Author: Diane Archer

Diane Archer

Diane Archer is the founder and CEO of JustCareUSA.org, a digital platform for baby boomers and carers. She began her career in health advocacy in 1989 as the founder and president of the Medicare Rights Center.

You’ve likely heard repeatedly that the novel coronavirus can cause people to have difficulty breathing and can lead to respiratory illness. What you might not know is that the novel coronavirus can also cause heart problems and cardiac arrest. Kaiser News reports on one study that found that COVID-19 caused heart damage in as many as one in five people. Heart specialists who have studied the data believe that COVID-19 can infect your heart muscle. It might attach to receptors in heart muscle much as it attaches to receptors in lungs. In fact, it can cause cardiac damage or heart failure…

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Prescription drugs can be harmful, if used by people in your home who should not be taking them or if disposed of improperly. Here’s how CDC and the US FDA recommend handling the prescription drugs you use, as well as unused medicines that you no longer need.

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An op-ed by Katherine Eban in The New York Times exposes the FDA’s lax regulatory oversight of generic drug manufacturing. It makes a compelling case that generic drugs that are manufactured abroad may not be safe. What is to be done? The FDA is extremely limited in its ability to oversee foreign generic drug manufacturing plants. Yet, 90 percent of the drugs we take are generic. We depend upon them heavily. And, many are manufactured abroad. Back in 2012, the FDA’s Peter Baker took on the job of inspecting Indian generic drug manufacturing plants. He wanted to understand best practices.…

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Some Americans suffer from a depression that keeps them from feeling any pleasure, called anhedonia. Can virtual reality help them? Stat News reports on research testing this proposition. Many of us feel thrills and joy from flying down a ski slope, snorkeling in coral reefs, watching a football game or simply taking a walk in the park. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Michelle Craske is testing whether exposure to these types of thrills through virtual reality can help people with anhedonia to appreciate the good things in life and feel pleasure. Craske calls the treatment positive affect therapy.…

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The New York Times reports on nutritional psychiatrists who advise people to eat as little processed foods, meat and dairy products as possible in order to ease anxiety and mild depression. Is it possible that how you feel turns on what you eat? For your mental health, nutritional psychiatrists recommend you feed your brain a rainbow of natural foods. Dr. Drew Ramsey, a nutritional psychiatrist, recommends eating oysters because they have vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. According to some studies, B12 can keep your brain from shrinking. And, you are at risk for suicide and depression without adequate omega-3 fatty…

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By Diane Archer JustCareUSA Older adults are taking medical marijuana to ease pain and anxiety. But, as Dr. Marc Manseau has previously reported on Just Care, there is little to no scientific evidence that weed helps any mental illness, and it can be addictive. In fact, there are studies showing that cannabis can make depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder worse. Now, Paula Span reports for The New York Times that older adults are increasingly smoking and vaping marijuana as well as taking marijuana edibles and using other marijuana products, including salves, oils, tinctures, and patches, despite the lack of…

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By Diane Archer JustCareUSA.org Smoking is the top cause for preventable death in the US. If you smoke, the good news is that it’s never too late to quit smoking, even if you are over 65. The only question is how best to quit smoking. Harvard Health offers expert advice. No matter how long you have been smoking, quitting smoking reduces your health risks. Very quickly, your blood pressure and your circulation improve. You also lower your risk of getting lung cancer. That’s why Medicare pays for counseling to help you quit smoking. Moreover, you can save a bunch of…

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By Diane Archer JustCareUSA.org A recent article in NEJM Catalyst describes a new disease management trial at Geisinger Health System. Geisinger is testing providing free food to patients with diabetes who were not eating a balanced diet, as a medicine. It recognizes that a good diet can be better than medicines or at least reduce the need for drugs. As of March 2018, Geisinger has enrolled 112 food-insecure patients with diabetes in its pilot program. More than one in 10 Americans (11.3% of Pennsylvanians) have diabetes. Geisinger designed this trial because food insecurity is often a trigger for diabetes. And…

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By Diane Archer JustCareUSA.org Medicare covers a wide array of preventive care services, which can offer tremendous benefits. But, some preventive care services may cause more harm than good for people, especially those who are older. Liz Szabo reports for Kaiser Health News on when to avoid preventive care services. Mammograms and cervical cancer screenings Experts say that people with terminal cancers of the lung, colon, and pancreas generally should not be getting a mammogram or cervical cancer screening. Similarly, people in their late 80s and older with multiple chronic conditions usually do not need these services. The risks of…

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By Diane Archer JustCareUSA.org Liz Szabo reports in The New York Times that older Americans are popping supplements like candy. Doctors may recommend certain vitamins like vitamin D and folic acid, and dozens of others are marketed widely. But, the evidence suggests that most of these supplements offer no health benefits for otherwise healthy individuals and that some ingredients in some supplements do harm. Should you be taking vitamins? If you are otherwise healthy, speak with your doctor. You should likely skip the vitamin pills and instead eat a balanced diet. The preponderance of independent studies on almost all supplements…

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