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A local relationship expert offers 7 tips to update your skills

By age 50, the average person will have walked 75,000 miles, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. That’s a lot of steps, even without the Fitbit tracker.

Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke as quickly as possible and calling 911 is key to having the best recovery possible. However, getting to the hospital is just the first of four phases in your recovery.

At age 76, Elaine Graziani of Salem says she makes staying fit a priority, taking advantage of local programs and her natural surroundings.

The ultimate fix for aging joints is to “stay strong or get strong.” When it comes to joints, physical therapist Mike Studer, president and co-owner of Northwest Rehabilitation Associates, strongly believes strength is paramount to healthy aging.

With the warmer weather and longer days, summertime is the perfect opportunity to get outside and be active. If you’re exercising outdoors this summer, or just having fun in the sun, it’s important to be aware of heat-related illnesses, like heat stroke and exhaustion, and know how to prevent them.

Many of my patients say they use sunscreen on a daily basis, but they’ll still come into the office with sunburns or tans. (Worth noting: Even though a tan might not hurt like a burn and “looks better,” tans are harmful to the skin, too.) So, what gives?

Before I went to medical school, I was a music student and earned a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance. My roommate was a jazz guitarist and, while at the school, I met my wife, who was a vocal major. I was surrounded by music.

Does it matter how we live and how we treat one another? Have we lost our graciousness? Has our culture coarsened beyond repair?

Physical inactivity is a major health concern that contributes to some of our nation’s leading causes of death, including heart disease and stroke. It also increases risk for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Fortunately, there is something we can do about this.

A health practice birthed in the early 1950s is catching on in Salem. Flotation therapy was developed by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro- psychiatrist who studied the effect of sensory deprivation on the human brain and mind. What he found was that taking a break away from gravity in a float tank releases endorphins — nature's pain relievers — and is a salve for stress.

The numbers are surprising: The average American consumes 7,000 milligrams of sodium per day. That far exceeds the daily intake recommendation, which is less than 2,500 mg (and even less if you have high blood pressure).

Certified physician assistant Kristina Uehlin started her career in medicine as a medical assistant in a primary care clinic. She met with patients before the doctor, recorded their vitals and noted concerns.

Many of today’s popular diets suggest cutting carbs, but opt for higher proteins and lower fats. However, a diet rising in popularity aims for low carbs, but higher fats with the idea that “fat burns fat.” If you love eating seafood, vegetables and even dark chocolate, the ketogenic diet may be for you.

Thanks to the world’s smallest pacemaker, Ruth Bissett of Salem plans to take up line dancing again, volunteer more at her church and keep up with her big, growing family.

When you look around your favorite grocery store or restaurant, it’s apparent that gluten-free foods have gone mainstream, which may leave you wondering: Are gluten-free diets a fad or are they actually a healthy way of eating?

This probably sounds familiar: You shiver, sweat and your throat is on fire. Your head is pounding, every muscle aches and you’re exhausted. Even getting out of bed seems impossible. You’ve got the flu. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s pretty awful.

Dennis Nielson has had his share of victories on the tennis court. The 83-year-old resident of Vancouver, Washington is ranked by the U.S. Tennis Association as the No. 1 hardcourt player in the 80- to 85-year-old age group in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. But he doesn’t measure success by wins and losses.

From hurricanes to earthquakes to fires, the recent disasters in North America have taught us a lot. We’ve seen how neighbor reached out to neighbor and, stranger to stranger.

Leafy spinach. Quinoa. Black beans. They’re all great plant-based options and may already be a part of your diet. But have you wondered if eating a completely plant-based diet might be right for you? Though switching to a diet like this may seem like a big change, for many, it’s a major step toward health.

Jeffrey Kelly is a teacher, Chinese medical practitioner and martial arts specialist, who at the ripe age of 14 became interested in martial arts. After college, and before Kelly became a police officer and 911 dispatcher, he spent two years in China soaking up that country’s centuries-old martial arts and medicine.

