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Wednesday, 18 February 2015 11:10

Retiree Health Notes - Winter 2015

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Don’t let stress make you sick

Scientists have long known that stress complicates a host of health problems. Now they are discovering that chronic stress — sometimes a mainstay of modern life — doesn’t merely increase the effects of disease, it can cause it.

“We are just beginning to understand the ways that stress influences a wide range of diseases of aging, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of disability, even early death,” says Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who has been at the forefront of stress research for 30 years.

Everyone experiences stress, of course, but it’s particularly prevalent among adults over 50. In a recent Harvard University-Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-NPR poll, about 25 percent of 2,500 participants said they’d experienced a great deal of stress in the past month. Another poll, conducted in August by AARP, found 37 percent of adults over 50 experienced a major stressful life event in the past year, such as the death of a family member, chronic illness or a job loss.

Certainly, many people who are stressed end up eating, drinking and smoking more, and sleeping and exercising less — tendencies that have obvious negative consequences for our health. But scientists are discovering a much more nuanced picture, according to Bruce McEwen, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York. But one of the most alarming hazards is the release of cortisol, generally considered a bad stress hormone.

Among the conditions that may be caused by stress are the common cold; weight gain; slower healing; sleep dysfunction; heart disease; depression; ulcers and other stomach problems; back, neck and shoulder pain.

Source: AARP

Vaccines to Get Now

Want to stay healthy this year? You may need more than a flu shot. This handy vaccine chart is a good place to start.



Protects against?

Who needs the shot?

How often?

Any other concerns?

Influenza (inactivated)

Seasonal flu, transmitted 

by close contact with someone infected.

Everyone. Flu can make those 65 and over much sicker than others.

Annually, usually in early fall. Needs two weeks to take effect. 

Consult a doctor if 

you've ever had a severe allergic reaction.


Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)

Everyone. If you did 

not get it at age 11 or 12, get it immediately.

Once. Follow up with a Td booster every 10 years. 

One in 250 adults get a fever from vaccine; some get upset stomach. 


Tetanus and diphtheria

Td is a booster for Tdap. 

Every 10 years. Anyone severely wounded or burned may need it sooner. 

Consult a doctor if you've ever has a severe reaction to the Tdap vaccine. 

Zoster (shingles)

Herpes zoster, or shingles, a painful rash that comes from chicken pox virus.

Adults age 60 and older who have had chicken pox. 

Once, even if you've already had shingles.

Consult a doctor if 

you've ever had a severe allergic reasction. 

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus, which affects the liver and can cause liver cancer.

People with multiple sex partners; those under age 60 with diabetes. 

Three doses required, 

to be given according to 

a specific schedule. 

Hold off on vaccine if 

you are moderately or severely ill.

PCV13 (pneumonia)

The 13 strains that cause about half of pneumonia infections in adults.

Anyone who has not had it by age 65; those with weak immune systems.

Once, followed by 

a PPSV23 vaccine 

6 to 12 months later. 

Consult a doctor if 

you've ever had a severe allergic reaction. 

PPSV23 (pneumonia)

23 types of pneumonia bacteria, plus meningitis and blood infection.

Everyone age 65 and 

older; smokers; those with asthma or diabetes. 

Usually just once, but a second dose 5 years later may be necessary. 

PPSV23 should be given 6 to 12 months after PCV13 for most people. 

Read 3056 times Last modified on Monday, 18 July 2016 11:42