Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month

English: Nursing and Residential Care Home, Wi...

English: Nursing and Residential Care Home, Withington This is Clyde Court, on Lapwing Lane. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From a recent email


When planning ahead in these uncertain financial times, it’s important to think about long-term care for yourself and your loved ones. Long-term care (LTC) is a range of services and supports you may need to meet your health or personal needs over a long period of time. These services might include emergency response systems, senior centers, assisted living, nursing homes, transportation services, and many more.

Most long-term care assists people with activities of daily living like dressing, bathing and using the bathroom. Other common long-term care services include helping with housework, cooking, shopping, or even managing money. Long-term care can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living or in nursing homes. And it’s not just for seniors—if you have a significant health challenge, you may need long-term care at any age.

While there are a variety of ways to pay for long-term care, it is important to think ahead about how you will fund the care you may need. Generally, Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, but only for a medically necessary skilled nursing facility or home health care. Long-term care insurance may be an option to help you and your family prepare ahead of time for the potential need for long-term care. There are a variety of plans available that vary in cost depending on what services you want covered and the age you begin coverage. Before you choose a plan you should take into account where and what kind of care you might need.

Be sure to take some time this month to check out your options and plan ahead, so you can rest assured that you and your family get the care you need. And if you’re a caregiver now for a family member with health challenges, find more resources and support from


Related resources




November 8, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book offers 10 checklists for hospital patients / Links to related resources

As Elizabeth points out, it is important for patients and patient families to advocate for themselves.
Competent professional health care providers will welcome folks who are prepared and take an active role.
Dedicated hospital staff will not feel antagonized. They will work address concerns and questions for the patient’s benefit.

From the 2 February 2012 article at USA Today

Elizabeth Bailey learned what could go wrong in a hospital the hard way: by watching her elderly father endure a long in-patient nightmare.

It's important to keep your medications organized because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital, experts say.

It’s important to keep your medications organized because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital, experts say.

It’s important to keep your medications organized because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital, experts say.

Her dad got too much of one medicine, not enough of others and the wrong food (heavy sweets for a diabetic). One day, he went missing for six hours and, on another, he ended up in restraints on a psychiatric ward (he was suffering mental confusion from his mismanaged medications and poorly controlled blood sugar).

“There were mistakes all the time,” says Bailey, who at the time was a music video producer. “I felt like I was on a very poorly run film set.” She realized her family needed a system to handle the chaos.

Six years later, she has turned that system into a book:The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep You Safe, Sane & Organized. And she is no longer a video producer: Instead, at age 50, she is a graduate student in health advocacy and a patient representative at a New York City hospital.

Her mantra: “You want to go in hoping for the best, but you have to prepare — I don’t want to say for the worst — but you have to prepare for everything.”

Among her checklists:

•Before-you-go list. One tip: Organize a schedule for friends and family to be with you in the hospital. Especially crucial: having someone with you the night after a surgery (even if you must hire someone).

•What-to-bring list. Included: “economy-sized hand sanitizer.” You should plant that next to your bed so that you can frequently clean your hands — and not-so-subtly remind everyone else to do likewise. That may lower the risk that you will pick up a nasty infection.

•Daily medication log. She provides a chart to keep track of the name, timing and dosage of every drug you get. That’s because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital.

•Discharge plan. On that list: Make sure you know how to handle surgical sites, medical equipment and medications at home….

Related Resources

In her recent book, “The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep You Safe, Sane and Organized,” Elizabeth Bailey describes the simple steps patients can take to avoid some of the most common (and potentially deadly) medical mistakes in the hospital. The theme throughout: Pay attention, ask questions, and never assume that any hospital is error-free where your care is concerned.

Including these links

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Longevity, Surprising Study Shows

The correlation between vitamin D levels and longevity seems to be at least partially genetic.
Lowering levels of Vitamin D (as staying away from tanning beds) in itself does not necessarily lead to longer lives.
However, the authors believe further study is needed.

From the 5 November 2012 article at Science Daily

 Low levels of vitamin D may be associated with longevity, according to a study involving middle-aged children of people in their 90s published in CMAJ(Canadian Medical Association Journal).

We found that familial longevity was associated with lower levels of vitamin D and a lower frequency of allelic variation in the CYP2R1 gene, which was associated with higher levels of vitamin D,” writes Dr. Diana van Heemst, Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands, with coauthors.

Previous studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased rates of death, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, allergies, mental illness and other afflictions. However, it is not known whether low levels are the cause of these diseases or if they are a consequence…

Full text of the article is at


Background: Low levels of 25(OH) vitamin D are associated with various age-related diseases and mortality, but causality has not been determined. We investigated vitamin D levels in the offspring of nonagenarians who had at least one nonagenarian sibling; these offspring have a lower prevalence of age-related diseases and a higher propensity to reach old age compared with their partners.

Methods: We assessed anthropometric characteristics, 25(OH) vitamin D levels, parathyroid hormone levels, dietary vitamin D intake and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with vitamin D levels. We included offspring (n = 1038) of nonagenarians who had at least one nonagenarian sibling, and the offsprings’ partners (n = 461; controls) from the Leiden Longevity Study. We included age, sex, body mass index, month during which blood sampling was performed, dietary and supplemental vitamin D intake, and creatinine levels as possible confounding factors.

Results: The offspring had significantly lower levels of vitamin D (64.3 nmol/L) compared with controls (68.4 nmol/L; p = 0.002), independent of possible confounding factors. There was no difference in the levels of parathyroid hormone between groups. Compared with controls, the offspring had a lower frequency of a genetic variant in theCYP2R1 gene (rs2060793) (p = 0.04). The difference in vitamin D levels between offspring and controls persisted over the 2 most prevalent genotypes of this SNP.

Interpretation: Compared with controls, the offspring of nonagenarians who had at least one nonagenarian sibling had a reduced frequency of a common variant in theCYP2R1 gene, which predisposes people to high vitamin D levels; they also had lower levels of vitamin D that persisted over the 2 most prevalent genotypes. These results cast doubt on the causal nature of previously reported associations between low levels of vitamin D and age-related diseases and mortality.



Background: Low lev


November 8, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: