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Aging News

Presented here are a variety of news items of current national and global interest to the aging community. Subjects range from the results of medical research and scientfic breakthroughs to public policy and general quality of life issues. Please keep in mind that the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disabilty is neither responsible for the content on the linked sites, nor does the inclusion of a linked item imply an endorsement of the content. These links are provided for informational purposes only, and it is up to the individual reader to determine the merit and reliability of each news item.

AARP logo and link

 

You can also get useful news and information from AARP Tennessee.

 


Alzheimer's Disease Will Strike 1 Out of 6 Older Women, Study Says

 

From CBS News comes the story of a study suggesting that the odds of developing Alzheimer's are worse for women than men. Women in their 60s are actually at higher risk for Alzheimer's than breast cancer. Further, "[w]omen are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer's epidemic: they account for almost two-thirds of Americans with the disease, but also account for 60 percent of caregivers for people with dementia." In other words, the people who are already taking care of people with the disease are also at high risk for becoming victims of the same disease.

 

No one should misunderstand, the concern is not that they are somehow "catching" the disease. Instead, the fear is that the group of people providing the most care will become sick themselves, leaving fewer people to provide care. As the report states, "There are currently 15.5 million caregivers providing 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care" in the United States alone. What happens when there are more victims of the disease and fewer caregivers to help?

 

Added March 21, 2014


Blood Test Predicts Alzheimer's Disease

 

From CNN: "In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have developed a blood test for Alzheimer's disease that predicts with astonishing accuracy whether a healthy person will develop the disease."

 

Added March 10, 2014


Overwhelming Burden, Cost of Alzheimer's to Triple, Report Says

 

This CNN report includes an interview with the wife of a man with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He was 48 when he received his diagnosis, and his story—his family's story—illustrates the extreme difficulty of living with the disease as symptoms worsen.

 

Added March 10, 2014


Physicians are a Leading Source of Prescription Opioids for the Highest-Risk Users

 

This headline comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It hits home in our state because, as reported: "The Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and CDC found that high-risk opioid use is frequent in the state, is increasing, and is connected to an increase in overdose deaths." (That statement originated with Jama Internal Medicine, a publication cited in the press release.) It's a troubling report, worth reading if you or someone you know uses prescription opioids for pain relief.

 

Added March 7, 2014


DDT Pesticide Exposure May Raise Alzheimer's Disease Risk

 

This article from CBS News is a must-read for anyone interested in Alzheimer's research. As with many studies, "more research is needed," but the findings are both interesting and scary.

 

Added February 12, 2014


Let's Redefine What Retirement Means

 

CBS Moneywatch discusses how retirement has changed, suggests ways to plan, and offers new ideas to consider. The bottom line? Most Americans can no longer expect to retire the way many of us have imagined retirement for decades. The sooner we adjust to that idea, the better we can try to plan for our senior years.

 

Added February 12, 2014


African-Americans and Alzheimer's

 

With Black History Month in mind, the Alzheimer's Association wants to spread the warning that African-Americans are "two times more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer's disease than whites and less likely to have a diagnosis of their condition, resulting in less time for treatment and planning." Visit www.alz.org for more information.

 

Added February 7, 2014


World Health Organization Warns Cancer Cases Will Rise 57% in 20 Years

 

CNN Health reports that the WHO's cancer agency "predicts new cancer cases will rise from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million annually within two decades. Over the same period, cancer deaths are tipped to rise from 8.2 million a year to 13 million annually."

 

As with other diseases, the rising numbers follow growing aging populations worldwide. We're living longer, so the odds are that more of us are going live long enough to develop cancer. The report stresses that it's that much more important to minimize our individual risks, stating: "[H]alf of all cancers [are] preventable, and could be avoided if current medical knowledge [is] acted upon. The disease could be tackled by addressing lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise; adopting screening programs; or, in the case of infection-triggered cancers such as cervical and liver cancers, through vaccines."

