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Reports | Articles 


Securing our Future: Advancing Economic Security for Diverse Elders (July 2012)
In the US, 1 in 5 seniors are Latino or non-White. By 2030 the number of LGBT older adults will double to 4 million persons.  The report describes a number of policy reforms that could benefit the older population regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation.


D is for Dazed (July 13, 2012)
Jane Gross, the founder of The New Old Age Blog in The New York Times recalls her three-day struggle to determine which Medicare Part D coverage plan would best satisfy her prescription drug needs. After several phone calls to the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, her local pharmacist and an insurance carrier, Gross found the best deal. She criticizes the amount of time and money the process requires and says that it "could use some streamlining." Additionally, Gross admits that many older people cannot or would not be able to manage such an important and demanding research task. 

FDA Approves First Drug for Reducing the Risk of Sexually Acquired HIV Infection (July 16, 2012)
The FDA approves Truvada! Truvada is the first drug approved to reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected individuals who are at high risk of HIV, allowing them to engage in sexual activity with HIV infected partners. Truvada’s approval is an important step in our fight against HIV. However, Truvada is only to be used by individuals who are HIV negative and it acts as a PrEP, Pre- Exposure Prophylaxis. By using Truvada, the risk of getting infected with HIV is reduced by 75% in heterosexuals!

What the Health Care Ruling Means for Medicare (June 28, 2012)
In the long term, the new health care rulings will preserve many initiatives strengthening efforts to support older and disabled people in their homes, rather than in nursing centers. The Act will improve health services for seniors in many ways.

Diabetes in the Elderly Remains Little Studied (June 10, 2012)
Although half of individuals with diabetes are older than 65 years, clinical trials seldom include older adults as participants.  Three recent trials included older participants, finding that these participants showed detrimental responses or no responses to measures assessing blood sugar control.  Because failure to control blood sugar has developed a trend of shortening the life span of nursing home residents, the American Diabetes Association held its first session on elderly diabetes this year. 

Truvada: FDA Delays Decision On First HIV Prevention Drug (June 8, 2012)
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delayed the decision to approve (or disapprove) the first HIV prevention drug, Truvada.  The FDA will need three more months to review the drug, delaying its decision until September 14, 2012.  In May, 2012, a panel of FDA experts recommended that Truvada be approved for the prevention of HIV in healthy individuals who are at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

Senior Lobby Promotes Effort Against Medicare Cuts (June 6, 2012)
AARP, the most powerful senior lobby in the United States is drawing attention to its campaign against Medicare cuts. According to the Congressional Budget Office Report, government spending on healthcare will double as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product by 2037. AARP spokesman, Jim Dau, believes the goal should be to strengthen Medicare, not upend it.

To Save Medicare, Think Like the Patients Who Use it (May 21, 2012)
Medicare is a lifeline for senior citizens. Before its existence, many older Americans ended up destitute without necessary medical care. Medicare changed this scenario, creating a safety net. It is not without its flaws. Still, there remains no catastrophic benefit in the Medicare program. The copays and deductibles are costly for seniors who have fixed-incomes of less than $30K a year. Additionally, Medicare promotes quantity over quality, by reimbursing providers for the number of services they perform rather than the quality of care. Now, more doctors are limiting Medicare patients they will treat. Will Congress find a meaningful solution?

More Care up Front for $54 a Month (May 21, 2012)
By paying $54 per employee per month to a primary care provider called Qliance, employees get unlimited doctor visits to doctors. This direct primary care is very promising. It is derived from concierge practices that cater primarily to the affluent. Members are often charged thousands of dollars annually for unlimited access to their doctors. This is quite lucrative for doctors but limits access to those that cannot pay the membership fee. The idea is to bring down the price point for average Americans. However, these models do not cover anything beyond primary care. Employers often combine direct primary care with high deductible insurance plan to be used for hospitalizations and visits to specialists. A House bill would create pilot programs to offer direct primary care to Medicare patients. But the federal law must be changed first.

Hospitals Aren’t Hotels (March 14, 2012)
The US has announced that by October 2012, Medicare reimbursements and bonuses will be linked in part to scores on surveys that independently collect data in various categories of patient satisfaction. The surveys evaluate behaviors that are important to high-quality care. However, many experiences at hospitals are painful and dehumanizing. This new policy can affect patient responses and likely will not provide a fair and valuable judgment of standards of care at the hospital.

