Category Archives: Aging

Study: Low vitamin K associated with higher risk of death

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.

Photo: Penn State via Flickr

Be like Popeye. Eat your spinach. And kale. And lettuce. That’s the takeaway from a recent multi-ethnic meta-analysis by researchers at Tufts University.

While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, it did show that the risk of death was nearly 20% higher for older adults with low vitamin K levels compared to those whose levels were adequate. The results suggest vitamin K, a nutrient found in leafy greens and vegetable oils, may have protective health benefits as we age, according to the researchers.

The meta-analysis involved nearly 4,000 Americans between the ages of 54 and 76. One-third of the participants were non-white. Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) and Tufts Medical Center categorized participants according to their vitamin K blood levels. They then compared the risk of heart disease and risk of death across the categories over approximately 13 years of follow-up. Continue reading

Is CMS putting older adults at increased risk during the pandemic?

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.

Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr

As states struggle to contain cases and deaths from COVID-19, nursing homes and other senior care facilities remain epicenters of outbreaks and fatalities. Yet a rule proposed last year by the Trump Administration would allow facilities to cut back on infection prevention measures, according to recent reports in The New York Times and USA Today.

It seems counterintuitive, but CMS still supports this yet-to-be-finalized proposal. Currently, facilities must employ infection prevention specialists at least part time; they receive specialized training to ensure safety protocols are followed. The rule change would allow nursing homes to hire consultants, who are only required to “spend sufficient time” at the facility. CMS says this would reduce regulatory burden while still ensuring quality care. Continue reading

Examining the toll of social distancing on health of seniors

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.

Photo: Neil Moralee via Flickr

Older adults are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, as story after story of nursing home deaths and other mortality data show. That’s why an overwhelming majority of elders say they’re prepared to self-isolate for many more months if necessary, according to a new survey from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Isolation and loneliness among this population were already challenging issues before COVID-19 hit the U.S. How much worse will it become because of the pandemic? Continue reading

Problems found in initial federal data on COVID-19 in nursing homes

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Photo: The National Guard via Flickr

When Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, announced June 4 that she and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were unveiling COVID-19 data for all the nation’s nursing homes that get federal payment, I thought, “Wow!”

These days, how states are reporting their nursing home COVID cases is varied and random. So this new “unprecedented” federal dataset, “constitutes the backbone of a national COVID-19 virus surveillance system,” Verma said. Continue reading

More data coming online to track COVID-19 in nursing homes

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.

Photo: Eric.Ray via Flickr

CMS has finally posted a database of reported deaths by facility for approximately 30,000 nursing homes. The data is updated weekly and provides confirmation of the awful toll this disease is taking on our most vulnerable population. As of June 1, more than 40,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19. And that number is most certainly an undercount.

Information is still disjointed, in part because some states include group homes in their reports to CMS, and others only provide data for institutional long term care settings. Assisted living facilities are not part of the dataset since they’re not federally regulated. But any way you look at it, the numbers are staggering. Continue reading

Webcast: Older adults and food insecurity during COVID-19

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.

food

Photo: Amanda Mills/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Long before the novel coronavirus ever surfaced, millions of older adults struggled with food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded their ability to obtain healthy food or eat balanced, nutritious meals. One reason: older adults who rely on senior centers for a daily hot meal and important socialization find themselves shut in, unable to access important federal or state nutrition programs, fearful of trips to the supermarket, or without adequate financial and other means to do so.

While food banks and home meal delivery volunteers are trying to pick up some of the slack, some vulnerable older adults find themselves standing in long lines to pick up groceries or a sandwich. Continue reading