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- Archives 2008 -

Healthcare Coverage
 | Drugs/Pharmaceuticals | Healthy Living


Medicare/Medicaid | Private Insurance/Other


Reports | Articles 


The Impact of the Financial Crisis on Older Americans (December 2008)
The current economic recession in the US is likely to be the worst since World War II. An AARP report suggests that the recession could be especially hard for vulnerable groups like the aged. The worst hit among the older Americans will be working people who lose their job and cannot find another one; lose money in the stock market and lose their health insurance. To assist the older population, the authors suggest increasing unemployment benefits and nutrition funds. The government should also increase funding to the states to avoid cuts in Medicaid and other social services. 

The Myth about the Medicaid Program and the People It Helps (November 2008)
This recently released fact sheet addresses common misconceptions about Medicaid, the nation’s largest health insurer. The authors claim that the program serves as an effective safety net for those who cannot afford health and long-term care. It covers one in five persons under age 65 with chronic disabilities, more than one quarter of children, one third of all births and well over two thirds of nursing home residents. But is it adequate?

Help, I've Fallen Into the Doughnut Hole and I Can't Get Up: The Problems with Medicare Part D (October 2008)
The Medicare Part D has been highly criticized, mostly because of the threat for seniors to “fall into the doughnut hole." This is the point at which insurance coverage for medications ends after the maximum allowance for the year has been spent. Insurance coverage begins again only when the person spends up to a level which is significantly higher than the covered amount. Since many older persons enrolled in the plan are still scraping along below the poverty line, the plan poses a major threat to the lives and health of many seniors. What can be done about it?

Facts on Health Care Spending and Costs (October 2008) 
Interested in how much the cost for health care grew in the past years? This fact sheet detail health care spending and costs on both national and individual levels in the US. The researchers also provide an overview of the issues driving health care costs and the opportunities for the government to control the growth of these costs. 

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Treatment of Dementia among Medicare Beneficiaries (September 2008)

Many previous studies have shown that there are differences in health care utilization between non-Hispanic white and minority elders. This study, which investigates the use of anti-dementia medication amongst non-Hispanic white and minority community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries, has similar findings. In addition, the racial/ethnic differences in the use of drugs to treat dementia are not accounted for by differences in demographic, economic, health status or health utilization factors.

Medicare Now and in The Future (September 2008)
Virtually all people aged 65 and over are covered by Medicare in the US. However, there are policy challenges facing the program, including the financing of care for future generations, assessing the role of private plans, improving the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit and keeping the Program's benefits affordable. This report, prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation, describes the present and future of Medicare and assesses the Presidential candidates' positions on Medicare issues.

Millions of Low-Income Americans Can't Get Medicaid: What Can Be Done? (September 2008)
The majority of adults in the US do not fit into any of the defined categories of people eligible for Medicaid. The report describes the characteristics of low-income uninsured adults who do not have access to Medicaid, highlights the impact of the lack of insurance on their health status and offers ways to provide greater access to Medicaid by this vulnerable group of low-income Americans. 

Examining Sources of Coverage Among Medicare Beneficiaries: Supplemental Insurance, Medicare Advantage, and Prescription Drug Coverage -- Findings from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, 2006 (August 2008)
The Kaiser Family Foundation prepared this chartpack showing the sources of supplemental and prescription drug coverage among Medicare Part D drug beneficiaries in 2006. Sources of such coverage vary by income, race/ethnicity, health status and other characteristics. In additional, the report compares the characteristics of enrollees of the traditional Medicare plan to those enrolled into Medicare Advantage plans. This chartpack will help everyone track how race and poverty impact older US citizens' in negative ways--- the long arm of discrimination. 

Characteristics and Perceptions of the Medicare Population: 2001-2005 (July 2008)
Researcher Maggie Murgolo presents the results of a national survey of enrollees in the Medicare program. The survey collected the information on social, economic, demographic characteristics of Medicare population, beneficiaries' health status, their health care services, costs and sources of payments. According to the report, Medicare beneficiaries are generally satisfied with their health care. 

Medicare Part D: Complaint Rates Are Declining, but Operational and Oversight Challenges Remain (July 2008)
Medicare Part D program offers voluntary outpatient prescription drug coverage to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. Under this program, CMS (the agency that administers the program) contracts private companies to provide benefits. This audit report prepared by the US Government Accountability Office investigates the beneficiaries' complaint rates for the past three years. Although complaint rates are declining, some aspect of the program's operation continues to pose challenges to its beneficiaries. 

An Assessment for Pay for Performance for Nursing Homes with Recommendations for Policy Makers (July 2008)
Many have recommended Payment for Performance (P4P) as the solution to the low efficiency and increasing costs of health care in the United States. Under P4P, the government can reward excellent service and penalize noncompliance to regulatory standards. P4P is a promising initiative that may standardize care across the country but can it curtail the seemingly limitless increase of health care costs? 

A Balancing Act: State Long-Term Care Reform (July 2008)
The authors of this report look at how states allocate Medicaid resources to home-based and institutional care. Currently, Medicaid is heavily biased in favor of institutional care, which both denies older persons their right to choose their personal care and is highly inefficient, as home-care costs one-third per person as much as institutionalized care. The report also finds great variation amongst the states and examines what steps states have taken to increase funding for home-based care.

Making Affordable Assisted Living a Reality: A White Paper for State Policy Makers (July 2008)
Affordable long term care (LTC) is not impossible to achieve. However, with current Medicaid policies, many older persons still face financial challenges. Many are forced to enter Nursing homes in order to obtain government subsidies that will support their spouses. Effective allocation of government funding and implementation of updated policies can solve this problem. In this report, the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) suggests several measures, including providing affordable housing and long term care through government trust funds and policy changes. 

Have Health Reformers Forgotten Medicare? (July 2008)
Congress is not considering any substantial reforms of Medicare system although there is a growing consensus in the United States that the system is flawed. If action is not taken now, Medicare may soon be “unable to fulfill the public's expectation of generous health coverage.

Medicare: Congress is Poised to Block Savings for Taxpayers and Seniors Alike (June 2008)
Under the current Medicare system, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which administers Medicare, must make Medicare payments based on a government system of administrative pricing. HHS is specifically not allowed to accept competitive bids for medical supplies. This non-competitive pricing system makes the government pay more for medical goods and services than under prevailing market prices. To remedy the situation, Congress passed a bill in 2003 authorizing HHS to create a competitive bid process for Medicare. This law, which will come into effect July 1, 2008, is estimated to lower Medicare prices by 26%, saving taxpayers up to $1 billion annually as well as seniors, who pay 20% of their Medicare costs. Unsurprisingly, medical supply companies prefer the non-competitive system and are furiously lobbying Congress to maintain the old system for at least another year. 

AOA's Nursing Home Diversion Program (May 2008)
The authors review the Older Americans Act (AOA) and the role of the Administration on Aging (AOA) in delivering home and community-based services. Lawmakers wanted the Administration on Aging to insure that older persons could (1) make informed choices about their long term care services, (2) access to expanded "prevention" programs to help the frail maintain themselves in the community and to (3) enjoy expanded choices and services for individuals at risk of institutionalization. The report highlights programs in West Virginia, New Hampshire and Kentucky.

Fixing Health Care in New Mexico: An AARP Survey of New Mexico Residents Age 50+ (May 2008) 
According to AARP sources, the health care changes in New Mexico impact many residents who want to be certain that health care services are affordable. Equally important, nearly 30 percent of the adult population currently has no health insurance, making it difficult to enter old age in top health. 

Out-of-Pocket Costs and Affordability of Medicare (May 2008)
In light of continuing increases in Medicare costs, AARP commissioned study on affordability of Medicare in the US. This time researchers surveyed more than 1,000 older Americans to ascertain their views on their current out-of-pocket health care costs and a proposed increase in Medicare Part B premiums. 

Improving the Medicare Savings Programs Would Help Low-Income Seniors Cope With Higher Medical Expenses (May 2008)
Out-of-pocket health care expenses were almost three times as high for seniors as for typical non-elderly adults in 2003. US Senators are currently discussing legislation that would delay a cut in Medicare physician payments scheduled for the end of June. The legislation will also include needed improvements to the Medicare Savings Programs which could significantly help Medicare beneficiaries pay their out-of-pocket health costs.

Medicare Premium Support Survey (May 2008)
Researchers asked US persons age 50 and older about the proposed increase in Medicare Part B premiums. Eight out of 10 said they were very worried about paying their current out-of-pocket health care costs. A majority considered any additional cost increase as very unfair. 

Medicare Part D 2008: Data Spotlight; Low-Income Subsidy Plan Availability (April 2008)
The authors of this report show that 21% of the persons eligible for the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS) do not receive this important subsidy. (The Medicare Part D drug benefit program provides premium and cost-sharing assistance to beneficiaries who qualify for the program’s Low Income Subsidy or LIS.) Unfortunately, the eligibility requirements are difficult to meet.

Health Care Costs Drive Up the National Retirement Risk Index (February 2008)
Studies show that forty-four percent of US households will be unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement even if they continue to work up to age 65 (which is above the current average retirement age) and annuitize their financial assets. This percentage increases dramatically once rapidly increasing health costs are included into the calculations. 

A Profile of Medicaid Institutional and Community-Based Long-Term Care Service Use and Expenditures Among the Aged and Disabled Using MAX 2002 (January 2008)
The study evaluates how Medicaid enrollees use community-based long-term care services and examines how such community-based services are used across the US. The results indicate significant variation in patterns of long-term care services use and expenditures in 37 states. 

Do We Know If Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans Are Special? (January 2008)
Enrollment in Medicare Special Needs Plans have doubled during the last year, but how do these plans actually perform in relation to other Medicare Advantage plans? SNPs are a new type of Medicare Advantage managed care plan limited to subgroups of Medicare beneficiaries in three categories: (1) those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid; (2) those who are institutionalized; and (3) those with severe or disabling chronic conditions. The researchers at Mathematica Policy Research ask if SNPs are doing anything special, and if so, how will we know? At this point, the jury is still out and the answers to these questions are not yet fully known.

Health Care Reform and Long Term Care: A Survey of AARP Members in New Mexico (January 2008)
One in five inhabitants of New Mexico lives without health care coverage. A survey of AARP members showed that 60% worry about whether they can afford health care. They said they would support “expanding health care for all even if it means an increase in taxes.”

Financing Medicare: An Issue Brief (January 2008)
The report provides an overview of how Medicare programs are financed and describes its financial challenges. Medicare program expenditures continue to grow steadily, reaching $440 billion in fiscal year 2007. This cost represents 16% of the total federal budget, exceeded only by Social Security benefits (21%) and military (19%) spending in 2007. 

Report: Modeling the Health and Medical Care Spending of the Future Elderly (2008)
The Future Elderly Model (FEM) is a demographic and economic model to predict future costs and health status for old persons. The FEM explores how Medicare costs affect health trends, medical innovations, reduction of chronic diseases, and the number of older persons who are obese. Although the FEM predicts an increase in Medicare spending, the model suggests that new health innovations will extend life. Researchers think that the FEM will shape health care and help governments prepare for the future of the elderly.


Feds Drop Dementia Funding (December 29, 2008)
Although there is a growing need for long-term care for advanced dementia patients, the price for caring for these patients has increased to such an extent that the budget shortfall in Washington State will prevent psychiatric hospitals from providing the necessary care. In the past, Medicare and Medicaid covered these expenses, but recent cuts to federal aid programs will affect how many people will receive the care they need. Western State Hospital in Washington State admits dementia patients to their psychiatric ward for short-term stays, but ends up keeping them longer because they cannot be discharged without arrangements in place for proper continued treatment. Other long-term care facilities will not take them. State officials are working on a plan to provide incentives for long-term care facilities to take dementia patients, which will free up beds in the psychiatric wards of hospitals. 

More Seniors Look for Cheaper Medicare Drug Plans (December 8, 2008) 
Every year since 2006, Florida’s Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders program, SHINE, has helped seniors understand their Medicare Part D's prescription drug plan options. The SHINE volunteers set up shop at the Social Security Administration building, local churches and retirement communities to help seniors choose and sign up for one of the drug plans. Fifty-four are available in 2009. This year, more seniors are looking for cheaper drug plans because their monthly premium and deductible have increased. Enrollees have also been asking for help in areas that have nothing to do with Medicare.

States Ask Feds for Health Care Help with Medicaid and SCHIP (December 3, 2008) 
As the economy worsens, states are seeing boosts in enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) while they struggle with their own fiscal problems. In order to prevent cutting benefits and people from these programs, they are asking for relief from the federal government. “Medicaid and SCHIP are on the brink of deteriorating. The question is, “are we going to step up and inject money into those programs so they can work during the downturn, or are we going to let them deteriorate?” asks Jocelyn Guyer, deputy executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. 

For Your Benefit: Picking the Wrong Medicare Drug Option Can Be Costly. Here Are Tips for Choosing Wisely (December 1, 2008)
Medicare's prescription drug benefit is designed to help older US citizens reduce their spending on medications. Nevertheless, the program's complex structure and varied options can lead to costly mistakes. About 26 million of the 44 million beneficiaries of Medicare signed up for the drug benefit. It provides government-subsidized coverage of prescription drugs through private insurers and is available through drug-only plans or health plans that cover drugs. Anticipating that the most popular plans are raising premiums in 2009, the article includes six tips from health-policy analysts and advocates for ways to choose a drug plan that is most advantageous.

Medicare Coverage Gap Vexes Patients, Survey Says (November 18, 2008)
A survey taken of Medicare Part D recipients revealed a gap in knowledge about their policy benefits. Many policyholders do not understand the “coverage gap” during which beneficiaries are responsible for covering the full cost of their prescription medications. Once a beneficiary’s drug costs reach a limit, they are expected to pay up to a certain amount before the coverage can resume. Many senior patients are unaware of the “coverage gap” costs. Many patients in the gap require expensive medications to treat chronic diseases. This feature of the Medicare Part D is unfortunate and unfair for seniors. Some may not have the financial resources needed to assure their prescription needs are covered. 

Half the Senior Citizens in Medicare Drug Plans Could Have Saved Money with Better Choice (November 13, 2008)
According to a survey by CVS pharmacy, 50% of the senior citizens in the Medicare Drug Program would have saved over $250 this year if they had selected a plan that better fits their situation. Now the drug retailer has joined forces with the National Council on Aging to assist and encourage older persons to take the time to find the best plan possible during an open enrollment period. The project also includes educating seniors on how to identify the right Medicare prescription drug plan at the most affordable cost. 

Seniors Need to Do Research to Get the Best Medicare Drug Program (November 6, 2008) 
Starting November 15 and continuing until December 31, seniors who have been participating in the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D) can remain in their existing plan or switch coverage to a new company. Seniors who have a Medicare D Plan should make sure they enroll in the right plan for their particular needs. Since changes to the prescription drug plan can be made only once a year, it is highly advisable for them to use this opportunity to make changes if needed. 

Medicaid Picture Changing Rapidly for Senior Citizens Holding Annuities (November 5, 2008)
In many cases annuities are considered an ‘available asset’ and are counted as part of an applicant’s financial resources. Due to the Deficit Reduction Act this may no longer apply to Medicaid beneficiaries. The Deficit Reduction Act provides states with the tools to tighten eligibility requirements to Medicaid benefits, especially as these requirements relate to annuities. The article provides assistance in understanding annuities. Many financial planners and law attorneys for the elderly have counseled seniors that they can qualify for Medicaid and hold onto their assets simply by purchasing annuities. 

