— 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 …

— By Ryan Gruenenfelder   For too long Illinois has been without a comprehensive, balanced budget that helps make life better for residents of all ages. Since 2002, the Governor and the General Assembly have failed to pass a truly balanced budget. And for almost two years, the State has operated without anything beyond a ‘stop-gap’ budget.  This budgetary inaction has led to a current fiscal year 2017 budget deficit of somewhere between $5.4 billion to $7.8 billion, depending on whose …

— Millions of family caregivers in Illinois will have many reasons to celebrate during National Caregiving Month in November, as new laws will provide much and urgently needed help for them as they take care of their loved ones. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of AARP, the Hospital Association and other groups, the Illinois CARE Act will help to significantly increase coordination between caregivers and hospitals. The law requires hospitals to: Provide your loved one the opportunity to designate a family …

— 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 …

— You may have heard in the news that yet another Alzheimer’s drug has failed to show efficacy in a large clinical trial.  Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced last month that their drug Solanezumab had failed its second trial. What do these drug failures mean?  They may mean that our current hypothesis “the amyloid theory” (the notion that the accumulation of a sticky protein in the brain, called amyloid beta, is the reason for progressive neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease) is false. …

— What are common challenges that caregivers face? Caregivers face many shared challenges. With changes in roles and responsibilities, caregivers may feel torn in different directions. The weight of the responsibility of caring for someone may cause feelings of isolation, sadness and grief, as often times the freedom they once had is now occupied by responsibility.  They may even begin to fear their own health decline, and worry that their spouse or loved ones may face similar challenges caring for them …

— By Smita Patel, DO   Dear Readers, For many families, Thanksgiving and football go hand-in-hand.  But over the years we have learned the stories of football players experiencing the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that can be caused by the hundreds or thousands of mini-concussions generated during play of football.  CTE is also common among boxers, is a risk with hockey, soccer, rugby, professional wrestling and mixed martial arts and affects many combat veterans and victims of …