Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Repost] Active aging is much more than exercise

Active aging is much more than exercise

“30 years ago, the elderly were not expected to be active at all – they were actually advised not to exercise as it was considered dangerous. Playing cards were seen as a more fitting activity. Today, we are all expected to live active, healthy lives until the day we die – in good health – at the age of 90. Old age has, in a sense, been cancelled, says PhD Aske Juul Lassen from University of Copenhagen’s Center for Healthy Aging.

Aske Juul Lassen has just defended his PhD thesis entitled Active Ageing and the Unmaking of Old Age for which he has conducted field work in two activity centres for the elderly in Greater Copenhagen and analysed WHO’s and EU’s official policy papers on active ageing.

“I compare the EU and WHO perceptions of ageing with the everyday activities I have observed among the elderly. The elderly do a lot of things, which I consider active ageing and which give them an enhanced quality of life, but they are also activities that would never be characterized as “healthy” by health authorities. The question is how we define “good ageing” and how we organise society for our ageing generations.”

Billiards and beer can also be active ageing

One of the everyday activities Aske Juul Lassen observed was billiards: In one of the activity centres for the elderly, in which he conducted field work, 10-15 men between the ages of 70 and 95 meet to play billiards four times a week.

“Playing billiards often comes with a certain life style – drinking beer and drams for instance – and I am quite sure this was not what WHO and EU meant when they formulated their active ageing policies. But billiards does constitute active ageing. Billiards is, first of all, an activity that these men thoroughly enjoy and that enhances their quality of life while immersing them in their local community and keeping them socially active. And billiards is, secondly, very suitable exercise for old people because the game varies naturally between periods of activity and passivity and this means that the men can keep playing for hours. Not very many old people can endure physical activity that lasts five hours, but billiards enables these men to spread their physical activity out through the day,” says Aske Juul Lassen.

“We therefore need a broader, more inclusive concept of healthy and active ageing that allows for the communities the elderly already take part in and that positively impact their everyday lives, quality of life, and general health. It must also allow for the fact that the elderly do not constitute a homogenous group of people: activities that for some seem insurmountable will be completely natural for others.”

According to Aske Juul Lassen, one of the positive side effects of the activities at the activity centres for the elderly is that the activities take their minds off illness; they do not focus as much on their ailments when they are engaged in billiards or some of the other activities that the centres have on offer.

###

Contact
Contact: Aske Juul Lassen
ajlas@hum.ku.dk
45-22-92-02-12
University of Copenhagen – Faculty of Humanities

Press officer Carsten Munk Hansen
Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen
Cell: +45 28 75 80 23

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

2m elderly will have no adult child to provide care by 2030

Originally posted on Empathic Urbanite:

66259-425x283-Woman_and_son Wow. 2 million of us without carers! When I started this enterprise I knew that we were an ageing population and there’d be a lot of need for care in the future. But I hadn’t considered that there’d be so many childless people, which basically DOUBLES the number of people who will need paid care workers.

“By 2030, 230,000 people who need more than 20 hours of care a week will not have a relative to provide it, the think tank said.”

This is an IPPR report, so it’s solid evidence that our society, culture and especially government needs to start supporting care agencies and offering much better individual training and organisational opportunities if we are to meet this massive challenge. And don’t forget, when we talk about older people in the future, it’s not a report about some vague ‘other’, this time, we are talking about ourselves!

Three Sisters…

View original 129 more words

May 2, 2014 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Older brains slow due to greater experience, rather than cognitive decline

From the 21 January 2014 press release at EurekAlert

What happens to our cognitive abilities as we age? Traditionally it is thought that age leads to a steady deterioration of brain function, but new research in Topics in Cognitive Science argues that older brains may take longer to process ever increasing amounts of knowledge, and this has often been misidentified as declining capacity.

The study, led by Dr. Michael Ramscar of the University of Tuebingen, takes a critical look at the measures that are usually thought to show that our cognitive abilities decline across adulthood. Instead of finding evidence of decline, the team discovered that most standard cognitive measures are flawed, confusing increased knowledge for declining capacity.