Medicare covers the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which instills a plant-based, meatless diet, meditation, regular exercise and group support. Patients can receive up to 72 one-hour sessions on lifestyle changes. Additionally, hospitals can now bill Medicare for their patient’s yoga sessions. Preventative medicine costs are much less than operations and medications. 
Congress recently created a temporary fix to calculate the fees paid to doctors by Medicare. However, a real solution that would be fair to doctors and make a serious effort to decrease the rise of Medicare spending needs to be devised. A bigger challenge will be to improve the way medical care is provided in Medicare and the entire health care system, which includes costly and unnecessary services.

Doctors ‘Disgruntled’ and Frustrated by Looming Medicare Cuts (February 16, 2012)
The continuing state of uncertainty surrounding the payroll tax holiday has left doctors disgruntled. The increasing probability of pay loss has forced many doctors into rejecting new Medicare patients, thus creating an access problem. Congress must develop better ways to pay physicians and deliver care to patients.

Aging America Creates Demand for Health-Care Workers (February 2, 2012)
The Labor Department reported that health care and social assistance jobs will be the fastest growing sectors. An aging population will create 33.8 million new positions between 2010 and 2020. There will be a 70 percent growth in personal care aides and health-care support employment, the fastest-growing occupations.

The Congressional Budget Office projects the cost of government healthcare programs will more than double by 2022. However, CBO also projects a slow growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary, partly because the Medicare population will be younger, thus needing less expensive care, even as it expands.

Teaching Hospitals Fight Medicare Cuts (January 17, 2012)
Teaching hospitals are pressuring lawmakers to reject cuts to their Medicare payments, a possibility that may become reality by March 1. Such cuts would decrease teaching hospitals’ ability to provide outpatient care to vulnerable populations, and make it more challenging to train future doctors in such a specialized environment.

Report Finds Most Errors at Hospitals Go Unreported (January 6, 2012)
In a study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, hospital employees do not report most errors, accidents and other events that harm Medicare patients when they are hospitalized. Furthermore, these hospitals rarely change their practices to stop the repetition of adverse events. The primary problem resides in the fact that hospital employees do not properly identify what constitutes patient harm. Continued commitment from the Obama administration and hospital industry leaders has not been translated into strong practice.

2012 Medicare Debate: Baby Boomers at Center of Issue (January 1, 2012)
Medicare is headed for big changes despite the outcome of the 2012 Presidential elections. By 2024, Medicare will collect payroll taxes to pay 90 percent of benefits. Additionally, researchers approximate that 20 to 30 percent of the more than $500 billion that Medicare spends annually is wasted on unnecessary patient treatments. This in turn means that policymakers will look for cuts in care rather than payroll tax increases. Baby boomers better keep their eyes open for changes in Medicare and direct their attention to the high fees paid to doctors.

Private Insurance/Other

Reports | Articles



Aging Boomers to Face Hard Time Finding Mental Health Care; Report Urges Geriatric Training (July 10, 2012)
The crisis of mental illness and substance abuse disorders in older adults in the United States is largely hidden from the public and many of those who develop policy and programs to care for older people. Almost 8 million Americans over the age of 65 have a mental health condition. There is a strong need to confront this issue. Often times, getting older isn’t the primary cause for these conditions.

A Pioneer in Aging (June 26, 2012)
Linda P. Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, has spent years creating measures of frailty that allow for more focused health care and prevention. She wants to change the way society views aging. Dr. Fried also argues against the notion that increased life spans necessarily mean a financial and social burden.

In Documents on Pain Drug, Signs of Doubt and Deception (June 24, 2012)
Researchers have found that Celebrex, a drug, is no better at protecting the stomach from side effects than other drugs. However, Pfizer and its partner, Pharmacia, put forth results from only the first six months of a yearlong study. The primary selling point was its effect on the stomach. Surprisingly, earlier studies revealed it was no better at alleviating pain than most common drugs such as ibuprofen. This apparent falsification of data is of great concern to older persons and their advocates. When will such corporate corruption stop?

HIV Crisis Facing Black Women in Metro Atlanta (May 9, 2012)
Nearly one in 30 African-American women is diagnosed with HIV during her life time. This number is 15 times higher than Caucasian women and four percent higher than Hispanic women.  While studies show that race has nothing to do with the issue, the problem is being traced back to countries in Africa.

