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Health: United States 

Archives - 2003

Poll: Americans Waver on New Medicare Law (December 27, 2003)
The new Medicare law makes US citizens uneasy and undecided about the legislation and its value to older persons. An Annenberg survey done from December 8 to 23, 2003, shows this uncertainty. As both political parties engage in vigorous debate over 2004, opinions will become firmer. Global Action on Aging will keep you abreast of these developments during 2004.

A Room Comes Alive With Color and Sounds (December 23, 2003)
A long term care center in Salisbury, Connecticut, uses a machine calls Snoezelen, to treat seniors with dementia or children with disabilities. This invention is said to stimulate the senses, thanks to music, light and fragrances. Then the anxieties are pushed away and people relax. They feel better and can act as everyone else. They no longer have aggression or stress. Created in the seventies and coming from the Netherlands, the Snoezelen was refused by the U.S. for years. In fact the studies on the effects weren’t as accurate as they should have been. It’s now used in the U.S. at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. Dr. Jason Staal, a behavioral psychologist, has conducted small studies on cardiac and dementia patients. He uses the Snoezelen and classic therapies.

Nursing Homes Cautious During Flu Season (December 23, 2003)
In Nebraska, many nursing homes have taken precautions in order to fight the flu. Most residents received flu shots; even the staff got it. At the Maple Crest Care Center, people that have flu-like symptoms are prevented from entering. Observing  hygienic rules are the best way to prevent getting the flu. Washing hands and being careful in everyday action, such as keeping away from ill people, are the first rules the nursing homes directors’ require. 

Tax-Free Health Care Accounts Begin Jan. (December 23, 2003)
The Bush Administration announced the creation of health saving accounts following on the Medicare legislation.  These tax free accounts will be available in January 2004. The system seems simple: every year, the unspent money stays in the account and gives a benefit to the owner. Every account will be earned by one person, with benefits transferable to a spouse in case of death.   However, critics point to the fact that the accounts will benefit the wealthy the most.  The accounts will cost the US Treasury some $6.4 billion dollars over the decade and will skim the healthiest, most affluent into such policies.   The poor will have to pay more. . . .assuming that they can even purchase health care.  The income disparity in the US between rich and poor has now reached the level of 1929—totally wiping out the progress made over the last 75 years.  

Seniors Find New Medicare Law Confusing (December 22, 2003)

There is a general feeling about the new Medicare law: it’s too confusing. Many seniors don’t get it. The reform is a big mess, and they don’t really know what will happen with their health insurance coverage. Even the people who support the law agree with the opponents saying it’s a very complicated measure. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 2.7 million people will lose the drug benefits they receive from former employers. 

Tooth study won't prompt smiles in Appalachia (December 19, 2003)
With data at 42 percent and 41.9 percent, Kentucky and West Virginia are the two U.S. states with the highest percentage of elderly missing their natural teeth. The government surveyed the inequalities among U.S. states. It seems that economic, cultural and medical factors are responsible for this situation. However, the global situation has improved over the past 50 years. Advancements in dental care and oral hygiene measures contributed to progress.

Illinois to Seek Exemption to Buy Drugs From Canada (December 22, 2003)

The Illinois Governor, Mr. Blagojevich, wants his State to be allowed to import drugs from Canada.  Such imports will yield savings of  $90.7 million a year for the medical drugs that the State buys for its current and retired workers. He asked the Secretary of Health to make it a test state. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is opposed to the importation, because, mimicking US Drug Giants’claims, such as Canadian drugs may not be reliable.  Let’s hope Illinois wins out . . .and maybe the Governor will ask why sick elderly – and others – must support the million dollar salaries of pharmaceutical bosses and the high profits of their big stockholders.   Let there be a “fair” profit instead of the immoral price gouging that goes on at present.

Kennedy Endorses Drug Importation (December 19, 2003)
Edward Kennedy, Senior Senator of Massachusetts, supports the importation of drugs from Canada. In fact, he says the new Medicare law allows state regulators to choose the way to get drugs.  For years, he agreed with the Food and Drug Administration and opposed drug imports because he thought they might not be safe.  However, he now sees FDA opposition to the importation linked to the financial and drugs companies’ greed for high profits rather than health considerations. He will propose a bill to allow importing drugs from licensed Canadian pharmacies.

States to Help Residents Import Drugs From Canada (December 18, 2003)

Some U.S. states, such as Illinois , Minnesota , New Hampshire and West Carolina , have decided to import cheap drugs from Canada , even if the Food and Drug Administration considers it illegal. Providing cheaper medicine for people who need them is a popular issue. The Minnesota and New Hampshire State Governments have created web sites for the importation, linking the state official web sites with Canadian pharmacies. The trade is well-controlled, in order to provide safe medication to U.S citizens. The Food and Drug Administration, on its part, wants state officials to help develop more generic drugs in order to shrink the costs. 

More to Come From the Flu This Season, Experts Say (December 17, 2003)
The worst news with influenza is lack of information. We don’t know where it will hit, nor are we aware of its strength.  US Health and Human Services Secretary, Mr. Tommy G. Thompson, said, “We are hoping that we have got the worst behind us because it started early.” Mr. Thompson asked Congress for an additional 100 million dollars for next year to improve and to create better approaches to vaccine production.  In fact this year vaccines are not effective in all the cases: the Fujian A virus strain that is hitting most people cannot be stopped by the vaccine currently available.

Medicare Law Stunts Hospital Rival ( December 16, 2003 )
The new Medicare law has to deal with the fight between community hospitals and specialty hospitals. Specialty hospitals, partly owned by doctors, specialize in one service: hand surgery, eye repair, etc.. The community hospitals officials worried about the emerging specialty hospitals that skim the healthiest and richest patients and leave the others to the community hospitals. The fight is beginning and it’s difficult to know which direction it will go.  We can safely say that the entrepreneur/specialist doctor will make more money -- surely the “capitalist way.”  Whether the health of the population is served is another issue.

New Medicare Law Boosts Chronic Care (December 15, 2003)
With the new Medicare law, and all the cost cuts it wants to make, the disease management programs should increase in costs. In these programs, patients with chronic diseases can send information about their health status to a nurse that may be thousands of miles away. The development of these programs will change the Medicare traditional aim, which was treating illnesses, not preventing them. These programs will be developed in 10 U.S. states. They seem interesting since the costs are low, but people may need a human presence.  Also, the private companies must be paid from saved monies from hospitalization.  Will this assure good care?  A dead patient costs nothing.

The Big Bad Flu, or Just the Usual? (December 14, 2003)
This year, the flu can be seen as a mystery. Health officials do not know if the early cases are the announcement of an epidemic or nothing. The lack of information for the citizens had increased the anxiety. Not enough shots were created, and even the shots available may not be efficient against the Fujian flu. In fact, making a flu shot is a long and expensive process that takes months and takes time the researchers did not have. This is a real problem, since in case of epidemic lack of vaccines must be dramatic. According to Dr. Barry R. Bloom, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, “That is unlikely to change without government intervention.”   

U.S. Considers Importing Influenza Vaccine (December 10, 2003)

The Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to ask European companies for flu vaccines. In fact, there won’t be enough shots for all the demand.185 million U.S. citizens are eligible to receive the shot, but the number of vaccines available is only 83 million. The private drug companies decide on their own how many vaccines they will produce. Due to over production in 2002, the drug companies chose this year to reduce the numbers of vaccine doses available: down from 95 million created in 2002, they just made 83 million this year. Producing new vaccines now will take too long. Asking Europe is probably the last option, but the number of shots available from Europe won’t be enough. In order to prevent the situation from happening again, the government will likely have to finance the shot production in the US . A good example of why supply and demand does not work well in the health sector. Hopefully, the government can negotiate a good price from the drug companies.

Anxiety, Depression Linked to Alzheimer's (December 9, 2003)
Anxiety and depression increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The lead author of the study, Robert Wilson, explains that chronic stress is associated with changes in the hippocampal area of the brain, where problems with learning and memory also develop. However, researchers are unclear whether emotional distress is simply an early sign, rather than a risk factor, of the disease.

Few Options Available to Treat Influenza (December 8, 2003)
The flu is back, and this year’s epidemic came earlier and is hitting harder than in previous years. On average, 36,000 Americans die every year due to the virus, and experts expect a higher toll this year. High demand for the flu vaccine has resulted in some shortages, but the more expensive inhaled version of the vaccine is still widely available. Doctors strongly recommend the vaccine, since few options exist to treat the virus once infected.

Bush Signs Medicare Bill; Democrats Vow to Fight (December 8, 2003)
President Bush signed into law the $400 billion plan to overhaul Medicare, but Democrats still vow to fight it. The plan provides new drug benefits, but gives private insurers a much larger role in Medicare, which some Democrats say amounts to privatization of the system.  Republicans hope the new plan will add up to more votes from US seniors in the elections.

Health Officials Say Flu Shots Should Go to Most Vulnerable (December 7, 2003)
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says the supply of flu vaccine shots may not meet demand, which soared due to an early flu season, warnings of a severe outbreak, and SARS-related fears. Experts say people with health risks, such as older people, children or pregnant women, have first priority to receive the shot. Manufacturers use an estimate of how many people will want the shot to decide how much to produce each year. But according to Michael Decker, vice president of scientific and medical affairs for Aventis Pasteur U.S, “Erratic rather than consistent demand makes it impossible.”  

Lost in the Fine Print: Ten Overlooked Policies That Harm Medicare and Its Beneficiaries ( December 5, 2003 )
A number of persons have called GAA asking for a summary of "What's wrong with the New Medicare Law."  Here is a good summary from the Center for American Progress.

Analysis: Medicare to Be Election Issue ( December 1, 2003 )
The new Medicare bill will turn into law as soon as President Bush signs it, but both Republicans and Democrats already have their eyes on the polls. Republicans claim a major political victory, wresting away an issue Democrats have long used to their advantage. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who successfully rallied House Democrats to vote against the bill, sees a different angle. “This bill is wrong,” says Pelosi, “And when the public sees what's in this bill, I think it's going to be a negative to have voted for it.”   

More Medicine Is Not Better Medicine (December 1, 2003)
Few people are satisfied with the newly passed Medicare bill, but most agree it hurts the plan’s long-term financial stability, writes Professor Elliott S. Fisher of Dartmouth in this op-ed. Prof. Fisher argues that increased Medicare costs often stem from the false assumption that more care is better care. His study finds that regions with higher health care spending often provide lower quality care, due to unnecessary procedures, misleading information from drug companies, and lack of communication among multiple doctors. Patients need better access to information to choose the most efficient, safe, and low-cost health care. 

Democrats Criticize New Medicare Measure ( November 29, 2003 )
Congressional Democrats are ratcheting up their criticism of the newly passed Medicare bill. Democratic Rep. John Tanner of Montana says the plan “fails to deliver a meaningful guaranteed drug benefit in Medicare and starts toward privatizing the program." Democrats have already proposed new legislation to repeal the most controversial parts of the bill and to lift the ban on importing cheaper Canadian and European drugs.

Bill Adds Drug Benefit; Vote Is Victory for President Bush (November 25, 2003)

Unfortunately, the Senate passed the Bush-backed Medicare Bill. The Democrats’ attempts to filibuster and maintain the budget-restriction requirements weren’t sufficient to stop it. Now, President Bush just has to sign the Bill in order it to make it law. The Republicans consider this “reform” as a great victory and a help in upcoming elections.  As the Democrat Minority Leader said, the law is not good: “I predict that we will be back within the next 12 months. Seniors will demand that we respond to the many deficiencies of this bill, and they will not rest until we address them.”

On Closing the Debate (November 24, 2003)
As the Senate of this great democracy was voting to close off debate, the question arose: Why the rush? The same question arose when Congress let Bush hurl the bombs on Iraq . Why the rush? The main reason, I think, is that they're lying, and every day, the truth dawns on more people.

Medicare Debate Turns to Pricing of Drug Benefits (November 24, 2003)
The House voted the Medicare Bill on November 23 and the Senate vote will likely come before Thanksgiving. For the senators, there is still a controversial point in the Bill: the bill prevents the government from negotiating lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. According to supporters of the Bill, the provision will protect innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. Many Democrats, such as Mr. Kerry, are opposed since it will protect “moneyed interests.”  But Democrats lack sufficient numbers for a filibuster.

Medicare Overhaul "Eyelash Away" (November 24, 2003)
After the House agreement on Medicare Bill, Democrat senators wonder how to prevent the Senate from adopting it. The Democratic leader Tom Daschle hopes it could happen with a filibuster, but it will be difficult to obtain the 60 votes needed, since 9 democrats among 48 support the bill. 

Frist Confident About Medicare Bill (November 24, 2003)
The House voted on November 22 in favor of the Medicare Bill. And the Republican senate leader Bill Frist expects the Senate to agree on November 24. Hopefully, the Democrat leaders Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy will fight against a privatization “reform” that destroys the spirit of Medicare. In fact, Medicare, created in 1965, aims at guaranteeing an equal health program for every senior citizen.

Double Whammy (November 24, 2003) 
Some people amalgamate “crazyism” and ageism and don’t understand that it’s not normal to feel depressed if one is old. Elderly depressed people must receive appropriate care. The federal Center for Mental Health Services tries to reach older people and help them understanding the message. But the more important change has to come from Medicare: creating parity treatment between mental and physical illness.

Food for Holiday Thought: Eat Less, Live to 140? (November 23, 2003)
“Fewer calories for a longer life.” According to the Calories Restriction Society, eating less helps improve length of life. Their assertion is based on a studies led in the 30’s by a Cornell University nutrition professor who discovered that dieting rats tend to live 30
percent longer. Some humans are trying this approach. Time will tell!

Lawmakers Fear Another Senior Citizens' Revolt Against Medicare Bill (November 23, 2003) 
Asthey weigh their votes on a massive Medicare prescription drug bill, a lot of nervous lawmakers keep seeing the ghosts of a senior citizens' revolt 14 years ago. Then as now, Congress was on the verge of expanding Medicare coverage. Critics were warning seniors they were getting a raw deal. And lawmakers back in 1989 were equally eager to convince Americans that their new Medicare benefits were a wonderful idea. "The backlash will be bigger," this time, Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California , a consumer health advocacy group, predicted last week. For one thing, the current Medicare changes are bigger than 1989's. They're also hard to explain, passed by a partisan vote, and will adversely affect some seniors.

Can a Pill Keep You Young? (November 18, 2003)
Even if you're not on a quest to turn back time, you've probably noticed Internet ads for dietary supplements that claim to fight aging. Among the most popular are pills, patches and sprays that supposedly boost levels of human growth hormone, or HGH. While research shows that prescription-strength injections of HGH may decrease body fat and increase lean mass, bone density and skin thickness, most doctors don't recommend the hormone as an anti-aging remedy. And even proponents of HGH agree that supplements aren't an effective way to raise levels.

Cancer 'Clocks' May Be Therapy Target ( November 18, 2003 )
In a new study, scientists have found tumor growth is highly dependent on time of day, and that the timing of the gene activity in tumor cells is at least partly off kilter. In another study, researchers found mice missing a key gene that regulates circadian rhythm -- biological cycles that follow the solar day -- become highly prone to cancer. Results of each study were presented Nov. 18 at a meeting of the International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston . Scientists have identified at least eight genes that regulate circadian timing at the cellular level. These genes govern everything from when cells multiply to when they decide it's time to self-destruct, framed by a roughly 24-hour day.

AARP's Conflit of Interest in the Medicare Drug (November 19, 2003)
Why did AARP decide to support the Medicare Bill? The answer is evident: financial gain. Its insurance business is really important to the organization’s income. If the Bill becomes law, it would lead people into using new coverage. And then AARP may have access to 10% of the drug coverage market. AARP’s could win $1.56 billion in profits. This “advocacy” organization decided to make money instead of protecting seniors’ interests.

The Rush to Kill Medicare (November 19, 2003)
The White House presents its Medicare reform as a step forward with drug coverage and choice of insurance. In reality, the Medicare bill will destroy universal coverage of Medicare in favor private insurance. Elderly people will pay more for less coverage.  There is strong opposition to this bill from most Democrats and some moderate Republicans who may constitute enough for a filibuster to prevent its passage.

6 Democratic Candidates Attack Medicare Measure (November 19, 2003) 
Six Democrats attacked the Medicare Bill during a forum organized by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). They say that the bill privatizes Medicare, with dangerous consequences for elderly.  And they say that it serves only the interests of the insurance and drug companies.   Clearly this debate will continue in the 2004 Presidential campaign.

Medicare Bill Supporters Confident of Passage (November 19, 2003)
The Bush administration is trying to pass his Medicare Bill; and expects that  35% of  seniors will go into private health plans by 2007, if the Bill becomes law. Despite the support of the AARP, and even if Republican leaders are confident in the Bill, they have to please both Conservative and Moderate Republicans.

Medicare Monstrosity (November 18, 2003)
The Medicare Bill is an error, and first, in its form. In fact, it’s only a combination of diverse political opinions, in order to prevent opposition from various quarters.  The lobbying money that has poured in to legislators means that votes are for sale.  Moreover, it’s a mean of privatizing the health insurance system. If passed, many old people will have too little income to buy adequate health coverage. There must be a national debate on the issue since this “reform” will touch many citizens.

Medicare Plan Covering Drugs Backed by AARP (November 18, 2003)
AARP, the largest and most powerful older persons association in the United States, announced its support for the Republican Medicare bill. The endorsement gives Republicans a powerful boost, but Democrats expressed concern that AARP had made a decision to “cozy up” to the Republican administration. Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota , the Senate Democratic leader, said, "When seniors see the details of the Republican plan, the AARP leadership will regret this ill-advised decision."

Democrats Reject GOP Medicare Drug Plan (November 17, 2003)
Republican leaders, with the strong support of President Bush, are trying to sell their new Medicare prescription drug plan, but Democrats aren’t buying. Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota argues the plan “keeps drug prices high, causes two to three million retirees to lose drug coverage and coerces seniors into HMOs.” Other Democrats consider the bill effectively a gift to the pharmaceutical industry.

Republican Medicare Plan Faces Challenges (November 17, 2003)
New prescription drugbenefits represent only a small fraction of the Republican Medicare bill. The bill would also encourage seniors to sign up for private health insurance programs as an alternative to Medicare, and it would charge higher-income seniors higher premiums for the first time.  Some people fear that the sweeping reforms will leave seniors with inadequate health coverage. Ron Pollack, executive director of the health care lobby Families USA, says the proposal "does too much to destroy Medicare and too little to help the seniors who can least afford their medicines." 

Drug Shows Some Promise Against Vision Loss (November 16, 2003)
Initial trialson a new drug called Macugen offered some hope to the hundreds of thousands of older people diagnosed with the wet form of age-related macular degeneration each year. However, while the drug did slow the pace of degeneration in large-scale tests, it failed to improve vision for most patients.

Medicare Fraud Cost $11.6B Last Year (November 14, 2003)
Fraud and billing errors in the Medicare program cost the government an estimated $11.6 billion last year, a slight improvement over previous years, the agency that runs the program said Friday, November 14. The error rate -claims that were medically unnecessary, inadequately documented or improperly coded -was 5.8 percent, down from 6.3 percent the year before, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. The error rate was as high as 13.8 percent in 1996.

The Trojan Horse (November 14, 2003)
The US Congress is working on a final version of the Medicare “reform” legislation. Columbia University Professor Paul Krugman says that the roughshod dealings on Capitol Hill now involve a “bait and switch” strategy, with older persons standing to lose a lot. If you agree with his analysis, contact your US Senator and Representative immediately to tell them to drop this legislation. Better yet, jump on a bus for Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 19, to protest this legislation that puts profits before people. 

Urgent! Stand up for Medicare! (November 14, 2003)
New Yorkers urge members of Congress not to Privatize Medicare! Tell them not to settle for inadequate and risky drug plans! Join the Bus trip from New York City to Washington DC. Find all the information with this link.  

