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For many people, the sooner you act on your COVID-19 symptoms, the better! If you test positive — and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 — treatments are available to reduce your chances of severe illness.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Don’t delay — get tested as soon as possible after your symptoms start. Treatment must be started within days after you first develop symptoms to be effective.
  • If you test positive, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider right away to find out if treatment is right for you, even if your symptoms are mild. There are multiple options for treating COVID-19 at home or in an outpatient setting.

COVID-19 Treatments

If you’re symptomatic, you may also want to consider using the Test to Treat program. With thousands of locations nationwide, it can provide faster, easier access to lifesaving COVID-19 treatments. If you test positive, you can see a healthcare provider, and if eligible, get a prescription for an oral COVID-19 treatment and have that prescription filled — all at one location.

Worry Leads to Heart Disease in Men

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that middle-aged men who often feel worried or anxious may be more prone to problems that raise heart disease risk as they age, compared to their less-worried peers. Over the 23 years of follow-up, researchers found that higher levels of worry were linked to a 10 to 13 percent higher risk of having six or more risk factors for heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes.

Dementia or Depression?

Depression in the elderly can lead to a phenomenon called pseudodementia, an apparent intellectual decline that stems from a lack of energy or effort, according to a special report from Harvard Medical School. People with this problem are often forgetful, move slowly, and have low motivation as well as mental slowing. They may or may not appear depressed. Since there’s no simple test that can reveal whether someone has dementia or depression, treatment is often worth trying. If depression is at the root, treatment can produce dramatic changes.

Transient Ischemic Attacks May Need a New Name.

A recent editorial in the JAMA written by two neurologists is calling for doctors and patients to abandon the term transient ischemic attack. It’s too reassuring, they argue, and too likely to lead someone with the passing symptoms of a TIA to delay going to a doctor or the emergency room. Since TIAs are minor strokes, which can cause visible and permanent brain damage, the sooner they are treated the better.

Help for Hearing Loss

  • CaptionCall is a free service, funded by the federal government, which provides a special telephone with easy-to-read text that automatically captions your conversations. It dials, rings, and works just like a regular phone. Also available for iPad and iPhone. For more information, email or call Claire Dittrich at 678-476-5682 or
  • Adult Hearing Loss Support Group meets the first Friday of every month from 12n – 1 pm. at the UGA Speech & Hearing Clinic in Aderhold Hall. For more information, call 706-542-4598.

The Worst Habits for Your Brain

Many habits contribute to poor brain health, but four areas can have the most influence, say the experts at the McCance Center for Brain Health. They include:

  • Too much sitting. The average adult sits for six-and-a-half hours a day, and all this chair time does a number on the brain. One study found sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain essential to memory. Do this: Move around after 15-30 minutes of sitting. Walk around the house, do push-ups against the kitchen counter, do a few lunges, or take a power walk around the neighborhood.
  • Lack of socializing. Loneliness is linked to depression and a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and can accelerate cognitive decline. A July 2021 study in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B found that less socially active people lose more of the brain’s gray matter, the outer layer that processes information. Do this: You don’t have to interact with many people to reap benefits. Find two or three people with whom you basically can share anything – make this group your social pod. Text or call regularly.
  • Inadequate sleep. According to the CDC, one-third of adults don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Research shows cognitive skills such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving decline when people sleep fewer than seven hours a night. Do this: Don’t focus on getting more sleep. Instead, give yourself more time to sleep. Go to bed an hour earlier than usual. This will give your brain and body extra time to get enough sleep. Even if you are awake for a while, you still have that extra hour to make up for it.
  • Chronic stress. Ongoing stress can kill brain cells and shrink the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for memory and learning. A high expectation mindset can trigger negative reactions that raise stress levels whenever things don’t go our way. Do this: Be flexible with your reactions. When you sense you are about to get upset, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you don’t always know what is best and accept that other approaches might be fine.

Take the Right Steps to Prevent Falls

If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don’t “just happen.” Here are some tips to help you avoid falls and broken bones.

