Kim Painter

Health and wellness writer

I'm a veteran health and lifestyle journalist. After three decades as a USA Today staffer and contributor focused on personal health and medicine, I"m now a freelancer, working for clients including AARP, Bottom Line Health, WebMD and Captrust's VESTED magazine.

Unwanted Facial Hair?

What is the best way to remove facial hair? About 40 percent of women have some unwanted facial hair. Check out these 8 tips to get rid of it.

Why Does My Scalp Itch?

What causes scalp itching? From diabetes to shingles, learn about common causes of itchy scalp. Plus, the best ways to get relief.

What to Know About Anemia

Anemia is when you have too few healthy red blood cells, with a low hemoglobin count being the first symptom. Read what you need to know about anemia.

10 Exercises for Longevity

Moving your body can help you live longer, whether you walk, run, or try one of these other kinds of exercise.

Considering the Icy Plunge?

Cold water may relieve stress and ease muscle pain, but safety is key. Learn the pros and cons of ice baths, cold-water swimming and cryotherapy.

Why Connecting Across Generations Matters

Connecting with younger people is “a chance to be in touch with where the world is going” and to feel a greater sense of purpose in that world. And you don't have to text if you don't want to.

Can You Safely Get Vitamin D From the Sun?

Most U.S. health authorities say the risks of skin cancer and skin aging outweigh the benefits of boosting sun exposure to get vitamin D. But some scientists disagree.

8 Ways to Boost the Health Benefits of Gardening

Spring is finally here, and for gardeners who've been cooped up in chillier parts of the country, that means it's time to get outside and get a little dirty - and maybe a little healthy, too. Here's how to get the most out of a healthy habit.

CAPTRUST/ Vested magazine
The Gray Divorce Boom

Divorce, at any age, comes with emotional costs. But a so-called gray divorce—a marital breakup after age 50—can also cost a lot of money.

4 Warning Signs That Could Mean Bladder Cancer

The most common cancers in men in the United States are prostate, lung and colorectal cancers. But number four? Many people are surprised to hear that it's bladder cancer. Women can get it too. And since there are no screening tests, watching for these signs is especially important, experts say.

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Tea

While tea is not as popular in the United States as it is in the United Kingdom, or many other parts of the world, the latest research on tea and health just might be enough to win over some U.S. converts.

6 Warning Signs of Breast Cancer

Even among women who carefully follow screening guidelines, the first sign of breast cancer can be a lump or other change in the breast. That’s why it’s so important, cancer experts say, for women to know their breasts, notice changes and get them checked out promptly.

Could That Pain in Your Gut Be Diverticulitis?

Some people find out they have diverticulosis when they have a routine colonoscopy to screen for cancer. But an unlucky few find out when one day, seemingly out of the blue, they have the unpleasant and painful symptoms of diverticulitis.

Retinal Detachment: 3 Most Common Warning Signs

If you cut your finger or twist your ankle, it hurts. But when something bad happens to one of your retinas, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eyes, you feel no pain. Here are the warning signs that could signal a detached retina.

CAPTRUST/ Vested Magazine
Cancer Survivors Talk New Normal

In the years before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Samantha Harris was a literal "picture of health on the cover of dozens of health and fitness magazines," she says. She and other cancer survivors talk about how their lives changed after the diagnosis.

CAPTRUST/ Vested Magazine
Living Through a Late-life Crisis

The late-life crisis differs from the better-known mid-life crisis—and not just because it happens at a later age.

6 Skin Conditions That Need Medical Attention

Is your skin sending up red flags? Even if you diligently watch for changing moles and other possible signs of skin cancer, you should not ignore changes that are unlikely to be cancer but could spell trouble, skin-health experts say.

How to Be Happy: 8 Simple Habits to Help You Find Joy

Life in the 2020s has been rough, with waves of COVID-19 and other world-disrupting crises coming one after another. We all could use a little cheer right now. Luckily, daily opportunities for joy are there for the taking, experts in the art of happier living say.

Vested Magazine/ CAPTRUST
Striking a Balance on Spending

While many American retirees need to scrimp in order to keep paying their bills, many others have a nicer problem, financial researchers say. If these well-funded retirees don’t start spending more of what they have, they may die with their nest eggs largely intact or expanded—even if they never consciously decided to do so.