Prescription Drugs for Elderly Closer (November 12, 2003)

The US Senate is close to reaching a compromise on a bill to provide new prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients, but one stumbling block remains. A Republican-controlled House bill would allow private insurance companies to compete directly with Medicare, with the idea that competition would drive down costs. Senate Democrats strongly oppose the bill, arguing that seniors on Medicare would be left with higher premiums. 

Vitamin C May Ward Off Stroke (November 11, 2003)
People who eat a diet rich in vitamin C may be at lower risk of suffering strokes, and smokers who do so may benefit the most. A new Dutch study finds people with the lowest amount of vitamin C in their diets were 30 percent more likely to have a stroke than people with the highest amount of it.

Stakes high to help those with chronic diseases (November 11, 2003)
A few seniors today get the coordinated care required to control chronic diseases, which primarily afflict the elderly — and consume 75 percent of the national health-care budget. "We have a health-care system that's pretty good if you have an acute problem, like a broken arm or pneumonia," Wagner said. "But it's not set up to deal with these lifelong illnesses." More than half of the people who suffer from chronic diseases are not getting the tests and treatments that are considered state-of-the-art medical care, he said. A 70-year-old with multiple health problems may bounce between four or five specialists, who never confer with each other. The patient is left with a bewildering array of drugs, conflicting advice and little real guidance.

Diet May Improve Cognition, Slow Aging, And Help Protect Against Cosmic Radiation (November 11, 2003)
Eating certain foods can help protect you from heart disease, some types of cancers and other illnesses. But can your diet also help protect your brain if you should suffer a stroke or accidental head injury? Or keep your thinking and memory skills strong as you age? Some scientists believe it might. They even think eating the "right" foods --specifically, those high in antioxidants -- may help defend astronauts from brain-damaging cosmic rays on future manned missions to Mars. 

Arkansas: Nursing Homes in State short of Federal Mark (November 11, 2003)
According to a federal review of recent nursing home inspections, 90% of Arkansas nursing homes violate federal health guidelines. State inspectors found inadequate care for senior residents’ well-being and a lack of qualified caregivers. Arkansas nursing home representatives dismissed the review, arguing that they are doing their best despite heavy financial costs. The Arkansas study reflects nation-wide problems with poor quality of care for seniors in nursing homes.

Mind, body and soul (November 11, 2003)
Tai Chi, the ancient Chinese exercise, consists of a series of slow movements, called forms, that promote relaxation and a stronger connection of energy between the body, mind and soul, says Pizzuco. The exercise is particularly good for seniors, because it promotes better balance, agility and strength, improves breathing and blood circulation, and even boosts the immune system, according to recent studies, including one supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health at the University of California in Los Angeles. "One doesn't need to be in great shape or even in perfect health to begin tai chi. People can advance at their own pace with little risk of injury and start right away to reap the benefits," says Jianye Jiang, of the Capital District Tai Chi and Kung Fu Association who has many students older than 60. 

Maintaining ties to roots lengthens lives of Japanese Americans (November 10, 2003) 
Two-thirds of Seattle-area Japanese-American seniors took part in an eleven-year study on aging called the “Seattle Kame Project,” derived from the Japanese word for “turtle,” a symbol of longevity. A group of University of Washington scientists studied the lives of 2000 older Japanese-Americans and found that strong ties to ethnic heritage, combined with the “move it or lose it” dictum, increased longevity and quality of life in old age. The study adds to a growing body of research on ethnic studies and health. 

Heart-Failure Patients Need Better Prompts From Doctors (November 9, 2003)
Doctors and nurses need checklists and other tools to jog their memories so they will remember to give heart-failure patients potentially life-saving drugs and information when discharged from the hospital, according to a new study. When heart failure patients leave the U.S.'s hospitals, they should be armed with diet information, blood pressure lowering drugs and anti-smoking counseling. However, a new study found that only two-thirds of heart failure sufferers are getting those key items when they are discharged.

A New Way to Unclog the Arteries (November 9, 2003)
This New York Times editorial spotlights how the motivation for profits can delay medical advances for years-in this case-a decade. An accidental discovery in the 1990’s showed that raising HDL levels could control formation of plaque in the arteries. However, the widely available substance had no “unique” qualities that could be patented. So drug company scientists focused on finding a mutant version that they could patent. How many lives were lost because drug companies pursued profits instead of health? Why should citizens allow this to happen?

Aging baby boomers confront cost, effects of Alzheimer's (November 9, 2003)
4.5 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S., a number that will rise to 6 million by 2020. Alzheimer’s disease takes a toll on the national economy, as absenteeism, insurance, and lack of productivity related to the disease cost employers $61 million a year. But Alzheimer’s and other degenerative neurological diseases also shatter families. John Durand, a 58-year-old victim of frontal lobe dementia, struggles with depression and failing capacity, while his wife figures out how to pay the bills on one income.

Among Elderly, Depression More Prevalent in Hispanics and Blacks (November 5, 2003) 
Elderly Hispanics and African Americans have higher rates of depression than their white counterparts, due largely to greater health burdens and lack of health insurance, a Northwestern University study has found. The study, published in the November online issue of the American Journal of Public Health, showed that major depression was most prevalent among Hispanics -- 10.8 percent -- followed by almost 9 percent in African Americans and approximately 8 percent in whites in this age group.

Seniors seek vitality in growth hormone but questions remain about safety, efficacy (November 4, 2003)
Thousands of seniors have begun to take growth hormones, recently approved by the FDA for limited use, in the hope it will help them live longer, healthier, and more energetically. However, after a decade of trials, scientists still don't know whether the potential benefits of growth hormones for older people outweigh the reported side effects and potential long-term risks like cancer. Christine Cassel, president of the American Board of Internal Medicine, says, "People are looking for a magic bullet," but "the key to vigorous old age is activity - physical, mental, and social."

White House Backs Limits on Spending for Medicare (November 4, 2003)
The Bush administration has joined ranks with House Republicans to impose a cost-control mechanism on Medicare that would force Congress to vote on cutbacks if costs grow faster than expected. Democrats and advocates for the elderly oppose the measure, arguing that it undermines Medicare's protection of older people. The Leadership Council of Aging Organizations says, “Requiring Congressional action if and when Medicare spending exceeds an estimated target would bring fear and uncertainty to millions of Americans at a time in their lives when they need security.”

Health system fails seniors half the time. Care for elderly ailments ignored (November 4, 2003)
According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, only half of all elderly people receive the medical care they need. The percentage of older people receiving adequate care for age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia drops down to only 31 percent. The American Medical Association cautions that the study looked at too small a sample to draw definite conclusions about the country's health care system.

Health agencies' ratings go public (November 4, 2003) 
The six largestMedicare home health agencies in
Amarillo performed worse than the national average and about equal to the Texas average, according to a new federal quality-of-care database. The information on Medicare-certified agencies that provide help with essential daily activities to older and disabled Americans became available Monday, November 3, on the government's Medicare Web site - www.medicare.gov - or through the Medicare telephone help line, (800) Medicare.

Concerns rise as more men use hormone therapy (November 3, 2003)
Many men, as they move into middle age, yearn for the same muscular strength, sexual energy and sense of well-being they had in their youth. That's why millions of American males are asking their doctors for testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, to treat a collection of symptoms that some doctors and drug companies have dubbed andropause, or male menopause. The popularity of TRT is creating concern among scientists, who can't agree on whether andropause is a real phenomenon or not. Some believe that the complaints of older men, such as decreased libido, depression and fatigue, are more likely explained by poor habits in diet, sleep and exercise.

Fitness pays even for older adults (November 3, 2003)
It's difficult to ignore the persistent messages about the importance of getting fit, but one demographic seems to be left out of the loop - men and women older than 50. They often suffer from stereotypes (including their own) about exercise; they aren't targeted in fitness-related marketing campaigns; and many are afraid to start an exercise program because of the perceived risk of injury or death, according to reports on older people and physical activity published in this month's American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The issue contains essays and original research on promoting exercise and the benefits of movement.

Health plan payments to increase (November 2, 2003)
’s St. Clair County decided to switch non-union country retirees’ health plans to a company with higher co-pays for services and prescription drugs, leaving many retirees outraged. County Administrator Troy Feltman argues, “For the long-term health of the county as an organization, a new strategy for providing affordable, quality health care must be developed and implemented."

Babysitting May Be Hazardous To Grandmother's Health ( October 31, 2003 )
In a study that raises potentially troubling questions about the burden of child care on grandparents, Harvard University researchers found a 55% greater risk of heart disease among grandmothers who care for their grandchildren. Although the study didn't pin down a reason, researchers believe it may be as simple as the added wear and tear that child care puts on an elderly body. The study found heightened risks from as little as nine hours each week spent looking after a child. Earlier studies have shown a higher incidence of depression in grandparents caring for grandchildren, and also a tendency to rate their own health status lower. But this is the first time anyone has demonstrated a risk of heart disease, the most common cause of death among women. 

Medicare Bill Won't Include a Co-Payment for Home Care (October 30, 2003)
Congress decided not to impose a co-payment on home care service for the elderly, after opponents argued successfully that it would hurt the frailest and poorest older people. Instead, Congress will tax home care providers by reducing the annual update on their Medicare payments. In addition, Congress is considering legislation that would make it more difficult for brand-name pharmaceutical companies to delay federal approval of competing generic products.

President's Council On Bioethics: Against life-extension technology.
The chapter “Ageless Bodies” from the President’s Council on Bioethics report “Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness” explores new scientific possibilities for extending human longevity. More importantly, the chapter calls into question the potential human and ethical implications of defying the aging process, and analyzes the underlying human desire for “ageless bodies.”

Pregnancy after age 50 poses fetal risks (October 31, 2003)
Childbearing beyond maternal age 50 is associated with significantly increased risks for the fetus, suggest results of a study published Friday in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Women in the 50+ age range who are thinking of becoming pregnant should receive "special counseling both before and after conception so that they become informed of the increased risks involved," Dr. Hamisu M. Salihu and colleagues from the University of Alabama at Birmingham write.

Injectable gel may replace aging or ailing lens in eye. Treatment could cure cataracts, presbyopia (October 30, 2003)
Gel-like material may one day replace diseased or aging lenses in the human eyes for people who have cataracts or presbyopia, a problem that requires bifocals. Researchers are developing this new material, which could be injected into the human eye and function like a healthy lens. The normal functioning human lenses, through their flattening or thickening, help people see both distant and close objects. The new material would be flexed by the ciliary muscles of the eye to provide adjustments needed to see objects near and far.  

Get Those Tests --Medicare Helps Pay ( October 28, 2003 )

Medicare pays for a lot of preventive health-care measures that people aren't using. About 30% of Medicare patients didn't get a flu shot in 2000. And 37% had never been vaccinated against pneumonia, even though both shots are among the most basic preventive measures for older people -- and both are covered by Medicare . Those were among the findings released this month by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. The numbers are significant, considering that about 36,000 people die in the U.S. every year from flu and 114,000 are hospitalized -- with an estimated 90% of both categories age 65 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta .

Graduated Premiums Are Being Considered For Medicare Program (October 28, 2003)
The US Congress is working on a plan for Medicare that would use a graduated premium structure to charge seniors differently according to their income levels. The reform concerns the Part B of Medicare insurance for physician services and outpatient procedures. However, Congress isn’t expected to make changes in Part B until after the administration’s popular prescription drug benefits go into effect in 2006.

California: Nearly one-third of elderly in state, Bay Area in poor or fair shape (October 28, 2003) 
The first wide-ranging survey of the health of California 's 3.6 million seniors finds serious maladies marring the golden years of many in the state, most notably Latinos and people who speak little English. Nearly 30 percent of seniors in the Bay Area and around the state report being in poor or only fair health, compared with 26 percent of seniors nationwide, according to the study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles. About 46 percent of seniors who speak little English and 45 percent of Latinos reported similarly diminished health -- in part because they report lower rates of preventive care such as flu shots, dental work and colon cancer screenings.

For Aging Runners, a Formula Makes Time Stand Still (October 28, 2003)
For hundreds of runners, the New York Marathon on Sunday will bring the same dispiriting experience. Setting out to beat a personal best established when their legs were years younger, they will fall short and become convinced that they simply did not run a good enough race. Dr. Ray C. Fair knows the agony, and he has a soothing explanation.

Daily aspirin use linked with pancreatic cancer (October 27, 2003)
Women who take an aspirin a day, which millions do to prevent heart attack and stroke as well as to treat headaches, may raise their risk of pancreatic cancer, U.S. researchers said on Monday, October 27. The surprising finding worried doctors, who say women will now have to talk seriously with their physicians about the risk of taking a daily aspirin. Pancreatic cancer affects only 31,000 Americans a year, and kills virtually all its victims within three years.

Strong heart key to good health in old age (October 27, 2003)
Want to enjoy good health in your golden years? Take good care of your heart, according to the findings of a new study. Researchers report that healthy elderly people who had low risk factors for cardiovascular disease continued to enjoy good health longer than people with more risk factors. "Our study is a picture of what the future of older people could be like--the ideal golden years--if they keep heart disease risk factors in check," the study¹s lead author Dr. Anne B. Newman of the University of Pittsburgh said in a press release.

Generous Medicare Payments Spur Specialty Hospital Boom (October 26, 2003)
The hospitals here — hospitals across the United States , for that matter — covet patients like Robert E. Wilson. Mr. Wilson, 79, has had two open-heart operations, five angioplasties, three cardiac catheterizations and an implanted defibrillator. Just last month, he checked into the Heart Center of Indiana to get his first stent, a tiny bit of wire scaffolding that helps keep arteries open. Mr. Wilson's primary health insurance is Medicare, and Medicare pays generously for cardiac care — so generously that hospitals and doctors scramble after the business. 

Negative emotions may mean trouble for heart (October 24, 2003)
Adding to evidence that depression, anxiety and hostility can be hard on the heart, new research links negative emotions to a higher risk of coronary heart disease in men. Among nearly 500 older men followed for three years, higher scores on a standard measure of negative emotions were tied to a higher risk of developing heart disease. The test gauged psychological factors like depressed mood, anxiousness, pessimism and distorted thought processes such as concentration problems. For each one-point increase in these scores, heart disease risk climbed 6 percent, according to findings published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Scientists Extend Life Span Of Worms by Altering Genes ( October 24, 2003 )

Worms often are seen as symbols of death and decay, rather than longevity. But not in a biochemistry lab by this city's bay shore, where scientists are altering an important gene to make mutant worms that far outlive their normal cousins. Friday, Cynthia Kenyon and colleagues at the University of California at San Francisco will report that they extended the lifespan of the worm, C. elegans, to six times its normal length, or 120 days. It's the longest life extension ever achieved in any animal, she says, and it has implications for human health. "In human terms, these animals would correspond to healthy, active 500-year-olds," Dr. Kenyon and her co-authors Nuno Arantes-Oliveira and Jennifer Berman write in Friday's issue of Science.

Aging and Cancer (October 21, 2003)
According to Daniel Gottschling, researcher at the
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center , and his colleague Michael McMurray, the cause of cancer may simply be growing old. The two researchers studied how yeast cells divided over time, in an accelerated simulation of the aging process. They discovered that the older the yeast cells get, the more chromosomal instability they have, which mirrors the development of cancer in old age. The discovery could lead to new cancer treatments.

Ohio: Valley woman becomes the nation's oldest person (October 9, 2003)
Charlotte Benkner is now the nation's oldest person and the world's third-oldest, according to a research group. Charlotte Benkner is now the nation's oldest person and the world's third-oldest, according to a research group. The German-born woman will turn 114 on Nov. 16. The local resident has hinted the secret to her longevity is in her genes.

Researchers Isolate Degenerative Eye Gene (October 22, 2003)
Scientists in Oregon have isolated a gene that may be responsible for a degenerative eye disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD affects the sensitive area of the retina in older people, sometimes causing blindness. This discovery is the first solid evidence of a genetic cause for the age-related form of macular degeneration, researchers said. However, many diverse factors may act to cause AMD, including smoking.

Proposed Medicare cuts may limit chemotherapy (October 21, 2003)
Potentially significant cuts to federal reimbursements for chemotherapy drugs have some cancer doctors threatening to stop administering the life-saving medicines in their offices. Proposals in House and Senate versions of pending Medicare drug legislation are targeting the reimbursements Medicare pays doctors for close to 100 chemotherapy drugs. The legislation could cut up to $16 billion of Medicare funding for cancer care over the next 10 years, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Aging Well: Weight loss aside, eating less may yield hefty benefits (October 21, 2003)
At research centers in Louisiana, Massachusetts and Missouri, pilot experiments have started this year in which human guinea pigs are cutting back on how much they eat by as much as 30%. The participants in the studies are all normal weight to slightly overweight, not obese. The researchers recruiting them stress that weight loss is not the overall goal. Any weight loss is simply a side effect as scientists study whether so-called calorie-restriction programs can help people stave off chronic diseases that increase with aging -- such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease -- or even help them live longer.

The Real Drug Problem: Forgetting to Take Them (October 21, 2003)
It has become one of the most perplexing problems in medicine: Only about half of the people on prescription drugs actually take them. Much of the national debate focuses on how to help more people afford costly medicines, but that in many ways has masked the increasingly urgent problem of getting patients to take medicine once they get it. The consequences of non-adherence, as many doctors refer to it, are significant. Failure to take prescribed drugs contributes to everything from avoidable emergency-room admissions to AIDS deaths; it can also undermine efforts to manage chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.

The Case for Hormone Therapy (October 21, 2003)
Last summer, millions of middle-aged and older women woke up to some shocking news: The daily menopause hormones they had come to depend on to even their mood and body temperature, to help them sleep, improve their sex lives, protect their bones and possibly prevent heart disease and Alzheimer's, seemed to have turned against them. Doctors conducting a major study of the popular estrogen-progestin combination known as Prempro had suddenly halted the research, citing higher rates of breast cancer and heart problems among Prempro users. In the months that followed, millions of women threw away their hormone pills as an unrelenting barrage of "new" studies warned about the dangers of hormone therapy in general. But lost amid the headlines and the hysteria was something crucial: the facts.

Depression in the elderly doesn't have to be a given (October 20, 2003)
Going gray doesn't have to mean getting the blues. But in too many cases, depression in seniors goes ignored or untreated. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in 10 Americans suffers from depression in any given year. Among the 35 million Americans over the age of 65, an estimated 2 million suffer from a clinical form of depression and another 5 million report depressive symptoms. Depression can have a significant impact on health. Though seniors make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, they represent 18 percent of suicides. Studies also have found that depressed seniors recover more slowly from major illnesses such as pneumonia and have health care costs that are 50 percent higher.

Delirium takes a toll in the ICU (October 20, 2003)
The confusion and paranoia that arise during a hospital stay can have long-term effects. And scientists are just discovering how pervasive it is. For many years, when patients were admitted to hospital intensive-care units, doctors struggled just to keep them alive. Lines and tubes pumped them full of oxygen and medication, and machines monitored their vital signs — but no one paid much attention to their brains. Then, as more people survived their intensive-care stays, doctors began recognizing patterns in these terribly weakened patients. Many became uncharacteristically quiet and withdrawn. Others developed hyperactivity and confusion. Even after their bodies recovered enough to leave the ICU, some didn't bounce back mentally, or their physical recuperation lagged.

Elderly in line to get bone drug subsidy (October 20, 2003)
Thousands more elderly people could qualify for subsidised drugs to treat the bone-thinning disorder osteoporosis under a new push. Advocacy group Osteoporosis Australia wants drugs subsidised for preventing fractures. At present, drugs such as Fosamax and Evista are subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) only to people who have had a fracture attributed to osteoporosis. The group's chief executive, Judy Stenmark, said the drugs would be most beneficial before a person sustained such an injury, which could have long-term effects on their mobility and health. Ms Stenmark said all men and women aged over 65 should be able to have a Medicare-funded test to establish their bone mineral density if their doctor recommended them for such a test.

