Arming the Elderly: A Self-Defense Guide for Senior Citizens


For several years we have discussed important health issues in Northwest Senior News. Without question, maintaining optimum physical health in the later years, or the 4th quarter as I like to say, can lend to a more enjoyable retirement.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent violence of the riots and protests, I think it’s relevant to look at another critically important issue, and that is our personal safety.

I sure many of you saw the ugly video of an unprovoked attack on a 92-year-old New York City woman by a man with a rap sheet a mile long. His strike knocked the woman down, and she hit her head on a fire hydrant as she fell. If you care to review this tragic incident, you can click here for a YouTube video of it. Caution: The scene is disturbing.

I came across an article authored by Molly Carter on titled Arming the Elderly: A Self-Defense Guide for Senior Citizens. Please click on the link to view the complete write-up. I have summarized her key points.

Carter explains that 14 percent of seniors in the past year have experienced either physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; neglect; or financial exploitation. That’s alarming!

I know of two or our clients that were scammed by email or phony business venture schemes. They were financially exploited. Do NOT open any emails requesting personal information such as your phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, or any passwords. If in doubt, still do NOT open it. Have a knowledgeable person look it first! Don’t let them tease your curiosity!

The author lists twelve tips to avoid becoming an easy target.

  • Walk with purpose.
  • Keep your eyes up.
  • Know where the exits are.
  • Watch for suspicious people.
  • Avoid places that are known to be unsafe.
  • Don’t go places alone.
  • Run errands during the day.
  • Don’t linger in isolated places.
  • Don’t be distracted.
  • Stay in well-lit areas.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep your keys in your hand, ready to go.

I think these tips could summed up as situational awareness. Know what’s going on around you and be observant.

Carter encourages you not to be overly trusting. For example, you don’t want to open your door for someone that needs to “borrow” your phone.

She provides several other safety tips. This one deserves special attention: Improve your chances of evading criminals by staying active and fit. Seniors who live active lifestyles are faster, stronger, and have quicker reaction times than their peers. I’ll add that those who conduct themselves in this manner will be much less of a target for the bad guys.

That’s another reason to stay in robust health, keeping your weight at normal levels, and to stay physically fit. Evading danger is much easier for those that are.

The author discusses personal protection. She suggests walking with your fist wrapped around your keys with one key sticking out between your knuckles. This gives you a solid, makeshift weapon that can be used as a knife to slice or puncture. [This is more directed to people living in larger urban areas.]

A person can carry items such as a police whistle, a flashlight, mace [pepper spray] and a personal alarm.

She next discusses fighting or martial arts tips. Evading the confrontation is the first strategy. If the attacker demands your bag, don’t hand it to him. Throw it at his feet. That way he can’t grab your arm as easily. If you do end up in a fight, fight “as dirty as you can” Carter suggests. Poke his eyes, hit him in the balls, and punch him in the nose. If you are attacked from behind, throw your head backwards to throw the perp off his balance.

Carry a Concealed Weapon

Concealed carry is obviously a personal decision. Carter states three important considerations if you decide to carry.

  1. Have the right weapon.
  2. Be comfortable with it.
  3. Be willing to do what it takes.

Her main caution for semi-automatic pistols is that some seniors may not have the manual dexterity or strength to operate the slide. Her caution for revolvers is the finger strength required for the long pull. If you carry or decide to have a handgun at home, you will need to determine which one is best for you.

She next lists some recommended pistols and revolvers. She cautions against small-caliber hand guns for self-defense such as .22s because they don’t have enough stopping power. However, she stresses that “carrying a small gun is better than no gun at all.

I’ll comment that .22s have still killed lots of people. I have a former student that accidentally shot his 10 year-old brother in the back with a .22. It killed him.

Overcoming Obstacles and Limitations

The author emphasizes that it’s a smart idea to know your limitations when choosing a firearm to carry. A few issues that she mentions are arthritis, limited range of motion, poor eyesight, and any type of chronic pain.

