- United States -
Free Trade in Health Care: The Gains from Globalized Medicare and Medicaid (October 2009)
Who benefits from a market-based health care system? Dean Baker and other authors argue that older US citizens could benefit financially if they could use Medicare and Medicaid for health care from providers
located in other countries. Please note the large differences between the per-person cost of providing health care in the US and the per-person cost in other countries with comparable health care outcomes. In 2006, the per-person cost of health care in the United States was $6,714, while the average cost in the 26 countries with longer life expectancies was $2,964. This gap suggests the potential for substantial gains from trade, with some travel thrown in.
Are Health Care Costs a Burden for Older Americans? (July 2009)
Affordable health care is a growing concern for many older Americans. Although Medicare covers nearly all adults age 65 and
older, premiums, deductibles, co pays, and holes in the benefit package leave many older Americans with substantial out-of-pocket expenses. Fidelity Investments estimates that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2009 can expect to pay about $240,000
out of pocket for health care over the rest of their lives. With costs expected to grow further, solutions to make health
care accessible need to be implemented.
Medicare Basics: A Guide for Families and Friends of People with Medicare (July 2009)
As your parents, grandparents, relatives, or friends face health care decisions, they might need you for help. Medicare can
be an important factor in many of those decisions. If you aren’t familiar with Medicare or the other resources that are
available for the person you are helping or caring for, or if you just want to brush up on what you already know, this
booklet is for you. “Medicare Basics” highlights several topics related to the health and care of a person with Medicare. For
each of these topics, you’ll find basic information about Medicare and suggestions on where to go to find more information.
Competitive Bidding In Medicare Advantage: Detailing the Background, Pros and Cons of Obama's Competitive Bidding Proposal for Medicare Advantage Plans (June 5, 2009)
US President Barack Obama proposes to save $177 billion over 10 years through a new competitive-bidding system for “Medicare Advantage” plans. Medicare Advantage plans are private (for profit) health plans held by nearly one in four Medicare beneficiaries. In 2009 these private plans will receive an average 14 percent (or $12 billion) more than the government would pay if beneficiaries had been remained in the traditional Medicare program. The result? A big profit center for the private health plans at the expense of older people.
Providing More Long-Term Support and Services at Home: Why it’s Critical for Health Reform (June 2009)
A vast majority of US citizens aged 50 and over want to remain in their homes for as long as they can. Home and community based care
services (HBCS) can help them by providing assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, eating, aid with medications etc. About 11 million Americans need these services but can’t access them due to cost. Currently, Medicaid pays for half of all long term care services but the majority of Medicaid payments usually go for nursing home placements. On average, the cost of providing nursing home care to one person can cover HSBC for three people. Changing these priorities could make Medicaid more cost efficient and also assist Americans to stay at home longer.
Medicare’s Role for Women (June 2009)
This fact sheet highlights Medicare’s important role in providing women with health care coverage. Researchers examined the demographic profile of women who use Medicare. The report identifies health and income status, the program’s benefits and cost-sharing requirements, and the prevalence of supplemental coverage to fill gaps in Medicare’s coverage. Writers identify key issues for female users of Medicare, including the greater poverty levels of women Medicare beneficiaries than those of men.
The Future of Long-Term Care: What Is Its Place in the Health Reform Debate? (June 2009)
More than 10 million US citizens require long-term care supports and services. Yet the system for delivering and paying for this assistance is deeply flawed. While most of the frail elderly and those with disabilities prefer assistance at home, many must live in nursing homes to receive Medicaid benefits. Additionally, care coordination for those with multiple chronic illnesses is poor, and the system for financing care impoverishes many middle-income families. The national health reform debate allows policymakers to reconsider long-term care as well. This paper assesses proposals to restructure the delivery and financing of long-term care services.
End-Stage Renal Disease: CMS Should Monitor Effect of Bundled Payment on Home Dialysis Utilization Rates (May 22, 2009)
Medicare covers dialysis (a process that removes excess fluids and toxins from the bloodstream) for most individuals with end-stage renal disease
(ESRD), a condition of permanent kidney failure. Most patients with ESRD receive dialysis in a facility, while some ESRD patients learn to carry out dialysis in their homes. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging home dialysis, changing the way it pays for dialysis services. Effective 2011, CMS will pay for dialysis services using an expanded bundled
"Where Does the Burden Lie?: Medicaid and Medicare Spending for Dual Eligible Beneficiaries," by Teresa Coughlin, Timothy Waidmann and Molly OMalley Watts (April 2009)
About 8.8 million Medicaid beneficiaries are simultaneously enrolled in Medicare, otherwise known as ‘dual
eligibles”. They are among the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including seniors and non-elderly people with disabilities. Most are low-income, in poor health and have considerable health care needs requiring high costs. This brief fills the gap in information about patterns of service use and spending for duals under both Medicare and Medicaid. It uses descriptive statistics to analyze the health and demographic characteristics of the dual eligible population and their patterns of using health services the spending under both
The Promise of Care Coordination (March 2009)
A small number of Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions account for the vast majority of Medicare spending due to inadequate care, ineffective communication, and weak adherence by patients. “Care Coordination” interventions can improve beneficiary outcomes and reduce Medicare expenditures. Care coordination is a client centered approach in which an individual’s needs and preferences are assessed, a comprehensive care plan is developed and services are managed and monitored by an identified care coordinator. This report provides comprehensive recommendations on how to improve Medicare policy, the most important being the development of, “patient centered medical homes”.
Do Health Problems reduce Consumption at Older Ages? (March 2009)
Medicare covers virtually all US citizens age 65 and older but the exclusion of certain services often lead to large out of pocket expenses. Older adults under 65, who are not eligible for Medicare, unless disabled may face serious financial risks: depleted savings, charity from friends and family, or rejecting necessary care. Many times older persons have to lower their standard of living to cover medical expenses. The report suggests that Medicare protects older adults above the age of 65 from high out of pocket expenses. However, health gaps seriously undermine the living standards of older persons who have not yet reached the eligibility age of
Curbing Medicare Advantage Overpayments Could Benefit Millions of Low Income and Minority Americans (February 19, 2009)
Minorities constitute a disproportionate share of the 46 million Americans who lack health coverage. Nearly 55 percent of the uninsured were people of color in 2007, even though minorities account for only 34 percent of the overall population. Hispanics had the highest rate of non-insurance, with nearly one-third lacking coverage. The federal government’s overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans weaken Medicare finances, raise costs for other Medicare beneficiaries, and tie up resources that could be used more productively. Cutting these overpayments would create savings that could be used to finance the cost of extending universal health insurance coverage to all Americans, as well as to provide some additional targeted help to low-income and minority Medicare beneficiaries for example, the Medicare Savings
Expanding Health Coverage and Shoring Up Medicare: Is It Double-Counting?
(December 29, 2009)
With the number of Medicare beneficiaries about to grow by 19 million in the next 9 years, current healthcare reforms bills effect Medicare funding are under close scrutiny. The Senate and House healthcare reform bills recently passed cut government Medicare spending and diverted this money to many who are now uninsured and to bolster the Medicare trust fund for future care. The question is asked: how is it possible to use the same money for two uses? The Congressional Budget Office issued a statement explaining that it is in fact not possible, and it is an accounting mistake of “double counting.” However, the Senate bill includes language that ensures the guaranteed benefits of Medicare.
Steps to Take Before COBRA Subsidy Ends (December 11, 2009)
Roberta Mason, 63, of Turner, Me., is one of millions of people who are finding themselves in a special kind of health insurance bind — or will soon. COBRA, a
government-subsidized program, made health care more affordable for millions of unemployed people like Ms. Mason. But now the subsidy is expiring for its first recipients and many don’t know where to turn. What is more, the way the stimulus act is written, the subsidy will no longer be available to any newly laid-off workers.
Low Level of Vitamin D Fatal for Older Persons (September 28, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
The Journal of American Geriatric Society announced that a low level of Vitamin D may increase the risk of death for older persons. This publication is based on the conclusions of a group led by Adit A. Ginde at the University of Colorado. After seven years of monitoring older persons, the group found that almost 44% of the older persons observed died as the result of a heart attack and that
a low level of Vitamin D is associated with the increased risk of a heart attack.
Helping Elderly Leave Nursing Homes for a Home (September 18, 2009)
“It was like being in jail,” Walter Brown said on a recent afternoon. “In the nursing home you’ve got to do what they say when they say it, go to bed when they tell you, eat what they want you to eat. The food was terrible.” About 1.5 million elderly US persons reside in nursing homes and many dislike living there. They have no choice, especially after the onset of debilitating diseases. Many do not know that they can now secure their own housing, personal accommodations and health-aide services, through recent collaborations between 29 states and Medicaid. While Medicaid typically propels elderly patients into nursing homes—where extended stay usually incurs high costs on both the patient and the federal government—the new programs strive to save money by investing $1.75 billion in home health care rather than in unnecessary nursing home expenditures. The “Money Follows the Person” programs began in 2007 and may differ by state in design, but not in purpose.
On the Front Lines of the Health-Care Debate in Colorado AARP Official Tries To Clear Seniors' Confusion, Anxiety (September 9, 2009)
Many people ages 65 and over are confused and anxious about proposed changes in the US
health care system. Due to misinformation this summer, they fear they may have to pay the costs of universal care. Consequently, many oppose any change. AARP, which support Obama’s efforts, held events and organized meetings throughout the country to reassure this powerful voting group that the government does not intend to end Medicare.
Obama Charisma Does Not Pass the
Debate Test on Health Care Reform (September 1, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
Despite his persuasiveness, US President Barack Obama has failed to create public enthusiasm about health care reform, one of the most important themes of his administration’s political agenda. Some allies already are advising him that an inadequate management of this debate could cast a shadow over the remainder of his term in government. Thoughtful citizens must examine how the industries of health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, media advertisers and others have invested heavily in a campaign to deny US citizens a single payer system that most people say they want.
Kaiser Issues New Health Care Reform Explainer on Health Insurance Subsidies (August 28, 2009)
The cost of health insurance makes health coverage unaffordable for many lower and moderate income families in the US, especially if they are not offered health benefits through their jobs. The Kaiser Family Foundation explains how government subsidies--an integral part of most major health reform plans under consideration in Congress--work in making coverage more affordable, protecting lower income people from high out-of-pocket costs and encouraging broad participation in health insurance.
End-of-Life Discussions are Already in Medicare Program (August 24, 2009)
What was once an unbiased issue is now anything but. End-of-life counseling, which was previously optional, became mandatory in January. The proposed healthcare service legislation will pay for an end-of-life discussion between physician and patient every five years. Some argue that the government isn’t making end-of-life decisions, but facilitating discussion between physician and patient. Still, this topic faces much
A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly (August 20, 2009)
White House officials say that the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and deceptions. However, Medicare beneficiaries and counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational. New health care proposals in Congress to slow the growth of federal health spending, to regulate the insurance market and cover the uninsured may limit services available to elders.
AHRQ Launches Health Advice Column in Spanish (August 2009)
The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality recently broadened its audience by launching Consejos de Salud Para Ti, a new monthly online health advice column in Spanish. The column provides evidence-based tips on preventive health, safe and appropriate use of medications and other medical therapies, ways to get better health care, along with responses to other key health care issues.
How Will We Live at the End of our Lives? (July 24, 2009)
As the Obama Administration tries to reform national health provision, one looming issue involves the nursing home sector. Many have suggested replacing nursing homes with better home care services to enable elders to live in their homes longer. Interestingly, only one in five nursing home residents responding to a survey by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicated they would actually prefer to live in their home communities.
Health Care Reform Should Not Hurt Elderly (July 24, 2009)
One of the proposed US budget cuts would hit nursing homes. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has introduced a Bush-era regulation that would effectively cut Medicare nursing home funding in the United States by around a billion dollars in 2010, around seven billion dollars over five years and around 20 billion dollars over ten years. The writers fear that reducing Medicare funding will cut the choices and quality of care for older persons.
Paying for Health Care in Retirement (July 6, 2009)
According to a recent report, writers say that baby boomers need around $86, 000 in savings to have a 50% chance of having enough money to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Women need more since they tend to live longer. If these individuals want a 90% chance of affording all their health expenses, men would need $177,000 and women should save $221,000.
Medicare, Social Security, and Pentagon Insolvency (July 2009)
The media and pundits are once again worried that the trust funds for Medicare and Social Security might run out of money and fall into a state of insolvency. While Medicare does present serious problems, mainly because of the absence of single payer and cost controls in the medical system, Social Security won't face even minor funding problems for decades. However, the Pentagon has regular gigantic overruns in its payments for weapons systems and its fraud and waste are out of bounds.
Telemedicine Expands Reach of Care for Parkinson's Patients (June 17, 2009)
A unique and innovative telemedicine project is providing distant nursing home patients with Parkinson's disease access to neurologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center. A pilot study of the project demonstrates that the system can improve the quality of life and motor function of patients. If broadly adopted, telemedicine has the potential to reshape the way individuals with Parkinson's disease think about their care and, ultimately, where to live. One of the key obstacles to the wider adoption of telemedicine for Parkinson's and other diseases is payment for services. The number of people with Parkinson's will double over the next 25 years and this should be a wake-up call to the medical community and government to invest in innovative ways to bring care to this population.
