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Are you wearing red?

Well if not you are missing out on National Wear Red Day! The first Friday of every February since 2004 has been deemed “National Wear Red Day” created by  the American Heart Association. This day encourages women across the country to wear red in order to show support for fighting heart disease. The Go Red for Women campaign features a number of ways you can show your support, for more information the campaign’s website at  GoRedForWomen.org/WearRedDay. You can build your own fund-raising page and raise valuable dollars to help stop heart disease in our lifetimes.  Go to heart.org to find your local chapter and for more heart health facts.

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Breast Cancer. New directions are being explore. Check out some of  articles concerning breast cancer, exercise and diet using the link to the National Cancer Institute.

I found four facts that are worth considering:

FACT ONE:  Women who are heavier at the time of their breast cancer diagnosis and have gained weight during treatment are more likely to have a reoccurrence of their breast cancer.

FACT TWO:  Many cases of breast cancer can be avoided by losing weight after menopause according to a study by the Harvard Medical School.

FACT THREE: High levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity during adolescence may protect our kids from getting breast cancer.

FACT FOUR:  Most studies suggest that 30 to 60 minutes a day of moderate- to high-intensity physical activity is associated with a reduction in breast cancer. 

So the real question is, ‘Are we, women, willing to take control of our lives? Even though it is easier to grab a fast food restaurant hamburger are we willing to take a few minutes out of our day to eat a salad? (I fill up on Subway salads.)  And will we actually take the time to rev up our hearts by running, walking, joining a gym  or swimming?

We have more control over our lives than we are willing to admit or to accept responsibility for. It’s time for a change…NOW!

What is a Euphonium?

You don’t know that it is a fifty year old instrument that is a little like a tuba, only smaller and has a higher pitch?  On January 23 the well-known local Euphonium player, Jason Ham ( in his ninth year with the West Point Band) gave us a wonderful cross-section of pieces on the Euphonuium last Sunday, January 23 at The Grand Montgomery Chamber Music & Theater Series at the Montgomery Senior Center.  With humor and grace, Ham played Taffanel to Gershwin and thrilled the mostly senior audience with his narrative talents as well.  Ruthanne Schempf was on the piano and Bonnie Ham on the flute and between the three of them we were treated to several masterful duets. For treats that are FREE, show up for the  next concert on March 13th which features classical marimba player, Nagano Makoto.  To learn more, go to: www.villageofmontgomery.org click on “Our Community” and then “Music and Theater” to see the fine array of free performances throughout the year.

Elderly Americans are facing overly strict standards when they apply for skilled nursing home care and home health care through Medicare, two federal courts recently decided.

The two courts, one in Pennsylvania and one in Vermont, ruled that the Obama administration’s standards were too strict and that some seniors have been unfairly denied home care.

The courts ruled against the government position that seniors are only entitled to home care if they can verify that their condition will improve because of it. They said that these rulings were a “failure to apply the correct legal standard”, and determined that seniors are entitled to Medicare coverage of home care if it will keep their condition from deteriorating or allow them to live life as they had been.

Before this ruling, elderly Americans with deteriorating conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may have had trouble receiving Medicare for home care, as their conditions often do not allow them to improve.

The court cited past rulings that decided Medicare law should be interpreted to best favor beneficiaries. In response, 17 Democrats from the House of Representatives sent the Obama administration a letter arguing against its Medicare policies.

The government has not yet responded to the case.

If you or a loved one has been denied Medicare coverage of home care, contact an experienced elder law attorney for assistance.

To learn more about New York elder law, New York estate planning, visit http://www.elderlawnewyork.com

The phones have been ringing off the hook at the offices of the “Are You Okay?” program. Apparently, Dutchess Country residents are realizing the value of such a service and its potential for saving lives. The reassurance program, which is run by the Dutchess County Division of Aging, checks on seniors who live alone. The service is now experiencing a sudden surge in new applicants, after an 89-year-old East Fishkill man fell down on his walkway and died in the cold last week. Police say that Michael Zarrelli’s body was discovered by a neighbor. The elderly man apparently slipped outside his home and was unable to get back up. County officials say the incident has served as a wake- up call for some of the county’s elderly. There have been many new applications for the service, which is run conjunction with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office. Under the program, seniors are greeted with a daily computer generated phone call, asking them, “Are you okay?”  If the person fails to respond after fifteen minutes, the Sheriff’s Office will contact a relative and if necessary, an officer will be sent to the home to investigate. If you’re a Dutchess County Resident who would like to participate in “Are You Okay?” , contact the Division of Aging online or at 845-486-2555.