  • Stay physically active. Regular exercise improves muscles, and keeps your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible.
  • Have your vision and hearing testing. Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause you to fall. When you get new glasses, take time to get used to them.
  • Find out about side effects of your medications. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Get enough sleep. If you’re sleepy, you are more likely to fall.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your balance and reflexes. Studies show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.
  • Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop. Get your blood pressure checked when lying and standing.
  • Use an assistive device if you need help feeling steady when you walk. The appropriate use of canes and walkers can prevent falls. However, make sure it’s the right size for you and wheels roll smoothly. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices might be helpful and teach you how to use them safely.
  • Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last checkup, even if you aren’t hurt when you fall. A fall can alert your doctor to a new medical problem or problems with your medications or eyesight that can be corrected.

Falling isn’t funny unless you are comic book artist James Burns. Last October, Burns and his wife Rebecca were walking back to their Five Points home from the grocery store, when suddenly, he took a bad tumble and ended up in the ER. That saga and his attempt to figure out how in the heck it happened – how he did a face-plant on the pavement – is the subject of his newest comic book, The Fall: The True Story of a Bad Fall.

Burns, 63, has been a graphic artist for over 25 years but he says he’s always been interested in storytelling, which is what he likes about creating comic books. His health has been one of the main topics. Detached Retina was his first. Then, there’s House of Covid, and Speechless about a scare with thyroid cancer. His comic books can be found at Wuxtry on Clayton Street and online at and

He notes that his father suffered many falls in his last years, necessitating numerous visits to the emergency room until the last fatal fall at age 92. Now, following his own tumble, which he says caused psychological as well as physical injuries, he says he’s a lot more careful. As he writes, “It’s a story about how everything can change in an instant, if you don’t watch your step…” To see a complete list of his comics, go to

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UGA research shows exercise improves brain function
Published in Sport Sciences for Health, the study followed 51 older adults, tracking their physical activity and fitness measurements. The participants performed tests specifically designed to measure cognitive function and underwent MRIs to assess brain functioning. The results showed that getting in more steps and moving around a little bit more can be helpful to brain health and sustaining independence.

“This paper is exciting because it gives us some evidence that when people whose brain networks aren’t functioning optimally engage in physical activity, we see improvement in their executive function and their independence,” says Marissa Gogniat, lead author. “We’re not saying you need to radically change your life — take the stairs, stand up and walk around a little bit more.”

Bone strength exercises

All exercises for bone strength have one or more of the following attributes, according to Harvard Health Publications:

  • Provide resistance (dumbbells, elastic band, body weight). Muscle contractions tug on bones to stimulate bulk.
  • Weight-bearing (walking, running dancing, tennis, etc.), unlike swimming or bicycling.
  • Provide impact. Higher impact (jumping, pounding) provides more effect than lower impact.
  • Higher velocity. Impact increases as speed increases. Jogging or fast-paced aerobics strengthen bone more than a stroll.
  • Sudden changes of direction. Studies show athletes who play sports such as soccer and squash have greater bone density than long-distance runners.
  • Improve balance. Exercises that target balance may not be best for building bone, but they will help keep you from falling, so they also serve a bone-protecting function.

Support group for hearing impaired
The UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic holds a monthly “Aural Rehabilitation” group led by a clinical doctor of audiology to talk about hearing challenges, tips and communication strategies. Family members are encouraged to attend to better understand hearing struggles. Meetings are held in Aderhold Hall, 5th floor. For more information, email

  • Six activities to get your heart pumping
  • Going for a brisk walk
  • High intensity household chores such as mowing the lawn
  • Active commuting (taking the stairs or walking to your destination)
  • Yoga or lifting weights twice a week
  • Letting loose with fun activities such as dancing or pick-up basketball
  • Add “exercise snacks” to your day such as a 10-minute jump rope session

Binge watching TV linked to blood clots
Watching television for four hours or more a day is linked to a higher risk of developing dangerous blood clots, according to findings in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and reported by Harvard Health Publishing. The study included 131,000 people ages 40 and older without venous thromboembolism. Participants who reported watching television at least four hours a day were categorized as prolonged viewers, while those who watched less than 2.5 hours per day were deemed never-viewers or seldom-viewers.

Follow-up ranged from five years to nearly 20 years and found that prolonged television viewers were 1.35 times more likely to develop VTE compared with never- or seldom-viewers. The findings don’t prove cause and effect, but the connection makes sense as sitting for long periods causes blood to pool in the legs and can raise blood clot risk.