Utah: Another View: Creativity needed to recruit nursing students (October 20, 2003)
As Weber State University's nursing program prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary Friday, the program faces -- and continues to address -- challenges similar to those that prompted its creation a half-century ago. The occasion is an opportunity to consider how WSU and the entire nursing education system will produce enough nurses to care for a growing number of elderly.

Altruistic Actions May Result In Better Mental Health (October 20, 2003)
People who offer love, listening and help to others may be rewarded with better mental health themselves, according to a new study of churchgoers in the September/October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine. The study is one of the first to track the positive health benefits of altruistic behavior, say Carolyn Schwartz, Sc.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and colleagues.

Bigger could be better: Study reveals ripe, old age linked to larger cholesterol particles (October 19, 2003)
According to a study from the Institute for Aging Research, large cholesterol particles in the blood may lead to long life by preventing heart attacks. Researchers aren’t sure what causes the larger particles, but Dr. Anna McCormick of the National Institute on Aging says "exceptional longevity may depend, at least in part, on inheriting good genes." Evidence also indicates that exercise may increase the size of cholesterol particles, and researchers are working on a cholesterol-lowering drug that also makes the particles bigger.

FDA Approves Alzheimer's Drug, Mix of old and new medicines helps even severe cases (October 18, 2003)
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug called Memantine, which slows the pace of cell degeneration in Alzheimer victims. Doctors say Memantine, when combined with older drugs, significantly helps the battle against Alzheimer’s disease, but the drug only slows, not cures, the disease.  

Wealthy May Have to Pay More for Medicare (October 16, 2003)
Congress is working on a bill that would require higher income seniors to pay more for Medicare benefits than seniors with low incomes, representing a major shift in a program that has always provided benefits to all seniors at a standard price. Some members of Congress say they are reaching a consensus for “means testing” to increase payments for wealthier people, but prominent Democrats maintain that the move would begin to dismantle the precept of subsidized health care is an equal and fundamental right for all seniors

Unusual form of memory loss often confused for Alzheimer's disease (October 16, 2003)
Alzheimer's disease is the single most common cause of dementia, a chronically progressive brain condition that impairs intellect and behavior to the point where customary activities of daily living become compromised. Over 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. Its high prevalence may lead people to believe that dementia is always due to Alzheimer's disease and that memory loss is a feature of all dementias. However, an article by Alzheimer's disease expert M.-Marsel Mesulam, M.D., in the Oct. 16 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine reports that nearly a quarter of all dementias, especially those of presenile onset, may be caused by diseases other than Alzheimer's disease and that some of these so-called atypical dementias involve cognitive abnormalities in areas other than memory.

Flu shot rates seen too low in U.S. (October 16, 2003)
Despite recent US guidelines recommending influenza vaccination for adults age 50 to 64, in addition to those 65 and older, only about a third of individuals in this age group were vaccinated in 2002. Even among older adults, coverage was inadequate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Respondents were asked, "During the past 12 months, have you had a flu shot?" Among those age 65 and older, 66 percent had been vaccinated against influenza. In contrast, only 36 percent of those ages 50 to 64 received flu shots.

Living Longer and Larger: It's in the Size of Cholesterol-Carrying Molecules ( October 15, 2003 )
Scientists trying to figure out why just 1 person in 10,000 lives to be 100 have found an important clue in the blood. Centenarians, a new study shows, tend to have larger than average cholesterol-carrying molecules. "Large particle size seems to give people an extra 20 years of life, with very little disability to go along with it," said Dr. Nir Barzilai, who directed the study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx . Dr. Barzilai also traced large lipoproteins to a specific gene that influences lipoprotein size.

Elderly Dental Care Falls Through Gaps (October 14, 2003 )
More Americans are keeping their teeth into old age, but that can mean a mouthful of problems that doctors say contribute to heart disease, pneumonia and diabetes complications. Mouth infections can delay transplants and other surgical procedures. Many seniors lose or drop costly dental insurance at retirement and go without routine care, according to dentists with geriatrics experience. With Medicare and Medicaid in the spotlight for other reasons, Congress is just beginning to chew on the dental problem.

Might Dancing Delay Dementia? Experts Can't Say, but Enthusiasts Like the Beat (October 14, 2003)
In a recent study of nearly 500 people by the Albert Einstein Center in the Bronx, N.Y., dancing was the only regular physical activity associated with a significant decrease in the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's, which slowly degrades brain and memory function, affects 4 million Americans over the age of 60. Dementia, a broader category of diminished mental ability, affects between 6 million and 7 million. "Dance is not purely physical in many ways, it also requires a lot of mental effort," said Joseph Verghese, the lead researcher of the study, published in June in the New England Journal of Medicine. Though many studies have explored the relationship between activity and dementia, he said, "if you review them, the [activities] that are purely physical do not seem to have any effect reducing dementia."    

Promoting Flu Shots for All (October 14, 2003)
Health officials across the country, concerned that the public has become complacent about the potentially serious complications of influenza, have mounted an aggressive campaign to persuade as many people as possible to be vaccinated this fall. "We've had three relatively mild flu seasons, and I think people have short memories and may forget how ill they can get from influenza," said Dr. Carolyn Bridges, a medical epidemiologist and flu specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency recommends vaccination most strongly for demographic groups with the highest risk for developing serious illness, among them people at least 6 months old who suffers from asthma, diabetes, heart disease and some other chronic disorders; women more than three months pregnant; and everyone 50 and older.  

The Aging Addict: When Golden Years are tarnished (October 14, 2003)
In the last twenty years, the number of seniors addicted to alcohol or medicine has almost tripled, but awareness and acknowledgement of the problem is still lacking. The state of
Florida has the oldest average population in the country, but only a few programs in the state specifically target older adults with substance abuse.  

Where are the Geriatricians? (October 13, 2003)
Today, only about 9,000 geriatricians – doctors who specialize in the special needs of older people – practice in the
United States , representing only one percent of all doctors. Given that the number of seniors will grow from 35 million today to 70 million in 2030, the need for geriatric specialists will become more and more important. However, few medical schools require geriatric coursework, and many hospitals and HMOs are reluctant to spend money to provide specialized care for older people.

Alzheimer's Association Cautious About New Alzheimer Treatment Research with Antibiotics (October 9, 2003)
A study presented at the Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) indicates that antibiotic use may slow the deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  However, the Alzheimer's Association urges caution, arguing that the initial study was too small to produce definitive answers.William Thies, Ph.D., vice president of the Medical and Scientific Affairs for the Alzheimer's Association, commented, "The Alzheimer's Association is looking for large, well-controlled clinical trials before we can make any recommendation one way or the other about the potential of these two antibiotics as treatments for Alzheimer's disease."    

Experts issue fresh HRT advice ( October 8, 2003 )
For years, many women have used Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to mitigate the symptoms of menopause. However, the massive “Million Women Study” of women taking the therapy discovered that HRT nearly doubles the risk of breast cancer. While women may wish to continue to use HRT for its benefits, including decreased risk of osteoporosis, they should be informed and aware of its risks as well.  

Senior Center programs dispel myths of aging (October 7, 2003)
The Senior Citizens Center of Saratoga Springs (SCCSS), founded in 1959 with the enactment of the Aging Americans Act, is a non-profit organization devoted to dispelling the myth that the lives of senior citizens are necessarily boring or lonely. Participants at the center work on activities, keep up on current issues, and build community, promoting the idea that “getting older is getting better.”

Study: Vibrating Insoles May Help Elderly ( October 3, 2003 )
New technology may help seniors keep their balance.  Scientists from Boston University and Harvard Medical School have discovered that small vibrations in the insoles may prevent people from falling when the nerve signals between the brain and the feet do not function properly, due to illness or age. The discovery could become useful for older people, but more studies will test if vibrations work when people are moving.  

Medicare Agrees to Pay for Heart Device ( October 2, 2003 )
In an important decision for thousands of heart disease patients, federal regulators ruled that Medicare and Medicaid insurance will cover part of the cost of HeartMate, a battery powered pump for patients with chronic heart failure. However, many problems remain: federal financial support does not cover the full expense of the device, and patients will receive reimbursement only when the procedure is done in one of sixty designated centers

New Drugs Offer Hope in Breast Cancer Fight (October 10, 2003)
A new class of drugs will change the way breast cancer is treated, significantly reducing the disease's recurrence in post-menopausal women who have completed the normal regimen of surgery and chemotherapy, an international team reported Thursday.The new drugs, called aromatase inhibitors, could improve the survival chances of as many as half of the 213,000 American women who contract breast cancer each year.  

Exercise for elders: It's never too late ( October 8, 2003 )
Older Americans need more motivation to exercise regularly, say a series of studies published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Already, 98 percent of Americans over 50 say that "getting exercise is important to staying healthy," according to an AARP survey. But just knowing what's good for them isn't enough. "Messages must move beyond conveying basic health benefits to focus on encouraging and inspiring audience members to get moving, while being careful not to alienate or turn them off," say Marcia Ory, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Texas A&M University System School of Rural Public Health and colleagues.  

Georgia: When drugs collide (October 7, 2003)
Older Atlantans may think their only drug problem is how to pay for their prescriptions, but a growing number of seniors are finding that just what the doctor ordered may be unnecessary or even harmful. At a series of recent screenings in Atlanta , 54 of 420 seniors were found to have some kind of medication problem, ranging from unnecessary medicines to expired drugs. The Atlanta screenings -- where seniors over 60 can spill their pills and discuss their ills with pharmacists and other counselors -- are part of the Vial of Life program, which is sponsored by the Atlanta Regional Commission, Senior Connections and CVS Pharmacy.  

Keeping Balance, With a Jiggle ( October 7, 2003 )
A little jiggle in the shoes may help keep older people upright, a new study involving vibrating insoles suggests. The study, published on Saturday in The Lancet, took advantage of a paradoxical phenomenon that Dr. James C. Collins of Boston University , the lead researcher, said is widely found throughout nature. While too much noise — random information — can make it hard for signals to be detected, a little noise can sometimes make it easier for weak signals to be picked up.  

Study Recommends Not Using Hormone Therapy for Bone Loss (October 1, 2003)
Hormone replacement therapy should no longer be prescribed solely to prevent or treat the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, researchers said in a study being published today, disputing the policy of the Food and Drug Administration. Even though hormones do prevent broken bones in postmenopausal women, the researchers say the benefit is not worth the risks: increased rates of heart disease, breast cancer, strokes and blood clots in the lungs.  

Minnesota : State is less generous with health care for childless adults ( October 1, 2003 )
The state of
Minnesota is becoming far stingier with the health insurance it provides to low-income adults who don't have children. The poorest will face new co-payments, many will pay more for less coverage and thousands will lose state-sponsored insurance entirely. According to the state's projections, changes that take effect Wednesday will mean 5,585 people will lose coverage in this fiscal year and nearly as many will lose coverage in the next. They count among some 38,000 people expected to go without state-sponsored health insurance by 2007 as a result of various policy changes enacted this year.

Clean Living and Spirituality Contribute to Long Life ( September 30, 2003 )
Better medicine, an emphasis on clean living and spirituality are all contributing to making older Americans the healthiest humans at their age in the history of the world, argue two
University of California , Davis , human-development scholars in a new book. "What jumps out at you, after reviewing all the studies, is that people who watch their nutrition, avoid toxins like cigarettes or alcohol in excess, and who exercise are living long, healthy lives," says Carolyn Aldwin, co-author of "Health, Illness and Optimal Aging: Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives," which was published in July.

Could new surgery be balm for aging eyes? Cornea-shaping operation appears safe (September 30, 2003)
Cheryl McConnell finally got so fed up with reading glasses last January that she had a brand-new procedure to correct her aging eyes. Now the 59-year-old from New Orleans brags that she can read just about anything. Many more Americans probably will follow suit if studies on the procedure, conductive keratoplasty, or CK, continue to go well. CK already is approved for a condition called hyperopia, or farsightedness, in people over 40. Refractec Inc., which developed the procedure, announced today that it has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve the procedure for people with presbyopia, or aging eyes.

HHS Secretary Urges Congress to Approve Uninsured Package (September 30, 2003)
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said the release of today's uninsured numbers show that while the number of Americans with health insurance continued to rise, the nation must do more to increase access to health care. Secretary Thompson also urged Congress to approve President Bush's comprehensive plan to reduce the number of uninsured in
America . A Census Bureau report released today showed that the number of Americans with health insurance increased by 1.5 million between 2001 and 2002. The overall percentage of uninsured in the United States rose to 15.2 percent in 2002, although the percentage of children with health insurance held steady at 88.4 percent -- indicating that innovative policies to provide health coverage helped blunt the impact of the economic slowdown.

Pumping iron a key to healthful aging (September 30, 2003)
One of the revelations inspired by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation research — which led to the classic book "Successful Aging" — is that lifting weights is as important as cardiovascular training for the health of older people. A MacArthur researcher examined a group of frail people, as old as 98, who lived in a nursing home. Three times a week for eight weeks, each of them did 10 weight machines, working all the major muscle groups. "The results were astounding," according to "Successful Aging" authors Dr. John Rowe and Dr. Robert Kahn. "Muscle strength increased 174 percent on average, and the walking speed of individuals increased by 50 percent." Researchers found that decreasing muscle size triggered brain activity associated with the aging process. Enlarging atrophied muscles delayed the effect and, in some cases, reversed it.

New findings in yeast may reveal why growing older is the greatest carcinogen in humans ( September 24, 2003 )
Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have made a landmark discovery in yeast that may hold the key to revealing why growing older is the greatest cancer-risk factor in humans. Their findings appear in the Sept. 26 issue of Science. Senior author Daniel Gottschling, Ph.D., a member of Fred Hutchinson's Basic Sciences Division, and first author Michael McMurray, a graduate student in Gottschling's laboratory, have found striking similarities between humans and simple baker's yeast with regard to the changes their genes undergo as they age. "While yeast don't get cancer, they do have one of the major hallmarks of malignancy, which is genetic instability," Gottschling said. "We found a similar thing in yeast that has been seen in humans: genetic instability shoots up dramatically in the middle to late stage of life."  

Panic attacks common among older women (September 23, 2002)
Nearly 18% of women who've passed menopause experience panic attacks and their occurrence seems to be tied to stressful life events and coexisting medical problems, new research suggests. Although panic attacks are known to affect women more often than men, the rate and predictors of this psychiatric problem after menopause are unclear. To investigate, Dr. Jordan W. Smoller, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 3369 older women. Specifically, the subjects were surveyed regarding the occurrence of panic attacks in the previous 6 months.

Pennsylvania: Local senior population getting pretty good care, survey finds (September 23, 2003) 

The good news in perhaps the most extensive survey ever of Allegheny County's older adults is that they reported plenty of good health care. Among the findings in "The State of Aging and Health in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County" were that 88 percent of the local elderly population had health insurance that supplements Medicare; 95 percent reported no difficulty getting medical care; and 70 percent received flu shots in the prior year. Health researchers and practitioners said those and other findings from interviews with 5,094 individuals 65 and over in 2001 and 2002 suggested that local seniors both had relatively good access to health care and took advantage of it.

Mental Abilities: Of Menopause and Memory (September 23, 2003)
Several years ago, Dr. Peter M. Meyer and his colleagues asked a large group of menopausal women how many of them were bothered by forgetfulness. "Every hand in the room went up," he recalled. But tests conducted over several years turned up no evidence to support the idea that menopause actually interfered with memory, according to an article released yesterday (September 22). The study, which was published in the journal Neurology, involved 803 women who had not yet reached menopause or were in early stages when the research began. Once a year, the women were tested on their ability to repeat long strings of numbers backward and to identify pairs of symbols and digits quickly.

Dental Care for Elderly Lacking (September 22, 2003)  
The elderly receive inadequate oral health care, leaving them susceptible to more serious diseases, a health advocacy group said in a report released Monday. The report from Oral Health America graded states on the extent older Americans are covered by both private insurers and Medicaid, giving the nation an overall "D" for the lack of benefits available while failing fourteen states and the District of Columbia.

Bone density strategy dealt setback (September 22, 2003) 

Combining two useful drugs doesn't make a more potent mix, one study shows, while another casts an eye on effects of cola. New medications can clearly help people with osteoporosis. And because they work in different ways, scientists had hoped to combine them using a double-barreled approach to fighting the debilitating bone condition. A study reported last week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that using two popular drugs together, alendronate and parathyroid hormone, are no better than either drug alone. "The thought was that both would work better," says Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, a professor of medicine at Tufts University and president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. "It's disappointing that they don't. It's going to change the way doctors prescribe these drugs."

Who's Afraid of This Little Fellow? (September 22, 2003)
Remember those fears that once loomed so large but now seem like overblown relics? Killer bees . . . flesh-eating bacteria . . . that Y2K thing . . . West Nile virus. All right, fear of West Nile is no misty memory to the people reeling from it in the Plains states. They see more new cases each week than New York has had in four years. Still, in our metropolitan area, where the West Nile form of mosquito-borne encephalitis first made the leap from Old World to New in the summer of 1999, it has come to feel ho-hum — quite a change from the great attention and anxiety it drew back when. So were we overwrought then? Too complacent now? Maybe a little of both? Even the public health officials disagree, or are not sure.

Tai chi chih boosts shingles immunity in older adults (September 22, 2003)
Fifteen weeks of tai chi chih practice may have helped a small group of older adults increase the levels of immune cells that help protect their body against the shingles virus, according to a new study. The report in the September issue of Psychosomatic Medicine is the first study to show that a behavioral intervention can influence the virus-specific immune response, say Michael R. Irwin, M.D., of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the University of Los Angeles, California and colleagues.

Body Maintenance: A 'Mature' Guide (September 22, 2003)
To understand your middle-aged body and its capacity for abuse, picture a rubber band that has been sitting around in a drawer. It is not as supple as a new one, may even be brittle in places, and it is certainly more prone to snap. But before you curl up in a drawer yourself, utterly deflated, remember, there are ways you can stay strong and limber. Just as steady, gentle use can prolong the life of a rubber band, regular exercise and taking time to warm up can help you avoid injury and stay active. It is folly to go on a ski trip or sign up for the club tennis tournament without some preparation, experts advise. Be realistic and pace yourself, they say.

Flu shots: safer, but less effective for older people (September 22, 2003)
Researchers are working on vaccines to better protect patients most vulnerable to disease.
Flu season is just around the corner and, once again, doctors and health officials are urging people older than 50 to get a flu shot. That advice makes sense — influenza can take more of a toll as people age. But because the vaccine is less effective in older people, it can fail to protect those who need it most. "The flu vaccine is better than nothing, but its efficacy isn't that good," says Laura Haynes, an immunologist at the Trudeau Institute, explaining that the vaccine can be up to 60% less effective in older people.

Elderly in crisis turn to alcohol, drugs to cope (September 19, 2003)
Where do you turn when your partner in life is gone, your children are busy with their own families, and there is no job to get you up and out the door each morning? For an increasing number of America's senior citizens, the answer is drugs and alcohol. Experts estimate about 10 percent of the 30 million senior citizens in the country abuse alcohol, while up to 20 percent abuse illegal or prescription drugs. The substance abuse often begins at an age when many are most vulnerable.

Significance and Management of Atrial Fibrillation in Elderly Patients (September 19, 2003)
Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common sustained arrhythmia clinically encountered, and its associated morbidity and mortality, increases with each decade of life, according to experts in a recently published overview. Patients with AF may be asymptomatic, or exhibit symptoms ranging from palpitations, angina, heart failure, or stroke. Approximately 50% of AF-associated strokes occur in patients above 75 years of age. Furthermore, AF is the most frequent cause of disabling stroke in elderly women. Learn more!