VESTED magazine/Captrust
It's Easy Being Green

The truth about greener living: “Almost everything you do to improve your environmental impact improves your own life.”

How Family Caregivers Can Lighten Their Workload

The weight of everyday tasks can sometimes crush caregivers, whether they live with the care recipient or not, caregiving advocates say. Finding hired or volunteer help can lighten the load.

A Spouse's Guide to Loss

Thinking about a spouse’s death is something every married couple should do --because not thinking about it can leave you unprepared for one of life’s most difficult transitions.

Friendship Knows No Age

Having friends who are older or younger than you are just makes lives richer, say those who've embraced intergenerational friendships.

Gut Check

We humans share the world with many life forms, but none may be as important to our well-being as the ones that live inside our own bodies-especially those that live in our gut. Maybe you've heard of them: the bacteria, yeasts, viruses, and other microbes collectively known as our microbiota.

The Retirement Healthcare Puzzle

Navigating Medicare, the federal insurance program for seniors, can be complicated. One common misconception: getting Medicare means you will never face healthcare costs again.

Is Age Just a Number?

Age is just a number, the saying goes. But that's not really true. Age is at least two numbers-your chronological age and your biological age. Chronological age is the one you count with birthday candles. Biological age is trickier to pin down.

Here's how to test drive your retirement plans

Today's healthy retirees may live 25 years or more beyond their primary working years. That's a lot of years. But more importantly, that's a lot of days-more than 9,000 days to wake up, greet the dawn, and then . . . What?

AARP Staying Sharp
Learning Music After Age 50

Never played an instrument or sang before? No problem. Learning as an adult after the age of 50 can bring you joy - and stimulate your brain.

AARP Staying Sharp
The Art of Truly Listening

When we focus intently on music and really listen, we may benefit emotionally. Here are some ideas for how to achieve a deeper listening experience.

AARP Staying Sharp
Why does music bring us joy?

Music can spark joy. Listening to it makes you engaged in what may be a uniquely human activity - the translation of music into emotions.

AARP Staying Sharp
The Magic of Music and the Brain

A new report from the Global Council on Brain Health says music can stimulate your brain, trigger memories and emotions and connect you with others.

AARP Staying Sharp
Making the Most of Music

Music can be a useful tool to spark memories, bond with others and increase productivity. Here's how you can use music to enrich your life.

AARP Staying Sharp
Too Stressed to Sleep? Here's What to Do

Difficulty sleeping and changes in sleeping patterns can be common reactions to stress - and it could take a toll on our brains, research suggests.

Let Food Be Thy Medicine

The idea that food has medicinal power is hardly new. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, supposedly once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” But it's a concept that Western medicine forgot for a while. Chef Seamus Mullen wants to be a living reminder that food matters.

Finding the Best in an Empty Nest

Many shed at least a few tears when their last child leaves home. Some struggle with the adjustment...Happy or sad, the transition is big. And, experts say, it pays to do some planning and soul-searching before the day you find yourself sitting in a quiet house and wondering, “What’s next?”

Outdoor smoking: fair or foul?

Around the world, governments are considering, or instituting, bans on outdoor smoking. Many hospitals in England already ban smoking on their grounds. Kim Painter considers the public health benefits of prohibiting smokers from indulging in public places While much less common than indoor bans, they are catching on.

The rise of medical abortions in the US

In a contentious political environment with severe restrictions a real possibility, Kim Painter finds that the future of abortion may be in pharmacies, online, and in the mail.

The Science of Happiness

Here’s one of the greatest paradoxes in the science of happiness: If you survey a group of older adults about who is happier, young or old people, most will say young people are happier—but they will be wrong.

The Age of Learning

There are a lot of gray heads in online and brick-and-mortar classrooms these days, and a lot of adults over the age of 50 are asking the same question: What’s next? Educators are responding by throwing out the welcome mat for mature learners in a bigger way than ever before.

AARP Staying Sharp
Could Rage Yoga soothe your soul?

If a good scream is cathartic to you, rage yoga, which incorporates swear words and an occasional middle finger, may be the relaxation therapy for you.

Buying an overseas home? What you need to know

The choice to buy a home in a foreign land is an increasingly common one, experts say. But it’s not a decision to make without careful planning and a lot of soul searching.

