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Senior News

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By Matilda Charles

Senior Discounts: You’ve Earned Them


If you’ve always prided yourself on being completely independent and have delayed being categorized as a senior, this might be the time to reconsider that. Here are some thoughts:

* Are you getting the correct property-tax relief? While your area might specify that you get a certain percent off your taxes because you’re a senior, it’s always possible that a clerk didn’t enter your information correctly. Ask.

* Are you shy about asking for your discount at restaurants or other places? Don’t be. Those dollars can add up. If you’re a member of AARP, it’s worth the yearly membership fee if you take advantage of the discounts. Check its website ( and click on Discounts. New glasses, groceries, travel, your wireless plan with AT&T, car rental, restaurants and more -- it’s all there for the taking. Be sure to always carry your AARP card with you, and get used to asking, “Do you offer senior discounts?” You’ll learn that many places do give discounts, but only if you ask.

* Safety calls: Many senior centers or small towns have a Good Morning program where seniors receive (or make) a call to let them know all is well. If you don’t check in or answer the phone, your emergency contact is called. If you have no emergency contact or neighbor listed, someone will come to your door to make sure you’re OK.

* Home help: Some communities have a weekend each year when groups help seniors with painting a porch or room, raking a yard and much more. Sign up!

* Be aware that not all “seniors” are the same. In some places you don’t qualify for discounts until age 65. Or maybe it’s age 50, or 55 or 62. You only need to ask.





By Dr. Keith Roach



Waking Up With Racing Heart

DEAR DR. ROACH: Two separate days in the past month, I woke up in the middle of the night after being asleep for about four hours and realized that my heart was beating extremely fast. I waited a few minutes and, just as I was wondering if I should go to the emergency room, my pulse started to slow down. I had no other symptoms other than my heart racing. I am a 25-year-old female with no other health problems. My roommate said she thought it could have been caused by stress. I’m scared it will happen again. Should I go to the hospital if it does happen again? -- S.C.

ANSWER: Waking up with your heart racing can be due to anxiety, but that isn’t a common presentation for anxiety, which usually is in response to stressful situations (or anticipating one). Waking up with a racing heart is more likely to be due to a heart-rhythm disturbance, such as a reentrant AV nodal tachycardia. The most common reason for this is having two pathways from the top of the heart (the sinoatrial node) through the midpoint (the atrioventricular node), which then goes on to the ventricles. A circular pathway can get set up down the abnormal fast pathway and up the slow one (or vice versa) causing a very fast heart rate.

I would not wait for it to happen again but would go see a doctor and maybe get connected to a Holter monitor or event monitor. Both track your heart rhythm for extended periods of time. Once you have a diagnosis, you can be treated, with radio waves to destroy the abnormal fast pathway or with medication if it ends up being the condition I am concerned about.

READERS: The booklet on heartbeat irregularities -- whether too fast, too slow or out of rhythm -- explains this potentially deadly condition and how it is treated. Order a copy by writing: Dr. Roach -- No. 107W, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.


DEAR DR. ROACH: A good friend of mine has an unusual problem. Every time he eats fresh tomatoes, he gets pimples. Is this an allergy? It never fails to cause pimples. -- E.D.

ANSWER: Yes, I have heard that before. Fresh tomatoes, but not cooked ones, seem to cause some people to have an acne breakout, at any age. Other acidic foods, especially citrus, seem to cause that reaction, too. It’s not a true allergy.

Acne is a complex condition, and it starts with a hair follicle being blocked by excessive skin cell growth, causing a plug in the follicle. This allows skin bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, to grow in the oily substance normally used to lubricate the skin and hair follicle. It’s called sebum. While there is some evidence that diet can worsen acne, it isn’t exactly clear how that works. Most cases of adolescent acne are primarily due to the hormonal changes causing increased sebum production.


Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to To view and order health pamphlets, visit, or write to.