centered on 2 hot topics from the medical community as well as 3 quick memory tests.

1 Study ~ 1 Step Closer

One newly published study has further revealed both of these combined factors are clarifying links for the development of Dementia/Alzheimer disease.
It has been known for some time that insulin is linked to dementia. However, a new study published in Archives of Neurology, Jan 2, 2012 from Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University with Thomas van Himbergen as study leader has furthered the link between the two.   Click here for Full Study.

Adiponectin, one of 3 hormones studied, appears to raise the risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s among women. Adiponectin is found from visceral fat and is known to play a role in the regulation of metabolizing glucose and lipids.  

“It is well established that insulin signaling is dysfunctional in the brains of patients with AD, and since adiponectin enhances insulin sensitivity, on would also expect beneficial actions protecting against cognitive decline, “ van Himbergen said in a recent journal news release.  “Our data, however, indicate that elevated adiponectin levels was associated with an increased risk of dementia and AD in women.”

The study gathered data from the Framingham Heart Study (1985-1988). They followed up a total of 840 patients for an average of 13 years.  541 were women of average age of 76 years.  Blood samples were taken and were measured for a number of markers and all patients were simultaneously monitored for dementia symptoms.  During the follow-up period 159 subjects developed dementia, of which 125 were AD.  

For more about dementia, please click here.


Dr. Oz is really great in making things simple to understand.  His website is overwhelming at times but I found 3 great memory tests that enable you to evaluate your current levels in order to take the next steps needed to maintain your mental functions.  Additionally, I am linking you to a great food list that may enhance your brain performance.  Have fun!  


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VAMC) St. Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) examination is easy to take and is used as an assessment tool for informational and entertainment purposes only. (Under e) Performance Tools)

Take this on a good day! Try to be rested, fed, and in a quiet place. Remember that your scores can be influenced reduced by many factors, including, without limitation, illness, trauma, and depression. If your exam score suggests that you might be experiencing a problem with your memory, please consult your primary health care physician.  


Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain, our body’s more vital organ, by literally shrinking and crippling function. Breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s prevention now make it possible to treat Alzheimer’s before it develops into a full-blown disease. Certain people are at greater risk. Take this quiz and learn the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Storing a memory is a standard process for your brain. Healthy cells communicate to each other and pass the memory to the hippocampus, the area of your brain used for storage. When you need that memory, the process works in reverse and you can recall it. In AD, Alzheimer’s disease, plaque destroys the connection to the hippocampus and the access to the stored memories is lost.
One of the first parts of the brain that’s affected is your sense of smell. If you cannot identify all the items on the list below by their smell, you should speak to your doctor.
Have a friend or partner test you with the items below:
1.     Rose
2.    Cherry
3.    Smoke
4.    Peppermint
5.    Leather
6.    Lilac
7.    Pineapple
8.    Soap
9.    Strawberry
10.    Natural Gas
11.    Lemon
12.    Clove

These brain foods have the power to build your brain up and prevent cognitive decline and the onset of crippling conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and omega-3s are big health buzzwords that have one thing in common – they do great things for your body and nourish your brain. Giving your brain the nutrients it needs is essential to longevity. Keep this list of foods handy and make sure to refuel your brain often. It will thank you later.

•    Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain. Glucose, a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, is the only fuel your brain can use. The high fiber content of lentils is a key component in keeping your brain in optimal shape. The fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells.
•    Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have been found to keep the arteries of the brain clear of plaque. They nourish the brain by helping communication between brain cells. Sprinkle some into your yogurts, cereals and salads, or munch on them alone.
•    Brazil nuts are an excellent source of healthy, or monounsaturated, fats. They are also high in magnesium, a mineral that’s essential to the transmission of signals between the brain and the rest of the body. Almonds, walnuts and cashews are also excellent brain foods. Eat a fistful of brazil nuts or mixed nuts a day.
•    Coffee can protect the brain. One study found that coffee can help keep the blood-brain barrier intact; this barrier acts as a coating, and protects the brain from unwanted materials and damaging elements, like harmful cholesterol. Another study showed that coffee may also improve short-term memory. Coffee is high in antioxidants; Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee. Drinking one or two cups a day is healthy, just remember to use modest amounts of milk and sugar.


3 Food Myths That Wont Die

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3 Food Myths That Wont Die

Did you catch it?  Readers Digest recently published an article I found particularly revealing because in the past, I have followed the advice attached to these ‘myths’.  Below I outline 3 of my favorites from the article source and realized we all need a ‘myth update’!  These are 3 food myths that just wont die!