One handy option for those dealing with vision issues is the consideration of having a laser light on your handgun. Carter offers the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .38 with the built-in laser light as an example.

If Something Bad Does Happen

If something does happen, be sure to report it to the proper authorities. She refers to an article on the FBI’s website titled Scams And Safety. Carter states that seniors can and should protect themselves. End

How do I sign up for Medicare Part B if I already have Part A?

Most readers here have already been on Medicare Part B either recently or for several years. However, maybe you have a spouse/partner, or know someone else who has Medicare Part A (Hospital) but not Part B (Medical). Please pass this information on to those that are needing help to sign up for Medicare Part B. This is especially applicable during this COVID lockdown time when in-person visitation to your local Social Security Administration office has either been difficult or impossible.

The following paragraphs are from the FAQ section on the Social Security Administration’s website:

How do I sign up for Medicare Part B if I already have Part A?

If you are already enrolled in Medicare Part A and you would like to enroll in Part B, please complete form CMS-40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (Medical Insurance). If you are applying for Medicare Part B due to a loss of employment or group health coverage, you will also need to complete form CMS-L564 (Request for Employment Information).

You may complete the forms online by visiting the Apply for Medicare Part B Online During a Special Enrollment Period webpage; fax them to 1-833-914-2016; or return the forms by mail to your local Social Security office. If you have questions, please contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Note: When completing the forms CMS 40B and CMS L564:

  • State “I want Part B coverage to begin (MM/YY)” in the remarks section of the CMS 40B form or online application.
  • If your employer is unable to complete Section B, please complete that portion as best as you can on behalf of your employer without your employer’s signature.
  • Also submit one of the following forms of secondary evidence:
  • Income tax returns that show health insurance premiums paid.
  • W-2s reflecting pre-tax medical contributions.
  • Pay stubs that reflect health insurance premium deductions.
  • Health insurance cards with a policy effective date.
  • Explanations of benefits paid by the GHP or LGHP.
  • Statements or receipts that reflect payment of health insurance premiums.

Are Hand Sanitizers Safe to Use?

by Lance D. Reedy

Because of the COVID-19 virus, hand sanitizers have been flying off the store shelves. However, just how safe are they? For a while, antibacterial hand soaps were all the rage. When the news came out that the triclosan, the active ingredient, was helping to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, smart shoppers discontinued purchasing these products. Are there similar issues with hand-sanitizers?

Several months ago, I was at my local optician’s shop, and I noticed a bottle of Purell sitting on the counter. I had never used the product before. Wanting to try it, I squirted a dob into my hands and started rubbing it all over. I thought maybe it was a gel that you would wipe on and wipe off. The gal said, “No, you just rub it in.” To my amazement the thick liquid just disappeared.

That triggered my thinking…besides alcohol, what’s in these products? Are the ingredients safe, or are there some downsides?

Of the good, the bad and the ugly concerning hand sanitizers, let’s looks at the ugly first. This headline appeared on

FDA issues warning over certain hand sanitizers due to potentially toxic chemicals

The article explains that products made by Mexican-based Eskbiochem may contain methanol. Methanol (wood alcohol) was sold as moonshine and is toxic if taken orally. The article says the following about methanol:

Significant exposure to the chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death, the FDA’s warning reads.

That’s ugly for sure. The article lists the various brand names marketed by Eskbiochem. Hmm, names like CleanCare NOGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer sounds innocent enough. Buyer beware. Let’s move on to another article.

FDA tells hand sanitizer producers to make it unpalatable after surge in poison control calls

It looks like people are drinking the stuff because it has alcohol in it. Yuck! Because of that, the FDA is encouraging the manufacturers to add ingredients to the sanitizer that would make it unpalatable. You’d think it’s unpalatable already. We’ll move on as I don’t think any of our readers are foolish enough to drink hand sanitizer.