For the Elderly, Emergency Rooms of Their Own (April 9, 2012)
As part of an effort to continue catering to the medical needs of the elderly, hospitals like Mount Sinai in New York have been opening geriatric emergency departments. Because persons 65 and older make up 15 to 20 percent of emergency room units, and is expected to increase, elder patient satisfaction is becoming a priority. Within these units, there are several innovations aimed at enhancing an elder patient’s experience, such as iPads that allow for video conversations with nurses, and even artificial skylights.

A Drumbeat on Profit Takers (March 19, 2012)
Arnold Relman and Marcia Angell are two former editors of The New England Journal of Medicine who, appalled by the health situation in the US, decided decades ago to change things. Their crusade?  Fighting against for-profit medicine and its practice. Their target? The medical-industrial complex that puts stockholder interests above those of patients. Their goal is to bring ethics back to the center of the care system, for example, by getting rid of the private insurance industry. Their video interview is available on the New York Times’ website. 

A Successful and Sustainable Health System - How to Get There from Here (March 15, 2012)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, even if it is fully implemented, will not represent a complete solution to the main issue of affordability and performance in health care. First, life expectancy in the United States is trailing behind other countries internationally. The only category in which the US far exceeds all other countries is health expenditures. Now, the joint problem of relatively low performance and high costs impede the way of a successful and sustainable health system.  The only morally and politically acceptable way to curtail costs is to take measures to preserve or enhance the performance of the health system, thus getting more value for dollars spent. For example, the burden of chronic disease could be mitigated through widespread public health preventative education.  

Young Doctors Flock Toward New Specialty in End-of-Life Care (February 6, 2012) 
Medical boards started recognizing the treatment of pain and end-of-life care as an official subspecialty four years ago. New rules effectively bar older physicians from getting certified; doctors in their early to mid-30s are spearheading the palliative-care departments across the nation. These younger doctors however, will have to overcome barriers including generational gaps, and open communication regarding sensitive conditions.

Nowhere to Go, Patients Linger in Hospitals, at a High Cost (January 2, 2012)
Under New York State law, public hospitals are not allowed to discharge patients to shelters or to the street. Coupled with the lack of housing and health insurance, illegal immigrants are often trapped in city hospitals deprived of services that could be provided elsewhere at a lower cost, for example, in nursing homes. This scenario is also common in municipal hospitals in states with large concentrations of illegal immigrants such as California and Texas. This recent debates over national health care legislation ignored the situation of illegal immigrants.


Reports | Articles



Feds Want Unneeded Antipsychotic Drugs for Elderly Cut by 15 Percent This Years (May 30, 2012)
By December 31st, federal regulators plan to reduce unnecessary antipsychotic drug prescriptions for the elderly by 15 percent. Studies have shown that the use of such drugs increases the risk of developing mental and physical health problems, and even increases risk of death. Recent federal data reveals that 17 percent of nursing home residents were given more than the daily dose of recommended drugs. This article discusses several of the federal program's highlights.

Generic Drugs Prove Resistant to Damage Suits (March 20, 2012)
Consumers of generic drugs do not have the same rights as consumers of brand name drugs. If a patient is prescribed a generic drug and becomes ill, he is unable to seek legal and or financial recourse from the drug company, whereas a patient who is administered a brand name drug has that option. Such dismissals of generic drug consumers, and consequently persons of lower income and the elderly, occur due to the enactment of the Hatch-Waxman Act–a law which authorized generic drug companies to skip the approval process, and use, with impunity, the same warning labels as their counterparts, under the condition that its drugs were nearly identical to the brand name models.

Data: Many Medical Marijuana Cardholders Are Older than 50 (March 19, 2012)
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 35 percent of medical marijuana patients in Arizona are between ages 51 and 81. The collected data indicates that older (over age 40) individuals are more likely than any other group to be consumers of medical marijuana. This is likely because elders often have a greater need for the drug, as they are afflicted with more weakening medical conditions. In contrast, detractors say that consumers are substance abusers, not patients. 

Analysis: Goal for Alzheimer’s Drug by 2025 too Ambitious? (January 20, 2012)
The U.S. government has set a deadline of 2025 for finding an effective way to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This effort was mandated by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act and signed into law by President Barack Obama. Some experts believe the deadline to be unrealistic: The law provides no new needed investment for this goal; no drug has been found that can keep the disease from advancing; recruitment and prevention trials would take 15 to 20 years.