MYTH 1: Eggs are bad for you

Wrong.  This is the #1food myth of all.  The largest cardiac study of all time, the famous Framingham Heart Study, which first revealed that high blood cholesterol causes heart attacks ALSO found there was NO-NO-NO connection between eating eggs and cardiovascular disease.   

Why?  The dietary cholesterol found in eggs actually has little effect on your cholesterol numbers.  Eating cheeseburgers, doughnuts, and other saturated fat food items are the culprits – they are loaded with TRANS and SATURATED FATS which is the real problem.   Eggs contain very little saturated fat – 1.5 grams/large egg – and absolutely no Tran’s fat.  When you deprive yourself of an egg, it means you deprive yourself of 13 natural vitamins and minerals – not to mention an excellent, affordable breakfast option.  I also discovered in my search that only 25% of cholesterol in your blood comes from food! The remaining 75% is manufactured by your liver.  


MYTH 2: Red Meat Causes Heart Attacks

Oh boy.  This is a new twist on an old myth.  A new 2010 Harvard School of Public Safety divided red meat safety into two groups:  processed vs. unprocessed red meat.  This is the first meta-analysis of worldwide evidence on eating unprocessed red meat relates to risk of CV diseases and diabetes.   

The HSPH study found out that processed meats: bacon, sausage, deli meats was associated with a 42% increased risk of heart disease, 19% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.  Conversely, the researchers did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes with those eating unprocessed red meat: beef, pork, or lamb.  Study quotes:  

“Although most dietary guidelines recommend reducing meat consumption, prior individual studies have shown mixed results for relationships between meat consumption and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes,” said Renata Micha, a research fellow in the department of epidemiology at HSPH and lead author of the study. “Most prior studies also did not separately consider the health effects of eating unprocessed red versus processed meats.” “When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, 4 times more sodium and 50% more nitrate preservatives.” “This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats.” 
Source:  HSPH Study at Harvard

Meat and other animal products are the only dietary sources of Vitamin B12, critically important for healthy nervous systems and making red blood cells.  New guidelines state that we can go ahead and include red meat back into our eating plans BUT opt for the leanest cuts.  Makes good sense.  


MYTH 3: Chocolate – Dark Only, Eaten Alone, Moderately

Dark Chocolate and chocolate, and their benefits are the source of many myths.  Since we are looking for the health benefits, here are the guidelines for healthy Dark Chocolate.

Dark Only:
~ Dark chocolate, which should be at least 60 percent cocoa by weight, is one of the richest sources of the bioflavonoid antioxidants that counteract cell damage.
~ Milk chocolate, which contains a much lower percentage of cocoa, confers less than half of the benefits of dark chocolate.
~ White chocolate has no health benefits because it lacks cocoa.

Source: WebMD Dark Chocolate

Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University, said part of the reason why so many people love chocolate is because eating it stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. The xanthine compounds in chocolate — a group of chemicals that includes caffeine — aid that reaction.  “It’s absolutely magic food,” Katz said. “Because it’s so good, it almost feels a little naughty.”

There has been compelling evidence that eating dark chocolate has positive cardiovascular effects. Studies have found that chocolate can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots and improve blood flow through veins and arteries in humans.

Eaten Alone:
Dark chocolate — but not eaten with milk says Mauro Serafini, PhD, Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome. The report appears in the Aug. 28 issue of Nature. Antioxidants gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments.

“Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate … and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.”
Serafini’s team signed up seven healthy women and five healthy men aged 25-35. On different days they each ate 100 grams of dark chocolate by itself, 100 grams of dark chocolate with a small glass of whole milk, or 200 grams of milk chocolate.

An hour later, those who ate dark chocolate alone had the most total antioxidants in their blood. And they had higher levels of epicatechin, a particularly healthy compound found in chocolate. The milk chocolate eaters had the lowest epicatechin levels of all.

REMEMBER! Balance the calories. A 100-gram serving of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you ate that much raw apple you’d only take in 52 calories. But then, you’d miss out on the delicious blood pressure benefit.

HINT: Don’t replace healthy foods with chocolate. Most people’s diets have plenty of sweets. Switch those for some chocolate if you’re going to try the truffle treatment.

Thanks for reading.  Barbara

Vitamin C: The Life Extender

In a study by Orthomolecular Medicine News, very strong evidence links the not-so-new Vitamin C and saving lives. Simply put, Vitamin C can prevent heart disease, strokes and cancer.  

