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During the Holidays, Help Protect the Elderly from Falls

A holiday visit with older relatives might be a good chance to help them remove fall risks in their home, an expert suggests.

Older adults' risk of falling may have increased during the pandemic due to declines in physical activity and mobility, along with increased isolation, a University of Michigan poll shows. Many also became more fearful of falling, which, in turn, can increase the r...

Housework Might Boost Your Body & Mind

TUESDAY, Nov. 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors, looking for a way to stay mentally quick and physically strong? Start scrubbing.

Researchers from Singapore say housework may be a key to keeping your brain sharp as you age.

Their new study found that in older adults, cl...

'Active Grandparent': Humans Evolved to Exercise in Old Age

Becoming a couch potato as you get older goes against evolution and puts your health at risk, a new study suggests.

Humans have evolved to be active in their later years, and staying active can protect against heart disease and a number of other serious health problems, according to researchers at Harvard.

"It's a widespread idea in Western societies that as we get older, it's norma...

Many Psychiatric Patients Are Getting Risky Drug Gabapentin 'Off-Label'

MONDAY, Nov. 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Most prescriptions for the medication gabapentin are for unapproved uses -- and many patients end up taking it along with drugs that create potentially dangerous interactions.

That's the conclusion of a new study that looked at "off-label" use of gabapentin. In the United States, the drug is officially approved for treating cert...

TV Remotes, Nurse Call Buttons: Where Coronavirus Lingers in Nursing Homes

Though airborne exposure causes most cases of COVID-19, the virus lurks on objects near the beds of infected nursing home patients, according to a new study.

"Coronavirus is ubiquitous and persistent in the rooms of nursing home residents with COVID-19, and highlight the ongoing importance of rigorous cleaning and protection of staff and visitors," first author Dr. Lona Mody said in a Un...

Reminder Apps on Smartphones May Help in Early Dementia

THURSDAY, Nov. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Despite stereotypes about seniors and technology, a small study suggests that older adults in the early stages of dementia can use smartphone apps as memory aids.

The researchers found that older people with mild impairments in memory and thinking were not only able to learn how to use the apps, they said the digital aids made...

Trial Begins of Nasal Vaccine for Alzheimer's Disease

The first human clinical trial of a nasal vaccine to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease is set to begin after nearly 20 years of research.

This is a "remarkable milestone," according to Dr. Howard Weiner, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"Over the last two decades, we've amassed preclinical evidence sugg...

Demand for Liver Transplant Rises Sharply Among Older Americans

More older folks are winding up on liver transplant waiting lists than ever before, as obesity and alcoholism supersede hepatitis C as the main cause of liver failure in the United States.

The percentage of liver transplant candidates aged 65 or older rose from 9% in the early 2000s to 23% by 2020, researchers found. Most seniors' liver failure is due to fatty liver disease, in which exce...

Most Older Adults Plan to Travel Soon, With Precautions: Poll

Nearly 1 in 3 older Americans plan an extended trip next year, and 1 in 4 plan to travel for the holidays, but many will take COVID-19 into account, a new survey shows.

If COVID cases surge at their destination, 20% said they would definitely change their plans, and another 52% said they might do so.

"These poll findings are consistent with previous AARP research which shows that op...

Grandmother's Brain In Sync With Her Grandkids': Study

Grandmothers can have a strong bond with the little children in their families — and the connection even shows up on brain scans, researchers say.

The investigators embarked on a unique study, looking at the brains of older women — not for signs of dysfunction, as with dementia, but to study their connections with their grandchildren.

"What really jumps out in the data is the a...

Pricey Alzheimer's Drug Drives Spike in Medicare B Premium: Officials

A new and expensive Alzheimer's drug called Aduhelm is responsible for about half of the $21.60 increase in monthly premiums for Medicare's Part B outpatient program in 2022, Medicare officials report.

The new premium will be $170.10 a month, and the $21.60 boost is the biggest increase ever in dollar amount, but not in percentage terms. As recently as August, a smaller increase of $10 fr...

Alzheimer's Diagnosis May Come With Big Cost to Social Life

Alzheimer's is a devastating disease, slowly robbing patients of their memories and even their sense of selves.

Now, new research shows it also robs sufferers of a healthy social life.

"Social relationships are an essential feature of our quality of life and can buffer against cognitive decline," said study co-author Addam Reynolds, a doctoral candidate at the Rutgers School of Soci...

U.S. Sees Decline in Sepsis Deaths, But Some Americans More Vulnerable

While deaths from sepsis have dropped in the United States since 2000, older Americans remain particularly susceptible to the life-threatening bacterial infection, new government data shows.