UGA study seeks participants for attention study
A research study conducted through the UGA College of Education seeks 40- to 60-year-old men and women to take the over-the-counter supplement citicoline or a placebo to measure whether the supplement alters attention. The total time commitment is six hours, and participants can earn up to $200 for their time. For more information contact Megha Sequeira:

Positive psychology
Positive emotions are linked with better health, longer life and greater well-being. On the other hand, chronic anger, worry and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease. Harvard Health Publishing reports that the relatively new field of research on positive psychology explores how people and institutions can support the quest for increased satisfaction and meaning. Here’s advice for increasing your positive emotions:
• Feel good: seek pleasurable emotions and sensations.
• Engage fully: pursue goals and activities that engage you fully.
• Do good: search for meaning outside yourself.
• Gratitude: express appreciation for what you have in your life.
• Savor pleasure: place your attention on pleasure as it occurs, and consciously enjoy the experience as it unfolds.
• Be mindful: focus your attention on what is happening at the moment and accept it without judgment.
• Self-compassion: console yourself as needed; take the time to nurture yourself, and build motivation to try again.

Pool therapy or physical therapy for back pain?
A small, randomized trial published in January by JAMA Network Open — an international, peer-reviewed, open access, general medical journal — suggests that aquatic therapy has the edge for reducing chronic low back pain. Researchers divided a group of 113 people into two groups with one group doing two 60-minute physical therapy sessions per week, while the others took part in two 60-minute sessions of pool exercises per week. After 12 weeks, about half the people in the pool therapy group showed an improvement in their pain scores compared with only 21% or fewer in the PT group. And a year later, the pool exercises still felt better than the land exercisers.

Two common prescription drugs now available over the counter
In 2020, the FDA announced two popular symptom-relief drugs can now be sold without a doctor’s prescription. One is diclofenac sodium topical gel, 1% (Voltaren Arthritis Pain), and the other is olopatadine (Pataday), which comes in eye drop form to relieve itchy or red eyes from pollen, ragweed, pet dander and other such allergens.

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Story reprinted with permission by Chuck Murphy and OLLI@UGA.

By Chuck Murphy

Athens nature photographer Chuck Murphy showcases some of his favorite photos from trips to exotic locales at the Rivers Crossing OLLI gallery. Chuck’s exhibit, titled The Birds and the Beasts, contains some of his favorite photos from his trips to exotic locales to capture interesting images.

Chuck is a veteran OLLI presenter, having taught over 115 class sessions on a wide variety of topics since joining in 2007. In addition to his OLLI classes, he’s also taught photography courses for UGA’s Continuing Education, The State Botanical Garden and photography clubs across North Georgia.

Chuck has been honored over his 40-year career as a nature photographer with first prize in a national bird photography contest and publication in the National Wildlife magazine, calendar and holiday gift card set. His photos were published in both the 2019 and 2020 hardcover books, Birdwatching Photography Awards” by BirdWatching magazine.

Local newspapers have published his photos, and they’ve been accepted into curated exhibitions at The Georgia Museum of Art, Lyndon House Arts Center, Chattahoochee Nature Center and the Oconee County Cultural Arts Foundation. Chuck also showcased his photos in three exhibits at the Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Chuck’s website is, and you can reach him at

The OLLI art gallery is in Room 120A, the first office you’ll see when you enter the River’s Crossing building.

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Boom Magazine and the Athens Community Council on Aging are partnering to present the Boom Bash Senior Expo, a comprehensive resource fair for people 50 and over, on April 28, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Athens Country Club on Jefferson Road. Publisher and founder Betsy Bean says about 30 businesses will have the opportunity to showcase their products and services.

In addition to exhibitors, other activities will include health screenings, “My Aging Face” photography exhibit, music, line dancing, book signings and an array of door prizes. The first 100 attendees will receive a $10 gift certificate from Cofer’s Home & Garden Showplace.

Door prizes include:

  • $250 value Grand Prize drawing – register onsite at the Boom Bash
  • 2 free tickets to UGA Performing Arts concert of choice
  • Large floral arrangements courtesy of a•bridge: Aging Life Care Management
  • OLLI trial memberships
  • YMCA memberships

… and much more!

“Our goal is to provide important information in a fun and inviting atmosphere,” Bean said. “Looking for resources can sometimes be overwhelming and intimidating, and this Expo is the perfect place to do research, talk to the experts and get questions answered all in one convenient and attractive place with lots of free parking.”

Vendors will include health and wellness; recreational activities and clubs; housing and caregiving agencies; retirement and financial planning companies; real estate agents; and various aging resources.