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Vitamin C: The Life Extender

Researchers and physicians are applying this potent healer as a major player in the prevention of:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Tissue Health
  • Blood vessel alterations
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Asthma
  • Cancer protection
  • Diabetes blood sugar level support

Vitamin C 101

  • Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a potent antioxidant with increasingly diverse uses in health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Vitamin C impacts every stage progression of atherosclerosis; from preventing endothelial dysfunction and altering lipid profiles and coagulation factors to preventing blood vessel changes that can lead to strokes and other vascular catastrophes.
  • Vitamin C reduces cellular DNA damage that is the vital first step in cancer initiation and also reduces the inflammatory changes that allow a malignant cell to grow into a dangerous tumor.
  • Vitamin C enhances the health-promoting effects of exercise and reduce exercise-induced oxidative damage.
  • Vitamin C supplements also dramatically combat the oxidative damage caused by smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • Vitamin C helps avert or shorten the duration of common colds and may mitigate the risk of serious respiratory conditions like asthma.
  • Vitamin C speeds the clearance of the stomach disease-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori and cut the risk of gastric cancer it causes.

Supplementing with Vitamin C
While often taken for granted, vitamin C is a critical supplement in your program to improve your health.  The recommended daily level to prevent vitamin C deficiency is:

  • NON~SMOKERS: 90 mg/day for men; 75 mg/day for women
  • SMOKERS: 125 mg/day for men; 110 mg/day for women
  • Optimal Health:  Physician recommendation: 1000 mg/day; minimum 400 mg/day

While vitamin C is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, individuals who have certain hematologic disorders such as thalassemia, anemia, or glucose-6-phosphate deficiency should consult a physician before supplementing with vitamin C.

The role of vitamin C in modern science is gaining importance and is growing daily.  Personally, I find it comforting to know that we can change the course of our health by taking a simple, natural vitamin supplement.  There is no doubt that future studies will uncover even more positive findings on the health benefits of the ancient vitamin C!

Thanks for reading! Barbara

Is your bedroom the cause of your sleep troubles?

good night’s sleep, difficulty falling asleep, sleep wake cycle, sleep problems, sleep disorders, fall asleep, falling asleep. night’s sleep, sleep environment, bedroom environment
Sleep Troubles in the Bedroom

When sleepless nights happen to me, it seems I can’t catch up!  Recently, I went through a particularly long period and I knew I had to find out what was going on.  I discovered this: better bedroom, better sleep!  

After reading numerous publications and blogs, I learned that over 40% of Americans have trouble sleeping and that we spend 30% of our lives in bed.  It’s a big deal!  One day, I read a simple posting that reminded me of my recent bedroom redecorating efforts.  Could this really be the source of my problem? To my complete surprise, it turned out to be true.      

Drs. Roslinde Collins, Patrick Wolcoot, Martin Cohn and Shelby Harris agree that any sleeping space that is too bright, too warm, too messy or too stimulating can spell disaster on a healthy night rest.  Here are some helpful tips.  


Fr. Patrick Wolcott, medical director of the Sleep Center of Southern California says “light exposure is one of the strongest regulators of our biological clock – even the glow from an alarm clock or cell phone can disrupt our circadian rhythm”.  For more information, click here. 


  • My new draperies, pretty as they are, were not suppressing street lamps or those early dawns.  Tiny beams of light can affect sleep so I added blackout shades.  
  • My new alarm clock matched my color scheme – blue!  I returned it when I read that blue lights have an especially strong impact.  Dr. Shelby Harris, psychologist and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, states ‘the blue light spectrum affects sleep-wake patterns more than regular white light’.  My newest clock has red lights.


I know this problem very well.  Suffering for years from cruel hot flashes, I strive for cool rooms.  My reading confirmed that we get physiological cues from the temperature.  Dr. Harris says “a drop in body temperature triggers sleep.  The body cools naturally over the course of the night, reaching its lowest core temperature two hours before waking”.  


  • Dr. Martin Cohn, medical director of Sleep Disorders of Southwest Florida, says the ideal temperature is between 60 to 68 degrees.  My husband is going to just love that!  
  • When possible, cool your bedroom down before turning in.  Turn down the air conditioning, open windows or use fans to move warm air out.
  • Black out shades keep rooms cooler as well as blocking out light.  


The National Sleep Foundation state that when we make our beds, 19% of us sleep better.  71% say they sleep better in a fresh-smelling bedroom.  Think about it!  Since we spend one third of our lives in bed, it is sensible that a bedroom be a peaceful retreat.  


  • Make your bed.  Momma was right!  A clean, fresh bed helps us to relax while a messy, unkempt bed or room reminds us of unfinished chores and may leave us feeling stressful as a result.
  • Create a sense of calm and order – close closet doors and dresser drawers.  Take a moment to put away your shoes and jewelry.  Take the time it takes.  Think more feng shui!
  • While this was not a problem area for me, I did simplify the overall appearance of my room.  I like the new ‘spaces’ I created!