Reports | Articles


More Older People Treated for Depression (July 25, 2012)
Depression among older people is under diagnosed and under treated because its symptoms are quite various. There was less sadness and more physical symptoms than researchers expected. Additionally, mental disorders carry a social stigma. However, in the past decade the recognition and treatment of elder depression has increased. Why? The reason lies with the fact that primary care education has been strengthened in this period.

Doctor Shortage Likely to Worsen With Health Law (July 28, 2012)
The Association of American Medical Colleges expects a shortage of over 100,000 doctors by 2025. In parts of California, especially Riverside and San Bernardino, the situation has already become startling. Only 40 primary care physicians and 75 specialist doctors serve every 100,000 people in each county. For older persons who often require more health attention, this reduction in physicians is especially worrisome. While the Obama administration has tried to ease the shortage, it’s not enough. The US must train more health care workers and build more walk-in clinics to serve its citizens.

A Heart Quandary (June 7, 2012)
Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators have been shown to improve survival among those persons with certain heart conditions by regulating arrhythmia. These devices have generators that typically last for 5 years. However, should patients undergo an invasive procedure to have them replaced? Moreover, is it worth it?

Many Physicians Recommend Unnecessary Cancer Screening for the Old and Sick (June 4, 2012)
A Journal of General Internal Medicine study suggests that some physicians recommend colorectal cancer screening for older patients with severe illnesses who would essentially not benefit. The study concludes that many physicians seem to change their recommendations in response to the patient's age or underlying illness. Others recommend screening among patients with limited life expectancy, for whom these tests pose no benefit and could be harmful to the patient.

All Baby Boomers Should Get Hepatitis C Test – CDC (May 18, 2012)
The Center for Disease Control is urging baby boomers to get tested for the Hepatitis C virus. One in 30 seniors born between 1945 and 1965 has Hepatitis C but is unaware of it. Over 15,000 Americans, primarily baby boomers, die each year from Hepatitis C-related illnesses. However, there are treatments which can cure up to 75 percent of infections.

For Dementia Patients, Feeding Tubes May Increase Bed Sores (May 14, 2012)
Recently, Brown University conducted a study in which it was found, contrary to belief, that feeding tubes increase the risk of bed sores developing in bedridden dementia patients. In fact, 35.6 percent of patients in the study who used feeding tubes developed stage 2 bed sores -- open sores usually located in the epidermis. Patients who did not use feeding tubes and already had bed sores were also more likely to heal.

Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Medical Costs Later: Study (May 10, 2012)
A collaborative study between the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute found that men and women who led fitness-related lifestyles significantly lowered medical expenses as they aged compared to people who did not exercise regularly. The study's findings were so consistent that even when certain risk factors are present in older individuals, exercise still seemed to lower their medical costs.

After Foreclosures, Hidden Addictions Emerge Among Elders (April 23, 2012)
Physicians are now asking their older patients if they have been taking illicit drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of positive drug tests has increased during the recession, especially among seniors who have experienced home foreclosures.

For Elders With Dementia, Musical Awakenings (April 18, 2012)
Social worker Dan Cohen creates customized iPod playlists for older persons with dementia in hopes of reviving old memories. Since 2008, he has put iPods in four different eldercare facilities in New York City where staff have given him positive feedback about increased socialization among patients who listen to the music. Cohen wants to expand the project by reducing the costs and running iPod donation drives.

Substance Abuse in Seniors Expected to Rise (April 16, 2012)

Older persons in the US will likely need substance abuse treatment as they age.  The increase is expected to go from 2.8 million at present to 5.7 million by the year 2020.  Because many doctors lack training in how to spot signs of addiction in patients, it is important for patients seeking medication to ask for an evaluation to verify the possibility of dependency. Currently, the most problematic drug is Oxycontin, but anxiety and anti-depressants are also heavily abused. 

Endless Screenings Don’t Bring Everlasting Health (April 16, 2012)
Nine major medical specialty groups published a list of 45 tests and procedures that often have no specific benefit for patients and instead can cause harm. In a national survey, most US citizens believe that cancer screening is almost always a good idea and that finding cancer early saves lives most of the time. However, finding cancer early isn’t enough. To reduce cancer deaths, the treatment must work, yet it doesn’t always. Second, these treatments often work better when started earlier. Last, some of the worst cancers aren’t detected by screening. The benefits of screening depend on your chances of dying without screening. Overdiagnosis can turn people into patients and lead to unnecessary surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any procedure.