Medicare Officials to Review Insurers' Commissions (October 25, 2008)
In the Medicare system, older persons can enroll in private insurance plans that assume responsibility for covering a participant's health benefits. The so-called Medicare Advantage program receives a generous government subsidy. This means that company agents often aggressively enroll beneficiaries into plans that do not meet their health needs just to obtain financial reward. Federal health officials will now address growing concerns about the lucrative commissions that some Medicare insurers plan to pay their agents and brokers this year.

Medicaid Spending Will Join Medicare in Out Running the Economy in Years Ahead (October 19, 2008) 
For the first time, the US government spotlighted Medicaid, a program critical to millions of older persons. According to a new annual report of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicaid benefits spending is expected to substantially outpace the rate of growth in the US economy within the next 10 years. As a consequence, states are less able to fund other state priorities. This clearly confirms that the US health care system is facing a significant fiscal challenge. 

Medicare Won't Pay for Hospital-Care Blunders (October 7, 2008)
Under a new Medicare policy, hospitals will no longer receive reimbursement for preventable medical errors occurring during a hospital stay. Such errors have cost the government billions of dollars and caused thousands of deaths every year. By introducing this new policy, the government is holding hospitals to a higher standard of care and turning attention to preventive practices. The objective is to provide better care for patients. 

Medicare Expands its Crackdown on Fraud (October 7, 2008)
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are implementing measures to protect the elderly from fraudulent medical supplies companies and home health care agencies that take advantage of their more vulnerable consumers. These protective measures involve more thorough background checks on suppliers and agencies, unannounced inspections and effective oversight of the delivery of equipment to seniors. It is hoped these new initiatives will reduce fraudulent activity by suppliers and agencies that the elderly depend on for medical equipment and care services, respectively.

Millions in Federal Health-Care Dollars Could Be Saved By CRC Screening Before Medicare Eligibility Age (October 7, 2008) 
A screening program for colon cancer in patients starting ten years prior to Medicare eligibility, at age 55 instead of Medicare's 65, would save at least two dollars for every dollar spent. As people get older their risk of developing cancer increases. However Medicare coverage for most Americans begins at age 65, creating a coverage gap. In order to determine the effect of a lack of health coverage on screening and the cost effectiveness of screening uninsured patients the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn offered free colonoscopies.

Medicare Stops Paying Hospitals for Harming Patients Starting Today (October 1, 2008)
New federal regulations restrict Medicare payments to hospitals for the extra care required to treat patients suffering from certain hospital acquired infections and medical errors. The rules aim to provide hospitals with a financial incentive to improve patient care. Furthermore the new regulations include protections to prevent hospitals from billing patients when payments are withheld and to minimize avoidance of patients perceived to be at risk for infections.

Medicaid Long-Term Health Care Costs to Soar In US (September 29, 2008) 
US annual Medicaid expenditures for long-term care for elderly and disabled people under the Medicaid health insurance program will total $3.7 trillion in the next two decades. $1.6 trillion is projected to be spent by individual US States and $2.1 trillion in federal money. According to America's Health Insurance Plans Industry Group, Medicaid spending for long-term care will expand at a faster rate than overall US health care spending, Medicare expenditures and the overall economy. The rising costs are particularly due to a huge number of baby boomers who are reaching the retirement age quickly.

HHS Sends $36 Million to States to Help Alzheimer’s Patients, Seniors, Veterans Stay at Home (September 29, 2008)
The HHS funding is specifically designed to reach people who are not eligible for Medicaid, but who are at high risk of nursing home placement. In collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services tries to target particularly Alzheimer’s patients, seniors and veterans. The program will also offer consumers more control over their long-term care, including the ability to determine the types of services they receive and the manner in which they receive them, including the option of hiring their own care workers. 

Medicaid Patients Get More Authority to Direct Personal Care in Some States (September 29, 2008)
A new Medicaid rule, which becomes effective on November 3, allows some Medicaid beneficiaries to take charge of their own personal assistance services like bathing, preparing meals, household chores and other related services. Beneficiaries could even hire qualified family members who may already be familiar with the individual’s needs. The guidelines apply to states that adopt the self-directed personal assistance services option for their programs. The beneficiaries could either have their cash benefit allotment managed for them or receive a cash allowance to hire their own workers to help.

Poor People, Those on Medicaid Are Much Slower to Arrive at Hospital after Heart Attack (September 22, 2008) 
Patients who receive medical treatment in a timely manner tend to have better outcomes after a heart attack. However, the time elapsed between the onset of symptoms and arrival at the hospital as well as pre-treatment delay times have not improved over the years. Patients with Medicaid, and those who live in neighborhoods with lower household incomes, are less likely than others to reach the hospital within two hours. Reducing socio-economic and insurance disparities in pre-treatment delay is critical since excess delay time may hinder effective care.

The Cost, Choices of Health Care in Final Months (September 19, 2008)
There are five primary ways people cover the cost of care in the final months of life: Medicare (ages 65 and over and those with disabilities), Medicaid (for low-income people), insurance, out-of-pocket and unpaid care by family and friends. The use of medical care in the last months of life varies enormously depending on the geographic location. A comparison of Miami, Florida and Portland, Oregon is described in the article. 

No Rise in Monthly Medicare Premiums for 2009 (September 19, 2008)
For the first time since 2000, Medicare's standard Part B monthly premium in 2009 will remain the same as in 2008 for the vast majority of old people and disabled. In addition, the 2009 Part B deductible will be the same as this year. Medicare's Part B program covers a portion of the cost of physicians' services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, and durable medical equipment. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced that the Part A deductible will rise in 2009. It covers hospital and nursing home care. About 99 percent of beneficiaries do not pay a monthly charge for that coverage, but they will pay a deductible when admitted to a hospital.

Advertising by Insurers Favors Medicare Advantage Over Stand-Alone Drug Plans (September 16, 2008) 
Recently a new Kaiser Family Foundation investigation was carried out concerning Medicare Advantage plans. Results indicated that, in 2007, insurance companies placed three times more advertisements to promote Medicare Advantage plans than they did to promote stand-alone Medicare drug plans. Also, expenditures differed enormously--an estimated $30.1 million and $13.7 million, respectively. Other key findings of the study referred to the contents of the advertisements such as the specific type of plan, the images and the restrictions and limitations.

US Bans Free Meals, Cold Calls for Medicare Pitches (September 15, 2008) 
The US government recently prohibited unsolicited sales calls and free meals for Medicare promotional pitches. The bans are to protect beneficiaries from deceptive or high-pressure marketing tactics by insurance companies. Companies that break the new rules could face penalties of up to $25,000 for each person that was harmed or might have been harmed by the practices.

Critics: Medicare Helpline Not So Helpful (September 11, 2008)
Some seniors have learned the hard way that the Medicare hotline is not so helpful. Elderly callers have been given inaccurate information by poorly trained representatives and are being put on hold for close to one hour. An investigation conducted by a Senate committee revealed that 90 per cent of the time, Medicare hotline services could not answer questions or provide accurate information. 

Largest US Hospice Member Organization Files Suit Against Bush Administration (September 5, 2008)
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is attempting to stop a proposal to cut Medicare reimbursement rates for hospice care. Despite independent research that shows that hospice care saves the Medicare system an average of $2,300 per patient, the Bush administration wants to cut hospice reimbursement by almost $2.2 billion. More than 1.3 million Americans received hospice care from the nation’s hospice providers last year.

Medicare’s Troubling Drug Gap (September 2, 2008) 
The new Medicare drug program is confusing and costly. For millions of beneficiaries, it is also disappointing. Congress crafted gaps in coverage, such as the so-called "doughnut hole," in order to limit federal spending on the drug benefit. It forces patients who had been getting their drugs cheaply to suddenly pay the full price out of pocket. Beneficiaries with chronic diseases are particularly affected, and as a consequence stop taking their medication, skip doses or even switch to a cheaper but less effective drug. 

Overriding (President George) Bush Veto to Save Original Medicare (August 23, 2008)
Medicare's reform bill is intended to save the nation's health care system. After a dramatic battle, the President's veto was over-ruled by Congress, saving and transforming the traditional Medicare health care system. The bill not only stops a substantial cut in doctor's fees but also offers low-income beneficiaries adequate funding for individual health care programs. With Congress taking the first step to amend the nation's health care, Medicare may be able to offer more to both seniors and their doctors.

Hospitals on Edge about New Medicare Rules (August 23, 2008)
Hospitals have been placed under more pressure following Medicare's new stringent compensation rules. Patients who suffer from bedsores and other afflictions during their stay will be exempt from reimbursement by Medicare, as these ailments are deemed as hospital errors. These new rules will place more of an onus on hospital staff to improve caregiver quality. As insurance companies are now currently reviewing this policy, hospitals are facing the task of meticulously inspecting patients before and after treatment to minimize costs. 

Voters View Home Care As A Solution To Rising Medicare Spending (August 19, 2008)
Through national telephone surveys, the American Association for Homecare has found that a majority of US voters feel that home care is a viable solution for the Medicare crisis. Both US presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain agree on the need for Medicare to be more cost-effective. Home healthcare will allow seniors to maintain their autonomy and delay institutionalization by allowing them to age in place, which may ultimately improve their overall quality of life. 

Candidates Soft On Medicare On The Trail (August 19, 2008)
Medicare has been a perpetual hot topic in presidential campaigns, but due to the current state of the US economy, both presidential candidates are avoiding the topic of fiscally strengthening the federal healthcare program. Although Barack Obama and John McCain have differing views on how the Medicare crisis should be handled, Global Action on Aging believes that seniors must continue to have access to healthcare, a human right.

Confront Rising Drug Prices (August 12, 2008)
Drug prices in the United States have risen to incredulous levels. Some prescription drug prices have gone up by over 100 percent and a few over 1,000 percent. This means that many Americans are increasingly deprived of the medicine they need, while government spending on health care balloons. The government should be given the right to negotiate drug prices to keep costs down. If implemented, estimates suggest $90 billion savings every year. Why should older persons have to guarantee the high profit margins of pharmaceutical companies?


Payment for Performance in Nursing Homes (August 11, 2008)
Last week, Global Action on Aging published a report on the Long-Term Care Community Coalition’s (LTCCC) assessment of payment for performance (P4P) in long-term care. P4P seems to be a promising initiative and a possible answer to the lack of accountability in the health care industry. However, will this new system be able to tackle ever-increasing costs of care? Do we have alternatives? 


Medicare Expands Online Health Records Programs (August 10, 2008)
US patients will now have the opportunity to access their health records online. The records will contain patient data from Medicare records and will allow individuals to share information with physicians and other healthcare providers. The huge increase in health information technology is a major step forward in patient interaction. With technology tycoons such as Microsoft and Google endorsing digital health record systems, this signals a new era in health care.

Medicare Approves Fake Suppliers of Wheelchairs, Prosthetics (August 4, 2008)
Bogus medical equipment companies have cheated Medicare prompting the US government to set up fake companies to detect weaknesses in the Medicare billing system. With fraudulence a past experience and a future possibility, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are now implementing new stringent requirements for all medical suppliers.


Medicare Part D a Boon for Drug Companies, House Report Says (July 25, 2008)
While senior's have found obtaining prescription drugs through Medicare's privatized program Part D costly, US drug companies have reaped large profits. In contrast, Medicaid offers the same drugs at a far lower cost to seniors, and far lower profit to pharmaceuticals. Unsurprisingly, Republicans support expanding privatization while Democrats oppose it. Greater efforts need to be made to justify levying such hefty costs on seniors for necessary drugs.


Medicare Moves to Limit Costs in Drug Plans: Some Benefit Managers Charge More than Cost at Pharmacy, Boosting Expense for Patients (July 22, 2008)
Some pharmacy-benefit managers (PBMs) contracted by private Medicare insurers are involved in lock-in pricing schemes. PBMs negotiate for lower drug prices from pharmacies, but charge Medicare enrollees extra. Private insurance companies pay small fixed amounts; the ‘gaps’ created are covered by the government and the enrollee, increasing costs for both. ‘Gaps’ could reach above $100 for every prescription. The government is working on new policies to curb this avaricious scheme. However, intense lobbying with legislators seems to stall progress. 


Texas Senators Say They Would Override a Veto on Medicare Legislation (July 11, 2008)
On Thursday, US Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas voted to override the President’s veto after reviewing the reality of what the bill means for all Medicare patients. Both Senators voted for the bill after feeling pressured that doctors could refuse to see Medicare patients as a result. Although faced with much opposition from the White House, it seems that passing the bill is inevitable, leaving many more Americans hopeful for a better quality of life.


White House Vows Veto of Medicare Bill (July 11, 2008)
Democrats and Republicans still oppose the Medicare bill to cut doctors’ fees. The proposed bill affects 44 million seniors. Doctors warn that limits will be imposed for the number of patients treated if the bill collapses. It appears that there are enough votes to override a possible veto by President Bush.


Medicare: What's Good for Old People? (July 10, 2008) 
During the last three weeks, legislators convened to ratify a bill that will divert funds from private insurance companies to prevent fee cuts for doctors. Based on the arguments of the two parties, seniors seem to face a “lose-lose” situation. Vying groups argue that access to healthcare will be impeded. On Wednesday, July 9, 2008, the bill was ratified in Congress. However, looking at the percentage enrolled with private insurance companies, the bill, in the short term, may be beneficial to older people. 


Kennedy Back in Senate to Approve Medicare Bill (July 10, 2008)
Wednesday, July 9, 2008, the Senate ratified the controversial Medicare bill, preventing a cut in the fees paid to doctors. The cuts will be pushed off another 18 months, allowing Medicare doctors to accept new Medicare patients. However, the government cut the funds for paying private insurers. Democrats credit the victory to Senator Edward Kennedy who voted at the session, despite undergoing recent brain surgery. 


Report Links Dead Doctors to Payments by Medicare (July 9, 2008)
Congressional investigators have recently uncovered a Medicare scam. Suppliers had been using the identification numbers of deceased doctors to obtain payments from the government. Many of these fraudulent activities remained largely undetected, costing the government between $60-92 million. Unfortunately, the government has no reliable system to identify claims made through deceased doctors. Worse, in some cases, doctors were colluding with suppliers. 


Doctors Press Senate to Undo Medicare Cuts (July 7, 2008)
Congress is again reviewing Medicare after recent radio and television advertisements clamoring for Congress to pay out payments due to physicians who care for the elderly. The American Medical Association (AMA) stated that doctors have experienced a 10.6 percent cut in payments. The Senate is now urging its Republican members to vote for the recent bill that will prevent these pay cuts in the future.


The Senate Stalls on Medicare (July 5, 2008)
The White House and Republican Senators have discarded a new Medicare bill that is intended to benefit millions of patients and improve health care plans for the future. Senate Republicans are adamant about protecting private plans. As Medicare is in deep financial trouble. US Citizens should urge their Senate representatives to protect a public system so vital to the country’s health.


Some Medicare Benefits Might Fall, Co-pays Rise: Fee-for-service 'Advantage' Plans Would Change Under House-passed Bill, Affecting 100,000 in Pennsylvania (July 5, 2008)
The pending Medicare bill may spell trouble for beneficiaries if passed. According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national trade association, policyholders benefiting from Medicare Advantage may be at risk for a reduction in benefits. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act lacked a majority of votes within the Senate and remains a pending bill. The bill is intended to offset the reductions in physician reimbursements, which have been generating a great deal of strife between healthcare providers and the government. As long as the US healthcare system remains fragmented, consumers will suffer the consequences.


