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Wed, 21st September 2016

Why do so many people live in the same family home for a lifetime? I chair a non-profit PBI called Medi Aid Foundation which houses the elderly. Although "old age" is officially 55 years, in reality commonest entry age to our villages is 78-92 years! Unless sickness prevails, these people still perceive themselves as "middle age". Heaps live alone, shop, cook and do the housework independently. Although relatives and government support plans help, a majority prefer to go it alone.

Like thousands of others I revelled in comedian Wendy Harmer's ABC series called "Stuff" earlier this year. She said people simply loved to accumulate "stuff" (i.e. rubbish). This takes years, decades to accumulate. When surrounded by all this junk, they feel comfortable, happy and still enjoy accumulating more. When the house is full, and the garage bursting, there is invariably a shed out the back similarly jammed with their favourite items. They've probably sat in the same chair for fifty years as it's comfortable so why change.

Many modern retirement villages are fitted with the latest gizmos - stainless steel stuff in the kitchen, granite benchtops, marble bathrooms, whiz bang lighting, immaculate gardens and outside support, and meals to suit all tastes (except their own). Plus new surroundings, no room for their beloved "stuff". So why move? Pigs love to wallow in mud and slush. Humans are no different (only we eat the pigs).

So ignore the rellies who want to "clean up" your place. Wallow and enjoy. You'll stay happier that way. When the "time" comes, as long as it is 'sudden and painless' (like a massive heart attack at 3am), that's about all that matters. Please leave a will - it gives the remaining rellies something to fight about for the next ten years.



If I am miserable and depressed, food soothes my jangled nerves. If happy, I celebrate by eating. If lonely, food is a lovely partner. If overworked and stressed, more food from the vending machine a metre away is great. It seems to be the universal remedy. I think I am a normal person. So why do I weigh 95 kilos. It is not fair. Most of the others are normal weight.


Your neurons need straightening out. Of course food is nature's universal "first aid". (So is alcohol, but that's for another day) Write yourself a letter. State exactly what you will eat for the day and the time frames. Tick off when mission achieved. We all know that disciplined food intake is the only known way of reducing weight. It is simple if applied to paper and followed. Eat anything. Simply omit products containing fat, flour and sugar and you're OK. Get it?

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I seem to get tired for no obvious reason around 3pm. If I resort to a cup of tea, it keeps me awake. I am only 86.


At 86 you are entitled to feel tired at 3pm. It is your body's way of saying - hey, take a break. I bet you live alone, do the housework, shopping, cooking and probably visit friends. Just the same a check with your GP is advised. There may be some underlying as yet undiagnosed disorder. Reduced thyroid activity is common. So is anemia, diabetes and sleep apnea as starters. Often treatment is simple and effective, but take action today.

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The third toenail on my right foot has suddenly turned black. Is this dangerous?


This means a blood vessel under the toenail has been broken leaking blood which turns black after a few days. Most probable cause is a tight fitting shoe causing undue pressure on the toes, or inadvertently kicking something hard. Nature will heal, and in about twelve months a new nail will have replaced the old damaged one plus the clotted blood. It takes time.

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Are limb amputations still carried out?


Sadly yes, and thousands each year in Australia. Most are caused by inadequate blood supply to the extremities, usually starting with the toes. Then the foot, then often the leg, and often the entire lower limb. Main cause is diabetes. Left untreated it clogs up blood vessels, the legs being the first. Cholesterol comes next, also blocking normal blood flow and oxygen and food supply. A simple blood evaluation by the GP will instantly detect possible causes, often many years in advance. Many, probably most could be avoided with simple preventive care and lifestyle modification.

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A friend of mine aged 18 has been diagnosed with seminoma of the testes. Is this curable?


This is one of the commonest cancers of the teenage years. A gradual increase in the size of the testes is the first symptom. This gradually increases. It is quickly diagnosed. Fortunately, it is very amenable to intervention and the majority survives and lives a normal life. Immediate attention is essential.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village ( in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (, a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

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