Category Archives: Aging

Does hospice use alone reflect quality end-of-life care?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Image by Steve Harwood via flickr.

Hospice use is a common indicator of quality end-of-life care. The timing of hospice enrollment is an important component of that care, and a recent study finds wide variations among states.

Researchers from Yale University compared 2011 hospice use data on a state-by-state basis of 660,000 Medicare patients during the last six months of their lives. They identified several key trends among states in the rates of very short or very long hospice stays (reflecting late or early enrollment) and of patients leaving hospice before their deaths. Continue reading

Dementia training standards vary widely throughout U.S.

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: BBC Radio 4 via Flickr

Photo: BBC Radio 4 via Flickr

A new survey of state laws around dementia training reveals a patchwork of requirements and standards across settings, professional licensure and personnel. It found that existing laws and training are not keeping up with the growing needs of people who are cognitively impaired.

The survey and accompanying analyses looked at existing laws and gaps in training, as well as required curriculums in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Continue reading

How nursing facilities use telemedicine to reduce hospital readmissions

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Image: Neff Conner via Flickr

Image: Neff Conner via Flickr

Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations (PAH) among nursing home residents are costly, expose residents to additional health risks and exact a toll on patients and families. Many of these readmissions occur after hours or on weekends — when there is no physician or nurse practitioner readily available.

PAHs are hospitalizations that could have been avoided because the condition could have been prevented or treated outside of an inpatient hospital setting. One skilled nursing home chain is using a novel telemedicine program to bring board-certified physicians to the patient bedside, providing two-way video communication to assess, diagnosis and minimize readmissions. It may also save the health system hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Continue reading

A cautionary tale about relying on white papers as research

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

questions-and-moneyWhite papers can be useful tools for journalists. Ideally, they provide authoritative, in-depth information from government or nonprofits about specific policy, diseases, programs, or issues. However, they can also be powerful marketing tools, used by corporations to position a specific product or service as the “solution” to whatever the “problem” is.

Then there is the white paper released by a nonprofit, but developed with corporate financial support. Continue reading

New tip sheet offers pointers for reporting on elder abuse

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Photo: Theen Moy via Flickr

Photo: Theen Moy via Flickr

Elder abuse was a key agenda item at this year’s White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA). While much of that panel discussion focused on financial exploitation, this is only one type of abuse that an older person might suffer.

Liz Seegert’s new tip sheet discusses how many seniors have suffered from some kind of abuse – the numbers are alarming – as well as what constitutes abuse, factors that make seniors vulnerable and common signs of abuse.

For reporters, Seegert offers a list of story ideas, resources and contact information for potential sources for those writing about elder abuse.

Livable design helps baby boomers age at home

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Image by David Illig via flickr.

Image by David Illig via flickr.

Unlike past generations of retirees, most aging baby boomers say they want to remain in their own homes as they get older, yet most don’t make the appropriate renovations to do so. A survey of boomer-age adults shows that while 40 percent plan to remodel their homes, only 21 percent think about their own health and aging as part of those plans.

However, when universal design features are pointed out, the majority said they would consider including them. Continue reading

Reporter explains how she cultivated sources for story on senior dental care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Hanah Cho

Millions of seniors in America struggle to find dental care. Hanah Cho met a few of them who were grateful to find care at a clinic run by the North Dallas Shared Ministries.

The patients’ frank accounts of their pain and relief, included in a recent feature by Cho, brought the issue home for readers of The Dallas Morning News.

Cho, who is now a writer/editor at the personal finance startup NerdWallet, took time to reflect on her May 13 dental story, “Bridging the Dental Care Gap for Seniors,” in this Q&A for AHCJ.

She offers thoughts on the challenges and breakthroughs she experienced in putting together the project. She also shares some wisdom on how she convinced people to talk about their troubles with their teeth. Read about how she did the story.

A physician offers his view on the White House Conference on Aging

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Bruce Chernof, M.D.

Bruce Chernof, M.D.

Bruce Chernof, M.D., is a geriatrician, president of The SCAN Foundation, based in Long Beach, Calif., and a former chairman of the Federal Commission on Long Term Care. He was in the audience for last week’s White House Conference on Aging, listening from multiple perspectives. Overall, he said in a phone interview, he was pleased with the outcomes.

Q: What were your overall impressions of the conference?

A: It’s important the President was there and spoke up as forcefully as he did. We needed the President to take part in this conversation. It was a very interesting and different conference but I liked the underlying theme: how do we discuss and transform aging? Everyone likes to talk about the scary stuff first – the diseases, the falls, the dementia. There’s not enough focus on the positive aspects of aging, and that limits our ability to focus on everything older adults can and do contribute. Continue reading

Get a jump on covering 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Bob Rosenblatt

Bob Rosenblatt

The 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid is July 30.

Over the years, these programs have evolved from basic safety nets to comprehensive care models designed to improve quality and offer affordable health care for millions. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about 55 million Americans have Medicare this year and more than 70 million have Medicaid in any given month

Bob Rosenblatt, a veteran at reporting on issues around aging, has put together a tip sheet with background on the Medicare program and some things to consider as you plan coverage of the anniversary. It includes story ideas and useful links as well as contact information for sources.

Story ideas emerge between policy, spin at White House Conference on Aging

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com, Practical Diabetology and Home Care Technology report. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: White House Conference on Aging

Photo: White House Conference on Aging

It’s difficult to describe the experience of walking into the East Room of the White House as an invited member of the press for the once-a-decade White House Conference on Aging.

Several hundred invited VIPs – family caregivers, home care workers, advocates for seniors, corporate executives and members of Congress – filled the neat rows of chairs for the morning panels. Continue reading