The Housing Crash and the End of Granny Bashing (June 24, 2008)
David Walker, the former Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office, has concluded that US health care costs are out of control. For the money citizens pay, they get very little in return. More and more money will be needed to support retirees as their numbers increase. This is a long-term problem requiring serious solutions, not accusations that the “granny” generation is costing too much.


Settlement to Ease Drug Costs for Some on Medicare (June 20, 2008)
New medical protection may give new hope for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. The Bush Administration has promised this proposed settlement to help those who have difficulty obtaining the medications they need. Stay tuned.


Doctors Say Medication Is Overused in Dementia (June 23, 2008)
“My mother was screaming and out of it, drooling on herself and twitching,” said Ms. Lamascola, describing her mother’s reaction to treatment with antipsychotic drugs. The sales for antipsychotic drugs aimed to tamp down agitation and combative behavior in dementia patients have soared in the US. However, instead of prescribing these drugs as a last resort, doctors often overuse them. Read the story of Ms. Lamascola, who believed “she was losing her 88-year old mother to dementia. Instead, she was losing her to overmedication.”


Suppliers Fight Plan to Cut Medicare's Equipment Costs (June 10, 2008)
In 2003, the US government opted for a bidding system among medical equipment suppliers to offer cheaper prices to older consumers. Beginning July 1, the new competitive bidding system in ten metropolitan areas will take only bids from accredited suppliers. Many predict that this new system will save the government over one hundred million dollars in Medicare spending and ensure high quality products to Medicare beneficiaries.


Silver Alert: For When Elders Go Missing (May 12, 2008) 
In the US, some 5.2 million people suffer from dementia. Also, researchers have learned that six out of 10 of people with dementia will wander. They often cannot find their way back home and sometimes die before they can be rescued. However, the Silver Alert program helps caregivers find lost elders. This system exists in only six States. Now many communities are demanding a national wide implementation program. 

Elderly In Long-term Care Setting Suffer Depression More Than Those Cared For At Home (May 9, 2008)
Indiana State student researchers interviewed 272 elders, with an average age of 81 years to learn about their experience with depression. Often patients who live in a Long Term Care facility reported feeling depressed and some 30 percent said that they took prescribed antidepressants at the facility. On the other hand, only 11 percent of the residents in a home-care setting took anti-depressants. The researchers would like to find out more about patterns of anti-depressant use.


El Paso, Texas, Region Can Serve as 'Model' for Minority Health Care, Opinion Piece States (May 05, 2008)
The population in the El Paso, Texas, area is 80% Hispanic. This region can serve as a model to the rest of the country in the way it provides quality health care to a diverse community. There are clear disparities among minority groups that lead to higher rates of chronic disease and death, simply because adequate care is not available in this Mexican border area. Experts suggest that the US move away from national reforms and focus on what is needed locally.


Medicare Plans Affected by Rising Drug Costs (April 19, 2008)

Since 2006, drug companies have raised the price of specialty medications that seniors use, due to an overall increase in drug prices. Many Medicare Part D plans require policyholders to pay a certain percentage of the cost of a specialty drug. Once patients reach a cap on out-of-pocket spending, the percentage of their payments is reduced while the proportion paid by the federal government increases. According to a Harvard-based study, this practice puts a strain on the federal budget.  


Medicare Data Should Stay Private, Government Says in Appeal: The Bush Administration Wants to Keep Limits on Healthcare Records that Could be Used to Rate Doctors (April 19, 2008)

The Bush administration has used a court appeal to keep Medicare billing records confidential. Consumer groups, health insurance companies and healthcare employers are demanding a release of these records that will inform the public of physicians’ track records. Physicians, on the other hand, support the appeal because it will protect their information. They say it can be misleading and misconstrued because statistics do not accurately represent doctors’ skills. If the information is released, presumably, Medicare patients can compare hospitals and other care facilities and come to their own conclusions about a “good doctor.”


Crisis Ahead for Elderly Health Care? (April 14, 2008)
Millions of US elders may not receive proper health care in the next three decades. An alarming report issued by the Institute of Medicine warns that the United States “faces a massive health care shortage” due to lack of geriatricians and nurses trained to care for older persons in the country.


When a Mind Begins to Disappear: A Young Family's Journey to the Dark Side (April 11, 2008) 
This sad story is worthy of reflection. Alzheimer’s is mostly defined as an illness of elderly people. But the number of those suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s come to about 500,000 in the US. For persons with families, this situation dramatically affects the future of the family, including their economic security.

Crisis of Age Requires Cure (April 5, 2008)
Every day 6,000 Americans turn 65. The Baby Boomer population now reaching retirement age foretells a critical situation about the availability of medical care. More and more older people will need support and care but few medical students want to specialize in geriatrics. Geriatrician Mark Lachs speaks about that problem is this article and how important it is to consider the implications. The idea of aging is not particularly a topic of interest to young people, making it difficult to raise awareness of the impending crisis. 

Gov't Raises Payments to Health Insurers (April 7, 2008)
The US government has proposed a payment increase to private insurance companies participating in the Medicare Advantage program starting next year. This proposed 3.6% increase in payments is intended to be an incentive for companies to improve their services to attract new enrollees. Democrats oppose these payment increases, arguing that the Medicare Advantage program is costing the government more than traditional Medicare. Unions and consumer groups are appealing to Congress to end bonus subsidies to private insurers, but President Bush is determined to veto any cuts to these bonus payments. 


Care for Elderly Ill Costliest in N.Y., New Jersey, California (April 7, 2008)
With 23% of Medicare beneficiaries suffering from 5 or more chronic illnesses, medical bills are stacking up. Studies have found that the average cost of medicals bills of New York, New Jersey and California elders exceeds the national average by 20%. A Medicare expenditure of $81,143 on an elderly Manhattan resident in the last two years of his or her life compares to only $29,116 spent for the same care in Dubuque, Iowa. 


Doctors May Limit Patients After Change in Medicare (April 1, 2008)
Hundreds of doctors will gather in Washington D.C. to rally against the proposed cuts in Medicare payments that will affect how much doctors will be paid for their services. Expenses for doctors seeing Medicare patients are increasing and the practitioners expect to be paid accordingly. Instead of paying doctors the appropriate fees, the US government is redirecting funds to private insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage programs. The article argues that the government needs to stop the cuts in Medicare payments to doctors before a shortage of doctors caring for Medicare patients becomes dire in the US.


Getting Out of a Nursing Home Just Got Harder (March 24, 2008)
The US government recently implemented new restrictions on Medicaid funding that will require recipients to coordinate their various medical services through “targeted case management.” These restrictions are suggested to have a negative impact on seniors in nursing homes. Per the new policy, states will receive federal Medicaid reimbursement for providing targeted case management for 60 days instead of the former 160 days, which gave nursing home residents more time to seek independent housing. Residents with disabilities and chronic health problems may find it more difficult to get back on their feet after institutionalization and most likely will need more than 60 days.


(Montana Senator Max) Baucus Tackles Cuts in Subsidies for Medicare Advantage (March 23, 2008)

Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who is also chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, hopes to cut subsidies for private insurance companies selling Medicare Advantage plans. The subsidies for the Advantage plans cost the US treasury additional tens of billions along with to traditional Medicare fees. While private insurance companies administering certain Medicare services are being overpaid, seniors are paying more for these services and physicians are not being paid enough. Over 10 percent of the subsidies for private insurance companies go toward marketing and profit rather than physician fees. 

Congress Rejects Medicare, Medicaid Cuts (March 14, 2008)
President Bush proposed cuts to Medicare spending that could have caused some New Jersey hospitals to cut back on services or close altogether. However, both Democratic and Republican members of Congress rejected the proposal. On March 14, Congress voted to adopt a budget for 2009 and the House voted for its version of the budget plan. While Democrats suggest their plan will increase spending on education and health care, Republicans oppose it. Congress will ultimately have the final say on federal spending and will work on a budget resolution over the next few months.

Heart-Device Hacking Risks Seen (March 12, 2008)
Researchers from Medtronic learned that it is possible for hackers to shock, shut down your heart or publish personal medical information. This is possible through interference with radio waves used to control defibrillators. These machines are used to 
restart the heart with an electrical jolt. It is important to know that this is only a theoretical risk.

Deadline Looms for Medicare Choice (March 9, 2008)
This article offers advice for seniors to consider before the March 31 deadline for changing Medicare program plans. Some individuals have experienced health benefits from Silver Sneakers, a senior exercise program that is part of the Humana Medicare Advantage plan. Seniors are advised to remain with their current plan if their medical care is complicated and they already have an established team of health care providers. Consider asking your doctor for advice and looking at costs and types of treatments covered and how many area healthcare providers exist within the plan’s network. Also, take precautions against fraudulent plans.

Exercise Promoted in Nursing Homes (March 9, 2008)
Due to numerous studies showing the health benefits of exercise for the elderly, physical fitness is being promoted in nursing homes. Such benefits include increase in muscle mass, improved posture and balance and the promotion of healing wounds. Exercise is usually not part of nursing home activities, but should be included in the daily regimen of care to meet the physical fitness needs of most residents. Linda Thurston, who formed the Senior Fitness Movement in Ohio, engages seniors in physical activity that promotes positive health outcomes. 

More Prescriptions, Greater Confusion: Medications Improve the Lives of Seniors, but Errors in Taking Them can be Lethal (March 9, 2008)
Medication mismanagement often leads to hospitalizations of older persons. A single senior can be prescribed a variety of medications to treat various medical conditions. But sometimes the drugs’ effects may be antagonistic to other medications, leading to serious health risks. Seniors are also more likely to administer their medications incorrectly, either taking too much or not enough, ending up in emergency situations. It is important for caregivers and home health aides to carefully monitor the drug intake of older persons who cannot manage on their own.

Early Onset Alzheimer's On The Rise (March 8, 2008)
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to reach sixteen million by 2050, tripling the current total. As the number rises, the age of onset among those affected will be lower. Early onset Alzheimer’s is becoming more prominent, affecting individuals in their early 50’s. Some people have a genetic disposition to Alzheimer’s and should be aware of their family’s medical history. 

Kohl Reacts To AHIP's Most Recent Pledge To Clean Up Sales And Marketing Tactics Of Medicare Advantage Plans (March 05, 2008)
In 2007, America's Health Insurance Plans, a political advocacy group that works with more than a thousand health insurance companies, pledged to stop selling confusing Medicare plans to the elderly. Members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging are skeptical of the company’s ability to clean up its act and are looking into other ways to reduce problems in the health system. A bill, proposed last year, would move responsibility for healthcare out of the hands of the federal government and make individual states the sole champions of regulating and standardizing a state system. Perhaps taking the profit out healthcare would help.

Massachusetts Hospitals Win Suit on Medicare: Reimbursement Must Be Refigured (February 29, 2008)
Hospitals in Massachusetts are winning the battle in a long-running dispute with Medicare. The federal government has been ordered to pay $200 million in reimbursement fees to all sixty-two hospitals involved because the government used the wrong wage index. Medicare officials are disappointed with the decision and are studying the case further to explore other options.

Congress Seeks Parity for Medicare Bills (February 29, 2008)
The US Congress has pressured Medicare to change Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to a single payment unit for Medicare Advantage plans. Payments made to private managed care plans differ from county to county, producing dispazities based on statistical information used to assess local communities. A larger unit system is currently under review.

Honeywell Lobbied on Medicare Issues (February 28, 2008)
International manufacturer Honeywell, with the support of former government officials, lobbied against the federal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), about issues of reimbursement. 

Hospitals Say Medicare Law Won't Spur Changes (February 22, 2008)
A new Medicare law enacted to stop reimbursing hospitals for treating preventable errors will not have a major effect on some institutions as believed, local hospital officials claim. The article suggests the most important problem within hospitals is urinary tract infection from catheters. Hospitals that have a low rate of problems follow stringent regulations, including training a central line team to adhere strictly to protocols, implementing an aggressive hand washing policy, using unique colored clothing to identify patients at risk for falls and putting in new mattresses to reduce the occurrence of bed sores. 

Maine’s Aging Boomers: Who Will Pay for Long-term Care (February 19, 2008)
As Maine is on the verge of a 'baby boomer' wave, employees at long-term care facilities are feeling the strain caused from inadequate funding from MaineCare, Maine's state Medicaid program. The industry has improved overall wages, created more categories of workers and offered better compensation for more skilled and educated workers in an attempt to ease the strain. In spite of funding issues, a customer satisfaction survey commissioned by Maine Health Care Association found that 91% of relatives of health care patients rated the care as 'good' or 'excellent.'

Medicare Won't Pay Hospitals for Errors (February 18, 2008)
Medicare will reject payments for errors caused by hospital staff. In some cases, patients have had surgical sponges left in their bodies after operations and the list of errors is constantly growing. Private insurance giants such as Aetna are pressuring hospitals to assume responsibility for these costs generated by preventable errors. Next year, Medicare will impose a move to add three more errors to the “no-pay” list and asserts that this will reduce government spending by $190 million over a five-year period. Hospitals claim to monitor these issues closely to prevent such errors from arising in the future.

Senate Finance Committee Bans American Medical Association From Medicare Reform Bill Talks (February 15, 2008)
The American Medical Association (AMA) is pushing for an increase in physician payments while the Senate Finance Committee wants to cut physician fees. However, Congress has banned the AMA from taking part in these discussions due to its failure to comply with a confidentiality agreement about Medicare talks last year. At this point, Congress is the legislative authority that can intervene to stop the cuts.

To Boost Medicare, Cut Industry Giveaways (February 15, 2008)
In this opinion piece, the author suggests that legislative decisions made under the Bush administration have seriously jeopardized the stability of Medicare, considered one of the most effective public programs in the nation’s history to date. The author argues that Medicare assures medical services for seniors who would otherwise have difficulty obtaining them via private insurance. Furthermore, the introduction of Medicare Part D in 2003 is hindering, rather than helping, seniors acquire their medications. The Bush administration is eating away at the heart of Medicare.

Medicare Orders Health Net to Stop Selling Orange Drug Plans (February 15, 2008)
Health Net Inc., one of the largest US health insurers, offers prescription drug plans to seniors. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) have ordered the company to halt marketing and enrollment in its drug plans due to violations of federal regulations. This CMS decision is part of the larger attempt to enforce proper conduct among insurers to prevent seniors from becoming victims of marketing abuse. Medicare officials have ordered Health Net, Inc., one of the largest publicly traded health insurers in the nation, to stop marketing its “Health Net Orange” prescription drug plans.

O'Malley to Unveil CareFirst (BlueCross BlueShield) Program: CareFirst Pledges to Plug Medicare Drug Gap in Maryland (February 15, 2008)

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has proposed a partnership with CareFirst, a BlueCross BlueShield program, to help seniors pay for prescription drugs. The program is intended to cover the gap left by the Medicare prescription drug program. CareFirst will provide enough coverage to spare the State any costs. Lower-income seniors will be covered by the program, which is intended to reduce the number of uninsured elderly.

Need for Geriatric Nurses Growing (February 2, 2008)

A growing elderly population has created a demand for geriatric nurses in the Upper Midwest region of the US. Regional colleges have developed a program to provide resources to improve geriatric nursing education based on a Hartford Foundation grant. The funding will also be used to increase the number of quality faculty within those academic institutions. It is important not only to improve geriatric nursing, but also to encourage students to enter the field to reduce current shortages.