Filling in the Medicare Doughnut Hole is a Sticky Issue (June 10, 2009)
Beneficiaries hit the doughnut hole once their total drug expenses--both Medicare and out –of-pocket costs--exceed $2,700. After that, they have to pay for prescription drug expenses themselves unless they qualify for a government subsidy. Because of budgetary constraints, lawmakers gave comprehensive coverage only to some Americans. This has proved to be risky at times, with people skipping pills or splitting them, to lower costs.
Hospital Strains to Cut Elder Care Costs (May 17, 2009)
A path-breaking effort has been launched by Massachusetts General Hospital to reduce hospital stays and emergency room visits by the elderly. Under the plan, the federal Medicare program would save millions of dollars by reducing hospitalizations of several thousand elders by 15 to 20 percent. Improving care for this group of very sick patients is crucial if the Obama administration and Congress are to afford an ambitious program to cover the uninsured.
Caring for Ill, Elderly Has Reward--a Longer Life (May 5, 2009)
Caring for an older, ailing family member may be stressful, but studies say it may actually increase your lifespan by reducing death risk and boosting attitude. People who spent at least 14 hours a week caring for a sick spouse were almost 30% less likely to die early than those who spent no time helping. Caregiving experts suspect that people might get even more health benefits from helping others if the public appreciated their labors, thus getting the added bonus of improved self-esteem. Many say that care-giving makes them feel good about themselves and closer to their parents. The downside? Caregivers get little respect and their efforts remain undervalued by most people.
Shortage of Doctors an Obstacle to Obama Goals (April 26, 2009)
Millions of uninsured people would receive insurance under the legislation proposed by the President. A legal motion could create a problem as the country faces a shortage of doctors and primary care providers to meet the needs of an aging population. This is complicated by the fact that although an increase in doctors would widen access to care it would also make it more challenging to rein in costs.
Rapid Hospital Re-Admissions Strain Medicare Finances (April 23, 2009)
A new study estimates that about one in five Medicare patients released from a hospital after treatment winds up back inside again within 30 days. That adds a staggering $17.4 billion to Medicare’s cost. The new study raises important questions about the quality of care provided at great cost to hospitalized patients around the country. About 20% of patients were re-admitted within 30 days and one-third of them were back in a hospital after two months.
Broader Medicare Could Reduce Disparities (April 21, 2009)
Universal health insurance may reduce persistent disparities in Americans from different racial or ethnic groups and help blacks and Hispanics live as long as whites. A study of more than 6,000 middle-aged and US elders showed that blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar control all improved when people hit the age of 65 and became eligible for Medicare. Why not have universal health care from infancy forward?
Using Medicare to Lower Health Care Costs (April 19, 2009)
The only way that the US can improve its long-term economic outlook is to fix its health care system. Health care, Medicare and fiscal reforms should be seen as linked. More than 30% of what US citizens spend on health care does not make patients healthier. In the Medicare program, this could mean calls for a payment structure that rewards team-based care and/or new and innovative treatment processes for individuals with chronic diseases. How about considering a State-sponsored program, such as most Europeans enjoy?
Many Dying Vets Unaware of End of Life Benefits (April 17, 2009)
A study of terminally ill veterans suggests that they are unaware of their entitlement to health benefits. US military veterans' benefits include palliative care and hospice care. Five of the men in the study didn't know or understand their diagnosis, while ten didn't understand that they were terminally ill, the researchers found. These findings show that health care providers need to educate people to take advantage of their benefits before it’s too late.
Medicare Eyes Costs in Miami (April 14, 2009)
Miami has been chosen by Medicare as one of 14 communities for a pilot project seeking to eliminate unnecessary hospital readmissions. Miami has long been known for having one of the highest Medicare costs per senior citizen in the nation. The average Miami senior costs about twice as much per year as does one in Minneapolis. Readmissions can be lowered by approaching healthcare quality from a community-wide perspective, and by better coordination among the health providers.
Senior Citizens Have an Appeal Process When Medicare Drug Plan Fails to Cover Needed Drugs (April 13, 2009)
Senior citizens have a process of appeal that they can use if their Medicare private drug plan (Part D) does not provide them with the insurance coverage that they need for their drugs. This report from the Medicare Rights Center advises seniors on the process of appeal and how to handle the challenges.
$240G Needed for Retirees’ Health Care (March 31, 2009)
A recent Fidelity Investments study estimates that a couple 65 years old retiring this year on Medicare will need $240,000 to cover medical expenses. It assumes no employer-provided insurance and a life expectancy of 17 years for men and 20 years for the women. Medicare is the largest expense when people retire. During the seven years covered in the study, projected medical expenses increased by 50%.
New Curbs on Private Medicare Plans (March 29, 2009)
The Obama administration will place curbs on private insurance plans popular with seniors using Medicare. Many older persons and aging advocates have criticized the private plans for marketing abuses and high costs to seniors. The curbs will discourage insurers from shifting the costs to patients with chronic diseases. Medicare will also ban a practice that some prescription drug plans use to charge seniors more for brand name drugs.
Texas Native McClellan Working to Make Medicare Savings a Reality (March 22, 2009)
Do we dare think that change is coming to the US health care system? Reformers have long argued in favor of a payment system based on performance rather than the volume of patients as the most effective type of care. Medicare, the federal program for seniors accounting for 20% of health care spending, pays providers on a fee-for-service model. Each visit, each test, each procedure that a doctor performs pays a set fee. Many believe that the present system creates an incentive for doctors to see lots of patients, lots of times, but does not support preventive care.
We Think: A Means Test for Medicare Drugs Makes Sense to Raise Money for Health Reform (March 16, 2009)
In his first budget plan, President Obama has proposed charging higher-income seniors more for prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Higher-income seniors already pay more in premiums under Medicare Part B, which covers physician costs. Under current law, all but the lowest income seniors are charged equally for the same taxpayer-subsidized prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D—about 25% of the cost. Are the decision makers considering the often high costs involved in means-testing?
Many Seniors Not Selecting Lowest Cost Medicare Drug Plan (March 13, 2009)
Most seniors facing the choice of various health plans don’t always choose the ones with the lowest cost. In a recent survey, only 6% of the participants opted for the lowest cost plan offered in their area in 2006, which could have saved them up to $520. One problem might be too many plans, confusing buyers. Also, seniors might be giving too much importance to premiums and not to out-of–pocket costs.
GOA Cites Fraud in Medicare In-Home Services Billings (March 12, 2009)
According to the Government Accountability Office, fraud and abuse increased Medicare spending on home health services as some providers exaggerated patients’ medical conditions or billed for unnecessary services. Medicare pays for visits by nurses, aides and physical therapists for homebound enrollees. Every dollar that is lost to fraud is a dollar that could go to improve the life of older Americans.
Doylestown Program Aids the Sickest Elderly (March 2, 2009)
Non-profit groups like Health Quality Partners are increasingly coordinating care for chronically ill Medicare patients. The group has shown that it can keep patients healthy and reduce spending. Health Quality Partners was one of 15 programs that Medicare funded to see if coordination could improve quality and reduce costs. It was one of only two successful programs. Overall, the non-profit reduced health spending by 12% or $84 per person a month compared with the control group.
US Advisers Urge Broad Medicare Payment Reform (February 27, 2009)
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended that the US Medicare insurance program make massive change to sustain the program, which covers roughly 44 million elderly disabled and older Americans. It recommended sizeable cuts to home healthcare companies. Cutting costs is imperative to maintain the Medicare program amid rising budget shortfalls and an aging population.
Medicare Spending Still Varies by Region (February 25, 2009)
According to a New England Journal of Medicine report, addressing regional variations in the cost of care for older persons will be crucial in undertaking any overhaul of the nation’s health care system envisioned by Congress and the Obama administration. Regional differences in the growth of Medicare spending suggest doctors are helping to drive up costs when they more frequently order tests or admit patients to hospitals. In some areas like Miami, Medicare spent about $16,000 per enrollee in 2006 compared to about half as much in San Francisco.
Obama Budget Would Slow Medicare, Medicaid Growth (February 25, 2009)
President Obama wants to squeeze Medicaid and Medicare spending to help create a ten-year $634 billion fund for health care reform. The government’s massive health insurance programs for older persons would grow more slowly under the President’s proposed budget.
New Rule Enacted by Bush Administration Impedes Cases Against Nursing Homes (February 24, 2009)
The Bush administration shut off a source of information last fall about abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities that people suing nursing homes consider crucial to their cases. The new rule prohibits Medicare and Medicaid contractors from participating in private lawsuits involving facilities that are in the federal assistance program without approval from the head of the Department of Health and Human Services. This change hurts residents and their families by allowing nursing homes and inspectors to keep secret the bad practices they’ve uncovered. Outrageous!
Almost Half of California Seniors Struggle to Survive (February 24, 2009)
A UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study reveals that 47% of California residents 65 years and older are unable to pay for their basic needs. That amounts to 864,000 seniors; more than half of them struggle at home alone. According to the decades-old standard of measuring poverty, only 9 to 10 percent of California seniors were considered poor, that is, earning less than $10,000 a year. Researchers note that that amount is inadequate in high-cost California, failing to reflect the true cost of survival.
Insurer Stocks Tumble after Medicare Announcement (February 23, 2009)
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released preliminary 2010 Medicare Advantage payment rates after the markets closed on Friday. Those rates showed a reimbursement increase of a half-percent. As a result, several managed care stocks sank sharply with a lower-than-expected increase in rates. A Goldman Sachs analyst said he expected an increase of between 3 and 5 percent.
Recession Making it Harder on Those Who Care for Ill Loved Ones (February 23, 2009)
The recession is putting increasing pressure on people caring for a sick loved one. Though the stress is always tremendous, both physically and emotionally, caregivers are reeling under the strain of job losses and decreasing health benefits. Retirement investments and other assets that were once seen as rock solid are evaporating.
Obama Outlines States’ Stimulus Package to Governors (February 23, 2009)
President Obama told US governors on Monday that his $15 billion from the stimulus package would be distributed to the states to help cover the costs of Medicaid programs. The recession has had a huge impact on state budgets. Public officials are struggling to meet Medicaid program costs.
Care for County’s Elders Reaches Tipping Point (February 21, 2009)
Shortage of primary care doctors is growing to be an acute problem in places like Santa Cruz County, California. This trend reflects the fact that doctors nationwide are unwilling to accept new Medicare patients. Doctors contend that that they think the reimbursement rates paid by Medicare is too low to suit them.
Up the Money Spent on Alzheimer’s Research (February 14, 2009)
There are about 5 million older people affected by Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Alzheimer’s patients often need years of nursing care for even the most basic activities of daily living. The US does not have an affordable long-term program. The federal government now spends about $640 million a year on Alzheimer’s research. The Association is seeking at least $1 billion and is lobbying Washington to make finding a cure a national priority.
Obama Plans to Improve, Preserve Senior Health Care (January 26, 2009)
Older persons can expect better health services under President Obama’s administration. Some of the promises he made during his campaign include provision for low-cost drugs, cutting the cost of Medicare for seniors and increased investment in health information technology.
Outgoing Bush Health Chief Urges Medicare Changes (January 14, 2009)
The Bush administration’s health chief, Mike Leavitt, advised the incoming Obama administration to include Medicare reform as part of its effort to improve the US health care system. He suggested that reform is important, not only for health care, but also for the long-term financial stability of the country.
Social Security: Options to Protect Benefits for Vulnerable Groups When Addressing Program Solvency (December 7, 2009)
A December 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office outlines ways that current proposals seek to reform Social Security. The report addresses the following key questions: (1) What are the options for modifying Social Security benefits to address concerns about benefit adequacy and retirement income security for economically vulnerable groups?; and (2) What effects could these options have on benefits those groups receive from SSI, Medicaid, and SNAP?
Increasing Health Insurance Coverage for High-Cost Older Adults (July 2009)
Since a small fraction of individuals account for a large share of total health expenditures, insurers gain more by excluding
high-cost people from coverage than by efficiently managing the care of enrollees. The incentives for insurers to avoid high-cost and high-risk enrollees affect not only the likelihood of health insurance coverage for the high-risk population, but
also the cost and accessibility of coverage overall. This paper identifies public policies that might address these problems
in private health insurance markets more effectively and delineates the advantages and
disadvantages of each.
Pay-for-Performance in Nursing Homes (Spring 2009)
More than 3 million older persons in the US will rely on nursing home care in the next year. Unfortunately, in 2006 when so many older persons relied on nursing homes for shelter and care, some 20% of US nursing homes had been cited for serious deficiencies that caused harm or placed their residents in jeopardy. A solution to this high statistic may be pay-for-performance nursing homes, a reimbursement approach which rewards health care providers for achieving high levels of performance.