Dr. Ramscar’s team used computers, programmed to act as though they were humans, to read a certain amount each day, learning new things along the way. When the researchers let a computer ‘read’ a limited amount, its performance on cognitive tests resembled that of a young adult.

However, if the same computer was exposed data which represented a lifetime of experiences its performance looked like that of an older adult. Often it was slower, not because its processing capacity had declined, but because increased “experience” had caused the computer’s database to grow, giving it more data to process, and that processing takes time.

“What does this finding mean for our understanding of our ageing minds, for example older adults’ increased difficulties with word recall? These are traditionally thought to reveal how our memory for words deteriorates with age, but Big Data adds a twist to this idea,” said Dr. Ramscar. “Technology now allows researchers to make quantitative estimates about the number of words an adult can be expected to learn across a lifetime, enabling the team to separate the challenge that increasing knowledge poses to memory from the actual performance of memory itself.”

“Imagine someone who knows two people’s birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly. Would you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2000 people, but can ‘only’ match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of ten?” asks Ramscar.

“It is time we rethink what we mean by the aging mind before our false assumptions result in decisions and policies that marginalize the old or waste precious public resources to remediate problems that do not exist,” said Topics in Cognitive Science, Editors Wayne Gray and Thomas Hills.

 

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Keeping Elders Out of Hospitals as Much as Possible

From the December 4, 2013 post  by Marti Weston at As Our Parents Age

 

H 4 hospAnyone who has spent time with an elder parent in the hospital knows just how easy it is for one problem to be solved only to have the person discharged with different problems. This is not necessarily the fault of the medical caregivers or the hospital itself — it’s a result of a system that puts older people into beds and keeps them there. Add in bed alarms, the inability to move much, and that hospitals isolate elder patients from their routines and support communities, and you have a recipe for unsuccessful care, a result of age associated hospital complications.

So I recommend reading The Hospital is No Place for the Elderly, a November 20, 2013 article that appeared in the The Atlantic. This piece aptly illustrates the conundrum of frail elderly patients with chronic health issues admitted to hospitals where medical care focuses primarily on fixing acute health problems. The difficulty is that most of frail elders’ medical issues cannot be fixed — but the quality of their lives can improve. Author Jonathan Rauch also describes several programs in the United States — teams of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals — that collaborate to keep patients as healthy as possible and out of the hospital. The teams even save money.

Many team-based support programs for frail elders run deficits, despite that they are so successful, but Rauch reports that the climate is changing, as Medicare and some insurance companies develop a more welcoming attitude toward innovative health care programs. The Affordable Care Acthas designated money to support innovative and new models of care delivery. (To learn more about other innovative programs you might also want to read Atul Gwande’s 2011 New Yorker article about changing models of medical care.)

One of the most interesting parts of The Atlantic article was the description of the team meetings where participants collaborate and coordinate patients’ medical care in order to help elders stay as healthy as possible.

Best Atlantic Article Quotes

    • The idea is simple: rather than wait until people get sick and need hospitalization, you build a multidisciplinary team that visits them at home, coordinates health-related services, and tries to nip problems in the bud.
    • These people aren’t on death’s doorstep, but neither will they recover. Physically (and sometimes cognitively), they are frail
    • Patients were presented not as bundles of syndromes—as medical charts—but as having personal goals, such as making a trip or getting back on their feet. The team tries to think about meeting patients’ goals rather than performing procedures.

 

 

December 5, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Internet Use Associated with Better Decision Making in Older Adults

From the 25 November 2013 posting at HealthCetera – CHMP’s Blog
[Center for Health Media & Policy at Hunter College (CHMP): advancing public conversations about health & health policy]

Older adults face many important decisions about their health and financial well-being. Whether it’s making retirement savings last longer or authorizing a health proxy, the ability to make good choices has consequences for a senior’s quality of life, aging in place, and end of life care. According to a new study from Rush University, presented yesterday at the Gerontological Society of America Conference in New Orleans, Internet use is associated with better health and financial decision-making among older adults.