Here’s another article: Get coronavirus-fighting hand sanitizer from these unexpected brands

Due to the demand for hand sanitizer, other manufacturers have jumped into the fray. Please refer to the above article for a rundown on the 16 brands listed.

Before using any of those products, a smart idea is to check out the ingredients to ascertain if they are safe to apply on your skin. Are there any hormone disrupters buried in the list of ingredients? Some of these may be relatively safe, and others may have questionable ingredients.

What about the Ingredients in Purell and other sanitizers?

From DailyMed, Purell’s hand sanitizer’s ingredients are as follows:

Water, Isopropyl alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Isopropyl Myristate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Fragrance (Parfum)

When you rub Purell or other similar products into your hands as if you were washing them with soap and water, you coat both sides of your hands, and whatever these ingredients are, they soak into your skin. Just how safe are they?

Concern #1: An article from Newsweek is titled, Hand Sanitizer Speeds Absorption of BPA From Receipts. Whoops, BPA is a known hormone disrupter. The freshly applied hand sanitizer serves as a vehicle to better enable the BPA on the electronic cash register receipts to be absorbed into your body.

You walk into the store and slather hand sanitizer on your hands thinking you’re safer. As you complete your purchase, you handle the register receipt. You may have unwittingly enabled some BPA to soak into your skin.

Concern #2: An article on is titled– 5 Hidden Dangers of Hand Sanitizers. The introduction reads as follows: Hand sanitizer has been used during the coronavirus outbreak to battle the spread. Like anything, use in moderation.

It sounds pretty simple as an alternative to washing your hands with soap and water. It’s quick, portable, and convenient, especially when you don’t have running water nearby. Hand sanitizer or hand antiseptic is a supplement that comes in gel, foam, or liquid solutions.”

Easy-peasy and simple, right? Maybe. Here are 5 hidden dangers.

#1: Toxic chemicals: “If your hand sanitizer is scented, then it’s likely loaded with toxic chemicals. Companies aren’t required to disclose the ingredients that make up their secret scents, and therefore generally are made from dozens of chemicals.”

Synthetic fragrances contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupters that mimic hormones and could alter genital development.”

#2: Weaker Immune System: “Studies have shown that triclosan can also harm the immune system, which protects your body against disease.”

#3: Hormone Disruption: Another effect of triclosan is interfering with your body’s hormones.

#4: Alcohol Poisoning: “Just because it doesn’t have triclosan, doesn’t mean it’s completely safe.

#5: Antibiotic Resistance: While the COVID-19 virus is not bacterial, creating more antibiotic resistant bacteria is a bad idea. If you contract a bacterial infection, now your immune system may be more compromised, which could make you more susceptible to contracting the virus.

Purell rated by

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates hundreds of products with a graphic consisting of four categories:

  • Cancer
  • Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity
  • Allergies & Immunotoxicity
  • Use Restrictions

The overall rating for Original Purell Hand Sanitizer is 4, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst.

The concern for Cancer and Developmental & Reproductive Toxicity is low. Allergies & Immunotoxicity is rated high. Use Restrictions is rated as moderate.

It appears that Purell is one of the least bad of the hand sanitizers.

What’s good? Of course, it’s going to be something homemade where you know what going into it meaning no questionable chemicals

Coronavirus hand sanitizer you can make at home — and it’s doctor-approved

The recipe is pretty basic: However, it didn’t say how much distilled water to add.

  • 2/3 of rubbing alcohol
  • 1/3 of Aloe Vera Gel
  • 5 drops of essential oil
  • Distilled Water

One hand sanitizer that I have seen, and find to be less objectionable, is Dr. Bronner’s – Organic Hand Sanitizer Spray. They have the following verbiage on their website:

Our Organic Hand Sanitizer kills germs with a simple formula: organic ethyl alcohol, water, organic lavender oil, and organic glycerin—that’s it! None of the nasty chemicals you find in conventional sanitizers, but just as effective…

This looks to be safer compared to some of the above-listed hand-sanitizers. One concern, however, is the link between hand sanitizers and BPA absorption. If it’s the use of ethyl alcohol, Dr. Bronner’s could still cause a problem if you handle cash register receipts.