Long-Term Care Authority to Address Issues Raised by Audit (January 26, 2008)

An audit by the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services raised issues with the Long-Term Care Authority regarding payroll errors, excessive administrative salaries and lack of program controls. The Long-Term Care Authority, based in Tulsa, has created a plan of action to address the issues after failing to seek an appeal. The Authority hopes to renew its Advantage Waiver program contract, thus compliance with the Department is critical.

Researchers Weigh Benefits of Medicare Part D for Seniors (January 25, 2008)
While research analysts have found the Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D) to be effective in lowering seniors’ drug expenditures, it is yet to be determined whether the program is cost-effective for the federal government. Although research shows that individual recipients are saving money, they are also increasing their prescription pills. Researchers suggest that in order to justify federal spending for the program, an analysis is needed to determine whether there is an overall improvement in beneficiaries health.

State's Lawmakers Grapple with Retirement Issues: Nursing-home Payments, Long Term Care Insurance on the Agenda for this Session (January 24, 2008)
Washington State legislators are currently addressing issues of long-term residential facility payment systems, premium increases for long-term care insurance policies, and increasing pay for low-income workers in the field of long-term care. A task force formed last year issued a report that included recommendations for long-term elder care services.

Mayo in Rochester Unlikely to Limit Medicare Patients (January 24, 2008)
Due to conflicting interests in care priorities, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester is proposing to set limits on care for Medicare patients at its Arizona campus. Care needs in Arizona tend to focus on specialty services while the Mayo Clinic mainly provides primary health care. Mayo maintains that it provides services based on need, regardless of ability to pay. The Mayo Clinic will have to address the growing aging population in a time of capacity shortage. 

6,300 Medical Equipment Suppliers Participated in First Round of Medicare Competitive Bidding Program (January 18, 2008)
A Medicare competitive bidding program was mandated in 2003. Last week, during the first round of the program, more than 6,300 bids from medical equipment suppliers were received. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hopes to save billions of dollars for the agency and its policyholders by setting prices for medical products through competitive bidding. So far the program has taken place only in a select few places, but is expected to take bids nationwide next year. 

Medicare Helps Push Drug Spending Up (January 8, 2008)
Since Congress created the Medicare prescription drug plan in 2006, pharmaceutical costs have increased rapidly. Influenced by industry lobbyists, the government ruled out any bargaining for lower drug prices. Over a year later, both out-of-pocket spending and public funds used to pay for medications have risen. Even worse, a study shows that despite higher drug expenditures, the US has the worst health outcomes. 

Health Spending Exceeded Record $2 Trillion in 2006 (January 8, 2008)
The journal, Health Affairs, reported that Medicaid spending has gone down since it was introduced in 1965. Thanks to Medicare Part D, more beneficiaries are able to acquire prescription drugs, hence the increase in drug expenses. Health care spending currently accounts for 16 percent of the gross domestic product and experts speculate federal funding covers most of the spending. 

Retiree Healthcare Crisis Brewing in State (January 8, 2008)
A California commission studying post-employment benefits for public employees says that the State needs $1.2 billion to cover healthcare for state employees. While California is struggling to balance its budget, the appointed commission has advised the State to figure the sum into the budget now as employees are near retirement age. As healthcare costs are expected to rise in the next few years, the commission anticipates a financial crisis. 

Feds to Enforce Tighter Restrictions to Help Prevent Medicare Fraud (January 8, 2008)
In recent years, greedy salespersons pushing medical equipment have targeted Medicare beneficiaries. In some cases, they wrangle vulnerable seniors into purchasing unwanted or unnecessary medical equipment, which is paid for by Medicare. Aware of such fraud, federal officials want to end such activity by putting medical equipment suppliers under critical scrutiny by accredited agencies. Suppliers will also be required to set prices through a competitive bidding process. 

State OKs Medicare Supplement Plan (January 4, 2008)
A health care insurance company based in Florida has been allowed by the state to market its Medicare supplement plan. Approval was obtained from both the state insurance office and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) before the insurance plan was allowed to enroll new members. Prior to the recent approval, the insurance company could not financially support enrollment for the plan, thus marketing was suspended and enrollees dropped. Enrollment for the plan is currently ongoing.

Private Insurance/Other


How Much Do Older Workers Value Employee Health Insurance? (July 2008)
Why do some US workers have access to health insurance and others do not, especially when they enter their retirement years and still lack this option in their lives. This report provides answers. The authors focus on the fact that some workers must buy their own insurance while others have employer-paid insurance. First, it’s difficult to find health insurance that’s affordable, particularly for low income persons. Second, some employers require workers to buy health insurance but provide subsidies to low-income workers. Others voluntarily offer such households subsidized insurance. basis. Some employers pay health insurance for high-ranking workers as a way to attract workers. This report also highlights discrimination between low-income and well-paid jobs regarding health insurance.

How Can We Improve Long-Term Care Financing? (June 2008)
The US system of long-term care is “deeply flawed.” Every year more and more elderly and disabled fail to receive care they need. Long-term care can be made more widely accessible by either enhancing private long-term care insurance, replacing the current income-based system with a public social insurance program, or introducing a hybrid public-private system — although none of these alternatives is optimal. 

Do Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs Delay Retirement? (February 2008)
The answer to the question is “Yes!” Cutbacks in employer-sponsored retiree health benefits add to the difficulty that many older Americans face paying for health care. The results of the study show that the premium costs associated with retirement before age 65 and expected out-of-pocket health care costs after age 65 do substantially delay retirement.


Uninsured Put a Strain on Hospitals (December 8, 2008)
Since the recession became evident, even more emergency rooms are overcrowded, with dangerously long waits for some patients and the frequent need to redirect ambulances to other hospitals. Moreover, increasing numbers of the unemployed and uninsured seek emergency rooms as a medical last resort, among them older people, who represent the fastest growing population of emergency room visitors. Since emergency rooms are legally obliged to see all patients who enter their doors--regardless of their ability to pay-- even more trouble arises when handling the heart attacks, broken bones and other traumas that require treatment.

Medicare Overpays Private Health Insurance Companies (December 2, 2008)
Millions of older US citizens under Medicare count on private health insurance plans that were supposed to control costs and improve the quality of care delivered. Unfortunately, that is not the way things have worked out. Three new studies, published in the respected journal Health Affairs, show that private plans have hiked costs while offering bare evidence of improved quality. And if history is any guide, the price tag is about to increase even more.

Health Insurers Offer to Accept All Applicants, on Condition (November 19, 2008) 
The health insurance industry is willing to support a health care overhaul that would require insurers to accept all applicants, including ill and disabled persons. However, the industry also said that Congress should require all US citizens to have coverage. The new position taken by the insurance industry--the industry that helped sink President Bill Clinton’s plan for universal health coverage in 1994--could make such legislation possible.

General Motors Cuts Healthcare for Retirees (November 10, 2008)
Approximately 100,000 retirees from General Motors will have their healthcare coverage eliminated by the end of 2008. GM is one of several companies cutting retired employee healthcare benefits as a result of the current global financial crisis. Even if healthcare coverage isn’t cut completely, many other retirees will find themselves having to pay much higher premiums to maintain the same quality of medical care.

Long-term Care Insurance Rises (September 15, 2008)
Just when America was warming up to the idea of purchasing long-term care insurance to protect family assets from the devastating costs of custodial care, the three largest insurance companies have shaken up the market by raising prices on existing policies, not just on policies to be sold in the future. The insurers have made a pricing mistake and now realize they are liable for much bigger payouts than originally expected. Despite this bad news, long-term care insurance may still be better than depending solely on the Medicaid program, which may have economic problems of its own in caring for a growing elderly population.

Palliative Care Programs Lead to Cost Savings (September 8, 2008)
When seriously ill patients and their families were involved in setting goals for their care, the costs were reduced dramatically. This was usually because the patient and the palliative care team chose treatments that emphasized improving quality of life over prolonging life. In this case, a patient might then be spared critical-care unit admissions and long hospital stays and the associated costs. Dr. Morrison said in an interview that conventional care "is not overtreatment, but treatment not matched to goals."

Innovative Honor-Providence Hospital Receives Award for Palliative Care Programs in D.C. (September 8, 2008)
Providence hospital in Washington D.C. recently received an award for its innovative programs for end-of-life care. These innovations include a four-week structured series where patients and their families discuss care goals with hospice physicians and medical residents. The program encourages continued spiritual support from the patient's faith community, as well as providing spiritual counseling as part of the care. 

Aging Baby Boomers Drive Hospital Growth: Aging Population Creates New Needs (August 10, 2008)
Montgomery County, Maryland, has experienced a huge demand in the health care sector due to the growing population of aging baby boomers. Although the county's medical centers have expanded through the years to address the demand, the strain is still felt. Maryland’s government must now improve its health care infrastructure to update and modernize all old and new medical centers to accommodate its increasing baby boomer population.

Millions With Chronic Disease Get Little to No Treatment (August 5, 2008)
Millions of people in the US are suffering due to lack of healthcare insurance. A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that one out of three adults suffers from chronic illnesses for lack of financing to pay medical and insurance fees. With the rising expenses of health care, a bleak future awaits those uninsured unless more affordable options are introduced. People suffering from untreated chronic illness younger in life may have a lower quality of life in old age or may never reach the later stages of their lives. Why can’t US residents enjoy the same healthcare protection that Europeans do?

Retiree Health Coverage on the Decline (July 25, 2008)
As more and more companies announce cutbacks on health benefits, the full health coverage retired employees once enjoyed seems a thing of the past. Companies are cutting health-care benefits for their pensioners, often fully eliminating them. Although some companies still provide varying degrees of coverage, many seniors have had to turn to Medicare for help.

Health Care Workforce Not Enough for Aging Boomers (July 25, 2008)
With aging population comes greater demand for medical care and yet, as alarm bells ring, the nation's health care workforce is shrinking. While enrollment schemes for nursing schools have been modified and enhanced to deal with the change, the lack of funds to hire additional faculty and training is a critical problem bound to affect many seniors seeking healthcare.

FDA Approves Generic Antipsychotic Drug (July 3, 2008)
(Article also available in Arabic)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first generic versions of Risperdal (risperidone) tablets.  Risperdal is an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia, bipolarity, and other mental illness.  The labeling of the generic may differ from the brand name due to patent and exclusivity restrictions. The use of such antipsychotic medications for the treatment of dementia is left to the doctor’s decision.

AMA Calls Physician Reimbursements Flawed (June 17, 2008)
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), the US healthcare system accrued a $200 billion annual deficit due to reimbursements left unpaid by insurance companies. Medical staff and doctors find themselves losing 14 percent of this figure, due to costs of collecting the monies. AMA is campaigning to hold health insurance companies accountable, making claims processing more cost-effective and transparent. 

Terrifying ‘Stat’! ER Overstuffing is Fatal Many Docs Saw Death of Patient (May 18, 2008)
Overcrowding in New York City hospitals has reached epidemic proportions due to an increase in elderly and sicker patients, the beginning of flu season, and a decrease in hospital beds. This fresh increase comes on top of a study last years which found that 28% of New York City doctors have personally seen a patient die because of overcrowded emergency rooms and 69% have seen patients “harmed” by overcrowding. One 85-year-old woman, a legally blind diabetic amputee, spent two days in the Maimonides Medical Center ER in Brooklyn waiting for medical treatment after she passed out at home in January. Over the last 10 years illnesses treated in hospital ERs have increased by 20%. 

Even the Insured Feel Strain of Health Costs (May 4, 2008)
Even with healthcare insurance, insured individuals do not feel very secure with the US economy in a serious slump. Nearly 50 million US citizens are without healthcare insurance and those who are insured are paying more for healthcare these days. Concerns about limited coverage and inability to pay out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments abound, especially now that medical costs continue to rise. It has reached such dire straits that US citizens are avoiding medical expenses by neglecting to see a healthcare provider, even if a medical concern absolutely warrants a visit to the doctor. In view of these concerns, healthcare will have a significant bearing on the 2008 US Presidential Elections. 

Aging Inmates Push Up Cost of Medical Care (March 23, 2008)
The cost of medical care is on the rise this year, due to the costs accrued by inmates aging during their incarceration. The additional costs are speculated to sum up to more than $1 million. Medical care for cardiac problems, surgeries and cancer treatments contribute largely to this sum. It is suggested that most of these health conditions stem from the inmates’ lifestyles before incarceration and are exacerbated through old age. 

State Denies License for Vets Nursing Home (January 18, 2008)
Due to problems with the facility, the West Virginia Veterans Nursing Home has been denied a license by the state. Problems ranged from mechanical errors in setting up equipment to inadequate personal and medical care. The report by state inspectors also cited the facility’s failure to screen job applicants. The million-dollar facility hopes to resolve the problems by the end of the month. It is important to meet state requirements for inspection in order to ensure that residents receive quality care. 

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Report: Seniors and Drug Prices in Canada and the United States, 2008 Edition (August 2008)
The Fraser Institute’s report compares Canadian and US prescription drug prices. The results show that Canadians pay an average of 101% more for generic drugs yet they pay 57% less for brand name drugs. The report suggests that a lack of competition among retail pharmacies and generic manufacturers may be the cause of high generic drug prices in Canada. 

Rx Watchdog Report: Trends in Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Used by Medicare Beneficiaries (May 2008)
Here AARP investigators explore the trends in prices of brand-name prescription drugs which “have far outstripped the price increases for other consumer goods and services between 2002 and 2007.” Their findings show that manufacturers increased the prices substantially with the average price increase continuing to exceed the rate of inflation. 

Rx Watchdog Report: Trends in Prices of Generic Prescription Drugs Used by Medicare Beneficiaries (May 2008)
Staff from the AARP Public Policy Institute present their most recent studies of price changes in generic prescription drugs. Specifically, their study compares changes of generic prescription drugs average costs over time and investigates differences in average price changes by manufacturer and by major therapeutic category. 

Inducing Seizures Among Seniors (May 6, 2008)
In recent years the number of Canadian seniors willing to undergo Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy (ECT) for depression has greatly increased with the number of senior citizens treated with electroconvulsive shock in Ontario rising from 7,800 in 1999 to 10,800 in 2005. Depression is a particularly acute problem for seniors, who are both more likely to suffer from the disorder and to take their own lives from it. ECT, which uses electricity to induce brain seizures, has been a depression therapy for decades and has seen previous such swings in its usage. 

Older American Indians and Alaska Natives Have Higher Rates of Chronic Disease Risk Factors and Fewer Vaccinations (May 2008)
The results of a Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey reveal that older American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) have greater rates of diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, and physical inactivity compared to Caucasian Americans. In addition, they have lower rates of vaccinations for pnuemococcus, a form of strep which causes nose and ear infections. 

Global Action on Aging Research Bibliography: Psychotropic Drug Use in Nursing Homes
An estimated 80% of elderly nursing home residents suffer from mental disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, depression, and anxiety and psychotic disorders. While psychotropic medications can be effective in treating mental disorders, there are concerns that overmedication of these vulnerable people can occur. Global Action on Aging is actively involved in researching and documenting the many aspects of overmedication in nursing homes. We have created a page providing links to information and studies on psychotropic drugs use in nursing homes, both in the United States and internationally.


US : Dangerous Cocktails of Drugs Common among the Elderly (December 24, 2008)
(Article in French)
The combination of drugs which are potentially dangerous if taken together is quite common among the Elderly in the US. According to a recent US study, self service medicines are responsible for one half of the accidents. The older they are, the more they tend to mix incompatible drugs, especially those on prescription and the self service ones. If old persons usually know that combining drugs of different prescriptions may have serious consequences, they are few to be aware that that those “self service” may interact very badly with those on prescription and send people to the casualty department. 