Billionaire provides $100M to help map brain genes Treating Alzheimer's disease a primary goal (September 16, 2003)
Billionaire Paul Allen, who along with boyhood friend Bill Gates created Microsoft, launches a $100 million scientific effort today to map the genes that drive the brain. The donation is seed money for brain research and the creation of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. The goal: To identify every gene's role in the human brain so medical researchers can find new drugs and treatments for disorders such as Alzheimer's and schizophrenia. The venture comes at a time when brain disorders are looming larger on the horizon.

California: Health Plans Begin Drive for Generic Drugs (September 15, 2003)
Four insurers serving 15 million Californians seek to convert their members from costlier brand-name medicines.
Seeking to rein in soaring prescription drug costs, four of California's biggest health plans will use financial incentives in a campaign to convert members from expensive brand-name medicines to generic equivalents. The program, to be launched this week for 15 million members of Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Health Net of California and PacifiCare Health Systems, will essentially waive the first co-payment for patients willing to try generic versions of certain heavily prescribed drugs.

Older Women Now Surpass Young Men in Admissions (September 15, 2003)
Reversing a decades-old pattern, older women have replaced young men as the group most likely to wind up in a hospital bed after accidental injury, according to a recent study. The shift reflects the growth in the number of frail elderly people and changes in emergency room treatment that have sharply reduced the need to hospitalize younger patients, said the researchers from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, who published their findings last week in the journal Injury Prevention.

Illinois Considers Buying Drugs in Canada (September 15, 2003)
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois is considering whether his state should begin buying prescription drugs from Canada for its employees, a decision that he says could save tens of millions of dollars, but could also put him at odds with the Food and Drug Administration over the issue. "It doesn't matter where you go in our state, you meet people who are struggling with the cost of prescription drugs," Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, said in an interview this afternoon. "If you can buy the same drug made by the same company, and it is safe and it costs less, then that makes sense."

Men at greater risk of developing prostate cancer when a brother has the disease (September 12, 2003)
It has been well-established that the risk of prostate cancer is increased among men who have a first-degree relative (father, son, brother) with the disease, but new research shows the risk is greatly increased for men who have a brother with prostate cancer. The meta-analysis research led by Deborah Watkins Bruner, Ph.D., at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pa., was published online Friday, Sept. 12, 2003, in the International Journal of Cancer. "This study is the first to report a statistically higher risk associated with having a brother with prostate cancer than having an affected father," said Bruner.


First year of widowhood most harmful to mental health, according to study involving 70,000 women (September 12, 2003)
Resilience of older women and capacity to reestablish connections can diminish the effects of the loss over time. From one of the largest prospective and cross-sectional studies conducted on the health of middle-age women, researchers find that first year widows have a substantial drop in their mental health but do bounce back after a period of time, according to a new study appearing in the September issue of Health Psychology, a journal published by the American Psychological Association (APA). 

U.S. Moves to Halt Import of Drugs From Canada (September 10, 2003)
The Justice Department moved yesterday to close a chain of Canadian drugstores, signaling that federal regulators are cracking down on the import of cheaper drugs from abroad. Carl Moore, president of the drug chain, Rx Depot, remained defiant. Rx Depot allows patients to order prescription drugs from Canada at prices often half those in the United States. "We're not going to stop, and we're going to fight for the right of senior citizens to buy affordable medicines," Mr. Moore said.

Gel promises better vision for ageing eyes (September 10, 2003)
Bioengineers have devised a soft, supple substance that could turn back the clock for ageing eyes that are no longer able to see up-close clearly without aid, reports UPI. They predict that the pliant, jellylike material - injected through a minuscule cut - could replace timeworn lenses that, scientists speculate, harden over the years until, in mid-life, they lose their ability to accommodate, or change focus, at arm's length. Beginning at about age 40, the condition, termed presbyopia - which means "aging eye" in Greek -- becomes more pronounced, robbing the lens of its youthful flexibility and visual acuity. To many members of the 40-something set -- and nearly everyone older than 70 - near objects appear as a blur. The team at Washington University in St. Louis thinks its patented gel can clear up the problem, and tap into a $250-million market.

Cranberry extract may help reduce stroke damage (September 9, 2003)
Natural compounds found in cranberries may protect nerve cells against damage resulting from stroke, according to a lab study described here on Monday at the meeting of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Catherine C. Neto of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and others simulated conditions of stroke in cultured rat brain neurons in a lab dish, and then treated some of the cells with a concentrated cranberry extract.

FDA launches hormone therapy campaign (September 9, 2003)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched an education campaign about hormone replacement therapy on Tuesday, saying women are confused about recent warnings showing it should only be used in the lowest possible doses for the shortest possible time. The therapy, once prescribed to millions of women to ease the immediate symptoms of menopause and to prevent osteoporosis and heart disease, has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and blood clots.

Oestrogen chemistry hints at HRT harm Metabolism might explain cancer risk of hormone-replacement therapy (September 9, 2003)
A quarter of women have hormonal chemistry that may put them at greater risk of health problems from hormone-replacement therapy (HRT), say chemists. Two major clinical trials, in 2002 and 2003, revealed that women taking prolonged courses of oestrogen and progesterone are more likely to suffer breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Why is not clear. One answer may lie in oestrogen's chemical fate, said delegates at this week's American Chemical Society meeting in New York City. 

UCSD Researchers ID Peptides That Bind to Alzheimer’s Plaques (September 8, 2003)
Two short protein segments, called peptides, have been identified by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, for their ability to recognize and bind to beta-amyloid-containing plaques that accumulate abnormally in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients, providing a possible “Trojan horse” mechanism to diagnose and treat the disorder. “These peptide sequences are potential new tools for the delivery of medication to the amyloid plaques that are found in Alzheimer’s disease, or for new diagnostic tests that would allow early identification and treatment of the disease,” said the study’s senior author, Paul T. Martin, Ph.D., UCSD assistant professor of neurosciences.

Male menopause is a 'myth' (September 8, 2003)
Men who complain of the male menopause are more likely to be the victims of an unhealthy lifestyle, a scientist says. Professor John McKinlay, a leading authority on men's health, argues that the male menopause is a myth. He claims drug companies were cashing in on the false notions of men who think they need hormone replacement to boost their flagging sex drives. The scientist, from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, analysed data from the Massachusetts Male Ageing Study (MMAS), which included 1 700 individuals.

As U.S. Population Ages, Eye Disease More Prevalent (September 8, 2003)
A nine-year study of the U.S. elderly showed nearly half develop at least one of three chronic eye diseases as they age, researchers said on Monday. The prevalence of eye diseases was higher than in previous studies, and will rise as the U.S. population age 65 and older increases from 34 million in 2000 to 70 million in 2030, said Frank Sloan of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "As more elderly individuals live longer, we may see a rise in the prevalence of chronic eye diseases that will significantly challenge our ability to provide care," Sloan wrote in the Archives of Ophthalmology, a journal published by the American Medical Association.

Black cohosh may reduce hot flashes by targeting brain's thermostat (September 07, 2003)
Black cohosh, a medicinal herb increasingly used by women as an alternative to estrogen replacement therapy, may reduce hot flashes by targeting serotonin receptors — some of the same receptors used by the brain to help regulate body temperature — according to a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The finding, the first to demonstrate a possible mechanism of action for the herb other than estrogen, increases the likelihood that the herb is safe to use, they say.

People keep their distinctive patterns of cognitive ability as they age (September 07, 2003)
Longitudinal study allowed researchers to disconfirm the controversial hypothesis of "dedifferentiation;" cognitive skill levels do not appear to merge late in life Never good with numbers? The bad news: As you age, you may still not be good with them. The good news: You'll still be good at what you're good at today. New research reveals that, contrary to prior thinking, even the very old retain their distinctive patterns of cognitive strengths and weakness. The findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

Activity May Slow Rate of Lung Function Decline (September 05, 2003)
Physical activity appears to reduce the age-related decline in lung function and cut death rates in men, according to a new report by Finnish and US researchers. Dr. Margit Pelkonen of the University of Kuopio and colleagues note that although physical activity is recognized as being important for health, little is known about its effect on lung function.

Senior Laugh Lines Do Smooth Out (September 5, 2003)
Their aging brains may not always get the joke, but when seniors understand that something is funny, they enjoy a good laugh as much as younger people do, says a new Canadian study. "Humor is possibly something that is relatively well preserved as we grow older," says study co-author Praphiba Shammi, a psychologist at the University of Toronto's Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care. In their new study, Shammi and Stuss wanted to understand how appreciation of humor changes as people grow older. They gave humor tests to 17 young people (average age 28) and 20 senior citizens (average age 73), then compared the two groups.

State stays with senior drug plan (September 5, 2003)
The Romney administration has abandoned plans to create a less costly discount prescription drug program for seniors and instead will support the existing Prescription Advantage program until Congress establishes a federal Medicare drug benefit, Ronald Preston, Secretary of Health and Human Services, said yesterday. "We'll stick with a version of the Prescription Advantage program," said Preston, explaining that an infusion of federal Medicaid money to the state made the $96 million program more affordable. Senior advocates and lawmakers, however, suggested that the administration had finally bowed to political pressure and said it was good news for 80,000 seniors and disabled people enrolled in the plan and for 11,000 more who applied last month to join.

As prisoners age, should they go free? (September 5, 2003)
Charlie Perkins has spent roughly half his life - 38 years - cooped up here at the Men's Prison near Milledgeville, Ga. Yet he's tried to carve out as orderly and productive a life as possible in this world of convicts and confined spaces.
Now Mr. Perkins, convicted of murder in 1965, is hoping to experience one other thing in his twilight years: freedom. As part of an effort to reduce overcrowding and save money, Georgia and several other states are considering releasing elderly inmates who are no longer deemed a threat to society. Yet officials here and nationwide are start-ing to debate the idea of releasing some of the elderly and infirm, largely because of one fact: Seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of the US prison population.

Urban League senior programs lose funding (September 5, 2003)
The Pittsburgh Urban League is losing funding for two of its long-standing programs for senior citizens. At the end of June, the league shut down its Seniors in Community Service program, which operates on federal funds. In November, because of state budget woes, it will close its Minority Elderly Outreach Program. "Our city has one of the highest populations of seniors in the country," Pittsburgh Urban League head Esther Bush said. "We have high numbers of black elderly who are poor. We are concerned these cuts can furthur erode their quality of life."

Vets Urge Bush on Disabled Benefits Rule (September 5, 2003)
Four hundred and one retired generals and admirals have written President asking him to change a century-old rule depriving disabled veterans of part or all of their retirement benefits. There are signs their argument is being heard. On Friday key House Republicans met with veterans groups to discuss plans to address changes in a system that has threatened to sour relations between the president and veterans, normally some of his most loyal constituents. Participants said both full and partial restitution plans are being considered as the administration walks the fine line between alienating veterans and further driving up the budget deficit.

Elderly Are Targeted in Investment Scams (September 4, 2003)
Often living on fixed incomes and sometimes desperate about money, older investors are being targeted with complex investment scams promising huge returns as the stock market churns and health care costs climb, state securities regulators said Thursday. The North American Securities Administrators Association is alerting seniors to the dangers of investment fraud and urging them to take control of their finances. The group, which represents state and provincial securities regulators in the United States, Canada and Mexico, announced new investor education programs and a senior investor resource center on its Web site.

Retirement's Fourth Leg (September 3, 2003)
You may have heard that your future retirement will rest on a three-legged stool: Social Security, a traditional pension plan (a.k.a. a defined-benefit plan), and personal savings (often in the form of 401(k)s and IRAs). But those who want a really sturdy plan on which to perch their golden years should start working on a fourth leg: health care. So how can you tell if the fourth leg of your retirement will be strong enough to last the rest of your life? Let's look at the major ways retirees cover their medical bills, and what those sources might look like in the future.

Available Treatment Options for Pain in Elderly Cancer Patients (September 3, 2003)
A number of options are available for treatment of pain in elderly patients with cancer, depending upon the severity of pain and location of pain. Pain is one of the most common and most feared symptoms of cancer, particularly in advanced disease. Elderly cancer patients have a greater propensity of developing cancer-related pain, yet they are the least likely to receive proper treatment. Jane A. Driver, MD, and Robert I. Cohen, MD, at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, reviewed the available treatment options for the management of pain in elderly cancer patients.  The authors believe analgesic agents should be chosen based on the severity of the patient's pain.

Phone support group helps older people with HIV/AIDS develop coping skills, new study finds (September 2, 2003)
More than 90,000 people in the United States are over the age of 50 at the time they are diagnosed with AIDS and at least 25 percent of them suffer from depression. But a new Ohio University study suggests that a telephone support group can lessen stress and improve the coping skills of older adults living with the disease.

Hotline cuts drug bill for seniors (September 2, 2003)
A little brainstorming and charitable spirit helped a health sciences professor and his students do something that presidential and congressional task forces couldn’t: help the elderly afford prescription drugs. Marshel Davis of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock says a hot line his class established tracked existing discounts that saved 700 Arkansas seniors a total of $100,000. It started last fall, when Davis suggested a few of his students use their Internet skills to help elderly family members and friends find discount drug programs — and complete their class projects at the
same time.

Age Bias Undermines Treatment of Breast Cancer (September 1, 2003)
Older women with breast cancer are being denied lifesaving treatment for breast cancer solely because of their age, results of a study of some 480 women suggest. In the study, women over age 50 with early stage breast cancer were significantly less likely to be given "adjuvant" chemotherapy -- that is, in addition to surgery and other treatments -- researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus report in the journal Cancer. The finding fuels the belief that age bias contributes to undertreatment of older women with breast cancer.

Treating Elderly Flu Sufferers Worth the Cost (September 1, 2003)
Treating people in their 60s and 70s who have the flu with anti-flu drugs is worth the cost, but preventing flu with an annual flu shot is a better strategy, according to a report released Monday. Researchers know that treating younger adults with anti-flu drugs is worthwhile from an economic angle because it cuts time off the job, but until now it was not known whether treating elderly flu sufferers would be worth it.

Lifeline system is invaluable to elderly in emergency situations (August 30, 2003)
For decades, Dick Carbee saw second-hand the benefit of a Lifeline system. He and his wife Peg even championed the emergency communication system among their peers. Lifeline consists of a lightweight, waterproof personal help button, which Peg now wears around her neck at all times. And a small, in-home communicator, which uses an ordinary telephone line, stays by their bedside. In an emergency, Peg may press the button and, within one minute, a Lifeline operator will respond through the two-way speaker.

Elderly patient boom faces specialist shortage (August 28, 2003)
Most senior citizens can see a family physician for the majority of their medical problems, but as they get older and sicker, their complex medical conditions often require the specialty of a geriatrician. That is, if they are able to find one. Currently, there are about 9,000 geriatricians in the United States, but the number is declining. The geriatrics society estimates 36,000 will be needed by 2030. Geriatricians specialize in medical problems associated with aging. They have several years of additional training in areas such as neurology, psychiatry and urology so they can recognize problems other doctors may consider normal aging. 

New digital technique improves mammography results (August 26, 2003) Radiologists are experimenting with contrast digital mammography to better diagnose cancer in dense breasts, according to a study appearing in the September issue of the journal Radiology. The researchers used intravenous iodine contrast in conjunction with digital mammography to evaluate 22 women with suspicious abnormalities disclosed by conventional (film) mammography and compared the findings. 

Finally (or Not), Relief (August 26, 2003)

Palliative care shares the same goals as hospice care: providing patient with relief from pain and other unpleasant symptoms and offering them and their families a wide range of support services. But unlike hospice programs, which are targeted to dying patients, palliative medicine may be used to help those who are pursuing curative treatment and who may go on to live for many years. Studies of the effectiveness of palliative care programs show that they significantly reduce patients' pain levels and control symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and nausea. Palliative care also reduces hospital stays and pharmaceutical costs and increases patient satisfaction and quality of life, according to the New York-based Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). Palliative care services are covered by Medicare and most insurance companies. 

New facility in Stone Oak features latest in Alzheimer's care (August 26, 2003)                                                                                                  Stone Oak is one of the fastest growing centers of wealth in San Antonio, so it is no wonder that Resources for Senior Living decided to locate one of its Alzheimer's disease care centers there. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company opened the $7 million Haven last month as the city's latest assisted living center for people with Alzheimer's, a disease that's becoming more common. 

New model predicts likelihood of prostate cancer prior to biopsy (August 25, 2003)                                                                                                 A new, simple predictive model could reduce the number of unnecessary prostate biopsies by 24 percent without sacrificing cancer detection, according to a study to be published in the Oct. 1 issue of CANCER and available online beginning Aug. 25 at the Wiley InterScience Web site. 

Study Spurs Hope of Finding Way to Increase Human Life (August 25, 2003)                                                                                            Biologists have found a class of chemicals that they hope will make people live longer by activating an ancient survival reflex. One chemical, a natural substance known as resveratrol, is found in red wines, particularly those made in cooler climates like that of New York State. The finding could help explain the so-called French paradox — the fact that the French consume fatty foods considered threatening to the heart but live as long as anyone else.

Enzymes Found to Delay Aging Process (August 25, 2003)            Scientists have found for the first time a way to rev up a potent "anti-aging" enzyme in living cells, an advance they said could speed the development of drugs to extend human life span and prevent a wide range of geriatric diseases. It is too soon to say whether the latest findings will ever make the leap from the lab bench to the geriatrics clinic -- though some may choose not to wait: Of all the compounds the researchers tested, the one that boosted the anti-aging enzyme the most was resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine that has been credited with that beverage's ability to lower the risk of heart disease.

Red Wine Molecule Shown to Extend Life (August 24, 2003)    Researchers have known for years that cutting calories can prolong life in everything from yeast cells to mammals. But an easier way to live longer may be as simple as turning a corkscrew. Molecules found in red wine, peanuts and other products of the plant world have for the first time been shown to mimic the life-extending effects of calorie restriction, a finding that could help researchers develop drugs that lengthen life and prevent or treat aging-related diseases.


Depression Weighs Heaviest on the Elderly (August 24, 2002)                 As crippling as depression can be for young and middle-age adults, it's truly severe in the elderly, and more often fatal. And while depression and related illnesses afflict 20 percent of America's elderly, only a fraction are getting the treatment they need. "Depression kills not just through suicide," says Barry Lebowitz, director of treatment research at the National Institute of Mental Health. "[Elderly] people can be so debilitated by depression that they are not managing their hypertension or diabetes or they are not eating right. People die from the sort of excess disability that is created by depression in the context of other diseases." 

Women prefer GPs to the Internet when trying to find out about HRT (August 22, 2003)                                                                            Recent media reports are littered with headlines such as 'HRT "doubles breast cancer risk"'. What impact are such headlines likely to have on women considering, or currently taking, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and where will they turn for further information and advice? A study jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) suggests that, without significant policy rethinking, GPs are likely to remain the most important source of information and advice to women, despite increasing access to sources of health information like the Internet. 

Still Hope for Stem Cells in Parkinson's Disease (August 22, 2003)      Even though stem cell transplants have yet to clearly benefit Parkinson's disease patients, there is promise that further refinement of the technique could lead to long-term relief of symptoms. It was thought that replacing the cells that produce dopamine would reverse the disease. Initial experiments where stem cells from fetuses were surgically implanted into the brains of laboratory animals were "spectacular," Dr. C. Warren Olanow, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, told Reuters Health.

Do doctors sometimes fail their heart failure patients? (August 21, 2003)
What's the best way to manage a patient who's dying of heart failure? And just how do physicians make decisions about this ever-growing population of patients, particularly those in the end stages of the disease? These are two questions that a cardiologist at Saint Louis University is seeking to answer as part of research sponsored by the National Institutes of Aging. The project, funded by a $721,000 grant from the NIA, begins this summer and will continue for four years.

Medicare to Pay for Major Lung Operation (August 21, 2003)
Medicare will begin paying for a major lung operation for certain people 65 and over who have severe emphysema with specific traits that make them likely to benefit from the surgery, the government announced yesterday. The operation, lung volume reduction surgery, involves cutting away diseased parts of the lungs to help the remaining healthy tissue work better. As much as 30 percent of the lungs may be removed. The operation costs about $60,000.