Ageist Health 'Reforms' Can Be Lethal (November 13, 2009)
While the abortion exclusion in the new US House of Representative’s health bill has outraged many young women, it has also angered women 50 and over as the bill plans to also exclude women of this age group. The new proposals which exclude women 50 and over, and include new cuts in Medicare and Medicaid will collectively generate gaps in coverage that can be lethal for women in these two age populations. The exclusivity—known as age rating— will result in higher costs for women, who are more populous in this age group than men, and thus, lower use of health care. In turn, many US women worry what will happen both to the young and old with the possible passage of the new health bill.
Sex, then Amnesia...and it's no Soap Opera (November 5, 2009)
(Article also available in Arabic)
It was either mind-blowing or completely forgettable. Either way, Alice doesn't remember. One August morning, Alice and her husband, Scott, had sex. That's when things became confusing. Rather than appearing pleased, Alice, 59, seemed disoriented.
When Knitting and Sewing Come to Rescue Failing Memories (April 14, 2009)
(Article in French)
A recent US Mayo Clinic study in Minnesota shows the positive aspects of knitting and sewing on the memory’s mechanisms. Playing games and reading books seem to have positive impacts as well. According to this US study, people who devote time to these activities decrease their memory loss by 40%.
Newsweek Announces the War between Generations as Unavoidable (February 24, 2009)
(Article in French)
According to Robert J. Samuelson, intergenerational tensions will be unavoidable in the years to come. The percentage of older persons in the US population keeps increasing. The author claims that the US system helps the oldest people and permits the certainty of tensions between generations. An important part of the Federal Budget is dedicated to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare expenditures, all of them concerning the elderly substantially. The new President will face difficulties in fulfilling the expectations of both youth and old people. The risk of political war is substantial.
Health Care Spending in US Grew at Lowest Rate in a Decade (January 6, 2009)
An increase in the use of generic drugs and consumer concerns about drug safety led to a decrease in health care spending in the US, the lowest in a decade. The substitution of brand name drugs by generic drugs led to a slower growth in prescription drug spending. On the other hand, spending for hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ fees increased.
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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.
FDA Allows the Marketing of a New Flu Vaccine Designed Especially for People 65 Years Old and Over (December 24, 2009)
(Article in French)
Older persons are more at risk than younger adults for flu and its complications. This higher risk is the result of a less efficient immune system that doesn't respond well to the vaccine. This article is drawn from the press release of Fluzone®, describing a new vaccine designed especially for older persons. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the marketing of this vaccine that creates a high immune response in patients 65 years old and over.
Older People Need More of the 'Sunshine
Vitamin' (September 3, 2009)
For twenty years we have been told to protect ourselves from the sun so we don’t get skin cancer. Yet, another study shows that sunlight can be very good in providing vitamin D, protecting us from a number of diseases. Over the last 20 years as people have taken seriously the warnings of dermatologists not to go out into the sun, people’s vitamin D levels have dropped. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus. As many older persons are vitamin D deficient, they have to ask their doctor to assure they have enough Vitamin D even if they go into the sun infrequently.
Baby Boomers Still Using Illegal Drugs (August 20, 2009)
Baby boomers who say they took illicit drugs within the past year has nearly doubled from 5.1% in 2002 to 9.4% in 2007. Over the same time period, marijuana use among Americans age 50 to 59 increased from 3.1 to 5.7% and non-medical use of prescription drugs climbed to 4%. While the majority of baby boomers who have sampled drugs aren’t regular users, some continue to light up as they approach retirement.
Citing Risks, Lawmakers Seek to Curb Drug Commercials (July 27, 2009)
Many US legislators have begun to advocate banning ads for prescription drugs like Viagra or
Vytorin. Many believe that advertising these and many more drugs demonstrates a health system that has run amok. Such ads often understate risks and overstate benefits of the drugs, leading to health problems among the buyers, many of whom are older people. Legislators want to
crack down on the drug companies, especially when the full risks aren’t known about the drugs and may not be known for several years, possibly causing even more damage to unaware buyers.
Rapamycin adds years to mice (July 10, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
Although researchers aren't ready to recommend that humans start popping pills to live longer, they hope a drug used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs may turn out to extend lives, too. Middle-age mice that were given the drug rapamycin
(Sirolimus) lived as much as 38% longer than mice that didn't get the drug. The findings, disclosed in a study released online Wednesday in the journal Nature, provides "a foundation for future research on retarding aging," said the study's lead author, David Harrison, a professor at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Dieting Monkeys Offer Hope for Living Longer (July 9, 2009)
A long-awaited study involving caloric restriction in monkeys now has data to provide. Caloric restriction involves eating the same food, but with 30% fewer calories. The study has shown that caloric restriction, in monkeys at least, slows aging. Scientists found that 37% of the monkeys without the change in diet died due to old age, compared to 13% that died of old age with the diet. However, few humans can survive eating a diet with 30% less calories, so scientists are searching for a drug that mimics the effects of caloric restriction. One is already identified:
resveratrol, found in red wine.
Of Mice and Monkeys (July 9, 2009)
Over the course of 20 years, Dr. Richard Weindruch and his team have looked at 76 monkeys (30 males in the beginning, and since 1994, another 16 males and 30 females). Weindurch proved that monkeys whose diets were restricted lived longer than the other subjects in the study. Since most people are not willing to undergo starvation diets to live a few years longer, a pharmaceutical company has begun work on a pill that will extend human longevity, using mice for research.
Federal Saving From Lowering of Drug Prices Is Unclear (June 22, 2009)
The White House on Monday hailed what it described as a “historic agreement to lower drugs costs” for older Americans, but it was not immediately clear how much the government would save and what could be used to pay for coverage of the uninsured.
Common Medicines May Harm Seniors’ Mental Ability (June 15, 2009)
An analysis of 27 studies confirms that medicines that the older people regularly take can cause memory loss, dementia and other cognitive problems. The medications known as anticholinergics include Benadryl, Ditropan, Paxil, etc. The study recommends that every older person check their medications to learn if any affect their cognitive abilities.
People with Alzheimer’s ‘Treated no Better than in Victorian Times’ (June 4, 2009)
People with Alzheimer’s are being given an outdated treatment in Britain reminiscent of the Victorian approach to epilepsy or autism. Emphasis needs to be put on activities to stimulate engagement and enhance learning skills such as painting and community activities. People with Alzheimer’s should not be confined to their homes or nursing homes and there should also be less reliance on
Senior Use of Psychiatric Drugs Spikes (May 5, 2009)
About 15% of older Americans had prescriptions for psychiatric drugs in 2006, double the percentage a decade earlier, according to a recent analysis. A rising number of people of all ages received treatment for mental disorders over the past decade. However, evidence shows that the most seriously ill may be receiving less care from specialists, according to the study by Columbia University and Harvard Medical School health policy researchers. The biggest change came for people 65 years and older: About 16% were diagnosed with a mental illness, roughly double the percentage in 1996, with 15% overall given psychiatric prescriptions. Seniors are of most concern: Traditionally, they've been the most under-treated, but now many are getting psychiatric medication with a surge in medication use driven mostly by popularity of antidepressant drugs such as Prozac. Among the seriously impaired, however, access to specialists is dropping drastically. Is there a profit dimension to this big increase in psychiatric prescriptions?
Epilepsy in the Elderly (March 13, 2009)
Epilepsy is difficult to recognize and treat in older people. Epileptic seizures in older people might be confused with unclear etiology, memory disturbance or giddiness. Confusion after a seizure might last longer in older patients and it might be diagnosed as dementia or stroke. More research is needed.
Obama to Lift Restrictions on Stem Cell Research Funding (March 9, 2009)
President Obama plans to sign an executive order lifting restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, in the latest reversal of his predecessor's policies. Embryonic stem cells are master cells that can morph into any cell of the body. Scientists hope to harness them so they can create replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases from diabetes to Parkinson's disease. But the issue remains controversial since days-old embryos must be destroyed to obtain the cells. Opponents argue that research using embryonic cells is morally wrong.
Medicare Announces Final Coverage Policy for the Sleep Testing Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (March 3, 2009)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today a new policy for Medicare coverage of sleep testing for the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. The decision provides coverage for specified sleep tests that are used to confirm the diagnosis in patients who have clinical signs and symptoms of OSA, a condition characterized by periods of apnea during sleep. Apnea is defined as a temporary absence of breathing.
Anti-Inflammatory Medicines Do Not Prevent Alzheimer’s in Older People (April 28, 2009)
(Article in Arabic)
A new study in Washington found that certain anti-inflammatory medicines and pain sedatives such as ibuprofen and Naproxyn do not prevent Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. It determined that the risk of illness among people over 83 years of age increased by 66% among frequent users of anti-inflammatory medicines. This study indicates a need to reinterpret the findings of earlier research that concluded that these antibiotics can prevent or delay dementia.
Joint Replacement Need to Exceed Surgeon Supply (February 26, 2009)
It is very likely that seven years from now there won’t be enough surgeons in the US to perform total hip and knee joint replacements. The obesity epidemic in the US increases the need for joint replacement. Also, baby boomers will be entering the years in which such replacements are common. But due to low reimbursements, the supply of surgeons to perform such surgeries is steadily declining and might lead to wait times of 1-2 years.
Naturally Produced Estrogen May Protect Women from Parkinson’s disease (February 25, 2009)
According to a new study, women who have more years of fertility (the time from first menstruation to menopause) have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than women with fewer years. These findings, involving nearly 74,000 women, suggest that longer exposure to the body’s own (endogenous) hormones, including estrogen, may help protect brain cells affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Vitamins May Prevent Eye Disease in the Elderly, Research Finds (February 23, 2009)
According to a study conducted on about 500 women, taking B vitamins and folic acid could reduce the risk of age related sight problems in women. Women who took supplements had a 31% lower risk of a condition called AMD. This condition occurs when cells located at the back of the eye deteriorate and cause the central vision to become blurred or distorted.
If Parents Had Alzheimer’s, Aging May Come Early (February 19, 2009)
Middle aged people whose parents had Alzheimer’s and who carry the Alzheimer’s gene known as ApoE4 could be more susceptible to memory decline. The memory decline was not detected in people of middle age whose parents had Alzheimer’s but who did not carry the gene. The result suggests that the Alzheimer’s gene is facilitating the expression of some other gene, which could, in turn, cause memory decline.
Efforts to Curb Seniors’ Drug, Alcohol Abuse Must Continue (February 9, 2009)
Alcohol and prescription drug misuse and abuse is one of the most rapidly growing public health problems in the United States. Most physicians do not routinely screen their patients for alcohol consumption and hence miss the opportunity to provide prevention education and early intervention. Desert Samaritans for the elderly has begun to address this issue by engaging community organizations in training health care providers.
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A Profile of Older Americans: 2009: US Department of Health and Human Services Report (2009)
The US Administration on Aging released a new report documenting the 2009 demographic trends in the older population. The US older population has increased 13%, or 4.5 million since 1998. From 2000 to 2020, the older population will increase from 35 to 55 million. There are 22.4 million older women and 16.5 older men, with half of these women living alone. The report outlines many more statistics including more future growth, marital status, racial and ethnic composition, geographic distribution, income, poverty, housing, employment, medical coverage, and disabilities.
Caregiving in the US: A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Age 50 or Older (December 2009)
In a December 2009 report, the National Alliance for Caregiving staff looked at US caregivers who assist people over 50 years of age. The purpose of the analysis was to learn who they are, what they do for the people they assist, and how caregiving affects their lives. The report estimates there are 43.5 million people over 18 years of age, or 19% of all adults, who provide unpaid care for someone who is at least 50 years old. Most caregivers are
female and are an average age of 50 years old. The report also contains an ethnic and demographic breakdown of the caregivers.
Aging in America in the Twenty-first Century: Demographic Forecasts from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society (December 2009)
Researchers at the MacArthur Research network say that current government projections may significantly underestimate the future life expectancy of Americans. By 2050 Americans may live 3.1 to 7.9 years longer than official government projections. The researchers forecast that by 2050 life expectancy for females will rise to 89.2-93.3 years and to 83.2-85.9 years for males. The study estimates that cumulative outlays for Medicare and Social Security could rise by $3.2 to $8.3 trillion from current government projections by 2050. Researchers point out that longer life expectancy has positive implications for society, including new and expanded markets in health care and leisure and a more experienced work
The NIA Demographic Centers 2009 (November 2009)
With the proportion of older people increasing in the US and around the world, nations face new challenges
to health care and retirement systems, intergenerational relationships within families, and labor market supply. To help inform public discussion
on these issues, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) carries out economic and demographic research on population aging. The report describes the NIA’s fourteen Centers and lists the issues
facing older persons that its 500 scientists are studying.
