Notes on Aging

Lifting Weights, Twice a Week, May Aid the Brain

Many neurological studies have found that, by late middle age, most of us have begun developing age-related holes or lesions in our brains’ white matter, which is the material that connects and passes messages between different brain regions.

lifting kettle bellThese brain lesions show up on imaging studies before people begin experiencing their symptoms, just as osteoarthritis (joint degeneration) shows up on x-rays before people begin feeling pain. Most studies that advocate the benefits of exercise on maintaining brain health have focused on aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking. But a new study suggests that light resistance exercise, lifting weights, may also improve brain health.

Teresa Liu-Ambrose, professor of physical therapy and director of the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, looked at the brains of a large group of generally healthy women between the ages of 65 and 75 who already were enrolled in a brain health study that she was leading. The new study focused on 54 of the women whose brain scans showed existing white matter lesions.

For this study, researchers divided the participant pool into three groups:

  1. Those who began a once-weekly program of light upper- and lower-body weight training
  2. Those who underwent the same weight training program twice a week
  3. The control group, who began a twice-weekly program of stretching exercises and balance training

The results found that those in group 2 “displayed significantly less shrinkage and tattering of their white matter” than those in both of the other two groups. These results, published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, suggest that working out just once a week may not be sufficient.

Whatever the reason, exercise, including weight training, clearly “has benefit for the brain,” Dr. Liu-Ambrose said. “However we are just really now gaining an appreciation for how impactful exercise can be.”

Can You Get Smarter?

In this opinion piece in the New York Times, Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, examines the question of whether brain training can enhance memory and cognitive functioning. Since “one in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease,” concerns about maintaining brain health are common, and brain training has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

Friedman looks at the effects of several areas of intervention on improving brain health: mental exercises, physical exercise, and medication. He discusses both the encouraging news and the caveats arising from the scientific research.

He concludes that there is one thing that consistently seems to help preserve cognitive functioning: other people. Analysis of data from a large study:

showed that people with the highest level of social integration had less than half the decline in their cognitive function of the least socially active subjects. Also, the cognitive protective effects of socializing were greatest among subjects with fewer than 12 years of education.

Friedman concludes:

there is much that you can do to reach your cognitive potential and to keep it. Forget the smart drugs and supplements; put on your shorts and go exercise. If you’re 60 and up, consider brain training. And do it all with your friends.

Costs for Dementia Care Far Exceeding Other Diseases, Study Finds

Three diseases, leading killers of Americans, often involve long periods of decline before death. Two of them — heart disease and cancer — usually require expensive drugs, surgeries and hospitalizations. The third, dementia, has no effective treatments to slow its course.

This eye-opening article looks at the costs associated with long-term care of patients with dementia. What’s most sobering is the that fact that much of the required care is not covered by Medicare:

On average, the out-of-pocket cost for a patient with dementia was $61,522 — more than 80 percent higher than the cost for someone with heart disease or cancer.

While Medicare covers medical care, such as doctor visits, hospitalization, and surgery, it does not cover the personal care required by many people with dementia—help with bathing, dressing, and eating. Most people pay for this care from their own funds. When they have nothing left, Medicaid, a joint federal and state program, takes over.

This article makes clear why caring for an elderly relative with dementia can be such a devastating burden, both physically and financially.

Assessing the Fitness of Wearable Tech

wearable fitness trackerJane E. Brody discusses fitness trackers: “experts say that older adults are among those who could benefit most from such devices.”

The wearable fitness tracker has blossomed, but the gadgets can be expensive, from about $49 to $250, Brody reports. But, according to a study published recently in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), smartphone applications are just as accurate as wearable devices in tracking physical activity.

Notes on Healthy Aging

Graceful Aging Exercises for Everyone

You can’t stop aging, but you can slow down the process with the help of an exercise routine. Even a small amount of activity can help you keep joints mobile, maintain muscle strength, and improve stability. And the best news of all: It’s never too late to start an exercise routine.

The first step in starting an exercise program is to check withy your doctor, who will tell you if there are any activities you should avoid. Certain conditions such as diabetes may also affect the timing of when to take medications and when to exercise.

