Photo by Maryland GovPics via Flickr.
COVID-related nursing home cases and deaths are on the rise again, according to recently published data on AARP’s COVID-19 dashboard. And while these rates are nowhere near the levels of 2020 or early 2021, it’s still a troublesome sign that new COVID variants are making their way into facilities tasked with caring for vulnerable older adults.
Rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths rose in June for the second month in a row — with resident cases increasing by 27% for the four weeks ending June 19. That means about one in every 35 nursing home residents nationally tested positive. Staff positivity rates increased by 42% in the same period — about one in every 28. It’s not clear, however, whether staff were infected in the community or contracted COVID in the nursing home. Death rates are trending up too — increasing by about 54% in June compared with the previous month, according to AARP’s data, which is culled from Information on COVID-19 reported by nursing homes to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).
Journalists can use this data to closely follow trends in their state, or even drill down to an individual facility level.
“We’ve actually had increasing cases for a couple of months now,” said Ari Houser, AARP senior methods advisor and lead data analyst on their nursing home COVID dashboard. “Preliminary CDC data through July 17 shows the trend continuing upward, so we’re not at the peak yet.”
Most journalists do a great job of writing for their audience. But it can be easy to forget that part of your audience may include older adults who often struggle with issues of health literacy, cognitive impairment or language problems.
As Medicare Open Enrollment season gets underway, this is a good time to consider story structure and how the information seniors may rely on is framed. While most of these tips probably are more applicable to journalists at consumer media, writers for more specialized journals and outlets can also benefit. Continue reading
The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) today published the results of its examination of care to determine the top five things patients and physicians should question when caring for older adults.
- Recommending percutaneous feeding tubes in patients with advanced dementia; instead of offering oral-assisted feeding.
- Using antipsychotics as first choice to treat behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.
- Using medications to achieve hemoglobin 7.5 percent in most adults age 65 and older; moderate control is generally better.
- Use of benzodiazepines or other sedative-hypnotics in older adults as first choice for insomnia, agitation, or delirium.
- Use of antimicrobials to treat bacteriuria in older adults unless specific urinary tract symptoms are present.
AGS partnered with the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s “Choosing Wisely” campaign to evaluate information from ABIM societies and AGS members. They looked at whether physician-ordered tests and procedures were sufficiently evidence-based, whether the potential health benefits were worth any risks they might pose, if they were redundant or medically necessary. The goal of the campaign is to pinpoint and eliminate unnecessary health spending. Continue reading