Final Report from the Long Term Care Workshop:
"Creating Solutions for New York State" (September 25, 2009)
The City University of New York (CUNY) collaborated with the Vanderbilt Center for Better Health to bring a report entitled, “Creating Solutions for New York State,” which focuses on the innovation and implementation of policies surrounding long term care and affordable healthcare for New Yorkers, particularly the elderly. The report includes the input of over 100 healthcare providers, academia personnel, policy experts, government representatives and advocates
during a three-day conference at Baruch College in New York City. Some of the topics addressed include the following: consolidation of existing administrative programs, exploration of a universal care model, future predictions of home care and community service programs, and continued maintenance of a high quality healthcare network. New York State, which bears the highest long-term care costs
exceeding any other state—closely followed by California—will be home to an estimated 1.7 million older persons by the year 2030. Older New Yorkers will make up 9% of New York’s total population. Establishing long-term care policies and affordable healthcare for the elderly is quite necessary.
Boomer Women’s Long-Term Care Planning: Barriers and Levers (August 2009)
Researchers have pointed out that it’s difficult to persuade persons to make plans for their long-term care, particularly among Baby Boomers. Many subscribe to the notion that they live in a society in which prevailing attitudes, demography, economics, and medical advances have
giving them many choices for managing chronic illnesses and remaining active and involved throughout their life. This mindset could lead Boomers to believe that they will never need Long Term Care.
Grandparents Day 2009: September 13th (July 13, 2009)
US President Jimmy Carter signed the first presidential proclamation in 1978 — and one has been issued each year since — designating the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The first official observance was Sept. 9, 1979. In honor of the nation’s grandparents, the US Census Bureau presents data about grandparents’ unsung and unnoticed heroic efforts as caregivers in this
Aging Differently: Physical Limitations among Adults Aged 50 years and
Over (July 2009)
Many adults experience increased physical limitations with age. A physical limitation, as defined here, refers to having difficulty performing any of eight physical activities. Recent studies show that US residents experience physical limitations later in today’s older population than in earlier cohorts. This “compression of morbidity” means that on average older adults are living longer without experiencing a significant loss of independence in performing a wide range of activities. However, US minorities and poor people report physical limitations at earlier ages than others.
Growing Old in America:
Expectations vs. Reality (June 29, 2009)
Getting old isn't nearly as bad as people think it will be. Nor is it
quite as good. Researchers at the Pew Research Center Social &
Demographic Trends conducted a survey on aging among a nationally
representative sample of 2,969 adults. They examined many aspects of
everyday life ranging from mental acuity to physical dexterity to sexual
activity to financial security. They reported a sizable gap between the
expectations that young and middle-aged adults have about old age and the
actual experiences reported by older Americans themselves.
The Coming Entrepreneurship Boom (June 2009)
In the middle of an economic recession some worry that the US economy will become sluggish due to the increasing presence of older persons. Using an ageist framework, some say that an aging country, with its baby boom generation moving into retirement, won’t remain entrepreneurial. However, according Kaiser Foundation studies, the United States might be on the cusp of an entrepreneurship boom—not in spite of an aging population but because of it.
Social Support, Networks, and Aging (June 2009)
The National Institute on Aging conducts research on how social networks affect health and happiness and influence longevity. According to a new report, the social and economic times during which a person is born can have a large impact on happiness. While the relationship between aging and happiness is not very clear, according to some studies, social networks like family and friends promote happiness in older people. Additionally, the particular family member who provides support is important as well. For example, Japanese culture is characterized by a strong commitment on the part of children in taking care of the elders, and this support contributes to positive mental health in older
Grandparents Generous with Money, Not with Advice (May 2009)
In May 2009, the MetLife Mature Market Institute conducted a quick poll of grandparents age 45 and older who have grandchildren age 25 and under. The survey examined the amount and frequency during which grandparents provided grandchildren with financial assistance and advice. The researchers also tried to discern the effect that the current economic crisis is having on grandparents.
HBO Alzheimer Project / Harris Interactive Census: Examining the Impact of Alzheimer Disease in America (April 2009)
According to these researchers, half of the US adult population knows or has known someone with Alzheimer’s. One third of those touched by the disease provide some level of support, typically emotional (82%) but also care-giving (52%) and financial (14%) support as well. This support requires money and time. More than 1 person in 3 is worried about getting the disease and nearly 1 in 5 suspect they know someone with the disease who has not considered getting a diagnosis or treatment. Most of the population doesn’t realize the financial impact of Alzheimer’s on the US. Even though they understand there is no cure for the disease, they don’t understand how the diagnosis is arrived
Can Alzheimer’s Disease be Prevented? (April 2009)
There is no cure now for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) but this report studies the means of possibly delaying AD[‘s onset, slowing its progress or even preventing it completely. Alzheimer’s develops over many years, affected by genetic makeup, environment, and life history as well as current life style. Certain measures can control, if not prevent the disease: physical exercise, diet, social activities, and intellectually stimulating activities. The report cautions against using untried, unproven and unscientific prevention
Do Health Problems Reduce Consumption at Older Ages? (March 1, 2009)
This report examines the impact of health problems on spending trends among elders. The results show that medical conditions increase health spending but do not reduce non-health spending. However, health conditions do reduce non-health spending for low income
Management of Pain in the Older Person With Cancer (January 1, 2009)
Pain in older cancer patients is common; however it often goes under-treated. Concerns about the use of medications, the atypical manifestations of pain in older persons, and side effects related to analgesic drugs are examples of challenges to cancer pain management. The care of older cancer patients who experience pain consists of a comprehensive assessment, which includes evaluation for conditions that may exacerbate or be exacerbated by pain, such as emotional and spiritual distress, disability, and comorbid conditions. Pain in older cancer patients should be managed in an interdisciplinary environment using pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions to help decrease suffering and improve quality of life. In this two-part report, Part 1 addresses the pathophysiology of pain, how aging affects the perception of pain, and the multidisciplinary evaluation of pain in this population. Part 2 deals with pharmacologic approaches to treating pain, including opioid and nonopioid analgesics, as well as nonpharmacologic
Good Physical Condition of Older Persons (2009)
(Report in Spanish)
The US National Institute on Aging scientists claim that regular physical activity can prevent or postpone the progress of illnesses such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. The Institute also says that accidental falls account for many elder deaths. Institute researchers
found that older persons who put physical exercises into their daily routines have better balance and a smaller probability of accidentally falling than persons who do not exercise.
Basics of Alzheimer’s
The writer traces the basics of Alzheimer’s disease, the brain disorder named for German physician, Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. The report lists 10 warning signs: difficulty performing familiar tasks, memory loss, disorientation to time and place and describes how it differs from other types of dementia, how it affects the brain and the different stages of the disease. Even though there is no current Alzheimer’s cure, hope remains to find better ways to treat the 5.3 million persons in the US persons living with it today.
Half a Million Older Californians Living Alone Unable to Make Ends Meet (2009)
Nearly half a million elders living alone in California in 2007 could not make ends meet – lacking sufficient income to pay for a minimum level of housing, food, healthcare, transportation and other basic expenses. Older Californians faced high housing costs; renters were twice as likely to be economically insecure than those who owned their homes. Researchers found that poverty was highest among elders of color, women and the oldest age groups in the state. The authors conclude with some recommendations about how life could be made better for these deprived Californians. Readers can only conclude that the situation is much worse now in 2009 as the economic meltdown and the Golden State’s bankruptcy proceeds.
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.
Health Disparities Hit Poor, Minority Women (December 2, 2009)
A study at the University of California, Los Angeles, entitled, “Health Disparities Among California's Nearly Four Million Low-Income Nonelderly Adult Women,” indicates that there are significant health disparities among low income women ages 40 to 64 years. Examination of 3.8 million poor women in California showed higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease than their more affluent counterparts. In addition, researchers discovered that one in five lower income women reported not visiting a physician within the last year, compared to only one in 12 in more affluent women. Poor women are less likely to have
insurance and will likely experience poor health in old age.
Experts Expose Health Reform Gaps for Ethnic Elders (December 2, 2009)
The Gerontological Society of America’s 62nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia,
had the theme of “Creative Approaches to Healthy Aging.” It combined 1,000 sessions and papers that focused on the reduction of health disparities in ethnic and minority elders. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of white seniors will increase 70 percent by the year 2030, while the number of African American and Hispanic elders will increase more than 250 percent, respectively. The US should address health disparities now before they continue to grow.
Happiest Doctors Treat Children, Elderly (November 27, 2009)
According to a 2004 to 2005 study on physician job satisfaction that
surveyed 6,500 physicians practicing in 42 specialties, the most satisfied physicians are pediatricians and geriatricians while the least satisfied are neurosurgeons and obstetricians/gynecologists. However, only 250 geriatric-specialized medical school graduates emerged last year nationwide from US medical schools. Why? The writers suggest that low pay in comparison to other fields might be account for the small numbers. Yet, other fields might have lower satisfaction rates because of irregular hours, malpractice cases, decreases in pay and loss of independence. In addition, the study suggests that low satisfaction may lead to
shortages down the road.
Program Aims to Offer Better Christmas For Elderly In
Area (November 9, 2009)
Collaborators in Georgia currently work in unison to host an upcoming program, “Be A Santa to A Senior,” from now until December 8. The program will collect gifts for seniors, whether material or service-oriented, offering lonely seniors some warmth
at the holiday season. Now in its fifth year, repeated participants include Home Instead Senior Care, Athens Community Council on Aging, Athens Regional Medical Center, Walmart and
the University of Georgia Institute of Gerontology.
Watch the Walk And Prevent A Fall (November 8, 2009)
According to recent statistics, over one-third of older persons aged 65 and
above fall each year and about one fall in every 10 results in serious injury. Despite the clinical implications, the estimated cost of elderly falls amounts to $75 billion annually in the United States. Geriatric advocates are conducting research on how to prevent this common event. They are using wireless sensors that are not only low-cost, but even more so,
promise to monitor an older person’s movements through carpets, clothing and rooms. Seniors will
give insight about the sensors and offer their ideas about the risk factors that induce falls and suggest ways they can be prevented.
Tai Chi Has Major Benefits for Arthritic Knees (November
In a recent study, researchers discovered that engaging in Tai Chi not only improves pain and function, but also eases depression and anxiety in persons with osteoarthritis—usually older persons. Tai Chi offers the benefits of both exercise and improved mental health, in contrast to other physical exercises. Some 40 participants with an average age of 65 years engaged in Tai Chi or wellness education for one hour per week and stretching exercises twice weekly for 12 weeks. While further biological benefits need to be explored in future studies, the Tai Chi group demonstrated overall improved well-being and self-efficacy as opposed to their control counterparts who simply stretched.
What Can Prevent Walking Disability in Older People? (November 4, 2009)
The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced the award of $29.5 million in grant support over the next two years to determine whether a specific physical activity program can stave off disability in older people. The funding supports Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial, the largest ever undertaken to prevent mobility disability among older people at risk of losing their ability to walk and live independently. The University of Florida's Institute on Aging in Gainesville gave the grant.
Web Surf to Save Your Aging Brain (October 19, 2009)
Researchers now have found that browsing the Internet proves effective in protecting against an aging brain. The study discovered that older individuals who browsed the web for just a few days demonstrated immediate improvements in brain function. Researchers examined the brain scans of 24 cognitively normal adults ages 55 to 78 after they had surfed the web for an hour each day for two weeks and had multiple MRI scans. The MRI scans indicated heightened brain activity in both the participants who had extensive Internet experience and in those who did not. Overall, researchers warned that cognitive abilities fall under the “use-it-or-lose-it” phenomenon. Despite the conclusions of this study, true cognitive benefits of the Internet depend on how it is used.
New Jersey Woman Celebrates 100th
Birthday—At Work (September 24, 2009)
Born September 24, 1909, in Bloomfield, NJ, Astrid Thoening has experienced two wars, the walk on the moon and the innovation of the automobile, airplane, TV and computers—all within her lifetime. One hundred years later, she celebrates her birthday, of all places, at work. As a receptionist at Thoening Insurance Company—the family- owned insurance company operated by her son and grandson—Astrid processes the payroll, answers phones, handles financial records and types important documents. But she is not a typical receptionist. With colorful glasses, a full head of blonde hair and accented self-designed clothing, Astrid looks much younger than she really is. She attributes her long life to her family, continued work experience, genetics and “thinking young.” Hence, for her, turning 100 was just “another day — it's hard to explain…I don't feel old, and I don't think old."
Study: Hairstylists Can Help Identify Older Clients Who Need Health Services (September 8, 2009)
According to a study in Ohio, hairstylists may have unique chance to help their older clients who need health services. As the old often share their problems during appointments, hairstylists notice when they suffer from depression, dementia, or self-neglect. The researchers would like to teach hairstylists about community services so they could refer clients to the appropriate care-providers. However, hairstylists often have no training to recognize symptoms of depression, dementia and neglect in their older clients and may need mental health training as part of their vocational courses.
Depression in the Elderly
- How to Understand It (September 7, 2009)
Although the prevalence of depression is more pronounced in younger populations, recent researchers claim that major depression may actually be more common in elderly persons, contributing to an overall increase of depression in society. Why do people get depressed? Here are some reasons: Social isolation following family separations and/or the death of a partner; illnesses that cause or enhance depression such as Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s disease; patient denial; an incorrect diagnosis; and inconsistent treatment. The authors say that depression levels vary in older individuals worldwide, depending on location, gender and biological age. In all areas, depression increased with age and in all countries, except China, women suffered typically higher rates of depression than men.