Begin an exercise program slowly and listen to your body. If a particular exercise is difficult for you or causes you pain, ask your doctor if another exercise might be better for you. And it’s important to start out with a little bit of exercise and gradually increase the amount and intensity.

The easiest exercise to begin with, after checking with your doctor, is walking, which improves cardiovascular fitness, bone strength, and joint mobility. Physiologists recommend aiming for 30 minutes of walking five days a week, but, as with all exercise programs, start with a small amount and gradually build up to longer and more frequent sessions.

In addition to cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking or swimming, a complete exercise program also includes resistance training, such as lifting weights, during two or three of your exercise days each week. These exercises build muscle strength and improve balance, important considerations for avoiding falls.

Tai chi can help build strength, relieve pain

Many senior centers and retirements offer classes in Tai chi, a modified form of an ancient Chinese martial art that emphasizes slow, gentle movements. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that Tai chi could be an effective exercise suitable for middle-aged and older adults, even those who may have multiple health conditions.

Tai chi is a set of exercises that emphasize breathing control, whole body exercises with bent knees and slow, flowing movements. In addition to strength, it can help to improve posture, balance and concentration, the researchers note.

Hearing Loss Costs Far More Than Ability to Hear

Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting adults, and the most common among older adults. An estimated 30 million to 48 million Americans have hearing loss that significantly diminishes the quality of their lives — academically, professionally and medically as well as socially.

In this article New York Times health writer Jane E. Brody reports that, while one in three people over age 60 has life-diminishing hearing loss, most people wait between five and 15 years to seek help. A large survey by the National Council on the Aging found that those who had hearing aids tended to be more socially active and less depressed, worried, paranoid, or insecure than people without hearing aids.

People without hearing aids also tend to have an increased risk of dementia over those with the devices. Hearing aids may improve cognitive functioning by maintaining auditory input into the brain that are diminished by hearing loss.

Is It Old Age, or A.D.H.D.?

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s never heard of ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. While ADHD is nowadays a diagnosis given to children who have trouble paying attention in school, back when we were in school children who struggled were told to settle down, quiet down, or stop daydreaming out the window.

In 2012, in one of the only epidemiological studies done on A.D.H.D. in older adults, a large Dutch population study found the condition in close to 3 percent of people over 60.

Although there’s little data on the prevalence of ADHD in older adults, increased awareness of the condition, now thought to persist throughout one’s lifetime, is bringing more older adults to specialty clinics for diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. [Thomas] Brown [associate director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders at the Yale School of Medicine] said, “Most doctors are not thinking of A.D.H.D. as a characteristic of somebody who is 60 or over.” Hence, the condition may be overlooked in the 80-year-old who has trouble staying engaged at the senior center, despite a lifelong history of inattention. “They figure it’s just cognitive decline from aging” or diagnose depression or anxiety in such patients, which may or may not be the case, he said.

Many older adults who have trouble paying attention or sitting still are thought to have cognitive impairment caused by aging. But if the person has had the same symptoms throughout life, diagnosis and treatment for ADHD may greatly improve their condition.

Three Things Thursday

Another week, another edition of Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”

Items in the News

Don’t worry, there’s not a presidential debate or Trump article among them.

Seattle Aquarium trains otter to use inhaler for her asthma

The Seattle Aquarium believes it has diagnosed the first case of a sea otter with asthma and is training the animal to use an inhaler.

A veterinarian is training a one-year-old sea otter to use an inhaler to treat asthma diagnosed when smoke from nearby forest fires made breathing difficult. The otter, named Mishka, uses the same medication that humans use.

Dr. Lesanna Lahner believes that lack of genetic diversity may have contributed to Mishka’s asthma. When sea otters became extinct in Washington State 40 years ago, Alaskan sea otters were moved south to repopulate Puget Sound.

Eating Healthy Foods May Lower Depression Risk

Here’s yet another reason to eat a healthy diet.

Research from a large new study suggests that people who follow a healthy diet to a moderate or large extent have lower risk for developing depression than people who don’t follow similar dietary guidelines. The study defined a healthy diet as one high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish, and low in fast food and processed meats.