Senior on laptop“The Internet has become the primary corridor for finding information and assisting in decision-making on finances and healthcare,” said Bryan James, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago and lead author of the study. “The Internet is becoming what we call ‘proto-normative,’ meaning you have to have some ability or savvy to function online these days.”

Recent research from Pew’s Internet and American Life Project show that slightly more than half (53%) of all seniors are now online. However, James said there remains a significant portion of older adults who use the Internet infrequently, or not at all. This may have important implications for quality of life and independence, including the ability to age at home.

James pointed to the digital divide between older and younger people. In addition to the general anxiety expressed by older adults express about computers and the Internet,  there are also certain parts of the aging process that may may pose obstacles to Internet use, such as cognitive decline, as well as decline in hearing, vision, and motor skills.

……

Read the entire post here

Related Resources

Evaluating Health Information (from Health Resources for All, edited  by Janice Flahiff)

Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.
A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.
Here are a few
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.The tips include
    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider


Additional Resources

 
And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency focusing on health misinformation, fraud, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Acceptance of What Cannot Be Changed Predicts Satisfaction in Later Life

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

When older adults lose control as they move into residential care, they adapt and accept what cannot be changed in order to stay happy. According to a new study, by Jaclyn Broadbent, Shikkiah de Quadros-Wander and Jane McGillivray from Deakin University in Australia, when it comes to satisfaction in later life the ability to accept what cannot be changed is as important as the feeling of being able to exert control.

..

Ageing with satisfaction has been linked to maintaining a sense of control into the later years. Perceived control consists of two components. Primary control relates to the capacity to make changes to the environment to suit your desire or needs — this applies to older adults living independently in the community. Secondary control describes making cognitive changes within yourself to adapt to the environment — for example when older adults move into residential care. In effect, secondary control buffers losses in primary control by helping us to accept what cannot be changed.

Their analyses revealed that the unique relationship between primary control and satisfaction was always larger for the elderly living in the community than those in residential care. Equally, the contribution of secondary control to satisfaction was larger in the residential care group than in the community group. Having a strong sense of control is therefore likely to be more important to older adults living in the community than those living in residential care. In contrast, acceptance is likely to be more important to the well-being of care residents than community dwellers.

The authors conclude: “In order to protect the well-being of older individuals, adaptation involves both a sense of control and the active acceptance of what cannot be changed. Primary and secondary perceived control may predict satisfaction with comparable strength depending on the older person’s situation. Acceptance takes more of a prime position in low control situations.”

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Older People Struggle to Read Fine Print: It’s Not What You Think

English: A typical Snellen chart. Originally d...

English: A typical Snellen chart. Originally developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862, to estimate visual acuity. When printed out at this size, the E on line one will be 88.7 mm (3.5 inches) tall and when viewed at a distance of 20 ft (= 609.6 centimeters, or 6.09600 meters), you can estimate your eyesight based on the smallest line you can read. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 22 November 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

 

..”As we get older, we lose visual sensitivity, particularly to fine visual detail, due to changes in the eye and changes in neural transmission. This loss of visual sensitivity is found even in individuals with apparently normal vision and is not corrected by optical aids, such as glasses or contact lenses. However, it is likely to have consequences for reading.

“The ability to read effectively is fundamental to participation in modern society, and the challenge age-related visual impairment presents to meeting everyday demands of living, working and citizenship is a matter of concern. The difficulty older adults have in reading is an important contributing factor to social exclusion. The RNIB has identified age-related reading difficulty amongst the over 65s as highly detrimental to quality of life and a barrier to employment….

 

 

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being

 

 

Federal report details health, economic status of older Americans

Today’s older Americans enjoy longer lives and better physical function than did previous generations, although, for some, an increased burden in housing costs and rising obesity may compromise these gains, according to a comprehensive federal look at aging. The report, Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being, tracks trends at regular intervals to see how older people are faring as the U.S. population grows older.

