Knock-Knock

By Scott LaFee

October 23, 2019 6 min read

The Peace Corps is famously all about young men and woman venturing to distant locales, bringing with them the promise of social, economic and technical assistance, leavened with a bit of good old-fashioned American can-do spirit.

There's now a move afoot to create a similar program for seniors closer to home. The Department of Health and Human Services has taken the first steps to create a National Volunteer Care Corps, which envisions healthy retirees and young adults taking needy seniors to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, shoveling snowy sidewalks, helping out around the house or just stopping by for visits.

Younger volunteers might get community college class credits or a small stipend. Older volunteers would get the satisfaction of helping less-fortunate peers.

The need for such a program is indisputable: By 2040, it's estimated the number of Americans age 85 and older with multiple chronic illnesses will rise to 14.6 million, up from the current 6 million.

Interestingly, France already has a similar program. The key difference: The folks checking in on isolated seniors are postal carriers, who regularly check on older folks along their routes to make sure all is well.

Body of Knowledge

When you rub your eyes, sneeze or stand up too fast, you might see bright flashes or squiggly lines. These are not figments of your imagination but actual sparks of light inside your eyeballs called biophotons. All cells within the human body let off light or bioluminescence. You don't see them, of course, except inside your eyes, where the brain is usually able to ignore them.

When you apply pressure to your eyes, more biophotons are created than the brain can process, and the result is visible flashes.

Get Me That, Stat!

The National Osteoporosis Foundation says more than 2 million Americans covered by Medicare suffered bone fractures due to osteoporosis in 2015 — more hospitalizations than there were for heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer combined. Total health care cost: $6 billion.

Forty percent of all fractures involved either the hip or spine; the rate for female patients was 80% higher than for male patients. Roughly 307,000 patients were hospitalized with recurrent fractures in 2015.

Counts

1 in 6: Children in the United States who live in households that have trouble paying medical bills

Source: The Urban Institute

Doc Talk

Eructate: To burp or belch

Phobia of the Week

Eremophobia: Fear of being oneself

Never Say diet

The Major League speed-eating record for vinegar pickles is 2.7 pounds in 6 minutes, held by Brian Seiken. Call it the dill of victory, the agony of the eat.

Observation

"Why on earth do people say things like 'My eyes aren't what they used to be'? What did they use to be? Ears? Wellington boots?" — Scottish comedian Billy Connolly

Medical History

This week in 1983, 12-year-old David Vetter, known as the "the boy in the bubble," underwent a bone marrow transplant operation in the hope that it might spur development of his immune system. Vetter has been born with a genetic disease called severe combined immunodeficiency and lacked any protection against infection. As a result, he had spent his life inside a protective but isolating sterile plastic room or "bubble." The bone marrow transplant came from his 16-year-old sister, whose marrow was cleansed and infused into David. Unfortunately, the cleansing did not eradicate an undetected Epstein Barr virus. By New Year's Day, Vetter had developed a fever, indicating the onset of illness. Less than two months later, he died of Burkitt's lymphoma.

Sum Body

Seven things that used to be touted as medical remedies:

1. Gentle vomiting for the ague (fevers and shivering)

2. Tar water or nettle juice for asthma

3. Whey and raisins to prevent nosebleeds

4. Raw, lean beefsteak applied to gout in feet

5. Cold water for palpitations of the heart

6. White bread toast dipped in brandy for tonsillitis

7. A clove of garlic applied to the ear for a toothache

Medical Myths

Pediatricians used to counsel new parents to keep babies away from peanuts for the first three years of life to avoid peanut allergies. But published research shows that children exposed to peanuts in their first year of life have no greater risk of developing peanut allergies.

Last Words

"No, you certainly can't." — Jacqueline Kennedy reported these were the last words of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, as they rode in a motorcade through Dallas. Kennedy was responding to Nellie Connally, the wife of Texas Gov. John Connally, who had observed, "You certainly can't say that the people of Dallas haven't given you a nice welcome." Kennedy answered, and moments later, the assassin's bullet struck.

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

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