“Don’t worry!” (What not to tell a sick friend)

When it comes to caring for a sick friend, sometimes our best intentions can go awry.  For example, how many times have you tried to cheer someone up by minimizing their pain, illness or accident with a more devastating experience of your own?  “I am so sorry that you broke your leg.  I broke my leg skiing once and had to crawl to the first aid station!”  Or perhaps your offer to do something on their behalf was met with, “I’m not an invalid, I can take care of myself!”  The latter instance has happened to me.  That is, by offering to help my sick friend without first asking if he wanted my help, I was actually making him feel more incompetent than he already felt from his illness.

If you are transitioning into becoming a caregiver or simply visiting a sick friend, you might want to brush up on caregiving etiquette by reading, “For Sick Friend: First Do No Harm,” WSJ April 13-14, 2013, C3.  The article gives “10 Commandments for Conversing With A Sick Friend” that might help you avoid a very common illness known as ”foot in mouth syndrome.”


The Hidden Costs of Dementia Affect the Next Generation

Dementia is the gradual detoriation of mental functioning that affects memory,  thinking, language, judgment, behavior, and a person’s ability to perform normal daily activities.  According to a study by the RAND Corporation published in the Wall Street Journal, “Dementia is one of the country’s most expensive medical conditions, costing the  U.S. between $157 billion and $215 billion a year in medical care and other costs, such as lost wages for caregivers..”  click here to read, “Dementia’s Cost to Nation Piles Up.”

More often than not, people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (a form of dementia) are often cared for by spouses and children.  The emotional, physical and financial effects of caregiving can be devistating on the caregiver and add to significant costs and demands on our health-care system.  As one caregiver noted,  ”These are hidden issues that…are wiping out families.  It doesn’t stop at just the person with Alzheimer’s and their spouse. It’s going to the next generation.”



Getting an “A” in Successful Aging

Can you learn how to age more gracefully? Are there ways to become a more active participant in the aging process? Are there things you can learn to stay healthier longer?

The latest data says yes to all those questions. Good news for us all!

Those questions and more are addressed in the Successful Aging program of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine housed at Mass General in Boston. The nine-week course, designed for those 65 and over, equips participants with tools to help them use the latest advances in our understanding of the aging process. Among the topics covered are stress reduction using the Relaxation Response; how stress contributes to conditions like hypertension, insomnia, chronic pain and cognitive decline; mood enhancement methods to remain positive and ten tips on aging well.

For more information, download a Successful Aging program factsheet (PDF) or visit the MGH Benson-Henry Institute site.

Do you have a resource you would like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.

Colonoscopies for Dummies

Let’s face it, no one wants to have a colonoscopy.  The bowel-cleansing prep and procedure are no fun, waiting for the results is nerve racking, and asking someone for a ride home is embarassing if you have to share the reason why.  Further, if you don’t have Medicare or private insurance, colonoscopies (and other screening tests) can be expensive.  So why should you have a colonoscopy? Because it is a proven lifesaver.  According to Dr, Sharon Orrange, “Colon cancer deaths dropped for the first time 4 years ago and that is because of screening colonoscopy.“  A colonoscopy  can lead to the detection and removal of polyps, some of which may progress to cancer.

A colonoscopy is one of the most common procedures doctors use to detect and prevent colon-rectal cancer.  Other methods are discussed in Do You Really Need a Colonoscopy? Most doctors recommend having a colonoscopy when you turn 50, which is when I had mine.  I did not discuss the procedure with my friends for many of the reasons mentioned above, but I had an idea that it would not be pleasant.  So, based on the fact that I knew I had to cleanse my colon of waste, I developed a plan.  My methods are not doctor approved or scientifically proven, but this is what helped me breeze through my colonoscopy.  (Your results might vary greatly so please, consult your physician.)

1) Limit your solid food intake.  Three days before I purchased the purging liquid I stopped eating meat, potatoes, bread and other solid food.  I lived on soup, yogurt, jello, juices and smoothies.

2) Be near a toilet.  If you are going to have the runs, then make sure you don’t have to run far – and use baby wipes.  Set yourself up in a comfortable chair and be patient – it will come.

3) Wear comfortable clothes.  Do not weatranything that is difficult to unzip, unbotton untie, etc. as you make your way to the bath.

4) Set up your appointment for a Monday.   This will allow you to spend the cleansing process resting on Saturday and Sunday in front of the TV, with a good book, napping, listening to music, etc.

5) Chill your cleansing fluid.  I believe that I was prescribed Coylte and it tasted better chilled then at room temperature.

6) Rest after the procedure.  You will feel a bit whoosy and/or dizzy, so get plenty of rest and be sure to keep your head above your waist when you stand up.  I also didn’t feel like eating anything, but that lasted for only a couple of hours!

I don’t remember the actual procedure but after I was done, I was told by my friend that I appeared ‘out of it’ and was wise to arrange for a ride home.  Now that I have had my procedure,  I feel much happier knowing that everything is ‘ok’ (for now) and I am not fearful about having another. I readily share my tips with anyone who asks, and encourage them to go into the procedure with an open mind vs. fearing the worse.

Do you have any recommendations for breezing through a  colonoscopy? Your comments and articles are welcomed.

Here are some other articles you might find useful:

Preparing for a colonolcopy

How to prepare for a colonoscopy

Colonoscopy – and how to enjoy drinking the foul tasting purging fluids.