 

Added February 4, 2014


Seniors Take Up "Cane Fu"

 

A fitness chain has brought walking canes onto the exercise floor! CBS News reports on exercise classes that also teach self defense, showing seniors how to use their canes to both get in shape and protect themselves.

 

Added January 23, 2014


Vanderbilt: At Least 17 Dead From the Flu

 

According to News Channel 5 and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, not only have at least 498 Middle Tennesseans been to the hospital because of the flu, an additional 17 have died. Died! Those counts are worse than those of the 2012-2013 flu season. The article points out that "Tennessee's peak flu months are usually January and February, even though flu season can stretch from late fall to spring." Read that again: Flu season can last until spring. It takes a few weeks for the effects of the shot to provide protection, and it's better to get the flu vaccine in the fall, but there is still time to potentially benefit from a shot (or spray).

 

Questions about the flu vaccine? There are probably answers at www.vaccines.gov/diseases/flu.

 

Added January 23, 2014


High Levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked to Larger Brain Volume in Older Adults

 

CBS News shares information on another study with results suggesting fish oil may help maintain brain function in later years. There are still questions, and more study is needed. However, researchers found there is reason to believe that high levels of fish oil—or some types of algae—containing specific acids may delay normal brain aging by one to two years. That may not sound like much, but in late life that could mean one to two more years of independent living.

 

Added January 23, 2014


Simple Take-Home Test May Spot Early Alzheimer's Warning Signs

 

CBS News spotlights a newly introduced, simple, pen-and-paper test that can help reveal a decline in brain function. The test is called SAGE, for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination. It's just 22 questions, takes roughly 15 minutes, and is meant to be given to a doctor to review. The goal is to catch problems early, allowing doctors to begin treatment early and possible slow the effects of a disease like Alzheimer's.

 

The test is available here. *Please note that an image from the test appears on this page above the test description but without instructions. Ignore that. Start the test below with question #1. The same image will appear later in the test, and you will then be told what to do with it.

 

Added January 14, 2014


The Two Words That Cost Medicare Patients Thousands

 

NBC News reports on the difference between "under observation" and "inpatient." If you reply upon Medicare for your insurance coverage and receive hospital care, being "under observation" or labeled an "outpatient" can mean you will be stuck with the bill. Follow the link and watch the video! Even if you aren't covered by Medicare, you probably know someone who is. Everyone needs to know the risks and the questions to ask before visiting a hospital.

 

Added January 14, 2014


Medicaid "Coverage Gap" Mostly Hits Minorities

 

CBS News reports on the status of Medicaid next year. With 25 states and Washington, D.C. expanding Medicaid and another 25 states not, there will be a problem: Roughly 5 million people won't qualify for Medicaid. They also won't qualify for subsidies applied to the new healthcare marketplaces. Of those 5 million, most are minorities. Read more in the full report.

 

Added December 20, 2013


Dementia Will Affect 135 Million Worldwide by 2050, Report Warns

 

CBS News shares a warning: Dementia is "a global epidemic and it is only getting worse," according to Alzheimer's Disease International's executive director, Marc Wortmann. Again, this is just the predicted number of dementia sufferers and does not include seniors who will need special care for other reasons. The article is accompanied by several related videos.

 

Added December 9, 2013


Officials Expect More People Directed to Tenncare

 

Nashville's News Channel 5 reports on new, higher projections for Tenncare enrollment as a result of the new health insurance marketplaces. It was expected that there would be new enrollees as people applied who previously did not realize they were qualified. However, the estimate was that approximately 47,000 people would enroll in Tenncare. Instead, numbers appear to point toward roughly 52,000 new members by fiscal year 2015.

 

Added November 20, 2013


Miss Senior Tennessee Crowned Miss Senior America!

 

Congratulations to Carolyn Corlew of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee for representing our state well! In addition to the News Channel 5 report linked in the heading above, you can read more at the Senior America site, as well as at NashvilleGab.com.

 

Added November 14, 2013


United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Launches Redesigned Website

 

This site, designated "senior friendly," is a source of information on a national level.