Older, Wiser, Slower (September 2, 2009)
Amid ever-rising calls for more exercise in America, there isn't much guidance on cutting back. As the baby boomers who fueled marathon and triathlon crazes enter their 50s and 60s, their unquenched competitiveness can become a threat to their stiffening joints, rigid muscles, hardening arteries and high-mileage hearts.
Survey Finds Binge Drinking Among Older People, Too (August 17, 2009)
Young people aren’t the only ones who “binge” on alcohol, say Duke University researchers. They said that a nationwide survey of people 50 to 64 years old showed nearly a quarter of men and nine percent of the women had engaged in binge drinking in the previous 30 days. Older bingers can face alcohol poisoning, liver disease, neurological damage, injuries and may engage in violent crimes due to such alcohol abuse.
The Last Taboo (August 14, 2009)
Some 10 million Americans currently needing long-term care, either at home, in a nursing facility or in other group setting. However, most US citizens ignore the decline in old age and the issues surrounding it. Two-thirds of those 65 and older will need long-term care before they die. Yet families rarely plan for this eventuality. The author argues that confronting issues is far better than running away from them.
Good News for Elderly: Happiness Keeps Growing (August 13, 2009)
The findings of several studies on aging and mental health indicate that happiness and emotional wellbeing improve with time. Older people learn to avoid or limit stressful situations and are less likely than younger adults to let negative comments or criticism bother them, especially since they have more time to learn and understand the intentions of others, helping them to avoid these stressful situations.
Study Links Excessive Sleeping to Increased Alzheimer’s Risk in People Older than 65 (August 12, 2009)
Researchers believe that oversleeping could be an early sign of Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. According to a new study, people older than 65 who sleep more than eight or nine hours a night may have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared to those who get six to eight hours of sleep per night.
Elderly “Mercy Killings” Spur Argument among Experts (August 10, 2009)
There are 300-500 murder-suicide deaths nationally each year of people over the age of 55. Many of these are assisted or “mercy killings.” In the US, assisted suicides among couples (where one spouse assists the other before killing himself or herself) are becoming increasingly common. These killings have been debated, with strong defenders on each side of the fence.
Seniors Remain Wary of Health-Care Reform (August 9, 2009)
The Obama administration’s effort to increase coverage for younger people is increasing fears of reduced benefits for older people. The proposed Medicare changes could mean longer wait times at hospitals and doctors offices, less money for new treatments, and restrictions on care and prescriptions. The changes President Obama envisions would expand insurance coverage but would also affect the comprehensive coverage that the federal Medicare program provides to older people.
Sex and Aging: A Series of Articles from
In a series of four articles, the National Sexuality Resource Center (NSRC)
explores issues of sex and aging. Orgasms, HIV/AIDS, Viagra, sex
counseling, and Alzheimer’s disease are just a few of the topics
discussed by the authors. NSRC hopes to promote a safe, active, and
healthy sex life in the ever-growing aging population.
10 Best Places for Lifelong Learning (July 31, 2009)
Lifelong learning programs are not only a rich source of activities for seniors; they're an enriching business opportunity for a growing roster of colleges and universities, retirement communities, travel companies and cultural institutions. US News searched for the nation's best places for lifelong learning, looking for cities with lots of people with undergraduate and graduate degrees; heavy employment at higher education institutions; concentrations of schools, libraries, and museums; and plenty of literary and cultural activities nearby. Areas of particular focus are those containing all three branches of higher education: universities, colleges, and community colleges. The top 10 ranked highest because they tend to be smaller places adjacent to large urban areas, and they often benefit from that proximity. They also have their own homegrown programs.
Senior Games: Senior Olympics in the United States (July 30, 2009)
(Article in French)
It's a bit like the Olympics, except that many of the athletes have white hair. The Summer National Senior Games, held from August 1 to 15 in San Francisco, hosted this year a record 12,750 participants, including many who were quite old. The oldest competitor was one hundred years old! The National Senior Games Associations organized the event, using the games to motivate older men and women to lead healthy lifestyles.
Driving Debate Fails the Vision Test (July 29, 2009)
The recent proposal to impose driving tests for older persons in the US has become very controversial. In this article from a Boston resident, he suggests that the driving test for older persons is irrational and unnecessary. Older drivers see testing as a threat to freedom and independence. Families, mostly adult children, avoid conversations about driving because of burdens it places on them. Physicians see themselves as public health officials, not law enforcement officers. This author suggests that mandatory driver’s tests may cause more problems than they are worth.
Riley Signs Missing Senior Citizen Law (July 24, 2009)
On July 24, Alabama Governor Riley signed the “Missing Senior Citizen Alert Act” into law in Alabama. The law is designed to aid in the safe recovery of missing senior citizens who are at risk of bodily harm or death. The MSA is enacted to provide a rapid response from law enforcement and gain the voluntary assistance of the broadcast media to help locate missing senior citizens. The MSA will be issued similar to a Media Alert sent out via email and fax when a child or young adult does not meet Amber Alert criteria.
Seniors Tap Video Games to Reverse Brain’s Aging (July 23, 2009)
California State University researchers launched a pilot project about whether video games might help reverse mental aging among older people. Researchers say that the game gives the brain a workout and keeps it sharper. On top of that benefit, they claim that playing video games provides persons with a sense of empowerment and control about the way they feel about themselves.
West Virginia Seniors Going To California (July 22, 2009)
Seniors across the US are getting active: Members of the West Virginia Senior Sports Classic are putting on their game faces for the national competition in California. The big event includes 17 different sporting competitions and is made up of seniors from 50 to 75 plus years of age. Older persons will travel to the event only after qualifying locally. This duplicates another article on the sports competition in Palo Alto.
How Old is Too Old to Race in NASCAR? (July 21, 2009)
Herschel McGriff gave a lot of people reason to smile this past weekend when he competed in the Camping West World Series at Portland International Raceway, US, coming in 13th in the 28-car field. This finish was all the more surprising after McGriff was forced to start at the back of the field and make up a lost lap. It was also a surprising finish given that McGriff is 81 years old. According to the American Medical Association, when it comes to older persons and driving a passenger car, drivers aged 75 and older are involved in significantly more motor vehicle crashes per mile driven than middle-aged drivers. The AMA also points out that older persons are much more fragile physically than younger people, putting them at a greater risk for fatal crashes then their younger counterparts. So sparks the debate: How old is too old to race in NASCAR?
Low-Cost Repairs Will Allow Seniors to Stay in their Homes (July 16, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
The Home Solutions program helps older persons with payments for emergency repairs, which will provide security for their homes. The State of Connecticut’s Department of Economic Affairs and Community Development created this useful program. The State Community Renewal Team will administer the loan and distribute the financial aid across the US. The loans amount to up to $10,000 for such various uses, such as roof and heating system repairs or for lead removal.
Close Relationship with Caregivers Slows Alzheimer’s (July 15, 2009)
A group of Utah State University researchers and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and Boston University have demonstrated that the rate of clinical progression of dementia may be slowed by a close relationship with one's caregiver. Started in 2002, the Cache County Dementia Progression Study has monitored 167 participants with Alzheimer's disease for three years. The study measured the cognitive and functional status of the participants and the caregiver-reported relationship of the participants. It was found that higher levels of closeness to one’s caregiver were significantly associated with a slower decline in both cognitive and functional domains, especially among persons with spouse
Old Persons Feel Happier Than Youth (July 13, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
A recent US study showed that old age is far better than imagined. Old persons have more leisure time to spend with their families, there is no pressure and they have guaranteed income and medical care.
Moderate Drinking Might Guard against Alzheimer’s (July 13, 2009)
According to new research, older adults with no history of dementia could cut their odds of Alzheimer's and other cognitive decline by regular moderate drinking. Defining "moderate" as having one to two drinks a day, the study authors observed that drinking in this range was associated with a nearly 40 percent drop in dementia risk, compared with non-drinkers. The findings are also consistent with previous research.
Language Abilities May Protect Memory Decades Later (July 12, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
Early language abilities may protect memory decades later even when
characteristic brain lesions appear, researchers found. People who have
superior language skills early in life are less likely to develop
Alzheimer’s later, even though they may have some signs, according to a
new study. Women free of memory problems until death showed significantly
higher command of the language in their late teens and early 20's than
those who developed clinical Alzheimer's, according to Dr. Juan C.
Troncoso and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University.
Moving Forward: KU Study
Explores How Senior Citizens Part With Possessions (July 7, 2009)
Researchers at the Life Span Institute at Kansas University will conduct a study, “The Household Moves Project.” They will look at 100 already-moved households and 50 households going through the process in the towns of Lawrence, Kansas; Kansas City, Mo.; and Detroit, Michigan. The study aims to investigate how people over 65 years and older eliminate possessions when they downsize their living space.
Video Game Aimed Toward Senior Citizens (July 6, 2009)
Who said video games are only for children? Senior citizens at the Wichita Presbyterian Manor are using the new Dakim Brain Fitness game. Several studies have shown that people who play games, read or work puzzles on a regular basis reduce their risk of dementia by up to 63%. Although the game is easy and fun to use, some seniors may avoid it because they are intimidated by anything new or electronic.
Obama Supports New Long-Term Care Benefit (July 6, 2009)
President Barack Obama supports a program to help families struggling with long-term care costs. The voluntary insurance program would pay a minimum sum of $50 daily that people could use for in-home services or nursing care expenses. This legislation would help families purchase long-term care and would also enable them to stay in their homes.
The Challenge of Geriatric Pain (July 6, 1009)
Persistent pain is fairly common among those aged 65 years and older. Between 25% and 50% of the older population and 45% to 80% of those in nursing homes suffer pain. It is extremely challenging to manage pain in geriatric patients. Because pain can be subjective, clinicians usually depend on the patients to identify pain and its severity. This method is useless for patients who have health-related communication impairments.
Researchers Find Caffeine Effective Alzheimer’s Treatment (July 6, 2009)
(Article also available in French and in Chinese)
If you happen to be a heavy coffee drinker, you might be helping your brain protect itself from Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee drinkers—and other caffeine consumers—are not just protecting themselves, but actually treating symptoms that might appear. University of Florida researchers found a correlation between Alzheimer’s disease, which plagues more than 5 million US citizens, and caffeine intake.
Secure Housing for Older Persons (July 5, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
Nowadays, it is more common for older persons to search for ways to remain self sufficient and live apart from their families. Often, this situation exposes them to landlords’ discriminatory practices. It is illegal to discriminate against a tenant because of age. This article explains how to protect older persons from eviction.
Getting Old isn't Nearly as Bad as People Think it Will Be. Nor is it Quite as
Good (July 2, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
On aspects of everyday life ranging from mental acuity to physical dexterity to sexual activity to financial security, a new Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,969 adults finds a sizable gap between the expectations that young and middle-aged adults have about old age and the actual experiences reported by older US persons themselves.
Older Persons Prove It Is Never Too Late to Twitter (June 29, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
Twitter is a free micro blogging service that allows users to send messages--up to 140 characters--called “tweets.” In a recent survey, 3% of United States elders over 100 years of age said that they used the service to send messages. They indicated that their main purpose for twittering is to maintain contact with friends and family.
New Findings: Social Activity Linked to Motor Function in Older Adults (June 28, 2009)
(Article in Arabic and also
available in French)
Loss of muscle strength,
speed and dexterity is a common consequence of aging, yet little is known
about how and why it occurs when it is not a symptom of disease. A study
of 906 older adults at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL shows
that motor decline was more rapid in those who participated in social
activities less frequently, with each one-point decrease in a
participant’s social activity associated with an approximate 33% more
rapid rate of decline. Researchers indicated that participation of older
persons in sports and social activities can protect the brain and improve
the flexibility and mobility of the body.
US Ages Rapidly (June 24, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
Recent US census data shows that by 2050 there will be an estimated 80 million Americans 65 years old or older. By contrast, the population of those less than 15 years of age in the US. will increase from 62 million to 85 million. In 2050 there will be almost the same number of older persons as children and adolescents.
Cane-Do Attitude (June 21, 2009)
A new initiative, “Cane Fu Fighting,” is spreading across retirement homes and martial arts studios all over the United States. Officially called the American Cane System, the classes give training to seniors and disabled people, teaching them how to use their canes and wheelchairs as a means of defense against attacks and robberies. This initiative is helping to transform canes and wheelchairs from signs of weakness to symbols of empowerment.
PhRMA Statement on Medicare Part D Coverage Gap (June 20, 2009)
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) issued the following statement regarding a commitment made on June 20, 2009 as part of health care reform to help close the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug program (Part D): “Specifically, companies will provide a 50 percent discount to most beneficiaries on brand-name medicines covered by a patient’s Part D plan when purchased in the coverage gap.” The new proposed program represents an important first step in health care reform under President Obama’s plan.
