Q. I gave my 81-year-old brother a birthday present recently. As he opened it, a brief smile crossed his face. It was funny to me because I recalled that, when he was a kid, he would tear open presents and jump out of his skin. Does enthusiasm wane as we age?
I wouldn’t describe your brother as someone who has lost his enthusiasm. I would say he is just less excitable, mellower. There is scientific evidence that we do chill out as we get older.
Q. I’m 66 and I’m thinking of taking up a musical instrument. I hear that this will be good for my health. Is this true?
Playing a musical instrument seems to improve your health in a variety of ways.
I play the saxophone almost every day and can confirm that playing music definitely relieves stress. And stress can be bad for your mental and physical health.
There’s a lot of evidence that playing music is good for you.
According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, playing an instrument as a child keeps the mind sharper as we age.
Q. My Aunt Lillian is a total health freak. The other day she said cinnamon is good for you. Come on! Cinnamon?
Recent research indicates that cinnamon may be helpful for people with Type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the way your body processes sugar. Type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening if you don’t treat it.
One study found that cinnamon taken twice a day for 90 days improved the condition of people with poorly-controlled Type 2 diabetes.
Q. How does an MRI work?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create pictures of cross-sections. In many cases, MRI gives more information than other types of diagnostic imaging. Sometimes, contrast agents are used to enhance the images.
Second of two parts
Hypnosis is one of several relaxation methods helpful for treating chronic pain, alleviating anxiety, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches, controlling bleeding and pain during dental procedures, quitting smoking and ending alcohol dependence.
Hypnosis achieves focused attention. It is like using a magnifying glass to focus the rays of the sun and make them more powerful. When our minds are concentrated, we are able to use them more powerfully.
First of two parts
Q. Can hypnosis help me to quit smoking?
Hypnosis is one of several relaxation methods said to be useful by an independent panel of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The panel found that hypnosis may be helpful for treating chronic pain, alleviated anxiety, reducing the frequency and severity of headaches, and controlling bleeding and pain during dental procedures.
Q. Do we get sadder as we get older?
It seems that just the opposite is true. There’s a lot of evidence that we get happier the older we get.
A Gallup telephone poll of 340,000 in the United States concluded that happiness comes with age. However, the poll didn’t uncover the cause of this phenomenon.
Dr. Arthur A. Stone, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, was the lead author of a study based on the Gallup survey. He speculated on the causes for this happiness.
Q. What increases my chances of breaking a bone?
For several reasons, seniors are in danger of breaking a bone. As we age, the power of our senses, reflexes and coordination diminishes. Maladies and the medicines we take for them can contribute to balance problems, which can lead to falls. Then there’s osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones more likely to snap.
Q. Whenever I go to the doctor and she takes my blood pressure it is a little high. Then, at the end of the office visit, she takes my pressure again and it’s normal. Do you know what causes this?
What you describe is a common symptom of “white-coat hypertension.” This means that your blood pressure goes up whenever anyone in a white coat (or reasonable medical facsimile) comes near you. I suffer from this myself so I have a visceral understanding of the problem.
Q. Are generic drugs as good as brand-name drugs?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): “ A generic drug is the same as a brand-name drug in dosage, safety, strength, quality, the way it works, the way it is taken and the way it should be used. The FDA requires generic drugs have the same high quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs.”
More than 70 percent of prescription medications taken today are generics, which are identical, or “bioequivalent,” to a brand-name drug.