In 2010, 40 million people age 65 and over accounted for 13 percent of the total population in the United States. In 2030, the number and proportion of older Americans is expected to grow significantly—to 72 million, representing nearly 20 percent of the population said the report, by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.

Older Americans 2012, the sixth report prepared by the Forum since 2000, provides an updated and accessible compendium of indicators, drawn from official statistics about the well-being of Americans primarily age 65 and older. The 176-page report provides a broad description of areas of well-being that are improving for older Americans and those that are not. Thirty-seven key indicators are categorized into five broad areas—population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care. This year’s report also includes a special feature on the end of life.

Highlights of Older Americans 2012 include:
Increased labor force participation by older women – Participation of older women in the labor force has increased significantly over the past 40 years. In 1963, 29 percent of women aged 62-64 worked outside the home; in 2011, that had increased to 45 percent.

page1image17648
page1image18200
page1image18472

 

In 1963, 17 percent of women aged 65-69 were in the labor force; in 2011, that had increased to 27 percent. For women 70 and older, 6 percent worked in 1963, increasing to 8 percent in 2011. Some older Americans work out of economic necessity. Others may be attracted by the social contact, intellectual challenges or sense of value that work often provides.

Declines in poverty, increases in income since 1974 – Older Americans are in better economic shape now than they were in 1974. Between 1974 and 2010, the proportion of older people with income below the poverty thresholds (less than $10,458 in 2010 for a person 65 and older) fell from 15 percent to 9 percent. The percentage with low income (between $10,458 and $20,916 in 2010 for people 65 and older) dropped from 35 percent to 26 percent. There were also notable gains in income over the period, as the proportion of people 65 and older with high income ($41,832 and above in 2010) rose from 18 percent to 31 percent.

Increased housing problems –The most significant issue by far is housing cost burden, which has been steadily increasing over time. In 1985, about 30 percent of households with householders or spouses age 65 and over spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities. By 2009, the proportion of older people with high housing cost burden reached 40 percent. For some multigenerational households, crowded housing is also fairly prevalent.

Rising rates of obesity – Obesity, a major cause of preventable disease and premature death, is increasing among older people. In 2009-2010, 38 percent of people age 65 and over were obese, compared with 22 percent in 1988-1994. In 2009-2010, 44 percent of people age 65-74 were obese, as were 29 percent of those age 75 and older.

More use of hospice –The percentage of older people who received hospice care in the last 30 days of life increased from 19 percent in 1999 to 43 percent in 2009. The percentage of older Americans who died in hospitals dropped from 49 percent in 1999 to 32 percent in 2009. The percentage who died at home increased from 15 percent in 1999 to 24 percent in 2009. In 2009, there were notable differences in the use of hospice services at the end of life among people of different race and ethnicity groups.

From the Web site

Older Americans 2012:
Key Indicators of Well-Being

This report provides the latest data on the 37 key indicators selected by the Forum to portray aspects of the lives of older Americans and their families. It is divided into five subject areas: population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care.

Press Note (PDF)

 

Federal report details health, economic status of older Americans

Today’s older Americans enjoy longer lives and better physical function than did previous generations, although, for some, an increased burden in housing costs and rising obesity may compromise these gains, according to a comprehensive federal look at aging. The report, Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being, tracks trends at regular intervals to see how older people are faring as the U.S. population grows older.

In 2010, 40 million people age 65 and over accounted for 13 percent of the total population in the United States. In 2030, the number and proportion of older Americans is expected to grow significantly—to 72 million, representing nearly 20 percent of the population said the report, by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.

Older Americans 2012, the sixth report prepared by the Forum since 2000, provides an updated and accessible compendium of indicators, drawn from official statistics about the well-being of Americans primarily age 65 and older. The 176-page report provides a broad description of areas of well-being that are improving for older Americans and those that are not. Thirty-seven key indicators are categorized into five broad areas—population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care. This year’s report also includes a special feature on the end of life.