Sepsis strikes roughly 2 million people each year and is the cause of one in three hospital deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"S...

Fish on Your Plate May Keep Your Brain Sharp

Older folks who eat fish a couple of times a week may be doing their brains a favor.

New research suggests that fish, even in moderate amounts, helps stave off vascular disease that may ultimately lead to dementia.

"Previous studies, including work from our team in France and others in the U.S., reported protective associations of eating fish against cognitive decline and risk of d...

Medicare Could Negotiate Drug Prices Under Democrat Proposal

A measure designed to lower prescription drug costs for seniors has been added to President Joe Biden's social safety net and climate change bill that Democratic leaders hope to bring to a House vote this week.

For the first time, the measure would enable the federal government to negotiate prices for medications covered by Medicare, The New York Times reported.

Under the proposal, ...

Almost 1 in 3 U.S. Seniors Now Sees at Least 5 Doctors Per Year

Nearly one-third of older U.S. adults visit at least five different doctors each year — reflecting the growing role of specialists in Americans' health care, a new study finds.

Over the past 20 years, Americans on Medicare have been increasingly seeing specialists, researchers found, with almost no change in visits with their primary care doctor.

On average, beneficiaries saw a 34...

Use of Ritalin, Other Stimulants Can Raise Heart Risks for Older Adults

ADHD medications are increasingly being prescribed to older adults, and they may cause a short-term spike in the risk of heart attack, stroke and arrhythmias, a large new study suggests.

Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall, are commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But they are also increasingly being prescribed "off-label" to ol...

Want Fewer Fractures in Nursing Homes? Put More Dairy on the Menu

Serving more dairy products to nursing home residents could be a simple way to reduce their risk of falls and fractures, a new study suggests.

Many consume low levels of calcium and protein, which can result in weak bones that increase the likelihood of falls and fractures. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are high in calcium and protein.

  • Robert Preidt
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  • October 22, 2021
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  • How 1.3 Million Americans Became Controlled by Conservatorships

    Pop singer Britney Spears was at the height of her fame in 2008 when, through a series of arcane legal maneuverings, her father gained conservatorship over her and took control of her personal and financial affairs.

    Spears' plight and the #FreeBritney movement has shone a bright spotlight on America's guardianship system, which experts say is shrouded in secrecy, ripe for abuse and in des...

    Survey Finds Who's Most Likely to Give to Charity and How

    Older adults are more likely than younger ones to give to charity, but are more likely to support ones in their own country, an international study reveals.

    "As countries, including the U.K., are announcing cuts to foreign aid budgets, there will be an increasing reliance on global charities," said senior author Patricia Lockwood, of the Center for Human Brain Health at the University of ...

    Flu Shot Even More Important During Pandemic: Expert

    Although the focus is on the COVID-19 vaccine, don't forget to also get your flu shot — it's important, an expert says.

    "In the United States, it is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against the flu, and there are many vaccines available that will fit your need based on age and other important risk factors," said Dr. Pedro Piedra. He is a professor of mole...

    Retired and Want to Stay Sharp? Hop on the Internet More Often

    Help in retaining mental function when you age could be only a few keystrokes away.

    While crosswords and exercise are often touted as ways to retain thinking skills, U.K. investigators found that the internet may also help seniors stay sharp in retirement.

    Those who used the internet more after their careers ended had substantially higher scores on cognitive, or thinking, tests, ac...

    CDC Endorses Booster Shots for Millions of Americans

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended booster shots of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for millions of older and high-risk Americans, kicking off a new chapter in the national effort to protect the vulnerable from severe disease.

    First, an expert CDC advisory panel called for COVID-19 booster shots for those over 65, nursing home residents and other Amer...

    FDA Approves Pfizer Booster Shots for Seniors, High-Risk Americans

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer booster shots for people over 65 and for those at high risk of severe COVID-19.

    Under the emergency use authorization, the booster shots should be given at least six months after a person is fully vaccinated.

    Wednesday's move is likely the beginning of a staggered campaign to deliver booster shots to all Americans, s...

    FDA Panel OKs Pfizer Booster Shot for  People 65 or Older, But Not Younger

    An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday recommended a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine booster shot for all Americans aged 65 or older, as well as for those deemed to be at high risk for severe illness.

    According to The New York Times, that vote came after a near unanimous decision (16 to 2) by the same independent panel of experts that said no to ...

    After an ICU Stay, Social Support Crucial for Seniors' Survival

    Older adults who are socially isolated are more likely to experience serious disability or die after a stay in the intensive care unit (ICU), new research reveals.