TV’s, electronics, books, stacks of unfinished work – it all sends our brain into overdrive – instead of restful sleep.  Dr. Wolcott says our bodies crave routine and repetition.  When we surf the net, check Facebook or watch television, we program our brains to wake up and work.  Four months ago my bedtime routine considerably – I got an iPad.  The games, the books, the news – Zombie Café is such fun!


  • I leave my iPad downstairs.  I have banned all electronics.
  • I read lighter material than the latest James Patterson novel and he catches up on sports.  No more late news for us.  

When I finished making the necessary changes to my bedroom, I was able to regain my normal sleep pattern – and keep my new bedroom!  This is a win-win experience for me.  

Thanks for reading – let me know your thoughts! 

~ Barbara

Middle Age Weight & the Link to Dementia

In May 2011, I started reading new information published about dementia. Only a small family history links me to dementia, so I keep up with current findings.  According to a new study, being overweight or obese during middle age may increase the risk of certain dementias. The research is published in the May 3, 2011, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology

Middle age weight linked to dementia, obesity, Alzheimer's
Middle age weight linked to dementia

“Currently, 1.6 billion adults are overweight or obese worldwide and over 50 percent of adults in the United States and Europe fit into this category,” said study author Weili Xu, MD, PhD, with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Our results contribute to the growing evidence that controlling body weight or losing weight in middle age could reduce your risk of dementia.”

The study found that people who were overweight or obese at midlife had an 80 percent higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia in late life compared to people with normal BMI.  Those with a body mass index (BMI) – which measures weight relative to height – greater than 30, who are classified as obese, were 288% more likely to develop dementia than those with a BMI between 20 and 25, according to the study.

The Alzheimer’s Society states about one out of every 20 people above the age of the 65 have dementia.

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term describing a serious deterioration in mental functions, such as memory, language, orientation and judgment.  There are many types, but Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for two thirds of cases, is the most well-known.

Alzheimer’s Society head of research, Dr Susanne Sorensen, said: “This robust study adds to the large body of evidence which suggests that if you pile on the pounds in middle age, your chances of developing dementia later in life are also increased.  “By eating healthily and exercising regularly, you can lessen your risk of developing dementia.”  She also says, “It’s likely that dementia is caused by a complex mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. However, we still need to know much more about the causes of dementia if we are to find an effective treatment that is so desperately needed.”  Click here for more information about Alzheimer’s.

I for one do all I can to keep my BMI within normal limits.  I am committed to fully enjoying my life which means taking good care of my body and mind.

~  Barbara

Mutual Dependency – Elderly Parents and Aging Children

Elderly Parents with Aging Children, elderly parents, elderly parents living with children, family support, caring for elderly parents, aging parents, family relationships
Elderly Parents with Aging Children

Parents love their children, children love their parents, and siblings sometimes even love each other.  As we age, our relationships change. Nothing about any familial relationship is written in stone, except the love for one another.  

Feelings in the ‘adult child<>aging parent’ relationship go back many years and run deep. Simultaneous feelings of closeness and conflict may complicate matters.  When facing the decline of a parent’s health, death of one parent or financial pressures often mean an aging parent will need increased social and emotional support or services from family—such as help with meals, cleaning, transportation or financial matters.

Of course, having quality relationships make for best decision-making and ease the burdens of care giving. Those adult children and parents who have positive feelings about each other involving mutual assistance and affection are better prepared to deal with the changes and decision of aging.

Conversely, for other adult children, life-long conflicts and unresolved issues from childhood and adolescence can mean continuing conflicts in later life or reactivation of earlier conflicts and negative feelings. Being called upon to provide support to an aging parent can be particularly difficult.

Are you interested in assessing the degree of closeness you have in your relationships?   These questions will assist you. 

Ask yourself these helpful questions:

•    How satisfying is my relationship with my children? How close do I feel toward each child? How well do I relate to my children?
•    To what extent do my children and I enjoy spending time with each other? Is how comfortable I feel being with my child time-related? For example, some children find only a few hours or days can be spent visiting a parent without tension or old conflicts erupting.
•    What interests do my children and I share with each other? How much do we talk with each other about our concerns? About the future? Sensitive subjects, such as death.

Identify areas of conflicts:

•    To what extent do you now have conflicts with your children?
•    What are the areas of conflicts? To what degree are the conflicts “carry-overs” from their childhood or early adulthood?
•    Are conflicts caused by your child’s temperaments or your personality?
•    How would you say you have contributed to each conflict? We cannot change another person, but often there are things we can do—for example, improve the way we communicate or change the situation—that may reduce conflict.

