Holiday Blues? 7 Ways to Cheer Up

The winter solstice — and the shortest day of the year — will soon be upon us (Dec. 21), and not everyone is feeling the holiday spirit. Illness, loneliness, financial troubles, family problems and depression can make many dread the “most wonderful” time of the year and endanger both mental and physical health. A recent University of Chicago study found that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to increased stress, higher blood pressure and other health problems. Here are some things you can do …

Ebola’s Here. Should You Be Worried?

The country’s first Ebola patient—Thomas Eric Duncan, who was visiting Dallas from West Africa—has died. But the fact that he was mistakenly sent home when he first showed up at a Texas hospital complaining of symptoms, does not exactly inspire confidence in our healthcare system. Especially considering that CDC director Thomas Frieden said in a Tuesday news conference that “we’re stopping [Ebola] in its tracks in this country.” I mean, you gotta wonder: Can we be sure? After all, Duncan told a hospital nurse that …

Whatever Happened to ‘In Sickness and in Health’?

Well, this is depressing: A new study finds that an older couple is more likely to divorce if the wife gets seriously ill, but not if the husband does. While the health consequences of divorce are well known, researchers wanted to see how marriage in couples age 50 and older was affected when one spouse developed a serious health condition like cancer, heart disease, lung disease or stroke. They examined 20 years of data on 2,717 marriages from the Health …

What’s in Your Wallet? A Whole Lot of Germs

Open your wallet. Pull out a dollar bill. You’ve just touched more than 3,000 bacteria that have been linked to stomach ulcers, acne, pneumonia and staph infections. (Thinking about using that plastic credit card more often now?) These kinds of microbes, which are found on many surfaces, are transferred when we touch things. Money, in particular, gets handed around a lot, say researchers with New York University’s aptly named Dirty Money Project. >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter …

Who Knows All, Sees All, (and Now) Tells All? Your Dog

Researchers at Newcastle University in England are onto something big: Your dog may know lots more about how you’re feeling – and about how you’re doing generally – that anyone has heretofore believed. Except maybe you. Using high-tech movement sensors, the researchers tracked the behavior of 17 types of canine companions – from mutts and miniature Jack Russell Terriers to Labrador Retrievers and Great Danes – both at home and out and about. They did this by attaching “a wearable …

Foster Farms Raw Chicken Sickens Nearly 300

Three California-based Foster Farms chicken processing facilities linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 278 people in 17 states will remain open after company officials said they would make changes to their operations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday. Earlier this week, the USDA had threatened the facilities with closure if the company didn’t come up with a plan for making substantive improvements. In a letter to the company, the USDA warned that sanitary conditions at the facility …