A Protein to Determine Speed of Aging (June 20, 2009)
(Article in Arabic)
Scientists at the University of North Carolina recently determined that a newly discovered protein may indicate the speed at which an individual ages. The concentration of this protein (p16INK4a) in the blood increases as tissue ages. From this knowledge, scientists hope to develop a simple blood test to determine the speed at which an individual ages. This protein also plays a role in suppressing development of cancer by preventing cancer cells from reproducing. If researchers are successful in engineering a blood test to determine rates of aging, it could represent a breakthrough in geriatric
Green Tea May Affect Prostate Cancer Progression (June 19, 2009)
According to the results of a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, men with prostate cancer who consumed the active compounds in green tea demonstrated a significant reduction in serum markers predictive of prostate cancer progression. Green tea is the second most popular drink in the world, and some epidemiological studies have shown health benefits with green tea. However, some human trials have found contradictory results. These studies are just the beginning; a lot of work remains to be done.
Older Adults Benefit from Physical Activity (June 18, 2009)
Regular physical activity has beneficial effects on most (if not all) organ systems, and consequently it prevents a broad range of health problems and diseases. In fact, older US citizens have more to gain than younger people by becoming active. Among other benefits, physical activity can improve the ability to function well and remain independent in spite of health problems.
People with Memory Problems Who are Depressed are More Likely to Develop Alzheimer's Disease
(June 16, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
People with memory problems who are depressed are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who aren't depressed, according to a new UCLA study. Researchers also found that the popular Alzheimer's drug donepezil may help delay the progression to Alzheimer's in individuals who suffer from mild cognitive impairment or memory problems.
Colonoscopy Riskier in Older Age (June 16, 2009)
Colonoscopy complication risks rise with age. The tests, intended to detect colon cancer, may be more dangerous than helpful as age increases. People 70 years and older face a higher risk of adverse gastrointestinal and cardiovascular events from the procedure, including GI bleeding or perforation. Because competing causes of mortality often outweigh the potential benefit from detecting colon cancer at progressively older ages, guidelines do not recommend screening past age 75 and recommend against it after 85.
MedPAC: Medicare Must Reinvent Its Payment Systems to Improve Quality, Save Money (June 15, 2009)
A low-profile commission that advises Congress on Medicare has renewed its call for lawmakers to reinvent from the ground up the way doctors, hospitals and other providers are paid. MedPAC's recommendations include "bundling" of services into a single payment to encourage doctors to skip excess tests, as well as high-performance bonuses for providers who improve quality and increase value. With Congress and the Administration focused on a health care overhaul, MedPAC’s recommendations may find a more receptive-than-usual audience. At a speech to the American Medical Association, President Obama said MedPAC's recommendations would have saved $200 billion.
New Test May Detect Early Alzheimer’s Disease (June 15, 2009)
Researchers have developed a cognitive test to determine the presence of Alzheimer’s disease using ten skills. The test reportedly detects 93% of cases of Alzheimer’s. The requested tasks evaluate a range of areas, including the patient's semantic knowledge, ability to calculate and name objects, and ability to recall. A website will soon be available for clinicians to download the new test, as well as scoring sheets and further instructions.
After-Shingles Pain: Significant Impact on Elderly (June 11, 2009)
Every year, approximately 1 million US citizens develop shingles, or herpes zoster. Distinguishable by a rash and blisters that most commonly occur on the torso--chest and back--waistline, upper arms or side of the face, shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox: the varicella-zoster virus. One in five people diagnosed with shingles suffer complications resulting in PHN, or after-shingles pain resulting from nerve damage caused by the virus. PHN pain, which may last for months or sometimes even years, can be devastating to those it affects.
The Pressure is on for African Americans with Hypertension (June 10, 2009)
Nearly two-thirds of African-Americans suffer from high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) and are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to develop the condition. However, many African-Americans with the illness say that they are more worried about their financial situation than the status of their health. While women are more concerned than men, the majority of all high blood pressure patients admit they aren't giving their health and well being as much attention as they would like.
Program Helps Sedentary Older Women Cut Pounds (June 8, 2009)
In the US nearly 70% of all middle aged and older women are overweight. In the age group of 45-54 years old, around 40% have a sedentary lifestyle that translates into higher risks for cardiovascular diseases. To lower these risks, a community program called StrongWomen-Healthy Hearts has been started in many states in the US to lower these risks by promoting healthy eating habits and regular exercise.
Pressure Mounts to Test Elder Drivers (June 8, 2009)
With an increasing number of seniors on the roads, Massachusetts lawmakers are under pressure to monitor elderly drivers more carefully--an issue that is bitterly opposed by older persons as a discriminatory measure. Two high-profile accidents last week involving elderly drivers have intensified the pressure. There is little consensus nationally on the age for screening, but various states have taken measures like regular license renewals to monitor elderly drivers. Even though researchers claim a decrease in cognitive abilities with age, they are unable to explain the decline in fatal crash rates for the
Day Programs for Seniors and Alzheimer’s Patients May be Eliminated (June 7, 2009)
California is contemplating massive cuts in senior citizens’ services due to its huge budget deficit. The proposed cuts would eliminate day programs for seniors and those with Alzheimer’s disease. Closing such programs could drive more people into nursing homes, leading to higher costs for taxpayers.
Vegetables and Fruits Protect the Bones of Older People (June 7, 2009)
(Article in Arabic)
A US study indicated that the natural color of fruits and vegetables plays an important role in protecting the bones of men and women in old age. The researchers suggest that the natural antioxidants found in vegetables and fruits, such as "Alkorotenwid," protect cells and tissues from damage resulting from old age and enhance the process of absorbing the nutrition in food. Consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially when young, protects the bones of the skeleton through the reduction of oxidation, lowering the risk of breaks from accidental falls or a loss in bone mass.
What Boomers Need to Know About Tattoos (June 5, 2009)
An increasing number of seniors are getting tattoos. According to a 2008 Harris Poll, about 20% of adults between the ages of 40 and 64 got a tattoo. These are people who grew up in an age where tattoos were socially unacceptable. With the stigma of tattoos diminishing, more people are embracing body art. This may give a feeling of being young.
Tackling a Tough Issue (June 4, 2009)
A new bill, if passed by the government, would assist individuals with disabilities when their aging parents are no longer able to take care of them. House Bill 1247 aims to recognize the challenges people with intellectual and developmental disabilities face daily, including discrimination, lack of public awareness and lack of access to support services.
Worsens in Menopause (June 2, 2009)
A study shows that women approaching menopause become slightly slower at
learning new things. Doctors have noted that many pre-menopausal women
have commented on the fact that they don't feel as mentally sharp as they
once did, and some women fear that they may be developing Alzheimer's
good news is that the memory problems are a "transient
phenomenon," and in the post-menopause period their memory returns to
the pre-menopausal level. Researchers aren't sure why women experience
these temporary memory problems.
Online, A Reason to Keep Going (June 1, 2009)
An increasing number of older people are joining networks like Facebook, Eons and My Space. Older people face losing their social networks, especially with the death of friends and spouses. According to a 2009 AARP study, about one-third of people 75 and older live alone. Social networks empower the elderly by helping them build networks based on friendship and common interests.
Seniors Stay Healthier when they Live with Spouse (May 29, 2009)
Elderly, community-dwelling men and women appear more likely to obtain preventive health care when they live with their spouse as opposed to living alone or with an adult child, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health. The study has shown that those living only with their spouse were more likely than those in other living arrangements to obtain influenza vaccinations, cholesterol screenings, colorectal cancer screenings, routine physical check-ups and routine dental care.
Percent Increase of Cancer Cases Proven (May 29, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
The number of persons in the United States with cancer has increased by 45 percent over the past 20 years. A recent study found that the largest increases in cancer rates are expected among minority older persons. The number of cancer cases affecting Hispanics is expected to grow by 142 percent, African Americans by 64 percent, and 76 percent for Native Americans. However, the aging White population is expected to see a 31 percent increases in cancer cases.
Studies at Duke University Suggest that Tai Chi is the Best Way of Exercising for Older People (May 24, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
At the international academic net workshop held by Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, experts from Duke University presented their studies on Tai Chi, indicating that the practice has proved to be a very helpful exercise for older people. Tai Chi is now being recommended to older people by many health promotion organizations in the US.
Silvercare: New Company Finds a Niche in Nursing Home Services (May 17, 2009)
A new company called Silvercare Solutions is capitalizing on Medicare rules that require nursing homes to do more to ensure that the residents are properly assessed for incontinence and provided with comprehensive care services. Silvercare brings nurse practitioners to nursing homes to treat residents, relieving the homes of the need to hire specialized staff and to find urologists to see the elderly residents in their clinics or transport residents
Diet and Exercise Intervention Helps Older, Overweight Cancer Survivors Reduce Functional Decline (May 12, 2009)
The practice of a healthy lifestyle may reduce the risk for disease and functional decline among older persons. However, many older cancer survivors report poor lifestyle behaviors, and few meet recommended health promotion guidelines. This study provides data on a long overlooked yet important faction in older long-term cancer survivors. These survivors of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer participating in a home-based diet and exercise intervention program reduced the rate of physical function decline compared to a group receiving no intervention, according to the study.
To Keep Your Brain Nimble As You Age, Stretch It (May 12, 2009)
Nowadays, some scientists say people can exercise their brain the way they exercise their body. By sleeping more, eating less and getting plenty of exercise, people can improve their intelligence over the years and help stave off the dementia that may come in old age. Research shows that the brain responds to stretching and challenging exercises at every stage of life. The article gives some tips to improve one’s long-term, sensory and working memory.
Women Live Longer, not Better, Largely Because of Obesity and Arthritis (May 2, 2009)
According to Duke University Medical Center researchers, obesity and arthritis that take root during early and middle age significantly contribute to women's decreased quality of life during their senior years. The study highlights two health trends that could worsen the average quality of life for women in the future. First, as the rate of obesity continues to rise, the rates of disability in older adults are expected to increase. Second, to the extent that women are more likely than men to become obese, the obesity epidemic will have its greatest impact on older women's quality of life. In addition, the study found the women were more likely than men to suffer fractures, vision problems and bronchitis. Men were more likely to have emphysema, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, diabetes and hearing problems.
HBO Puts Alzheimer’s Under the Microscope (May 1, 2009)
“The Alzheimer’s Project” is a curious hybrid of science and emotional stories about patients, their families and caretakers. Alzheimer’s—the seventh-leading cause of death in 2006 according to the National Center for Health Statistics—is a growing public health concern due to its already high cost of care and the likelihood that the numbers of those with the disease will grow markedly as the population ages. Maria Shriver, California’s first lady and an executive producer of the HBO series, said there is guilt and shame in dealing with caregiving. The project attempts to give people realistic hope.
Chair Yoga Suited for Aging (April 28, 2009)
A new trend in yoga that is becoming very popular is chair yoga. It helps older people to continue doing yoga even when age reduces their flexibility. Participants in the chair yoga class can stretch, bend, twist and massage their bare feet, all while seated in straight-backed chairs.
Geriatric Neurologist and Author Tackles What He Calls the Myths of Alzheimer’s (April 27, 2009)
Dr. Peter Whitehouse, who played an important role in brain research that led to the first four medications designed to treat Alzheimer's, has replaced the term "Alzheimer's disease" with "severe brain aging." He says we need to stop throwing money at searching for a cure to what he calls "age-associated cognitive challenges." Instead of prescription medication, the focus should be on preventing brain aging through simple strategies such as exercise, reading and eating right, he says.
Remuda Ranch Reports Eating Disorders on the Rise among Elderly (April 27, 2009)
Recent research reports from Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders indicate that eating disorders in the elderly are increasing. Few health professionals think of screening older people for eating disorders, and this can have serious consequences. For elderly people living alone, refusing food can be a protest aimed at loved ones, indicating that the person is quite distressed about activity restrictions or limited family visits. Even more serious, refusing food may be a passive effort to commit suicide arising from hopelessness, despair and depression.
Senior Citizens Learn to Stick Up for Selves (April 27, 2009)
Seniors are usually seen as easy targets for petty theft attacks either because they are unaware of an imminent threat or they may seem fragile. In response, many seniors are taking on martial arts and cane fighting as self-defense techniques. Besides providing security, such techniques also have the physical benefits of exercise.
Aging Boomers Face Home Health Care Dilemma (April 26, 2009)
By 2050, there will be 88.5 million older people, more than double the current population. Meanwhile, the number of working-age people is projected to decline from 63% to 57%. The demands on the work force are going to challenge a system that is already stretched. The shortage of physical therapists or nurses to serve the elderly population will expand. The low numbers are caused by low wages and benefits for people in jobs such as licensed nurse’s aides or home health aides.
Extrovert Personality Helps Longevity (April 23, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
Research from Boston University shows that, in addition to a moderate diet and regular workouts, an extroverted personality can be important to longevity. Through analyzing common personalities of people who live long lives, the research concludes that extroverts tend to be more open-minded than others. They are also less sensitive, enabling them to relieve pressure and have a more relaxing spirit than the average person.
