Health Care Costs Threaten AmericaThe Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report quotes Comptroller General David Walker who testified at a Senate Budget Committee hearing this week. He said that increased health care costs and an aging population have placed the federal budget on an "imprudent and unsustainable path" and that "passage of time only serves to worsen this situation."
According to Walker, if "future promised and funded Social Security and Medicare benefits, veterans' health care, and a range of other commitments and contingencies" are met, the structural debt at the current rate of growth and spending will total $53 trillion.
He said, "If there is one thing that could bankrupt America, it's rising health care costs." Walker added that the next president and Congress will have about five years to address the issue before large tax increases and reductions in benefits are required.
If we can’t afford what we already provide, how in the world will we afford a costly universal health care plan! How long will we try to be all things to all people—and risk being nothing to anyone?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sedentary Lifestyle Increases AgingIt’s no secret. We all know this. But a recent study in the
Archives of Internal Medicine showed that a sedentary lifestyle (in addition to smoking, high body mass index, and low socioeconomic status) has an effect on leukocyte telomere length (LTL) and may accelerate the aging process. This provides a powerful message that could be used by clinicians to promote the potentially anti-aging effect of regular exercise.
I confess. I hate exercise. I much prefer sitting in front of the computer day and night. But I was talking with a friend today, discussing the disconnect we feel between our chronological ages and the ages we feel, both physically and emotionally. We were admitting that we don’t get enough exercise, with the result that we have more aches and pains that we ought to. So while we feel young at heart, we feel old of body. And since we’re both committed to aging well, we agreed that we need to make a commitment to exercise more.
So, I asked hubby to unearth the treadmill, which was buried in the garage under piles of “stuff.” What a good sport. He did it right away, and I was able to take a break from studying this afternoon and go for a walk, despite the rain. Now, one day down—a lifetime to go. Let’s start growing those leukocyte telomeres.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Breakthrough for Dementia?ScienceDaily.com reports that medical experts in the North-East of England believe they have found the key to turning back the brain’s biological clock and reverse the effects of dementia and memory loss.
Research at the University of Sunderland has shown that regular exposure to safe low level infra-red light can improve learning performance and kick-start the cognitive function of the brain.
Researchers are beginning human trials to see if the treatment can provide a cure to illnesses like Alzheimer's. Experts claim that early stage dementia patients should see an improvement in their cognitive function within four weeks, by wearing a lightweight helmet in their home for just ten minutes a day.
This looks like an innovation many of us will want to follow.
Medicare Scam Hits WisconsinWEAU.com is reporting the Medicare scam I’ve been reporting on in Alabama, Idaho, New York and Texas is hitting seniors in Wisconsin. Heads up, folks!
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Medicare Scam in AlabamaThe news is full of reports of the same scam hitting seniors all over the nation. Today's report is from Alabama, where the details look almost identical to those reported yesterday. It looks as if this may be a well-organized, national scam. I'm mailing a copy of these reports to Mom to remind her to keep her info to herself.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Medicare Scam Moves to Idaho and New YorkBoise's Idaho News reports that seniors in that state are receiving telephone calls seeking private information and offering a $400 Life Line card. A similar scam is occurring in New York. I can't say it too often. Remind your parents that Medicare and Social Security will never ask for personal information over the phone!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Deal with your STUFFI‘ve been reading about baby boomers having to deal with the hoards of stuff that their parents have been hoarding for the past 50 or more years. Stuff that our generation has the “privilege” of disposing of. It’s really hitting home with me
When my mother in law died, she had more stuff than I’ve ever seen. We’d find layer after layer of stuff, one behind the other. There were items of value among boxes or shelves of junk. Fortunately, my sister-in-law usually knew the difference and knew when to have something appraised. It took four of us three months almost full time to clean out her house. And unfortunately, in the end, we brought a lot of stuff here—and it’s still here. I keep trying to get my hubby to dispose of it. After 11 years, if we haven’t used it we probably don’t need it.
In fact, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to our “stuff” and what our kids will do with it. We’ve hit gridlock at our home, and I often joke that when we die, our kids will never speak to us again when they have to sort through all of the STUFF.
One thing I’m starting to do is take pictures of those things that have either monetary or sentimental value for us. I’m putting together a binder with the photos and the stories so they’ll know what to look at twice.
Mom-in-law had a lot of wonderful items. Depression glass, jewelry, silver. Things I had never seen. Things we didn’t know she had. Now I regularly use those things. I don’t want my kids going through my stuff saying, “I didn’t know she had that!” I would rather they say, “Oh, I remember how Mom loved this. Now we’ll enjoy it.”
And if I’m not enjoying it, I owe it to them to get rid of it.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
5 Tips for Working CaregiversI just discovered a great site for caregivers, thanks to Tabitha, who commented on my last post. It’s called CareStation and is chuck full of tips for caregivers. Today’s post offers five very useful tips for caregivers. Practical things like:
Give yourself a break.
Accept help when it’s offered.
Involve your employer.
Actively protect your health.
Connect with others.
Their tips are brief and to the point, but often link to a longer article if you need more. Very useful.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Medicare Scam in TexasAccording to the Tyler Post, there is a new Medicare scam in Texas. A person is calling claiming to be with Medicare and asking for personal numbers such as bank account numbers. Once again, let me encourage you to talk to your aging parents and remind them to NEVER give out personal or financial information on the telephone. They're often so lonely that they are an easy mark.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Alzheimer's ReversalAccording to an article called “Rapid cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s disease following perispinal etanercept administration” in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, patients receiving an injection of an anti-TNF therapeutic called etanercept showed improvement in Alzheimer’s disease within minutes of administration of the therapeutic molecule.
The study shows that a soluble protein known as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), which normally regulates transmission of neural impulses in the brain, interferes with regulation when it is present at elevated levels. The brains and cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer's patients show elevated levels of this cytokine.
Injection of etanercept shows improvement within minutes. Etanercept (trade name Enbrel) binds and inactivates excess TNF. Etanercept is FDA approved to treat a number of immune-mediated disorders and is used off label in the study.
The study was authored by Edward Tobinick M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA and director of the Institute for Neurological Research, with coauthor Hyman Gross, M.D., clinical professor of neurology at USC.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Facing MortalityThe week before Christmas, I entered into a new phase of life. A friend died suddenly. She apparently had a heart attack and died instantly. At 57, she was just a few years younger than me. Her memorial service was the Saturday after Christmas.
I’ve lost a few friends to cancer over the years, but somehow this one felt different. Heart attacks happen to “older people.” Heart attacks seem to scream more loudly, “You’re aging. Your days are numbered.” And heart attacks are sudden, giving no warning. This was a mom I had home schooled with. Her son is a few years younger than my son. She was busy living her life, and suddenly she was gone, leaving a shocked and devastated husband and son.
Every funeral causes me to evaluate my own life. What is my legacy? What will they say about me? When my time comes, will I be satisfied with how I’ve spent my years or will I have regrets? What will I be remembered for? The pastimes I’ve invested my life in or the things I considered unimportant? Will I feel ready, content? Or will I insist on more time? (Not that it will do me any good!) I’m always grateful for the opportunity to take stock. Without funerals, I confess I’d become pretty complacent and give little thought to the fragility of my life.
My friend didn’t have family in the area, so several of us took on planning and serving at the memorial reception. We quickly pulled together a nice luncheon and worked together to serve. I wondered how many more such events I’d find myself serving at in the next 20 years or so. Or which of these women—friends for over 20 years--would be serving for me? As I was making little sandwiches, I thought, “This is what the “older women” in the church do.” And now, it looks as if I’m one of the older women. Am I ready for this?