Although not in the traditional sense, Ronald Paapke’s doctor was with him all the way through his recent health emergency. “It was as if the doctor was actually in the room with me,” says Paapke, 54, who suffered a stroke on Sept. 19. “As I moved, the telecom screen was following me. Where I went, the doctor went. It was pretty amazing.”

The statistic may be surprising but it’s true: Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults between the ages of 20 and 74.

You’re cruising along Interstate-5 and suddenly the last morsel from your bag of Cheetos slips through your fingertips and tumbles to the floorboard of your car. Though you know full well it’s a bit risky, you nevertheless reach down and start pawing around your feet to retrieve the golden munchie.

“Get off your lazy behind and do it.” That’s Eugene Boyce’s advice for anyone not actively managing their diabetes. Boyce, 70, used to be among their ranks. A former truck driver, Boyce knew for years that his blood sugars were high but didn’t want to think about taking insulin.

“Cancer” is a word no one wants to hear, but for two Salem women, a phone call following routine mammograms changed their lives forever. “When my doctor called me on a Thursday afternoon after I got off work, I knew something was wrong,” says Sue Harris, who was diagnosed last year with stage 3 breast cancer. “My doctor doesn’t usually call me.”

It’s not often that a new sport is called “life-changing,” but that’s how many new players are describing pickleball, one the fastest growing sports in the country.

There’s good news for people who depend upon reading glasses, and are tired of carrying them around the neck, on top of the head or in the car. It can be frustrating. Yet, loss of close-up vision, called presbyopia, is a natural, universal sign of aging that occurs for both men and women around the age of 45. This loss of near-sight vision is the result of loss of flexibility in the eye’s lens, and the ability to focus on objects like books, newspapers and computers becomes a problem. It happens to everyone.

For men, more frequent trips to the bathroom may be a part of aging but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It is common for the prostate to continue to grow throughout a man’s life, but as the prostate enlarges it can cause urinary problems and a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

The good news: A new study shows that not all overweight people have heart disease risk factors. The bad news: These individuals can still develop risk factors for heart and other diseases.

When a 92-year-old patient of mine came to my office to discuss end-of-life wishes, he already had an idea to ensure that his plans would be respected. He said he would have “Do Not Resuscitate” tattooed on his chest in large letters so when paramedics came to revive him, they would see the message and stop their efforts.

We all know we’re getting older, don’t we? After all, it’s hard not to wake up in the morning and realize you’re a day older. The physical changes become more obvious, and there are mental changes as well — it can be depressing. Eugene’s Emily Rice, 62, and Nancy Sawtelle, 60, have been helping women navigate these changes through a series of “conscious aging” workshops, which focus on the mental and spiritual aspects of the aging process.

David Coon is on a mission. Not exactly a Mission Impossible save-the-world mission; more of a quest. He’s out to educate others about the potential for unusual vegetables in the garden and the kitchen.

For Ruth Gottlieb, 82, and Jean Timper, 85, and members at the East Brunswick Senior Center in New Jersey, exer-cise is the high point of their day. What gets them most excited? Line dancing.

Call me a little self-serving, but I enjoy dispensing kindness, partly because it makes me feel good. And you can’t beat the price; it’s often absolutely free.

For the first time, people wanting to make a lifesaving difference in the Salem area can donate platelets at the American Red Cross Salem Blood Donation Center.

With the downsizing of the Armed Forces in 2008 and 2014, Veterans Affairs has been inundated with an influx of veterans. Along with this influx, Veterans Affairs reported in 2012 that veterans’ suicide rates have increased with 22 veterans committing suicide each day. Seeing the great need, Samaritan Health Services has launched a program that provides advocacy to our veterans and their families.

Food fads seem to take up a large portion of today’s conversations about eating. There are trends seeking fusion cuisines, massive numbers of people taking photos of their food, and blogs discussing foods and fads.

When getting ready for bed, good health habits mean brushing your teeth and washing your face. But what about when you’re tucked in and just can’t seem to fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count?

Pet owners know first-hand that dogs and cats love unconditionally; they are there when the person needs a hug or a smile. This love and acceptance make dogs and cats ideal therapeutic visitors for the elderly and disabled in nursing homes and care facilities.