A hand sanitizer-less solution or soap on the go.

I have carried a one-ounce, small plastic bottle filled with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap. I can use is in a public restroom. It’s incredible how well a few drops of this liquid soap will lather-up.

I have also used it while traveling. I can step out of my car, lather up with Dr. Bronner’s, rinse off with a water bottle, and dry off with a small hand towel. If you have someone with you, he/she can dribble the rinse water on your hands. You can also use a spray bottle filled with water only, for rinsing. This is a terrific way to wash you hands while on the go when there is no running water available.

Note: I have no affiliation with and nor do I have any financial stake in any of the products mentioned in this article.

Conclusion: There is no question that good hand sanitation is a smart idea, not just because of the COVID-19 virus but for preventing other cold or flu bugs. Good hand hygiene is also a wise idea before eating, especially if you will be touching food.

We have heard the admonitions, “Don’t touch your face.” Sometimes that’s hard to avoid when you have an itch, need to rub your nose, or need to rub out some dried tear junk from the corner of your eye. Keeping your hands clean certainly will lessen to chance of getting a bug when you do touch your face.

Soap and water is the consensus as the optimal way to clean your hands. Hand sanitizers come in second place. You’ll have to decide the risk verses benefit of using these products. If you do use a hand sanitizer, for sure, do your due diligence and choose the safest (or least bad) products. End

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 3, The War on Fat

by Dr. Bruce Fife


Recap of Chapter 2:

Dr. Fife enumerated the importance of fat in our diets. He also explained that if we do not get enough cholesterol in our diets, our livers will produce what our bodies need. He detailed how our ancestors ate real food, but when they started to transition to refined, Western diets, degenerative diseases set in.

Chapter 3

The Heart Disease Epidemic

My Comments: This chapter details one of the greatest health-related tragedies in American history. This is the promulgation of the diet-heart-hypothesis, also known as the lipid or cholesterol hypothesis. The adoption of this misguided hypothesis has only led to increased heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, strokes, and thousands upon thousands of pre-mature deaths.

Starting: In colder climates hunter-gatherers subsisted primarily on meat and fat. Those in warmer climates ate less meat as they had more access to plant food. The human body was well adjusted to eating and thriving on diets rich in saturated fats and cholesterol.

Not only was heart disease extremely rare in these societies, the first documented case of heart disease was in Britain in 1878. Dr. Paul Dudley, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal physician, graduated from medical school in 1910. He commented about heart disease being a rare, new disease. Consider these statistics:

1910-1920: 10 deaths per 100,000 per year were due to heart disease.

By 1930: 46 deaths per 100,000 per year due to heart disease.

By 1970 the death rate had increased to 331 per 100,000.

That means that the death rate had increased 30-fold over a 60-year span! By 1950, heart disease had become the number one killer in the US. Fife suggests that the change was due to diet. Researchers in the 1950s noted that wealthier people had more access to fat in their diets, so they thought that fat might be a contributing factor to heart disease.

In 1953 Ancel Keys wrote a paper that gave credence to the connection between fat and heart disease. Keys later refined the idea and came up with the diet-heart-hypothesis. By 1957 he came up with his (in)famous Seven Countries Studies. The gist of it suggested that as the diets in countries had an increased intake of fat, their heart disease rates also went up. Keys had seemingly linked fat intake to heart disease rates.

Keys actually studied 22 countries, but he deceptively threw out results that didn’t conform to his theory. For example, he did not include France and Germany as they had high fat intake but how heart disease rates. Other researchers questioned Keys’ results, but by this time Keys had become a media darling.