 

Added November 14, 2013


100 Southeast Memphis Seniors Could Be Homeless After the Holidays

 

WREG News Channel 3 out of Memphis reports on a Southeast Memphis property—an apartment building—carrying a $220, 000 tax debt owed to Shelby County. Roughly 100 of the apartment building's residents are seniors, many on fixed incomes and not easily relocated. They understand that they have until January 6 to find new homes if the tax bill isn't paid.

 

Added November 12, 2013


High-Priority Evidence Gaps For Clinical Preventive Services

 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released its third annual report to Congress. It includes material relevant to the health and well being of older Americans.

 

Added November 12, 2013


11 New Gene Variants Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

 

CBS News reports on what it identifies as "the largest genetic analysis of Alzheimer's ever completed." The belief is that newly identified genes may be related to late-onset Alzheimer's. Another revelation of the study appears to be that the disease is associated with the body's immune system. What will be necessary now is a better understanding of the role these genes play in causing or contributing to the disease. The identification of genes associated with a disease is often also a way to warn those who may be at risk before they experience symptoms.

 

Added November 1, 2013


Social Security Benefit Increase: Additional 1.5 Percent for 2014

 

A Social Security Administration press release noting adjustments for the coming year.

 

Added November 1, 2013


Poll: Half of Older Workers Delay Retirement Plans

 

This story covers the growing trends of delayed retirement and working retirement. It isn't news that, for the average person, retirement options are more narrow than they used to be. Savings have been depleted by the recession (if there were savings at all), the cost of living has increased, and people are living longer. That said, is this all bad news?

 

Studies have shown that people who remain in the workforce longer—those who can—are more likely to remain happy, healthy, and better functioning in old age. Expectations must change for many, but while for some that may be disappointing, for others it may actually be for the best. Remember, continuing to work doesn't necessarily mean you continue to work at a job you don't like or can no longer do. Planning to work longer could mean that you begin to develop a second career in middle or late-middle age, and that second career could be as different from the first as you like, and it could be more suited to the older you.

 

Added October 24, 2013


Memory May Be Protected by Keeping Blood Sugar Levels Low

 

CBS News reports on research that further develops the possibility that memory loss may, in some ways, be connected to blood sugar levels. While the research is not yet considered conclusive, it makes yet another argument for regular exercise and healthy eating.

 

Added October 24, 2013


For Jobless Over 50, a Challenging Search for Work

 

CBS News MoneyWatch reports on the realities of age discrimination in the workplace. Employment information appears to show that long-term unemployment rates are noticeably higher for older workers.

 

Though you cannot always control whether or not you are terminated or laid off from a job, there are things to consider when the choice is up to you. If you aren't confident in your retirement income, you may want to consider delaying retirement while you can still perform your job duties. If you do want to leave the full-time labor force but know you will still need some sort of supplemental income, start looking for a part-time job before you retire. In other words, don't leave your full-time job until your part-time job is secured. It is typically easier to find work when you already have it. It is also harder to find work the longer you have been out of the workforce.

 

Added October 23, 2013


Caution Medicare Consumers: the Affordable Care Act

 

If you have Medicare, you do not need to purchase health insurance through the Marketplace. Your Medicare coverage, whether received through a Medicare Advantage plan or through original Medicare, isn't changing because of the Affordable Care Act and the Marketplaces. You will still need to review your Medicare coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period, October 15-December 7th for your 2014 coverage. TN SHIP is available to help you compare plans available in your area. Call 1-877-801-0044 for help.

 

Added October 4, 2013


Still Working for Boeing at Age 93

 

More evidence supporting the assertion that an active senior life leads to a better quality of life in later years.

AOL Jobs reports on a woman, age 93, still employed by Boeing after first being hired to help build aircraft by the company in 1942. She doesn't want to be "put out to pasture." She never retired, and she has no plans to. We can't all work to 93, but it is possible that we could all work longer, that we may have to, and that we may actually be better for it—depending on the work, of course.

 

Added September 30, 2013


How To Pick the Right Medicare Plan

 

CBS News online writes about Medicare open enrollment, helping educate people about the available options. Enrollment begins October 15 and is open through December 7, 2013.

