Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More on Stroke

Stroke gets the attention of researchers given it is the third leading cause of death and the leading reason for choosing nursing home care. Earlier this week, the University of California at Davis released information about a study that shows links between high levels of natural occurring estrogen (estradiol) and incidences of stroke, especially in women who are overweight. Read more about this study.

Other recent news on stroke confirms what therapists and others who work with stroke survivors have long suspected, that the number of young stroke survivors is climbing. Some data puts the number as high as 12% of survivors of a first incidence of stroke among those ages 20 to 50 years old.

Contact Rocky Mountain Stroke Center in Littleton, Colorado for more on young stroke survivors. This nonprofit organization is the only agency in Colorado and one of only a handful of programs nationwide that serves this younger demographic.

Post your comments about stroke and rehabilitation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

One More Amazing Effect of Fish Oil

The latest news is that fish oil may help reduce risk of psychosis or schizophrenia. The study involved people with a family history of psychosis or who had mild psychotic symptoms. The positive effects of the fish oil capsules with omega-3 fatty acids may result from changes in cell membranes and interactions with neurotransmitters in the brain.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been in the news for a few years for their beneficial impact on heart health and general brain health. Found in many types of fish, some doctors recommend supplements, especially for those with certain heart conditions. Caution is suggested in selecting the type of fish as some contain higher levels of toxins than others. Coldwater fish, such as salmon and trout, are recommended for their levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and flaxseed also contain high levels. And don’t miss brussel sprouts, kale and algae.

Some foods endure in their goodness. And, science finds them over and over again.
Read more about omega-3.

Do you take your omega-3 in natural foods, supplements or both? Tell us about it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Tool for Caregivers

If you are one of the over 50 million Americans who provides care for a loved one, you will want to check out a new online tool. It is still in beta stage, so you can also be one of the early testers of this tool. The founders are inviting participation and feedback.

You can find the tools at, a hub designed to provide caregivers a centralized place for information and communication. As elders and others who need care become the center of a family dynamic, someone generally emerges as the lead caregiver. However, it is not uncommon that other family members and friends around the country (and perhaps the globe) want and need to be part of the communication process and decision-making. Calls, emails and potentially confusing interactions can drain a family quickly of all resolve to provide care and be as focused on their loved one as possible.

Patients and Families has a secure network for communications among family members, physicians, therapists and others involved in the caregiving process. It is easy to post appointments, updates, details about medications and whatever else feels important at the time.

Watch a video tour that offers a day-in-the-life example.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

PEAK Parent Center Launches 24th Annual Conference on Inclusive Education

PEAK Parent Center opens its 24th annual conference on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. The conference runs through Saturday, February 13, 2010. Walk-in registrations take place Thursday morning starting at 8:00 a.m. and Friday at 7:00 a.m.

The conference agenda addresses best practices and research-based strategies for supporting fully inclusive classroomes. There are "topical institutes" that cover issues in depth ranging from autism to early intervention; and mastery sessions on youth leadership, the IEP (Individualized Education Program, assistive technology, among other topics. Keynote speakers include self-advocates with cognitive disabilities, educators and artists.

Contact PEAK or call 719-531-9400 x118.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl 2010 Ads Please and Annoy

Over 106 million people watched Super Bowl on Sunday, February 7, 2010. More than the final episode of M.A.S.H. It was a record breaker! And today, millions more are voting for their favorite commercials. Betty White in the Snickers ad is topping the chart. What a bonus when Abe Vigoda also appeared at the end of that commercial!

There were other age-related ads, including one with Brett Favre, the oldest QB still playing in the NFL. Looking older with gray hair, he is accepting the MVP award at Super Bowl 2021. “Maybe I should retire,” he says with a touch of irony at the end of this Hyundai commercial. The Who performed at half-time. Pete Townsend has a blog. Oh, and did you see Kiss, the 36-year old band, shilling for Dr. Pepper? Read more about these “aging is funny” ads.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released its latest figures on health care spending in the U.S. Health care costs represented 17.3% of GDP in the U.S. last year. Within a few years this percentage will grow to 20%. In other words $1 of every $5 spent in the U.S. will be on health care. Many countries have nationalized health care. The UK has a national system for health care which represents about 7% of the economy. Some argue that the U.S. has no system, no organized way of controlling costs. As a political commentator said tonight, “Having a health care system of some sort seems fiscally responsible, or at least fiscally insane not to.”