ACE Geriatric Care (April 21, 2009)
Hospitals have increasingly begun incorporating specialty care units for older persons called Acute Care for Elders (ACE). Health care providers in an ACE unit work as a team and may include a geriatrician, clinical nurse specialist, pharmacist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, dietitian and pastoral care provider. In the ACE unit, team members meet every day to discuss the needs of the patient.
What Are Friends For? A Longer Life (April 20, 2009)
A powerful weapon that is often ignored in fighting illness, depression and slowing aging is friendship. A recent study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22% less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well being than family relationships. Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better and longer.
Women Turn to Untested Hormone Therapy (April 20, 2009)
Women are increasingly using alternative treatments for relief of menopause symptoms and replacing the traditional hormone replacement theory (HRT). The decline has been the result of the media and public image of hormone therapy as cyclical, uninformed or misinformed. It is imperative, however, that women consult their doctors before using alternative methods to avoid any harmful treatment.
Caregivers’ Sacrifices Recognized in Essay Contest (April 20, 2009)
An essay competition called “Give a Caregiver a Break” provides caregivers with something more valuable than cash. The winner gets $5,000 dollars worth of respite care in the form of time off provided by professional caregivers. Elder care experts encourage family caregivers to ask for help whenever they need it. Meeting with support groups, going out with friends, enjoying a hobby and keeping a journal can also help caregivers release stress, renew their energy and continue their hard but rewarding work.
The Older Audience is Looking Better than Ever (April 19, 2009)
For decades, marketers shunned older consumers because they were deemed less wealthy, less likely to try new products and less willing to change brands. Those attitudes have been changing, for a couple of reasons. One is the recession, which makes older consumers who may have paid off mortgages seem a safer bet than younger ones who may get laid off in last-hired, first-fired downsizings. Moreover, older consumers today “are not as resistant to change” as older consumers previously may have been and are eager to try out different things. Hold onto your wallet!
Health Worries May Keep Aging Adults on the Couch (April 17, 2009)
Older adults who worry about their health often do not engage in physical activity. As a result, they often face trouble walking as they age. Among the 7,527 adults who were examined for the study, people with a high degree of “health worry” engaged in less physical activity than those who worried less about their health. Moreover, people who were physically less active had more trouble walking 6 years after the study, compared to their more active counterparts.
Obese Young Adults Risk Disability Later (April 16, 2009)
People who are overweight or obese in young adulthood and middle age face an elevated risk of being disabled in their later years, a new study suggests. Looking at more than 2,800 US adults in their 70’s, researchers found that those who were overweight or obese at any point in adulthood had an increased risk of developing problems with walking and climbing stairs. Stay slim!
US: What Are the Formulas for Becoming a Centenarian? (April 16, 2009)
(Article in French)
Many scientific studies have been devoted to the characteristics of centenarians, analyzing their way of life or deciphering their genes. For the first time, US researchers have focused on the psychology of these people and highlighted some distinctive features, such as the fact that these people are more extroverted or less neurotic than others. The psyche has to be taken into consideration. On another point, a French demographer highlights the importance of living in a relatively rich country as helping one to live longer. Not a viable option for everyone!
Growing Focus of Anti Aging Research: Ethnicity (April 14, 2009)
Skin color is a burgeoning area in anti-aging research. Besides the pigment, every ethnic group has its own propensity to develop signs of aging. The article provides specific tips to different ethnic groups, as well as the universal rules of applying sunscreen and using retinol.
There’s Plenty That Can Be Done to Prevent Memory Loss (April 14, 2009)
Many steps can be taken, from exercise to proper diet to sufficient rest to head off memory loss, which gets worse with age. Engaging in cognitive activities like reading books, playing games or crafting in middle age or later life are associated with a decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment. It's proven: Staying involved in life helps stave off memory loss.
How the Belly Affects the Brain: The Accumulation of Fat around the Abdomen May Lead to Dementia in Old Age (April 12, 2009)
(Article in Arabic)
The many ailments scientists attribute to increased body weight have long been familiar to us: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Now researchers may have found one more to add to this list: dementia. A Harvard University study suggests a link between weight gain in middle age and the appearance of dementia in older age. Increased adipose tissue in the abdominal cavity exhibited a very strong correlation with the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in older people. According to one researcher, this link could be a wake up call to people who tend to fear the risk of neurological ailments more than cardiovascular diseases.
States Slashing Social Programs for Vulnerable (April 11, 2009)
A large number of states are slashing their social protection nets to deal with the current recession. The cuts have been especially disruptive in Arizona where more than 1,000 frail elderly people are struggling without home care aides to help with bathing, housekeeping and trips to the doctor. These measures might create short-term savings but lead to long-term human and financial costs.
Diet Soda Linked to Higher Diabetes Risk (April 10, 2009)
Middle aged and older adults who drink diet soda every day might be around 67% more likely than others to develop Type 2 diabetes. They also have higher odds of blood sugar elevations and abdominal obesity.
Hispanics Appear to Face Poorer Quality Nursing Home Care (April 10, 2009)
A researcher suggests that nursing homes serving primarily Hispanic residents provided poorer quality care compared to facilities whose patients were mostly white. These findings come less than two years after a landmark 2007 study that suggested that blacks are more likely than whites to live in poor quality nursing homes.
High Blood Lead Levels Linked to Heart Deaths (April 9, 2009)
Older women with high levels of lead in their blood are likely to die sooner, particularly from heart disease, than their counterparts with low lead levels, new research indicates. Despite declines in blood lead concentrations during the past 30 years, environmental lead exposure continues to be a public health concern.
Vitamin D Deficiency Related to Increased Inflammation in Healthy Women (April 8, 2009)
According to a recent study, 75% of Americans do not get enough Vitamin D. Researchers have found that the deficiency may negatively impact immune function and cardiovascular health, and increase cancer risk. Sunlight is a readily available, a free source of vitamin D. Exposing 25% of the skin's surface area to 10 minutes of sunlight three days per week will maintain adequate levels in the majority of people.
United Kingdom: The Five Ages of the Brain: Old Age (April 6, 2009)
By retirement age, the brain isn't what it used to be. At this stage of
life we are steadily losing brain cells in critical areas (such as the
hippocampus). Nonetheless, we can improve our chances of becoming “a
jolly, intelligent oldie” rather than “a forgetful, grumpy granny.”
Exercise and coordination training can help. Studies have shown that brain
exercises can improve memory and attention in those over 65. So while our
brains may not wrinkle and sag like our skin, they need just as much care
When Pets Present a Risk of Falls (April 1,
(Article in French)
Many old people like the companionship of pets, especially after the death of a spouse. However, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention warns about how cats or dogs can cause falls. They are responsible for 88% and 12% respectively of falls by older persons every year, around 21,000 in all. At the same time, pets have a number of advantages for older persons. Taking pets out for walks is good cardiovascular exercise and has a strong effect on blood pressure and stress, as well as decreasing the feelings of loneliness and
As Good As it Gets: Octogenarian Muscles Don’t Get Stronger with Exercise (March 31, 2009)
According to a new study, the muscles of octogenarian men and women are far less responsive to improving with exercise compared to people ten years younger. The message of the study is that exercise is good for octogenarians but not as good as it was earlier thought to be. The study also suggests that it is better to build as much muscle mass as possible earlier in life to ensure more muscle strength late in
Treating an Illness is One Thing: What About a Patient with Many? (March 30, 2009)
People with multiple health problems, a condition known as multi-morbidity, are largely overlooked, both in medical research and in the nation’s clinics and hospitals. Two-thirds of people over age 65 years, and almost three-quarters of people over 80 years, have multiple chronic health conditions. Some 68% of Medicare spending goes to persons who have five or more chronic diseases. The solution, the author says, is to treat complicated patients as whole human beings and not malfunctioning body parts.
Prevention: One Drink a Day Tied to Lower Death Risk (March 30, 2009)
A four-year study of 12,000 people revealed that for people over 55 years an alcoholic drink a day reduces the risk of death. However, one drink or less a week is no help at all. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a 28% reduction in the risk for mortality compared with not drinking alcohol at all.
Menopause! Bring it On! They Could Be the Best Years of Your Life (March 30, 2009)
A new book explores how society treats post-fertile women with active distaste and condescension. It's the combined power of ageism, sexism and medico-cultural assumptions that portray menopause as a disease that allows society to treat women past childbearing age as if there's something wrong with them. The author suggest that a man's old age is a social issue, which starts with retirement while a woman's old age is tied to a biological process.
State Population Report: Region Skewing Older (March 28, 2009)
Many US states will face burgeoning aging populations in the near future and a parallel decline in the younger age group. This shift means a larger number of non- working individuals will be supported by fewer working individuals. We can expect increased demand and cost for health services.
Vitamin D Pills May Prevent Fractures in Older Adults (March 27, 2009)
Vitamin D supplements can help prevent fractures in people over 65 years if taken in high doses, some experts suggest. It is helpful not only for the very old and frail population but also for people living at home and taking care of themselves. The type of Vitamin D taken makes a difference as well.
Wise Counsel as Unexpected Moments (March 26, 2009)
Anyone who cares for an aging parent gets no shortage of unsolicited advice. But every now and then, one comment resonates--and helps. In this article, the author speaks about the way unsolicited advice has helped her cope with her mother’s illness. Comments from “Just don’t hurry” to “be a duck” have supported her through the hard times.
Breast Cancer Deaths May Rise As Fewer Women Opt for Routine Screening (March 24, 2009)
Fewer US women are getting an annual routine screening mammography, which could lead to an increase in breast cancer mortality. Mammographers worry that the trend could lead to the erosion of screening services and of preventive care in general. Recent reports link this phenomenon to the decline in breast cancer incidence and mortality
A Pacemaker for the Spinal Cord Gives New Hope Against Parkinson’s Disease (March 23, 2009)
(Article in French)
Researchers from Duke University in North Carolina have shown that, confronted by progressive and incurable neuron-degeneration, a spinal cord pacemaker can act as an interface between the brain and the nervous system to facilitate the transmission of nerve impulses, replacing the dopamine lacking among people affected by Parkinson’s disease. This pacemaker could be complementary to drug treatments, and may replace the deep electrical stimulation of the brain that is efficient for only a limited number of patients. This disease affects more than 50,000 Americans.
At MIT’s AgeLab Growing Old is the New Frontier (March 23, 2009)
A new jumpsuit called the AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System), designed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is helping teach engineering students in their 20’s and 30’s to design products that are easy to use for people in their 70’s. At MIT's AgeLab, understanding the needs of aging people has been a full-time job for nearly 10 years. Founder Joseph Coughlin created the lab to help businesses tailor products and services to the world's older folks. "It's about designing the lifestyle of the future,” says Coughlin.
Screen or Not? What Those Prostrate Studies Mean (March 23, 2009)
Two major studies from the United States and Europe have found that PSA testing, the annual blood test used to screen men for prostate cancer, saves few if any lives, while exposing patients to aggressive and unnecessary treatments that can leave them impotent and incontinent. But others, convinced that such a screening saved their lives, question this theory. In the final analysis, it appears, PSA screenings do find more prostrate cancers but this information does little to reduce the risk of dying from cancer.
Extra Vitamin E: No Benefit, Maybe Harm (March 23, 2009)
About three decades ago, Vitamin E was widely believed to be a nutrient with antioxidant properties that would slow the cellular ravages of age. Recent studies, however, have shown that Vitamin E could be hazardous if consumed in high doses. Additionally, an independent study published last year found no reliable evidence for the ability of Vitamin E to prevent Alzheimer’s or even mild cognitive loss.
Knowing About Forgetting (March 17, 2009)
There is a blood test that one can take to check for a gene that’s a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. But testing for it can be a painful choice, since there is no cure or way to prevent the disease. The author debates between taking the test and living with an uncomfortable truth, and avoiding the test and living in the present.
Exercise is the Best Way to Fight Old Age (March 16, 2009)
‘Growing Old’ is different from ‘natural aging.’ We can choose the latter by opting for a healthy lifestyle with lots of exercise. The hard reality of human biology is that we were built to move. Exercise is the master signaling system that tells our cells to grow instead of fade and in the process can make us stay younger! We can choose to make our cells grow or decay.
In State Supreme Court Race, Age is the Unspoken Issue (March 14, 2009)
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson could be the oldest chief justice in Wisconsin history if she is re-elected. Some people have opposed such a long term. Supreme Court candidate Randy Koschnick stated that no one should serve on the court for over thirty-two years. Others argue that performance and ability, and not age, should determine competence.
Arm Fracture Can Predict Hip Fracture Risk (March 13, 2009)
Older women who suffer a fracture of the upper arm are five times more likely than average to sustain a hip fracture within a year, a new study finds. When an older woman suffers a broken arm, steps should quickly be taken to reduce her risk of future falls and bone fractures. Common reasons for falls among elders include medication side effects like dizziness, neurological problems, poor vision and mobility and balance problems.
