In this column, we will review pain and symptom management in the setting of progressive or life-threatening illness. 

Pain is the source of great human suffering and disability. About 130 million Americans and more than one in four seniors report chronic long-term pain. Pain’s impact can be devastating and often results in poor sleep, low energy, depression, and worsening health.

Most of us know the basics about staying healthy—eat right, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and see your doctor for checkups. But most people don’t consider another important strategy for good health: managing stress. 

Computers have the potential to improve your health care and we are just beginning to appreciate the possibilities. The ability of computers to perform tasks that are typically completed by humans is commonly known as artificial intelligence or augmented intelligence (AI).

Computers have the potential to improve your health care and we are just beginning to appreciate the possibilities. The ability of computers to perform tasks that are typically completed by humans is commonly known as artificial intelligence or augmented intelligence (AI).

Technology has become part of almost every aspect of our lives, and the medical field is no exception. Electronic medical records, while previously rare, are commonplace, and you can see the application of technology from the hospital setting to the home—and even to care while on the go or in flight.

High blood pressure affects millions of Americans and is the most common reason for a doctor visit nationwide. Every day, treatment decisions and recommendations are made based upon this simple measurement. Because of this, it is essential for the measurement to be accurate. 

Vitamin D is essential to bone health and healthy aging, yet many Americans are vitamin D deficient. Estimates from a number of studies demonstrate that up to 50% of seniors have inadequate levels of this vitamin, which is so vitally important to our bones, muscle strength, and overall health and well-being.

Vitamins are essential to our good health, and they cannot be manufactured by our bodies. They must be ingested in the food we eat or taken in a dietary supplement. This has led to the explosive growth of the vitamin industry, with vitamin intake becoming commonplace among seniors. More than half of adults 60 years of age and up take at least one vitamin pill a day.

Today, medication is the cornerstone of health care treatment for many conditions, and in some instances, it seems miraculous that we can effectively treat or cure diseases once thought of as terminal. While these advances have revolutionized health care and helped millions, it is important to pause and reflect on the downside of too much medicine, particularly among seniors.

Advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment is one of the very best stories of the modern era. From 1991 to 2016, overall death rates from cancer decreased by 27%. That translates to about 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths than if rates had stayed the same.

The food we choose to eat is one of the most impactful health care decisions we make each and every day. The very good news is that we now know a lot about what constitutes good choices for our mind and body. The hard part is saying no to the foods that are less healthful but often very tasty and widely available.