Category Archives: Aging

New tip sheet looks at mental health effects of COVID-19 on older adults

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: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

The COVID-19 pandemic has put us all under tremendous stress. Social isolation, loneliness, fear of getting sick, an uncertain economy … the list goes on. According to a mid-July Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, 53% of adults in the United States reported negative mental health effects due to concern and anxiety about the novel coronavirus.

One demographic at especially high risk of mental health issues is older adults, due to their higher probability of contracting the disease, known mental and physical health consequences of isolating, and existing co-morbidities. “The share of older adults (ages 65 and up) reporting negative mental health impacts has increased since March,” according to KFF. Continue reading

One in five nursing homes still lack sufficient PPE

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.

Surgical masks

Photo: Petra Wessman via Flickr

Despite promises from the Trump administration, a recent study confirmed that many nursing homes still lack the necessary resources to address the COVID-19 crisis adequately in their facilities. Analysis from a national database reflecting 98% of U.S. nursing homes found that more than one in five reported a severe shortage of PPE and staff from May to July.

My colleague Joe Burns and I previously highlighted a report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) showing that since July 26, 33 states have reported a positive infection rate from coronavirus tests of over 5%.

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Staffing in nursing homes matters when combating 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.

senior wearing a mask

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Why are some nursing homes doing so much better at containing the coronavirus among residents and staff than others? Testing, adequate protective gear and the ability to isolate infected residents are all important factors. Another key contributor is sufficient staffing, according to a recent research letter in JAMA.

Nursing homes that rated better on staffing had fewer COVID-19 cases than those facilities with poorer staffing ratings. Approximately 27% of deaths due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have occurred among residents of nursing homes, researchers noted in the August 10 letter. (The New York Times estimated closer to 40% if workers are included.) It seems like a no-brainer that more staff might result in fewer cases. Continue reading

Report examines senior living facilities in the wake of 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.

socially distanced residents in front of their retirement home

Photo: Gilbert Mercier via Flickr

The devastating toll of the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes has had a domino effect on the entire senior living industry, according to a new report. Misconceptions about housing for older adults, along with negative perceptions about assisted living, independent living and active adult communities, have prompted many owners and operators to take a hard look at what this industry must do to reassure residents and families about safety and wellness. Continue reading

What Trump’s drug manufacturing order may mean for 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: fauxto_digit via Flickr

President Trump’s recent executive order, which mandates certain government agencies to “buy American” drugs and medical equipment, is setting up a potential clash with the powerful drug manufacturers’ lobby.

The order, issued August 6, would require agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Health and Human Services to procure domestically produced drugs and medical supplies to help mitigate shortages and difficulty obtaining certain medications from overseas suppliers. Continue reading

Hefty issue of HealthBeat headed for mailboxes

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

HealthBeatThe latest issue of HealthBeat is expected to be delivered to members of the Association of Health Care Journalists any day now.

In this issue, we highlight some of our best advice and resources for covering the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, from keeping nursing home residents safe to debunking conspiracy theories (and doesn’t it seem as if there’s a new one each week?)

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