Three Steps to Act with Purpose in the Midst of Struggle

August 9, 2019  
Filed under Aging Parents, Health & Wellness

By Dr. Scott Symington

We all struggle. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, or how good you look to the outside world. Life is hard—even painful sometimes.

As a clinical psychologist in private practice, much of my work is helping people address internal struggles: anxiety, chronic worrying, depressed moods, and destructive patterns of behavior. Out of this clinical work, I’ve observed a powerful agent of change that is often overlooked and underutilized. That is, the pathway to freedom is accelerated when you learn how to act with meaning and purpose in the midst of your struggle. You can’t necessarily control the anxiety or unhealthy craving from showing up but you do have a choice in how to respond. You can tap into the human spirit and use the nervous energy or problematic feeling as a reminder and catalyst to express the best parts of who you are. Here’s an illustration:

Recently, a woman in her sixties came to see me to address a fear of flying. My client’s daughter had just given birth and lived on the opposite coast. The client was determined to lay eyes on her new granddaughter but the thought of the long flight was an anxious one.

From the beginning of treatment, this client’s personality shone brightly. She was a warm, vivacious woman who naturally encouraged others. It was her trademark. She was known as the bright light who lifted people’s spirits. You couldn’t help but smile and feel good in her presence. Unfortunately, it was this very part of herself—the part that was a blessing to others and personal source of joy—that the anxiety squelched. When she was caught up in a cycle of anxious worry, she found it difficult to be the person she wanted to be. The bright light faded as she clammed up and turned her attention and concern inward.

In preparation for the upcoming flight, we worked on leveraging and tying her gift of encouragement to the anxious energy. Instead of the anxiety clamping down on a beautiful part of her personality, we explored how she could use the anxious energy as a way to bolster this positive part of self.

As the day of the trip approached, she had a plan. Regardless of how she was feeling, she had a focus and a heartfelt mission. Instead of going away in her mind and investing in the worries, she was determined to use the anxious energy for positive action—to be an encourager.

She found plenty of opportunities. She thanked the ticket agent for her professionalism and helpfulness. On the escalator, she complimented a woman on her outfit. While going through security, she thanked a TSA agent for his patience and sense of humor. Winding her way through the airport toward the gate, she left a wake of warm feelings and lifted spirits—a disposition she carried throughout the trip. Instead of allowing the anxiety to stifle her personality, she used the historic struggle to express the best of who she was.

You can do the same. You can transform your struggle into an opportunity for purposeful action. To get started, try following these three steps:

1. Reflect on those times in your life when you expressed the best parts of who you are. As you recall these memories, ask yourself, What behaviors was I engaged in? In other words, start making a list of concrete actions you take when you’re living out your values and in a positive flow with life. Maybe it’s encouragement or engaging in acts of service or expressing gratitude. Whatever it is try to list 5 to 10 specific behaviors that reflect your best.

2. After you have your list, predict the challenge and make an action plan. Maybe it’s a predictable urge to drink at 5PM or an upcoming dentist appointment. Identify the upcoming challenge and be ready to act on one or more of the positive behaviors on your list. For my client above, on the day of travel she was prepared to be a super encourager. Find your own superpower.

3. Keep responding to your internal struggle with purposeful action. This is not a one-and-done situation. If you keep applying step 2 you will create a new response pattern that will transform your life and struggle. The very source of pain can become an automatic reminder and catalyst for positive action. This is very satisfying! You get to flip the struggle on its head and use it for good.

Whatever your struggle is, begin acting with purpose today. Don’t let your personal challenge constrict your life or steal your joy. Use the worries or overwhelming feelings as a reminder and springboard to express your best. Engage in a loving action or do something that reflects a bright part of your person. Try following the three steps outlined above for a couple of weeks and then let me know how it goes!

Study: Kidney disease linked to increased risk of falling

July 18, 2019  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Kidney disease causes middle-aged people to be as susceptible to falling as older adults, say researchers from Ball State University.


Epidemiology of falls and fall-related injuries among middle-aged adults with kidney disease” recently published by the journal International Urology and Nephrology, found that people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) were at increased risk of falls and related injuries even after adjusting for differences in demographic characteristics, health conditions, and lifestyle factors.


