Q. Are older people more anxious than younger people?
Because the stresses of health problems, losses and and other major life changes build up as we get older, we tend to become anxious. Some surveys suggest that one in five older adults suffer anxiety symptoms that require treatment.
Q. I'm a senior who's having surgery and the one thing that scares me more than anything else is the anesthesia. Can you tell me anything to reduce my fear?
There are probably several sources for your fear. The first is that you're older and wonder if you're at greater risk than someone younger. The second is that anesthesia can be dangerous to anyone. The third is that you'll lose total control when you're under. I hope some of the facts about anesthesia will help with all of your fears.
Q. Aneurysms are scary. Do they have symptoms?
Aneurysms are artery bulges. And, yes, they are scary because, if they burst, they are lethal. Many victims of a ruptured aneurysm die before they get to a hospital.
The type and location of the aneurysm will determine the symptoms.
Chest aortic aneurysms, which occur in the large blood vessel (aorta) that carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body, may cause shortness of breath, a raspy voice, backache or shoulder pain.
Q. I'm worried about falling. What should I do about this?
Well, first of all, you can't go around worrying about falling or you won't be relaxed and that can lead to a fall. So, you should concentrate on employing techniques to avoid falls and then don't let the fear take over you mind.
But a respect for the dangers of falling is justified by the statistics.
Q. Is ALS an old-person's disease, or does it affect every age group?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 70, but there have been cases of it in young adults, children and older people. The average age for getting ALS is 55.
ALS is known as Lou Gehrig's disease in the United States. Gehrig, who played baseball for the New York Yankees, died of the disease in 1941. In other countries, ALS is often called motor neuron disease. It is not contagious.
Q. I get a lot of stomach aches. Do you have any tips to prevent them?
If you are having recurring abdominal pain, you should see a doctor immediately. This kind of discomfort can be a symptom of a serious ailment.
However, if you're talking about the kind of stomach aches we all get occasionally, there are some things you can do to prevent them:
Eat small meals more frequently.
Make sure that your meals are well-balanced and high in fiber.
Drink plenty of water each day.
Limit foods that produce gas.
Q. What can you do to keep the hair you have?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. Androgenetic Alopecia, or pattern baldness, is the most common type of alopecia. It affects about one-third of us. I'm in that one-third.
Men start to get pattern baldness at the hairline and crown. This can lead to complete baldness. Women's hair loss is usually limited to thinning; they rarely go totally bald.
Q. Can a sinus infection give you a toothache?
I can write from personal experience. I had a bad toothache that sent me to my dentist. He took x-rays and could find nothing wrong. He asked me about my sinuses. I told him I was fighting an infection. Bingo.
Yes, infection in the sinuses in your cheekbones can cause your upper jaw and teeth to ache, and your cheeks to become tender to the touch. Sinusitis is a nasty malady that can do much more than give you a toothache.
Q. Is it worth getting shots for my allergies?
An allergic reaction is a complex chain of events that involves many cells, chemicals and tissues throughout the body. While there is no cure for allergic disease, there are many medications available to lessen symptoms. About 50 million Americans suffer from an allergy.
Major allergic diseases include: allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), hives (urticaria), and reactions to substances such as food, latex, medications, and insect stings.
Q. How extensive is alcoholism among older people?
Alcoholism is a serious problem among seniors. Here are a few statistics that tell the story:
About 70 percent of hospital admissions for older adults are for illness and accidents related to alcohol.
About half of older adults in nursing homes have an alcohol problem.
Older adults lose an average of 10 years off their lives because of alcohol abuse.
About 80 percent of doctors misdiagnose alcoholism as depression in older women.
The highest growing number of alcoholics is among 75-year-old widowers.