1. Archive

Arguments are hazardous to your health

Even couples who have been happily married for a long time "can suffer negative health effects from the stress of marital arguments," reports a new study by Ohio State University researchers. Researchers found abrasive arguments between husband and wife who had been married an average of 42 years were linked to a weakening of certain aspects of their immune responses. Janice Glaser, a psychiatry professor at Ohio State, says, "You might expect that arguments would have less impact on older couples because they've gone through these disagreements many times before and have learned to deal with them. But that's not the case." Thirty-one couples age 55 to 75 were examined. "We found that the more negative behaviors the couples showed toward each other, the more their immune measures were weakened," Glaser said.

Directory of resources available

The Resource Directory for Older People, a comprehensive collection of information on programs and services, is now available from the federal government. It includes short listings that describe each organization or program and gives addresses, phone numbers and Internet sites. The publication, from the National Institute on Aging and the Administration on Aging, costs $11. For credit card orders, call (800) 512-1800. A written order with a check or money order (made out to the Superintendent of Documents) may be mailed to the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. The publication number is 0106200145-6. Note to computer users with Internet access: the directory can be viewed on the Administration on Aging's web page at pages/info.html.

Help can be found on published form

A new brochure, "Understanding Medicare Managed Care," is available free from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. It is designed to help consumers choose between the traditional fee-for-service plans and the increasingly common managed care systems for Medicare. The association is an organization of not-for-profit nursing homes, retirement centers and other community groups. For the brochure, call (800) 675-9253. . . The summer/fall Gifts for Grandkids catalog is out. It includes toys, games and education material. Call (800) 333-1707 . . . Sphinx Publishing of Clearwater has two new books: The Power of Attorney Handbook (2nd Edition, $19.95) by Edward A. Haman (it includes forms); and, Social Security Benefits Handbook by Stanley A. Tomkiel III ($14.95). You may look for them in local bookstores or call Sphinx at (813) 587-0999 . . . A list of private and public reverse-mortgage lenders is now available. Send $1 and a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to the National Center for Home Equity Conversion, Reverse Mortgage Locator, 7373 147th St., Suite 115, Apple Valley, MN 55124.

Osteoporosis not solely a woman's disease

Men may not know it, but just as with women, their bones can get brittle, break or lose critical mass with age. The National Osteoporosis Foundation is trying to spread the word as part of a new educational campaign. BoneWise _ Strong Bones for Life is a comprehensive program designed to provide medically sound advice for specific ages and genders. Many men are vaguely aware of osteoporosis, but most consider it a "women's disease." They don't know it is more common among older men than prostate cancer, especially if there is a family history of fractures. At-risk men, like women, should watch their sedentary lifestyle, quit smoking and use alcohol in moderation. Research has shown that lack of weight-bearing exercise accelerates the loss of bone. Certain medicines, such as thyroid drugs or steroids taken for emphysema or arthritis, may cause osteoporosis. So be sure and tell your doctor if you are taking any prescription drugs. You can get a free kit tailored to your age, gender and lifestyle by calling BoneWise toll free at (888)442-9473.

Quote of the Month

"In the aging game I must be all I ever was and am yet to be. What has gone before is no more than a learning period. A break in."

From Going the Distance: One Man's Journey to the End of his Life by Dr. George Sheehan (Villard Books, $22). Sheehan was a cardiologist, writer and columnist for Runner's World. The book is a reflection on his life and his battle with cancer. He died in 1993.

_ Compiled by JOHN A. CUTTER from wire reports and other sources