Highlights of Older Americans 2012 include:
Increased labor force participation by older women – Participation of older women in the labor force has increased significantly over the past 40 years. In 1963, 29 percent of women aged 62-64 worked outside the home; in 2011, that had increased to 45 percent.

page1image17648
page1image18200
page1image18472
page1image18744

In 1963, 17 percent of women aged 65-69 were in the labor force; in 2011, that had increased to 27 percent. For women 70 and older, 6 percent worked in 1963, increasing to 8 percent in 2011. Some older Americans work out of economic necessity. Others may be attracted by the social contact, intellectual challenges or sense of value that work often provides.

Declines in poverty, increases in income since 1974 – Older Americans are in better economic shape now than they were in 1974. Between 1974 and 2010, the proportion of older people with income below the poverty thresholds (less than $10,458 in 2010 for a person 65 and older) fell from 15 percent to 9 percent. The percentage with low income (between $10,458 and $20,916 in 2010 for people 65 and older) dropped from 35 percent to 26 percent. There were also notable gains in income over the period, as the proportion of people 65 and older with high income ($41,832 and above in 2010) rose from 18 percent to 31 percent.

Increased housing problems –The most significant issue by far is housing cost burden, which has been steadily increasing over time. In 1985, about 30 percent of households with householders or spouses age 65 and over spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities. By 2009, the proportion of older people with high housing cost burden reached 40 percent. For some multigenerational households, crowded housing is also fairly prevalent.

Rising rates of obesity – Obesity, a major cause of preventable disease and premature death, is increasing among older people. In 2009-2010, 38 percent of people age 65 and over were obese, compared with 22 percent in 1988-1994. In 2009-2010, 44 percent of people age 65-74 were obese, as were 29 percent of those age 75 and older.

More use of hospice –The percentage of older people who received hospice care in the last 30 days of life increased from 19 percent in 1999 to 43 percent in 2009. The percentage of older Americans who died in hospitals dropped from 49 percent in 1999 to 32 percent in 2009. The percentage who died at home increased from 15 percent in 1999 to 24 percent in 2009. In 2009, there were notable differences in the use of hospice services at the end of life among people of different race and ethnicity groups.

 

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Loneliness in Older Adults, Study Shows

Mindfulness

Mindfulness (Photo credit: Cathdew)

From the 24 July 2012 article at Science News Daily

For older adults, loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems — such as cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s — and death. Attempts to diminish loneliness with social networking programs like creating community centers to encourage new relationships have not been effective.

However, a new study led by Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswell offers the first evidence that mindfulness meditation reduces loneliness in older adults. Published in Brain, Behavior & Immunity, the researchers also found that mindfulness meditation — a 2,500-year-old practice dating back to Buddha that focuses on creating an attentive awareness of the present moment — lowered inflammation levels, which is thought to promote the development and progression of many diseases. These findings provide valuable insights into how mindfulness meditation training can be used as a novel approach for reducing loneliness and the risk of disease in older adults.

“We always tell people to quit smoking for health reasons, but rarely do we think about loneliness in the same way,” said Creswell, assistant professor of psychology within CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “We know that loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems and mortality in older adults. This research suggests that mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults.”…

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consensual Sex In Elderly Care Homes – Ageism And Safety Concerns

Regardless of what one thinks about sex outside marriage, this issue is certainly not going to go away in the near and far future as long as the elderly are institutionalized and/or live in residential care facilities.

From the 25 June 2012 Medical News Today article

An article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics reveals that elderly care home residents are often needlessly denied consensual sex because of concerns regarding safety and ageism. 

Researchers from the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care state that even though elderly people, including those with early stage dementia, often still enjoy a sexual relationship in their own homes, but once they move into residential care, a sexual relationship is often frowned upon.

