Alone Time

By Scott LaFee

April 10, 2019 7 min read

If you're reading this, you're not alone, but you may be lonely. A national poll asked adults 50 to 80 years old about their "health, health behaviors and experiences and feelings related to companionship and social isolation."

One in 3 said they felt a lack of companionship (26% said some of the time; 8% said often), and 27% reported feeling isolated from others during the past year.

Women were more likely than men to report feeling a lack of companionship. People who were not working or who were from households with annual incomes under $60,000 were more at risk, as were those who had children at home or lived alone. People between the ages of 50 and 64 reported feeling lonelier than people ages 65 to 80.

Body of Knowledge

During pregnancy, a woman's brain shrinks, but that's a good think. The affected regions of the brain are involved in processing and responding to social signals. Researchers say when mass diminishes, the result is that new mothers' brains become more efficiently wired, boosting their ability to interpret infants' needs and emotions and thus increasing maternal attachment. The shrinkage is temporary, lasting two years or so before the brain regains its full size again.

Get Me That, Stat!

One in 4 people who take prescriptions have trouble affording them, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The people most affected tend to be ages 50 to 64, who take more medications than younger people but aren't old enough to qualify for prescription coverage through Medicare.

The poll also found that 30% said they didn't take medicines as prescribed at some point in the past year due to cost.

Never Say 'Diet'

The Major League Eating record for Peeps, those adorable, animal-shaped marshmallow candies, is 255 in five minutes, held by Matt Stonie.

Best Medicine

Patient: "Doctor, I think I'm suffering from memory loss."

Doctor: "Have you ever had it before?"


"If a doctor treats your cold, it will go away in 14 days. If you leave it alone, it will go away in two weeks." — Gloria Silverstein

Medical History

This week in 1972, a U.S. patent was issued for a smoking deterrent that resembled a cigarette package and produced simulated coughing sounds when touched. According to the patent abstract, "The simulated coughing noises are produced from a battery-driven disk recording played through a miniature loudspeaker in the package. A unique actuating lever arrangement enables the almost instantaneous replaying of the record each time the package is moved."

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, needlessly complex words and opaque phrases such as "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research:

"How to commit a perfect murder" by Mark Cooney. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice. 2015.

Cooney, a sociologist at the University of Georgia, doesn't actually offer a how-to guide but rather describes the social and legal variables that sometimes allow killers to get off without any punishment at all.

Med School

Q: How many blood groups in the ABO system?

A: There are four groups: A, B, O and AB. But there are many more types, depending upon whether blood is Rh positive or Rh negative or has markers for more than one group. Thus, there is O-positive and O-negative blood; A-positive and A-negative; B-positive and B-negative; and AB-positive and AB-negative. O-positive and A-positive are the most common blood types, at 38% and 34% of the U.S. population, respectively. AB-negative is rarest, at 1%.

Sum Body

Here are 10 diseases you can get from your dog or cat. Look them up. Some are more common than others. In some cases, your pet is simply the vector. Many involve worms.

1. Toxoplasmosis

2. Toxocariasis

3. Cutaneous larva migrans

4. Plague

5. Cat-scratch disease

6. Lyme disease

7. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

8. Pasteurella

9. Brucellosis

10. Leptospirosis

Fit to Be Tried

There are thousands of exercises, and you've only got one body, but that doesn't mean you can't try them all:

Squats increase lower-body and core strength and help flexibility in the lower back and hips. Because they involve big muscles, squats burn lots of calories. Start by standing straight, feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Arms at your sides. Keeping your chest and chin up, push your hips back and bend your knees as if you're going to sit in a chair.

Make sure your knees don't bow inward or outward. Drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. You can position your arms comfortably in front of you or raise them parallel to the ground as you bend your knees. At lowest position, pause for one second. Then extend your legs and return to the starting position.

Do three sets of 10 reps, building up to 20.

Curtain Calls

In 1994, Emil Kijek hit the first hole-in-one in his 79-year-old life at a course in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, where he had played for more than 30 years. Jubilantly, he proceeded to the next tee, where he suddenly collapsed and died of a heart attack.

One year later on the other side of the country, 83-year-old Peter Sedore hit a hole-in-one at his local course in Hemet, California. It was his 18th hole-in-one, but the thrill proved just as fatal. Sedore shouted, "Hooray, number 18!" and then collapsed in the arms of his golf partner, dead from an aneurysm.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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