Brandon Kistler, a Ball State nutrition professor, led the multi-university team. Researchers conducted an analysis of 186,208 adults between the ages of 45 and 64, including about 5,600 with kidney disease, surveyed in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The study found that no matter the age, adults can take a tumble once kidney disease takes hold, Kistler said.


“Numerous physiological changes associated with chronic kidney failure, such as muscle wasting and weakness, may explain the increased risk of falling,” he said “Changes in bone and mineral metabolism causing weak, brittle bones may lead to an increased propensity for fall-related injuries in people with kidney disease, especially those with end-stage kidney disease.”


More than a quarter of all study participants (27%) reported suffering a fall within the past 12 months and more than a 10th (11%) also suffered an injury. Prevalence of falls was significantly higher in females (28%), men and women with CKD (45%), and females with CKD (49%) compared to their counterparts. Similarly, prevalence of fall-related injuries was significantly higher in females (13%), men and women with CKD (24%), and females with CKD (27%) compared to their counterparts


People with kidney disease may significantly reduce spills by incorporating exercise into their daily routines.  Also, aggressive treatment of other conditions such as depression and arthritis can help reduce falling, said study co-author Jagdish Khubchandani, a Ball State health science professor.


“Physical function and exercise are potentially modifiable, cost effective, and evidence-based strategies to enhance mobility,” Kistler said. “Our study suggests that as in other populations, exercise programs that target strength and balance may be an effective strategy for preventing falls and injuries among people with CKD, but prospective trials are needed.”


The researchers noted the results of this study have broader implications for clinical practice and public health.


“Clinicians first should consider adopting a multifactorial approach to screening for the risk of falling in middle-aged adults,” Khubchandani said. “They should also consider preventive and therapeutic action among high-risk individuals with kidney disease.


“Not all the variables that we included in our analyses are modifiable. Clinicians should focus on modifiable factors to prevent falls — such as home safety, medication monitoring, and depression treatment — as opposed to non-modifiable risk factors, including age, gender, and history of falls. Education of individuals with kidney disease about the risk of falls and explanation of various components of fall prevention practice should improve compliance, which in turn should lead to better overall health outcomes for middle-aged adults with the disease.”

Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases While Enjoying the Outdoors

June 11, 2019  
Filed under Health & Wellness

: Ticks, including the black legged tick, often gain access through pant legs or shirttails and crawl up looking for a place to settle in and feed.
Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS,

By Melinda Myers

You’ve grabbed your water bottle, sunscreen and hat for a hike in the park or some gardening. Add a bit of tick protection to your must-have items when you head out the door for an adventure, to garden or play.

Continue enjoying the outdoors by enlisting a variety of strategies to limit your risk of exposure to ticks and the disease pathogens they transmit. Here are just a few of the ways to increase your safety and enjoyment.

Wear light colored clothing to more easily spot the tick before it moves onto your skin.  Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants. Ticks often gain access through pant legs or shirttails and crawl up looking for a place to settle in and feed.

Consider spraying your clothing with an insecticide labeled for repelling and killing ticks. Spray your clothing and let it dry before wearing. Or invest in pre-treated clothing for gardening, hiking or other outdoor activities. Read and follow label directions carefully.

Always conduct a tick check on yourself, children and pets after spending time outdoors.  Studies show that regular tick checks are the most effective way to prevent diseases transmitted by ticks. Ticks can feed anywhere but are often found in and around the ears and hair, inside the bellybutton, under the arms, around the waist, back of the knees and between the legs.

Check your clothing inside and out.  Ticks can survive for several days in the house and even when washed in warm or hot water. An hour in the dryer on high heat will kill them.

Shower within two hours after spending time outdoors. The water can help dislodge any unattached ticks plus this provides a second opportunity to conduct a tick check. Studies found this practice greatly reduces the risk of tick-borne diseases.

Manage your landscape to reduce the tick population. Keep the grass mowed and remove brush, groundcovers, firewood piles and birdfeeders near the home or where the family frequents. Keep swing sets away from the woods and placed on woodchip mulch. Eliminate invasive barberry, honeysuckle and buckthorn that create a tick-friendly habitat.