The researchers say that factors, such as safety fears, insufficient privacy, concerns about duty of care, anxieties about potential repercussions from relatives, and ageism often take away people’s “basic human right”, standing in the way of “a normal and healthy part of ageing.” ….

June 26, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Longer Old Age but Lower Quality Near the End?

Reblog

(My 80 year old mother is doing well, but she voices concerns in this area from time to time.
These related end of life issues have motivated me to exercise more & volunteer at our local Area Office on Aging…
However, I think there is more we can do collectively, maybe a combination of government and community organizations, and just plain families cooperating more for their most vulnerable members…)

Longer Old Age but Lower Quality Near the End?

http://asourparentsage.net/2012/05/24/9609/

May 29, 2012

A few days ago I added a must read link to Michael Wolff’s New York Magazine article, A Life Worth Ending. It’s an eye-opening piece, detailing long drawn-out decline of his mother. Check it out — it really is a must read.

For our parents there are no easy end-of-life answers. Those of us with older moms and dads still living active and full lives are lucky, but one only has to sit in a Starbucks or linger near the water cooler at work to hear frightening and very sad stories. No one wants to die the long drawn-out way as a helpless invalid,

The single conclusion that I reach is less about my parents lives — we can’t turn the clock back — than it is about my own. At some time in my life, if I reach an advanced age, I need to make some clear and thoughtful decisions about how much medical care I will use … or not use.

Two Quotes from Wolff’s Article  to Make You Want to Read More                         

– By promoting longevity and technologically inhibiting death, we have created a new biological status held by an ever-growing part of the nation, a no-exit state that persists longer and longer, one that is nearly as remote from life as death, but which, unlike death, requires vast service, indentured servitude really, and resources.

– The traditional exits, of a sudden heart attack, of dying in one’s sleep, of unreasonably dropping dead in the street, of even a terminal illness, are now exotic ways of going. The longer you live the longer it will take to die. The better you have lived the worse you may die. The healthier you are—through careful diet, diligent exercise, and attentive medical scrutiny—the harder it is to die. Part of the advance in life expectancy is that we have technologically inhibited the ultimate event. We have fought natural causes to almost a draw.

May 29, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

Planning for an Aging Nation: New Estimates to Inform Policy Analysis for Senior Health

Hillary Clinton Health care elderly

Hillary Clinton Health care elderly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the excerpt at Full Text reports (with link to report)

This dissertation contains three papers on the health and welfare of the elderly population. Overall, these papers provide insights into the costs and challenges of providing health care to the elderly population. These papers help us understand the effects of obesity on longevity and health care, as well as better understand the benefits of social insurance. The first paper uses a micro-simulation model to estimate the longevity effects of poor health trends among younger Americans, and finds that difference in these trends can explain 92% of the difference between US and European longevity. The second paper estimates the welfare effects of Medicare Part-D from gains in market efficiency and dynamic incentives for pharmaceutical companies. It finds that these gains alone nearly cover the welfare cost of funding Medicare Part-D. The last paper presents and estimates a structural model of health, exercise, and restaurant consumption. It provides estimates for future welfare analyses of programs targeting obesity through restaurants and exercise in the elderly population. It also estimates the long run effects of making policies which make restaurant food healthier. It finds only minor effects of restaurant policies on health for the elderly. Overall, these papers further our understanding of the challenging objective of improving senior health while containing costs.

 

April 20, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

American Geriatrics Society Updated Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults

Tablets and Patches of Clonidine, Comprimés et...