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Don't Get Too Stressed Watching the Super Bowl

Are you ready for this? Experts say that getting too riled up can wreak havoc. In fact, some say it can kill you. While on the face of it, this news seems a bit crazy, the research is rather convincing. We know high stress plays a role in elevated levels of all things bad for you. Add to this all the eating of wings, chips and other artery thickening products, not to mention the beer and other libations. If you are already at risk (especially if you don't know it), the formula can be disastrous as you scream, jump and otherwise feel large amounts of anger about the emerging results on Super Bowl Sunday.

"Spectator risk," Dr. Stephen Siegel, a cardiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, calls it. The study took place at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

The big advice from those who published this study that looked not only at Super Bowl results in the 1980s, but at 2006 World Soccer cup results (and if you think we get excited about our sports here in the U.S., you don't know from excitement and emotion that the rest of the world experiences about soccer) is to relax and enjoy the game. "Don't spend your life savings on betting on it!" The incidences of heart attacks, and fatal ones at that, increased in the hours and days immediately following those events.

As for the science of it all, researchers say that the body releases large amounts of catecholamines (also called epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the bloodsteam at times of stress. "These chemicals can trigger atherosclerotic plaques to rupture, resulting in an acute heart attack or can trigger life-threatening arrhythmias resulting in sudden cardiac death," he said. "Individuals with preexisting heart conditions and those with risk factors for heart disease are at increased risk for such events," says Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

So, as you gather round the TV this Sunday, do some deep breathing first and remember that it is just a game, at least for most of us. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have a bit more skin in the game, so they can be forgiven for having high levels of stress at kickoff time (4:25 MT).

Tell us about how invested you get in Super Bowl. Are you feeling palpitations? Or are you among the millions who don't care one bit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts About My Retail Experience...Now Past

Having spent the last five years as a retailer, I find myself still following trends and predictions, even though I closed my store. In my case, the economy won this round. Who knows what will come, but for the moment, I am looking for expanded ways to make a living. A Renaissance life, perhaps!

Nonetheless, I read with interest some of the analysis at the start of this new year about the retail outlook for 2010. The prognosticators say:

  1. Those who survived 2009 will find less competition. So many businesses closed (by choice or forced) that the landscape in most industries is, in fact, different. I know it’s true in the medical supply/equipment world. The trend started well before we opened Capabilities. We believed our concept, unique and focused on disposable income and not so much on insurance, is still the wave of the future, we believe. And, it was working for the first three years we were opened. It was the unexpected recession hitting so deeply and widely that pushed our model to the limit. With less income, customers wanted only what insurance covered. And that is just not a lot.
  2. Store expansion will continue at a snail’s pace, so there will be leverage to renegotiate with landlords on space. Retailers still “open for business” can work on repackaging rent and other fixed expenses.
  3. The jury is still out on whether or not there will be more access to business credit as the banks weigh carefully just how much credit they want to extend.
  4. Consumers are slowly, slowly spending again. They will still want to buy things on sale, so big profits are most likely not on the horizon for retailers.
  5. In any industries affiliated with health care and insurance it is certain consumers will want whatever they can reasonable get through insurance, if they have it. Tightening the belt will continue with consumers, the experts say, so retailers in any industry have to respond to this demand for rock bottom pricing.
  6. Dollar stores and high end luxury retailers will emerge as the stronger players.
  7. While Boomers led the last decade with a consumer spending spree, Gens X and Y will most likely lead the recovery. “The engine of the Boomer has run out of gas,” says Lois Huff, senior vice president of Retail Forward.
  8. Sustainability will also be a big issue for retailers across the board.
  9. E-commerce will grow in new ways, more personal, easier to access (think phone apps).
  10. Authenticity will become more important than ever. Deliver what you say you will. Watch that marketing efforts and actual experience are not out of sync. Consumers are on the lookout for something to believe in, in spite of the price sensitivity.

Retailers will have a harder time holding onto the “loyalty” message. Retail experts say new ways to promote loyalty must be created. The ubiquitous “key tag” just won’t cut it anymore. Competition will happen on the technological front. The more savvy the retailer regarding consumer buying habits, the more likely that retailer will be the winner.

And the list goes on…While I miss working as intimately as we did with customers to solve the big (and small) problems they faced as they looked for solutions to mobility and comfort challenges, I am relieved on some level to let others sort through the wiles of retailing right now. I look for more diverse ways to bring information to those who need it, and I am delighted to find some.