Vendors include:

a*bridge: Aging Life CareTM Management
Affinis Hospice
Affordable Medicare Solutions
Athens Community Council on Aging
Athens Nero and Balance
Athens YMCA
Bankers Life/Stephen Brady
Bilbo Publishing
Celebration Village – Athens
Coldwell Banker/Lynn Harder
Edward Jones/Watkinsville
First American Bank & Trust Company
Golden Home Services
Health Markets Insurance Agency, Inc.
Kimbrough Law
Legacy Chiropractic Center
Nabo Realty
Oconee Regenerative & Joint Institute
Presbyterian Village Athens.
Raymond James
St. Mary’s Health Care System
TGC Radio
Therapy South
UGA OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute)
UGA Performing Arts Center
UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic
Vest Properties
Visiting Angels
Wesley Woods of Athens


Boom Bash Title Sponsor: Celebration Village Age-in-Place Retirement Resort (398-unit mixed use)

Boom Bash Gold Sponsors: TGC Radio and NABO Realty

Boom Bash Silver Sponsors: Affordable Medicare Solutions and

Presbyterian Homes of Georgia – Athens

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A free webinar sponsored by Kimbrough Law aims to increase awareness about a little-known benefit for older veterans and their surviving spouses. 

Tax-Free Money for Older Veterans, a free online educational event at 10:00 a.m. on Thurs., Nov. 11, will explain how veterans, surviving spouses, and their families can access this life-changing benefit. In this conversational town hall-style discussion, attorney W.H. “Kim” Kimbrough, Jr. will explain the basics of VA Pension with Aid & Attendance—a non-service-connected benefit that can pay up to $27,549 per year.

“Most people have no idea this benefit even exists,” said Kimbrough, an estate planning and elder law attorney whose firm has helped secure the VA Pension for more than 700 veterans and their surviving spouses. “It’s one of the VA’s best-kept secrets. Millions of veterans are missing out on thousands of dollars each month simply because they don’t know this benefit is available, or they wait too long to apply.”

Kimbrough said that many veterans who do know about this benefit don’t bother applying because they’re told they won’t qualify, or they think the money can only be used in certain ways. “The VA Pension with Aid & Attendance can be used for anything,” Kimbrough explained. “This includes private health insurance, medications that aren’t covered, gifts for family, travel, new clothes, home repairs and renovations, and of course long-term care (either in the home or in a facility). If you’re an older veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran and could use some extra money each month, this benefit can make all the difference.”

Pre-registration for this free online event is now open, though space is limited. Reserve your seat online at or, or by calling 706.850.6910.

Kimbrough Law is an elder law and estate planning firm that helps families protect what matters most: qualify of life for loved ones, family assets, and peace of mind. Kimbrough Law serves clients throughout North Georgia from a virtual online office and from offices at 500 Jesse Jewell Parkway SE, Suite 200 in Gainesville, and 1077 Baxter Street, Suite 700 in Athens. For more information, visit or call 706.850.6910.

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Flu vaccine behaviors could inform future COVID-19 vaccine distribution

The ongoing wave of new COVID-19 infections and recent booster recommendations have made the need for efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines even more urgent, particularly for high-risk individuals with chronic medical conditions.

Putting more vaccines in the hands of primary care physicians might help, according to new research from the University of Georgia. The researchers analyzed data on flu vaccine uptake among high-risk individuals, which could help inform where these individuals may want to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more about how a flu study can help with COVID-19 vaccinations.

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Is pre-diabetes meaningful in older adults?

JAMA Internal Medicine recently reported that a longitudinal study of older adults diagnosed as being pre-diabetic were far more likely to have their blood sugar levels return to normal than to progress to diabetes. And they were no more likely to die during the follow-up period than their peers with normal blood sugar. Pre-diabetes, a condition rarely discussed 15 years ago, refers to a blood sugar level that is higher than normal but that has not crossed the threshold into diabetes. It’s commonly defined by a hemoglobin A1C reading of 5.7 to 6.4 percent. The American Diabetes Association told the New York Times they plan to review the study and may make some adjustments in their recommendations. Consult with your own physician.

Best shoes for knee arthritis

A recent New York Times article reported on a randomized trial that assigned 164 men and women, average age 65, to wear either a flexible or stiff shoe for at least six hours a day for six months. The report in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 58 percent of those wearing stable shoes achieved a clinically significant reduction in pain, compared with 40 percent wearing the flexible shoes. Ostearthritis is the most common joint disorder in the U.S.