Drug Combo for Hypertension May Be Safer Than Recommended Alternative (December 4, 2008) 
In a recent large clinical trial, researchers found that a combination of drugs for high blood pressure that included a calcium-channel blocker was more effective at preventing heart problems in patients than a recommended medication containing a diuretic, or water pill. The trial compared two pills, each containing two drugs used to lower blood pressure. Patients taking pills that combined an ACE inhibitor with a calcium-channel blocker suffered 20% fewer heart attacks, strokes, heart procedures and deaths than those taking an ACE inhibitor with a diuretic, the investigators found.

Elderly Brace for More Costly Drug Coverage in '09 (November 13, 2008)
Millions of seniors and disabled are facing heavy premium increases next year for prescription drug coverage. In short, Medicare beneficiaries are being asked to pay more for less during an increasingly difficult economic time. The management consulting firm, Avalere Health, recently reported that the average monthly premium of the top ten drug plans, in terms of enrollment, will increase anywhere from 8% to 63.7%. At the same time, those plans are reducing the number of medications that they will cover by about 9%.  

Patients Seek Financial Aid to Buy Medicine (October 21, 2008)
As the economy weakens, more and more people are becoming unemployed and uninsured. Therefore a growing number of older persons are eligible for prescription-drug assistance programs, normally targeted at the poor. These programs provide patients with billions of dollars a year in free or low-cost drugs. Nevertheless, application procedures can be difficult. Many companies have different programs for different drugs, and each program often has its own set of rules.

FDA Introduces New Web Page with Links to Key Safety Information on Prescription Drugs (October 17, 2008)
The Food and Drug Administration has created a new website containing safety information about drugs. It is particularly targeted at older persons, the heaviest users of prescription drugs, and the most common victims of drug errors. Useful features include drug-specific safety information, databases of market studies, and the index to medication guides that offers FDA-approved information to help patients avoid serious adverse effects.

Poll Finds Just 74 Percent of Senior Citizens Planning on Flu Shots This Year (October 2, 2008)
According to a recent CVS pharmacy survey, older persons are the most likely to receive a flu shot with 74 percent of those age 65 and older planning to be vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises vaccinations as soon as they are available. Each year approximately 60 million Americans fall victim to influenza and flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, resulting in 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths per year. 

Radiosurgery for Brain Cancer OK for Elderly (September 30, 2008) 
A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation finds that people 75 years of age and older with cancer that has spread to the brain respond about as well as younger patients to stereotactic radiosurgery. Survival rates were 86 percent at 3 months, 68 percent at 6 months, 45 percent at 9 months, and 34 percent at 12 months. Also, average survival times were longer in patients with a single brain metastasis (10.1 months) than in those with two or more brain metastases (6.6 months).

Flu Shots: What's Your Excuse? (September 25, 2008) 
Despite huge supply, too few people get flu vaccine. Young children and older persons are especially vulnerable to serious flu complications. Overall, 72% of seniors get their flu shots, ranging from 63.7% in Florida to 81% in Rhode Island. The Centers for Disease Control goal is to vaccinate 90% of seniors in 2010. The CDC advises people to do a second shot after Christmas because over 80% of the time peak flu season does not arrive until January or later, and over 60% of the time peak flu season doesn't hit until February or later.

Prostate Cancer Hormone Therapy May Raise Mortality (September 23, 2008)
Researchers reviewed records of more than 1,700 men at least 70 years of age with early-stage prostate cancer who were treated with a 3.5 months hormone therapy before undergoing brachytherapy. Results suggest that hormone therapy decreases levels of androgen, a hormone that stimulates the growth of prostate cancer cells. After an average follow-up of five years, the men who received hormone therapy were 20% more likely to die from any cause compared with the men who received brachytherapy alone.

New Research Could Lead to a Vaccine for Pneumococcus Disease (September 22, 2008) 
Pneumococcus is a bacterium that particularly affects children and elderly people. The carriage of pneumococcus in the nose is a necessary first step for most infections. Now researchers have learned that the immune system detects and destroys the pneumococcal bug when it colonizes the nose. This knowledge could help in the development of a new vaccine against the disease, including pneumonia and meningitis. In addition, the new vaccine might be an attractive alternative to the existing vaccines that are often not ideal for use and are prohibitively expensive. 

Study Confirms Benefit of Combination Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease (September 22, 2008)
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital found that extended treatment with drugs can significantly slow the rate at which Alzheimer's disease advances. Additionally, a combination therapy with two different classes of drugs is even better at helping patients maintain their ability to perform daily activities. Results suggest that the longer patients keep receiving combination therapy, the smaller their rate of decline is. Even if symptoms get worse it does not mean that the drug is ineffective, since the decline probably would have been much greater without therapy.

Pills, Pills, Pill (August 24, 2008)
In today's world there seems to be a pill for every illness. As the demand for prescription drugs continues to rise, more and more seniors find themselves consuming more pills on a daily basis. Getting a detailed diagnosis can be difficult, and in some cases, doctors tend to pacify patients with drugs and medications, rather than offer the patient a detailed synopsis of their illnesses. Polypharmacy (the practice of prescribing too many medications) is a major issue and creates many problems for seniors. However, with careful interventions, prescribing only necessary medications will ensure a better quality of life and longevity.

FDA: Older Psych Drugs Have Fatal Risks in Seniors (June 16, 2008)
The FDA recently updated its announcement for active caution when prescribing psychiatric drugs to seniors. Many medications now provoke fatal side effects for those suffering from dementia. Although these drugs carry huge risks for elders, the FDA continues to approve new drugs and their marketing plans. Almost 20 percent of patients prescribed these medications have never been diagnosed with psychiatric problems, according to Medicare reports. Will doctors use their better judgment before prescribing these dangerous medications? Can we count on it? 

Americans Taking Prescription Drugs in Greater Numbers (May 14, 2008)
More than half of US persons with health insurance are taking prescription drugs for chronic health problems and the numbers are rising. As more persons get heart disease, obesity and diabetes, they turn to drug treatments. Why? Widespread drug marketing campaigns, efficacy of some medications and lack of public health services push up drug use. For the past six years, three-quarters of older adults (65 years and older) use prescription medicines. GAA believes that citizens should demand more public health services to curb dependency on prescription drug use, which often can lead to more serious health problems. Restricted drug advertising can also reduce use as the European experience shows.

Antibiotics Questioned in Care at Life’s End (March 9, 2008)
A recent study has shown that antibiotics administered in nursing homes for dementia patients show evidence of long term damage. The treatments often cause resistance to germs and bacteria which can easily attack already weak immune systems of the elderly. In a study of about 200 patients, 52 who died received the treatment during the last few weeks of life. To raise even more concerns, research also suggests that doctors gave the antibiotics without consideration to the effectiveness of the drugs.

Program Aims to Help Seniors with Drug Costs (February 19, 2008)
Jay Nixon, Attorney General of Missouri, announced last week that his state government intends to provide technology grants to local health organizations to assist seniors with applying for free or reduced-cost prescription drug programs. Nearly 200 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies provide drugs to seniors pro bono or at low cost. 

CBO (Congressional Budget Office) Analysis Suggests Allowing Pharmacies To Negotiate Contracts With Part D Plans Would Cost $681M Over Five Years (January 18, 2008)
A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggested that a measure permitting independent pharmacies to directly negotiate contracts with health insurance companies would cost the government hundreds of millions. It is believed that the legislation would affect the Medicare prescription drug program by increasing the cost of drugs. This increase would in effect raise the premiums for group health insurance plans. 

Aging: Mental Health Overlooked in Care of Elderly Patients (January 8, 2008)
A new study suggests that primary care physicians may not spend enough time treating psychiatric disorders commonly found in their older patients. It seems that self-reported depressed patients never discussed their condition with their doctors.  Patients who reportedly spoke with their doctors about their emotional state found it unhelpful. Findings point anew to better communication between doctors and their older patients.

Aging AIDS Patients Beset by Complex Health Problems (January 6, 2008)
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, the rate of older persons living with AIDS disease has increased 77 percent between 2001 and 2005. However, only a few studies show the correlation between AIDS among older patients and other health problems, such as pulmonary disease, diabetes, ulcer, cancers, and more. Experts expect that the immune system of older AIDS patients may be weakened as they age further due to cocktails of drugs that they took earlier to fight the disease.

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Report: Inactivated Influenza Vaccine, What You Need to Know (2008-2009)
Influenza or “flu,” is a contagious disease that has an increasingly stronger impact as people age. On average 226,000 people are hospitalized every year because of influenza and 36,000 die. Because most of the deaths occur among older people, advanced age is a major reason to get vaccinated to prevent infection. This report answers common questions about influenza, such as risk with vaccines, when to consult a doctor and how to handle severe cases.

Treatment of Diabetes in Long-Term Care Facilities: A Primary Care Approach. (November 2008)
Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, affecting over 190 million people around the world. This number is expected to increase by almost 50 percent in the next fifteen years. twenty-five percent of long term care residents have diabetes; the majority having type 2 diabetes. In addition to providing guidelines on care and medication for long term care residents with type 2 diabetes, this report also includes a list of criteria for testing individuals with undiagnosed diabetes as well as a table of age-related factors affecting glucose metabolism. 

Health Care Consumption and the Relative Well-Being of the Aged (August, 2008) 
Economists have long debated whether material well-being is better measured using estimates of a household’s income or consumption. Even though many people agreed that consumption offers a better prediction of household members’ long term well being rather than measures based on current income flows, data are not currently available. In this study, the author develops and examines alternative measures of income that combine estimates of households’ annual cash income and the health consumption they obtain that is not financed out of current cash income.

Assessing Longitudinal Relationships between Social Factors and Health (August 2008)
Do social factors play a role in the way we age? Social support, participation and religious participation all have been shown to have a positive impact on our health. The study conducted by the University of Wisconsin – Madison investigated the issues and found a positive relationship between social participation and health but with a good deal of gender discrepancy. 

Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer? (August 2008)

Healthy life expectancy has increased by three years over 1970 – 2000 for an average 50 year old man living in the US. Does that mean that the nation is ready to increase the age of retirement up to 63 years to avoid income shortfalls at an older age? The results of the National Health Interview Survey reveal that health expectancy varies significantly by race and education. These disparities may indicate that a vulnerable portion of the population may not be healthy enough to stay in the workforce for additional years. 

The Future of Nursing Homes in New York State (August 2008)
New York State already supports one of the largest populations of old people who need nursing homes in the United States. As the baby boomer generation ages, policymakers and citizens alike are searching for less restrictive, more cost-efficient forms of long term care. In this document, the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) reports on the result of two roundtable discussions on the future of Nursing Homes. The discussions touched on topics that included culture-specific care, financial difficulties faced by institutions and skilled personnel shortages.

Serious Psychological Distress Among Adults Aged 50 or Older: 2005 & 2006 (July 2008)
Data from the 2005 and 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health show that 7% of the American seniors experience serious psychological distress. Adults were more likely to be stressed if they did not have a high school diploma, earned less than $20,000 a year and lacked health insurance. The study also found that only half of adults with serious psychological distress received mental health treatment in the past year. 

Evaluation of the AARP Red Hat Society Step & Stride with Ruby: A Year-Long Walking Program (July 2008)
In 2007, in response to a survey highlighting older women’s needs, AARP in partnership with the Red Hat Society designed a walking program called Step and Stride with Ruby. The program organizes teams who compete to walk the most miles every month. In this report AARP assesses its success in keeping older women active. The report also highlights the important link between social groups and exercise and the effectiveness of walking in maintaining fitness. 

Senior Citizen and E-commerce Websites: the Role of Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use and Website Usability (July 2008)
Many enterprises use the Internet to conduct business. For web sites to be successful, they need to be easy to understand, easy to use and easy to navigate. Aging persons bring new challenges to the business model. Old people often have deteriorating vision, dexterity and hearing, thus making web sites inaccessible to them. Fortunately, the Technology Acceptance Model, a method used to assess the interaction between people and websites, can measure the effects of aging on e-commerce. Companies now use this tool to make their websites more accessible to old people.

Impairment in Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and the Geriatric Syndrome of Self Neglect (June 2008)
Self neglect has often been regarded as a personal preference or a behavioral idiosyncrasy that becomes more apparent as a person become older. This study suggests that self neglect is a geriatric syndrome similar to other geriatric syndromes such as falls, delirium and urinary incontinence and should be considered a clinical condition rather than be associated with quirky behavior or the older person’s preference. The study also finds that there is an independent association between self neglect and impairments in activities of daily living. 

Socioeconomic Status and Health Disparities in Old Age (June 2008)
In case you had any doubt, poor persons in the US have worse health in old age than do those with more assets. The reverse also seems to be true: “Poorer health translates into lower SES (socioeconomic status).” 

Older People? The ACOVE Approach (June 2008)
Neil S. Wegner, Professor of Medicine at UCLA, points out that 1) that many measures of medical care quality exist in the US, but few focus on the precise healthcare needs of older, vulnerable adults, and 2) that as patients become sicker, current national evaluation measures become less relevant to them. This report describes the Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders (ACOVE) project begun in 1998 and asks if researchers and others in the US population really want to know about the quality of care for the most health-threatened older adults. 

'Healthy Eating Index Scores Among Adults, 60 Years of Age and Over' (May 2008)

Experts at the US National Centre for Health Statistics analyzed the healthy eating habits among adults over age 60. Their research differentiates into the categories of sex, age, race and ethnicity, education, smoking status, tooth retention, self-reported health and body-mass index. The researchers paid a lot of attention to diet behavior. They found out that older persons’ diets need improvement. Not surprisingly, the researchers found great correlation between a good diet and the health of older people. 

No Pain, No Strain: Impact of Health Care on Older Americans’ Financial Security (Spring 2008)
Recent studies on health and retirement show the danger rising health care expenditures pose to seniors’ financial stability. Households with one or more people above age 75 have seen their debt rise 160 percent, from $7,769 in 1992 to $20,234 in 2004, with the most elderly shouldering the greatest burdens. The study projects that by 2030, people over 65 will spend 30% of their income on health care.

The Longitudinal Elder Initiative: Helping Students Learn to Care for Older Adults (April, 2008)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over 65 amassed 50% of hospital visits and 60% of primary care visits in 2004. In recognition of these facts, nursing programs are now adding geronotological content into their curricula. In addition, the Longitudinal Elder Initiative, a Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing program, pairs students with older persons in the community. The Initiative directors think that this pairing will help the students understand the health needs and care of older adults and give students concrete knowledge of how social, financial and health issues affect older persons over time.

Healthy @ Home (March 2008)
Older adults want to stay independent for as long as possible. In the future, new technologies such as tele-pharmacy or electronic wellness devices may reduce social isolation and decrease the costs of care services. However, the question is whether seniors are aware of the new technologies and willing to use them at home. For answers, the researchers asked seniors and caregivers for their opinions on technology use at home. 

Five Million Senior Citizens With Alzheimer’s, 10 Million Baby Boomers to Join Them (March 18, 2008)
The new Alzheimer’s Association report posts current figures about those suffering from the disease in the US. At the moment 5.2 million   US  people live with this condition. By 2010, the victims will increase by 500,000 more people each year and by 2050 one million people more per year, as a result of the baby boomer wave. Alzheimer’s is the 7th ranking cause of death in the   US  . This study shows how the disease will impact the lives of individuals, their families and the long term care system. 

