— Individuals ages 50 and older make tremendous contributions to improve our communities. Their life and professional experiences shape and inform their ability to disrupt, innovate, and create. They truly are champions and trailblazers, and their efforts and groundbreaking contributions need to be recognized. That’s why AARP Illinois and Crain’s Chicago Business have joined together to launch 50@50+ Illinois – a recognition of Illinoisans over the age of 50 who are making a positive impact in their communities. They don’t adhere …

— Illinois finally has a budget after far too long without one. There were many consequences for the delay in pushing a balanced budget through. The prolonged crisis affected millions of Illinoisans – from college students and working families, to older residents and social service providers. Illinoisans of all backgrounds, angry over the lack of a balanced state budget, took action to demand results from the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly. Thank you for raising your voice and joining thousands …

—   by Dr. Smita Patel At a recent brain health event with the NorthShore Center for Brain Health and AARP of Illinois, a participant asked: I had a concussion as a high school football player.  Are there any recommendations to combat the long-term effects of concussion? Brain injuries, like concussions, have been shown to increase risk for various types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). It’s good to keep in mind that not all …

— By Dr. Smita Patel Proton pump inhibitors or “PPIs” are a class of drugs that treat acid reflux and peptic ulcers. The three most commonly prescribed PPIs are omeprazole, pantoprazole and esomeprazole. In recent years, some studies reported that PPIs increase risk for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. We hear patients asking questions about this issue, so I’d like to clarify what we currently know about this risk. A number of large-scale observational studies have found that people taking PPIs long-term …

— One question we often hear from patients is related to genetic testing for “the Alzheimer’s gene.” I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a little about genes, genetic testing and Alzheimer’s. There are a handful of known mutated genes that can be passed from parent to child that cause early onset, “dominantly inherited” Alzheimer’s disease. People may wonder if this gene runs in their family, and wonder if they should be genetically tested for it. But, the families who …

— As an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, one of the questions I get asked the most is, “Should I use heat or ice to treat an injury?” With the warm weather drawing bicyclists, runners and walkers outdoors, now is a good time to set the record straight. Understanding how heat and ice works on the body may serve as a useful guide as to which to use. Ice is a potent vasoconstrictor. This means the blood vessels shrink in …

— By Kelly Soderlund In a boost for family caregivers who work outside the home, a new state law allows employees to use their existing sick leave benefits to care for their loved ones. The Eligible Leave for Employee Caregiving Time (ELECT) law went into effect in January and applies to both paid and unpaid personal sick leave. It allows workers to use a portion of their annually available personal sick leave for family caregiving responsibilities. That could help some of …

— Women may face yet another disadvantage when it comes to early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. One in five women will get Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetime.  For men, it’s one in ten.  Understanding this difference in gender and Alzheimer’s disease is the subject of much research and debate.  Some theories include the loss of protective estrogen after menopause and the simple fact that women, in general, live longer. A recent study out of the University of Illinois Center for Research …

— I recently had a patient who came in for complaints of chest discomfort possibly related to acid reflux. Independently, she was also due for her 10-year routine colonoscopy, but her schedule was jam-packed and included a trip abroad. The last thing she wanted was to add a colonoscopy to her calendar. Plus, she had no other symptoms and no family history of colon cancer. Despite the time crunch, I encouraged her to schedule an endoscopy to address the cause of …

— In our quest to understand and improve brain health, the old adage remains true: What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Managing high cholesterol is a smart thing to do to take care of your heart; but it also may be important for brain health.  The relationship between high cholesterol and risk of dementia has been relatively unclear, but a recent study sheds new light. Researchers from Australia examined 34 research studies on high cholesterol and risk …

— When you’ve done all you can to protect your joints but the pain continues to interfere with every day activities, it may be time to consider joint replacement surgery. There are more than 1 million total hip and knee replacement surgeries done a year, and the ranks are growing due to people living longer than ever and having higher activity demands and expectations. In addition, surgical techniques have evolved, the surgery is less invasive, recovery is better and the  longevity …