What does a healthy diet look like?

A recent article from Harvard Health publications notes that there is no single way to eat for good health. That’s why some people may feel great on a vegan diet while others prefer a paleo diet, diets that are polar opposites. The thing they have in common is that both include lots of vegetables and minimizes highly processed foods. From there, they say, you can fill in the blanks to suit yourself. It takes a varied diet to get the vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals for optimal health but there are many combinations of foods that get you there. In fact, a number of recent studies have found that the quality of the food you eat, whole foods over processed, is more important than whether it’s low-fat, low-carb or somewhere in between.

Do hair dyes increase cancer risk?

It’s estimated that 50 percent or more of women and 10 percent of men over age 40 color their hair. There have been many studies that explored the relationship between personal hair dye use and risk of cancer or cancer-related death. Most were too small and had short follow-up times or other inconsistencies. However, a recent study by Harvard Medical School researchers looked at data from 117,200 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study, collected over 36 years. The key highlights are:

  • Personal permanent hair dye use did not increase risk for most cancers or cancer-related death.
  • Additional research is needed to study diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, specific hair dye colors (light versus dark), cancer subtypes and exposure levels (persona vs. occupational).
  • Though this study exposed possible associations between permanent hair dye use and increased risk for some cancers, there is not enough new evidence to move the needle on recommendations for use. Until more is known, consider your personal and family histories when deciding whether to use permanent hair dyes.
Napping is not bad!

A study published in General Psychiatry suggests giving into the impulse for a nap might be a good thing. The study divided 2,214 Chinese senior citizens into two groups: napping and non-napping. They all received cognitive assessments and some volunteered to take blood lipid tests. The nappers exhibited better orientation, language and memory. A 2019 study found that an afternoon nap can lower blood pressure as well.

Weight gain later in life extends life

Results from a recent Ohio State University study indicate that people who begin adulthood with a normal-range body mass index and become overweight—but never obese—later in life, tend to live the longest. This was even compared to people who maintained a normal BMI throughout their lives. However, people who entered adulthood with obesity and gained more weight had the highest mortality rate.
Researchers said that for those who start at a normal weight in early adulthood, gaining a modest amount of weight throughout life and entering the overweight category in later adulthood can actually increase the probability of survival.

Deadly falls in older Americans rising

The deaths of actor Christopher Plummer, 91, last year and Leonard Cohen, 82, in 2016 from falls indicates a growing trend published in the medical journal JAMA. As the population ages, the number of older Americans who die following a fall is rising—the rate of mortality from falls more than doubled from 2000 to 2016. Reasons include people living longer with conditions that might have killed them at an earlier age in the past and older adults on medications that increase the risk of falling. To mitigate the risk, experts advise the following:

  • Exercise at least 20 minutes a day. Include aerobic and anaerobic (tai chi is good), and weightlifting, particularly to strengthen the legs.
  • Mind your meds. Drugs such as Valium and Xanax for sleep are particularly bad and can cause dizziness. Others to avoid include Ambien, Benadryl and Advil PM, all are bad for balance.
  • Re-accessorize. Eyesight is crucial when it comes to falls. Avoid bifocal or progressive lenses when walking outside. Of course, no high heels but also avoid slide-in sandals, and slippers (which make you slip). All shoes should have a back and a sole with good tread.
  • Eliminate tripping hazards. Clutter, small scatter rugs, extension cords in pathways, pets, uneven thresholds all can add to the risk of a fall. Keep a night light on.
  • Early and often to the bathroom. Hydration is a good way to fight dizziness. Drink plenty of water throughout the day but don’t wait until you have to rush to get to the bathroom. Besides, a bonus to the frequent trips is the sit-to-stand move is good exercise!
The no-drug approach to mild depression

Many people suffer bouts of mild or moderate depression as they age. Health issues and the loss of a spouse, family member or friend are common triggers. For those who don’t want to or can’t take antidepressants, Harvard Men’s Health Watch reports on four nondrug strategies.

