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April 2012
Logo for AWE*some Film Festival

Saturday, April 28

9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

     You are invited to the second AWE*some Film Festival, a celebration of growing older. Your admission, light breakfast, and healthy lunch will be only $10, thanks to underwriting by local organizations that serve seniors and their families.
     Surfing for Life, an award-winning documentary about men and women still surfing in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, will kick off the festival. In the afternoon, we will premiere Hi, Lillian. This charming short tells the story of an alienated, bereft woman who discovers a welcoming community in an unlikely place. Co-producers for both films will be on hand to talk with audience members.  
     The hit of our inaugural festival, Moment by Moment, will be back by popular demand as will its stars, Molly and Jeramy Hale. Their inspirational approach to patient empowerment, caregiving, and "ability" issues drew many appreciative comments last year.
     A romance, a dramatic short biography, and an Oscar-winning feature will round out the day's six films.
     The festival will be presented in the Good Samaritan Hospital auditorium by the Aging Services Collaborative and h2u, a wellness group at Good Sam. Make your reservation through the hospital's call center at 1-888-724-2362. See you there!
Spring Health Lectures 
     Our free, public presentations in English, Mandarin, and Spanish will continue through May. Please check our website for topics and details.
News You Can Use 


Medical Bills
     Are you worried about medical expenses? With or without health insurance, you can lower your health care expenses by following these principles. You can also enlist your doctor's help in controlling costs.
     These additional resources may help you better understand, lower, or fight medical bills:


   - Understanding Medical Bills
   - Keeping Track of Medical Bills
   - Negotiating a Large Medical Bill
   - Healthcare Blue Book (lists typical prices for services)

   - ICD-9-CM (billing codes for diagnoses and procedures)
   - Appealing an Insurance Claim Denial
   - Consumer Health Insurance Issues (CA Dept. of Insurance)
   - Managed Care Problems and Complaints (CA Dept. of Insurance)


Senior Drivers
Older man driving     California's Department of Motor Vehicles has a "Senior Guide to Safe Driving" booklet for seniors and loved ones concerned about safe driving. If you're a senior, you might like this online self-assessment created by the DMV.  Other DMV resources include a "Senior Ombudsman Program" for assistance in individual cases. 

     The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has guidance for adapting vehicles to better accommodate drivers (or passengers) with strength or mobility issues.


Second Opinions
Doctor's pocket     If your doctor were to diagnose a serious new condition or recommend a treatment that entailed significant risk, cost, or discomfort, should you consult another doctor?
     Consider the issues described in these links when deciding whether to get a second opinion. Learn about the frequency of misdiagnoses in a recent Wall Street Journal blog and article. And read a quirky description of second opinion dilemmas as seen from the vantage point of being both a patient and a physician.


Risks vs. Benefits   
      "What are my treatment options? What are the pros and cons of each option?" Two excellent, online resources can help you answer such questions.
Balance scales     If you take a drug for any relatively common condition, visit Consumer Reports' Best Buy Drugs. Their detailed, comparative evaluations of medication effectiveness and cost are clearly written, extremely informative, and free. These are also briefly summarized in English and Spanish. Additional information on Best Buy Drugs can help you select, purchase and use medications wisely. 
     The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has brochures comparing the effectiveness of treatments for various health concerns. Below are topics covered in the past year. Most are available in Spanish. You can also access more detailed information written for physicians. Many other topics were addressed previously.
   - Autism Spectrum Disorders
   - Type 2 Diabetes (drugs)
   - GERD or Acid Reflux Disease
   - High Blood Pressure (drugs)
Questionable Chemicals in Your Bathroom
Sudsy hands with a bar of soap     "In 2003, the European Union banned more than 1,100 known, suspected and probable carcinogens, mutagens and reproductive toxins from personal care products. In contrast, the United States has only restricted or banned 11 chemicals," writes the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
     Learn which companies have eliminated the most suspect chemicals from their products; why you should care about the ingredients in your hair, skin care, and cosmetic products; and what you can do to lower your chemical burden. The Campaign's FAQ page provides more context.
In This Issue
Spring Health Lectures
News You Can Use
Volunteer with PlaneTree
Dining Out for Life
Fight Cancer with Food
Pancreatic Cancer Symposium
Healthy Saturday!
April 14
Mom and daughter hugging
    Treat yourself to a lively, informative day!
    Good Sam's Women's Health 360 conference will begin at 8 a.m. with breakfast at the San Jose Marriott. Inspirational keynote speakers will bookend the break-out sessions by board-certified physicians. The event is free; reservations are required. We hope you'll also drop by our table for a heart-healthy, limited edition PlaneTree chocolate.
    Then come to the Saratoga Library at 2 p.m. to hear about the immense health benefits of stress reduction and to learn simple, research-based tools for attaining more inner peace and joy.
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Volunteer with PlaneTree
PlaneTree's logo
    If you have worked with the public in a library, medical, or health education setting and can spare 4 hours a week, please consider joining our volunteer staff. We are recruiting a few people with relevant backgrounds who would enjoy helping consumers access health and medical information. Please fill out our application and return it.
Dining Out for Life
    Tired of cooking and washing dishes? Here's a great excuse to eat out!
    Dine at a participating restaurant on Thursday, April 26, and 25% of your food bill will support The Health Trust AIDS Services.
Fight Cancer with Food
Patient receiving a bowl of soup
    A "Cancer-Fighting Kitchen" seminar for cancer patients, family members, and health care professionals will be presented by an author/chef and an expert in nutritional oncology. Sponsored by the remarkable nonprofit Healing Journeys and the Samaritan Cancer Foundation, this event will be held in Los Gatos on Saturday, May 5. Learn more details, including costs, CE credits, and scholarship and work exchange options.
Pancreatic Cancer Symposium
Diagram of Pancreas location
     Patients and survivors, family members, and health care professionals will find an agenda of engaging topics at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's event in Millbrae on Friday, May 11. Click the tabs for details and CE credit information.
Celebrate with us!
It's our 23rd anniversary


Bragging Rights



     PlaneTalk was named a "2011 All Star" by the service we use to create and mail our newsletter. In their announcement, Constant Contact wrote, "Only 10% of our [500,000+] customers achieve All Star status every year. That you've managed to do it for consecutive years ... makes your accomplishment even more noteworthy."
     Having content of interest to readers - indicated by high open and click-through rates - is among the criteria for this recognition. We are glad so many of you enjoy reading our newsletter. If a specific item in a prior PlaneTalk has helped you or someone you know, please tell us about it. We love a good story!
     PlaneTalk's editor, Aleta Kerrick, is also on our reference staff. Other part-time PlaneTree veterans are Chezire Aclimandos, medical librarian and website guru; Sharon Tyler, medical librarian and IT expert; and Oralia Tercero, Ann Lindsay, and Joan Goode, reference and administrative staff. Our full-time executive director, Candace Ford Gray, will celebrate her 25th year with PlaneTree in October.
     Ever since PlaneTree opened in 1989, we have been fortunate to have many talented, dedicated volunteers who support our small paid staff and assist the public.