No More Cursing the Dark (August 21, 2003)
The 36-unit Art Deco building at 895 Park Avenue has everything you would expect in a luxury co-op. In a few months it can boast another amenity: a backup power generator. Many residents, worried about elderly and disabled neighbors, initially considered a generator after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Walter Mankoff, a 73-year-old retired union research director, was waiting in his doctor's office for a routine appointment when the lights went out. Heading to his two-bedroom apartment at Penn South, a middle-income complex, he announced to his fellow patients, in a stage whisper, "I'm going home to cool off."

Estrogen found as link between obesity and breast cancer in postmenopausal women (August 20, 2003)
Researchers have known that obesity is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, but a new study now explains why. According to research published in the August 20, 2003, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute obesity increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women by increasing the amount of estrogens in the blood. High levels of estrogen definitively have been linked as a causative factor for breast cancer.

Gene Therapy Used to Treat Patients With Parkinson's (August 20, 2003)
Yesterday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Mr. Klein, 55, an independent television producer from Port Washington, N.Y., became the first person to undergo gene therapy for Parkinson's. Despite the checkered history of gene therapy experiments, the Food and Drug Administration approved this procedure for 12 people with severe Parkinson's. The experiment is a Phase 1 trial, meaning that its main goal is to determine safety, not efficacy.

Synthetic marijuana compound reduces agitation, improves appetite in Alzheimer's patients (August 20, 2003)
Study results suggest dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in Cannabis sativa L (marijuana), may reduce agitation and lead to weight gain in patients with Alzheimer's disease, according to data presented today at the annual meeting of the International Psychogeriatric Association. "Our research suggests dronabinol may reduce agitation and improve appetite in patients with Alzheimer's disease, when traditional therapies are not successful," said Joshua Shua-Haim, M.D., lead investigator in the study

The Omega Principle Some Fish Fats Protect the Heart. What If They Could Also Treat Your Brain? (August 19, 2003)
They occur naturally in fish, flaxseed, canola oil, nuts and avocados. They're also extracted, packaged and sold in dozens of dietary supplements. Increasingly, they even show up on grocery shelves as the latest fortification in such popular fare as bread, eggs, dairy products, margarine, baby food and cereal. Omega-3 fatty acids are already prized by cardiologists for protecting the heart against the inflammation that can lead to blocked arteries and for thwarting an irregular, often fatal, heartbeat. There's growing evidence that these polyunsaturated fats may also be helpful in preventing complications of diabetes and in soothing the inflamed joints of arthritis.

US rise in Alzheimer's 'may ruin health care' (August 19, 2003)
A cataclysmic warning that the US health system could be overwhelmed by the growth in the number of elderly Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease was made by researchers yesterday. New estimates suggest that the numbers affected by the degenerative disease, which requires round-the-clock care, will rise to 13.2 million by about 2050 - three times the 4.5 million people affected today. Stay tuned!

Anti-inflammatories ward off Parkinson's disease (August 18, 2003)
Regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs appears to lower the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, perhaps by protecting brain cells that would otherwise die, researchers reported on Monday. The risk of Parkinson's disease was reduced by about 45 percent among adults who regularly took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) compared to non-users, the Harvard School of Public Health study found.

Elderly's Mental Decline Often Missed (August 18, 2003)
Chicago - Doctors accustomed to diagnosing physical ailments too often miss symptoms of mental decline that may be early signs of dementia in the elderly, researchers said on Monday. "As a result, these patients do not have the benefits of early medical treatment or the opportunity to make legal and financial decisions while they are still able," psychiatrist Sanford Finkel of the University of Chicago Medical School told the Congress of the International Psychogeriatric Association.

Antibiotics may help prevent strokes (August 8, 2003)
Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics for problems like pneumonia, but new research suggests that these drugs, especially penicillin, may also protect against strokes. How could a drug that kills bacteria prevent a problem that involves the blockage of blood vessels supplying the brain? To study the link between antibiotics and stroke, Dr. Paul Brassard, from Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and colleagues compared antibiotic use between 1888 stroke patients and 9440 similar people who didn't experience a stroke.

Tai Chi helps prevent falls in elderly (August 8, 2003)
Tai Chi, a martial art form that enhances balance and body awareness through slow, graceful and precise body movements, can significantly reduce the risk of falls among older people, says visiting American specialist Dr Steven Wolf. Research from American trials has demonstrated the value and cost-effectiveness of targeted fall-prevention programmes and indicated the benefits of integrated balance, coordination, and strength training for the elderly.

Reason elderly are susceptible to West Nile unclear, expert says (July 6, 2003)
Conventional wisdom tells us that the elderly are more likely to die from West Nile virus because their immune systems are weak and they can't fight off the infection. "The reason age seems to be a risk factor for severe illness with West Nile infections is unknown," Campbell said. "There's nothing that you can generalize about increasing age that explains why this happens." Last year, 284 Americans were killed by West Nile. The average age of the victims was 77.5. They ranged in age from 19 to 99, and 64 percent of them were male.

Nearly 3.2 million American women 50 and older suffer from debilitating dry eye syndrome (August 6, 2003)
The study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology and the largest study of its kind, indicates that dry eye in women is an important health issue that may often remain undiagnosed. Known to be more common in women than men (scientists estimate that over a million men age 50 and older have the disease), dry eye syndrome is characterized by a decline in the quality or quantity of tears that normally bathe the eye to keep it moist and functioning well. Stay tuned! 

Adult day care: Helping help the elderly (August 5, 2003)
A recent study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found about 2,100 adult day-care centers nationwide provide elderly and disabled people with some level of medical assistance. About 80 percent of centers that participated in the survey reported being licensed or certified by states. More than 70 percent are run by nonprofit organizations, and the average age of users is 72. The day-care component of the Medicare legislation has no known opposition and even the support of an industry group representing in-home nurses. 

Lawmakers playing catchup on cheaper foreign drug sales, retirees say (July 30, 2003)
Just before 3 a.m. Friday, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House of Representatives bucked a torrent of lobbying by drugmakers, the Food and Drug Administration and the Bush administration to pass a bill that gives Americans the go-ahead to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and Europe. "I think they're a little late," said the 83-year-old retiree, who has been buying her drugs from Canada for about a year, saving hundreds of dollars. "As long as the Canadian company does a good job and their prices are better, I'm going to do business with them."

A Fallible Prostate Cancer Test (July 30, 2003)
It seems hard to believe, but a widely used screening test for prostate cancer in men is probably missing a vast majority of tumors. An analysis published in The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that the test — known as the P.S.A. test — probably misses more than 80 percent of the cancers in men younger than 60 and almost two-thirds of the cancers in older men

Hospice Promoter Josefina B. Magno Dies (July 30, 2003)
This article is about Josefina Bautista Magno, 83, an oncologist who helped introduce hospice treatment to the United States and was a founder of the Hospice of Northern Virginia. She has passed away of congestive heart failure on July 27 at a hospital in Manila, where she lived.

Anaemia Elevates Risk of Physical Decline in Older People (July 28, 2003)
Anaemia doubles the risk that an older person will develop serious physical declines that can erode the ability to live independently, according to a new epidemiological study supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and others*. It is the first longitudinal research to find an association between physical decline in later life and anaemia, a blood condition that affects about 13% of older Americans.

For elderly, a little slip can be last (July 28, 2003)
More than a third of older Americans fall every year, and more than 10,000 die from fall-related injuries. In 2000, more than 350,000 seniors were hospitalized after falls, mostly for broken hips. "There are a lot of people dying from this, and a lot of those that don't die never recover," says Lockhart, an industrial engineer who took up the subject in 1995, when his father, a tough-as-nails Korean War combat veteran, began having balance problems.

Legal System Struggles With Dementia Patients (July 28, 2003)
When police arrived at the Tiffany House living complex for seniors in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., they found 90-year-old Bess Kleinman on the floor, slumped against her bed with a plastic trash bag over her face. She had been suffocated. Detectives did not have to look far for Kleinman's killer. Her next-door neighbor, Felix Freed, 72, had told the night security guard that he had "killed Bess," according to police.

Zoloft Improves Depression in Alzheimer's Patients (July 25, 2003)
Depression is a common problem among Alzheimer's patients that makes their lives even tougher. Doctors treating Alzheimer's patients may have been reluctant to look for depression because they didn't feel they had any treatments that worked. A new study shows that antidepressant Zoloft is helpful for treating the depression that often accompanies Alzheimer's disease.

NIA and Alzheimer's Association Join Forces Promoting Major AD Genetics Initiative (July 22, 2003)
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is greatly advancing the search for genes involved in Alzheimer's disease (AD) with acceleration of the AD Genetics Initiative. Joined by the Alzheimer's Association, the NIA is stepping up the Initiative to create a large bank of genetic material, cell lines, and data from families with multiple members with late-onset AD.

Most seniors satisfied (July 21, 2003)
So, let's start with the most basic question: "What is old?" According to the respondents of
recent survey conducted by American National Council on the Aging, middle age starts around 50 and we become old around 70 and very old around 80. Men are generally viewed as aging two to three years sooner than women. The perception of being old is more tied to physical and/or mental decline than having reached a particular birthday. Memory loss, a concern of almost 60 percent of seniors, is the most feared aspect of aging, loosely followed by fears of uncontrollable pain.

Patients Whose Final Wishes Go Unsaid Put Doctors in a Bind (July 21, 2003)
As the country ages and the ranks of the demented expand, the problem looms ever larger. Elderly patients show up virtually every day in emergency rooms and with increasing frequency at hospitals throughout the country, sometimes in a very dire condition, unable to speak or move. Doctors find themselves wrestling with what to do with such damaged individuals.

Low good cholesterol predicts death in elderly (July 21, 2003)
Low levels of 'good' cholesterol, rather than high levels of 'bad' cholesterol, are associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease and stroke in people who have reached 85 years of age, according to a report published in the July 14th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Although high total cholesterol levels are usually tied to adverse outcomes, there is evidence that high levels are actually associated with decreased all-cause mortality in the elderly.

Better care for the elderly (July 21, 2003)
Iowa nursing homes have launched a program to improve care for their residents. The program is supported by specialized technical assistance and training sessions provided by Iowa Foundation for Medical Care. Each nursing home will choose one critical area to improve upon - either reducing infection, reducing the loss of daily activity or chronic pain reduction. Iowa Foundation nurses will be on site to help staff improve on those areas and assist them with initiating the changes.

Elderly Care: Age-Old Question (July 20, 2003)
From the outside, it's just another house in a garden-variety residential neighborhood in the northwest Las Vegas Valley. Called Adult Assisted Living II, it is licensed to care for up to 10 people with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. The home illustrates one of the many housing options for senior Southern Nevadans who no longer can live at home because of physical frailty or diminishing faculties.

Officials to meet to discuss long term care (July 20, 2002)
State, federal and tribal government officials met in Bismarck to discuss and plan for the future of long-term care for American Indian elders in this region and the nation. The meeting is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, User Liaison Program.

Cancer doctors fault Medicare bills (July 18, 2003)
A move in Congress to slash Medicare payments for cancer treatments administered outside of hospitals could severely limit patient access to care, some oncologists warn. The measure could force some doctors to turn away seniors with cancer, causing them to seek treatment at hospitals instead, charged Dr. Lon Smith, president of South Texas Oncology and Hematology, a local physician group.

Patient Care Standards Still Lacking at Nursing Homes (July 18, 2003)
Substandard care remains rampant at nursing homes throughout the country, according to the General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress. Twenty percent of homes evaluated during an 18-month study ending January 2002, had "serious deficiencies that caused residents actual harm or placed them in immediate jeopardy," the report states. Can appropriate funding improve the care for the elderly? 

When Caring for Aging Relatives Stirs Up Unwelcome Emotions (July 17, 2003)

As old people live longer, more are beset by dementia and other cognitive ailments that can make them irritable, unreasonable and hard to care for. More and more caregivers are stressed. A growing number of caregivers find themselves struggling to manage emotions they wish they didn't have. The article suggests several ways to deal with stresses of caregivers.


Uninsured Pay More For Prescription Drugs, Report Says (July 16, 2003)

A recent survey revealed that uninsured persons and many seniors pay 72 percent more on average for prescription drugs than the federal government pays. Many private insurers and large employers also insist on discounts from pharmaceutical companies in return for getting drugs on preferred lists. No such deals are available to the uninsured and many Medicare seniors who have no supplemental insurance offering drug benefits.


Health Costs Soaring, Automakers Are to Begin Labor Talks (July 15, 2003)

As health costs have been soaring for years, many industries have passed along more and more of the costs to workers and retirees. But in the auto industry, union leaders were able to have negotiate some of the most substantial medical benefits in the country for their members. In the contract talks between the three largest automakers and the United Auto Workers union, companies are trying hard to reduce medical costs than they have in years. But the union has staked out health insurance as untouchable.


Insights Into Loss (July 15, 2003)

1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of low vision among older adults in this country. “Being visually impaired is a frustrating experience that can transform your life,” as the author wrote. An AMD patient, the author tells you her experience with the disease and how she copes with the disease.


Why We Die, Why We Live: A New Theory on Aging (July 15, 2003)

A new theory of aging suggests that nurturing offspring is just as important as fertility and reproduction for the evolution of a species' longevity and long-term survival. The new theory, proposed by Ronald D. Lee, Ph.D., of University of California, Berkeley, suggests that natural selection favors animals capable of devoting energy and resources to insuring survival of the next generation. In certain primates, the gender that provides the primary care to offspring tends to have a higher life expectancy. This suggests that nurturing behavior and longevity evolved together over time.


VA Health System Failing, Survey Says (July 15, 2003)

A report presented to Congress reveals that veterans have to wait up to half a year for an appointment. As a severely overburdened Veterans Affairs health system can’t keep up with growing demand, an estimated 110,000 veterans are waiting for initial appointments for nonservice-related medical problems at hundreds of VA centers around the country for six months or more.


J&J Says Leukemia Drug Shows Promise (July 15, 2003)

A new Jonhson & Jonhson’s experimental leukemia drug Zarnestra eliminated all signs of cancer in 30 percent of elderly patients treated with the medicine, said the industry on July 15, 2003. Jonhson & Jonhson also said the drug prolonged lives considerably. The average elderly patient taking Zarnestra survived 227 days, versus only 77 days in patients taking a standard chemotherapy drug, it told analysts at a meeting in New York where it reviewed its pipeline of experimental medicines.


New way of treating elderly patients with delirium defies conventional medical wisdom (July 15, 2003)

Delirium, a common problem among the hospitalized elderly, causes patients to be confused, unclear in their thinking and incoherent. Their behavior may be disturbed - agitated, lethargic or a combination of the two. In this approach, no physical restraints are used;  medication to quiet patients is the last-choice treatment. The geriatricians found that elderly patients with delirium do better if they are placed together and cared for in the Delirium Room, essentially a four-bed intensive care unit.


Single Agent Gemzar® or Vinorelbine Appropriate Treatment Options for Treatment of Some Elderly with NSCLC (July 15, 2003)

The use of either Gemzar® (gemcitabine) or Navelbine® (vinorelbine) alone may be just as effective with fewer side effects than the combination of these two agents for some patients over 70 years of age with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, according to a recent article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.  Despite this new information, it is important for patients to discuss all treatment options with their physician, as existing medical conditions and overall patient health may affect treatment decisions.


Overweight Elderly at Higher Risk for Alzheimer's (July 14, 2003)

A new study shows that overweight elderly people are more likely to be stricken by Alzheimer's disease. It is the first strong evidence linking the burgeoning weight crisis with the increasingly common brain affliction. Previous studies discovered the possibility that excess flab might increase the risk of dementia.


Age-based health care rationing (July 11, 2003)

For a decade, America has danced around the idea of health care rationing based on age. Many experts are worried about the soaring health care costs. However, others believe that “age itself is simply not a good indicator for allocating health care resources”.


Study Finds Drug Costs Are Soaring for Elderly (July 10, 2003)

A new study suggests prices for the 50 drugs most prescribed for the elderly has risen at more than three times the rate of inflation in the past year. The study said “prices for the 50 drugs increased an average of 6 percent, compared with a rise of 1.8 percent in the Consumer Price Index, excluding energy prices”. Over years, drug prices have consistently outpaced inflation and these increases are particularly hard on the elderly, who are often on fixed incomes.


Raising Awareness About AIDS and the Aging (July 8, 2003)

The cumulative number of AIDS cases in adults age 50 and older has more than quintupled From 1990 to 2001. Experts are becoming increasingly concerned that traditional attitudes about older women are keeping public health officials, doctors and women themselves from understanding that the virus does not discriminate by age. Experts say that older women are much more vulnerable to infections than younger women due to physical changes.


Many Doctors Withhold Info From Patients (July 8, 2003)

A study that surveyed 700 physicians finds that 23 percent doctors withhold information from patients about useful medical services that aren't covered by their health insurance companies. The study offers the first empirical evidence for what many have long suspected: that coverage limitations imposed by managed care are impacting doctor-patient communications.


Anger, anxiety may boost heart risk in postmenopausal women (July 7, 2003)

A study finds that psychological factors like anger and anxiety could increase the risk for heart disease among healthy postmenopausal women. Psychological traits could affect blood vessel function through impaired artery function. Previous studies have linked anger, hostility and depression to unhealthy behaviors like eating a high-fat diet, smoking, and lack of exercise and alcohol abuse. Stress can also affect the part of the body's nervous system that controls blood vessel function.


Elderly care program runs into problems (July 7, 2003)

According to a federal legal settlement, Louisiana is required to create a program to provide “personal care attendants” to the elderly. However, the creation of the program ran into problems with Louisiana lawmakers and powerful nursing home lobbyists. Lawyers who accused Louisiana of violating the rights of elderly residents by not offering enough alternatives to nursing home care will go back to court to force the state to honor the settlement.


Maryland Cutting Drug Costs For Elderly (July 2, 2003)

Maryland Pharmacy Discount Program took effect yesterday to help low-income seniors with drug costs by providing a special discount. The program, announced by Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and state health officials yesterday, will help as many as 50,000 low-income senior citizens with the rising cost of prescription drugs, filling a gaping hole in traditional Medicare coverage. Under the program, elderly Marylanders who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private health insurance will be eligible for pharmacy discounts of up to 50 percent on many prescription drugs.


Elderly Caregivers Face Stress Toll (July 1, 2003)

A study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science this week, shows that long-term stress associated with looking after elderly spouses and relatives, harmfully raises the levels of a protein which could possibly raises the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis and other age-related illnesses.


Women's Access to Care: A State-Level Analysis of Key Health Policies (July 2003)

State policies play a critical role in shaping women’s access to health care. With authority over several important policy issues and the power to legislate, regulate, and enact programs that address women's needs, state policymakers have tackled several issues of importance to women. Women's Access to Care: A State-Level Review of Key Health Policies, prepared by the National Women's Law Center and Kaiser Family Foundation, details state activity on a range of policies that influence women's access to care, with an emphasis on private insurance, Medicaid, and reproductive health. Specific policies covered include contraceptive coverage and emergency contraception, Medicaid eligibility expansions, managed care protections, and assistance with the costs of prescription drugs. The accompanying fact sheets summarize highlights from the report's three major topics.


Costs for elderly care to rise rapidly (June 29, 2003)

Connecticut is facing a major budget crisis, with a deficit estimated at $1 billion. However, costs for the elderly care are expected to rise rapidly as babe boomers are aging. Over the last 15 years the average age of a Connecticut nursing home resident has risen from the low 70s to 83. Moreover, the costs for medicine and nursing homes are rising as well. Today’s patients, on average, are on nine different medications ranging from something as inexpensive as aspirin to Oxycontin, a powerful narcotic used to ease debilitating pain, that can cost up to $1,100 per month.