The cholesterol hypothesis was immediately hailed as the long-sought cause of heart disease. Many doctors were quick to accept the new hypothesis, as it provided a seemingly logical and convenient answer to the heart disease mystery.

What’s also interesting about Ancel Keys is another study that he did in 1953. He measured the cholesterol levels in men. Twenty-year-old men had a cholesterol level of 190. Seventy-year-old men had a cholesterol level around 265. He discovered that cholesterol levels increased with age. However, this did not fit his cholesterol-heart-disease hypothesis, so he quietly discarded this study.

My Comments: One of the major takeaways I remember from Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s The Great Cholesterol Myth is the meta study (studies of several studies) of the connection between cholesterol levels and all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality means causes of ALL deaths and not just deaths due to heart disease.

The researchers looked at four cholesterol levels. (1) 250+, (2) 200-249, (3) 160-199, and (4) below 160. Those in group (1) had the lowest all-cause mortality while those in group (4) had the highest all-cause mortality. If this is true and if Keys’ discarded study is true, then why are so many doctors still trying to lower the cholesterol levels of their otherwise healthy patients?

Continuing: Keys’ fame from finding what was believed to be the key to heart disease rolled on. He appeared on Time magazine’s front cover. He published his first book, Eat Well and Stay Well, in 1959.

Keys had one problem, however. There was a British research professor, John Yudkin, who was also studying the causes of heart disease. In a nutshell, Yudkin’s studies pointed the finger at sugar, refined sugar, of course.

One way that Keys brushed off Yudkin’s counter claims was by suggesting that sugar was just carbs.

The effects of the different types of carbs wasn’t generally recognized at the time, so sugar wasn’t seriously considered.

Sugar intake doubled from 1909 to 1999, and the type of fats people were eating also changed. Vegetable oil (really seed oil) consumption increased while the consumption of animal fat decreased. Yudkin saw the connection between the increase in sugar consumption and heart disease in modern civilization.

Keys won the battle with Yudkin as Keys vilified him and referred to his studies as a “mountain of nonsense.” He accused Yudkin of issuing “propaganda from the meat and dairy industry.” Never mind the fact that Keys’ main financial backer was the sugar industry. Meanwhile, Yudkin was a mild-mannered university professor simply trying to get the truth out. He was not combative as was Keys. In the end, Yudkin’s scientific reputation was ruined, and he had now become an embarrassment to the University of London.

Keys discarded later studies that showed inconclusive or unfavorable results to his diet-heart-hypothesis. The Minnesota Coronary study found that the greater the drop in cholesterol, the higher the risk of death during the trial. For complete details of the Ancel Keys’ saga, please read pages 33-45.

My Comments: Keys claimed in essence that “science” said his diet-heart-hypothesis was true. First off, science, doesn’t say anything. Scientists, mortal human beings, make claims or assertions, based on conclusions they draw from studying any particular topic.

The lesson to be learned here is that when anyone doggedly asserts that “science says” or “the science behind it  says,” we should ask ourselves, What is, if any, the agenda behind what said person is promoting. Keys’ agenda was obviously fame and fortune. He retired a wealthy man. Yudkins’ agenda was seeking out the truth. Generally speaking, the agendas behind the phony science-reliance are either financial, political or both.

Another point to be learned here is to observe how the accuser is actually projecting his own dirty secrets when attacking someone else’s credibility. Keys accused Yudkin of “propaganda” and being supported by the meat and dairy industry. In fact, it was Keys promoting the propaganda, and it was Keys that was secretly being supported by an industrial (the sugar industry) lobbying group.

Continuing: Dr. Fife continues by explaining that the Keys-Yudkin rivalry was far more than just a professional one. It was a carefully orchestrated scheme to discredit Yudkin and his theory. Through Keys, the sugar industry succeeded in diverting suspicion away from sugar as a possible cause of heart disease and placing the blame squarely on saturated fat.

The sugar villains formed their “research” councils and they sponsored conferences. In one conference, Lipton’s Brisk tea, containing 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, was recommended for diabetes! No kidding!