 

Tennesseans can also call the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) at 1-877-801-0044 and discuss questions and concerns with a SHIP representative.

 

Added September 26, 2013


Antioch Man Charged in Grandson's Shooting Death

 

Why is this relevant to aging and the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability? It paints a picture of what is one of the most tragic sides of dementia.

 

A small percentage of people with a form of the disease, as the article reports, can become "agitated" and confused, suspicious and paranoid. Behavior can change. Emotional responses can change. The behavior, if new to a person, may even be misdiagnosed as a mental disorder. It cannot be ignored, as this report illustrates. Someone demonstrating these tendencies needs help immediately. If untreated, if no one responds appropriately, there is a great risk to both the dementia sufferer and those closest to them.

 

If you have questions after reading the article, this page from Next Avenue does a good job of quickly suggesting ways to identify and cope with the problem in your own life.

 

Added September 26, 2013


Marriage and Social Security: What You Need To Know

 

A quick review of the Social Security options available to married couples. This brief article also includes an equally brief video report. It's worth having a look if you are nearing retirement age and need to begin learning the details of Social Security.

 

Added September 25, 2013


Woman Trapped in Home Full of Garbage, Feces for 3 Years

 

This is the kind of story no one really wants to see or read, but it serves a purpose. This is happening in other places, to other people, right now. It's happening to people of all ages. Seniors, children, and the disabled are often at high risk of the kind of tragic neglect described in this story because they are the most likely to find themselves with fewer options to respond.

 

Authorities were led to this house by an anonymous tip. That's all it took, a call to police suggesting there might be something wrong. Because of that tip, the victim is now receiving care. That's something we all need to keep in mind. Help doesn't always have to come from you directly. If you suspect something is seriously wrong in someone's life, something as simple as a call to the right people could help save a life or prevent abuse.

 

Added September 24, 2013


Can We Predict Alzheimer's a Decade Before Symptoms?

 

Research into new methods of effectively diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease points to a non-invasive (meaning no cutting) procedure which may alert potential Alzheimer's victims a decade a more before onset of the disease. The procedure involves an eye examination.

 

Another article, this one on Boston.com, discusses not just this new approach to diagnosing Alzheimer's, but also the other health problems that can already be discovered by having an opthalmologist—one with the right experience and equipment—look into a person's eyes. *This is not a service you could probably expect to get from a conventional budget retailer, where eye exams are likely limited to helping you get good eyeglasses. For a more thorough exam to check for problems like diabetes, you should contact an independent eye doctor's office.

 

Added Sepember 10, 2013


Those with Disabilities Eligible for Free Telephone Equipment

 

The Herald-Citizen out of Cookeville wants to remind Tennesseans that there is a telephone assistance program for those who have difficulty hearing, are speech impaired, or may otherwise find using a conventional telephone to be challenging. Someone falling into one or more of those categories may be eligible for free telephone equipment from the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA). Click the link above for the full article, or go directly to the TRA's Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program page.

 

Added September 6, 2013


Alzheimer's Patients Mentor Med Students in Buddy Program

 

Another extension to theToday Show coverage of aging and Alzheimer's Disease. In this case, the story addresses the need for medical students to receive more direct exposure to patients suffering from dementia—to receive more than just a textbook education. "The program is helping improve medical student knowledge and familiarity with Alzheimer's, while heightening sensitivity and empathy towards dementia patients," explains the report.

 

The benefit to those diagnosed with a form of dementia and participating in the program as mentors is a renewed sense of self-worth, a sense that there is still a purpose in their lives. Studies have also shown that continued social engagement can delay the symptoms of Alzheimer's, meaning the participants in such a program receive yet another benefit from their participation; it may actually represent a form of treatment.

 

*Important reminder: Dementia is a loss of brain function that accompanies certain diseases. There are many forms of dementia, of which Alzheimer's Disease is only one.