Tablets and Patches of Clonidine, Comprimés et patch transdermique de clonidine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the  April 2012 Full Text Report summary (with link to report)

Potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) continue to be prescribed and used as first-line treatment for the most vulnerable of older adults, despite evidence of poor outcomes from the use of PIMs in older adults. PIMs now form an integral part of policy and practice and are incorporated into several quality measures. The specific aim of this project was to update the previous Beers Criteria using a comprehensive, systematic review and grading of the evidence on drug-related problems and adverse drug events (ADEs) in older adults. This was accomplished through the support of The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and the work of an interdisciplinary panel of 11 experts in geriatric care and pharmacotherapy who applied a modi- fied Delphi method to the systematic review and grading to reach consensus on the updated 2012 AGS Beers Criteria. Fifty-three medications or medication classes encompass the final updated Criteria, which are divided into three categories: potentially inappropriate medications and classes to avoid in older adults, potentially inappropriate medications and classes to avoid in older adults with certain diseases and syndromes that the drugs listed can exacerbate, and finally medications to be used with caution in older adults. This update has much strength, including the use of an evidence-based approach using the Institute of Medicine standards and the development of a partnership to regularly update the Criteria. Thoughtful application of the Criteria will allow for (a) closer monitoring of drug use, (b) application of real-time e-prescribing and interventions to decrease ADEs in older adults, and (c) better patient outcomes.

April 20, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A report on aging populations and how their transportation needs are not being met

Janice Flahiff:

There’s no doubt the US population is increasingly aging*.  Transportation needs change as people age. For example, elderly people often are unable to drive vehicles and rely more on public transportation. Often public transportation does not fit their needs or is nonexistent where they live. This may lead to health needs not being addressed as they find they cannot easily get to health care provider offices and other places which meet their health and health related needs (as nutritious food).

The report…

  • Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile : Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans (February 2012) includes the following observations
    • While traffic fatalities have dramatically decreased in recent years, older Americans make up a disproportionally high share of fatal vehicle crashes. Certain situations and hazards are more challenging for older Americans.I
    • While older Americans overwhelmingly use private vehicles, public transportation options can be improved for all Americans
    • Improved transportation options could include expanded public transportation, ride sharing, volunteer drivers, and door-to-door community transportation services.

*From Older Americans Month- May 2011 [Profile American Facts and Features, US Census Dept]

39.6 million – The number of people 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2009. This age group accounted for 13 percent of the total population. Between 2008 and 2009, this age group increased by 770,699 people.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2009-sa.html>

88.5 million -Projected population of people 65 and older in 2050. People in this age group would comprise 20 percent of the total population at that time.
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/population/www/projections/summarytables.html>

http://fulltextreports.com/2012/02/23/ca-stranded-in-suburbia-planning-for-aging-populations/

Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Traffic fatalities among older drivers remain disproportionately high; as baby boomers begin to turn 65, U.S. Transportation System Insufficient to Meet Their Growing Mobility and Safety Needs (PDF)
Source: TRIP
As the Baby Boom Generation begins to turn 65, the number of older Americans and their share of the overall population will swell dramatically. But, according to a new report, although these older Americans will be more mobile and active than any previous generation, they will face a transportation system that is inadequate to offer the mobility and safety demanded by older Americans and the population in general. The report, “Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile: Preserving Mobility and Safety for Older Americans,” was released today by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.

Despite their efforts to modify their own driving, and the fact that overall fatalities have declined in recent years, older motorists are still involved…

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February 25, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Elderly Can Be As Fast As Young In Some Brain Tasks

“If you look at aging research, you find some studies that show older people are not impaired in accuracy, but other studies that show that older people do suffer when it comes to speed.  What this model does is look at both together to reconcile the results.”

From a December 2011  Ohio State University news release 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Both children and the elderly have slower response times when they have to make quick decisions in some settings.

But recent research suggests that much of that slower response is a conscious choice to emphasize accuracy over speed.

In fact, healthy older people can be trained to respond faster in some decision-making tasks without hurting their accuracy – meaning their cognitive skills in this area aren’t so different from younger adults.

Roger Ratcliff

“Many people think that it is just natural for older people’s brains to slow down as they age, but we’re finding that isn’t always true,” said Roger Ratcliff, professor of psychology at Ohio State University and co-author of the studies.

“At least in some situations, 70-year-olds may have response times similar to those of 25-year olds.”