The study followed 15,000 university graduates in Spain for 8.5 years.

“Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns … was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression,” [study author Almudena] Sanchez-Villegas told Live Science.

These results, published in the journal BMC Medicine, support the results of Sanchez-Villegas’s earlier research, reported in 2006 and 2009, that found a lower rate of depression among people who followed the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is defined as one high in vegetables, fruits, fish, and olive oil; this diet is often used as a standard for the definition of a healthy diet. The new research studied participants whose diet closely resembles the Mediterranean diet but not not require strict adherence to it.

Coming Soon to Facebook: A ‘Dislike’ Button

Finally!

Sometimes people on Facebook post sad news or details of some misfortune, such as “I have a bad cold and don’t feel like getting out of bed this morning.” I certainly hesitate to “like” such posts, because I don’t like the fact that the person is sick or suffering from some other bad occurrence. But I would like to respond in some way that shows empathy, concern, and support. So far, the only solution I’ve found to this dilemma is to post a comment containing a frowny face emoticon, 😦 . I’ve often wished for the ability to choose a “dislike” button.

Now the New York Times reports that Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook, says the company is close to testing a “dislike” button similar to the “like” button:

Facebook users — there are now 1.5 billion, the company says — have long requested a way to express negative emotions or empathy with something sad or tragic posted on the social network, he said.

According to the article, some critics of Facebook don’t like this idea because, according to one user, “There is already enough hate on Facebook and social media.”

I’m not quite sure how this logic works. If I “like” someone’s report of sickness or death of a loved one because I don’t have the option of disliking the news but don’t want to ignore it, isn’t that hateful? Wouldn’t it be better if I could click a button to show that I dislike the bad news?

What do you think? What do you do about “liking” bad news on Facebook?

Healthy Aging

Ask Well: Assessing Knee Supports

A while back I had gotten lax with my walking routine and found myself quite out of shape. My husband encouraged me to accompany him for a walk one day, and I did. But he was much more ambitious than I was, and we walked so far that when I got home, my right knee was a bit sore. I went to the drugstore and looked at the various knee supports available. I chose one made of neoprene that wrapped around the knee and fastened with Velcro. I wore it for a few days and my knee gradually got better.

Because of this experience I was interested in this column in the New York Times in which Gretchen Reynolds answers the question “How effective is wearing a stabilizing knee support?”

When you say “effective,” I assume that you’re asking how well a knee support can stabilize a wobbly knee or lessen the pain of an arthritic one. The answer, based on a large body of science, is that nobody really knows.

“It’s important, however, to differentiate among the types of knee supports,” she adds. She distinguishes between braces, which include rigid materials that press against the bones of the knee and offer firm external support. Soft neoprene sleeves do not offer the same support but may increase knee stability by improving the wearer’s balance. But, Reynolds says, a 2012 study found that neoprene sleeves offered no significant improvements in balance for people with knee arthritis. There is also no evidence that knee supports worn on healthy knees prevent knee injuries.

Reynolds ends with the advice that if your knees are bothering you, don’t self-diagnose. Go to a doctor, who can diagnose your problem and determine whether a knee support will help.

The knee support I used was not really a sleeve, which is a tube, but one that I could tighten or loosen with the Velcro. I wore the support and avoided any more long walks, and my knee pain did clear up within a few days. Of course the same improvement probably would have occurred whether I had worn the brace of not, but I did think that, at least initially, it lessened my discomfort.

Here’s Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

Alice Park discusses recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that examined 18 measures of aging in people in their 20s and 30s. The markers studied mirror the biological effects of aging found in older people. The study followed 954 people born in 1972 or 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, from age 26 to age 38. The 18 markers measured included blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol, body mass index, and inflammation. On the basis of these measurements, researchers calculated a biological age for each volunteer. They re-examined the study participants again at ages 32 and 38 to calculate the pace at which each person was aging.

