Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Cautionary Tale or A Stock Market Tip

That’s my ma, Rachel, and a canine pal, taken during my Colorado visit in May.

Mom is 89 and in good, almost remarkable, health. She has two chronic conditions: glaucoma and osteoporosis, both diagnosed when she was in her early 80s. She’s been faithfully taking meds and is holding her own against both.

This last winter was a wicked one marked by lots of nasty Colorado weather. One day while clearing the snow off her car (she’s still driving), she slipped and fell on the ice. She landed on the point of her right elbow. Perhaps because of the Fosamax, she broke no bones, but her arm swelled like a football and turned black. She lost the use of it for about a month -- couldn’t brush her teeth or cut up her food or do any of the things you normally do with your right hand and arm when you are right handed.

During our May visit she confided the worst part of the fall was psychological; she realized someday it might be possible she would need to have assistance with daily living. This was an amazing admission, never before uttered by my tough, independent mom.

She took me to visit a pleasant assisted-care living center near her apartment and said she wouldn’t mind living there in the event “something happened.”

Okay. I’ll acknowledge that Mom is getting old, but I can’t envision that life in her future. I just see her living a long, healthy life (which she has already done) and then a fast-moving “something” takes her life in a matter of weeks. No long term suffering for months or years. No expensive assistive care, massive amounts of drugs and continual application of lifesaving procedures. My (hopeful) thinking is based on a concept called the Compression of Morbidity, a term describing a long, healthy life followed by a compression of the incidence of disease and illness into as short a time period as possible.

I doubt I’ll enjoy a Compression of Morbidity since I didn’t start worrying about my health until after developing three chronic conditions by my early 60s.

Still, as a war baby (born in 1942), my odds are far better for a longer, healthier old age than the Baby Boom Generation that started to roar through American society just four years later.


My views were reinforced by an online report, “When I’m 64: How Boomers Will Change Healthcare,” issued in May by the American Hospital Association. Eek. By 2030, more than six out of ten Boomers will have at least one of these major chronic conditions: hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and/or cancer. One in three will be considered obese. There will be eight times more knee replacements than today. The rest of the report is equally dire.

My advice? Well, the obvious would be to start getting healthier. Next best advice? Consider investing in medical care stocks. At least you’ll be able to defray some of your doctor and hospital bills with the dividends.

Read the full report at:
http://www.aha.org/aha/content/2007/pdf/070508-boomerreport.pdf.


Alli: Friend or Foe?

The new OTC diet drug Alli (pronounced ally) is being snatched off pharmacy shelves at a phenomenal rate even considering its cost of about $2 per day. The pill isn’t an appetite suppressant but works by blocking the absorption of fat in the intestine.

But, as we all know, nature abhors a vacuum, and that fat has to go somewhere. Detractors have suggested users not take Alli on a first date or while wearing white pants.

Still, control groups demonstrate the drug can help dieters lose up to 50 percent more weight than they would while undergoing the typical reduced calorie/increased exercise regimes. In other words you could lose 15 pounds instead of 10 but you still have to limit calories (particularly those troublesome fat calories) and increase the amount of exercise you do.

In other words, the more things change, the more things stay the same.


Now for something even better: Lipodissolve

Rich Scottsdale matrons are undergoing a hot new cosmetic procedure call Lipodissolve. A recent article in the Arizona Republic reports the treatment involves a series of injections of “synthetically produced but biologically natural entities” into areas of unwanted fat. The fat cells become inflamed, break apart, are metabolized and exit the body with normal waste within a few weeks. The fat doesn’t come back either.

Additional details? Well, it’s not illegal, nor is it for use over large areas of the body. And there aren’t yet any long term studies of its successes or failures.

I can’t help but think back to the early days of liposuction. A woman in our small town underwent the surgery. She looked great; got rid of her chicken wing upper arms and saddlebag thighs. Her belly disappeared. But either she didn’t get much counseling or chose to ignore any medical advice, and continued her eating patterns of old. Within six months she had gained back much that she had lost to the suctioning, but it was now lodged in odd new locales: no belly, but a massive midriff; her upper arms were still slender, but her forearms bulged like Popeye the Sailorman.

E-ya’ later, darlings.

Aunt Rose