Geography, race and income matter when it comes to frailty, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Women and the poor are more likely to be frail, and older people in southern states more that three times likely to be frail than those in western states. Additionally, blacks and Hispanics were nearly twice as likely to be frail than whites, researchers concluded. Continue reading
Diabetes is prevalent in the United States, and the numbers continue to balloon.
In a Health Journalism 2013 session focusing on type 2 diabetes, a panel of experts discussed the threats of the disease, its growth and possible treatment. The panel was moderated by Tennesseean reporter Tom Wilemon. Continue reading
We often accept frailty, with its depleted energy and general wearing down of the body, as an inevitable part of aging. About 4 percent of men and 7 percent of women older than 65 were frail in a 2001 study. After the age of 85, that rises to about 25 percent.
Frailty leads to more serious problems, such as an increased risk of falling. People who are frail also have a more difficult time recovering if they are hospitalized.
Findings like that challenge our view of frail adults as beyond remedy. They’re not. With careful assessment and help from physicians, social workers, nurses, and physical therapists, their functioning can be improved and their lives made easier.
Kate Dailey of Newsweek has teamed up with Public Radio International for a 10-part series, “DIY Checkup: Taking Control of Our Health.” The project looks at “what people can do to live better, no matter their genetics, history, or economic status.”
Dailey, in a blog post about the series, recognizes that some of the standard pieces of advice, such as going to the gym for exercise or eating fresh fruits and vegetables, are not relevant for significant parts of the population. People who work on their feet all day and people who live in food deserts are not getting the messages in a way that make them relevant to their lives.
As Dailey says, “the language that doctors and journalists often use to talk about personal health often leaves many people out.”
Part one of the series lists things people can do to significantly improve their health. Listen to part one:
Writing for The Washington Post, physician and University of California, San Francisco, medical professor Daphne Miller makes a strong case for what she calls a growing trend: Doctors prescribing outdoor exercise for their patients. After seeing how the lure of the outdoors can motivate those who can’t stand the sight of another treadmill or stationary trainer, Miller has started handing out detailed “park prescriptions” that direct her patients to specific parks and trails. It’s a practice she says colleagues across the country are adopting.
Eleanor Kennedy, a cardiologist in Little Rock, helped create a downtown “Medical Mile” with the support of local funders and the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. “If my patients feel that they can get outdoors, they are more likely to be consistent about exercise,” she told me. “Whether you are waddling, walking or running, going out and exercising will help build your confidence, flexibility and adaptability.” And it will also be good for your heart — a particular benefit in Arkansas, where rates of heart disease and stroke, as well as obesity and diabetes, are among the highest in the country.
Folks on the park side of the equation are no less thrilled about the rediscovered mental and physical health benefits of the outdoors; National Park Service officials are hoping to prepare a “park prescription” tool kit for doctors and local parks and health organizations are starting to cooperate across the country.
The NPS’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program has projects in nearly every state and provides a state-by-state breakdown of the projects that might help reporters localize this story.