  • Exercise. There is strong evidence that any kind of regular exercise is one of the best antidepressants. Focus on doing whatever gives you enjoyment, be it walking, gardening, or house projects, as regular movement is key.
  • Nutrition. Focus on what not to eat, curbing refined sugar found in sweets, soft drinks, and processed foods may be most beneficial. A 2017 study examined the diets of 8,000 men and found those who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day (equal to three candy bars) were 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression compared with men who ate 40 grams or less.
  • Gratitude. Expressing gratitude has been shown to have a positive emotional effect on people with depression. A 2016 study found that writing down what you appreciate in your life can increase activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the brain region often associated with depression. Even writing down examples of what inspires your gratitude just once a week is helpful and reflect on those entries for a mood boost when you feel low. Be sure to include some details about the things or people for which you’re grateful.
  • Social connection. The evidence is clear that social isolation increases a person’s risk of depression and can make symptoms more severe and longer lasting. Whether volunteering for a favorite cause or playing a team sport, stay connected.


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A Tour and an Exhibit

Sandra Bussell preparing her garden for this year’s tour. Not a “garden club,” in the sense of white gloves and socializing around tea and cake, the Piedmont Gardeners are a group of serious gardeners intent on cultivating plant knowledge and employing hands-on learning.

Everything gardens and gardening is coming up, be it roses or perennials, a tour and an exhibit, trail and a plant sale (pg. 5). And because it’s all outside, or inside and distanced, you can feel safe venturing beyond your own yard to explore these oh-so-welcome springtime events of 2021.

The 27th annual Piedmont Gardeners’ Spring Garden Tour of Athens should be in your date book for Saturday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. After having missed last year’s tour due to the pandemic, we are all more than ready for this year, rain or shine.
Four fabulous Athens’ gardens have been carefully selected to emphasize different styles of gardening by do-it-yourselfers who are eager to share their gardens and their know-how with attendees.

Meandering paths, shaded garden retreats, native as well as exotic species and specimen trees all await you as well as lots of ideas you can copy. What better way to spend a relaxing Saturday!

Proceeds from the tour are used for funding the annual scholarships for UGA Horticulture or Landscape Architecture students, maintaining the gardens of the Brumby House Welcome center, and donating garden-related books to the Athens-Clarke County Regional Library. Funds have also been used to support projects that develop and preserve public gardens and the natural beauty of the Athens area.

Tickets are $15 in advance and can be ordered online at or purchased at the following businesses: Athens Feed and Seed, Appointments at Five, Cofer’s Home and Garden Showplace , Goodness Grows, Perryander Studio, and Wild Birds Unlimited. $20 day of tour.

Public Garden Art Exhibit

Gardens of the South: April 16 – May 28
The Southworks 2021 exhibit at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation in Watkinsville will feature Greyson Smith’s works on paper, depicting public gardens located in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas. Smith has incorporated his photographs of nearly two dozen public gardens into mixed-media works using drawing and painting.

Who Knew?

By Allan Armitage

“If no one shows up, at least we will have cleaned up our gardens.”

That was one of the thoughts voiced when some friends and gardeners met to discuss the idea of a garden tour of Athens. In about 1991, I was a young UGA horticulture professor impressed with the number of people talking about the annual Historic Tour of Homes in the city. I thought there might be enough serious gardeners in Athens to create a great garden tour that could become another annual tradition and source of community pride.

I brought up this idea to Mrs. Laura Ann Segrest, a native Athenian who was much admired and who was passionate about her garden. She immediately insisted the first meeting take place at her home on Milledge Circle. On that auspicious evening, six people gathered around a table and ideas started to flow. Each of them offered, without hesitation, to open their own gardens the next Spring. Besides me, there was Gerald Smith, a UGA Extension Horticulturist, Ed and Donna Lambert, Ken Washburn and Laura Ann. Not that there were not some doubts, least of all if the community would support it but support it they did.

Many of the original group of six are no longer with us, but as the Piedmont Gardeners’ Tour approaches thirty years, they would surely exclaim, “Who knew?”

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Fix your walking habits

The Harvard Medical School advises that, with a little work, it’s possible to correct ingrained walking habits while exercising.

  • Look ahead. Lift up from the top of your head. Don’t tuck your chin or look at the ground but train your sights 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. If you need to check the ground, lower your eyes, not your head.
  • Stretch your spine. Your shoulders should be level and square, neither thrust back nor slumped forward. Tuck your buttocks in.
  • Bend your arms. Flex your elbows at close to 90 degree angles and let your arms swing at waist level. Your fingers should be curled but not clenched.
  • Swivel your hips. A slight pivot at the hip can add power to your stride.
  • Flex your feet. Come down on your heels and lift up off your toes. A person walking behind you should be able to see the sole of your shoe.
  • Take measured steps. Too long a stride throws you off balance. Concentrate on taking shorter steps but more of them.