 

Added September 6, 2013


Join the Conversation: Maria Shriver Answers Your Questions About Alzheimer's

 

A continuation ofToday Show discussions of Alzheimer's Disease. This video segment runs close to 30 minutes long and addresses a broad range of topics from fundraising, to research, to spreading the message about the complications that accompany dementia in any form.

 

Added September 5, 2013


Eight in Ten Adults Want to Support Parents' Elder Care

 

A brief Today Show discussion of the importance of planning ahead for parents' care in later life. This video segment spotlights some of the sacrifices caregivers must expect to make, as well as the importance of making the decision with other family members in mind.

 

Added September 5, 2013


Alzheimer's Extracts a High Price on Caregivers, Too

 

This is a very revealing report on the demands placed upon caregivers: the stress, the risks, the challenges. If you are already caring for someone or anticipate that you will be in the future, this article is for you.

 

Added September 5, 2013


NPT Announces New NPT Reports: Aging Matters Television Series!

 

Nashville Public Television (NPT) has announced the first episode of an important new series, premiering Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm. The series will focus on the challenges presented by our growing population of senior citizens, with the first episode devoted to end-of-life care and considerations. The series will debut in the NPT viewing area, including Middle Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, before national distribution later this year.

 

Added August 23, 2013


Copper in Foods Linked to Alzheimer's Disease Risk

 

From the CBS report: "Consuming foods that contain traces of the metal copper may contribute to the plaque buildup indicative of Alzheimer's disease, researchers are reporting in the Aug. 19 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

 

Added August 21, 2013


Pilot Program to Help Veterans Receive Decisions Faster and Reduce Claims Backlog

 

From the release: "The Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today [August 9, 2013] a new partnership and pilot program aimed at reducing the claims backlog and making it easier for unrepresented Veterans to receive assistance developing their claims for disability pay."

 

Read the full announcement for more details. Additional Veterans Affairs releases are available on the department's website.

 

Added August 13, 2013


Governor Haslam and TDVA Announce Online Pre-Registration Resource for Burial in State Veterans Cemeteries

 

The process of requesting burial in a state veterans cemetary has just been made a little easier. The new process does not guarantee a specific plot within a cemetary, but it does allow veterans and their families to confirm burial eligibility before death, thereby removing a potential burden for families when a veteran passes.

 

Added July 22, 2013


Study: Later Retirement May Help Prevent Dementia

 

The Associated Press out of Boston reports on broad French research, drawing from the records of more than 429,000 people, that firmly concludes there is a clear advantage to staying active in old age, and that includes working longer. The numbers support a benefit that would grant "[s]omeone who retired at 65 . . . about a 15 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60." And while the emphasis is on the benefits of staying both engaged in life and socially active, meaning there are ways other than full-time work to attain those benefits, your retirement fund and overall financial security will benefit from more time spent in the workforce, too.

 

Added July 16, 2013


How Boomers Can Keep Their Identities Safe

 

A Fox Business report raises the alarm, as many other sources have, about the dangers of identity theft. It is "America's fastest-growing crime," states the report, "and scammers are increasingly targeting older Americans." The report includes advice for protecting personal information and encourages seniors to become proactive. It is just as important for family members to take a respectful but vigilant position with regard to this threat, however. It is not safe to assume your loved ones have all the facts, even if they are savy and still fairly independent. Likewise, even if they have the facts, do not assume that the appropriate precautions have been, or will be, taken. Consider reading the article together and use it as a starting point for a conversation about taking action. The threat of identity theft, though often anonymous and present at a distance, is just as real as the threat of a break-in or a robbery, but it can be much harder to recover a stolen identity.

 

Added July 1, 2013


A Dementia That Rivals Alzheimer's Strikes Before Age 65

 

An NBC News report puts a spotlight on a form of dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), that affects an area of the brain that Alzheimer's does not. "It's a dementia that generally strikes at an earlier age than Alzheimer's disease. And its symptoms are different—at least in the beginning" the report describes.