Life after cancer: More survivors living longer, facing new health challenges

When Susan Leigh finished treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma back in 1972, she says, "no one knew what was going to happen." Certainly, no one knew that the Arizona woman would develop three more cancers and heart damage, all likely linked to the aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatments that helped save her life.

Advice for cancer patients: plan on surviving

David Cranmer, 70, is a patient advocate and 20-year-cancer survivor from Williston, Vermont. (Photo11: Provided by David Cranmer.) When you're going through cancer treatment, it can be hard to think about the future. But since more than two thirds of patients today survive their cancers for at least five years, David Cranmer says, it's important to do that right from the start.

Emergency rooms open new paths for opioid overdose survivors

Jeanmarie Perrone (Photo: Penn Medicine) Nicole O'Donnell has experienced two opioid overdoses. She has never forgotten the way she was treated at the hospital emergency room. "They were awful," the Philadelphia area woman says. "They were mean, just very cold." Once she was stable, she says, "I was just told to leave.

Strength in Numbers

When we exercise alone, we can get a good workout—but when we exercise in a group, many of us get an added boost.

Sexual assault and harassment linked to health problems in middle-aged women

A history of sexual assault or workplace sexual harassment can have a major effect on the mental and physical health of a middle-aged woman, a new study suggests. Victims of sexual assault suffer high rates of depression, anxiety and sleeplessness; victims of harassment have elevated rates of high blood pressure and sleep loss, according to the study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Boxers or briefs? Men who wore boxers had higher sperm counts, study says

Boxers or briefs? Men who choose boxers have higher sperm counts than those who favor briefs, according to the largest study ever to look at a long-suspected link between tight underwear and lower sperm production. The study of 656 men, published Wednesday in the journal Human Reproduction, adds to evidence that underwear choices really do matter.

Unplugging from the Noise | CAPTRUST

A growing body of research suggests that all this connectivity is not only changing our routines, it’s changing our brains—and not necessarily for the better.

Teens take fewer risks with sex and drugs but face new challenges

Today's high school students have less sex and take fewer drugs than those of decades past, but they face some newly recognized risks, including misuse of pain pills. The findings paint a picture of teen life that is safer than it used to be, but still fraught with risks.

Start colon cancer screening at 45, not 50, American Cancer Society urges

Most people should start screening tests for colon and rectal cancers at age 45, rather than waiting for age 50, as long recommended, the American Cancer Society said Wednesday. The group said the initial test does not have to be a colonoscopy, a procedure that typically requires a day off from work and an often-unpleasant bowel cleansing routine.

Swedish Death Cleaning 101 | CAPTRUST

Time to face the truth: you are not going to live forever, and, when you die, someone else will have to clean up any remaining mess—and make decisions about every earring, painting, sweater, kitchen pan, and file folder you leave behind.

Cash is Still King | CAPTRUST

While predictions that we are on the verge of a “cashless society” date from at least 1969, we are not there yet.

Get Your Best Night's Sleep | CAPTRUST

A poll for the Sleep Foundation found that 35 percent of adults reported poor or fair quality sleep; 20 percent said they did not wake refreshed even one day per week The good news: most people could emerge from this fog by following just five steps.

Harsh flu season has finally passed its peak but remains deadly

A record-breaking flu season has clearly passed its peak, with visits to doctors for flu-like illnesses plunging over the past three weeks, federal health officials reported Friday. Still, another five children have died, bringing the total to 119, and the flu rages on in many areas of the country, according to the latest report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu vaccines just 25% effective against worst strain this year, CDC says

This year's flu vaccines reduce the chance of getting the flu by about one-third but are just 25% effective against the nasty strain causing the most misery, according to preliminary estimates released Thursday. The findings, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), come as no surprise to flu experts tracking the worst influenza season in a decade.

Is Tamiflu the answer for your flu? Here's what you need to know

The most intense flu season in a decade has millions of Americans looking for relief - and wondering whether a prescription drug best known by the brand name Tamiflu is the answer. The antiviral drug has been around for nearly two decades, but many consumers still may not know much about it.

This flu season is the worst in nearly a decade - and it's not getting better

Flu is now sickening and hospitalizing Americans at rates not seen in nearly a decade, and the season is still getting worse, federal health officials said Friday. In the latest update, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 10 new child deaths and the highest flu hospitalization rate seen since the agency started keeping comparable records in 2010.