Answering these questions may not be easy. Old or new feelings may emerge. However, look for new insights. Write down your feelings, impressions and insights. This may help you to determine actions that will enhance your relationship. What is one step that would be realistic and constructive in giving direction to your new relationship or reducing a conflict?

When an adult child wishes to reconcile differences, there are several suggestions for attempting to resolve the conflict.

Try these steps to resolve conflict:

•    Work through feelings, being as honest and open as you can. Things that hurt you in the past may be explained or acknowledged. Often feelings can change and relationships improve through this process. However, it takes a willingness to share feelings and insights. This can be a painful process sometimes.
•    You may wish to ask a minister or counselor to assist you in the process of reconciliation to help you move the process constructively along.
•    Sometimes, by giving yourselves a chance to know each other as you are today, appreciation for the other person grows, feelings and situations of yesterday are put in perspective and acceptance comes more easily.

How a parent responds to circumstances may also affect the child’s relationship with him. For example, if the parent complains excessively about losses and how little she sees her adult children, the adult child may feel overwhelmed or helpless to remedy the situation. He may stay away from the parent rather than listen to the complaints. Consequently, the parent may feel cut off from the adult child—thus adding another loss to the list of losses and further straining the relationship.

Very aged parents may withdraw from painful reality to pleasant memories of the past—especially when denial has been the lifetime pattern for dealing with losses. In this case, this withdrawal affects the extent the adult child is able to relate to the parent. On the other hand, the parent may need and want help but not permit the adult child to provide any help because he wishes to remain independent regardless of the cost. Such independence may suggest that the older person desires detachment from family members, not permitting the closeness preferred by the adult children.

What do elderly parents owe their children? What can we do to improve relationships with adult children as our health declines and we need more assistance?

If you are an aging parent:

•    Learn about the developmental changes of middle age and the problems that adult children face today.
•    Cooperate with adult children when help is needed.
•    Make it as easy as possible for adult children to help. It may mean being more flexible to prevent frustration of adult children. For example, the fragile 95-year-old can permit people other than her exhausted 75-year-old daughter to do the household tasks—even if she prefers her daughter to do them rather than hire someone else.
•    Accept help graciously. Rely on others and let them rely on you. This opens the way for the adult child to help with the elderly parent. This way the aging parent permits the adult child to grow to fullest maturity.
•    Communicate openly. Build a climate where feelings can be shared and solutions can be reached together.
•    Share with adult children what it means to age. You may even help your adult children to accept their own aging.

Families that view dependence needs as normal and varying across the life span—from infancy through old age—create a climate for strong personal relationships and the necessary need for interdependence.  The end result is an inter-generational strength that fosters supportive-ness that grows as generations are added.  Parents will no longer try to manipulate or control the behavior of the young nor will the younger generation attempt to take control or treat their parents as helpless. With mutual dependency, the aging parent and the adult child can each maintain self-esteem.

~ Barbara

Grumpy Old Man Syndrom – Male Menopause is for Real!

This is a guest post by my husband, Tom Brooks.

male menopause, andropause, irritable male syndrome, grumpy old man syndrome
Grumpy Old Man Syndrome

Hello readers, Tom here!  Since turning 55, my wife began calling me ‘Grumps’ instead of ‘Gramps’.  I realized I was changing but didn’t know why until came across an article about Jed Diamond’s book, Male Menopause – this one is for the guys!

GRUMPY old men have long been an established figure of fun. In recent years they’ve even had their own TV shows – but now they’re up for therapy.  Now is seems that crustiness among us mid-life chaps isn’t just advertisement – it’s real!

Now it’s a known fact that most men experience ‘change of life’ symptoms.  Officially it’s labeled IMS – irritable male syndrome, a condition resulting in depression, moodiness, anxiety and low sex drive.  Before you roll your eyes and say this is another crazy notion, Dr. Gerald Lincoln, of the Medical Research Council on Human Reproductive Sciences, who coined the term, IMS, emphasizes that there is a gradual decline in testosterone levels in men after the age of 30 which may be linked to mood changes and irritability.  Jed Diamond, a 61 year old American psychotherapist specializing in men’s health, says it’s an identifiable condition resulting in depression, moodiness, anxiety and low sex drive.  He personally interviewed hundreds of people and has concluded that IMS can, and does, destroy relationships – it almost broke up his own marriage.  

Testosterone, like it or not, is that much publicized male hormone that becomes the cause of everything from adolescent pimples to road rage.  In all fairness, it is fundamental to the development of male sexual characteristics.  IMS, however, is caused by more than just hormones.  IMS is a multidimensional problem, in which hormonal fluctuations interact with psychological and sociological factors which can affect men strongly, particularly in mid-life.  