 

Dementia is a loss of mental function: problems with thinking and reasoning, as well as memory. The problems can become severe enough to interfere with basic functions and daily life. The most common and best known form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but there could be as many as 50 other similar conditions with different symptoms, presenting different challenges. The report adds that "[t]he Alzheimer's Association estimates that in people younger than age 65, FTD may account for up to 20 percent to 50 percent of dementia cases."

 

Added July 1, 2013


Volunteers Sought For New Caregiver Pilot Program in Tennessee

 

The Upper Cumberland Development District of Tennessee, which covers 14 counties, is looking to launch a new program and is seeking retired professionals who have at least eight hours a month to contribute. The goal? Provide relief—a break—to caregivers who may be overwhelmed by the continuous responsiblity for a friend or loved one. Training will be provided, and the intention is primarily for volunteers to provide assistance with meals, as well as companionship. The deadline for registration is August 16, 2013. For more information, contact Clare Farless at 476-4143 or email her at cfarless@ucdd.org.

 

CBS News recently reported that "Nearly 40 percent of American Adults care for someone with serious health issues" and that the burden brings with it, as might be expected, both financial and psychological stresses. As the aging population grows and as Americans continue to live longer, this problem is expected to worsen. Read more at Nearly 40 Percent of U.S. Adults Act as Caregivers for Loved One.

 

Added July 1, 2013


Obamacare's Biggest Challenge May Be Coming This Fall

 

This October, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes to life, the country will see as many as 24 million people entering government-run, private health insurance exchanges. Kaiser Foundation polls reveal that a large percentage of people, roughly half of those polled or more, are still unclear about the changes and what the ACA means for them. The National Constitution Center, referencing the Kaiser poll, reports that "[a]bout 48 percent of people acknowledge they knew nothing about their state's plans for insurance exchanges and Medicaid, and 78 percent knew little about their governor's stance on the Medicaid issue."

 

Added June 7, 2013


Fraud Alert!

 

There seems to be no end to the techniques con artists will use to prey upon Tennessee's seniors. A warning has been issued by VRI, a home health monitoring service. This warning details a scam involving the offer or delivery of no-cost or free emergency and medical alert services. While supposedly free, the automated call progresses to a customer service representative who asks for payment and personal information. The warning includes a link to a brief YouTube video claiming to present the recording of an actual call.

 

*Please note, the inclusion of information provided by VRI, a for-profit home health care monitoring company, is not intended as an endorsement of the company or its products and services. The warning and video should be taken as good general cautionary advice. Seniors and their families must be educated about the threat these types of scams pose. Sharing the wrong information with the wrong person just once can ruin a person financially. Learn the tricks, do not become a victim.

 

For more information, you may also be interested in State Warns Elderly, Disabled People About Automated Phone Scam, a report from Nashville's WKRN News Channel 2.

 

Added June 6, 2013


Scammers Now Posing as Debt Collectors: Tennesseans, Know When to Hang Up!

 

Telephone scam artists are taking yet another approach to stealing the money of unsuspecting and fearful Tennesseans. This latest report decribes a scam in which a supposed debt collector, one who has gathered details about a person's family, calls a parent with the threat of jail time for a child unless a fictional debt is paid. Follow the link to the News Channel 5 report to learn more about this crime and how to avoid becoming a victim.

 

Added June 6, 2013


Trustees Say Medicare Won't Be Exhausted Until 2026

 

The government has revised its projection for Medicare's trust fund depletion to the year 2026. Social Security still stands at 2033. Nonetheless, that is still just 13 and 20 years away, respectively.

 

Added June 3, 2013


Phone Call Scam Targets the Elderly

 

Seniors are regular targets for scammers and con artists. During the past six months alone in the Shelby County city of Bartlett, Tennessee, police have taken no fewer than eight reports related to seniors who have been tricked out of thousands of dollars, as well as the kind of personally identifying information that could further victimize them if their identities are stolen. It's important for seniors, as well as their families and caregivers, to be aware of this type of abuse, to understand the risks, and to know how to identify a scam. Read the article by Memphis News Channel 3 reporter Natasha Chen and watch the accompanying video.

 

Added May 3, 2013


Links to older news items.