Category Archives: Older Adults
Data from national surveys reviewed by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that the number of 50 to 59-year-old adults reporting past-month abuse of illicit drugs — including the nonmedical use of prescription drugs — more than doubled from 2002 to 2010. The number increased from 907,000 in 2002 to 2,375,000 in 2010, or from 2.7 to 5.8 percent of this population.
The NIDA researchers say younger baby boomers were more likely than previous generations to have used illicit drugs in their youth, but abusing these drugs may be particularly harmful in older adults. "As people get older, it is more difficult for their bodies to absorb and break down medications and drugs," says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the NIDA. "Abusing these substances can worsen age-related health conditions, cause injuries and lead to addiction.” Read more on substance abuse.
Millions of people with gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, may be at risk of running out of treatment options, according to an action plan released this week by the World Health Organization (WHO). Several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics — the last treatment option against gonorrhea.
According to the WHO, every year an estimated 106 million people are infected with gonorrhea. The action plan calls for increased vigilance on the correct use of antibiotics, more research into alternative treatment regimens for gonorrhea, increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains, and better prevention, diagnosis and control of the infections. Read more on sexual health.
Two or three computed tomography (CT) head scans in kids can triple the risk of brain cancer later in life, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, which spanned twenty years, also found that the accumulated radiation in five to 10 scans during childhood may increase the likelihood of a child developing leukemia.
Recommendations include keeping radiation doses as low as possible and using alternatives to CT scans such as MRI and ultrasound, when possible.
The risk is about 1 in 10,000 according to the researchers, which may help physicians weigh the risk and benefit in each case. The study comes at a time when concern over sports-related head injuries may be increasing the number of head CT scans for kids. Read more on sports-related head injuries.
A report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) finds that no progress was made in reducing motorcyclist deaths in 2011. Based upon preliminary national data, GHSA projects that motorcycle fatalities remained steady at about 4,500 in 2011, the same level as 2010. Motorcycle deaths remain one of the few areas in highway safety where progress is not being made.
Twenty-six states and the District Columbia reported an increase in motorcyclist deaths. Some states, including Connecticut, North Carolina and New York, did see declines in motorcycle deaths. New York has driver education about motorcycles, encouraged motorcyclists to wear bright protective gear and increased enforcement by police and highway patrol officers.
The report also notes that only 19 states require helmets for motorcycle riders. Read more on injury prevention.
About one out of every three infants in need of testing and treatment for development delays is not assessed and does not get help, based on research on 5,000 children who were admitted to California neonatal intensive care units as babies. The study was conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and published in Pediatrics. The researchers found that while eligible for referral, assessment, and, likely, services, many parents were not advised of the need or opportunity.
The researchers say major budget cuts to early intervention services in California, and more strict criteria limiting which kids are eligible, might have influenced doctor’s referrals for at-risk children. Read more on maternal and child health.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is calling on food producers, drug companies and veterinarians to help limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals. The FDA issued three documents to these three groups to encourage them to use medically-important antibiotics wisely by limiting their use only to fight diseases in animals. Other uses for antibiotics for animals can include preventing disease and making animals fatter.
White women accounted for the majority of the 733,000 people in the United States who lived in assisted living facilities in 2010 according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Half of those residents were 85 and older, nearly 20 percent were on Medicaid and more than 75 percent had at least two of the 10 most common health conditions, such as high blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease
An organ donation video people can watch on an iPod while they wait on line at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may encourage more people to become donors, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Among people who watched the video in line, 84 percent signed on to be a donor versus 72 percent of those who had not seen the video.
Late last year, NewPublicHealth spoke with Marc Freedman, MBA, CEO and Founder of Civic Ventures, about the “encore career movement”—a new stage of life and work that combines necessary continued income with new meaning and a chance to create social change. “One of the real challenges from people moving into this period is how you get from what’s last to what’s next. A lot of people are being discouraged, especially in this economy, when they are spending time and money to find themselves in these do-it-yourself ventures,” said Freedman. “We’re interested in trying to create better pathways for people in something that’s really distinct from retirement and the stage of work.”
To that end, Civic Ventures partnered with Intel to pilot the Encore Fellowship program, which provides paid, part-time, yearlong assignments working at local nonprofits, and is open to all Intel employees who are eligible for retirement. NewPublicHealth recently spoke with Amber Wiseley, U.S. Retirement Benefits Program Manager, and Julee Weller, U.S. Health Benefits Program Manager, both at Intel, to find out more about the Encore program, as well as the company’s broader approach to employee health and wellness.
NewPublicHealth: What is Intel’s overall approach to health and wellness for employees?
Julee Weller: Intel is strongly committed to developing a culture where employees and their families are healthy, productive, and engaged in living wellness-oriented lifestyles every day.
Intel has developed a portfolio of health benefit plans and wellness programs designed to encourage employees to evaluate, improve, and maintain their health and the health of their families. Intel’s award-winning wellness program, Health for Life, is designed to inspire and motivate employees to take action toward achieving their best possible health and quality of life. The program includes onsite primary care (providing employees convenient access to quality care at low cost), onsite biometrics, annual health assessments, fitness programs, wellness seminars, flu prevention, and personalized wellness coaching.
NPH: Have you seen increased productivity or other business or economic benefits from your wellness efforts?