Yes, the plot was to influence medical research, government agencies, and public opinion. A hidden, re-discovered sugar industry memo acknowledging that sugar is fattening, causes cavities, and causes diabetes outlined the following propaganda campaign: Destroy those “fallacies” and at the same time convince the people of the wholesome qualities of sugar. Among their other villainous deeds, the sugar industry also eviscerated John Yudkin.

Here’s where it went political. Keys got his allies (cronies?) on boards of various governmental and medical organizations to promote the sugar industry’s interests. Among these were:

  • American Heart Association (AHA)
  • National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others

My Comment: This lesson serves as a good example that it behooves us to perk up our ears when some association, organization, or governmental agency is stridently advocating a certain diet or health position. Again, we should ask, “What’s their agenda?”

The member information mailers from my own Medicare company still parrots the following about diet and nutrition. “Watch your cholesterol and fat intake. Eat lean meats and use sugar moderately.” Cholesterol and fat are still baddies, while some sugar is okay. Why can’t they say, “Avoid all refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup products.” The writers of such publications still have their heads buried in the false sugar industry propaganda from over 50 years ago. Looks like falsehoods don’t die out too quickly.

Continuing: The sugar industry formed (and still does) lofty sounding organization names such as the Food and Nutrition Advisory Council. This council wasted little time in printing up 25,000 copies of an 88-page booklet titled Sugar in the Diet of Man, Theses were distributed to media and other opinion makers. Accompanying those booklets was the headline, “Scientists Dispel Sugar Fears.”

Sugar Propaganda

Dr. Fife quotes some of the verbiage used by sugar promoters in magazine advertisements.

Example 1: 1954 The headline on the ad reads What makes people fat? It then answers the question: People get fat simply because they overeat. Why do they overeat? Because they are hungry. Why are they hungry? One of the reasons…is because their blood sugar level is low. What is the fastest way to raise the blood sugar level and help keep them from overeating? Sugar and the good things containing it.

My Comment: This is as bad as the old 1950s magazine ads that read, “More doctors recommend Camel cigarettes.”

Continuing: Well, duh, a person eats more sugar to raise a falling blood sugar level only to have it crash again due to spiking his blood sugar. Have another doughnut to get your blood sugar up again!

Example 2: 1959 The ad headline reads, “Are you getting enough sugar to keep your weight down?” Then the verbiage says, “Sounds strange until you consider the necessity for appetite control when dieting. How do you curb a king-sized appetite? The easiest way is sugar. No other food satisfies your appetite so fast with so few calories. That’s why you’ll find sugar in many modern reducing diets.”

“Why today’s active women need more sugar…The strenuous life requires energy—the kind sugar provides. That’s why active people who know their energy needs include sugar in their diets.”

Sugar makes peaches taste peachier! All of us talk about tasting food, but now science tells us that your sense of smell is also very important to your recognition of flavors…”    

Fife’s comment, “There you have it. Science proves sugar is better.”

Example 3: 1971  An ice cream a day…Sugar can be the willpower you need to undereat…When you’re hungry, it usually means your energy is down. By eating something with sugar in it, you can get your energy up fast. In fact, sugar is the fastest energy food around. The ad goes on with similar blather.

The Federal Trade Commission would never allow such verbiage today. In fact, the sugar industry’s propaganda is so bad that it’s almost comical. The sad truth, however, is that the country bought into it.

1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Cut back on the consumption of fat, saturated fats, and cholesterol. Avoid excess consumption of sugar, primarily in the form of candy to prevent cavities.

There it is. Saturated fat and cholesterol were demonized while sugar in processed foods got a pass. For sure, this horrible dietary advice was at the hands of Ancel Keys and the Sugar Industry’s minions. And this was all done on the latest scientific evidence!

Sadly, the public as a whole, instead of becoming thinner and healthier, grew fatter and sicker.