Knowing risk factors can help identify elderly alcoholics for treatment (June 27, 2003)

A study by Penn State shows that less than half of alcoholics over 65 are diagnosed, because often the signs of alcohol dependence are masked by patient denial and seeming good health. The researchers found that "health care providers and policy makers may be better able to target screenings and policy interventions toward the highest-risk groups who may be systematically under-diagnosed and under-treated."


A bountiful mind: Active brain may delay Alzheimer's, doctors say (June 23, 2003)

One in 10 people older than 65 in America, about 4 million Americans, has Alzheimer’s disease. The number is expected to grow dramatically in coming decades as the population ages. Doctors believe that keeping an active mind may indeed help people withstand the ravages of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia that set in late in life. Moreover, keeping mind active imposes no side effects and costs nothing.


New Thinking on Diabetes Means Changes for Elderly (June 22, 2003)

A group of doctors and researchers affiliated with the American Geriatrics Society and California HealthCare Foundation recently wrote a guideline for doctors treating older patients with diabetes. Among the conclusions is the fact that most of older people with diabetes actually die from heart attacks and strokes therefore blood pressure and cholesterol levels are just as important as blood sugar, and the way to help all three is to be more physically active and to lose some weight. According to some sources between 13% and 15% of people age 65 or older currently have diabetes, and the numbers are rising as obesity spreads.


Nursing shortage lines up its next target: the elderly (June 22, 2003)

While the 65-and-older crowd in America is expected to double in the next 30 years, a growing number of nurses are quitting their jobs. Common complaints among nurses include the shortage of staffing, difficult working conditions, tending to more and sicker patients, and a lack of respect from patients and doctors. Without changes, nursing shortage can be a major problem in the future.


Senate Votes to Give Consumers Faster Access to Generic Drugs (June 20, 2003)

The Senate on June 19 approved a long-stalled measure to make it easier to get cheaper generic prescription drugs to market, adding an important cost-control provision to legislation that would expand Medicare to cover pharmaceuticals. The generic-drug measure, a compromise offered as an amendment to the Medicare bill, would close patent-law loopholes that allow brand-name drug manufacturers to protect themselves from competition by delaying the sale of generic equivalents.


Cheap Drugs Firm Is Afloat (June 18, 2003)

MedsDirectPlus, a 4-month-old company in American Fork, Utah, continues to operate two weeks after a state licensing enforcement agent tried to shut down this fledgling company that promises to help Utah senior citizens save money by importing prescription medications from Canada. The company helps primarily elderly Utah residents on fixed incomes get the medicines they need by exploiting Food and Drug Administration policies that allow individuals to import for personal use small amounts of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. The state now contends it is not investigating the company.


Many do not enroll in Pfizer's drug card program (June 17, 2003)

A recent poll found that less than 10 percent of seniors and disabled Americans who are eligible to buy prescription medications for a low, flat fee through Pfizer Inc.'s Share Card program have actually enrolled. It also showed that 41 percent of the low income Medicare beneficiaries eligible for the program might not currently have a need for the benefit. Others said that they could not afford it.


22 States Limiting Doctors' Latitude in Medicaid Drugs (June 16, 2003)

To cut the fast-rising cost of Medicaid, 19 states have adopted the use of lists of preferred drugs for patients. Preferred drug lists steer doctors away from some of the most expensive drugs and toward different, less expensive ones that the state deems equally effective. It is believed that such limits can persuade pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost to states of some medicines. New York State is moving toward the preferred drug practice as well.


Need for workers to care for elderly expected to rise (June 16, 2003)

The American population is aging rapidly. However, the number of gerontologists is not growing as fast. The result is that gerontologists — people who specialize in working with the elderly — will be in great demand.


Desperate Families Embrace Unapproved Alzheimer Drug (June 15, 2003)

Many desperate family members of Alzheimer patients choose to import unapproved drug, memantine from Europe. They feel it offers hope, however small, in improving symptoms of patients in the later stages of the disease. Some experts are uncomfortable with the imports, expressing their worries over the unapproved drug.


FDA White Paper: New FDA Initiative on "Improving Access to Generic Drugs" (June 12, 2003)

On June 12, 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new regulations and review procedures to streamline the process for making safe, effective generic drugs available to consumers. The new rule will limit a drug company to only one 30-month "stay" of a generic drug's entry into the market for resolution of a patent challenge. The FDA is also implementing changes in its review procedures intended to help improve the speed and reduce the cost of determining that a new generic drug is safe and effective, and therefore can be made available to patients.


LoBiondo bill to give elderly better access to rehab care (June 10, 2003)

New legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank A. Lobiondo, would change a rule that blocks some senior citizens' access to care at inpatient rehabilitation facilities. The bill would expand the 75 percent rule to include more illness conditions under the inpatient rehabilitational facilities payment system.


ACTION ALERT! Stop NYC & NYS from participating in drug company blackmail (June 9, 2003)

The New York Network for Action on Medicare and Social Security organized a silent protest against big pharmaceutical companies in Manhattan on June 9. The campaign accuses members of BIG Pharma, especially Pfizer, of “protecting their profiteering and outrageous prices by fighting states’ efforts to lower drug costs and guarantee fair drug prices”.


Adding Health Precautions to the Travel Checklist (June 8, 2003)

Older travelers should use some sound cautions prior to their trips. Doctors now advise older people to consult a travel medicine specialist to discuss the risks especially if they have health problems and are going to foreign destinations.  The article contains some common-sense recommendations.


Higher Speed Limit Raises Risks (June 5, 2003)

A study found that raising the speed limit to 70 mph or more increases the risk of driving-related deaths for women and the elderly. Since Congress abolished the national 55-mph limit in 1995, 29 states have raised their speed limits to over 70 mph. Researchers found that increase in speed limit is associated with 10% more traffic-related deaths for women and 13% for the elderly per 100,000 people.


Canada Fills U.S. Prescriptions Under the Counter (June 4, 2003)

With very simple offices and equipments, discount stores help American customers arrange to purchase legal drugs at steep discounts from Canadian pharmacies. Drug companies say the discount stores threaten their ability to invest in medical research. Health regulators say the stores are a danger to public health since they often operate without regulatory oversight or even licensed pharmacists.


How much would it cost to cover the uninsured? (June 4, 2003)

A new Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured study released at a briefing today indicates that if the country provided universal coverage under the current health system, the cost of additional medical care provided to the newly insured would increase health spending's share of gross domestic product by less than one percentage point-or about 3 to 6 percent of total health care spending. The authors conclude that this range-$34 billion to $69 billion per year, depending on the approach taken-would mean the “cost of expanding insurance coverage may be a relatively small or at least a very worthwhile investment when considered against the benefits of improved health, increased longevity, and potentially greater national income.”


Prostate cancer's natural enemy? (June 2, 2003)

Traditionally, doctors advise men older than 65 to monitor prostate cancer, a slow-growing disease that occurs late in life. Now, researchers at UC Davis Medical Center have found that a component of soy, called genistein, appears to inhibit the growth of this illness. It would make men feel as if they were actively managing the disease.


Elder suicide: Are you aware of it? (June 2, 2003)

The national focus on suicide prevention ignores a basic fact: Seniors have the highest suicide rate of all age groups. All attention has been directed at teenagers. While people aged 65 and older comprise only 13 percent of the US population, they account for 19 percent of all suicides. The suicide rate in 1999 among the aged is 50 percent higher than that of 15- to 24-year-olds. Why has the elder suicide received so little publicity?


As we get older, memory accentuates the positive helping explain why aging can foster good feelings (June 1, 2003)

A study shows that compared with younger adults, older adults recalled fewer negative than positive images. Psychologists also discover the tendency of older people to regulate their emotions more effectively than younger people, by maintaining positive feelings and lowering negative feelings.


Elderly denied cancer care (June 1, 2003)

Studies show that patients over 65 are less likely to be treated although they are likelier to get cancer. According to the FDA, 67 percent of people with lung cancer are the elderly, but only 35 percent of them are in clinical studies.  Sounds like age discrimination?


It's the young who are often the grumpy ones (June 1, 2003)

Although people often talk about so-called “grumpy old men (and women)”, a study shows that actually young adults are most likely to recall and fixate on unpleasant events. The study suggests that this age-linked, selective memory could help explain a growing pool of evidence that older adults are often more content than their kids or grandkids, who are at higher risk for serious depression.


How Good Are Your State's Nursing Homes (June 2003)

"Beginning in 2000, the Center for Consumer Health Choices published an annual Nursing Home Watch List, which identifies approximately 10 percent of nursing homes in each state whose inspection reports Consumers Union judged to raise concerns about the quality of resident care. The list was published again in 2001 and 2002, providing the opportunity to examine trends in the quality of nursing home care. In the latest Nursing Home Watch List published in 2002, almost 17 percent of 1,709 nursing homes remain on the watch list. Nearly seven percent of those facilities were cited for an "immediate jeopardy" deficiency that places residents at immediate risk for being seriously harmed. Two hundred ninety (290) facilities have been on all three watch lists, raising concerns that state and federal oversight is failing to improve the quality of care that residents receive throughout the country."


Health Shocks and Couples' Labor Supply Decisions (May 2003)

This paper explores the effect of negative health shocks, such as heart attacks or new diagnoses of chronic illnesses, on the labor supply of both the affected spouse and his or her partner. In so doing, the paper links two important strands of the retirement literature, the large literature on health and retirement and the small but growing literature modeling retirement in a family context. This paper may also be viewed as an extension of the literature on spousal labor supply as insurance against negative events, which measures whether there is an “added worker effect” when one spouse becomes sick and whether it is crowded out by public insurance programs. This work uses the first five waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a recent, nationally representative survey of the young elderly with extensive information on health, labor force status, and demographics. For executive summary, click www.globalaging.org/health/us/laborsum.pdf


Health on the border (May 31, 2003)

For years, elderly Americans head north and south to find drugs they can afford. Field trips of senior citizens who live near the borders have been organized to roll north to Canada and south to Mexico. People in the middle of the country sometimes found, if their prescription drug costs were especially high, that they could save money on medications even if they flew to Europe. The Internet has made it even easier for people to fill their prescriptions from mail-order pharmacies.


Older adults with arthritis to double in US by 2030 (May 29, 2003)

According to a new study, the number of older adults in the U.S. with arthritis or chronic joint symptoms is expected to nearly double to 41.1 million by 2030. Such joint problems are already the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Currently, 60 percent of American people over 65 has arthritis.


Working out to live (May 30, 2003)

For more than 40 years, the 89-year-old Mission native has worn a police whistle while riding a bicycle around Brownsville, lifted weights and boxed a dusty punching bag in the corner of his garage. His breakfast consists of a papaya, a piece of cantaloupe, a soft-boiled egg, a banana, baby carrots and a cup of coffee with a handful of vanilla wafer cookies. After a workout and a hearty breakfast, he opens a prayer book and reads the morning paragraph.

Elder Action workshop focuses on elderly (May 29, 2003)

The New Orleans Elder Action Coalition recently held a workshop to train social workers, nurses and others to help their senior citizen clients get all the medications they need at prices they can afford. Senior citizens often find themselves struggling for medication payments, since many new medications are expensive and they are often on two or three different prescriptions.


Stroke risk increases with use of combined hormone therapy (May 28, 2003)

A study by the Women’s Health Initiative finds that healthy older women who take estrogen and progestin combined, the most common form of hormone replacement therapy, have an overall 31 percent higher risk of stroke. The risks associated with combined hormone therapy outweigh its potential benefits, according to the study.


Study Finds a New Danger For Women on Hormones (May 28, 2003)

A new study finds that the most popular hormone combination, Wyeth's Prempro, doubled the risk of dementia in women over 65, eliminating nearly all remaining reasons for older women to use the therapy. Early researches showed that the drug increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, making Prempro prescriptions plunging as a result.


West Nile's deadly impact on the elderly baffles scientists (May 27, 2003)

While a person bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus may not necessarily get the virus, most of the deaths related with West Nile virus are concentrated in the elderly. Scientists are working to understand why that’s the case.


Intervention Helps Depressed Elderly (May 26, 2003)

Researchers at Cornell University begin to analyze data from a study that may help prevent suicide in the elderly. Early indications show older adults with major depression benefit more from a change in care delivery than medications. The study also shows that older people are not inclined to see themselves as depressed or to accept the diagnosis.


Medicare doesn't give elderly adequate mental-health care (May 23, 2003)

May 25-31 is Older Americans’ Mental Health Week to educate the public about the needs of older adults with mental illness. While 20 percent of older Americans have a mental illness, only about 25 percent of them seek treatment. The current Medicare system is one of the barriers to adequate mental health care. It only pays 50 percent of the fee for mental health care, much less than 80% of coverage for treatment of a physical illness.


Studies suggest age-related declines may be overestimated (May 22, 2003)

A study by North Carolina State University shows that age-related declines in memory and cognitive functioning may not be as pronounced as once believed. It suggests that traditional notions of changes in mental abilities associated with growing older may partly be attributed to how early studies on cognition and aging were conducted.


Report: Shortage of long-term care workers (May 20, 2003)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor issued a report on shortage of long-term care workers. The report highlights the need for innovation to meet demand as the baby boom generation ages.


Senate hears report on bias against elderly in health care (May 22, 2003)

A Senate panel on Monday began to wrestle with mounting evidence that the American medical establishment is biased against the elderly. Seniors often don't receive health screenings, preventive care, or proper diagnoses because most doctors lack geriatric training that could defeat the common assumption that medical problems are a natural part of aging, experts and senators said at a hearing.

Combination therapy is effective for older women with osteoporosis, says Pittsburgh study (May 21, 2003)

Elderly women with osteoporosis can significantly and safely improve their bone mass with a combination therapy of hormone replacement and the bisphosphonate alendronate (Foxamax). The findings are published in the May 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by University of Pittsburgh researchers. The study was conducted with 373 women aged 65 to 90 years. At baseline, participants as a group had bone mass thin enough to be classified as osteopenia, a precursor of osteoporosis. Thirty-four percent of the women had osteoporosis.


Study: Race not a factor in cardiac care of elderly (May 21, 2003)
The latest study by doctors from Denver Health and Yale University reports that race does not affect care or outcome among elderly with heart failure. "It's good news in that there didn't appear to be any racial differences in quality care," said Masoudi, the cardiologist from Denver Health.


Boosting bone density in older women (May 21, 2003)
A new study has been developed and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study examined combination of hormone therapy with the  Fosamax drug.  "Hormone replacement provides a benefit when combined with Fosamax," says study author Dr Susan Greenspan. "For women who start out with very low bone density or many fractures or many women who have failed on a single therapy, this would be a good option if the primary problem was osteoporosis."


AGS: Benzodiazepines Linked to Declines in Elderly (May 20, 2003)
It was reported at the Annual Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society that elderly women who use benzodiazepines on a long-terma basis risk to weaken their physical abilities. The study conducted by the University of Washington, in Seattle, provides detailed examination of the issue and recommended dose of the drug for elderly.


Disparities: Medicare Credited for Closing Gap (May 20, 2003)

Black women die of breast cancer at higher rates than white women with comparable tumors, but the gap disappears among women old enough to qualify for Medicare, according to a study released yesterday. The study's authors suggested that the findings indicated that access to treatment rather than differences in biology probably played a bigger role in the higher death rate for black women than previous research had found.


Can exercise ward off progression of Parkinson's disease? (May 20, 2003)

Four men with Parkinson’s disease within the 55-to-70 age range are guinea pigs for a theory under development by neurologists, neurochemists, physical therapists and others at the University of Pittsburgh. The theory is that exercise can either slow or reverse the effects of Parkinson's, long considered an irreversible disease, with loss of movement one of the primary symptoms. Studies on rats at Pitt and the University of Texas have given the idea credibility.


Justices Allow Drug-Cost Plan to Go Forward (May 20, 2003)

Maine's innovative effort to reduce prescription drug costs for uninsured state residents by pressuring manufacturers to grant price rebates received the Supreme Court's qualified approval on May 19th. The 6-to-3 decision lifted an injunction that has kept the Maine Rx Program from taking effect since the state's Legislature enacted it in 2000. The court's action is likely to shift the drug pricing debate away from the courts and back to the executive branch and the states.


Town Hall attendees tackle age concerns (May 20, 2003)
Basic health care for the state's elderly should be a right, participants of the Arizona Town Hall said Monday. But they had a tougher time with some other questions: Who should pay? How to prepare for the coming boom? And how to include the growing number of minority and border residents while focusing on prevention?


Head injuries may hike risk of Parkinson's disease (May 19, 2003)

People who sustain substantial head injuries may face an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease years later, new study findings suggest. Overall, those who had experienced head trauma were about four times more likely to develop the neurological disease than those who never had such injuries.


Looking beyond the X-rays (May 19, 2003)
In 1992, Congress passed the first-ever act aimed at bringing the nation's 10,000-plus mammography practices up to a single technical standard. Now, the Mammography Quality Standards Act has expired. But as Congress moves to renew a statute that has helped make early breast cancer detection far more widespread, lawmakers have taken on a tougher task than the first time around.


Health care shows bias (May 19, 2003)

A report by the nonprofit Alliance for Aging Research suggests rampant age discrimination in the U.S. health care system. People over 65 suffer the highest suicide rate in the nation, but are rarely diagnosed as being depressed. They are routinely discouraged from participating in clinical trials even for treatments that might help them. And they rarely receive preventive medical screenings to which they are entitled.


After 100 Years, Still Professing a Will to Serve (May 19, 2003)

The Rev. Joseph T. Durkin is a busy man: Once a week, he ministers to a group of Alzheimer's patients. He also works with inmates at the Arlington County jail. Already the author of more than two dozen books, he is writing two more -- one on rhetoric, the other on the connection between poetry and science. What makes this so remarkable is that Durkin, a revered professor emeritus of history at Georgetown University, just turned 100 on Saturday.


Nursing homes criticized on medicine, food (May 19, 2003)

In Tulare County, California, nursing homes most commonly violate medicine and food-related regulations, an analysis of Medicare records reveals. Of the 15 nursing homes in Tulare County, 14 were cited for medicine-related deficiencies when they were inspected last year by local and state regulatory agencies. Seven were cited for food preparation deficiencies. Operators say strict rules make it easy to be cited.


Diabetes In The Elderly Linked To Fewer Cellular 'Power Plants' (May 16, 2003)

Elderly people may develop insulin resistance -- one of the major risk factors for diabetes -- because "power plants" in their muscle cells decline or fail with age, according to Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers at Yale University School of Medicine. In studies of young and elderly people, the researchers found that older people had lower levels of metabolic activity in their mitochondria, the "factories" that provide power to cells. The findings suggest that reduced mitochondrial activity underlies insulin resistance, which is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes in the elderly.


Researchers discover common cause for aging and age-related disease (May 15, 2003)

Why do serious diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and Huntington's mainly hit us in middle age or later? The links between aging and age-related diseases have proved elusive. In studies of the powerfully informative roundworm, C. elegans, UCSF scientists have discovered that a class of molecules found in the worms and in people can both prolong life in the worm and prevent the harmful accumulation of abnormal proteins that cause a debilitating Huntington's-like disease.


In women, low bone mass linked to Alzheimer's (May 15, 2003)

Women with low bone mass in their later years appear to have a higher risk of eventually developing the memory-robbing disease Alzheimer's, researchers said Thursday. The same relationship between bone mass and memory decline was not present in men, however.


Care homes, elderly fear impacts of state cutbacks (May 15, 2003)

California Governor Gray Davis had originally proposed a 15 percent reduction in Medi-Cal reimbursements. On Wednesday, he added a 3.8 percent rate increase for Medi-Cal reimbursement on top of the 15 percent reduction in his revised budget proposal. The proposed budget cuts in the state Medi-Cal program may mean folding a few nursing home facilities. Then what about people who don't have anywhere to go?


New mouse model will aid research on premature aging syndrome (May 14, 2003)

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a mouse model of the premature aging syndrome known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), according to a report appearing in the journal Nature. Researchers hope the mouse model will facilitate a better understanding of the fatal syndrome, as well as provide clues to the normal aging process.