Many of us are doing the opposite. We are eliminating lawns, increasing groundcover, planting more trees, shrubs and flowers to create more diverse wildlife-friendly habitats.  There is limited evidence that increasing animal diversity may help reduce the rate of tick associated diseases. Unfortunately, the fragmented woodlands and ecosystems do favor deer and white-footed mice that are key to the maintenance and transmission of tick-borne diseases.

Consider creating a tick safe zone area where your family frequents and limit your time in tick infested areas. Widen pathways, prune trees to increase light, exclude deer and discourage rodents to reduce the risk of exposure.

And if additional control is needed to create a tick safe zone, consider using a pesticide like Summit Tick & Flea Spray that contains permethrin.  You’ll only need small amounts at the right time of the year for effective control. One application in spring or fall is usually sufficient for managing the ticks that can transmit Lyme disease. For the dog tick, also known as wood ticks, an application can be made anytime after the adults emerge. As always read and follow label directions.

Make these practices part of your routine so you and your family can continue to safely enjoy all your favorite outdoor activities.

New AARP Research on Grandparents Busts Stereotypes on Attitudes, Employment, Finances and Lifestyle

April 18, 2019  
Filed under Aging Parents, Health & Wellness, News

Research Finds That Age of First-Time Grandparents Rises from 47 to 50; Number of Grandparents in Workforce Increases from 24 to 40 Percent

AARP released its Grandparents Today National Survey highlighting the latest trends among grandparents in the United States. Since 2001 the number of grandparents has grown by 24 percent from 56 million to 70 million. The research found that grandparents spend an average of $2,562 annually on their grandchildren, equaling approximately $179 billion dollars per year. The youngest grandparent is about 38 years old, with 50 being the average age of becoming a first-time grandparent.

The research found that grandparents have, on average, four to five grandchildren, down from six to seven in 2011. The number of grandparents in the workforce has increased in the past seven years, with 40 percent of grandparents currently employed up from 24 percent in 2011

“Today’s grandparents are an economic force that cannot be ignored,” said Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research, AARP. “They are living longer, working longer, shattering stereotypes and supporting their grandchildren in a variety of ways, including financially and culturally. Nearly all grandparents are providing some sort of financial support, helping to ease the costs of raising kids.”

Key Financial Findings:

The research found that grandparents enjoy the positive aspects of grandparenting such as supporting dreams and sharing roots, history and culture, and experiences. But grandparenting can have a downside for some: 13 percent of grandparents struggle with the financial expectations of being a grandparent, including the cost of traveling to see the grandchildren. Seven percent of grandparents have taken on debt to help their grandchildren pay for college and one in four of those grandparents have cosigned private student loans for their grandchildren and/or incurred credit card debt that has not yet been paid back in full.

View the Grandparents Today National Survey – Financial Fact Sheet.

Other key findings of the research include:

  • 94 percent of grandparents provide some sort of financial support to their grandchild(ren);
  • 87 percent would accept an LGBT grandchild;
  • 34 percent have grandchildren of mixed or different race/ethnicity;
  • 71 percent say their health status is very good or excellent;
  • 89 percent say their relationships with their grandchild(ren) is good for their mental well-being;
  • 29 percent live more than 50 miles away from their closest child, up from 19 percent in 2011;
  • 11 percent have a grandchild living with them, consistent with 2011 results;
  • 5 percent of those in multigenerational households are primary caregivers of a grandchild living with them.

Selecting the best pet for you

April 3, 2019  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Bichon Frise

Ahead of National Pet Day on April 11, which was founded to celebrate the joy pets bring to human’s lives and create public awareness about animals awaiting a forever home in shelters and rescues, Furbo Dog Camera has set out to educate the public about the best breeds for every lifestyle to encourage harmonious relationships between dogs and their owners to keep more dogs out of shelters.


Everyone should have the opportunity to share their life with a dog. They are faithful companions who fill our days with joy and offer unquestioning love. If you’re getting older, this may be the perfect time to have a dog by your side.


First and foremost, you’ll want a dog who fits your lifestyle.


