Healthy Aging Resources

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In case you missed our Ask the Expert: Healthy Aging event on WJZ-TV, here are important highlights, exclusive video interviews with our experts, and frequently asked questions to help you maintain good health as you age.

Meet Our Healthy
Aging Experts

Learn more about our healthy aging experts and watch exclusive interviews.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Get answers to questions on arthritis, chronic pain, memory loss, and more.

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Learn More About
Healthy Aging

Learn about the services provided by our Center for Successful Aging. 

Healthy Aging Experts

George Hennawi, MD, FACP, Chief of Geriatrics/Director of the Center for Successful Aging
Topic: Caring for the Caregiver

George Hennawi, MD is the Director of the department of Geriatrics at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.  Dr. Hennawi completed his residency at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in 2002 and then returned to work there from 2007 to 2012. In 2013, Dr. Hennawi was named a “Top Doc” in Baltimore Magazine for Geriatric Medicine.  Dr. Hennawi has always had a passion and commitment for caring for the aging.  He developed a unique model of care which he built into the Center for Successful Aging at MedStar Good Samaritan.  The Center is a place where patients receive comprehensive care and all age-related issues can be addressed from medical conditions to balance and gait to social needs. His goal in caring for the patients is to improve their quality of life and empower patients to become an integral part of the direction and decision-making regarding their care.

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Yolanda Chik, MD, Neurologist, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital
Topic: Preventing Stroke

Yolanda Chik, MD, is board-certified in neurology, serving as a MedStar faculty neurologist and co-director of Stroke Care at MedStar Good Samaritan and MedStar Union Memorial Hospitals. She specializes in treating both stroke and headache. After attending Duke University School of Medicine, she completed a cerebrovascular fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has also been published in Stroke and Nature Reviews Neurology.

Diane Dallap, PT, Physical Therapist, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network
Topic: Overactive Bladder Therapy

Diane Dallap, PT is a physical therapist and clinic coordinator for the MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network. She has 15 years of experience, specializing in orthopaedic manual therapy, sports medicine, women's health rehabilitation, and pain management services.

Brian Swehla, MD, Vascular and Interventional Radiologist, MedStar Medical Group
Topic: New Way to Treat Uterine Fibroids – through the wrist

Dr. Swehla grew up in Havre de Grace, MD and after completing training in Pennsylvania returned to Maryland specializing in minimally invasive image guided procedures using CT scan, X-ray, and ultrasound. His interests include uterine fibroid embolization, minimally invasive cancer therapy, and IVC filter retrieval. Dr. Swehla and his family live in Baltimore County. He enjoys spending time with his wife and children as well as reading and bicycling.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arthritis, Back and Joint Pain

  1. What gels or ointments help with pain caused by arthritis?
    1. To treat arthritis pain, there are many over-the-counter products to choose from, such as Icy Hot, Capsaicion ointment and Zostrix. As always, check with your local pharmacist to find the best options for you.
  2. Why is arthritis so painful during the fall or during the change of seasons?
    1. With the change in seasons, there's often a change in barometric pressure, and along with that, usually comes joint pain. To decrease the pain, it's helpful to stay physically active. You could try arthritis aquatics classes. The Arthritis Foundation has listings for classes that are held locally. Remember that the less you move, the stiffer you get.
  3. What causes rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups and why are they so painful?
    1. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune, systemic inflammatory disease, meaning that your entire body and all of its systems, is being attacked by itself. Simply put, there's a war going on inside your body, causing most of the pain. The causes of RA are unknown, but heredity, age and gender play a big role among many other things. For more information, it is best to speak with your rheumatologist.
  4. What can I do to relieve arthritis pain in my legs and back?
    1. Arthritis aquatics classes would be wonderful for relieving the pain. The warmth and buoyancy of the water are great for the joints. This is a great way to stay active, increase your range of motion and flexibility, which are very important with arthritis. And as an added benefit, you feel no pain in the water.
  5. What are good ways to relieve back pain?
    1. To relieve back pain, a few good starting points include regular exercise (usually recommended by a physical therapist), stretching, stress management and quitting smoking, if you’re a smoker. Also, maintaining a healthy diet and weight are best for your back any time of the year. Aquatic therapy is ideal for a painful back because of the warmth and buoyancy of the water. It’s so easy to increase your flexibility and range of motion and stay active in this type of environment. Local YMCAs and Kid’s First Swim are two places that offer arthritis aquatics classes. The Arthritis Foundation has a complete listing of these classes as well.