Recently I spoke to a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has dense breast tissue and the cancer was found after it had advanced. (That’s another story.)

After suffering from high blood pressure for many years, I have been looking at diet and exercise as a way to correct my pressure. I wondered if the same issues that apply in my quest for a more balanced blood pressure could also apply to cancer. So I spoke to Dr. Sam Schikowitz, a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist located in New Paltz. Dr. Schikowitz has extensive training in naturopathic modalities as well acupuncture and other forms of Asian medicine.

Funny, but his two main suggestions–eat healthy and exercise–not only help cancer patients but help all of us live life to its fullest.

Eat the Right Stuff

  1. A diet high in protein and fat helps people lose weight. It  also improves the long term cancer survival rate. According to Dr. Schikowitz, “You want (a cancer) patient’s blood sugar to be regulated because cancer cells love sugar.” He says cancer patients who consume increased amounts of sugar, may risk speeding up their own deaths, since cancer cells thrive on sugar.
  2. Stop smoking and stay away from others who smoke as well.  Many studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health show a direct correlation between the smoke from cigarettes and breast cancer.
  3. Be careful of toxins in your diet. According to Dr. Schikowitz, most toxins come from toxic animal products.

    I asked the doctor how hard is it to remove these toxins from our diet. Although it takes some effort, it definitely is reflected in feeling better and looking better. Some of his suggestions include buying organic products, free range chickens, light tuna, canned salmon and whole grain brown rice. And yes, antioxidants and green tea are helpful, he says, but usually in conjunction with an overall approach to a healthy lifestyle.

    Frozen foods are a good second choice to fresh. And of course, stay away from foods with a lot of preservatives and additives.

Develop an Exercise Regime

  1. First of all, according to Dr. Schikowitz there is no pill out there that does what exercise does for you. So your first step is to come up with an overall exercise plan.
  2. What’s great about exercise is that, in general, it improves your mood while it improves your body’s metabolism; and it reduces all types of illnesses.
  3. One of the great bi-products of exercise is that it is a great regulator of blood sugar. It also helps you think better, feel better, and affects your immune systems.
  4. The most effective way to change how your metabolism works is to develop an aerobic training program. I know I am doing aerobic exercise, when I am breathing heavily for an extended  period of time.  (Aerobic training is effective in burning sugar.) Use short sprints and interval training as part of your exercise program. Do three individual sets of an exercise rather than one long set.

For more information about Dr. Sam Schikowitz and his philosophy about keeping healthy, visit his website .

Look for a follow up: I asked my press contact at the National Institutes of Health about their current studies on the relationship between diet and cancer. Let’s see what they come up with.

A crazed gunman identified as Jared Lee Loughner killed six people and wounded 14 others this past weekend.  Among the wounded was Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Representative of the 8th District of Arizona.  The partisan politics that ensued in the aftermath of the shooting was enough to sicken a billy goat.

Pundits on the left were quick to point to a graphic on Sarah Palin’s website (since removed), which depicted the cross hairs of a gun sight over Representative Gifford’s district.  The inference was that violent rhetoric from the right, not to mention suggestive graphics played a part in the shooting spree.  The right quickly countered by labeling Loughner left wing, gay, and a pot head.  The game of political hot potato ensued.  As time went on, it became clear that Loughner has serious mental issues that spurred him on his rampage.

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or an Independent, one thing remains clear.  A tragedy such as this should not be used to further a political agenda.  It serves only to imbrue our national character with the stain of opportunism.  This tragedy has brought us political opportunism at it’s worst.