Author Archives: Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

High BMI, other health factors when young may increase later risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Poor cardiovascular health and a high body mass index during a person’s teens and 20s may be early predictors for developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to research presented last week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

The research, presented in a virtual poster session, demonstrates the importance of preventive efforts at a younger age, especially among African Americans disproportionally affected by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and similar conditions. Continue reading

Nursing homes get more financial help, must test more often

Photo: michael_swan via Flickr

U.S. nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid will be getting a $5 billion infusion of “provider relief funds” from the Department of Health and Human Services, President Trump announced on July 22. The funds are meant to help with testing, purchasing personal protective equipment and hiring additional staff.

Nursing homes in “hot spots” like Florida, Texas, and California will be at the top of the list, according to The Seattle Times. The funding package also includes the distribution of additional rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing devices. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services also will begin requiring, rather than just recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5% positivity rate or higher test all nursing home staff each week. This new staff testing requirement is designed to better keep the virus from entering and spreading through nursing homes by identifying asymptomatic carriers. Continue reading

Food insecurity a growing issue for seniors, compounded by pandemic

senior-eating

Photo: Ross Pollack via Flickr

While people in parts of the U.S. slowly return to work and leisure activities, food insecurity remains a serious issue for many Americans, according to a June Census Bureau analysis. It’s an especially concerning problem for older Americans, who may still be hesitant to leave their homes to go grocery shopping, especially if they must rely on public transportation

The pandemic has worsened the problem of food insecurity among older adults. Feeding America’s most recent report found that that 5.3 million seniors, or 7.3% of the senior population, were food insecure in 2018.  In the wake of COVID-19, they estimate that some 54 million Americans of all ages may face hunger in 2020. Continue reading

Biogen submits BLA for an Alzheimer’s drug with a controversial past

Photo: GollyGforce via Flickr

Could an Alzheimer’s drug finally be on the horizon? Possibly ― if the FDA agrees with data from several Biogen clinical trials ― but approval is still far from a sure bet.

The company, on July 9, submitted its biologics license application (BLA) for aducanumab, an investigational treatment for the disease. The submission includes clinical data from Phase 3 EMERGE and ENGAGE studies, as well as the Phase 1B PRIME study. Biogen has requested an accelerated review, potentially putting the medication on a path for a final decision by March 2021. However, data from these Phase 3 trials are not without controversy in the scientific community.

“Aducanumab, a so-called monoclonal antibody designed to target amyloid plaque in the brain, has been one of the most closely watched drugs in development for several years,” according to Bloomberg News. Continue reading

Staffing levels, not just hotspots, can predict nursing home COVID deaths, study says

Photo: Zeev Barkan via Flickr

Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in a Seattle-area nursing home in February, at least 55,000 deaths, more than 42% of the U.S. total, have been linked to nursing homes, assisted living and other long-term care facilities as of July 7, according to a national database compiled by The New York Times.

Now a new academic study supports what many already suspected: residents of long-term care facilities with lower nurse staffing levels, poorer quality scores, and higher concentrations of disadvantaged residents suffer from higher rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Continue reading

Study shows common acid suppressants may increase dementia risk

Photo: Dan Lingard via Flickr

Millions of people around the world take acid suppressants called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for conditions like heartburn, gastritis and stomach ulcers. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now report that long-term use of these drugs could increase the risk of developing dementia. Continue reading