Here is a four-step process to find out most everything you need to know about a surgeon’s background & skill level.

  1. CONFIRM STATE CREDENTIALS. The Federation of State Medical Boards can tell you if the surgeon is licensed in your state. Go to and click on Consumer Resources to get to the free tool, “Learn About Your Physician.”
  2. CONFIRM SURGICAL CERTIFICATION. To find out if the surgeon is board certified or eligible in a particular specialty, check with the American Board of Medical Specialties (go to Board Certified means a physician has undergone lengthy training in a specialty and passed a stringent exam. It means the doctor has finished the appropriate residency but has yet to pass the test. It’s OK for young doctors to be board eligible – they have a few years to take the test. But, thee ABMS recently issued a ruling that physicians who try to use the term “board eligible” for their entire careers face penalties.
  3. UNCOVER PROFESSIONAL REPRIMANDS. Knowing if a doctor has been sanctioned by a professional licensing board should be an essential part of your search. For a $9 fee, the Federation of State Medical Boards will provide the disciplinary history of specific doctors in any state (click Credentialing, then Physician Data Services on its website). State medical boards also have doctor profiles that include board certifications, board actions, criminal convictions and medical malpractice claims. There are links to state websites; go to
  4. CHECK RATINGS, NUMBER OF PROCEDURES PERFORMED & COMPLICATION RATES: Pro-Publica & Consumers’ Checkbook both have websites where they rate surgeons & provide information on the number of procedures and complication rates, based on recent Medicare data. Plug in your zip code at the ProPublica website and you will find a directory of local hospitals that perform eight common procedures, along with surgeons on staff who perform them, the number of procedures they have done and their complication rates. from the nonprofit group provides a more comprehensive analysis that encompasses more than 5 million operations performed by 50,000 surgeons. It compares surgeons’ results for 12 types of surgery.

SURGERIES & SIDE EFFECTS: These 10 are the most common surgeries for Americans over 50, and the most common complications.

CATARACT REMOVAL: Complication: Posterior capsule opacity (blurry or cloudy vision develops after surgery. (Occurrence 20%)

PACEMAKER IMPLANT: Complication: Hematoma (a collection of blood outside a blood vessel) (Occurrence 2.2% patients over 70)

COLECTOMY: (partial or total colon removal). Complication: infection (Occurrence 12.4%)

CORONARY ARTERY BYPASS: Complication: Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). (Occurrence About 24%)

HIP REPLACEMENT: Complication: Dislocation (Occurrence 2%)

KNEE REPLACEMENT: Complication: Blood Clot (Occurrence 1%)

PROSTRATE REMOVAL: Complication: Bleeding (Occurrence 5.3%)

INGUINAL HERNIA: Complication: Infection (Occurrence 0.2% (laparoscopic surgery), 0.3% (open surgery)

CHOLECYSTECTOMY: (gallbladder removal) Complication: Infection (Ocurrence 1% (laparoscopic surgery), 7.6% (open surgery)

APPENDECTOMY: (appendix removal) Complication: infection (Occurrence: 1.9% (laparoscopic surgery), 4.3% (open surgery))

*Information provided by International Journal of Surgery

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner/Senior Advisor
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military (Veterans/Spouses) Advocate/Resources/Services/Locator
Business Cell: 210-275-3002


There are simple ways you can support an aging loved one you know and help seniors enjoy the holidays a little more this year. For most, the holidays bring feelings of joy, anticipation & excitement. Spending time with friends an family attending holiday gatherings and exchanging gifts all symbolize the season of goodwill. However, close to 18 million seniors live alone. Many often struggle with grief over the loss of a loved one, sadness, confusion and isolation, especially if they do not have family close by. This can bring on the holiday blues and make it difficult for seniors to enjoy this time of the year. Whether it’s an aging parent, friend or neighbor, there are simple ways you can help seniors enjoy the holiday a little more this year.