A survey completed by close to 200 universities across the U.S. finds many academic institutions are not well positioned to help academic staff with aging and retirement issues, even though most of the schools reported that they have many staff members who retire well after the traditional retirement age of 65. The survey was coordinated by the University of Iowa Center on Aging and the TIAA-CREF Institute.
According to the survey, the most popular retirement counseling programs dealt with the financial aspects of retirement and much less effort was made on non-financial issues, such as family, social and psychological dimensions of retirement planning. And while some schools provided wellness programs, they were less likely to provide workplace accommodations such as ergonomic workplace adjustments or flexible scheduling.
The survey also found that efforts were often developed in response to an immediate demand rather than in having a strategic plan in place.
The report identified two distinguishing features at universities with expanded retirement and aging assistance—campus leadership committed to addressing an aging workforce and allocation of staff and funds to develop and coordinate successful workplace options for aging employees.
Read the survey results.
Falling down stairs is a common source of injury for kids, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System found that 931,886 children younger than five years old were treated in the ER for a stair-related injury from 1999 to 2008.
Suggestions from the study authors for making stairs safer include installing stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs, keeping stairs clutter-free and in good repair, and installing and using stair railings. The authors say increased prevention efforts, including improved stairway design, are needed to minimize stair-related injuries. Read more safety news.
A new study published in the journal Cancer has found that circumcision before a male's first sexual intercourse may help protect against prostate cancer. According to the study, sexually transmitted infections may contribute to the development of prostate cancer. Investigators analyzed information from 3,399 men; 1,754 with prostate cancer and 1,645 without. Men who had been circumcised before their first sexual intercourse were 15 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than uncircumcised men. Read more on sexual health.
People with heart disease may not be able to compensate for their bodies' higher demand for oxygen when inhaling cold air, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, from researchers at Penn State University. That means that heart disease patients are at risk for attacks when doing activities in the cold such as shoveling or running. Read more on heart health.
An American Heart Association survey released yesterday finds that only 12 percent of American adults regularly get good nutrition, exercise and oral care. The most common reason for ignoring a good habit was lack of time. Among the survey results:
- 80 percent of respondents say eating at least nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily is a struggle.
- 25 percent aren’t brushing and rinsing their teeth twice daily and flossing at least once daily.
- About 60 percent say it is difficult to get the American Heart Association’s recommended levels of exercise—at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week.
Health often starts in our communities, where we live, learn, work and play. Read more on healthy community efforts to make healthy choices more accessible to everyone.
Some children who suffer a concussion have continued difficulties, such as attention and memory problems, for three to twelve months, according to a new study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Read more on concussions and public health.
Hearing loss may be a risk factor for falls, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers, including Frank Lin, MD, PHD, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, looked at data from the National Health Examination Survey and found that for about 2,000 participants ages 40 to 69, those with a 25-decibel (mild) hearing loss were nearly three times more likely than those without hearing loss to have a history of falling. The researchers found that for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling rose by 1.4 fold.
And research published earlier this month by Dr. Lin found that although an estimated 26.7 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only about one in seven uses a hearing aid. Read more on the health of older adults.
The current issue of Pediatrics looks at three important issues:
- A revised policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends prevention of baseball and softball throwing injuries by instructing kids on proper throwing mechanics, training and conditioning, and encouraging kids to stop playing and seek treatment when signs of overuse injuries arise.
- A second revised policy statement on HPV Vaccine Recommendations recommends use of the HPV vaccine in both males and females at 11 to 12 years of age.
- Children who were given active video games were not more physically active than those given inactive games, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Providing explicit instructions to use the active games did seem to lead to increased physical activity, however.
Read more children's health news.
A new influenza A virus discovered in fruit bats in Guatemala doesn't appear to pose a current threat to humans, but should be studied as a potential source for human influenza, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Catch up on this year's flu news.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is charging Bank of America with discriminating against home buyers with disabilities. HUD alleges that Bank of America imposed unnecessary and burdensome requirements on borrowers who relied on disability income to qualify for their home loans and required some disabled borrowers to provide physician statements to qualify for home mortgage loans. Read more on disability.
NewPublicHealth writers are on the road a lot, so we appreciated a recent column in The New York Times, that offered helpful ideas for older flyers. Truth is, many of the tips—carts to speed you to your gate, ordering a wheel chair from an airline, small fees for early boarding and storage room—are available to anyone who flies, and may also be beneficial to disabled travelers.
Bonus Travel Tips:
- Many more airports than listed in the article have golf carts to get you to the gate; stay to the side of the corridors and flag one down. You’ll need to show a ticket for a flight that day.
- No mobility problems? For some extra physical activity, skip the tram or train and walk to the gate. At some airports, that can get you a walk of a quarter mile or more.
The startling new National Association of Area Agencies on Aging report, "The Maturing of America," concludes that many communities are unprepared for their quickly aging populations, with "nowhere near the level of progress that has to be made to ensure that communities are livable for people of all ages." Last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, a panel discussed the challenges our nation will face as it ages and how we can better design communities to be healthier and more accessible for all age groups.
Rebecca Hunter, MEd, of the University of North Carolina Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Aging Research Network, said we’re currently facing a "perfect storm" when it comes to aging:
- Baby boomers are starting to reach “older adult” status
- There is a vast increase in the “oldest old,” or age 85 and above
- The economic downturn means we are less and less prepared for the health and social consequences of this trend
We are moving into an era when at least one in five Americans will be age 65 and older, said Hunter. "We need to ensure our communities are livable for all people."