Thumbing Your Way to Health

large_article_im1466_Top_5_high-tech_health_trends_to_watch_in_2014What is better than learning how to use a smartphone for the first time?

How about learning to make your mind and body healthier with your device? How about taking a class from your peers? Then catching up with them over a cup of coffee after class?

The marriage between health and technology is becoming stronger every day. With the upcoming reign of wearable tech, the relationship between our digital devices and our bodies will grow. The AGE Computer Lab is here to help our community navigate it.  Continue reading

Cold & Flu Prevention for Older Adults

By Diane Walker  RN, MS, CSA

Getting a cold or — even worse — the flu is a miserable inconvenience for anyone. For an older adult, the outcome can be worse than a Flu picturefew missed days at work or the inability to enjoy one’s activities, it can be much more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “…90% of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people 65 years and older.” Older immune systems tend to be weaker which allows the flu to turn into more serious conditions such as bronchitis and / or pneumonia.

While an illness can hit anyone at any time, there are ways to prevent developing a cold or the flu. The best way to treat a cold or flu is to not get it in the first place. Prevention is key. Seniors and their caretakers should keep the following tips in mind to keep an older adult healthy: Continue reading

The Shingles Vaccine Returns

The Shingles Vaccine Returns


You may have seen a rugged-looking retired firefighter named Dennis Grogan in a TV commercial recently. “I have never encountered such a burning sensation,” he declares. “Like someone had set a bag of hot charcoal on my neck.” An announcer warns, “As you get older, there’s a greater chance shingles can happen to you.”

Let me explain why this ad actually represents an encouraging development.

The product never mentioned by Mr. Grogan is Zostavax, a vaccine against shingles approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people over age 60. Large clinical trials showed the vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles by roughly half. Shingles occurs when the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox and can lie dormant in nerve cells for decades, reactivates to cause a painful rash. In some, the intense pain can persist for months after the rash clears, a complication called postherpetic neuralgia.

With more than a million cases annually and a high rate of serious complications in older patients, the development of a vaccine was a major public health advance. But you’ve never seen a broadcast ad for the vaccine before, or a public service campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because year after year Merck, the drug’s manufacturer, couldn’t produce enough of it.

Read the full article at The New York Times. 

NHS report calls for joined up plan to cut falls by elderly

Learn about Caregiver U’s Strong Senior program, an initiative led by AGE to reduce the number of falls in Central Texas: Caregiver U’s website. 

NHS report calls for joined up plan to cut falls by elderly

A more joined-up strategy, driven at the local rather than national level, is needed to cut falls by the elderly, says an NHS Confederation report.

They warn that prevention needs to become a key priority as the elderly population grows.

The group says not enough is being done to stop people falling again after an initial incident.

The Department of Health said it was working hard to prevent falls and improve the treatment of them.

Injuries from falls are the leading cause of death in people over 75 in the UK.

Integrated approach

Jo Webber, representing ambulance services in the NHS Confederation, said: “Half the people in this country over 80 will suffer a fall this year.

“Falls are not only physically debilitating but, particularly for older people, they really knock their confidence and can slow recovery.

“We have to take the opportunity of the NHS reforms to get organisations across health, social care and local authorities working together.

“Effective falls services that are already up and running across the country show that for little initial investment, patients are getting better care, more falls are being prevented and money is being saved.”

The NHS Confederation, a group that represents NHS managers in England, believes that government policies for the last 20 years have not been entirely successful, with many patients experiencing disjointed care.

They recommend that local government, the NHS and social care services work more closely together and suggest using a patient’s NHS number as a way for tracking and assessment.

Read the full article at the BBC. 

The New Old Age: A Twist in the Driving Debate

A Twist in the Driving Debate


I picked up a lot of thought-provoking tidbits at the American Geriatrics Society’s annual scientific meeting in Seattle this month, and I plan to pass some of them along. Herewith, my first report, focusing on a perennial New Old Age conundrum: seniors and driving.

The common perception, Dr. Richard Marottoli, a Yale geriatrician, told me in an interview, is that most older drivers eventually put away the car keys (or have them wrested away) — and that’s the end of it. In reality, as his new study shows, “there are stops and starts and sputters.”

Dr. Marottoli and his co-authors followed more than 600 older drivers in Connecticut, checking on them by phone every six months. They were mostly men (probably because many were approached through a Veterans Affairs health center), with an average age of almost 79, who drove an average of 129 miles weekly. In fact, more than 70 percent drove daily.

A series of tests showed that while most had multiple chronic conditions, “it’s a pretty active, healthy group,” Dr. Marottoli said.

Read the full article at The New York Times. 

Thousands of falls in elderly should be prevented: report

For more resources about preventing falls, check out Caregiver U, a program of AGE! : Caregiver Us online. 

Thousands of falls in elderly should be prevented: report

Thousands of deaths among the elderly could be prevented with action to prevent falls, NHS managers have said.

Falls in elderly people is one of the leading causes of death in the over 75s due to complications caused by fractures.

Well coordinated care between the NHS and social care, emergency services and GPs could prevent 30 per cent of falls, according to a report by the NHS Confederation.