Blood Pressure

  1. What are safe medications for blood pressure?
    1. We're not sure if there is one blood pressure medication that is safer than another. It all depends on one's age and comorbid conditions, which are chronic conditions such as high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. To pinpoint the best medication, we recommend seeing your primary care doctor.

High Cholesterol

  1. What can I do to get my cholesterol to a normal level?
    1. Generally speaking, exercise and a healthy diet are great ways to lower cholesterol. Be sure to lower your intake of fried or fatty foods and try to exercise at least three times a week.

Kidney Conditions

  1. What causes uric acid?
    1. Uric acid is created when you eat certain foods, such as liver, anchovies and dried beans. If you’re prone to having high amounts of uric acid, you should avoid or limit those foods. Too much uric acid can lead to gout, which can be painful. For further guidance, please consult your primary care doctor.

Memory Loss

  1. How normal is memory loss for those 65 years of age and older? How can memory loss be measured or determined?
    1. As we age, we experience some memory lapses, but they should not be progressive over time or impact our daily function. Memory can be tested at your doctor's office through standardized testing tools. Consider completing this free memory assessment* with your primary care physician to find out if you should see a geriatric specialist. 

*Assessment used with permission of the author, S. Borson.

Movement, Gait and Balance

  1. My balance is really off…is there anything I can do about it?
    1. Due to coordination, changes in feet, hearing loss, and equilibrium older people lose their sure-footedness as they age. Although, it is always wise to see your doctor to make sure there are no heart problems, vertigo or side effects from medications causing the imbalance. But, YES there are things you can do to improve your balance, just like you can improve your endurance and muscle strength. It’s called exercise. Exercises, in as little as five minutes a day can improve your balance. Standing on one foot while holding on to a chair or railing, and increasing length of time balancing really helps. Tai chi is also a wonderful way to improve your balance, coordination, breathing, bone density, stress level and range of motion. This moving, meditative martial art is a great way to be active, but in a slow moving, peaceful way that’s good to your body and to meet like-minded people. Did you know that one out of every three people over 65 years of age fall at least once per year? This could be devastating, so improving your balance is a great way to prevent this from happening.
  2. Is arthritis a normal part of aging and what can I do about it?
    1. Arthritis includes over 100 different types of diseases, but the most prevalent is osteoarthritis where the cartilage begins to wear away causing pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. But no, although many people get arthritis after the age of 50, it’s not a normal part of aging. Women get this 3:1 more than men after 50 and research links this to women becoming overweight and inactive. There are lots of things you can do and the first step is to get informed by attending our Get Going with Arthritis Seminars. Here you’ll learn about the disease and what to expect in its stages, what doctors to see, how to prevent it, risk factors, how to deal with the pain and when you know it’s time for joint replacement surgery. Call 443-444-4100.
  3. I’ve been told that my arthritic knee/hip is really bad and I need a replacement, but I’m scared and don’t know what to do?
    1. Knowing when to have joint replacement surgery can really be uncertain. Let your pain and lifestyle be your guide. If pain consumes a lot of your day, gives rise to loss of mobility and greatly decreases the quality of your life, then it may be time to consider surgery. Does it affect your sleep; do you feel older than you are; are you grumpy because you just can’t do the things you love to do like bowl, dance, golf, or travel? These are all things to consider as well as choosing the right doctor and hospital to have your surgery. Make sure your doctors have done hundreds of these surgeries and the hospital is very versed at caring for joint replacement patients.
  4. What exercises can I do with arthritis and osteoporosis that are gentle yet helpful to my body?
    1. Tai chi is a wonderfully gentle way to stay active, improve your balance, coordination and range of motion without a lot of impact on your joints. Tai chi will also improve your bone density because it is a weight-bearing form of activity. The gentle motions of the form will reduce stress and improve breathing too. Call 443-444-4100 to register.

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