According to Diamond, there are four related aspects of IMS.

  1. Hormonal functions, particularly testosterone affecting physical and mental changes.
  2. Physiological changes in neurotransmitter levels like dopamine and serotonin, linked to depression.
  3. Stress levels, such as job concerns or whether they have enough money to retire.
  4. Male identity issues, such as finding their place and importance in society.

When does this normally occur? Andropause or male menopause generally occurs between the ages of 40-55 but sometimes as early as 35 or as late as 65 – and not all men go through it!  As mentioned, it is tempting to lump many symptoms together – such as anxiety and irritability and their erosive effect on relationships – under what is loosely called mid-life crisis but IMS adds the hormonal and physiological aspects.  When Diamond conducted an on-line survey on Men’s Health website he received over 10,000 responses from men and women discussing how IMS destroyed their happy lives.  

Treatable?  Diamond believes IMS is treatable using a combination of mental, spiritual and physical exercises but also advocates testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which remains controversial issue having regarded in the past as both unproven and also possible linked to prostate cancer, while this has been clinically unproven.  Other experts recommend (HGH), human growth hormone as a safer, more effective route.  

The medical world remains far from decided on the issue of male menopause itself, although more and more medical authorities are accepting it.  Dr. Lincoln discussed his work along colleagues dealing with young men on testosterone replacement therapy for testicular cancer or other conditions, and if they came off their supplement, they became depressed and sometimes irritable.  They could tell you if you had given them a placebo pill instead of testosterone.  So, men clearly require a critical level of testosterone to maintain male behavior.  

Dr. Lincoln also maintains that TRT is not a quick-fix solution for age-related problems.  He points out other medical conditions, such as diabetes or low thyroid function, can cause impotence.  He commends Diamonds book and encourages more research into the listed men’s health issues.

On a lighter note, comedian Elayne Boosler says: “When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping.  Men invade another county!”  For men on the verge of TRT, however, the solutions may not be quite so simple.  

~Tom Brooks

Staying Fit After 50

Staying fit after 50
Staying fit after 50

I recently read that the secret to longevity may be keeping fit and active after age 55.  It’s easier for me to stay active because I have always had a high level of energy while my sister is quite the opposite.  

Just because we get older doesn’t mean we quit take care of ourselves physically.  Did you know that getting older doesn’t mean we will inevitably experience weight gain? If we remain active, we maintain muscle mass and our metabolism will not slow down much.  


It all comes down to “energy in and energy out”.  
Energy in = food that we eat.  Read our Anti Aging Super Nutrient Series
Energy out = amount of activity that we expend.  

As we age, our choices for physical exercise change.  Watching my son compete in the “Rugged Maniac” competition last Saturday reminded me that I have made different choices to stay fit.  I walk at least 20 minutes each day and free weight routines every other day.  Many of you have chosen low-impact aerobics, yoga, or water exercises.  Some choose the air-conditioned mall to make their rounds for healthy starts to the day.  Bowling, golf, and fishing are group sports that encourage both supportive participation as well as social interaction.  You can usually find senior specific recreational clubs in your area – if not, create one! Not sure which exercise is right for you?  Click here! 

Staying physically fit is a far better option than a hair-raising trip to the ER.  Remember – before you start any exercise program, you need to get your doctor to sign off on your activity.  

I recently watched Dr. Robert Butler on The Early Show.  He listed out the ‘Four Components to Keeping Weight off after 50:

  1. Aerobics:
    You should engage in real physical activity where you are sweating at least three times a week.  
  2. Muscle Strengthening:
    Building strong muscles will keep your metabolism up (muscles burn more calories than fat) and help support your skeleton, keep your bones/back aligned properly. Also helps keep your body balanced (see #4).
  3. Stretching/ Flexibility: 
    If you don’t stretch your muscles, your body can become tight and rigid, making it more painful and difficult to do ordinary activities like putting on shoes and reaching for things on shelves.  You can increase your flexibility by doing a series of stretches a few times a week. When you get up, you should do a few stretches, like lie on the floor and reach as far as you can in all directions, move your legs from side to side, do the mad cat position (arch your back), put your hands on the side of the doors and lean into the opening. You can also do those typical runner’s stretches like stretching your hamstring and quadriceps. You should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds; don’t rock back and forth.
  4. Balance:
    It is important to do balance-building exercises so that you can react to situations and not fall and break a hip. You can do balance building exercises during the routine course of your day: stand on one leg while you are waiting in line, or go up and down on your toes.