Some people were biologically older and aging faster than others, despite being the same chronological age. Not only that, but the researchers showed, by giving the 20- and 30-somethings the same tests of balance and thinking skills that gerontologists give for older adults, that these aging changes were the same as those occurring later in life.

Comparing the data of those aging more quickly with those aging more slowly should suggest some ideas of how to slow down again. Such a testing program can also provide a way to test whether a specific anti-aging treatment works.

Researchers plan to re-evaluate study participants again at age 45 to see if habits such as diet, exercise, and smoking affect the rate of aging.

Exercise can improve brain function in older adults

Here is that E-word again: exercise. New research out of the University of Kansas Medical Center suggests that older adults can improve brain functioning by increasing their fitness level.

Results indicated that aerobic exercise improved brain function, and those who exercised more saw more cognitive benefits. The intensity of the exercise appeared to be more important than the duration, so it’s important to exercise as vigorously as you safely can.

As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Swindlers Target Older Women on Dating Websites

This article is painful to read but could prevent some heartache. It describes scams that people employ through online dating sites to woo potential victims out of their savings.

Older people are good targets for such scams because they often have accumulated savings over their lifetime. Older women, who outnumber older men, are particularly susceptible.

Just how serious is this problem?

How many people are snared by Internet romance fraud is unclear, but between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, nearly 6,000 people registered complaints of such confidence fraud with losses of $82.3 million, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Most of the scams involve online contacts who establish a relationship with a potential victim, then began asking for money to cover situations such as medical emergencies or having their wallet stolen abroad and needing money to travel back home. And one request follows another, often adding up to significant sums:

Victims typically lose $40,000 to $100,000, said Wendy Morgan, chief of the Public Protection Division of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. The highest reported loss in the state was $213,000.

Read the stories in this article of how people were scammed. Knowing how the process works could help you avoid losing your life’s savings.

Recent News on Aging

Anti-ageing pill pushed as bona fide drug

From the journal Nature comes this article that poses a paradigm-shifting question: Is aging a natural occurrence of life or a treatable condition?

Doctors and scientists want drug regulators and research funding agencies to consider medicines that delay ageing-related disease as legitimate drugs. Such treatments have a physiological basis, researchers say, and could extend a person’s healthy years by slowing down the processes that underlie common diseases of ageing — making them worthy of government approval. On 24 June, researchers will meet with regulators from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make the case for a clinical trial designed to show the validity of the approach.

The article focuses on a clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, or TAME:

Plans call for the trial to enrol 3,000 people aged 70–80 years at roughly 15 centres around the United States. The trial will take 5–7 years and cost US$50 million.

The key to the significance of such research is that it examines a change in the way clinicians would approach aging: instead of treating conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and cognitive impairment that arise with aging, they would treat aging itself. If this were possible, aging itself would become a treatable condition instead of a natural progression of life.

Two Views of Aging While Creative

In this article for Psychology Today, Susan K. Perry addresses the question “What happens when prolific writers get old?” She contrasts two books by writers who remained creative into old age:

  • At Eighty-Two, A Journal by poet, novelist, and memoirist May Sarton, who died in 1995
  • Essays After Eighty by poet and essayist Donald Hall, recently published

About Sarton’s journal Perry writes, “Most of all I noted and appreciated her honesty about the highs and ever-more-frequent lows of her mood.” Perry contrasts Sarton’s outlook with Hall’s: “According to his new book of essays, he’s still at it in his mid–80s… . He omits nothing (or little) of the humiliations and challenges of growing old.” She continues:

Above all, Hall’s essays demonstrated to me that not all aging men and women become depressed to the point of not being able to be creative.

The 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s

Most researchers and clinicians agree that early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease can help slow the disease’s progress. And if you’re at or approaching your older years, you’ve probably seen quizzes and lists all over newspapers, magazines, and the internet on warning signs you should look for.

But while early diagnosis leads to early intervention, some news out of the 2013 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference is troubling: An expert panel found 16 online tests for Alzheimer’s disease scored poorly on scales of overall scientific validity, reliability and ethical factors.

While such self-diagnosis tools may be unreliable, other people may be more accurate in recognizing these warning signs put together by the Alzheimer’s Association:

  1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

But don’t try to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at home. Visit a doctor for a thorough examination and diagnosis.