Treating Depression in Older Adults: Challenges to Implementing the Recommendations of an Expert Panel (January 2008)
Overcoming challenges in treating depression among older adults should be an important public health priority. In this report, an expert panel identifies interventions which are effective and appropriate in depression treatment among older adults. The report also suggests a close partnership between health care providers, researchers and policy makers to overcome financial and training obstacles that would block the expert panel’s recommendations. 

Depression as a Major Component of Public Health for Older Adults (January 2008)
By 2020, depression is projected to occupy the second place (after heart disease) among the illnesses that people have at an older age. Understanding depressive disorders is vital to public health since the rates for the disease rose rapidly in the recent years. Depression is also a strong predictor of suicide among the elderly. The research analyzes risk factors, diagnostic criteria and challenges in treatment of depressive disorders among the elderly.



Berry Compound Reduces Aging Effect (December 28, 2008)
It has been shown in an animal model that a diet rich in berries can improve brain performance in aged animals. Pterostilbene is a compound found prominently in berries and grapes; it was found to be effective for preventing oxidation--which contributes to cell aging in the body--in aging laboratory rats. Findings from the study have been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Conventional wisdom tells us that blueberries and other dark berries chock full of antioxidants are good for us, so whether the results of the study can be verified, including berries in your diet can be a good thing. 

Nursing Home Sex No Longer a Touchy Subject (December 28, 2008)
Researchers from Kansas State University are offering seminars and training to nursing home staff on how to address the issue of sex with their residents. This effort is a response to the lack of formal training on how to approach the topic, which has been discreet due to negative social attitudes toward sex among older adults. The training helps to address the issue of sexuality among the elderly and to find appropriate ways of fulfilling sexual needs. Many nursing home residents are lonely and need comfort through touch or companionship that does not necessarily lead to intercourse. The University’s Center on Aging believes federal guidelines are needed to enforce more positive attitudes toward promoting safe sexual behavior among residents.

Parkinson's Patients Find Grace In Dance (December 13, 2008)
For the past seven years, Mark Morris has held a special class for people with Parkinson's disease in New York City. Despite the inhibited movement that marks Parkinson’s sufferers, the patients get up from wheelchairs and move across the floor with the music. The instructors say that the Parkinson’s dancers who’ve been coming for years gain more body control. "You forget that you are with a group of people who have an illness," says Bobbye Butts, whose husband is in the class. "There's a kind of joy. You get the feeling that everybody feels as normal as the next person."

Diabetes Epidemic Signals an Increase in Blindness, Too (December 10, 2008) 
The estimated number of US citizens who could lose their vision to diabetes-related eye diseases will increase tremendously within the next forty years. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that older Hispanics and African- Americans are particularly affected due to higher rates of Type 2 diabetes. The report furthermore projects that the number of adults forty years and older with diabetic retinopathy--the leading cause of blindness among middle-aged adults--will reach 16 million in 2050, up from 5.5 million in 2005. 

A 73-Year Old Gives Basketball a Second Shot (December 9, 2008)
Ken Mink might look like your average 73-year-old man, but do not let that fool you. His appearance has distinct qualities typical to that of an older person. However, he has qualities that many older people lack in their lives: perseverance, motivation and activity. Mink recently joined a college basketball team, and has his opponents devising plans on how to prevent him from scoring on the court. Older persons should not be discouraged by their age but instead should learn from older people like Mink and stay healthy by keeping active and thus leading more fulfilling lives.

Holiday Chaos Can Bring Confusion; Decorations, Crowds May Spur Some Seniors with Dementia to Roam (December 8, 2008)
Holiday chaos can cause individuals with dementia to physically wander away from their homes in search of a memory of a past holiday spent with family and friends. The holiday season can bring about frenzy and disruption in the daily routine of those with Alzheimer’s, especially those who live in homes without the security of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. In the midst of holiday preparations, families are urged not to forget their elderly loved one with dementia who may feel lost and confused and be tempted to stray.

Dementia Delayed by Mixing Taiji, Qigong, Cognitive Therapy and Support Groups (December 5, 2008)
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, researchers discovered that multi-disciplinary approaches have the most promise in treating older people with dementia. In particular, those diagnosed with early stage dementia can slow their physical, mental and psychological decline by taking part in therapeutic programs that combine counseling, support groups, Taiji and Qigong. Some of the benefits of this approach are comparable to those achieved with anti-dementia medications.

Small Study Indicates Stroke Rehabilitation Possible Six Months After Stroke (December 3, 2008)
According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, robotic technology with the aid of functional MRI improves stroke rehabilitation. Scientists using a novel, hand-operated robotic device and functional MRI have found that chronic stroke patients can be rehabilitated even months after the stroke. "These findings should give hope to people who have had strokes, their families and the rehabilitative specialists who treat them," said Dr. Aria Tzika of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Surveying the Brain for Origins of the Senior Moment (December 2, 2008)
"If I am really concentrating on something now, I have to turn off the radio," says Nyla Puccinelli, 69 years of age. Ms. Puccinelli is a retired teacher who always had trouble recalling her students' names. She consulted neurologist Adam Gazzaley because she was worried about her memory loss and found it harder to shrug off distractions. Dr. Gazzaley and his colleagues from the University of California at San Francisco recorded the electrical activity of her mind at work, trying to understand why aging might increase intolerance to distractions. 

Depression Leads to Internal Body Fat in 70-Somethings, Study Suggests (December 1, 2008)
According to new research published in Monday's Archives of General Psychiatry, older persons who are depressed are much more likely to develop a dangerous type of internal body fat--the kind that can lead to diabetes and heart disease. It is the first large study that tracks people over time to see if those with depression are more likely to gain weight. The participants, all in their 70’s, were recruited in and around Memphis and Pittsburgh in 1997 and 1998 and were followed for five years. Researchers screened for symptoms of depression at the start of the study and again at four follow-up visits.

Senior Citizens Need to Avoid Distractions to Improve Memory (November 27, 2008)
Scientists have discovered something that happens only in the brains of older people - distractions overpower the ability to absorb information. This latest discovery was made because of – rather than in spite of – the noisy environment that research participants must tolerate when having their brains scanned inside a donut-shaped magnet known as a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. In the Baycrest study, 12 younger and 12 older adults took part in a face recognition task that involved having their brains scanned with fMRI while they were shown pictures of faces and repeating the brain scan when trying to recall whether they had seen each face before. 

Here Is Why Sharp Memory Remains Intact In Some Elderly People (November 21, 2008)
Generally the brain stops working in a healthy fashion once people get older. Nevertheless, researchers from the Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine learned that this does not apply to the ‘super aged,’ defined as those who have not suffered memory loss. For the study, the brains of five deceased people of this age category were examined and found to have fewer fiber-like tangles than those of most normal brains. These selected individuals gave high performance on memory tests when they were more than 80 years old. 

Health of California's Seniors Is Deteriorating (November 21, 2008) 
A recent medical study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that a growing number of older Californians are suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Considering that California's senior population is expected to double in the next two decades, rising to nearly 8 million by 2026, the current situation becomes even more alarming.

Five Ways to Keep Alzheimer's Away (November 20, 2008)
According to a recent study by the University of Pittsburgh, ginkgo did not help prevent Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia in more than 3,000 elderly study subjects. Nevertheless, physical exercise, seeing people every day and being active also kept the brain healthy. Moreover, Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of California in Los Angeles, explains how antioxidants, fish oil supplements, phosphatidylserine supplements, curry and cross training for the mind enhance brain function.

Alzheimer’s and Hispanics (November 19, 2008)
(Article in Spanish)
Every 71 seconds someone in this country is diagnosed with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s. This includes many Hispanics whose families have little knowledge about the disease. Because of the increased numbers of Hispanics being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it is very important for older persons to be examined by a doctor if symptoms increase beyond simply forgetting things now and then.

Cancer Linked to Behavior in Elderly (November 18, 2008) 
About 80% of cancer diagnoses occur in persons 65 years of age or older. However, according to a new study from Duke University, many of the risk factors for the disease are behavioral and therefore potentially preventable. Some of the risk factors and/or cancer links were similar to those found in The National Long Term Care Survey. Researchers particularly analyzed the impact of physical activity, tobacco, and alcohol consumption.

Ballroom Dancing Keeps Seniors Active and Social (November 17, 2008)
Many seniors in North Texas are turning to ballroom dancing to keep active and socially connected. Ballroom dancing allows seniors to challenge their auditory, visual and mental abilities, as they have to remain alert, be coordinated and move swiftly. Seniors are inspired by the popular TV show, Dancing With the Stars, featuring older celebrities doing the fox trot, cha-cha, salsa, tango and other choreographed dancing. However, seniors who are especially frail and susceptible to falling should be careful when dancing. 

Sleeping Less than 7.5 Hours Daily May Cause Heart Disease for Elderly with Hypertension (November 12, 2008)
The journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, recently released a report that advises seniors with elevated night-time blood pressure to sleep at least 7.5 hours per day. Getting adequate sleep is essential to preventing health conditions such as obesity and diabetes as well as several risk factors for cardiovascular disease including sleep-disordered breathing and night-time hypertension. 

Ten Years of Data on Studies of Age-Related Eye Disease Now Available to Researchers (November 11, 2008)
The National Eye Institute recently released ten years of data collected during the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Researchers focused on the progression of age-related macular degeneration and age-related cataracts. This enables them to access the complete set of medical history records and clinical trial results, as well as selected genetic information, to gain a better understanding of these two complicated vision conditions that affect aging adults. 

Heart Failure Rates Reaching Epidemic Levels for Senior Citizens in US (November 10, 2008)
According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2008, heart failure is reaching epidemic levels among older persons in the United States. Between 1980 and 2006, the percentage of seniors over age 65 hospitalized for heart failure increased by 131%. Currently an estimated 5.3 million Americans live with heart failure, and 660,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. These facts clearly indicate that the prevention and treatment of heart failure has become an urgent public health need. 

Once Just an Aging Sign, Falls Merit Complex Care (November 8, 2008)
Falls are more than an inevitable part of aging. They should be understood as complex, preventable events with multiple causes and consequences, calling for both psychological and physiological care. Even falls that cause only minor injury “need to be taken as seriously as diabetes,” said Dr. R. Sean Morrison, a professor of geriatrics and adult development at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, because “they can be a real warning sign that something serious is wrong.” 

New Effort Launched to Help Hispanic Senior Citizens Self-Manage their Diabetes (November 7, 2008)
Approximately 18% of seniors on Medicare have diabetes. However, Hispanic beneficiaries are particularly susceptible to the disease and are more than four times likely than non-Hispanics aged 65 and over to experience a hospital admission due to uncontrolled diabetes. Focusing on the largest minority group in the US, the American Diabetes Association and the Patient Education Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine have announced a joint initiative to help Hispanic seniors self-manage their diabetes. 

Agencies Work to Prevent Falls Among Elderly (November 7, 2008)
The Minnesota Department of Human Services recently launched a new program that aims to prevent seniors from falling. The project, “Keeping Minnesota Right Side Up,” is one of eight in Minnesota that recently received a Department of Human Services grant for the state initiative. In order to increase older persons’ safety, a new countywide coalition is taking steps over the next several months to raise local awareness and promote best-practice strategies to help lower the risk of falls.

Age Not a Key Factor in Cancer Survival So Why Are Seniors Excluded from Clinical Trials? (November 6, 2008)
According to a new study published in the Independent Journal of Clinical Practice, 60% of senior cancer patients over 65 are systematically excluded from treatment studies. Age is not an independent factor in cancer survival rates and age should not influence decisions about how to treat older patients. Including older persons in clinical trials could be crucial for providing more effective treatment programs, thereby making possible a better quality of life.

Other Illnesses Affect Alzheimer's Disease Survival (November 5, 2008)
The medical journal Neurology, recently reported about factors influencing the length of survival with Alzheimer’s disease. These include both the patient’s ethnic background and other illnesses affecting overall health. The new knowledge is based on research from Columbia University Medical Center. A group of approximately 4,300 older Medicare recipients who were enrolled in the Washington Heights Inwood Columbia Aging Project in New York participated in the study.

More Elderly, Fewer Doctors (October 24, 2008)
Geriatricians are in great demand as the elderly population continues to grow and age. According to a survey conducted by the American Geriatrics Society, the rate of doctors entering geriatric medicine is stagnant despite growing numbers of aging seniors who will require specialized care. Due to the impending shortage, leaders in geriatric medicine are calling for medical training to focus more on older persons, who are especially frail and vulnerable. Healthy seniors, on the other hand, are encouraged to seek care from general practitioners or internists. With this recommended system of triaging referrals to geriatrics, it may be possible to mitigate the great demand for doctors caring for old people.

Ride Program a Ticket to Freedom for Seniors (October 23, 2008)
Rides and Smiles is a transportation service offered to seniors throughout California who require rides to medical appointments or to run daily errands. The services are provided pro bono, but donations are suggested, as it is a volunteer-run operation. The transportation program also allows seniors to socialize and get out into the community. A lot of the volunteer drivers are seniors themselves! This program is a great example of a social service that allows for seniors to connect with each other and the community.

“Worrisome” Alzheimer’s Amongst Hispanics (October 22, 2008)
(Article in Spanish)
In the next 40 years the number of Latino older adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will rise from 200,000 now to close to one and a half million. Hispanic families, unfortunately, tend to confuse Alzheimer’s symptoms with things that naturally come with age. Other cases consist of families who are ashamed of having to admit that their loved one suffers from a mental illness. This is why Hispanic older persons, as well as everyone else, should get a checkup regularly and be advised of these symptoms. In addition, they should be made aware of resources being offered to their families to take care of these needs. 

Sexuality, Pleasure of Life (October 22, 2008)
(Article in Spanish)
The sweet and always smiling grandparents are just one of many stereotypes associated with older persons. In reality, it is society that creates these labels and feeds the notion that old people are past their prime. This is one of the reasons why older adults tend to avoid their partners when it comes to intimacy. Excuses such as their declining health and the fear of a stroke prevent them from engaging in any type of sexual relations. However, it is totally normal to be intimate with one’s partner, and to support one another in loving ways. 

Aerobic Exercise Can Help with the Decline in Mental Health of Older Persons (October 18, 2008)
(Article in Spanish)
According to Art Kramer, a professor of Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, there is evidence that if older people have a good regimen of aerobic exercise in their lives, the result could help the function of their brains and minds. Regular exercise helps the brain and memory. Older persons living with Alzheimer’s have also benefited from exercise. 

Genetic Finding Implicates Innate Immune System in Major Cause Of Blindness (October 8, 2008) 
Researchers discovered one of the genes implicated in age-related macular degeneration. This disease is known as the most common cause of blindness in industrialized countries and applies to almost 60% of people aged 80 years or older. The researchers have also shown that a particular variant of the gene SERPING1, carried by just under a quarter of the population, appears to offer protection against the disease. This is helpful for scientists since investigations regarding new treatments of this disease can now be pursued.

Forgetting an Appointment or Name of Friend is Not Necessarily the Beginning of Dementia (October 8, 2008)
Older persons who tend to forget the name of a friend or an appointment often interpret this incident as an early sign of dementia. The medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology released a study that finds this happens also to people without dementia. The participants, aged 50 to 85, were asked about occasional memory problems such as having trouble thinking of the right word or forgetting things that happened in the last two days. Also, thinking problems such as having trouble concentrating or thinking more slowly than they used to, were analyzed.