Too Many Pills for Aging Patients (April 16, 2012)
Overmedication of older persons is a growing problem. More than 40 percent of people over age 65 take five or more medications, and each year about one-third of them experience dangerous side effects.  The American Geriatrics Society updated a series of guidelines and published in its Journal of as a way to bring attention to the issue and help practicing physicians teach their patients about drug safety.  Patients most know their rights, ask questions and be prepared.

Longevity Up in US, but Education Creates Disparity, Study Says (April 3, 2012)
Americans are living longer, but the gains in life span are disproportionate and in favor among the better educated, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The findings show that there is a stronger link between college education and longevity.

101 Year-Old Woman Sets Paragliding World Record (March 21, 2012)
(Article in French)
To celebrate her 101st birthday, Mary Allen Hardison, a resident of Ogden, Utah, decided on September 1 to try paragliding for the first time. For the occasion, she gathered four generations of her family to cheer her on! She becomes the oldest woman to paraglide, a world record approved by the Guinness World Records Academy. For her, jumping was a means of challenging her 75-year-old son, and a way of showing that by staying active, older people remain healthy.

Aging and Anorexia Part II: Advice on Eating Disorders in Midlife and Beyond (February 29, 2012)
In the second part of this interview, Dr. Bishop at the Eating Recovery Center points out that while older persons dealing with eating disorders have greater awareness (and less denial), their bodies are physically less resilient. Older women with eating disorders are more often suffering from relapses. Older women (versus those in midlife) often develop food disorders from food phobia and not from dieting.

Doctors See More STDs in Older Patients (February 26, 2012)
Doctors are now treating more cases of STDs in older people even though the numbers remain low. Older people are less likely to be concerned with safe sex, even as more elderly people are engaging in sex with new partners, especially when pregnancy is not possible.  In Ohio, the number of people between ages 45 and 64 newly diagnosed with HIV or AIDS rose from 170 in 2000 to 261 in 2010.

Anorexia and Aging: Is There a Silent Crisis of Eating Disorders in Older Women? (February 25, 2012)
While there is a lot of information available on eating disorders among teenage girls, little attention is paid or information offered about eating disorders in older women--an emerging issue. Often, symptoms in older women are attributed to “that's just the way she is." In a 2006 survey of a randomly selected nonclinical sampling of 1,000 women ages 60-70, more than 80 percent controlled their weight and more than 60 percent stated they were dissatisfied with their bodies.

Musical Experience Slows Aging in the Brain, Study Finds (February 23, 2012)
Researchers at Northwestern University report that musicians who have learned and played a musical instrument since the age of nine experience less neural aging. Older musicians have the same hearing ability as younger musicians, while older non-musicians are less sensitive to sound than younger non-musicians.

Avoiding Surgery in the Elderly (January 25, 2012)
It is becoming more evident that for the very old, nursing home residents specifically, hospitals are places to avoid and surgery can become a source of great risk. Using national Medicare claims and nursing home surveys, approximately 71,000 nursing home residents who had surgery from 1999 through 2006 were identified. The information was then compared with more than a million elders who underwent the same procedures but did not reside in a nursing home. The risk of dying increased sharply for those living in nursing homes.

Grapes Are Great for Elderly Vision Health (January 17, 2012)

(Article in Russian)
The Free Radical Journal published a study from New York University researchers regarding the benefits of grapes on eye retina tissue. They found that grapes significantly slow down age-related macular degeneration. Scientists believe that the antioxidant properties of grapes help older adults prevent macular degeneration and, by doing so, prevent age-related blindness.

New York City Has Longest Life Expectancy (January 13, 2012)
(Article in Russian)

New York City was awarded first place in the US in terms of its residents’ life expectancy. The average age of Big Apple residents is roughly 2.5 years longer than the average age of the residents of other US cities. The current average life expectancy of New York women is 83, 78 for men. The only disadvantage of the longevity is that many women have to grow old alone.

Socially Active Older People are Happier (January 9, 2012)

(Article in Spanish)

Dr. Florence Clark of the University of Southern California conducted a study of the elderly whose results indicated that loneliness can be deadly. This research was carried out with 285 elderly people divided into three groups: one received occupational therapy; the second had activities and the third had no activities. This study showed that sharing time at dinner and playing card games are simple things that can encourage seniors to achieve a better quality of life, including better health.

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