Got the flu? Here's what works to lessen the misery

Flu deaths and hospitalizations are surging in one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory. The outbreak is far from over and 53 children have died, health officials say. But if you or a family member gets the flu, there's no reason to panic.

Deaths and hospitalizations rise as flu season hits full swing

With flu season now in full swing - causing widespread illness in 46 states - health officials across the country are reporting waves of misery, rising hospitalizations and some deaths. It is still too soon to say just how bad this flu season will be, but there are troubling signs in some places.

Life expectancy is down for a second year. Drug overdoses are a big reason why.

Health researchers have some grim news for Americans: We are dying younger, and life expectancy is now down for the second straight year - something not seen in more than half a century. One undeniable culprit is the opioid epidemic, which is cutting down young adults at alarming and increasing rates, the researchers say.

'Scary' prediction for U.S. kids: 57% could be obese by age 35

A whopping 57% of the nation's children and teens will be obese by age 35 if current trends continue, according to a sobering new study out Wednesday. The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine , goes beyond previous studies suggesting unhealthy childhood weights often lead to adult obesity.

New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

Thirty million Americans are getting some bad health news: they have high blood pressure and need to do something about it, according to new, more aggressive hypertension treatment guidelines released by heart doctors Monday.

Kids are spending more time staring at phones, tablets than ever before

Small children, like the rest of us, have gone mobile - tripling their time on devices such as tablets and phones in the past four years, according to a new survey. Kids ages 0-8 still spend an average of about two hours a day on various screens, as they did in 2011 and 2013, says the survey of 1,454 U.S.

U.S. scientists fix disease genes in human embryos for 1st time

For the first time, scientists working in a U.S. lab have used gene editing to correct a disease-causing mutation in viable human embryos, according to scientific paper published Wednesday. The work, reported in , could be a step toward genetically modified babies.

Study: Even moderate drinking might be bad for aging brains

Here's one more reason to think before you drink: even a modest amount of booze might be bad for aging brains. A new study published Tuesday in the medical journal BMJ says moderate drinkers were more likely than abstainers or light drinkers to develop worrisome brain changes that might signal eventual memory loss.

6 Common Myths About the Aging Brain

A new report debunks common myths about how to keep your brain healthy as you age. From brain games to training programs, learn what really works.

Next Avenue
Help for Pets of Dying Owners Brings Peace of Mind

Roland Carter, 78, of Stafford, Va., has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, suffers from dementia and spends most of his time in bed. Missy, one of his four dogs, usually is there with him. "Missy stays on his bed all the time - she protects him," says Carter's wife, Barbara, 72.

Find Your Tribe | CAPTRUST

Take a walk alone and you get some exercise. Take a walk with a friend—or a group of friends—and you get something more.

Light at night may disrupt sleep and health

These are among the darkest days of the year - or they would be, if we lived like our ancestors, with nothing but the stars and moon to light our way between sunset and sunrise. Instead, most of us live in cities and towns illuminated by street lights and in homes lit by lamps, ceiling fixtures, cell phones, tablets, computers and TV sets.

Science: Your new fitness tracker will not work miracles

It's been two weeks since you got that new Fitbit, Apple Watch or other fitness tracker for the holidays and one week since you resolved to use it to get more active, manage your weight or reach other health goals. Congratulations - and good luck.

Most boomers infected with liver-damaging hepatitis C virus do not know it

Few Baby Boomers have been tested for the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus, despite recommendations that all members of that generation have the blood test at least once, new research suggests. The share of boomers who had the test barely budged in the two years after health authorities first recommended it for everyone born between 1945 and 1965, according to a report published Wednesday in American Journal of Preventive Medicine .

Caring for an Aging Brain | CAPTRUST

Hearts do it, knees do it, and even faces do it. Every part of our bodies is subject to aging. So why should our brains be any different? They’re not. But the good news is that—contrary to the worst fears of aging baby boomers—brain aging is not synonymous with dementia.

Colon and rectal cancers surge among Millennials and Generation X

Colon and rectal cancers have increased dramatically and steadily in young and middle-age adults in the United States over the past four decades, a study confirmed Tuesday. While scientists have not pinpointed an exact cause, prime suspects include obesity, inactivity and poor diets, said researchers from the American Cancer Society, reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Workouts that take minutes attract fans and critics

Not long ago, Trevor Speed, 34, of Kelowna, British Columbia, was a busy professional and expectant father who never found time for exercise. Today, he has a demanding but time-efficient routine: Three times a week, he hops on his stationary bike or treadmill and powers through a 25-minute workout that includes 10 one-minute bursts of sweaty effort, broken up by one-minute rests, plus a warm-up and cool-down.

