For most of humankind’s existence, the average life expectancy was around 18 years. It’s only in the past century that advances in public health, medicine, and social services have enabled many of us to reach very old age. And we’re still at the beginning of a longevity revolution.
But when it comes to living longer, the United States is only somewhere in the middle compared with the rest of the world, according to the World Health Organization. Although we spend almost twice as much on health care as any other nation, 33 other countries boast longer life expectancies. That’s why we need to consider health span as well as lifespan, rethink how our medical systems care for aging adults and address the need for well paid, well-trained caregivers, according to an expert panel at the opening keynote of the American Society on Aging’s annual conference, which was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Continue reading
Losing some hearing or eyesight is fairly common as we age. However, a new study says losing function in both senses may increase risk of dementia and cognitive decline down the road.
Journalists may want to consider looking at any local programs that address vision and hearing loss in older adults and how, or if, these programs address challenges of cognitive decline or multiple sensory impairments. Continue reading
Cannabis. Weed. Pot. Whatever you call it, marijuana use is on the rise among the older population, especially the Baby Boomers.
Thirty-six states plus the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories have so far approved the drug for medical purposes; 15 of those also allow recreational use and several others are considering it or already have bills in the works. My home state of New York, which had approved the use of medical marijuana, recently passed legislation to legalize small amounts for recreational use. Continue reading
Photo: Amanda Mills/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food insecurity is a nicer way of saying people are going hungry. Many of those people are older adults—often poor, with limited means of obtaining enough to eat. They must decide whether to spend their meager budgets on food, medication, or housing; many do not even know where their next meal is coming from.
Prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, one in seven adults between 50 and 80 had trouble getting enough food because of cost or other issues, according to a 2020 University of Michigan Healthy Aging poll. Since then, the problem has only gotten worse.
The pandemic has also exacerbated existing disparities among Black and Latino populations according to the USDA: Black and Latino adults are more than twice as likely as white adults to report that their households did not get enough to eat. We highlighted the issue of food insecurity back in June 2020 in this webinar. Has anything changed since March 2020? Continue reading
A recent survey of family caregivers revealed some troubling information about the divide between rural and urban communities regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the poll, nearly one in three (31%) family caregivers who live in rural communities say they won’t take the older adult under their care to get the COVID-19 vaccine—nearly double the refusal rate of urban and suburban caregivers (16%). About the same number (36%) of rural caregivers say they won’t get vaccinated themselves.
Safety concerns primarily drive caregivers’ unwillingness to get the vaccine for their loved ones and themselves, according to survey respondents. Among the rural family caregivers surveyed, an overwhelming 81% have doubts that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and more than a quarter (28%) are “not at all confident” in the vaccine’s safety. In comparison, 9% of their urban and suburban peers are not at all confident. Taken together, experts say the findings show how difficult it will be to save lives in communities where access to healthcare is already limited. Continue reading
Strong evidence on dementia care interventions is lacking, and what exists does not reflect the experiences of diverse populations, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). Most existing community-based programs don’t offer clear proof they work to address the care and services needed by those with the disease or their caregivers, the report found.
Members of the ad hoc NASEM committee assessed the current body of evidence on care interventions for those living with dementia and their caregivers to help guide decision-making about which interventions should be broadly disseminated and implemented and to model for future actions and research. A systematic review found only two programs had any evidence of benefit, and those were only supported by low-strength evidence: Collaborative Care models, which integrate medical and psychosocial care, and Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) II, an intervention aimed at supporting family caregivers. Continue reading