Below Furbo’s picks for the best dog breeds for seniors.


  • Bichon Frise These white balls of fur are the ideal companion for those who love joyful and affectionate dogs. Not only are they relatively simple to train, but they also are extremely friendly. This dog usually reaches no more than 12 pounds, making them the perfect lap pet. They only require moderate exercise, so a quick walk around the neighborhood should keep them happy and healthy. Their fluffy mass of hair does require some maintenance, but it’s nothing an occasional trip to the dog groomers can’t fix.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel If you’re looking for a little snuggle buddy, there’s no breed quite like this one. This quintessential lap dog is happy just to sit with you as you watch TV or read. They remain quite small, usually no more than 18 pounds, and have very few grooming needs. A good brush and an occasional ear cleaning will do the trick.
  • French Bulldog There’s a reason why this breed is a favorite among celebrities. It’s considered the pluckiest and most cheerful of dogs. When they’re young, their compact, muscular frame will require some activity, so this breed may be a better match for active seniors who enjoy getting out. They need very little grooming. However, if you’re planning to share a bed with this little guy, you may want to buy some earplugs — they snore.
  • Maltese The portable and fragile Maltese is one of the smallest dog breeds. Although they may seem timid, they are especially attuned to the feelings of their pawrent. Though they love short, easy walks, they’re just as content to lay on your lap and take a snooze. They don’t really shed, but their hair can get quite long. So, be sure to make frequent trips to the groomers to keep them clipped short.
  • Adopt a Mutt Although it’s unlikely you’ll find a purebred at your local dog shelter, you will definitely find a pup with a heart of gold. These often overlooked dogs come in all shapes and sizes. You can speak to a shelter worker to determine the right fit for you, such as the dog’s energy levels and any health needs. Chances are you will find a companion who appreciates your love all the more.


Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center To Host “99 Faces” Art Project

March 28, 2019  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

National exhibit works to reduce stigma of mental illness, opens April 1

Approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences some form of mental illness, most of whom do so without ever showing signs of their illness to others. The 99 Faces Project: Portraits Without Labels,” designed by Boston-based visual artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell, seeks to break down the stigma associated with mental illness and to encourage those on their path to recovery, as well as their families.

Using art as the vehicle, this unique art exhibit will make its New Hampshire debut at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on April 1 and includes photographs, videos, paintings and sculptures to challenge commonly held assumptions about what living with mental illness looks like, by presenting true-to-life images.

“A key to living well with any disability is to not be burdened with fear of stigma, but rather to have loving acceptance and inspiring role models,” said Cutrell.  “The Many Faces of Our Mental Health Project hopes to encourage those who are on their path to recovery, as well as their families.”

The compelling images are unlabeled and feature 33 people on the bipolar spectrum, 33 suffering from schizophrenia, and 33 people who love and support them. Each image is presented anonymously to reinforce that symptoms don’t define the person. The portraits are diverse, ranging from three years old to individuals in their 90s, and includes individuals from virtually every walk of life.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock is already deeply involved in efforts to address the mental health crisis, and to “change the conversation” about mental health issues. That work is led by D-H Senior Director of Public Affairs and former Chief Justice for the New Hampshire Supreme Court, John Broderick, who for the past two-and-a-half years has been visiting schools in northern New England, urging students to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

“For real culture change to happen, and for transformative conversation to begin, we all need to know what mental illness looks like,” says Broderick. “The 99 Faces Project shows us that mental illness spans all aspects of our society. Hopefully, 99 Faces will also help us open our hearts, change our minds and, at long last, no longer tolerate the shame and stigma that have kept too many people and families suffering alone and afraid for way too long.”

The 99 Faces Project is brought to Dartmouth-Hitchcock by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Arts Program and has already inspired conversation and action with public programs planned for the six-month installation including events for “Veterans and Mental Health” in May and “Law Enforcement and Mental Health” in June.

“Our arts program has grown to include creative artists visiting with our patients to facilitate their journey and playing a key role in our holistic approach to healthcare,” said Marianne Barthel, director of the DHMC Arts Program.  “The arts program’s next step in growth is to utilize the arts as a platform for having deeper conversations about key health care issues facing our communities, The 99 Faces Project fits perfectly into our objectives and I’m proud that we are the first hospital in the United States to host the exhibit.”

