PlaneTalk masthead, cleaned, 12-10
January 2015
News You Can Use

For Your Eyes...
Shopping for New Glasses
Eye chart     A Consumer Reports article has tips for saving money on your next pair of prescription glasses, plus information about new, high-tech lenses and lens coatings.
Protecting Aging Eyes
     The most common, serious eye disease in seniors is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which causes one's central vision to deteriorate.
     Since research studies first found that dietary supplementation benefited some people who already have AMD, supplements for eye health have become popular. A recent investigation found that many manufacturers fail to duplicate the quality of the supplements used in the study. It is also noteworthy that supplements do not appear to prevent AMD nor help everyone who has it. This New York Times article describes who may benefit from supplementation and lists the commercial products formulated to match the supplements used in the research trials.
     If you do not have AMD but would like to prevent its onset, learn which risk factors you can control. The tastiest of many tips for reducing AMD risk is to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Eating Fish
School of fish      Do you enjoy eating fish, but puzzle over which varieties are environmentally sound and good for your health? You can use this brief article or detailed guide to identify smart choices for both environmental and personal health. In addition, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a free app for smart phone users and wallet-sized printable guides for grocery shoppers and sushi fans; these list environmentally sound choices, but do not address human health issues.

For Smokers (and Non-smokers, Too)
     Diagnosing lung cancer early makes treatment much more likely to be successful, so some insurance plans now cover low-dose computed tomography (CT scans) for people at high risk for lung cancer. Medicare will probably cover the test soon.
Person having a CT scan      If you smoke, stopped smoking within the past 15 years, or have had occupational exposure to asbestos, use this online tool to evaluate your risk of developing lung cancer and the odds of benefitting from screening.
     Although smokers have a much higher risk of developing lung cancer, many people who develop lung cancer have never smoked. Early signs of lung cancer include new respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, discomfort, or recurrent infections; and unexplained weight loss or fatigue. If one or more of these symptoms develop and persist, we encourage you to see a doctor soon.

Heartburn & GERD
Man with hands on stomach & chest      This article describes drugs and foods that may provoke heartburn, lifestyle changes that may lessen the frequency and severity of episodes, and criteria for deciding whether a doctor's visit is appropriate.
     Here are the best over-the-counter medications for occasional heartburn.
     If you have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Consumer Reports suggests which drugs best combine safety, affordability, and effectiveness.

Zinc for Colds
     Although zinc may help you shrug off a cold a little sooner, its downsides may not be worth it.

Eggs in a carton      How many eggs is it okay to eat if you don't have diabetes or heart disease? Or if you do? You may be pleasantly surprised by the current recommendations.
     Some popular claims, such as "free range" and "antibiotic-free," have no legally defined meaning or are not truly informative. Here's a glossary of egg carton terminology.

Bum Knees
Graphic of knee joint      You may be thinking of getting an artificial knee soon if walking has become uncomfortable. However, recent research suggests that doctors and patients should not be too quick to replace knee joints.
     If you and your doctor disagree about whether surgery is warranted, a second doctor's opinion could be helpful.
     If you are not an appropriate candidate for replacement surgery, exercise can make movement less painful. Ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist or to suggest which of these exercises might help.

Fibromyalgia tender points     Treatment of fibromyalgia often includes medications, pain- and stress-relieving techniques, and exercise. Research on the most promising mind-body practices for fibromyalgia are summarized here. The effectiveness, cost, and side-effects of prescription drugs were reviewed elsewhere.
A Beautiful Life...
View thru an open window a brief, lovely, and affecting online film about an elderly man's final weeks of life. At home, supported by his family, friends, and a hospice team, he died as he had lived - with love, grit, and dignity.

     There are also many resources related to end-of-life decision-making and care on the website.

In This Issue
Diabetes Self-care
Glucose meter & veggies
    The Health Trust's diabetes education services were recently accredited. If you are enrolled in Medicare and would like to receive group or individual training in managing your diabetes, contact Jennifer Briscoe at 408-961-9815 or




Blueberries on bush
    All events are open to the public; pre-registration may be required.
* Fee for participation
^ Scroll down the linked page

Growing up & puberty* for a parent & a preteen girl or boy
Check schedule for available dates & locations

Fitness training for people with physical disabilities
San Jose - 3-month program begins Mon., Jan. 12

Mental illness medications
San Jose - Tues., Jan. 13

Talking about the birds & the bees
Santa Clara - Tues., Jan. 13


Covered California health insurance
Cupertino - Wed., Jan. 14

Infant & child car seat installation
San Jose - Wed., Jan. 14 (Class repeats Feb. 11)

Stop smoking (6-session program begins)
Los Gatos - Wed., Jan. 14
San Jose - Tues., Jan. 20

Parenting a special-needs child*
San Jose - 6-week workshop begins Thurs., Jan. 15


Trigeminal neuralgia^
Palo Alto - Thurs., Jan. 15

Financial planning for dementia caregivers
Sunnyvale - Thurs., Jan. 15

Living well with a chronic condition such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, etc. (Scroll to date & click on "Read More.")
Sunnyvale - 6-week class begins Fri. morning, Jan. 16


Chinese medicine during cancer treatment (scroll to p. 9)
Mountain View - Sat., Feb. 17

Toilet training
Sunnyvale - Tues., Jan. 20

Disaster preparedness
Gilroy - Tues., Jan. 20


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims & appeals
San Jose - Wed., Jan. 21

Special needs of veterans at the end of life
San Jose - Wed., Jan. 21

TMJ (temperomandibular disorder)^
Palo Alto - Thurs., Jan. 22

Legal issues related to major illness^
Palo Alto - Wed., Jan. 28

Determining your health baseline^
Palo Alto - Thurs., Jan. 29

Taxes, health insurance, & the Affordable Care Act
Sunnyvale Library - Wed., Feb. 4

Gynecological cancers & clinical trials^
Palo Alto - Thurs., Feb 5

Self-care for dementia caregivers
Sunnyvale - Thurs., Feb. 5 

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