New prostate cancer test

The New York Times reports that the FDA has approved a test that can locate prostate cancer cells wherever they are, and cancer specialists say it will alter treatment for patients nationwide. The test relies on a radioactive tag attached to a molecule that homes in on prostate cancer cells that have spread to other locations in the body and may seed new tumors. Specialists are hoping to use the technique to kill cancer cells, not just find them.

Medications as effective as stents

The latest study reported last November at the American Heart Association meeting shows that patients with stable coronary artery disease can be managed with medications and healthy lifestyles. The ISCHEMIA trial followed 5,000 patients with significant narrowing in one or more coronary arteries. The trial suggests that medications are just as good at preventing heart attacks and death in stable patients. For those limited by angina, stents can provide symptom control but not prevention of heart attacks or death.

Pandemic slows FDA approval for OTC hearing aids

The Federal Drug Administration was scheduled to issue draft regulations by last August to establish safety and effectiveness benchmarks for over-the-counter hearing aids. Legislation passed in 2017. The final rule was to take effect in May. Now manufacturers are hopeful 2021 will be the year.

While experts say the “$50 miracle device” is garbage, once federal requirements are set, manufacturers of quality devices can apply for approval, and you’ll be able to walk into any big-box or drug store or even go online and get a hearing aid. Audiologists will still provide important services such as testing, education and counseling, and adjusting devices.
One quarter of Americans in their 60s and nearly two-thirds of those over 70 have hearing loss. Its damaging consequences can include social isolation, an increased risk of falls, and much higher rates of dementia.

In 2018, only about 18.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries over 70 owned and used hearing aids. Cost is the big deterrent for most people since Medicare only covers testing, not the hardware.

A Better Understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease

Some very good news to report when it comes to battling Alzheimer’s disease. A novel form of an Alzheimer’s protein found in the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord indicates what stage of the disease a person is in, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The discovery of so-called microtubule binding region tau (MTBR tau) in the cerebrospinal fluid could lead to a way to diagnose people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, before they have symptoms or when their symptoms are still mild. It also could accelerate efforts to find treatments for the devastating disease. The Medical Minute

A Cup of Hot Chocolate May Boost Brain Power

Grab a cup of hot chocolate the next time you have a taxing problem to tackle. Increased consumption of flavanols, which are a group of molecules that occur naturally in fruit and vegetables, may increase your mental agility, according to new research at the University of Birmingham in England. A team in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences has found that adults given a cocoa drink containing high levels of flavanols were able to complete certain cognitive tasks more efficiently than when drinking a non-flavanol- enriched drink. The Medical Minute

California olive oil stands the test

In 2014, California began standardized testing of olive oil. AARP reports that in 2017, unregulated extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) were below standard 82 percent of the time; regulated only failed 10 percent of the time. One to two tablespoons a day has been shown to lower cholesterol. The more potent an oil’s flavor, the more powerful its protective effects. If you feel a slight burn at the back of your throat, that means it has high levels of oleocanthal, the polyphenol shown to bust up Alzheimer’s plaques.

Consumer Reports says:

Eggs from chickens raised with “no hormones” are not worth any extra money. By law, chickens that produce eggs cannot be given hormones. And you’ll get less mercury in your tuna, one third less, if you eat chunk light rather than albacore.

Plank is ideal exercise for your core

Your core covers the muscle groups in your abdominals, back, hips, pelvis and buttocks. If your core is weak, other muscles must compensate and that can lead to lingering pain in other areas such as your neck, shoulders or back. According to the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, plank activates all the core muscles at once and doesn’t require extra movements that can cause stress or injury. Two to three sets a day of ten to 30 seconds each is plenty—more than two minutes offers little benefit.

Here’s how to do a plank correctly:

  • Lie facedown with your forearms on the floor, legs extended and feet together.
  • Push into your forearms (or your arms fully extended) so your body forms a straight line
  • from head to feet. Don’t let hips sag or rise.
    Keep your gaze down and engage your abdominal muscles. Take steady breaths.
  • Maintain for 10 to 30 seconds, then lower. That’s one set.