Category Archives: Aging

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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As death rates rise, nursing and LTC facilities face critical testing, PPE challenges

Joseph Burns Liz Seegert

About Joseph Burns and Liz Seegert

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. Liz Seegert (@lseegert), based in New York City, is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living say officials in 33 states with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 5% or higher (states shaded in red and pink) should ensure that nursing homes have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, pressure clinical laboratories to expedite test results and take other steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Source: State-By-State Breakdown: COVID-19 Testing Positivity Rates Among The General Population, AHCA/NCALThe American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living say officials in 33 states with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 5% or higher (states shaded in red and pink) should ensure that nursing homes have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment, pressure clinical laboratories to expedite test results and take other steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Six months after the first nursing home residents died of the novel coronavirus, many nursing homes and long-term care facilities continue to face a shortage of personal protective equipment, test kits, delayed test results and worker shortages. At the same time, positivity rates continue to climb in many states and, once again, nursing homes are among the leading sources of death and infections nationwide.

The COVID-19 Nursing Home Data tracker of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reports more than 164,055 residents have confirmed cases of the virus and more than 102,531 have suspected cases as of July 26, according to the most recently available data. Continue reading

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

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.

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

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: 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

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-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

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: 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