The exhibit is free and is open for public viewing during regular hospital hours. To learn more about this exhibit, please visit



Designer creates dress shirts infused with magnets for those with limited mobility and dexterity

February 14, 2019  
Filed under Aging Parents, Health & Wellness

When your career is coaching college football and you spend two hours outside of practice exercising every day, one of the last concerns on your mind is being diagnosed with a serious medical condition. The unthinkable happened to Don Horton, however, when he was told he had Parkinson’s disease. Don’s diagnosis not only led to changes with his body, career and life, it inspired his wife Maura to return to the workforce as an entrepreneur and the inventor of MagnaReady —  the first fashionable dress shirt infused with a magnetic closure system designed specifically for people with limited mobility and dexterity.


The idea for MagnaReady came after Don returned home from an away game with the North Carolina State University football team. He shared a story with his wife that night about how after the game he was in the locker room getting ready for the flight home and discovered that he was unable to button his dress shirt because of the side effects of Parkinson’s disease. One of his players at the time, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, came to Don’s aid, helping him to button his shirt. The humbling experience was one Maura never wanted her husband to have to go through again.


“The moment I heard my husband’s story, I knew I had to take action and give him back the ability to perform the simple task of dressing independently, a task most of us take for granted every day,” said Maura, CEO of MagnaReady. “I used my background in fashion to come up with the basic design for a magnetically infused shirt, and after some trial and error, I had a finished product that seamlessly combined quality with functionality.”


She knew there were millions of other people with Parkinson’s and other mobility-limiting conditions who could benefit from her invention. Maura added the role of entrepreneur to her already busy schedule and launched the MagnaReady business.


For more information visit:


How Sugar Affects Your Heart

February 5, 2019  
Filed under Food, Health & Wellness

Valentine’s Day seems like the perfect excuse to eat your favorite delicious treat. There’s nothing quite like enjoying something sweet from your sweetheart, but did you know how devastating for your health it can be if you consume too much sugar?

We hear a lot about the effects of sugar on our health nowadays, especially when it comes to added sugar. You can even find it in products that you wouldn’t expect to have any, such as ketchup, bread, or barbecue sauce. But is sugar that dangerous for our health and if so, how should we ensure we can avoid it?


Sugar Is Everywhere

If you think you’ll be fine since you aren’t crazy about desserts and sweets, you still may be consuming too much sugar from other products. For example, one can of soda could be enough to satisfy the daily recommended dose of sugar. You shouldn’t exceed 25 grams of sugar for women and 37.5 grams for men. Even if you avoid the obviously sweet foods, you should be aware that even seemingly healthier options, such as fruit yogurt, have a lot of sugar. Start reading labels on products, and you may be surprised at the amount of sugar in some of them.


What’s So Dangerous About Sugar?

As a carbohydrate, sugar can cause an increase in the levels of triglyceride in your blood. Since triglycerides are fat, it’s easy to imagine what kind of adverse effects that can have on your arteries. What’s more, higher than recommended sugar intake has also been linked with lowering the levels of good cholesterol (HDL), increasing blood pressure, and causing various other cardiovascular diseases. This effect is due to increased body weight and fat, which is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases.


How to Avoid Sugar

If you want to cut back on sugar in your diet, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating. As we recommended earlier, start reading the labels on all of the processed or packaged food you buy. Eat as much fresh food as possible and prepare your own meals. A diet rich in vegetables, fat, and protein will naturally lower your carbohydrate intake.

Unfortunately, sugar is addictive and challenging to give up. To not to be overwhelmed, start giving up things one by one, beginning with the biggest offenders, like soda. After a period of going without sweetener, the things you used to love might taste unpleasant for you.


Keeping Your Cholesterol Low

Avoiding sugar isn’t the only thing you can do to keep your cholesterol low and your heart healthy. A natural fiber supplement like Cholesterade can help you keep those aspects of your health under control. Eating healthy and supplementing well are among the best health practices you can adopt. Those are the right decisions that make the difference between wellness and illness in life.



