Masthead for PlaneTalk Newsletter
December 2009
Stuff a Stocking, Feed a Brain  
     We're currently lining up some great speakers for our Spring 2010 health talks. You'll receive the new schedule in an upcoming newsletter.  
     Among the presenters receiving outstanding evaluations for our 2009 lectures were several who described recent research on keeping our brains vital and productive. One key is regularly challenging your gray matter with something new and different - if you enjoy crossword puzzles, make yourself learn a number or music game. If you're good at numbers, stretch your brain's abilities by taking on a word game.  
     Neuropsychologist Hildy Agustin - whom we're delighted to be hosting again this spring - recommended "tangrams" as a particularly Tango tangram setgreat brain challenge. This traditional Chinese puzzle of shapes and logic can be enjoyed alone by anyone over 6 years of age. Also, two people or teams can play together, either collaboratively or competitively.   
      We like a version called Tangoes, which has two sets of game pieces in a small, handy storage case. We now feature Tangoes in the PlaneTree bookstore for $10 (20% off list price).  
     Come in before we take our winter break to purchase this unique gift for every brain you love!  
Wrapping up 2009 at PlaneTree 
     During 2009, your PlaneTree Health Library -
  • described brain fitness research and techniques to 175 seniors participating in low-cost lunch programs, in collaboration with county library staff. A grant allowed us to give each participant materials for hours of brain-stimulating activities.  
  • surveyed 10 English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) evening classes in East Side Union High School District, offering a choice of low-literacy home health guides. ESL classSubsequently, 190 adult students received their selections. (In one study, use of these "clear language" books reduced emergency room visits by 50%!) The publisher kindly offered a very special price, making grant funds for the project go farther.  
  • designed and developed a portal to the best Internet and other resources on 15 common chronic conditions, to be launched from Santa Clara County Cover of book, Self-Care AdvisorLibrary's website early next year.  
  • recruited top-notch speakers and co-sponsored 18 free health lectures held in the community rooms of area public libraries. Almost 600 attendees indicated they learned useful information from these health talks.  
  • gave away several hundred copies of the donated, 300+ page Self-Care Advisor.(Don't have your copy? Come soon; we're nearly out.)  
  • assisted you, your family and friends, and other community members when you needed our expertise and resources.
     PlaneTree's small staff of medical librarians and expert volunteers couldn't have done all this without help from our community. Donations from appreciative patrons and dedicated supporters allow us to keep our services free for the public. We thank you, and hope you will contribute to Financial documentsPlaneTree as part of your year-end giving.  
     If you are an older patron who is taking an IRA distribution before Dec 31, you can make a charitable donation to PlaneTree and receive substantial tax savings.   
News You Can Use   
Do you dread going to work? Do you have too much to do and too little time? Are the holidays difficult for you?  
Close-up, Young woman relaxingYou'll find numerous ways to limit stressors, techniques for lowering your stress level, and links to many other resources (in pages beginning here) on the HelpGuide website. For immediate relief, try this quickie 6-minute, or more thorough, 20-minute, deep relaxation audio program.
Trouble in Toyland   
Child playing with wooden blocksBefore the kids in your life receive their holiday gifts, you may want to check for lead, phthalates, arsenic and other chemical content. HealthyStuff has safety ratings of toys and other items for kids, such as backpacks, car seats, and clothing. Remember, a beloved character or familiar brand-name is not assurance of safety. A few toys - all from well-known brands - that make noises too loud for kids' tender ears are listed here. 
Logo for Harvard Health LetterTop 10 Health Stories of the Year  
Unless you're very current on medical research, you'll learn of interesting medical developments by reading Harvard Health Letter's selections.
Keeping the Beat  
If you have an implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker, you should know about a recent report in the HeartRhythm Journal. These devices may function Headphone & wiresimproperly if portable headphones are stored in a nearby pocket or draped over the neck - even if the headphones are turned off or disconnected from a player. Headphones must be within 1 inch of an ICD or pacemaker to cause a problem.
Preventing Falls  
A research review found that seniors who took large doses of Vitamin D - 700 to 1,000 IU daily - lowered their rate of Woman's hand gripping a handrailfalls by 19%. Smaller quantities were not effective. A brief summary and the technical report are available. (Although the optimal dose is not yet known and may be higher, be aware that Vitamin D becomes toxic at extremely high doses. Always tell your doctor about each vitamin and supplement you take.)
In This Issue
2009: It's a Wrap
News You Can Use
Book Group
Wild, Wonderful World
Our Holiday Break
Close-up, lots of lit candles
   On Monday, December 21, PlaneTree staff and volunteers will begin a two-week break to relax and enjoy the winter holiday season. We'll re-open on Tuesday, January 5.  
   We wish you safe, peaceful holidays and a healthy 2010.
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Cover of book: The Middle Place
      A feisty 36-year-old mom and wife with young daughters and a larger-than-life dad learns she has breast cancer.  
   "For two days I ignored my family while I devoured Kelly Corrigan's memoir, The Middle Place. I spent a good part of that time crying, but mostly I was laughing. In the tradition of the best memoirists, she captures our hearts and teaches us something new about family, love, and yes, even death." - Ayelet Waldman   
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It's a Wide, Wild,
  Wonderful World  
    Personal accounts, research reportage, discussions, and opinions on health and medical issues abound on the blogosphere. Many are excellent. A recent Forbes article recommended 14 "Must-Read Health Blogs."
Older man reading on a computer
     As with the web generally, finding trust- worthy, worthwhile blogs relevant to your interests can be a fascinating challenge. If you pursue the links listed below, please remember that, while they are popular, they have not been vetted for accuracy and editorial balance:  
  The folks at Wellsphere will soon end their 2009 contest for health and healthy lifestyle bloggers. The 2008 winners are also posted. 
  Listed on Healthcare100 in decreasing order of the global traffic each receives, these 1,200+ English-language health blogs range from high- to low-brow, and from highly personal to policy-focused. (Note: Healthcare100 was in a Wall Street Journal article about businesses using blog rankings to identify and target bloggers who might publicize a product or service with a mention.)