Overweight and Its Complications Leads to Senile Dementia (March 13, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
A latest US study shows that people suffering from overweight and its complications such as diabetes and heart cardiovascular disease are 23% more likely to be affected by senile dementia. Researchers from University of California at Los Angeles discovered this result by conducting a four-year tracking research on 5,000 females at the average age of 66 years. And from another research on older males, researchers reached a similar conclusion.
When It Isn’t Really Senility (March 11, 2009)
Severe memory loss in healthy aging is a problem to be diagnosed, not an irreversible situation. Dementia is a disease and not a normal part of aging. Sometimes side effects from commonly used medications can cause memory loss, confusion and disorientation. Changing medications can often reverse these symptoms.
Biological Clock Ticks for Men, Too (March 10, 2009)
A report conducted by The University of Queensland provides a warning to the growing number of men in Western societies who are delaying parenthood until their 40s or older. According to the report, children born to older fathers do not perform very well in intelligence tests during infancy and early childhood. The results were shocking because the age of the mother is traditionally thought to make more of a difference than the father.
61 Year Old Goes from Couch Potato to Triathlete (March 6, 2009)
After six decades of physical inactivity, 61-year-old Erin Swensen moved off the sofa and onto the bike and track and into the pool. The Atlanta woman tried her hand at running, swimming and cycling, competing in her first triathlon last year. Swensen works with a coach and trains six days a week on running, swimming and interval training.
Moderate Alcohol Intake Associated with Bone Protection (March 3, 2009)
A recent study concludes that moderate drinking of alcohol among people over 60 is associated with greater bone mineral density. Associations were strongest for beer and wine. The research also suggests that this holds true only for moderate drinking; heavy drinking might lead to bone loss.
Less Food, Fewer Calories Make for Longer Life (March 2, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
US researchers have found that less food and calorie absorption extends the life span of many living beings. Researchers conducted the research by controlling food amounts on insects and rats, extending their life by approximately 50%, equivalent to extending a human’s age to 160 years. Recently, the research team submitted an application to US administrative agencies about further “fasting” tests on cancer patients.
Growing Demand for Sandwich Generation to Step up to Elder Care Role (March 2, 2009)
With the population aging rapidly and with the declining economy, caregivers of older persons are reeling under dramatic demands. A popular term and the primary demographic for senior caregivers is the “Sandwich Generation,” the adult children of seniors. This article suggests a way for the Sandwich Generation to formulate a care plan to assist them in their care giving.
Training for the Aging Brain (February 28, 2009)
A new program called “Posit Science” endeavors to improve memory, speed of processing and cognition in elderly subjects. It is based on the premise that intense thinking and concentration can physically alter people’s brains and bring back ten years of mental functioning, particularly memory. It comprises an intensive, computer based brain fitness program.
Houseplants Increase Quality of Life for Retirement Community Residents (February 26, 2009)
As the US population ages, the number of citizens moving from their own homes to assisted living or long-term care facilities is increasing dramatically. These numbers are expected to continue to rise. Quality of life becomes an important issue for older adults who reside in retirement facilities, and simple activities such as caring for houseplants can have positive effects for these residents in transition.
Older Women Find Health Benefits Through Volunteer Program (February 26, 2009)
A study conducted by John Hopkins University suggests that the country’s investment in national and community service programs can also be an investment in public health. The study reveals that African-American women aged 60 and older who volunteer in elementary schools are physically more active and burn twice as many calories as their non-volunteering counterparts. The focus on African-American women was due to their prevalence in the study groups, but the results would likely be the same for all older people.
End of Life Care in Ethnic Minorities (February 25, 2009)
Gandhi said that a clear measure of the quality of a society is the way it treats people approaching the end of their lives. But today, members of ethnic groups are not getting the comforts of specialized palliative care. A report shows that access to palliative care among minorities needs to be improved. It also reveals that patients and their communities need to be given more information about services that are offered to everyone, including minorities.
Mad Cow and Alzheimer’s have Surprising Link (February 25, 2009)
The journal Nature reveals a surprising link between Alzheimer’s disease and Mad Cow disease. It states that both diseases involve something called a prion protein. This finding could explain one of the great mysteries in Alzheimer’s disease: the way components of the plaques that form in patient’s brains are able to damage cells. It could also lead to new treatments that could be developed relatively quickly because scientists have spent many years studying Mad Cow disease.
Nursing Homes For the Rest of Us (February 25, 2009)
New nursing homes are improving the quality of life for their residents. The Jacob Reingold Pavilion in New York is a fine example. It has private rooms, Internet access, a fitness center, massage rooms, kitchens in each dining area, windows facing the river and showers in each room. Even though such nursing homes are exorbitant in cost, residents without funds can acquire subsidies from the government via Medicaid.
Older Women Fare Better, Live Longer than Men after Transient Ischemic Attack
(TIA) (February 23, 2009)
According a Yale School of Public Health study, elderly women who suffer a first “mini-stroke” (TIA), are less likely than men of the same age to be readmitted to a hospital. A “mini-stroke” is considered a symptom of more serious health problems including full-fledged strokes, coronary artery diseases and even death. Almost one in ten patients are readmitted to the hospital within a month after the initial stroke and half are readmitted within a year.
No Longer a Gray Area: Our Hair Bleaches Itself as We Grow Older (February 23, 2009)
The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) has published a research report on why our hair tends to turn gray as we age. Hydrogen peroxide, a chemical used to bleach the hair, is actually at the root of the graying of hair. The accumulation of hydrogen peroxide at hair roots is caused by hair follicles undergoing wear and tear through the years. In turn, the peroxide prevents the synthesis of a natural pigment found in our hair, which causes a natural bleaching of the hair. This preliminary research offers a new theory to the gray-hair mystery.
Taking Age Stereotypes to Heart (February 23, 2009)
According to a Yale University psychologist, young and middle aged adults who endorse negative stereotypes about older people display high rates of strokes, heart attacks and other serious heart problems later in life, compared with aging peers who view the elderly in positive ways. Age stereotypes, acquired in childhood or young adulthood and carried into old age, seem to have far-reaching effects on cardiovascular health.
Children, Elderly Targeted by Fire Prevention Program (February 22, 2009)
According to John Jenkins, the fire marshal for Washington County in Arkansas, children and the older persons are most at risk when it comes to fires. In a new initiative, he hired part-time fire safety educators to visit day care and senior community centers, as well as senior groups on a weekly basis. Older adults are 2.5 times more likely to die in fires than the overall population. As Americans age, their fire risk increases, according to a 2006 US Fire Administration report.
People with Parkinson’s Disease Discover the Joy of Dance (February 20, 2009)
A growing number of dance studios across the US are offering classes on a regular basis to people with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s patients have long recognized the ability of music to alleviate their pains, even temporarily. About one million Americans have Parkinson’s and roughly 60,000 new cases are added annually.
Baby Boomers Expected to Flock to Mexico (February 15, 2009)
With 76 million baby boomers approaching retirement in a country with an ailing economy and rising health costs, many Americans are choosing to move south of the border to live more comfortable lives for less money. The cost of living for American citizens in Mexico is about 40% cheaper than in the U.S. About 1.2 million retired Americans and Canadians already live in Mexico.
Elder Circle Helps Troubled Students at Fond du Lac School (February 12, 2009)
In an effort to improve students’ behavior and attendance rates, the Lake Superior Ojibwe School is trying the “Anishinaabe” way of elders guiding the young down the “good path.” The elders are uniquely prepared to deal with troubled students and issues of truancy, alcohol and drug violations. The elders rely on their own life experiences to guide the students.
Sensors Help Keep the Elderly Safe, and at Home (February 12, 2009)
Simple technology is providing comfort and independence to an aging population that is quickly outgrowing the availability of doctors, nurses, hospitals and health care dollars. Motion sensors detect unusual patterns of movement and automatic calls remind elders to take their medication. In addition, the cost can be as low as $100 a month compared to a nursing home, where the cost to taxpayers can exceed $200 a day.
Secrets to Men’s Longevity Up to 85 Years Old and Above (February 11, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
A recent study of 5,820 US men living in Japan who reached the ages of 85-105 named six secrets to a long and health life: They didn’t smoke, didn’t drink excessively, had normal blood sugar, normal blood pressure, no extra weight and strong physical strength. In addition, two other social issues influenced their lives: a good marriage and a sound education.
Seniors Learn Ins and Outs of Safe Sex (February 11, 2009)
Passionate love is not restricted to youth. Groups of sexually active seniors convened at the Russell Jewish Community Center in Northeast Dade in Florida for a day to learn about the risk of unprotected sex. The facilitator used videos, pictures, props and traditional lectures to demonstrate the importance for seniors to have protected sex. A team of seniors also wrote the script, built the sets and sculpted the characters to produce a short film depicting aging and sexuality. Nationally, about one in ten Americans diagnosed with AIDS are 50 years or older, according to 2007 data from the Florida Department of Health.
Twins and Aging: How Not to Look Old (February 10, 2009)
A recent study reveals that fat can significantly smooth out face wrinkles and result in a younger looking face. The study however does not recommend gaining weight just to look younger, and also clarifies that weight aside, healthy living is crucial to keeping a youthful face. Subjects who smoked and did not wear sunscreen look considerably older than those who avoided smoking and tanning.
Exercise Boosts Older Women’s Quality of Life (February 10, 2009)
New research indicates that even a modest dose of exercise will increase overweight older women’s quality of life, even if they don’t lose weight. Among 400 overweight post-menopausal women who took up an exercise program for six months, they showed improvements in daily energy levels, social life, emotional well-being and a decrease in physical pain.
Sanford Center for Aging Issues Report on Nevada Seniors (February 6, 2009)
A new report, Elders Count Nevada, reveals that, old or young, many Nevadans don’t practice healthy living habits. Nevada trails almost every other state in terms of its supply of medical and health care professionals. Nevada elders drink more and smoke more than seniors nationally. They eat fewer fruits and vegetables. The report offers a set of recommendations including expansion of low cost programs for seniors, funded by state agencies.
People of 50 Years Old and Older Should Take Medical Examination Regularly (February 3, 2009)
(Article in Chinese)
The U.S. Center of Prevention Services recently offered advice on its web site to people 50 years old and older. Medical examination was the central theme of the advice in 2009, a very important way to secure middle-aged and older people’s health. Suggested examination items were blood pressure, body weight, eyesight, hearing, rectum, colon, cholesterol, mole, vaccine, breast, bone, thyroid, etc.
Exercise: Muscle Strengthening Aids New Knees (February 3, 2009)
Findings from a recent study published in this month’s Arthritis Care & Research suggest that a specialized program for strengthening the muscles after a knee replacement may facilitate recovery better than a conventional regimen. Nearly 500,000 knee replacements occur in the US. annually, and recovery can be difficult. The study tested conventional treatment against two groups: a specialized program including quadriceps strengthening and a program including strengthening and electrical stimulation for muscle contraction. It was discovered that the electrical stimulation had little to no affect while the strengthening helped to bring patients back to an almost normal functional level.
Create a Plan to Avoid Tumbles (January 26, 2009)
Each year in the US one out of three people over 65 years falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury leading to death. The article offers examples of simple precautions to avoid dangerous mishaps.
Experts in Aging Reaching Out with Online Seminars (January 24, 2009)
Concept Healthcare, an internet-based company, provides online training on caring for older adults. Health professionals and family caregivers can now attend web seminars from home or office and improve their care-giving skills. Topics range from detecting dementia to communicating about end-of-life issues.
Eating Less May Not Extend Life-Caloric Restriction Only Benefits Obese Mice (January 22, 2009)
Contrary to popular belief, calorie restriction does not extend life span. Energy intake should be balanced by energy expenditure. For people of normal weight, calorie restriction might actually shorten their life span.
Older People Combat Risks of Hypothermia (January 20, 2009)
According to the National Institutes of Health, older people are more vulnerable to hypothermia and it can even be deadly if not treated in time. The body’s ability to endure cold reduces with age. The NIH provides specific measures that can be taken to prevent hypothermia.
Older People Helping to Exhaust Wii Consoles (January 16, 2009)
(Article in Spanish)
Wii transformed itself into one of the leading consoles in the large US market of videogames. In the past year, 26% of persons 50 years and older played video games, a gain of 9% since 1999. Wii encourages physical activity. Many experts use Wii as a tool for rehabilitation, especially victims of cerebrovascular accidents.
Poor Mental Health in Adults Over 50 Is Not a Normal Part of Aging (January 20, 2009)
A Report, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, addresses the multiple causes of depression among Americans over 50. Citing various factors from stress to genetics, the report states that depression is not a normal part of aging. About 80 percent of depression cases involving people over 50 are treatable.
Aging has its Benefits. As We Grow Older, Our Brains Retain the Good Memories and Dismiss the Bad (January 12, 2009)
Researchers from Duke University and the University of Alberta working with volunteers in their mid-20’s and in their 70’s found that the older group was able to dismiss negative memories and reclaim positive ones. Brain scans showed differences in brain activity in the two groups, and suggested the possibility of improving memory in adults as they age.
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