    "This important research finding sheds light on a crucial health care issue that has become more dire during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. E. Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in Baltimore....

    Turning 65 Brings Big Health Care Cost Savings, Study Finds

    When Americans are eligible for Medicare at age 65, they see a significant drop in their out-of-pocket medical costs.

    Lowering the eligibility age would save even more, especially for people with the highest out-of-pocket costs, according to a new study.

    "Me...

    Most Older Americans Believe Health Care Workers Should Be Vaccinated: Poll

    Eight in 10 older Americans think health care workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new poll.

    Among 50- to 80-year-olds, 61% of respondents said the vaccine should be required for all health care workers. Another 19% said vaccination should probably be required. The remaining 20% oppose mandatory vaccination, the findings showed.

    The results are from a nation...

    New Tally Adds Extra 16,000 U.S. Nursing Home Residents Lost to COVID

    The number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in U.S. nursing homes appears to have been grossly underestimated.

    According to a new study, that's because U.S. federal guidelines did not require nursing homes to report cases and deaths until May 24, 2020, months after the pandemic began.

    "Because of the delay in the federal reporting system for cases and deaths in nursing homes, ...

    Postponing Retirement Might Help Keep Dementia at Bay

    Early retirement may sound appealing, but a recent study hints that putting it off a few years might help older adults retain more of their mental sharpness.

    Using data on more than 20,000 older Americans, researchers estimated that if all of those people waited until age 67 to retire, their collective cognitive health would benefit.

    "Cognition" refers to a person's ability to think...

    Vaccines' Power Against COVID Hospitalization Fades in Elderly: Study

    The ability of COVID-19 vaccines to protect adults older than 75 against hospitalization appears to wane over time, but still remained 80% effective as of the end of July, new federal data shows.

    The same data indicates that vaccines continued to offer the same or nearly the same level of protection against hospitalization for people up to the age of 75, and the shots remained 94% effecti...

    Just Starting Exercise in Your 60s? It'll Still Do a World of Good

    If you're a 60-something with heart disease, it's not too late to give your ticker the benefits of a regular workout.

    Swiss researchers found that survival rates among heart patients who became active later in life were nearly the same as those who'd been exercising for years.

    "Continuing an active lifestyle over the years is associated with the greatest longevity," said study autho...

    A Mentally Challenging Job Could Help Ward Off Dementia

    While every worker would prefer a fun, mentally stimulating job, new research reveals an added bonus: Such work could help prevent dementia in old age.

    On-the-job intellectual stimulation appears to lower levels of certain proteins that block brain cells from forming new connections -- and doing so could help prevent or postpone dementia, the study's authors said.

    "This is an import...

    Neuro Surprise: Some Brain Skills Might Improve With Age

    There's an old saying, "Age and guile beat youth and exuberance," and new research suggests there might be something to that.

    Some key brain functions can improve in people as they age, researchers report, challenging the notion that our mental abilities decline across the board as we grow old.

    With increasing age, many people appear to get better at focusing on important matters an...

    Your Metabolism Changes As You Age, Just Not When You Think

    Everyone knows that your metabolism peaks in your teenage years, when you're fit and active and feeling your oats.

    And everyone knows that a person's metabolism slows down in middle age, as bodies start to expand and sag, and become less energetic.

    But that's all wrong, it now appears -- fake news about how humans age that's gained the currency of truth over the years.

    Your me...

    Another Pandemic Harm: Seniors May Have Higher Risk of Falling

    Older Americans already face a higher risk of falls, but the decline in physical activity during the pandemic may have made matters worse, a new survey suggests.

    More than a third of the 2,074 U.S. adults aged 50 to 80 who took part in the online survey in January reported a decline in physical activity in the first 10 months of the pandemic, and 27% said their physical conditioning -- fl...

    Just 250 Fewer Calories Per Day Brings Big Health Rewards for Obese Seniors

    Seniors, it may be easier than you think to undo the damage of decades of bad eating and precious little exercise.

    New research shows that cutting just 250 calories a day and exercising moderately could lead to not only weight loss but improved vascular health in older obese adults.

    These lifestyle changes may help offset age-related increases in aortic stiffness, which is a measure...

    Deaths From Alzheimer's Far More Common in Rural America

    Death rates from Alzheimer's disease are particularly high in the rural United States, a preliminary study finds, highlighting a need for health care resources in traditionally under-served areas.

    Researchers discovered that over the past two decades, rural areas in the Southeast have seen the highest death rates from Alzheimer's, at 274 per 100,000 people. That's about twice the rate as ...