There are 89,000 cases hip fracture in Britain, one of the highest rates in Europe, most of which are sustained during a fall.

The charity Age UK has estimated 7,000 lives could be saved in the over 65s each year if widespread exercise programmes were implemented to prevent hip fractures from falls.

The report highlights that the Department of Health has estimated that a falls prevention strategy could reduce the number of falls by 15 to 30 per cent

Read the full article here. 

Revived by Music

Check out this amazing viral video and then read this awesome post by The New Old Age’s Paula Span:


Maybe you’re among the millions who’ve watched and forwarded this video of an unresponsive 94-year-old with dementia, slumped in his wheelchair at a nursing home in Brooklyn. But when a staff member puts earphones in place and clicks on an iPod loaded with favorite hymns, he awakens, moving to the music, humming along.

He tells an unseen interviewer how much he loved Cab Calloway and mimics his scat singing; he croons a credible “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” He becomes a different person, or perhaps, for a while, the person he always was.

The clip comes from an hourlong documentary called “Alive Inside,” and its global popularity has stunned both the director, the Manhattan filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett, and Dan Cohen, a Long Island social worker.

For Glen Campbell and others with Alzheimer’s, musical memory is often the last to go

Music therapy is one of the many tools we use at Elderhaven Adult Day Health Centers, for this exact reason!


For Glen Campbell and others with Alzheimer’s, musical memory is often the last to go

It was about eight years ago, when Ashley Campbell was in high school, that she first noticed the memory problems of her famous father.

She was watching “Lord of the Rings” at home with friends when Glen Campbell walked in. “What are you watching?” he asked. “Lord of the Rings, dad,” she answered. A couple of minutes later, he came back in the room and asked the same question. Then, he did it a third time.

As she entered college, she noticed her dad’s memory was getting worse. “He started getting very dependent on my mom for everyday things, asking her questions about things he should know. He’d be in the house and say, ’Where’s the bathroom? Where’s my closet?’ ”

Knowing that Mr. Campbell’s dementia has been advancing for so long, it is remarkable that he is still able to perform music night after night as part of his current “Goodbye Tour,” from old favorites such as “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” to newer pieces such as “Ghost on the Canvas” and “Nothing But the Whole Wide World.”

Mr. Campbell, 75, announced his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease last year and then began the tour that will come to Pittsburgh tonight at the Byham Theater, Downtown. Ashley Campbell has a close-up view because she and her two brothers make up Mr. Campbell’s backup band and can watch him both on- and offstage.

“It’s been wonderful to spend so much time with my dad,” she said in an interview last week. “It’s been such a blessing to me, because he was out on the road a lot when I was growing up. But since he is losing his memories, there is also something very emotional about that.”

She has been able to see firsthand how much stronger his memory for songs is than many of his other recollections, and it makes sense to her.

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Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s isn’t always accurate

Memory-loss and confusion, common signs of dementia, can be caused by different medical issues in seniors. Talking to your family physician is your first step, but also get a full assessment by a doctor that specializes in caring for older adults. -AGE blog staff

Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s isn’t always accurate

Martin Rosenfeld’s loved ones dreaded what might be next: a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

He had called too many times — confused and frustrated — from a parking lot outside his synagogue, after driving there in the middle of the night for services that wouldn’t begin for hours.

Once a meticulous pattern-maker in the clothing industry, he now nodded off mid-conversation. Spilled things. Mumbled.

“We’d be getting calls all night long. He’d say, ‘What time is it? Can I get up now?’ ” said his daughter, Shelley Rosenberg, whose husband, Don Rosenberg, chairs the Alzheimer’s Association — Greater Michigan Chapter.

Rosenfeld’s confusion, which turned out to be caused partly by sleep apnea, reflects what the head of Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology worries is a growing trend in the number of Americans being wrongfully assumed — even medically misdiagnosed — with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia and perhaps the most feared disease of old age.

“It’s a real problem. If you’re older and you get a label of Alzheimer’s — even a hint that you have Alzheimer’s — there’s no more critical thinking about it. You’re written off by a lot of people,” said Peter Lichtenberg, head of the institute and a clinical psychologist who has testified in several probate cases in which a person’s mental capacity was at issue.

Read more here.

Dementia’s youngest victims often defy stereotypes

LEESBURG, Florida (AP) — The aging of the massive post-World War II baby boom generation in the U.S. is casting light on early onset dementia, a sorrowful subset of younger people experiencing a slow, cruel overtaking of their minds.

About 200,000 Americans under 65 are among the 5.4 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Experts’ estimates suggest there’s a similar number of younger people with other types of dementia, meaning about a half-million Americans, some as young as their 30s, suffer from early-onset or younger-onset dementia.

The number of people suffering from all types of dementia is rapidly increasing because of the aging of the baby boom generation — the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 — though there’s no sign the percentage of younger people with dementia is going up.

Doreen Watson-Beard is one of the tiny minority. And she has seen the disease from two sides

The nurse cared for more people with dementia than she could count. She was so moved by her patients that she led Alzheimer’s support groups. She knew the warning signs and understood there was no cure.

But the 49-year-old never thought the disease would affect someone her age.


Read more at USA