As part of the September Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Hotline featuring Dr. C. Edward Wyne and Sandra McNicoll, readers were invited to submit questions regarding senior health issues.
Here are some of the questions and their answers, edited to avoid repetition of the queries.
Wyne is a geriatrician at the Intermountain Senior Clinic, where McNicoll is an advanced-practice registered nurse.
QUESTION: How successful are the Reclast Zoledronic acid IV injections once-a-year shots for osteoporosis? What results can you expect? What are the side effects?
ANSWER: The Reclast IV administration is once a year. Currently, there are only a few clinical trials for data. Treatment reduces the risk for nonvertebral fracture by 25 percent and 41 percent for hip fracture, according to one study
It is definitely an option for those who cannot take oral medication for any reason. You must have a clinical diagnosis of osteoporosis. You also need to check with your insurance to see if this is a covered benefit. Side effects include mild flulike symptoms for one to three days. The results are individual. Consult your individual primary care physician. (McNicoll)
ANSWER: Reclast does show improvement in bone density. There is data that shows fewer spine fractures, although not a lower hip fracture rate. Fosamax, a generic pill, does both.
I recommended Reclast to my patients who have difficulty taking the oral medicine in the necessary way. (Wyne)
QUESTION: I had a pneumonia shot four years ago and wonder how often they are needed. I always get an annual flu shot. I had shingles about two years ago. Do I need to get a shingles shot or did the incident of the disease increase my immunity to where one is not now necessary? I'm 69 years old and in generally good health.
ANSWER: A pneumonia shot should be given once after age 65, although for someone who has difficulty with lung infections I will often repeat every 10 years.
The shingles vaccine ( Zostavax) is a little new for some of those questions. I suspect your recent bout of shingles will give you increased immunity for five to 10 years, so I would recommend you get the shingles vaccine in five years.
At this point, it's a single vaccine, although as time goes along I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a once-every-10-years shot. (Wyne)
QUESTION: My Mom is 87 years old. She lives at home, and only needs help with meals, housekeeping and laundry. Physically she is quite healthy, but her memory is failing. What can we or should we do to help her?
ANSWER: Have her primary care provider do a baseline memory test. As long as she can be independent at home and there are no safety issues she can remain there.
IHC Senior Clinic has a cognitive clinic. Her primary care provider can send her for a consultation. We can do the testing here and make recommendations.
As you already know, local aging services may be available to your mother for help with activities of daily living. (McNicoll)
In addition, there were a number of questions about flu shot availability. The Deseret News recommends calling the state's immunization referral hotline at 1-800-275-0569 or by going online to look for answers at www.immunize-utah.org.
As for the questions about individual insurance policies, co-payments and similar issues, the best answer is to check with your insurance carrier.
Area pharmacists frequently hold flu shot clinics and yours will know if they're holding one where you already go to get prescriptions filled.
Several Salt Lake County residents asked if there would be a drive-by clinic this year, where seniors can stay in the car and receive the vaccine without ever getting out.
Intermountain Senior Clinic will sponsor one Oct. 1 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the north parking lot of The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, 5848 S. Fashion Blvd. in Murray. Bring your insurance or Medicare card, complete the paperwork (a volunteer can help), roll up your sleeve and be vaccinated. For those without Medicare, cost is $25. There's generally a long line about 1:30 p.m., but it typically slows after 2:30 p.m.
They're also a community immunization clinic within the clinic at 5801 S. Fashion Blvd, #175 (across the street, northeast of TOSH) on Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 5 and Nov. 12. The clinics are all Wednesday afternoon, 1:30-3:30 p.m. For these clinics, you'll have to come inside the building.