Research shows that distinct patterns of functional decline in the last year of life indicate the need for different approaches to palliative care (May 13, 2003)

A new study shows consistent patterns for four different types of dying. These findings suggest that more flexibility is needed in healthcare and hospice services to meet the needs of critically ill patients whose time until death is unpredictable.


Stroke recovery rates slower for African Americans (May 13, 2003)
African Americans are more likely to suffer strokes and recover from them at a slower rate than whites, and these differences are not simply the result of greater stroke severity. According to Ronnie D. Horner, Ph.D., program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and leader of a recently published study, research has found that African Americans who delay their post-stroke rehabilitation recover at a significantly slower rate than whites who experience the same rehabilitation delay. Recovery rates are even lower among low-income African Americans.


Alzheimer's slow unraveling Sue Miller's 'Story of My Father' is the story of many (May 13, 2003)

Sue Miller, an accomplished novelist, spent 10 years to write a memoir about her father's struggle with Alzheimer, a disease that afflicts 4 million people in the USA. The Story of My Father is the result, a story of one man's battle with a degenerative brain disease. This family's story will resonate with anyone who has watched Alzheimer's decimate a human mind, says Kathleen O'Brien, a vice president at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago.


Candesartan Effectively Reduces Blood Pressure in Elderly Hypertensives (May 12, 2003)
Treatment with the angiotensin II receptor blocker candesartan reduces blood pressure in elderly hypertensive patients slightly more effectively than placebo. Although the reduction is not statistically significant, the candesartan-based treatment was associated with a modest reduction in major cardiovascular events and a marked decrease in non-fatal stroke in the Study on Cognition and Prognosis in the Elderly (SCOPE).


Elderly receive aid in buying medicine: Erie County group eases drug costs (May 12, 2003)
The nonprofit "Serving Our Seniors" organization in Erie County, has set aside about $56,000 to subsidize the free drug program and has a waiting list of 114 residents, after officials of Serving Our Seniors learned of a Bowling Green State University study that showed 450 elderly residents of Erie County were choosing between eating and buying medication in 1998. Though the need for free medication is greater, the program is better than nothing.

Scientists at UCSB link brain plaques in Alzheimer’s disease to eye disease (May 8, 2003)
Scientists at the Center for the Study of Macular Degeneration at the Neuroscience Research Institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara have found a link between the brain plaques that form in Alzheimer’s disease and the deposits in the retina that are associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a disease that leads to loss of central vision and affects 5 to 10 percent of the population over age 60.


Buying Time: Doctors Debate the Ethics of Care and Cost (May 06, 2003)
The article discusses the dilemma of medical care to patients with congestive heart failure. Can the health care system afford to support such patients when they refuse heart transplant operations? Physicians seem to be unable to answer this question!


Elderly granted fresh fruit (May 06, 2003)
Northern Nevada’s low- income elderly residents can count on a regular supply of fresh produce in their diets this summer. Through a $200,000 United States Department of Agriculture grant, 6,700 elderly people in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and rural areas will be eligible for $30 in coupons they can redeem at the weekly farmers’ markets throughout the area.

Poorly Controlled Diabetes Could Lead to Dementia in the Elderly (May 06, 2003)
Poorly controlled diabetes seems to cause cognitive problems in the elderly, a new study reports. The researchers determined that the main reason why diabetic people age 60 and older scored low on a cognitive function test was because of improper management of their disease. “We knew that there was an association between diabetes and dementia in older people,” said Yousef Mohammad, a study co-author and an assistant professor of neurology at Ohio State University. “But we found out that there is a difference in cognitive capability between diabetics whose disease is under control and those whose disease isn’t adequately controlled.”


Program for seniors is lifesaver (May 5, 2003)

The Affordable medication Program, an unusual program in Erie County, Ohio, provides medication assistance to the elderly, who cannot afford to buy medicine along with food and other necessities. Erie County's Serving Our Seniors, a nonprofit group in Sandusky, buys prescription drugs at retail prices and provides them to 70 Erie County seniors, for a nominal monthly fee. However, Sue Daugherty, Serving Our Seniors' executive director, acknowledges that the program can't help every senior who needs it. Currently, there are 112 people on the program's waiting list.


Daybreak program helps elderly stay in charge (April 30, 2003)
Each person involved in the Barron County Office on Aging's Daybreak program is armed with two things: a name tag and a smile. Some are staff members, some are volunteers, and some are actual participants. After walking into one of the Daybreak sessions, though, the trick is determining which people belong in each of those categories.


Mood Drugs Linked to Fractures in Elderly (April 28, 2003)
Elderly women who take antidepressants and other drugs that affect the nervous system may be prone to broken bones, a new study has found. The study by U.S. researchers found that women taking mood medication were 70 percent more likely than those not on the drugs to suffer a broken hip. A smaller but significant increase in the risk of fracture accompanied taking other psychoactive drugs, like those to control seizures, and narcotics.


Viagra May Restore Erections After Prostate Surgery (April 28, 2003)
Men who undergo surgery for prostate cancer may ward off problems with erections by taking Viagra every night for nine months after surgery, researchers said Monday. These findings suggest that along with treating erectile dysfunction, Viagra can also prevent the condition in the first place, study author Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles told Reuters Health.


Gene therapy may be a cure for post-radical prostatectomy erectile dysfunction (April 28, 2003)
Radical prostatectomy is used to treat the early stages of prostate cancer by surgically removing the prostate gland and surrounding tissue. The procedure has a success rate of 70 to 85 percent. A high percentage of patients experience Erectile Disfunction after the procedure due to injury to the peripheral nerves. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have found that gene therapy may not only be a feasible, but also may be an ideal treatment for neuropathic erectile dysfunction (ED).


New York's Hale and Hearty Tribe (April 27, 2003)
Anyone who handles the daily stress of New York must have been surprised to hear the latest news. The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported last week that since 1991, the life expectancy of residents has increased by more than five years, to a historically high average of 77.6 years. That level surpasses the national average by six months. (Women in New York live an average of 80.2 years, men 74.5.)


Talking Up a Drug for This (and That) (April 27, 2003)
The drug Actimmune would not appear to have great sales potential. It is approved to treat only two rare diseases that together afflict just 800 Americans. Yet sales nearly tripled last year, to $106 million, and its manufacturer expects them to exceed $160 million this year. Virtually all those sales are for an unapproved use: to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs that afflicts 50,000 to 75,000 Americans and is often fatal. It appears that the drug company has encouraged this off-label use that circumvents appropriate testing processes.


Elderly smokers in poor health (April 23, 2003)
A new study shows that elderly and disabled patients who smoke are in poorer physical and mental health than those who have never smoked. Quitting smoking did restore health to a certain extent. Long-term quitters had mental health levels similar to those who'd never smoked, though their physical health was poorer.


American Federation for Aging Research Launches Upstate Affiliate at University of Rochester Medical Center (23 April, 2003)
The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), a leading Manhattan-based nonprofit organization supporting biomedical research on the aging process and age-related diseases, today opened an affiliate office based independently at the University of Rochester Medical Center. New Office Will Support Grants for Upstate Researchers Studying the Aging Process and Diseases Like Alzheimer's, Diabetes and Osteoporosis.


Common Bug May Up Risk of Age-Related Vision Loss (April 22, 2003)
New findings suggest that a frequent cause of age-related vision impairment may be linked to a common bacterial infection. U.S. researchers discovered that people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) tended to carry higher levels of antibodies targeted against the bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae than those without AMD. Such targeted antibodies are a sign of past infection.


On the Back Nine, Eyeing a New Target (April 22, 2003)
From a physical health standpoint, golf is hardly a silver bullet. Most older players use carts and so don't reap the benefits of walking the course. Unlike, say, swimming or weight training, the golf swing doesn't build muscle. On the other hand, the game can help sustain or sharpen hand-eye coordination, flexibility and balance. Golf's primary physical health benefit for older folks is the motivation it provides them to stay in shape.


Options for Protecting Bones After Menopause (April 22, 2003)
"There are now 10 million women in this country with osteoporosis and 33 million who have low bone mass, and most have neither been diagnosed nor treated," Dr. Siris told a seminar held by the Society for Women's Health Research, a group that inspired the Women's Health Initiative studies. Women achieve peak bone mass by 30, then lose bone slowly until 50, or whenever they start menopause. From 50 to 60, bone loss is rapid, and then slows somewhat to age 90.


Hormone Studies: What Went Wrong? (April 22, 2003)
For nearly nine months, doctors and researchers have been struggling with an intractable problem: how could two large high-quality studies come to diametrically different conclusions about menopause, hormone therapy and heart disease? Dr. Francine Grodstein, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, says it is quite possible that both are correct. The different results may hinge on the differences between the aging women who joined the studies.


U.S. Urged to Revive Study on Care for the Dying (April 21, 2003)
A group of experts called on the U.S. government Monday to revive a bygone national research study that they say could help improve the care of dying persons. IOM, an independent but government-funded research body, has issued several reports over the last five years calling for widespread reforms to health care for dying persons, including improvements in doctor training, an overhaul of health care financing and wider use of hospice programs.


Cholesterol-lowering drugs shown to decrease predictor of Alzheimer's disease (April 21, 2003)
Cholesterol-lowering medications known as statins also play an important role in reducing levels of a strong predictor of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers. In today's issue of the Archives of Neurology, UT Southwestern researchers report that participants who took statins lowered their brain cholesterol levels by 21.4 percent.

Hearing Loss Goes Untreated Among Elderly , Study Finds (April 17, 2003)
Hearing loss in the elderly is easily treated but often underdiagnosed by doctors who in some cases wrongly consider it an inevitable part of aging, a study found. The most common cause of deafness in older adults is nerve damage, which isn't reversible but can be substantially improved with hearing aids and surgery for some severe cases.


Aging population looms over health care costs (April 16, 2003)
Baby boomers entering their senior years will increase costs at an alarming rate because the elderly traditionally use a larger share of the health-care dollar. And if we can't control rising health-care costs now, how are we going to do it in the future?

Study: Elderly Hearing Loss Often Overlooked (April 15, 2003)
Many older people have trouble hearing, and many people - including doctors - wrongly consider hearing loss an inevitable part of aging. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition in older Americans, after hypertension and arthritis. Up to 40 percent of people over age 65 are hearing impaired, and more than 80 percent of people over age 85 have hearing loss.

Anti-Aging Supplements Give Hope, but No Proof (April 15, 2003)

Growth of  hormone levels rise during adolescence, but begin to drop in middle age; by age 60, a man produces about half as much growth hormone each day as he did at age 20. An influential study by researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1990 showed that injections of growth hormone can help older men and women restore some muscle and shed fat. Vance and her colleagues at the University of Virginia are currently testing a secretagogue developed by the pharmaceutical giant Merck in a group of about 70 elderly men and women. But the results are not clear!


How do you define a healthy 80-something? (April 9, 2003)
Today, an estimated 5,574 Americans will celebrate their 65th birthday. That's 362,310 candles, if you're counting. What does it take to live a long life? Are aging and decline inextricably linked? What does healthy mean when you're 80 years old? Stay tuned!


Nine faculty awarded grants for research on mental health, aging (April 9, 2003)
 The university Center for Mental Health and Aging will provide grant money for research concentrating in the areas of elderly care-giving, mental health in rural communities, quality care in nursing homes and end-of-life issues. The study will examine, among others issues, older persons’quality of life.


Depression untreated in elderly (April 7, 2003)
New research on depression says that older men are less likely than older women to seek treatment for depression, and older blacks and Latinos seek help less often than their white counterparts.


Healthy older people sleep as well as young (April 7, 2003)
It’s not true that people need less sleep as they age or even sleep much less, but rather that illness robs many older people of sleep according to experts from the National Sleep Foundation.


New Alzheimer's drug gives good results (April 7, 2003)
All known Alzheimer’s drugs are effective only in early stages of the disease. But the research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that Memantine can slow down the progress of disease at severe stages as well.


Elderly likely to decline after hospitalization (April 3, 2003)
Elderly patients may receive life-saving care by being hospitalized, but one of the costs may be a loss of independence after returning home. Researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center announced this finding.


'Huge gaps' reported in elder care (April 2nd, 2003)
Retirees who are flocking to rural California in their 60s may not find the services they need to stay in that home when they're 85, according to a new study. What home health, residential care or other services are available to older people may depend on where they live - instead of what they need.

Depression Over Iraq Conflict Is More Likely Among Elderly (April 1, 2003)
Americans of all ages are extremely anxious about the war in Iraq and terrorism but older adults appear also at the highest risk for developing emotional and physical problems such as depression. Among other causes, this vulnerability stems from older adults spending a long time watching TV.  Beyond that, individuals age 70 and older, often have painful memories of the 1930s and 1940s.


Prescription Drug Trends (March 2003 )
This updated 2-page fact sheet, prepared by the
Kaiser Family Foundation, provides trend data for prescription drug coverage, expenditures, and the key factors that contribute to rising prescription spending:  increases in utilization and prices, and changes in drug use from older drugs to newer higher-priced drugs.


This Bachelorette Turns 105 and Has Her Pick (March 29, 2003)
Mrs. Agnes Warner celebrated her 105th birthday with lucky Carl Mendola, 85, who edged out three rivals for this date.


Gene therapy utilises anti-Alzheimer’s molecule (March 25, 2003)
US scientists believe that gene therapy can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease by stimulating production of a molecule that reduces the severity of the condition.


Seniors Flock to Border Towns To Horde Cheap Prescriptions (March 20, 2003)
90.000 elderly resident go to Yuma, Mexico, each winter to buy drugs for them and their families. Most of them couldn’t afford the prescriptions they need at US prices. For example, according to an old lady who spent $400 this month buying drugs, saving more than $1,200, a diabetes medicine, Glucophage, available here for less than $3 for each bottle of 100 capsules, costs more than $ 54 in the US.


'Oldest Old' Still Show Alertness (March 18, 2003)
Of all the infirmities people dread in old age, dementia may be the scariest. The new studies challenge the assumptions that dementia is inevitable and untreatable in the last years of life.


Older exercisers may benefit from less-intense workouts (March 17, 2003)
A researcher from the Harvard School of Public Health says that older people can benefit even from a little exercise, depending on how hard their effort is.


Experts see hard times for senior services after cuts (March 15, 2003)
From Medicaid to Meals on Wheels, many programs for frail seniors are being trimmed because of budget cuts from coast to coast, and more are on the way, leaders of several advocacy and aging groups say.


Elder rage common among Alzheimer's patients (March 14, 2003)
Some people with dementia tend to become frustrated and angry, because they can't function as well as they used to. Jacqueline Marcell says in her book that dementia symptoms often can be slowed through proper treatment and medication and offers some practical advice.


Mayo Clinic study finds total hip replacement among older patients provides better quality of life (March 14, 2003)
Results of a study of 65 patients who underwent total hip replacement surgery at Mayo Clinic show that the procedure can be done safely and effectively in patients 90 years and older, and provides them years of improved quality of life.  Another reason not to discriminate on the basis of age for necessary medical interventions.


Clonaid Receives 'Anti-Aging' Award (March 14, 2003)
Clonaid, the group that claims to have cloned the first human babies, says on its Web site that in the eventual cloning of an adult, memories and personality will be transferred into "a brand new body," allowing people to "wake up after death."


Pharmaceutical Research Is Focusing on the Elderly
Some 135 pharmaceutical companies are now developing 294 medicines aimed at diseases that disproportionately affect older people, like cancer, heart disease and stroke. They may be losing the patent protection on their established drugs in the United States, but “sales from new medications that cater to an aging population could more than make up for any lost revenue.” Drugs include 30 for diabetes, which affects 1 in 5 Americans 65 and older.


World-Renowned Actress Julie Andrews Leads Campaign Urging Women To Declare Their Independence From Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by thin, weak bones, which can lead to fractures of the spine, hip, wrist, or other bones. Each year, there will be more osteoporosis fractures in women than new cases of stroke, heart attack and breast cancer combined. That’s why Julie Andrews, actress, will take a challenging new role: spokesperson for a national campaign called the Declaration of Independence From Osteoporosis.


The Uninsured and their Access to Medicare in 2001
These Kaiser Family Foundation key facts will help you understand who is uninsured (low-income Americans) and why there are so many Americans who are uninsured (cost of private coverage unavailable to low-wage workers)...

The Wireless Age Adapts to Aging (March 13, 2003)
Telecommunications companies are closely examining services proving popular among deaf and hearing impaired people of all ages, such as instant messaging over computers and two-way pagers.

Aging: Troubles in the Medicine Cabinet (March 11, 2003)
About 5 percent of any group of Medicare patients are made ill by their medicines during treatment outside the hospital. Many of those illnesses can be prevented, a new study has found.

Glaxo under fresh attack in US (March 6, 2003)
Drugs group GlaxoSmithKline stopped the practice of cross-border-shopping for US consumers in Canada. Moreover, the company is trying to have their famous (and very profitable too!) drugs with patents protected against other cheaper generic drugs sold by other companies.

Ad Urges NY Lawmakers to Refuse Glaxo Contributions (March 5, 2003)
Other worries for the world’s second-largest-drug manufacturer, Glaxo has to deal with a call from a New York senior advocacy group to the Albany lawmakers to refuse donations to political action committees from the company that gouges seniors.

Elderly abuse isn't all black and blue
The National Elder Abuse Incidence estimates 500,000 older people in domestic settings were newly abused, neglected, exploited or experienced self-neglect in 2000 and says for every case reported, five probably go unreported. Elder abuse can be defined as physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment or financial exploitation.

Study Raises Estimate of the Nation's Uninsured (March 5, 2003)
“An estimated 75 million Americans were without health insurance at some point during the last two years, amounting to nearly a third of all Americans younger than 65 “ found a study from Families USA. The uninsured tended to be working people and young because Americans older than 65 are covered by Medicare.

For Elderly, Fear of Falling Is a Risk in Itself (March 5, 2003)
Studies suggest that a third of people 65 or older fall each year. Elderly are scared of falling, so they stop doing things. As they do less, their physical condition deteriorates, making them more susceptible to falling… Between the risk of immobility and the risk of mobility, here are personal stories from elderly coming to seminars at the Riverdale Senior Center in New York.

Bush Medicare Proposal Urges Switch to Private Insurers (March 5, 2003)
The Bush administration has crafted a new Medicare prescription-drug proposal that would offer limited coverage to seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare. Under the plan, seniors enrolled in the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program would get a discount drug card that would offer some savings when buying prescriptions. Seniors who enrolled in private health plans or HMOs would get more extensive drug coverage under the new proposal.

President Bush’s “New” Medicare Privatization Plan (March 4, 2003)
Here is Senator Tom Daschle’s response to the Bush administration’s “new” Medicare proposal. As you know already, the plan is designed to gradually replace guaranteed Medicare coverage with private insurance - an incredibly risky proposal for seniors and people with disabilities.

Democrats vow battle over cuts in health care (March 4, 2003)
80,000 elderly and disabled people would be removed from home-care services.  400,000 elderly would lose prescription drug coverage.  $4 billion in Medicaid reimbursement to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers would be cut. Scary? That is what Governor Rick Perry's Health from Texas and Human Services Commissioner, Albert Hawkins, presented in his agency's effort to save money.

Sertraline May Not Reduce Cognitive Deficits in Elderly Patients with Depression and Cognitive Impairment (March 4, 2003)
A new study from Columbia University in New York show that elderly patients with cognitive impairment (CI) and depression (DEP-MCI) who are treated with sertraline may experience little improvement in cognitive function.

Adult Day Care Becoming Popular with Older People (March 03, 2003)
The article outlines an author’s view on what a good adult day center shoul
d look like.

Bruised and Broken: U.S. Health System (March, 2003)
There is something wrong with the U.S. health care system. Who does it serve and what is wrong with it? Do we need a new one, or can we fix the existing one? And what should we do to fix it?