6 Ways To Stay Energized During the Winter Months

January 31, 2019  
Filed under Feature Stories, Health & Wellness

When it’s cold outside, and the weather is frightful, it can be truly delightful once in a while to hole up with a good book, a blanket and a cup of tea. But equally important is keeping up your energy, staying active and maintaining your mental well being through the shorter days of winter.

One of the reasons people are affected seasonally is a lack of sunlight, which not only disrupts your body’s internal clock, but impacts the levels of serotonin: the hormone which affects mood. SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder—is a serious condition that is in fact considered to be a subtype of depression. It’s effects are wide ranging, including things like irritability, social withdrawal, difficulty with concentration, sleeping and a general feeling of lack of energy on the mild end, to serious mental health issues like suicidal thoughts, anxiety and depression.

Even if you’re not afflicted with SAD, staying active and keeping up your energy levels is a key way to deal with the long winter months. Here’s how:

Do what you usually do

It’s important to keep to your normal routines, as much as possible, despite the weather. If you’re a runner, keep running! Maybe take it to a gym treadmill on icy days, or when the temperature gauge hits a new low, but keep running! If you’re a walker, bring it indoors and take up mall walking when the roads and pathways won’t permit an outdoor jaunt. There are countless ways to alter your usual activities so that they are safe and enjoyable, even through the coldest of winter days.

And keeping to your routine has healthful benefits. Most people who have habits and routines that they stick to feel less stressed and more like they’ve accomplished something from what the brain sees as a task list. It can help to reduce anxiety and encourage a general feeling of well being.

Get some energy from nature

Communing with the great outdoors, even in less than perfect weather, can have a tremendous impact on your mood and energy levels. When you feel house / building bound, it’s harder to summon the get up and go that you need to enjoy the everyday moments. Spend a little time outside, among trees, whether that’s on a nature trail or your local park: it will remind you that there is a greater world out there and that you should enjoy every bit of it!


Choose the right food and drink

Fatty, salty foods, or alcohol in excess are never a good idea but even more so during the winter. You want to have stable blood sugar levels and minimal spikes from sources like caffeine, in order to stay happy and healthy. And it probably goes without saying that one too many spiked toddies may not be the best route to maintaining good health. Instead, look for vitamin rich foods:

  • Legumes and nuts – beans and lentils, all vitamin, protein and fiber rich, with just the right types of fats contained in nuts like walnuts.
  • Dark green leafy veggies – kale, spinach and the like are chock full of all the good vitamins and minerals your body craves, including iron.
  • Lean meats – turkey, chicken and pork are good options, in moderation.
  • Fish – particularly varieties with high Omega-3s, like salmon. The healthy fats are good for your brain and its chemistry.
  • Eggs – a good protein boost with a healthy dose of vitamin D.
  • Dark chocolate – if you have a sweet tooth, stick to chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher for your fix.
  • Avocados and bananas – while you might not choose to eat these together, either have a good amount of B6, the vitamin necessary to produce serotonin, which is your mood hormone.

Keep in mind too that while you might still be active, it’s possible that you are less active during the colder, winter months than in the middle of summer, so temper your usual eating habits, in line with your workouts!

Make sure you iron levels are stable

Of all the important levels to maintain in your body, iron is vital. If you’re feeling sluggish and tired, a leading culprit for many is low iron levels. Since most of us cannot get the amount of iron we need from our diet (only about 10% is absorbed that way), iron deficiency anemia is a widespread issue. Iron supplements have historically been difficult to absorb and even harder for to tolerate, but a new formulation called Active Iron can give you 138% of your daily dose, without the usual side effects. Active Iron is absorbed quickly and easily through the small intestine, thanks to new technology that binds it to whey-protein, making it easier to tolerate, even on an empty stomach.

Keep moving and dress for outdoor success

Part of enjoying the great outdoors, even in winter, is being dressed for it. If you’re warm and dry, you’ll enjoy it a lot more! Layer your clothes with a moisture wicking layer next to your skin, a layer for warmth and a third layer to block the wind and wet. In warmer weather, you can always drop a layer, but this is the best way to ensure that if you’re active outside, you won’t get cold too.