Ratcliff and his colleagues have been studying cognitive processes and aging in their lab for about a decade.  In a new study published online this month in the journal Child Development, they extended their work to children.

Ratcliff said their results in children are what most scientists would have expected: very young children have slower response times and poorer accuracy compared to adults, and these improve as the children mature.

But the more interesting finding is that older adults don’t necessarily have slower brain processing than younger people, said Gail McKoon, professor of psychology at Ohio State and co-author of the studies.

“Older people don’t want to make any errors at all, and that causes them to slow down.  We found that it is difficult to get them out of the habit, but they can with practice,” McKoon said.

Researchers uncovered this surprising finding by using a model developed by Ratcliff that considers both the reaction time and the accuracy shown by participants in speeded tasks.  Most models only consider one of these variables.

“If you look at aging research, you find some studies that show older people are not impaired in accuracy, but other studies that show that older people do suffer when it comes to speed.  What this model does is look at both together to reconcile the results,” Ratcliff said.

Ratcliff, McKoon and their colleagues have used several of the same experiments in children, young adults and the elderly….

Read the entire press release

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , , | 2 Comments

University Of Dayton Study Overturns 250-Year-Old Belief About Effects Of Age, Repeated Injury On Tissue Regeneratio

From the 19 July 2011 Medical News Today article

Scientists have been wrong for 250 years about a fundamental aspect of tissue regeneration, according to a University of Dayton biologist who says his recent discovery is good news for humans.

In research published in Nature Communications this month, Panagiotis Tsonis concludes repeated regeneration, even at old age, does not alter the capacity of newts to regenerate tissue. His findings overturn long-accepted theories proposed by regeneration scientists that age and repeated amputation negatively affect regeneration….

Click here to read the rest of the article

July 19, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , | Leave a comment

Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults

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Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults


Source:  US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

From the March 24 report:

This new report, Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults – Closing the Gap, calls attention to the use of potentially lifesaving preventive services by our nation’s growing population of adults aged 65 years and older. By presenting and interpreting available state and national self-reported survey data, the Report aims to raise awareness among public health and aging services professionals, policy makers, the media, and researchers of critical gaps and opportunities for increasing the use of clinical preventive services, particularly among those who are currently underserved.

Older Americans have long been recognized as having unique social, economic, and health needs. Since the passage of the landmark Medicare Act in 1965, numerous policies and programs have evolved to support and improve the health and quality of life for adults aged 65 and older. The most recent addition is the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which addresses coverage for clinical preventive services with a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) rating of an A or B, immunizations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and numerous additional wellness benefits for older adults. Recently issued rules to implement the legislation call for Medicare to eliminate out-of-pocket costs for previously covered preventive services in January 2011.1 The new law also entitles Medicare beneficiaries to a free annual wellness visit that includes a schedule of recommended preventive services. Additionally, a few states have already eliminated co-pays for some cancer screenings and more are poised to do so.

The USPSTF recommends a range of clinical preventive services for older adults. In 2006, these services were ranked by the National Commission on Prevention Priorities (NCPP), a nonpartisan organization of business, nonprofit and government leaders convened by the Partnership for Prevention. Using innovative evidence-based methods, the NCPP identified 25 clinical preventive services that have the biggest impact on health and are most cost effective. The majority of these services are relevant to older adults aged 65 and older. Of the six top services, three are specific to this age group including colorectal cancer screening and influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.


Flahiff, editor of this blog, strongly believes preventative health measures can reduce need for prescription drugs (and the                  side effects which may come from their use)

Excerpt from this previous posting

Drugs are chemicals. And you’re putting something in your body. You need to know what it is.” [Editor Flahiff’s emphasis]

If you keep adding drugs to your daily routine, talk to your doctor about whether you can cut back on others, so that you are only taking the minimum necessary amount, she said. Read all the material that comes with medicines, and tell someone immediately if you start to feel unwell. “If something doesn’t feel right, talk to your doctor, talk to your pharmacist.” [Flahiff’s emphasis]

March 30, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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