Category Archives: Aging

Can screenings be too much of a good thing?

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.

Medicare reimburses for cancer and other screenings as part of routine care for older adults. Of course, the goal is to catch diseases in their earliest, most treatable stages. But can preventive care become too much of a good thing?

For years, evidence has grown about wasted Medicare dollars on needless screenings. The Center for Public Integrity found that 40 percent of Medicare spending on common cancer screenings are unnecessary – costing billions of taxpayer dollars. Continue reading

New report ranks best, worst states for older women’s health

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 by pingnews via Flickr.

Photo by pingnews via Flickr.

Want to stay healthy as you age? Move to Minnesota. Or perhaps Hawaii. These states rank number one and two in a new report on the health status of women. Minnesota was tops in the nation with an “A-“ on a composite index of women’s health and well-being, according to research compiled by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

The North Star State has the lowest female mortality rate from heart disease and ranks in or near the top ten almost all of the other nine component nine indicators covering chronic disease, sexual health, mental and physical health.

States in the South have the lowest composite scores on women’s health status. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia were rated most poorly, with grades of “F” or “D-.” Continue reading

Experts stress increased need for more long-term care initiatives, funding

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.

caregiving-2In a run-up to the July 13 White House Conference on Aging, (WHCOA) policy experts are stressing the need for increased funding for long-term services and supports (LTSS).

G. Lawrence Atkins, Ph.D. executive director, Long-Term Quality Alliance and president, National Academy of Social Insurance, reviewed key lessons from the Federal Commission on Long-Term Care and aging services innovations to frame future care delivery.

Atkins is the former chair of the commission, which issued a comprehensive report in 2013 calling for more funding and services for care and caregivers of older adults. About 78 percent of adults over age 65 has some type of unmet care need, requiring help with independent household activities of daily living. More than a quarter of older adults rely on outside help; 75 percent turn to family members to help meet their needs. Continue reading

Initiatives look at what makes a city ‘age-friendly’

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 by Royan Lee via Flickr.

Cities are great places to grow old, say aging and health policy experts, but most urban areas are not well-prepared for the surge in aging populations. Urban centers are already home to 54 percent of the general population and 56 percent of the 65-plus population in OECD nations. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Most of this increase is projected to occur in Asia and Africa. But many of those cities are not yet age-friendly.

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, New York City’s deputy mayor of health and human services, described efforts to make New York City a more age-friendly metropolis. There are currently 1.4 million New Yorkers over age 60; by 2030, that is expected to increase to about 1.8 million, or one-fifth of the city’s population.

“New York has always been a good place to age, and has become even more so over the past decade” she said. New York signed on to the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities Project in 2007 – a model that creates environments to improve healthy and active aging. Continue reading

Report says generic drugs are a Wild West of pricing

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.

pills-and-moneyNew research finds that changing retail prices for generic drugs could hit some consumers hard, while others may benefit from steep drops.  An joint analysis by AARP and the PRIME Institute at the University of Minnesota found that 11 widely used generic drugs had seen price increases greater than 30 percent, and two — both anti-infectives — had price increases exceeding 1,000 percent  in 2013.

At the same time, 203 of 280 drugs in the study’s “basket” of widely used generic prescription drugs by older Americans (including Medicare beneficiaries) experienced a price decrease, with some costs dropping by nearly one-third. Continue reading

Report emphasizes worldwide toll of dementia on women

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.

A new report highlights just how much more likely women are to be affected by dementia than men around the world. Not only are the majority of people living with or at risk of developing the disease female, but women are also the majority of caregivers and health professionals in most countries.

Women and Dementia: A Global Research Review” from Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) calls for a broader, evidence-based approached to female-targeted dementia health programs. The need is particularly strong in low- and middle-income countries, where female-led caregiving is the principal care model. Continue reading

AHCJ releases Medicare provider payment data broken down by state

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

Medicare pays doctors and other providers virtually everywhere in the United States, amounting to more than $70 billion in 2013 alone. The money goes for medical exams, X-rays, injections and a host of other treatments and procedures.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just released detailed payment data covering 2013. Until 2014, that information was kept secret for 35 years. That year, CMS released detailed payment data covering 2012. Now, health reporters can examine how those public funds have been spent over two years. Continue reading

For AHCJ members: Updated data about hospital charges to Medicare

Jeff Porter

About Jeff Porter

Jeff Porter is the special projects director for AHCJ and plays a lead role in planning conferences, workshops and other training events. He also leads the organization's data collection and data instruction efforts.

Image by Neff Conner via Flickr

Image: Neff Conner via Flickr

With an update from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data showing what hospitals across the country charge Medicare for the same treatment or procedure in 2013, AHCJ has updated its own version of the dataset that allows members to compare hospitals’ charges from one year to the next.

Last year, CMS released data files that include bills submitted by 3,500 hospitals for the 100 most commonly performed inpatient conditions in 2011 and 2012. The new release includes 2013. This allows a basis for some local or regional comparisons and a starting point for stories on hospital costs and services. Continue reading

More aging boomers at risk of becoming elder orphans

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.

Maria Torroella Carney

Maria Torroella Carney

Are you familiar with the term “elder orphan?” That’s how one researcher describes a coming wave of childless and unmarried baby boomers and seniors who are aging alone and unsupported, with no known family member or designated surrogate to act on their behalf.

Nearly one-quarter of Americans over age 65 are already part of or are at risk to join this vulnerable group. With no family member available to check up on them, elder orphans require more awareness and advocacy to ensure their needs are met, said Maria Torroella Carney, M.D., chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York. She presented results of a case study and literature review on the topic on May 15 during the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in suburban District of Columbia. Continue reading

Seniors struggle to access adequate 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.

Photo: Maggie Osterberg via Flickr

Photo: Maggie Osterberg via Flickr

Many Americans lose their private dental benefits when they retire.

But Medicare, the nation’s health insurance program for seniors, does not cover routine dental procedures.

The situation leaves millions of elders, living on fixed incomes, making hard choices about when to seek care – and, as in Thelma Chappell’s case, postponing a dental visit until the pain gets too bad to ignore. Continue reading