    Seniors Rarely Discuss Their Drinking With Their Doctors

    Plenty of seniors may struggle with problem drinking, but a new study shows that less than half of them discuss their alcohol use with their health care providers.

    "Older adults are at high risk for the harms of alcohol use, especially for those with existing chronic disease and who take prescribed medications," said lead study author Pia Mauro. That makes "discussions about alcohol with ...

    Loneliness Raises Opioid Dangers in Seniors: Study

    Illustrating a heartbreaking cycle, new research finds that lonely seniors are much more likely to take opioid painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs and other medications.

    This puts them at increased risk for drug dependency, attention problems, falls, accidents and mental decline, the University of California, San Francisco researchers warned.

    "There's a misconception that as ...

    Lowering Medicare Age Could Help Close Racial Gaps in Health Care: Study

    Could reducing racial disparities in health care be as simple as lowering the age at which Americans qualify for Medicare?

    Yes, claims a new study that suggests lowering eligibility from age 65 to age 60 could go a long way toward addressing inequities in health insurance, access to care and self-reported health decline.

    Racial and ethnic disparities in insurance coverage fall by mo...

    The Heat Is On: Staying Safe When Temperatures Soar

    Midsummer heat and high humidity aren't just uncomfortable -- they're a combo that can cause serious illness and even death.

    "Whenever you walk or do outdoor activity, take a friend with you who can help you if you run into trouble," Dr. Eleanor Dunham advised. She's an emergency medicine doctor at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.

    Babies and seniors...

    How Long Do People Want to Live?

    What's better -- a long life or quality of life?

    New research suggests that people balance both when thinking about their desired life span, and fears of suffering dementia or chronic pain in old age tend to limit how long they want to live.

    "Dementia tops the list of conditions where people would prefer to live shorter lives -- which is a particular challenge given the rapid incr...

    Reading, Puzzles May Delay Alzheimer's by 5 Years: Study

    An active mind in old age may delay Alzheimer's disease by up to five years, a new study suggests.

    Activities like reading, writing letters, playing cards or doing puzzles may prolong brain health even for those in their 80s, researchers say.

    "The key element is that you're processing information," said lead researcher Robert Wilson, a professor in the neurological sciences departme...

    She Got Her Shots and Is Helping Other Seniors Rejoin Society

    Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandra Banner was an active octogenarian. She enjoyed going to movies, traveling from her Palm Desert, Calif., home to Los Angeles for Dodgers baseball games and having friends over for happy hours.

    Early on, she avoided isolation by teaching outdoor tai chi classes and staying engaged online, but once she was fully vaccinated, Banner, 85, was ready to get ba...

    Missing Teeth, Higher Odds for Dementia?

    Brushing and flossing is good not only for your teeth: It might also benefit your brain, a new study suggests.

    The findings showed that tooth loss is tied to an increased risk of dementia, though getting dentures may help reduce that risk.

    For the study, New York University researchers analyzed 14 studies that included more than 34,000 older adults and nearly 4,700 with diminished t...

    Is Medicare Overspending? Costco Prices Much Less for Generic Drugs

    Can Costco beat Medicare Part D when it comes to prescription drug prices?

    Apparently so, claims a new study that found that roughly half of generic medications were cheaper when purchased from the discount retailer than from the government program.

    The researchers compared the prices paid by Medicare Part D plans (including patient out-of-pocket payments) for 184 generic prescripti...

    Keeping Same Nurse for All Home Health Care May Be Crucial for Dementia Patients

    Dementia patients who have the same nurse for all of their home health care visits are a third less likely to be readmitted to the hospital, a new study finds.

    "While continuity of nursing care may benefit every home health care patient, it may be particularly critical for people with dementia," said study co-author Chenjuan Ma. "Having the same person delivering care can increase familia...

    Most Cases of Dementia in U.S. Seniors Go Undiagnosed: Study

    Most Americans with dementia are undiagnosed, which shows how important it is to screen and assess seniors for the disease, researchers say.

    Their new analysis of data from a nationwide survey of about 6 million Americans aged 65 and older revealed that 91% of people with cognitive impairment consistent with dementia did not have a formal medical diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disea...

    1 in 3 Caregivers for Elderly May Be Untrained, Unscreened

    A new report raises questions about the training and qualifications of many caregivers for the elderly across the United States.

    The study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, found that nearly a third of Americans who arranged for paid care of a frail elderly adult or person with dementia hired someone from outside of a regulated agency.

    Known as "gray market...