I thought his message of ‘good news’ was important for everyone to hear – even if a person has had a sedentary life, it is never too late to exercise. Gradually, a person can get back in shape.  My sister did it – you can too!

~ Barbara

Fraud for the Ages

Fraud Targeting Seniors, Health Fraud, Phone Fraud, Telemarketing Fraud
Fraud Targeting Seniors

When my close friend told me she lost money through phone fraud, I was surprised.  This was another story of someone in our age group being victimized.

In my close circle of friends alone, there has been identity theft, phone call fraud and loss of privacy issues.  I realized it was time to sit down and educate myself.  By referencing the better of two informational websites as well as a list of tips for fraud prevention, I hope to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of fraud.

1.  Federal Trade Commission’s statement on “Health Fraud and the Elderly: A Continuing Health Epidemic”

In 2001, the FTC prepared a statement on “Health Fraud and the Elderly: A Continuing Health Epidemic”.   Director Howard Beales states: “My comments will focus in particular on our work to combat fraudulent claims for products marketed as treatments or cures for serious diseases, many of which are particularly prevalent among elder citizens, including cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Although aggressive law enforcement is crucial, the best consumer protection comes from preventing consumers from being deceived in the first instance. Thus, the Commission emphasizes consumer education to help consumers spot and avoid health fraud.

Consumer Health/Injury

We, the aging population, are a common target for fraudsters and scam artists.  As we are confronted with new needs for medical and consumer information, this opens the door for promoters of false cures and magical remedies all with the ultimate goal of separating us from our money.  We lack information and hold false beliefs about health and the causes of disease which contribute to our susceptibility to health fraud in particular.

Why? How are they so successful — because they promote HOPE? At best, these remedies are unproven, quick, painless – and worthless.  At worst, some products and services can pose a serious health threat. The promise of worthless or unproven remedies can deter victims from seeking the best available treatments. In some instances, particularly in the area of cancer, marketers have even told victims that it is not necessary for them to seek conventional treatment.

Example, one website for an unproven treatment told consumers:

Does this mean you can cancel your date for surgery, radiation and chemotherapy?

YES! After curing your cancer with this recipe it cannot come back.


But if you do not wish to make your doctor angry, you could follow her or his wishes, too.

Be careful not to lose ANY VITAL ANATOMICAL PARTS in surgery,

you may need them later when you are healthy!

Deferred treatment is not the only risk; some products and services are dangerous. This is a concern the Commission takes very seriously. Safety is a primary criterion the Commission uses in its case selection process, as illustrated by our recent cases against marketers of products containing ‘COMFRY’, an herbal product that, when taken internally, can lead to serious liver damage.

Law Enforcement

The Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Postal Service, and state law enforcement and regulatory agencies all play a role in protecting consumers, especially seniors, from health fraud. To combat health fraud on the Internet, the Commission initiated Operation Cure All.  The initial phase of Operation Cure.All consisted of two Internet surfs conducted in 1997 and 1998. As a result of these surfs we found over 1600 sites world-wide making questionable claims for products marketed as treatments for heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Of these, over 800 were located in North America, with the vast majority in the United States.

In 2009, the Commission has filed eight cases as part of Operation Cure.All, targeting companies that market a variety of devices, herbal products, and other dietary supplements to treat or cure cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and many other diseases. Among the products for which marketers made unsubstantiated health benefit claims were a DHEA hormonal supplement, St. John’s Wart, various multi-herbal supplements, colloidal silver, comfrey, and a variety of electrical therapy devices. Additionally, previous challenged products include Cat’s Claw, shark cartilage, cetylmyristoleate (CMO), Essiac Tea,and magnetic therapies. In all these cases the companies made strong claims about treatments or cures for serious diseases.

Consumer Education

The Commission maintains a comprehensive consumer education program.  “Miracle Health Claims: Add a Dose of Skepticism”; provides specific information about the efficacy and safety of popular products as well as information about spotting and avoiding health fraud. Another brochure, “Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services,” published jointly with the National Association of Attorneys General, informs consumers about where they can go for information about arthritis cures, alternative medicine, and other health issues, and where they can file complaints about health fraud.

The Commission also uses the Internet to distribute its consumer education messages. The Commission’s Website,, provides links to reliable sources of health information, including, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, and consumer education tips such as those found in “Virtual Health Treatments Can Be Real World Deceptions.”

Health fraud poses a direct and immediate threat of both economic and physical injury to persons already suffering from serious conditions and diseases. The elderly are particularly vulnerable because of the high incidence of health-related problems in this age group. With thousands of marketers pushing worthless or unproven remedies, and limited enforcement resources, there is reason for concern.