Identification of Gene Variant That Causes Sinus Node Disease (October 8, 2008)
In cooperation with a group of internationally renowned clinical electro-physiologists and geneticists in France, scientists from the University of Iowa made an important discovery. A potentially fatal human heart rhythm disorder called sinus node disease is due to a specific gene variant. The so-called sick sinus syndrome affects approximately one in 600 heart patients older than 65 and is responsible for 50% or more of the permanent pacemaker placements in the United States. The study shows how cellular mechanisms regulate sinus node function and identifies an unanticipated new pathway for developing future treatments.

Breast Cancer Remains Threat for Older Women (October 6, 2008)
More than 50 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women age 65 or older and 45 percent are diagnosed after age 70. Therefore experts at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center recommend that women continue to receive yearly breast screenings through their 70s. This should include yearly mammograms, clinical breast exams with a health care provider as well as monthly breast self-exams. Senior women who do not take such prevention measures often are diagnosed at a progressed stage, when breast cancer is more difficult to treat.

The Artist Paints, and He Also Multiplies (October 5, 2008)
The Museum of American Visionary Art will exhibit the work of Frank Calloway, reportedly aged 112. The most extraordinary feature of this character lies not in his age but in his being a patient for 56 years in a mental institution in Alabama. Calloway’s work began at a time when art therapy had just been introduced. Apparently, the patient also finds comfort in reciting 18-tables while rocking back and forth in his chair.

Steps Could Get More Seniors into Clinical Trials (October 1, 2008)
Even with the population aging older persons are often excluded from clinical trials and research studies. To assess potential reasons, the University of Alabama examined the recruitment and retention of older women participating in two trials assessing surgical procedures for pelvic organ prolepses. Results suggested that the main obstacles for older people were caregiver involvement, several health disorders, tiredness, and cognitive impairment. Nevertheless, allocating time to explain study procedures clearly, transportation assistance to and from study visits or using large print on questionnaires may help to remove those barriers.

Restless Nights Put Older Adults at Risk for Depression Recurrence (September 29, 2008)
Nearly 60 percent of US seniors suffer from insomnia. According to a study by the American Journal of Psychiatry the risk for depression is higher among older persons with a prior history of the sleep disorder. Furthermore the study shows that sleep disturbance is often related to depressive disorders in late life, which carry further considerable risks for morbidity and mortality. However, doctors often misinterpret sleep difficulties a part of normal aging.

Seniors in Poor Areas More Likely to Die After Surgery (September 29, 2008) 
A new study, published in the Medical Care journal, confirmed that older people who live in low-income ZIP codes are more likely to die after surgery than those who live in higher-income ZIP codes. The risk of death among patients in low-income ZIP codes was between 17 percent and 39 percent higher. A reason for this might be that hospitals in lower socioeconomic areas are lacking technologically advanced equipment or specialists.

Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men from Bone Loss (September 26, 2008)
Bone mineral density, bone status and fracture risk are related to many more nutrients than just calcium. Researchers from Tufts University found that one of the essential nutrients is Vitamin C, particularly contained in fruits and vegetables. It protects against inflammation—a contributor to bone absorption and bone loss--as well as being essential for the creation of collagen to strengthen bones. However this applies exclusively to men. Women who suffer from bone loss, often associated with osteoporosis, earlier and more frequently than men do not benefit from Vitamin C.

Why Kidneys from Older Donors Do Not Last As Long As Those from Younger Individuals (September 25, 2008)
A high donor deficit in kidney transplants led to an increase of transplants from older deceased people. The Stanford University Medical Center analyzed the structures of kidneys from 20 aging (over 55 years) and 23 youthful (under 40 years) deceased donors. Results indicated a 32% depression of the glomerular filtration rate, a measure of the kidneys' ability to filter and remove waste products, in the aging versus youthful groups. This leads to a self-perpetuating injury in the rest of the kidney, ultimately contributing to a shortened survival of the transplanted organ.

Boomers Should Add Muscle Before It's Too Late (September 24, 2008)
A Ball State University study finds that seniors should strengthen their whole muscle and fiber size through resistance training. They advise starting the training at the age of 60 or 70, rather than 80. Aging eventually causes a loss of "fast-twitch" muscle fibers that reduce the ability to produce the explosive movements that allow us to move our feet and arms rapidly to avoid falling.

Seniors Not Seeking Treatment for Common, Debilitating Swallowing and Voice Problems (September 23, 2008)
According to a new study of Duke University Medical Center, elderly patients often accept their voice and swallowing issues as part of the natural process of aging. Among 248 patients with an average age of 82, while over 50% were interested in treatment, only 20% actually sought medical advice. Researchers therefore suggest developing outreach programs that educate seniors and healthcare providers of the signs, symptoms and available treatments of these disorders.

Lowering Blood Pressure In Elderly Using Audio Relaxation Program (September 20, 2008)
In a study of 41 older participants with high blood pressure, researchers found that systolic blood pressure decreased more in the audio-guided relaxation training program (ATP) group than in the group listening to Mozart: 6.4 percent (9 mmHg) versus almost 5 percent (7 mmHg). Overall, ATP is a self-regulation tool that promotes patient autonomy in managing their health. Also, nursing homes or senior living facilities may use this procedure without a doctor's order. However long-term adherence to the program may be a problem in elderly people. A three-month follow-up showed that only 52% of participants continued to use the relaxation technique regularly.

Pain is Common in Parkinson's Disease (September 19, 2008) 
Patients with Parkinson's disease often complain of painful sensations, which may involve body parts affected or unaffected by dystonia. Researchers investigated 402 Parkinson's disease patients and 317 healthy control patients regarding their pain. Results suggest that pain among Parkinson's disease patients is heterogeneous in quality, body localization and relationship with the clinical onset of Parkinson's disease. Additionally, findings may have clinical implications for designing studies to better understand the nature of pain and identifying specific treatment strategies.

High-Risk Elderly Patients Benefit From Minimally-Invasive Aortic Valve Bypass (September 19, 2008) 
Aortic stenosis is the most common heart valve disease of the elderly in the US, and more than 50,000 people require surgery each year. A new study from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore found a safe alternative to conventional aortic valve surgery. The uncommonly used procedure bypasses a narrowed aortic valve, rather than replacing it, and effectively restores blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. Patients typically considered inoperable could also benefit from this procedure.

Mental Illnesses are Causing more Suicides among Elderly Asian Americans (September 17, 2008)
(Article in Chinese)
In recent years, suicide has become a key mental health concern among Chinese Americans. For older Asian Americans, low income, language barriers, and shying away from mental health services to avoid shame are the main reasons for an increased suicide rate. A comprehensive approach should be put in place to increase the awareness and the willingness among elderly Asian American to seek mental health services.

Surgeon General Calls for Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism (September 15, 2008) 
US Surgeon General Steven K. Galson’s concern is based on over 100,000 cases of death, including many senior citizens. As a necessary precaution, Galson advises that public awareness be increased and more research be conducted on the causes, prevention and treatment of the disease. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality contributed to the Call to Action with the release of two new guides that provide patients and clinicians with valuable information which will help them improve care.

Changes in Seniors' Sleep Patterns Need Attention (September 13, 2008)
Dr. Charles Cefalu, a member of the American Geriatrics Society, recommended caution when sleep pattern changes last for longer than two weeks. Signs of a sleep disorder could include frequent waking through the night, being tired but having trouble falling asleep or even morning headaches. If these symptoms keep appearing, seniors should consult their geriatrician to determine if there is a problem and learn about treatment options.

Simple Blood Test for Alzheimer's? Researchers Seeking To Identify Alzheimer's Risk Focus on Specific Blood Biomarker (September 10, 2008)
The Columbia research group found out that a simple blood test enables doctors to detect a person's predisposition to developing Alzheimer's disease. Results suggest that certain levels of the Amyloid Beta 42 peptide in the blood plasma indicate different stages of Alzheimer's disease. In contrast to the spinal taps normally used, blood samples can be taken with relative ease and greater frequency. Consequently clinicians can forecast the onset of Alzheimer's disease much earlier.

New Website to Improve Pain Patients’ Communications with Healthcare Pros (September 8, 2008)
Three pain management associations (American Pain Foundation, American Academy of Pain Management, and American Society for Pain Management Nursing) and a pharmaceutical company (PriCara) have launched a new interactive website. An on-line national survey of physicians and pain patients found that, despite the substantial impact of pain and pain medications on patients, a sizable gap exists between patients and healthcare professionals when it comes to understanding and discussing pain.

Older Vietnamese Report More Mental Health Problems (September 4, 2008)
Vietnamese Americans over 55 were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to report needing mental health care, but less likely to discuss such issues with their doctor. Dr. Quyen Ngo-Metzger, who studies health disparities facing Vietnamese Americans, commented that there is no word in the Vietnamese language for depression, which compounds the difficulties of diagnosing and treating mental health problems.

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Calls for Increased Access to Palliative Care in Critical Care Settings (September 4, 2008)
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization has issued a statement calling for increased access to palliative care for patients admitted to hospitals for critical care. More than one out of five deaths in the US occur during or following admission to an Intensive Care Unit. This is the critical time when palliative care providers can complement the knowledge and skills of hospital professionals by assisting with decision-making and end-of-life care.

Getting the Care They Want: Baby Boomers Expect More from Health Providers (August 24, 2008)
Baby boomers look to technology to educate themselves for future health-care quality. Today's baby boomers are fully aware of the advancements in health care technology thanks to their access to information online. More and more boomers recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This is never more apparent than now, as members of this generation are living longer lives. With many of this generation wanting to age at home, the need for home care is now in huge demand. Seniors are also advocating for themselves by asking more questions about alternative health care opportunities.

Wrinkle Removers, Backed by Science (August 18, 2008)
Anti-aging serums and wrinkle removing elixirs usually promise more than they can deliver, but recent research shows that some promises can be kept. Topical application of retinol, carbon dioxide laser resurfacing and injection of hyaluronic acid are science-supported treatments that have been shown to ward off facial signs of aging. Current anti-aging research is focusing on strengthening connective tissue in the skin. It is important that anti-aging enthusiasts be wary of commercial products promising more than they can deliver.

‘Wii-habilitation' Provides Fun and Exercise for Senior Citizens (August 11, 2008)
Nintendo's Wii has proven to be a huge hit with seniors. Providing ample exercise and endless fun and laughter, many retirement communities are now considering the health benefits of technology for seniors. Coined "Wii-habilitation," the introduction of the Wii into the lives of older persons is met with great approval from occupational therapists and caregivers alike. Contrary to the view that technology is just for the youth, many seniors are proving that you are never too old to have fun.

Caregivers at Eight Bay Area Nursing Homes Protest Resident Conditions (July 29, 2008)
Caregivers from Windsor Skyline Care Center and Windsor Ridge Care Center, together with other supporters, are staging a protest against Windsor. Together, the two facilities have made over $2,000,000 in profit. Unfortunately, these profits have come at a price to residents, who have received inadequate care due to understaffing and a lack of safety measures. The Windsor group owns and manages six other long-term care facilities in the Bay Area in California.  

Overweight Elderly Americans Contribute to Financial Burdens of the US Healthcare System (July 24, 2008)
Obesity in America today is not just a health issue, but a financial problem as well. Obesity leads to chronic health conditions which require more medical care and, for seniors, higher Medicare costs. These costs are straining the whole healthcare system. Public health campaigns have been launched to increase aware through early interventions to modify unhealthy eating habits that lead to obesity.

Two American Seniors Cross the US on Scooters (July 18, 2008)
(Article in French)
Two septuagenarians traveled 5.500 Km on scooters from San Francisco to New York. This trip from one part of the US continent (California) to the other (New York) seems impossible looking at the distance itself. But, this didn’t stop Bernard Rosenbaum, 71, a retired doctor, and Robert Chase, 72, an ex-CEO, from trying to prove that aging does not mean stopping any kind of activity; while aging it’s possible to keep our passions alive. Now that both bikers have reached their destination, they are going to rest in preparation for their next stop, Alaska.

Rise Seen in Medical Efforts to Treat the Very Old (July 18, 2008)
Hazel Homer, 104, is one of the 90,422 centenarians currently living in the United States. She received a heart pacemaker five years ago and currently lives with a health aide. Before the operation, she was in the hospital every other month due to heart problems. The surgery greatly improved her well being, and she only went back to the hospital once due to pneumonia. Many argue that letting her undergo such a risky procedure was wasteful and barbaric. However, many consider her case an emblem of the new frontier in medicine: health care that extends the quality of life. 

Faced with Care Giving, Even Experts Struggle (July 14, 2008)
“In this dream, I tell my mother and my brother that he has gone peacefully to sleep,” wrote Dr. Winakur, recounting the nightmare where he gave his octogenarian father a morphine overdose. The old man did die in his sleep, at the age of 87, due to natural causes. Even for health care professionals, caring for an ailing parent is a difficult task. However, real heart-rending stories are rarely published and often inaccessible. Women’s magazines publish inspiring stories with ‘happy endings’ while medical journals are too technical for an average person to read. Perhaps it is time to publish stories that intertwine the subjective and objective, providing both solace and information for people taking care of their aging parents. 

Falls are a Danger to Seniors, but Many are Avoidable (July 11, 2008)
With a staggering 75 percent of senior deaths caused from falls, extreme caution needs to be taken by elders in their homes and when carrying out daily chores. As old age approaches, the speed of reflexes and coordination slows. With the recurrence of falls, prevention methods need to be incorporated to help seniors become aware that once small obstacles can become life threatening. With regular exercise and good healthy eating patterns, it is possible to keep limbs agile and minds alert. Despite old age and its afflictions, accidents and injuries are avoidable.

What's the Deadliest State for Elderly Drivers? You're in It (July 11, 2008)
The AAA Foundation has called for all states to enhance awareness about elder traffic fatalities nationwide. A report indicates that older persons in Florida are more at risk from such incidents than anywhere else in the US. As 15% of the nation's drivers are 65 or older, citizens need a new approach to safe road practice for older people.

Silver Alerts Could Help Pinpoint Missing Seniors’ Location (July 9, 2008)
"Those seven days were so grueling," said Mary Lalucci as she described the week that her mother, Mary Zelter, went missing. Fishermen later recovered Mrs. Zelter’s body and car in the Intercoastal Waterway off Clear Water Beach, Florida. Dementia and Alzheimer’s greatly reduce older persons’ ability to navigate. Silver Alerts, already available in nine states, have been an effective way to help find missing seniors. Silver Alert, a notification system, provides quick information dissemination to relevant authorities and the media.

Screening for Cancer in Elderly Fuels Fight (July 8, 2008)
Mammograms are vital for cancer prevention. Research suggests that mammograms do indeed cut the risk of cancer-related deaths. However, most research is based on the experiences of young women. The effects may be different for older women who are suffering from other diseases. Biannual mammograms, as suggested by doctors, may strain older women and distract them from real issues such as cardiovascular diseases. Older women also experience higher risk of complications when a mammogram and biopsy are conducted. 

More Senior Citizens Playing Certain Video Games (July 8, 2008) 
Video games are not only for young people. Many old people have started playing video games, which helps improve mental fitness. "I feel more mentally coordinated," said 68-year-old Michael McCarty, who plays the Nintendo Wii bowling game in the Senior Center. John Davila, Best Buy gaming specialist, claims that the games activate the brain, preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

For Today's Seniors, It's Never Too Late for Sex Education (June 24, 2008)
For some, a sex education seminar for older people seems useless. But the number of seminars and participants will increase in years to come. Increasingly, older persons are engaging in sex. They need education about safe sex. It is possible for old people to be exposed to HIV/AIDS or to suffer from it and other venereal disease. Elders should have access to information that will protect them. 