BE A COMPANION. Make it a point to visit and spend time with a senior(s) loved one. Participate in an activity, play their favorite game or ask them to tell you about their life. You can give a puzzle with the grand-great grand kids pictures on it. Make a Family Tree by printing out pictures of family and relatives & create a Family Photo Tree! Go to Tapestry Family Tree ( or Simple Shapes Family Tree Wall Decal ($99), at Storytelling and memory sharing is a great way to lift a senior’s spirit and important to the aging process. Listen to music, take them to a movie, play or out for dinner. You can also help them Skype. Zoom or Facetime so they can visit with out of town family or friends.

BE A CHEF. Prepare one of their favorite meals and stay to visit. Invite them to your home and help prepare a dinner with family and friends. Make a favorite recipe together. Family members need to include their loved one(s) and let them help with placing the table (for Memory patients…let them fold napkins, place silverware (with assistance if needed), be part of watching the cooking for the holiday meal(s).

BE A HOME HELPER. For some senior, housework can be difficult due to their mobility. Helping them around the house by cleaning, de-cluttering and picking up anything on the floor that could be a tripping hazard to ensure their safety. Help with yard work if needed by getting the outdoor Christmas decorations ready. (Keep it simple)

BE A CHAUFFEUR. About one in five seniors over the age of 75 do not drive. Offer to take them to the store, movies, doctor appointments, dental check ups and eye exams. If possible help take them to their senior center, volunteer opportunities and holiday events so they feel comfortable knowing there is someone to safely transport them…quality time.

BE SANTA’S LITTLE ELF. Help with setting up and decorating their Christmas tree or helping with putting ornaments on the tree. Help decorate their living area, or help with gift wrapping and write /mail their holiday cards. Make holiday cookies together.

The holidays can get busy, hectic and overwhelming for all of us. It’s important to remember what the holidays are all about—a season of peace, joy and giving! Remember the aging senior in your life. Just by spending time with them you can help them have a happy and joyous holiday!

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah to All! Keep Christ in your heart!!

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner/CSA
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military Advocate/Resources/Services/Locator,



Since 1868, Americans have set aside one day a year to honor the over 1.1 million men & women who gave their lives while serving their country. While Memorial Day comes just once a year, VA and its employees uphold the meaning behind it each and every day by providing the best care possible to our Veterans.

Initially called Decoration Day because families & friends would spend the day decorating the graves of their fallen loved one; the day was renamed Memorial Day during WWII and became a federal holiday in 1971. It serves to honor the men & women whose lives & actions in battle helped to shape not just our Nation, but the World! Whether they were present when the first shot was fired at Lexington & Concord or they’ve walked the streets of Baghdad, they’ve had a direct impact on history.

A simple way to both show your respect & support living Veterans & their families is through the purchase of a RED POPPY, known as the “flower of remembrance,” the poppy gained popularity after Canadian surgeon, Lt Colonel John McGrae, penned the poem “In Flanders’Field” during WWI. He describes the crimson flowers growing between the crosses marking the graves of those who fell during that pivotal battle. It was proclaimed the official memorial flower of the VFW in 1922. Now, artificial poppies are manufactured by patients & residents in VA hospitals and homes, with proceeds going to support Veterans, widows and orphans affected by war. By purchasing and wearing a red poppy, you can honor Memorial Day while making a difference in a living Veteran’s life.

Fly your American flag at half-staff. Guidelines: when putting the flag at half-staff, raise it quickly to the top of the staff, then slowly lower it halfway down. The flag should only be flown at half-staff from dawn until noon before being raised to full-staff until sunset.

Take time on Memorial Day to pause for the National Moment of remembrance. At 3 pm local time, take one minute to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have lost their lives fighting for the United States! If you are driving, turn your headlights on to show your participation. SPREAD THE TRUE MEANING BEHIND MEMORIAL DAY…..

Each and every day beyond Memorial Day, over 365,000 VA employees dedicate their lives to serve those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner/CSA/Geriatric Advisor
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military (Veterans/Spouses) Advocate/Resources/Services/Locator (Military Spouse of 40 years)