What can be done to help my mother regain her speech after a stroke?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My mother recently had a stroke, and it's severely impacted her ability to speak. What can be done to help her regain her speech?

DEAR READER: Losing the ability to speak, or to understand speech, takes away an important part of ourselves -- the ability to communicate easily with others. But there is hope that your mother can improve.

Are there medications that could help me quit smoking?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've tried to quit smoking on my own, but it never lasts. Could medications help? How do they work?

DEAR READER: Medicines can help, and they have improved "quit rates." Although smoking is a particularly hard habit to break, you can do it. The proof: There are more ex-smokers in the United States today than there are smokers.

Could my teen be addicted to her smartphone?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My teenage daughter jokingly said she's "addicted" to her smartphone. I didn't find her remark funny because there's too much truth to what she said. Do I have a valid cause for concern?

DEAR READER: Real addiction -- such as to narcotics -- causes changes in brain chemistry. I'm not aware that such changes have been shown for smartphones. But regular users of smartphones (of any age) surely can become very dependent on their phones -- and very anxious when they are not able to use their phones for even a few hours.

What is the difference between strength training and power training?

DEAR DOCTOR K: What's the difference between strength and power training? Is one better than the other?

DEAR READER: Your muscles enable you to carry groceries, climb stairs, get out of a chair and swing a golf club. The stronger and more powerful your muscles are, the easier all of these everyday tasks and others will be. But weak muscles turn seemingly simple tasks, like walking, into a chore. They are a primary reason why many people lose their independence as they age.

I care for my mother with Alzheimer’s. How can I ease the guilt and frustration I feel as I watch her decline?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I do my best to care for my mother, who has Alzheimer's disease. But I often feel guilty and frustrated. Can you help me change my outlook -- for my sake and my mother's?

DEAR READER: Fortunately, I never had to face the challenge that you face, as both my parents died while in full possession of their faculties. But many of my patients and friends are experiencing what you are going through. And like you, they often feel guilty and judge themselves harshly.

Can certain foods help me combat anxiety?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I suffer from anxiety but would rather not take medication. I already exercise and practice relaxation therapy. Could dietary changes help further quell my worries?

DEAR READER: To help answer your question, I turned to my colleague Dr. Uma Naidoo. She is a psychiatrist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital and a professional chef. She noted that the relationship between food, mood and anxiety is garnering more and more attention.

Does juicing live up to the hype?

DEAR DOCTOR K: Are the benefits of juicing as great as I've heard?

DEAR READER: Juicing -- extracting the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables -- appears to be the latest trend for anyone looking to detoxify, lose weight or just get healthy. But does research support the claims that juicing can reverse chronic disease, jump-start weight loss and "detox" the body?

Could insomnia be responsible for my recent weight gain?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I've been suffering from insomnia for the past year or so. I've also gained 15 pounds over the same time period. Could the two be connected?

DEAR READER: I spoke about this with my colleague Dr. Stuart Quan, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. He confirmed that there is growing evidence of a link between obesity and insufficient sleep. The growth of this country's obesity epidemic over the past 40 years, for example, correlates with a decline in the amount of sleep reported by the average adult. And in large population-based studies, obesity has been linked to less sleep.

Could my son get the mumps even if he’s had the MMR vaccine?

DEAR DOCTOR K: A few students at my son's college have been diagnosed with mumps. My son has had all of his vaccines, including the MMR. Could he still get mumps?

DEAR READER: Mumps is an infection that causes swelling of the parotid glands in front of each ear. It is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person through coughs, sneezes and saliva. It can also spread through contact with contaminated items and surfaces. Once the mumps virus enters the body, it passes into the bloodstream and can spread to many different glands, as well as the brain.