Brain Fitness Market Booming with Boomers (June 19, 2008)
Baby Boomers are turning to technology to maintain “brain fitness.” It is an ever-present reality that technology is converging with health-care to aid people of all ages to improve their awareness of cognitive impairment. These brain-assisting methods have had proven results in all age categories and especially in elders, warding off dementia and memory loss, proving to be a useful tool to cope with the afflictions of old age.

Russert's Death Gives Some Fellow Boomers a Scare (June 19, 2008)
The shock of television news analyst Tim Russert’s untimely death has provoked older people into adopting a healthier way of living. Even at 58 years, we are all vulnerable to ill health due to high cholesterol and other lapses in our diets and lifestyles. Everyone realizes that improvements in eating and exercise at any age are never too late.


For the Homebound Elderly, Fewer Knocks on the Door (June 15, 2008)
This article discusses the Meals on Wheels program in New York where meal deliverers often serve as a critical link between the homebound older person and the rest of the world. A number of changes scheduled for 2009 will reduce the cost of each meal so more clients can be served. The same number of meals will be delivered, but with a reduced number of visits. New York senior citizens are not happy about these changes. They enjoy having a person who brings a meal, who can laugh and say a few nice words. Such small actions as a meal delivery give a lift to the seniors’ day.


Heat Sets Records in S.C., Knocks out Power in NY (June 10, 2008) 
It was hot in the eastern part of the US, breaking records for soaring temperatures. In New York, air conditioners were going at full blast to contend with oppressive heat and air quality. Older people especially have a hard time handling the heat. In the summer of 2006, 100 people died in heat waves. Older people are urged to seek shelter when air conditioning is not available in their homes and to drink lots of water.

100-Year-Old Woman Stays Active, Overcomes Challenges (June 9, 2008)
Melva Cazier is blind and 100 years old. For her age, she is full of energy that impresses everyone. Melva still teaches exercise classes and takes care of her aging, but younger, friends in the assisted living facility where they live. She says she feels like she is 50. She wanders the halls and takes the other residents under her wing. 

Can 'Blue Zones' Help Turn Back the Biological Clock? (June 8, 2008)
Dan Buettner is the author of the book 'The Blue Zones': Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. He visited areas of the world where people tend to live longer, healthier lives. These areas he called “Blue Zones.” His analysis will help determine what kind of environment, physical activity, diet and supportive community seem to create a healthier and longer life. He discovered that people who eat nuts four to five times a week tend to live longer than people who don’t eat nuts. And Sardinia has more male centenarians than any other place in the world.

New Hints Seen That Red Wine May Slow Aging (June 4, 2008)
In the search for drugs to enhance longevity, scientists have revisited the claim that red wine may allow people to extend their lifespan. The research is based on isolating an ingredient in some red wines and administering it to a mice model. A recent study based in France found that resveratrol, the purported life-extending ingredient, turned “couch potato” mice into “champion athletes.” Resveratrol in capsule form has emerged on the drug market, claiming to have the same longevity-increasing effects on humans as a restricted diet has been found to have on mice. Further research is underway.


State Told to Do More to Keep Elderly Out of Nursing Homes (June 4, 2008)
Consumers and healthcare providers are rallying for Pennsylvania to delay nursing home admissions for its elderly residents through expansion of home-based services. Seniors are opting for more assistance at home as opposed to nursing home options. The draft of the Pennsylvania State Plan gives no indication as to how the State will handle the future needs of seniors. A final plan will be completed by August 1 and submitted for federal approval. Delaying nursing home admissions and expanding home aide services for the elderly may be more cost-effective and improve the quality of life for seniors wishing to age in place.


Senior Hope Assists Elderly Addicts (June 1, 2008)
Seniors addicted to drugs often have trouble finding treatment centers appropriate for them. Treatment centers are often full of young addicts and counselors from whom older persons have difficulty relating to and drawing support. Dr. William Rockwood and his wife, Adrienne Rockwood, founded Senior Hope in 2002 to help plug that gap. This article analyzes their efforts to treat senior addicts.


With Age Comes Peace, Calm, Study Shows (May 28, 2008)
The University of Texas asked about 1,450 people to complete a survey about their emotions as they grew older. The results showed that as people start to live into their 60s, they start to experience a level of calm and contentment, unseen by their younger counterparts. A larger percentage of their emotions are positive than those of the youth. 


Causes of Suicide Amongst the Elderly (May 28, 2008)
(Article in Arabic)
When adolescents commit suicide, it receives the most media attention. However, researchers have discovered that the elderly, and especially older men, are far more likely to kill themselves. Suicide is the 15th leading cause of death among US elderly, roughly equal to the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s. The most common factors are depression caused by isolation and the death of a spouse. 


The Older, The Wiser (May 27, 2008)

(Article in Russian)
A growing number of studies prove that the older brain really may be wiser since it “increases the information available to the conscious mind.” Most aging adults gradually widen the focus of their attention, making it hard to remember small facts, like a telephone number, but easier to take in more data and “sift through a clutter of information, often to the brain's long-term benefit.” 


Interacting With Those Affected By Dementia (May 14, 2008)
This article focuses on the need of the senile for better care and treatment. It is clear that people with dementia are helpless to change their environment; the only person who can do it is the caregiver. Challenging behaviors can often be dealt with if there is an underlying understanding of what the elderly person is experiencing. Nonverbal communication is a very big issue as people lose their cognitive abilities. 


Scientists Weigh in on Skin Creams and Their Claims of Harnessing the Power of Stem Cells: Skin Creams Tout Stem Cells' Restorative Powers. But the Science Isn't There Yet (April 21, 2008)

As stem cell research takes flight in the US, skin cream manufacturers are capitalizing on the presumed benefits of the stem cells’ ability to renew the supply of skin proteins. As advertised, the creams purportedly use stem cell differentiation to induce youthful skin and sell for over $100 for small amounts. However, scientists dispute these claims, stating that products do not contain live stem cells and calling the packaging and advertisement claims misleading. Consumers should be careful when choosing to invest in these products, which may very well produce the same effects as their more affordable anti-aging counterparts. 


Escalator Injuries Rise in Older Adults (April 8, 2008)
According to a recent report published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, the risk of older adults sustaining an injury while riding an escalator is higher than for the general population. Injuries have resulted in hospitalizations and broken bones, which can lead to serious long-term effects. Statistics collected elsewhere have shown that women are more susceptible to falls than men. This study calls attention to the design of escalators and interventions to prevent injuries among increasingly active adults. 


Mansfield Nursing Students Go Right to Source on Aging Topics (April 8, 2008)
An accelerated program at MedCentral College of Nursing in Ohio allows students to interact and engage in learning with residents of an assisted living facility. There was conversation about strengthening bones and preventing falls, as students and residents exchanged information on how to maintain a healthier life in old age. They identified medication as the number one risk factor for falls, which can lead to serious injuries, hospitalization and a loss of independence. Hopefully, such programs with a focus on gerontology will encourage more healthcare providers to work with aging people. 


Depression May Raise Risk of Alzheimer's Disease (April 7, 2008)
New studies show that there is a relation between Alzheimer’s and depression. Alzheimer’s patients reported that they were diagnosed with depression when they were younger than 60 years old. But not every person who is diagnosed with depression will also succumb to Alzheimer’s. The challenge is to find out how depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia are related.


Aging, Caring For Aged (April 1, 2008)
As the number of older persons in need of care continues to grow in many US communities, families are bearing the brunt of the demand by either providing hands-on care in the home or financing long-term care for their elders in nursing homes. A special film, “Caring for Your Parents,” highlights the many aspects of caring for an elderly relative that families deal with today. The documentary also points out that adult daughters are more likely to become caregivers of their parents, a trend that continues to grow. Although it is important to provide care for one’s older relatives, caregivers should mind their own health and reach out for support when needed.


Are You a Good Driver? Here’s How to Find Out (March 30, 2008)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institute on Aging concluded that older drivers are five times more likely to be in a car accident than other drivers. As a result, insurance companies like AAA are offering programs like Roadwise Reviews to evaluate the driving skills of older drivers. Because research has found that computer games like Brain Age may help aging drivers enhance their cognitive skills, software companies are creating programs to improve driving skills.


Senior Lookout: Hepatitis C Becoming More Common in Elder Population (March 26, 2008)
As Baby Boomers start to reach their Golden Years, health professionals are expecting greater numbers of people with viral problems. While diabetes and HIV/AIDS are receiving much publicity, people are ignoring the dangers of Hepatitis C (HCV). People who shared needles, razors, and toothbrushes are prone to the dangers of HCV. The Centers for Disease Control estimated there are about 4.1 million people suffering from the disease, 80% of whom are oblivious to the fact that they carry the disease. 


Supporting Seniors in Their Own Homes: A Growing Elderly Population is Turning to a Network of Caregivers and Volunteers to Retain Independence (March 24, 2008)

Virtual villages allow for seniors living in a self-defined geographical region, for an annual fee, to reach out to a community of volunteers and service providers when in need of transportation or other forms of assistance. These networks were developed in response to the national aging-in-place movement. Aging in their community allows seniors greater autonomy in their everyday lives and may produce positive health benefits, compared to institutionalized individuals. 


Medically Based Fitness Centers Pump Up Customers: Boomers Want to be Healthy in Retirement (March 23, 2008)

Medically based fitness centers seem to be the new trend in achieving fitness and wellness and are increasingly attracting seniors who are nearing their retirement years. These all-inclusive centers are usually affiliated with local hospitals and promote wellness and health through prevention. Special services such as child care and spa treatments will appeal to individuals seeking relaxation and a stress-free environment. 

Fending off Denial about our Dwindling Capabilities (March 20, 2008)
In this article, Liz Taylor explains that older people sometimes don’t realize that they need assistance and help in daily life. They take risks or keep the same habits they have always had. For her, on the contrary, you need to adapt your life when you become older. She gives tips to fight against loneliness and a sad ending, and to stay healthy during retirement. 

Baby Boomers Change Food Habits to Fight Feeling Old (March 14, 2008)

Today, many older US citizens are becoming more mindful of what they eat. High blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart diseases common among the elderly are spurring many to reduce their health risks by changing their dietary habits. Marketing data show baby boomers--those born between 1946 and 1964--driving trends in the food market, seeking local fresh food over the nutritionally enhanced foods eaten during their childhood years. Modifications to food and lifestyle choices can increase longevity and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. 

New Generation Gap as Older Addicts Seek Help (March 6, 2008)
New options are opening for older drug addicts who seek help. With the growing number of older addicts, medical clinics and substance abuse centers are providing special programs and personnel to cater to the needs of older adults who have drug-related issues and problems. 

For the Very Old, a Dose of ‘Slow Medicine” (February 26, 2008)
The new book from Dr. McCullough, Slow Medicine, is directed to children of older parents. The author, whose mother died from old age, advocates for a family-centered end of life for loved ones. Without despising medicine and nursing homes, he explains that good surroundings and companionship for elderly parents can be better than drugs. 

Elderly Americans Feel Better (February 25, 2008)
(Article in Russian)
Memory loss and cognitive impairment become less and less common health issues among elderly in the United States. Scientists from the National Institute on Aging claim that health of the nation's senior citizens improved due to higher quality of health care and improvements in economic status and education level of the elderly.

Fighting Bedsores with a Team Approach (February 19, 2008)
Over two million American patients suffer from pressure ulcers each year. A new team approach has been put into action by doctors and nursing staff nationwide to work collaboratively with all members of the staff to improve the quality of life for patients afflicted with these sores. 

Gentlemen, 5 Easy Steps to Living Long and Well (February 19, 2008) 
According to a study, certain behavioral changes in lifestyle contributed to longevity for the elderly males involved in the research. Careful monitoring of weight, blood pressure, diabetes, abstaining from smoking, and regular exercise can lead to good health and long life. The message is that a person can take charge of his own destiny and live a long and healthy life.

Guarding Health, And Independence: As Populations Age, Localities Tailor Services (January 27, 2008)
Thanks to the ElderLink Program launched in January 2007, the awareness of accidents in the home has enabled many elderly to age-proof their homes, ensuring a safer environment. More than a third of those 65 years and older suffer a fall each year. Those aged 85 years and older are four to five times more likely to encounter these hazards. ElderLink has delivered the message to older people through seminars and senior centers, taking the initiative to prevent accidents.

Exercise: It's 'Powerful Medicine' Baby Boomers Finding It Central to Their Health (January 25, 2008)
This article highlights the importance of regular physical exercise as a natural way of preventing or delaying the onset of chronic disease common in older persons. Lifestyle changes, including diet modifications and increased physical activity, can have beneficial impacts on the lives of seniors. Drinking plenty of water and having a partner to support one’s behavioral modifications can be especially helpful. 

Building Bones Helps Woman Battle Osteoporosis (January 23, 2008)

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle due to calcium loss, causing bone mass to be depleted. This increases the risk for falls and fractures, and is common among the elderly and cancer patients. This article profiles a woman over the age of 50 who is taking cancer medications and is at high risk of developing osteoporosis. The woman was encouraged to do weight-training to build her bones, which experts have reported can reverse osteoporosis or its pre-conditions. It is important for seniors at risk for osteoporosis to learn more about the condition and talk to their physician about exercises to prevent it. 

Aging Baby Boomers and Seniors Are at Risk for HIV (January 15, 2008)
Older people are likely to get HIV/AIDS disease if they have unprotected sex. That’s why Jane Fowler, a active 72 year old woman, argues for more preventive education directed to elderly people. The problem keeps on growing. The New England Journal of Medicine interviewed 5000 US persons between 57 and 85 years, and learned that they continue to have sex two to three times each month. However, only 38% of the men and 22% of women talk about their sexual lives with their doctors. For Jane Fowler, it may be the time for young people in college to talk to their grandparents.

Seniors Flex Their Muscles in SilverSneakers (January 10, 2008)
Seniors in Iowa are keeping fit through the SilverSneakers program. This nationwide program aims to improve the social and physical well being of older adults. It offers free services and participants have responded with positive reviews, noting its health benefits. Fitness classes include water exercises, aerobics and strength training. Participation allows older adults to interact and develop social relationships as well. 

U.S. Grant Continues URI Program on Geriatrics (January 7, 2008)
Health professionals should know how to respond to elder patients’ health issues. The federal government finances 41 geriatric education centers around the country. The Baby Boomer generation is maturing into old age which will soon require skilled experts in geriatrics. The University of Rhode Island’s program on geriatrics has already provided training to 6,000 health professionals. 

Shut out by Medicaid (January 6, 2008)
Indiana’s Medicaid program has the most restrictive guidelines policies in the nation and its program ranks as the sixth-worst in the nation. The reports say that State policies exclude many Hoosiers from Medicaid services. Indiana’s State Medicaid Program also lacks guarantees for quality of care and adequate scope of services. Hoosiers! Awake and demand that the government serve the people! 

Gene Mutation Plus Stroke Increase Dementia Risk (January 1, 2008)
The medical journal Neurology reported that patients have a greater risk of dementia if they have experienced a stroke and carry a gene mutation. Those with the genetic defect may benefit from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which have been found to reduce the risk of dementia. This study may be an important precedent for understanding the biology of dementia in older persons. 

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