For more information see Alzheimer’s Association.

New questions about why more women than men have Alzheimer’s

Nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women, and now some scientists are questioning the long-held assumption that it’s just because they tend to live longer than men.

What else may put woman at extra risk? Could it be genetics? Biological differences in how women age? Maybe even lifestyle factors?

Here’s yet another article indicating that we need much more research into Alzheimer’s disease: “A recent Alzheimer’s Association report estimates that at age 65, women have about a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s during the rest of their lives, compared with a 1 in 11 chance for men.” Further, evidence suggests that once women develop Alzheimer’s, their condition worsens at a faster pace than in men.

Plans are underway to study both genes and hormones as possible contributors to the increased prevalence of the disease in women over men.

The unforgettable Glen Campbell

David Wild discusses watching CNN’s film Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me:

Like a lot of people around the world, I have been listening to and loving the extraordinary music of Glen Campbell all of my life. Yet it was only this week that I could emotionally bring myself to see “Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me,” the very beautiful, very musical and even more moving documentary directed by James Keach that quite rightly received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

Especially take a look at Wild’s list of the 10 most unforgettable of Glen Campbell’s songs.

The Best Ways to Survive a Stroke | Next Avenue

10 warning signs, plus what to do to save someone’s life — or your own

via The Best Ways to Survive a Stroke | Next Avenue.

Too Many Open Browser Tabs

Whenever I find an interesting article, I leave it open on my browser because I just know it will form the basis of a spectacular blog post. I’ve always done this, but in the past I would finally just close everything and start over again because the web is, after all, an infinite source of riches. But since I challenged myself to write a blog post a day in 2015, I’ve been less eager to close all those tabs down. What if I face a day when I can’t think of anything to write about?

My browser has now become so bloated that I have to do something to make my system work faster. Instead of just closing all those tabs, I’m resorting to a collection of the very best ones here. Because I have lots of wide-ranging interests, this is quite an eclectic collection. But every one of these articles is worth attention. I guarantee it.

The Moral Bucket List

New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks writes here about some special people:

ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

Brooks distinguishes between two types of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues:

The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?

He goes on to say that a while back he set out “to discover how those deeply good people got that way.” In the rest of the article he describes what he found out.

It’s a good article, and I encourage you to read it. But I’ve left this browser tab open for a while now because this article reminded me of a former friend of mine. She could, at times, act caring and loving, but I always detected the tiniest disconnection between her inner workings and her outer behavior. For example, one day after she had spent a long time describing how each of her three children had recently hurt her feelings, she paused for a second while looking at me, then asked, “How’s your daughter?” During that second I could see the gears working inside her head: “I’ve talked about my kids, so I should now ask about hers.” I knew she wasn’t truly interested, so I said, “She’s fine” and left it at that. She visibly exhaled with relief.

This women always blamed other people for any problem in her own life. Everything was always the other person’s fault. She even developed a convoluted philosophy of life—it involved a person’s True Center of Pure Being (her caps)—that allowed her to avoid having to take responsibility for her own actions. When one of her children made her feel down on herself, she would explode and scream at me, trying to make me feel just as bad about myself as she felt about herself. When I told her, several times, how hurtful her behavior was to me, she said that I should understand that she was under a lot of pressure. “I’m not what I do,” she said.

This woman is the opposite of the people David Brooks describes. One can’t simply invoke one’s True Center of Pure Being. She is what she does. We all define ourselves by what we do and say. And this is why she’s a former friend, not a current one.

Sex, Dementia and a Husband on Trial at Age 78

This article brings up one of those issues that’s so complex and deeply personal that I have trouble figuring out what I think about it. In Iowa, Henry Rayhons, age 78, has been arrested for having sex with his 78-year-old wife, who had severe dementia, in a nursing home. The couple was married in 2007 after each had been widowed.

The top-level issue is whether Mrs. Rayhons was capable of giving consent for sex. But the lower-level issue is the question of who gets to decide whether Mrs. Rayhons was capable of giving consent: her husband, nursing home administrators, her doctor, her children?