Vape debate: Can e-cigarettes fight smoking? And how safe are they?

A year ago, Ryan Standifird, 26, of Tustin, Calif., was a pack-a-day smoker who wanted to quit. He had tried and failed before. Then, as part of a magazine writing assignment, he tried e-cigarettes. The battery-powered devices heat up flavored liquids, creating vapors that users inhale.

Fermented-food lovers seek flavor and health

Americans used to find yogurt yucky. But the creamy dairy food long ago joined beer and cheese on the list of our favorite things produced by fermentation - an ancient preservation process in which bacteria transform food and drink, creating new flavors and, many consumers believe, enhanced health benefits.

Fitness resolutions are about to die. Here's how to revive them

Congratulations, fitness-resolution makers. According to some of the nation's leading fitness chains, you folks who joined gyms during the January rush are still going in droves, making the next couple of days likely to be among the busiest work-out days of the year. Not so great: it's basically downhill from here.

Many women may tune out mammogram confusion

It happened again this week: headlines implied mammograms have been oversold to women. This time it was a study from Denmark that suggested one in three breast cancers found through the screening tests are "overdiagnosed" - meaning they never would have threatened a woman's life but still led to treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Communities strive to be 'dementia-friendly' as Alzheimer's numbers grow

When Ron Grant was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he and his wife, Vicky, immediately shared the news with their church. "They are a wonderful group of people," Grant says. "But for quite some time after that, we would come to church and someone would come up to Vicky, with me standing right next to her, and ask, "How is Ron doing?"

As Debbie Reynolds reminded us, grief can make us sick

The idea that grief can kill is not new. But the recent death of actress Debbie Reynolds just a day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, was a dramatic reminder of the links between grief, health and well-being that researchers have been attempting to understand for the past several decades.

Good news, beach readers: Fiction may make you smarter, more empathetic

It's beach reading season - that time when even infrequent readers pick up or download the latest thriller, indulge in a fine romance or take a deep dive into a literary classic. That is time well-spent, a growing body of research suggests. And it's not just because reading makes us smarter, though it does.

"Elder orphans" band together for support and advice

At 55, Nanette Witmer retired from her job in Denver and, with a new husband, moved to David, Panama. Their plan was to age together in a low-cost paradise. Eighteen months later, the husband was gone and Witmer found herself contemplating a future as an "elder orphan" - someone aging without a spouse, partner or children.

Not gaining the weight beats having to lose it

Losing a lot of weight and keeping it off is hard. Just look at the 14 Biggest Loser contestants who were the subjects of a highly publicized recent study published in the research journal Obesity. The study found that most of the contestants regained most of the weight they lost through extreme diet and exercise.

Tattoos have gone mainstream, but they still carry risks

If getting a tattoo is still a sign of rebellion, then a lot of Americans are rebels: 29% of adults now have at least one tattoo, up from 21% in 2012 and 16% in 2003, a recent Harris Poll found. Millennials are especially tat-happy: 47% of people ages 18 to 35 are inked, according to the poll.

Women's heart attacks are different, deadlier

Meliah Jefferson, 36, of Greenville, S.C., and Julie Rickman, 46, of Overland Park, Kan., have a lot in common. Each has a husband, a young child, a good job and a strong family history of heart disease. And each had a heart attack without realizing she was having one.

Warning: Supplements and medications may not mix

Americans are taking more prescription medications. They also are taking more supplements - everything from vitamin and mineral pills to fish and flax seed oils. The natural result: More are combining drugs and supplements. That may be riskier than many consumers realize. Some are risking dangerous internal bleeding by combining certain supplements with blood-thinning drugs.

Doctors could tap 'shrooms to relieve pain

CLOSE Psychedelic medicine, long taboo, is moving toward the mainstream: Two new studies show the hallucinogenic drug psilocybin might relieve anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Dozens of distressed patients, treated under controlled conditions at two prestigious medical centers, saw spirit-lifting effects that lasted at least several weeks after taking the "magic mushroom" drug, according to results published Thursday in The Journal of Psychopharmacology.