Weirton Urges Cuts in Health Care Costs (February 26, 2003)
4,600 retirees of Weirton Steel Corp learned that West Virginia steel maker could be forced into bankruptcy. These people would have to pay double the co-payment for most prescription drugs. But 75 percent of the employees have to agree about this before the bankruptcy can go forward.  When will US workers succeed in getting a portable pension system free from the companies’ fate?

New Bill Could Help Modernize Medicare (February 26, 2003)
The new legislation in preparation in the US Congress would make a number of regulatory changes to speed new medical treatments to patients covered by Medicare. This will help thousands of elderly to access new technology treatments with better efficiency.

Debunking the Myths of Hospice
This fact sheet from Partnership for Caring will help end the misinformation about hospices. Hospice care takes place wherever the need exists (about 80 % in the patient’s home) and includes pain management and symptom relief.

Seniors take drugs battle to the street (February 21, 2003)
Hundreds of elderly Americans protested in Philadelphia, New York City and Schenectady, N.Y., against GlaxoSmithKline PLC's ban on supplying products to Internet pharmacies in Canada that deal with American customers. This evident example of “brazen abuse of monopolistic power” led the Congress to introduce two bills about imposing fines on the company or denying it some tax breaks.

Pharmacia Profits Rise Sharply, Aided by a New Arthritis Drug (February 20, 2003)
The Pharmacia Corporation said net profit soared 549 percent, to $554 million from $86 million. Pfizer Inc, is expected to buy this drug company by the end of the first quarter for $53 billion. So much money....

More May Not Be Better, Medicare Study Finds (February 18, 2003)
A new study finds surprisingly that elderly patients living in areas where Medicare spending was among the highest, neither lived longer nor experienced a better quality of life than where spending was lowest. Patients in the highest-spending group got “more tests and more physician visits and stayed in the hospital longer and more often.” In the lowest-spending group, patients are more likely to see family practitioners. And they were likely to be treated more intensively if and when they became gravely ill.

Screening: 3 Easy Steps to Diagnose Strokes (February 18, 2003)
A new study from the American Stroke Association shows that it is essential that people look for the major symptoms of stroke to save life. This rapid diagnosis is the three steps: “asking the patients to smile broadly; to close their eyes, raise their arms in front of them and hold them out for a count of 10; and to repeat a simple phrase.”

Questions Outnumber Answers on P.S.A. Test (February 18, 2003)
Men middle-aged and older are now hesitating to avail themselves of the P.S.A. blood test for prostate cancer. If the P.S.A. test is positive, it typically leads to a $1,500 biopsy, with ultrasound guidance and samples taken from various parts of the prostate, to find out if cancer is present. Experts generally agree that the P.S.A. is not an ideal marker for prostate cancer so they are thinking about recalculating the P.S.A level.

  Medicare Plan's Trouble Could Offer a Lesson (February 17, 2003)
“How much can the Bush Administration push the elderly to enroll in private plans?”  The idea of requiring elderly to leave Medicare and enroll in a private health plan is even more in the dark than ever. The domestic agenda is full because of the national political situation. Most of all, this is a very unpopular plan.

Healthy Aging v. Chronic Ilness (February 14, 2003)
Medicare and modern medicine are badly unprepared to meet the nation's greatest contemporary health challenge: chronic illness. Diseases such as arthritis, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and asthma now afflict more Americans, cause more disability and death, and cost more money than any other health problem.” Here is the Policy Report new issue about the tragedy of poor chronic care.


Normal Weight Elderly Still May Be At Risk For Developing Diabetes (February 13, 2003)
Large amounts of muscle fat may put elderly men and women with normal body weight at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes even though they're not overweight. Fat distribution is a key determination in elderly people, the study authors of University of Pittsburgh say.


New York Statewide Senior Action Council Joins U.S.  & Canadian Organizations To Slam Glaxo's Ban Against Affordable Drugs For U.S. Seniors In Need (February 12, 2003)
The New York State Senior Action Network joined other senior organizations to protest GlaxoSmithKilne’s decision to stop shipping its drugs to Canada. Here is the text of the full-page ad that appeared in the New York Times.

Aging: Scuba Forever. Almost. (February 11, 2003)
A new study will make older scuba divers happy. They’ve got no reason to give up this leisure activity. Older divers don’t retain too much carbon dioxide under the water as scientists thought they would.

Bush Rethinking Medicare Plan (February 11, 2003)
Is the Bush administration coercing “senior citizens to sign up with managed care groups”? A new Bush administration plan requires Medicare beneficiaries to join health maintenance organizations as a condition for federally supported prescription drug insurance.

Aging Well (February 11, 2003)
As recently as five years ago, there were no research trials funded to study Alzheimer's prevention and no means to identify people at high risk. Now Alzheimer's research is starting to consider the causes of the disease and possible preventive remedies. Increasingly, scientists are discovering that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of exercise and other contributors to heart disease are also present in Alzheimer's patients. Possible Alzheimer's blockers include vitamin E, anti-inflammatory, estrogen and ginkgo bilboa. Also an occasional glass of wine may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Getting the Gray Out (February 11, 2003)
American elderly people, pressured by high drug prices, often buy their drugs market just across the Canadian border.  Hungry for profits, GlaxoSmithKline announced it would halt sales of its products to Canadian pharmacies. If drug companies and regulators cut off the Canadian supply, Americans will simply go online to the e-pharmacies to get their cheaper prescription drugs,  the Manitoba's industry minister predicted.

Dean shines spotlight on health care in 2004 bid (February 10, 2003)
Health care, a signature issue of the 1992 presidential race, is expected to reemerge as an issue in the 2004 campaign. Former governor Howard Dean of Vermont, a medical doctor, hopes that health care can catapult a little-known governor into the White House. His plan would offer to pay prescription drug and hospital costs for older Americans who are enrolled “in both the state-federal Medicaid and the solely federal Medicare programs, saving states more than $6 billion a year.”

California Governor Proposes Cuts in Senior Nutrition Program (February 9, 2003)
California Governor Davis proposes $8.25 million of cuts to senior programs for the 2003-04 budget year, almost half of it from nutrition projects such as the Brown Bag Program (surplus fresh fruits and vegetables), which serves 1,900 seniors in Orange County. As said the executive director for the Orange County Office of Aging, Mr Mokler, “It targets the seniors with the most need.”

As boomers age, Gen X considers care options (February 9, 2003)
Some Generation X'ers, born between 1969 and 1978, will take care of their parents, but a predictable growing number will let their parents make their own decisions. If they choose not to leave home, they will be helped by assisted living facilities such as digital video cameras, floors able to detect when a fall occurs on the floor and more.

Senior Groups Begin Boycott of Drug Maker (February 9, 2003)
Large number of senior citizens groups across the USA have started to boycott drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, after the company cut supplies to Canadian pharmacies that sell its drugs to Americans on the Internet at bargain prices. Neither Pfizer Inc nor Merck and Co. has yet decided to follow in Glaxo’s steps. If they do, will this be grounds for price fixing?

Doctor No: The president's privatization plan would spell health-care disaster for seniors
This American Prospect article provides an interesting critical perspective on the Bush administration views of the health system, to make the HMO an inseparable part of Medicare's future. As he noted: “The worst part of privatization is that it could sever the important bonds between senior citizens and their doctors.” How about a single payer system like Canada?

New Method Aids Evaluation of Alzheimer's Drugs (February 6, 2003)
Scientists can now watch the destruction by Alzheimer's disease travel through the brains of living patients. This new technique, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, may help researchers find more effective Alzheimer's drugs.

Court Battle Over Paxil (February 5, 2003)
Many investors are pessimistic about GlaxoSmithKline’s ability to win in a suit against Apotex, maker of generic drugs. The two manufacturers are fighting over exclusive rights to Paxil, a popular treatment for depression, which provides the American manufacturer with $3 billion income. Presumably the generic manufacturer would sell Paxil at a lower price helping sick consumers.

Seniors Give Texas Lawmakers Earful on Cost of Pills 9February 5, 2003)
In Texas, seniors are supporting a Senate bill that will keep the Texas Department on Aging alive. It is slated to close in 2005. More than 4,000 seniors statewide attended Senior Day at the Texas Capitol.

Treatments: Seizure Drug Cools Hot Flashes (February 4, 2003)
A new study found that an antiseizure drug (gabapentin) appears to be an alternative for women who don’t want to use hormone replacement therapy in order to reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.

With Hospital Bed, You Get Eggroll, and It's Kosher (February 4, 2003)
Change your perception of hospital food. At Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn in New York City, glatt kosher Chinese food is served.  It is the first institution in the country to offer such traditional meals.

Companies AreEncouraging Employees to Exercise (February 3, 2003)
A new report from the University of Michigan's Health Management Research Center found overweight and obese people have medical bills up to $1,500 greater a year than those of people of healthy weight. For example, GM and the United Auto Workers union jointly are trying to change the lifestyles of employees, retirees and family members through their LifeSteps education program.

President Releases $2.2 Trillion Budget (February 3, 2003)
In the 2004 Bush’ 2.2 trillion dollar budget, Medicare and Social Security both made it into the first paragraph of his statement. The budget dedicates “$400 billion over 10 years for Medicare modernization including protection against catastrophic costs, better private options for all beneficiaries, and prescription drug coverage.” How will it be really used for the elderly?

Social Security and Medicare: Myths, Lies and Realities
This Institute for America's Future report shows us that even under pessimistic projections the Social Security will be able to meet 100 percent of its obligation for the next 34 years. Privatization can't provide the benefits and the security that the Social Security provides now. 

Life, death and physics (January, 2003)
Intuition might suggest that people are more likely to die the older they become, but in fact the death rate stabilizes above a certain age leading to a "mortality plateau". Now, Jonathan Coe and Yong Mao at the University of Cambridge and Mike Cates at the University of Edinburgh have developed a computer model that reveals this leveling-off in the rate of death with increasing age.

Supplement Use Among Elderly Is On the Rise (January 28, 2003)
Recent survey shows that more than 40 percent of men and 50 percent of women aged 60 and above reported using at least one vitamin or mineral supplement, and experts say that supplement use by the elderly is increasing rapidly. But scientists have no agreement on the value of some supplements, and some are also concerned about possible adverse interactions between supplements and prescription medications.

90 years young (January 27, 2003)
The story of Betty O'Neal Giboney, who has moved from New York City to New Castle in her 90th year, and, what one can say, started a new life.   

Cross-border pharmacies boom (January 27, 2003)
Canadian government regulation of drug prices as part of its national health care system versus the market dictation of pricing in the United States allows Internet businesses to supply U.S. customers with lower-priced Canadian drugs.

Drug Sales Bring Huge Profits, and Scrutiny, to Cancer Doctors (January 26, 2003)
Cancer specialists can make a lot of money from the difference between what they pay for the drugs and what they charge insurers and government programs. Drug companies have also been accused of using discounts to influence doctors who buy themselves the drugs before they administer it to their patients. But things are going to change a little bit: for example, Southeast and Southwest insurers are looking to buy the drugs directly.

New York Facing Epidemic of Diabetes, Health Officials Say (January 25, 2003)
Like HIV, diabetes has the greatest disparities of race and class. 675,000 New York City residents have diabetes, although almost a third are unaware that they have the disease.

Medicare Officials Order End to Instructive Services (January 25, 2003)
A Medicare bulletin, issued on Dec. 24, 2002, told contractors how to save money in dealing with millions of beneficiaries including elderly people. Indeed, Congress has not decided how much money would be available to administer Medicare this year.

HealthSouth Review Panel Said to Have Been Chosen (January 25, 2003)
HealthSouth, the American largest chain of rehabilitation centers and hospitals, is expected to announce appointments to a committee formed to look at how the company is governed. Mr. Scrushy who started the company in the early 80’s sold stock actions lately. These moves are being investigating by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

High Court Reviews Drug Discounts for Uninsured (January 23, 2003)
Four years ago, Maine enacted a first-in-the-nation law to force drug makers to offe
r lower prices to uninsured persons. The Supreme Court will soon decide on a case on discount drugs with most people expecting the court to send it to the Medicaid administration. As the Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said: "Every state should have the flexibility and the power to be able to do what Maine would like to do".

Bush May Link Drug Benefit in Medicare to Private Plans (January 23, 2003)
After considering a lot of different options, the Bush administration is considering to increasing the role of private health plans in Medicare. This proposal would require that Medicare beneficiaries join a kind of government-subsidized private health insurance plan to obtain coverage of prescription drugs.

Prescription Offered to Stop Cuts in Medicare Fees (January 23, 2003)
Last year, hundreds of doctors across the country dropped their Medicare patients or refused to accept new ones, saying they could no longer afford to treat them. Now, Bush administration announces a new commitment for these professionals: further reductions in the fees they receive from the government for treating Medicare patients. Where can old people find a doctor to heal them?

Web Site Links Seniors to Drug Programs (January 22, 2003)
A new Web site program will help seniors find out which of the over 240 programs can help them save money on their prescriptions drugs. This is a project of the National Council of Aging. 

Forget About Forgetting (January 21, 2003)
« Look, snap, connect ». These basic skills extracted from Dr Gary Small’s book can help you to retain information and increase your memory.

Bush's Attack on Older Worker (January 20, 2003)
Here is US Congressman Bernie Sanders critical stance on the Bush’s administration pensions plans. After efforts to privatize Social security, Bush now proposes new IRS regulations that would allow corporations to “undertake a major raid on the pension benefits that older workers have accumulated.”

Scientists Study Why the Elderly Fall (January 20, 2003)
One in three people aged 65 and older falls each year. About 10,000 seniors a year actually die from them. Special exercises exist to improve balance and strength. People with thin bones should wear a hip protector, a padded cushion.

Commission to Urge Freezing Some Medicare Payments (January 19, 2003)
Ignoring health care providers’ alarm, a federal advisory panel will soon recommend that Congress freeze payments to nursing homes and home care agencies to save money. For example, the panel claims, payments to nursing homes and home health agencies appear "more than adequate" to cover the costs of treating Medicare patients according to this panel. Shouldn't they look at the profits rate of owners who keep wages low and conditions in many " homes" abysmal?

States Can Limit Emergency Access in Medicaid Cases (January 17, 2003)
States recognized their obligation to cover emergency care. But there is often a dispute over who should pay and what services are needed. Now the Bush administration has decided that states can place certain limits on coverage of emergency services “to facilitate more appropriate use of preventive care and primary care”. Should we expect higher death rates among those in the emergency room

State Argues for Broadening of Managed Care (January 15, 2003)
The 1994 Kentucky state law usurped the power of the federal government to regulate employee benefit plans according to Health Associations. The main question before the Supreme Court was whether the Kentucky law regulates insurance, as the state contends. The Bush administration supports the Kentucky position.

New Ideas Energize Alzheimer's Battle (January 14, 2003)
For years, the prevailing notion was that Alzheimer's was a disease of brain-cell death. But now, many researchers cite accumulating evidence that memory starts to fail long before brain cells die. Experts at the Gladstone Institute are studying a protein that may help protect the brain from dementia.

States Organizing a Nonprofit Group to Cut Drug Costs (January 14, 2003)
Health care spending is a major part of the financial problem the states face, and drugs are the fastest growing component. By managing their drug benefit programs themselves, the states intend to keep any drug company payments for themselves. They plan to use medical experts to help them determine the most cost effective.

I t's Never Too Late To Get In Shape (January 13, 2002)
Most experts recommend at least a half hour of moderate exercise on most days of the week. As said an 79 years old race walker woman : « All you need is your shoes. »

Most States Are Cutting Medicaid Benefits, Study Says (January 13, 2003)
Based on a Kaiser Family Foundation 50-state survey, researchers found that all states except Alabama have cut spending or plan to cut spending this year on Medicaid, 45 states plan tighter controls on payments for prescription drugs, 37 states plan to reduce or freeze payments to doctors and hospitals…. Cutting Medicaid spending is particularly painful for states because they have to forgo federal money with every Medicaid dollar they cut from state budgets. Can we expect even poorer health care for the poor in the US?  

Poverty Cited in Ark. Elderly Health Woes (January 8, 2003)
Communities with limited healthcare access in Arkansas suffer from a lack of adequate access to health care. Regardless of a patient's age, this can lead to important problems for the elderly. So, the Arkansas Aging Initiative will soon developing satellite centers throughout the state in order to better serve aged Arkansans.

Flu Surpasses AIDS As Killer in U.S. (January 8, 2003)
Government research shows that Influenza has surpassed AIDS as a lethal killer in the U.S. The U.S. flu-related death toll surged fourfold from 16,263 in 1976-77 to 64,684 in 1998-99. Older people realized too late the importance of flu vaccines. Moreover they are less effective among this most vulnerable part of population.

Elderly Linked to a Marked Rise in Flu Deaths (January 8, 2003)
Persuading older people to be vaccinated is a hard job but it is worth it: just 65 percent to 67 percent of people 65 and older are immunized. Flu deaths increased from 20,000 in the 90’s to 36,000 decade earlier.

Records Show Merck Unit Favored Its Parents' Drugs (January 8, 2003)
From 1995 to 1999, Medco Health Solutions, a Merck unit, gave favorable treatment to some of the Merck and Company’s most important drugs. Merck agreed already last month to pay $42.5 million to settle the suits. Medco is accused of violating fiduciary duties to customers by failing to disclose the extent of Medco's ties to Merck. The aim was to obtain discounts and rebates on behalf of employers and health plans. That’s what the records unsealed by a Judge of the Federal District Court tend to show. 

Spending on Health Care Increased Sharply in 2001 (January 8, 2003)
In 2001, health spending rose 8.7 percent, to $1.4 trillion, and accounted for 14.1 percent of the total economy, the largest share on record. The major reason for the increase in health spending was an increase in the amount of medical goods and services purchased to care for an aging population. Medicare increased payments also to providers such as hospitals, home health agencies and nursing homes. Will it intensify pressure on Congress to put health care to the top of its agenda? Or regulate profits on this vital part of the economy ? 

Bristol-Myers Squibb to Pay $670 Million to Settle Lawsuits (January 8, 2003)
Bristol-Myers Squibb had agreed to pay $670 million to settle numerous lawsuits because patients have been forced for months to buy the most expensive version of an anti-anxiety medicine, the BuSpar. As the New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer said the high cost of the settlement should send a message to the entire pharmaceutical industry that such actions would not be tolerated.

Being Fatter at 40 Can Shorten Life by 3 Years (January 7, 2003)
A new study conducted by Dutch researchers published in The Annals of Internal Medicine proves, what scientists have known for a long time but were unable to calculate, that nonsmokers who were classified as overweight, but not obese, lost an average of three years off their lives. Obese people died even sooner. Obese female nonsmokers lost an average of 7.1 years.

Congress Has Its Brain on Drug Benefits (January 7, 2003)
A drug benefit would cost at least $300 billion over ten years. Democrats want a program with strict price controls. Republicans want insurance companies to run things without price caps and only light guidance from bureaucrats…but the GOP is controlling the Congress.

Bristol Said to Be Close to Deal on Suits Over Generic BuSpar (January 7, 2003)
Lot of suits these days for Bristol-Mayers: Mylan and two other generic drug makers, dozens of state attorneys general and consumer groups…. filed against the drug maker. One of them is about the unavailability of a lower-price version for one of their drugs forcing patients to buy the expensive version. The amount has been evaluated to millions of dollars…

The $10 Billion Pill (January 6, 2003)
In its six years on the market, Lipitor has become the largest-selling pharmaceutical in history. Within the next few years it could very well become the world's first $10-billion-a-year drug.

Lonely seniors at greater risk of heart conditions (January 6, 2003)
A new Californian research assert that two specific aspects of elderly isolation - lack of emotional support and the absence of company - can provoke cardiovascular problems in the old person. The seniors who enjoy companionship and have many friends are less susceptible to suffer from cardiac problems.