On the positive side, consumers now have more accurate, reliable health information available to them, through the Internet and other sources, than ever before, and consumer surveys show that consumers are using these resources in record numbers.

2.  Fraud for Consumers

Their topic list: Alliance against Fraud in Telemarketing and eCommerce; Stopping Unwanted Sales Calls; Stop Calling Me! Remove Your Name from Marketing Lists; Identity Theft, Shopping Online; Your Privacy and more.

Telemarketing fraud robs U.S. citizens of at least $40 billion annually, according to Congressional estimates, and surveys by the American Association of Retired Persons indicate that over half of those victims are age 50 or older. It appears that most elderly fraud victims don’t make the connection between illegal telemarketing and criminal activity. We don’t associate the voice on the phone with someone who could be trying to steal our money.

‘Recovery Room Scams’ – the worst.  They are telemarketers who prey on people who have already been victimized from previous scams by promising to get them their refunds or prizes, 900 numbers where consumers are enticed to pay for calls in return for some bogus information such as how to receive free credit cards, and of course many senior’s favorite are the contests like Sweepstakes, which lure them in with false offers of cash or prizes.

Some of our elderly who believe they are Internet savvy might also fall prey to fraud. You don’t have to look far on the Internet to find health products that are totally bogus, prescriptions that are illegal and consumers who are unsuspecting.

3.  Fraud Tips to Know!!


Phone Fraud

Many phone scams involve bogus prize offers, phony travel packages, get-rich-quick investments and fake charities. Con artists are skilled liars who spend a lot of time polishing their sales pitches. As a result, it can be difficult to see through their scams.  Alert:  when you hear the buzz words for fraud:

  • You must act “now” or the offer will expire.
  • You’ve won a “free” gift, vacation or prize — but you must pay for “postage and handling” or some other charge.
  • You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number or have your check picked up by courier — before you’ve had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
  • It’s not necessary to check out the company with anyone — including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency.
  • You don’t need written information about the company or its references.
  • You can’t afford to miss this “high-profit, no-risk” offer.

Telemarketing Fraud

It’s the Law.  You need to know your rights.  If you are troubled by calls – whether abusive, deceptive or simply annoying — should know that, under federal law:

  • It’s illegal for a telemarketer to call you if you have asked not to be called.
  • Calling times are restricted to the hours between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Telemarketers must tell you it’s a sales call, the name of the seller, and what they are selling — before they make their pitch. If it’s a prize promotion, they must tell you that you don’t have to pay or buy anything to enter or win.
  • Telemarketers may not lie about any information, including any facts about their goods or services, the earnings potential, profitability, risk or liquidity of an investment, or the nature of a prize in a prize-promotion scheme.
  • Before you pay, telemarketers must tell you the total cost of the goods and any restrictions on getting or using them, or that a sale is final or non-refundable. In a prize promotion, they must tell you the odds of winning, that no purchase or payment is necessary to win and any restrictions or conditions of receiving the prize.
  • Telemarketers may not withdraw money from your checking account without your express, verifiable authorization.
  • Telemarketers cannot lie to get you to pay.
  • You do not have to pay for credit repair, recovery room or advance-fee loan/credit services until these services have been delivered.

Develop responses.  To end unwanted sales, possible responses include:

  • I don’t do business with people I don’t know
  • Please put me on your ‘Do-Not-Call List’
  • I’ll need to see written information on your offer before I consider giving you money
  • You can send that information to my attorney’s office at . . . .
  • Perhaps the easiest response is, “I’m not interested. Thank you and good-bye.”

Remember this and don’t be shy:

  • Say so! If you don’t want the seller to call back, say so. If they do call back, they’re breaking the law. That’s a signal to hang up!
  • Take your time and ask for written information about the product, service, investment opportunity or charity and then
  • Talk to a friend, relative or financial advisor before responding to a solicitation. Your financial investments may have consequences for your family or close friends.
  • Hang up! If they ask you to pay for a prize. Free is free.
  • Don’t know the caller?  Keep information about your bank accounts and credit cards private unless you know who you’re dealing with.
  • Hang up! If a telemarketer calls before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Check out any company with the state and local consumer protection office before you buy any product or service or donate any money as a result of an unsolicited phone call.
  • DO NOT send money — cash, check or money order — by courier, overnight delivery or wire to anyone who insists on immediate payment.

If you suspect a scam, call your state attorney general. The Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule gives state law enforcement officers the power to prosecute fraudulent telemarketers.
I hope this information is helpful.  My group of friends printed out the ‘Helpful Tips’ portion and posted on their refrigerators and by their home telephone.  Any helpful ideas or comments, please post!  I would love to hear from you.

~ Barbara