Get a little light

A little light therapy can really help deal with the general feeling of unwell that comes from a lack of daylight sunshine. Posited as a treatment for SAD, light boxes are designed to provide a replacement for sunshine, fooling your brain chemically into thinking you’ve absorbed some restorative rays. Look for a light that is designed specifically to treat SAD, if you’re looking for an effective mood booster.

You should always check in with a doctor before applying any type of therapy in your life, but most will tell you that a little light in the dark of winter can go a long way.
With all the ways that you can boost your mood and your energy through the cold winter months, there’s no reason to not enjoy them, snow and all!

Is Hearing Loss a Sign of Dementia?

January 24, 2019  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Most Baby Boomers address their hearing with a series of simple questions.

Can I hear my children when they call me on the phone? Yes.

Can I hear the television? Check.

Are my ears causing me discomfort (i.e. ringing, pain)? Nope.

And that’s the “test” for many Americans aged 60 and older. No harm. No foul. No formal assessment from a team of health care professionals.

However, Baby Boomers must take the possibility of hearing loss seriously. Why? Well, hearing loss may be linked to more than your ability to hear. It may be connected to your ability to think.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hearing loss may increase your risk of cognitive problems and even dementia, a condition marked by memory loss and trouble with thinking, problem-solving and other mental tasks.

Gradual hearing loss is a common symptom of aging, but a study from researchers at Trinity College Dublin suggests that age-related hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline and dementia. The risk of impairment of hearing, vision and other senses increases with age, and almost 15 percent of individuals age 70 and older have dementia.


Protect Brain Health
One in three cases of dementia could be prevented by addressing important lifestyle factors, including taking actions to avoid hypertension, hearing loss, diabetes, depression and obesity, according to a report from the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care. By taking steps to address lifestyle factors early on, the incidence of dementia could be reduced by as much as 20 percent.

Social engagement is one of the activities that protects brain health. If you suffer from hearing loss, you may miss out on more than just conversations. If your ears can no longer pick up on as many sounds, your hearing nerves will send fewer signals to your brain. As a result, your chances for mental decline seem to go up the worse your hearing is. When you strain to hear, your brain experiences cognitive overload, and works harder to decipher what people are saying. It doesn’t have the time to put the information into your memory bank. As areas of your brain go unused, they shrink or get taken over for other duties—and that means less resources for other tasks like memory.

It is often hard to separate the signs of hearing loss from those of dementia, and often one condition may mimic the other. Like any medical condition, the sooner you seek treatment, the better your outcome will be. Because hearing loss often occurs gradually, it can be difficult to recognize when you have it. The only way to know for sure is to get your hearing checked.


Get Your Hearing Assessment

A hearing assessment begins with an audiologist asking routine questions. The testing is easy and painless, taking about 30 minutes. (Allow 60 minutes for a typical appointment.) The visit may include four parts:

  • An otoscopy, which is an ear exam conducted by an audiologist or hearing specialist using an otoscope to look at the three parts of the ear. He/she will use an otoscope, an instrument that features a light bulb, magnifying lens and a cone that is inserted into the ear canal.
    Baseline hearing assessment, which determines the severity of future hearing loss and will dictate a specific course of action to address the damage. The baseline hearing assessment can determine which type of hearing loss you may have.
    Speech understanding assessment, which indicates how well you can understand speech in a noisy environment.
    Familiar voice test, which requires one of your family members to attend the appointment. Your family member will step outside the room (about eight feet away) and pronounce a series of words. Then, the test will be repeated with different words from 12 to 15 feet away.Preserve Memory, Brain Function for Baby Boomers
    If your hearing assessment reveals a hearing loss, you aren’t alone. Nearly half of Baby Boomers have a form of hearing loss—but there is hope. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 28.8 million U.S. adults can benefit from using a hearing aid.


A study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center found that using a hearing aid may offer a simple, yet important, way to prevent or slow the development of dementia by keeping adults with hearing loss engaged in conversation and communication.


Since hearing loss can impact memory and other aspects of brain function, it is important to have a hearing assessment. Schedule yours today by calling 866-837-8286 (866-TEST-AT-60), or by visiting



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