This case suggests that someone must take the initiative in setting guidelines:

Sex is one of the most ambiguous areas in the scientific understanding of Alzheimer’s. While there are established methods of measuring memory, reasoning and the ability to dress, bathe and balance checkbooks, no widely used method exists for assessing the ability to consent to intimate relations.

Furthermore, dementia symptoms fluctuate. What may be appropriate on one day may not be appropriate on another day. Even more confusing, what may be appropriate in the morning may not be appropriate in the afternoon of the same day.

I’m glad I’m not sitting on the jury for this case.

Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s

Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., reports:

Now a clever new analysis has found that during his two terms in office, subtle changes in Mr. Reagan’s speaking patterns linked to the onset of dementia were apparent years before doctors diagnosed his Alzheimer’s disease in 1994.

The findings of the study by Arizona State University researchers were published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Altman points out that these findings “do not prove that Mr. Reagan exhibited signs of dementia that would have adversely affected his judgment and ability to make decisions in office.”

But the findings do suggest that alteration in speech may one day be used to predict the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions long before clinical symptoms appear. Earlier detection could lead to earlier treatment, which in turn could help reduce or at least slow damage to the brain.

This research used the same computer algorithm that other researchers have used to analyze changes in writing by novelists, which I have written about here:

Canadian researchers have reported that analyses of syntax in novels by Iris Murdoch and Agatha Christie indicated early signs of dementia (Ms. Murdoch died of Alzheimer’s; Ms. Christie is suspected to have had it.) The same analysis applied to the healthy P. D. James, who died at 94 last year, did not find signs of dementia.

Scientists not involved in this study caution that much more research is necessary before analyses such as this can confidently be used in examining for Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes Prevention That Works

It’s Week 5 of the Diabetes Prevention Program, and however commonplace the conversation, the results can be impressive. In 2002, a large national clinical trial showed that among adults at risk for Type 2 diabetes, this “lifestyle modification program” and resulting weight loss reduced the incidence of the disease by 58 percent in 1,000 subjects participating in the program, compared with those who did not — and by an even more substantial 71 percent in those over age 60.

So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began rolling out the National Diabetes Prevention Program in 2012. Now, 527 organizations around the country — health care providers, community groups, employers, colleges, churches — offer it in every state, often at multiple sites. Several providers are experimenting with online versions. The Y.M.C.A., the largest single organization involved, enrolls 40 percent of participants nationally.

via Diabetes Prevention That Works – NYTimes.com.

Did you know that nearly 26% of people over age 65 have Type 2 (sometimes referred to as adult-onset) diabetes? Here’s news about a program aimed at helping us make lifestyle changes to decrease our likelihood of developing the disease.

Many YMCAs across the country are offering this program. There’s a link here to help you find out if your local Y is among them.

Coverage for End-of-Life Talks Gaining Ground – NYTimes.com

Five years after it exploded into a political conflagration over “death panels,” the issue of paying doctors to talk to patients about end-of-life care is making a comeback, and such sessions may be covered for the 50 million Americans on Medicare as early as next year.

via Coverage for End-of-Life Talks Gaining Ground – NYTimes.com.

This article offers balanced information on the question of whether doctors should be reimbursed for discussing end-of-life directives with patients. These discussions not only help doctors fulfill patients’ wishes but also relieve families of having to make crucial medical decisions in emotional, stressful situations.

Some private insurers already cover the cost of end-of-life discussions, so it’s important to check your coverage if you have supplemental insurance.

Hospital Charges Surge for Common Ailments, Data Shows – NYTimes.com

Charges for some of the most common inpatient procedures surged at hospitals across the country in 2012 from a year earlier, some at more than four times the national rate of inflation, according to data released by Medicare officials on Monday.

While it has long been known that hospitals bill Medicare widely varying amounts — sometimes many multiples of what Medicare typically reimburses — for the same procedure, an analysis of the data by The New York Times shows how much the price of some procedures rose in just one year’s time.

via Hospital Charges Surge for Common Ailments, Data Shows – NYTimes.com.

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