— Dr. Smita Patel In recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November, I will focus a 3-part series on the latest research focusing on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. I also encourage you to view my earlier AARP blog posts, to learn about ways to reduce risks and preserve brain health. Have you heard that poor sleep quality, whether due to bad habits or to medical conditions (like sleep apnea) raises your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? That is the developing …

— Join us for two live webcasts and get answers to your questions. Do you have questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment? Get your answers live! Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling, the two-part Q&A series from AARP Learn@50+ provides answers about the 2018 enrollment process. In part one, AARP’s experts will review the Open Enrollment period (Nov. 1 to Dec. 15) and answer your questions about the process. In part two, the AARP team will lead a …

—   By Dr. Smita Patel We all know that maintaining good oral hygiene is good for your teeth and gums, but did you know that it is beneficial to your brain as well? Research has identified chronic periodontitis as a risk factor for dementia. In fact a recent study showed that having periodontitis for ten years increases risk of dementia nearly two fold. To understand why periodontitis increases risk for dementia we have to consider inflammation and oxidative stress (which …

—   By Jamal Ahmad, MD People are surprised that arthritis can affect the ankle because they’re used to hearing about it in the knees and hips. But think about it: The ankle bears four times the body’s weight, which makes it prone to injury, especially among active baby boomers. Several diseases can result in arthritis in the ankle, but trauma and rheumatoid disease are the most common causes. Previous trauma includes previous fractures, joint dislocations, or severe ankle sprains, which …

— Join us for two live Medicare webcasts and get answers to your questions Do you have questions about Medicare coverage and plan options? Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or entering open enrollment, the two-part Medicare Q&A series from Learn@50+ can get you answers about your 2017 plan options. In part one, AARP’s Medicare expert Susan Lutz will review the different parts of Medicare and answer your questions about enrollment periods for new Medicare recipients and open enrollment rules for …

— More and more patients are hearing the words “regenerative medicine” but don’t know what it means in terms of their care. And billboards and advertisements are popping up for stem cell therapy, but there are still misconceptions about it and how it works. As a primary care sports medicine physician who uses this innovative therapy for musculoskeletal issues, such as torn ligaments, tendons, strains and arthritis, I’m pleased to answer some common questions about regenerative medicine: How do Intense workouts …

— 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 …