New Vitamin D Recommendations for Older Men and Women

Nyon, Switzerland
May 10, 2010

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has released a new position statement on Vitamin D for older adults which makes important recommendations for vitamin D nutrition from an evidence-based perspective.

Vitamin D is important for bone and muscle development, function and preservation. For this reason it is a vital component in the maintenance of bone strength and in the prevention of falls and osteoporotic fractures.

Full Press Release of May 10, 2010 at:

The Cast of The Patty Duke Show Reunites to Tell Americans About New Online Medicare Application

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today joined award-winning actress Patty Duke and the cast of her hit 1960s sitcom, The Patty Duke Show, to unveil Social Securitys newest online service an application for Medicare benefits. This new online application, which takes less than 10 minutes to complete, is for people reaching the Medicare eligibility age of 65 who want to delay filing for Social Security retirement benefits. Currently about a half million Americans enroll in Medicare each year without applying for monthly benefits.

Social Securitys online services are the best in all of government and exceed the top private sector companies in customer satisfaction, Commissioner Astrue said. The new Medicare application is a welcome addition to our suite of online services and will make it easier than ever to sign up for Medicare. I am thrilled that Patty Duke has once again volunteered to help us get the word out. The fact that this time her TV family has joined her makes this even more special and I thank William Schallert, Eddie Applegate, and Paul OKeefe for their service to America. I also want to thank Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner, who appeared with Patty as a befuddled family physician in some of our spots.

Full Press Release of March 24, 2010 at:

Updated Exercise and Physical Activity Tips for Older Adults Now Available on NIHSeniorHealth Site

Older adults who are interested in becoming physically active, restarting a lapsed exercise regimen or getting more benefit from their current exercise program can check out the updated Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults topic on at NIHSeniorHealth is a health and wellness Web site designed especially for older adults from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), both part of the National Institutes of Health.

Visitors to the site will find sample exercises from the four categories of physical activity recommended for older adults: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Colorful images accompanied by easy-to-follow instructions describe how to do the exercises safely and effectively. Videos of NIH institute directors performing their preferred forms of physical activity and first-person accounts from active adults serve as inspiring reminders of the positive impact that physical activity can have as people grow older.

Full NIH News Release of March 24, 2010 at:

Social Security Adds 38 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions

The Social Security Administration has announced that it is adding 38 more conditions to its list of Compassionate Allowances. This is the first expansion since the original list of 50 conditions - 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers - was announced in October 2008. The new conditions range from adult brain disorders to rare diseases that primarily affect children.

The addition of these new conditions expands the scope of Compassionate Allowances to a broader subgroup of conditions like early-onset Alzheimers disease, Commissioner Astrue said. The expansion we are announcing today means tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years.

Full SSA News Release of Feb 11, 2010 and list of 38 NEW Compassionate Allowance Conditions at:

Seniors should apply for homeowner/renter tax credit

By Marsha A. Goetting, professor and MSU Extension family economics specialist [email protected]

MSU News Service – January 22, 2010

Are you at least 62, as of Dec. 31, 2009? Then you should check whether you qualify for Montana's elderly homeowner/renter tax credit for 2009 (Form 2EC).

If you can answer "yes" to the following questions, then you may be eligible for the credit.

  1. Did you reach age 62 by Dec. 31, 2009?
  2. Did you reside in Montana for nine months or more during 2009?
  3. Did you occupy a Montana residence as an owner or renter for 6 months or more during 2009?
  4. Was your gross household income less than $45,000 in 2009? (If you have questions about your gross household income, instructions are included on Form 2EC.)

If you qualify, Montana allows a credit for a portion of your property taxes or rent paid, based on your income. You can use the credit against your state income tax liability, if you owe taxes when you file your Montana income tax return. You can also claim the credit even if you have no income tax filing responsibility by filing Form 2EC without a Montana income tax return. Only one claim is allowed per household.

Complete Form 2EC to determine eligibility. The form is available at your local Department of Revenue office. Local libraries, post offices, and tax preparers also may carry the form. Online, you can go to to fill in a self calculating form, or print one out if you prefer. To find the forms at, click on the Elderly Homeowner/Renter Credit link in the Quick Clicks section. From there, you'll find links to a printable form, a fill-in form, and an e-file option.

If you are not required to file Montana Form 2 or Form 2M, you can file your Form 2EC through the Department of Revenue's website, at no cost. For more information on your direct filing options, visit

Many Montanans may not have been aware of the tax credit in prior years. There's good news if you think you may have been eligible, but didn't claim the credit. You have five years from the original due date of Form 2EC to claim the credit.

For help completing Form 2EC, call toll-free 1-866-859-2254 or (406) 444-2830 (hearing impaired). If you are calling from the Helena area, call 444-6900.

Hypothermia: Staying Safe in Cold Weather

NIH News Release – January 14, 2010

Frigid weather can pose special risks to older adults. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has some advice for helping older people avoid hypothermia when the body gets too cold during cold weather.

Hypothermia is defined as having a core body temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit or lower and can occur when the outside environment gets too cold or the body's heat production decreases. Older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia because their body's response to cold can be diminished by underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and some medicines, including over-the-counter cold remedies. Hypothermia can develop in older adults after relatively short exposure to cold weather or a small drop in temperature, because they may be less active and therefore generate less body heat.

If you suspect that someone is suffering from the cold and you have a thermometer available, take his or her temperature. If it's 96 degrees F or lower, call 911 for immediate help. If you see someone who has been exposed to the cold and has the following symptoms: slowed or slurred speech, sleepiness or confusion, shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs, poor control over body movements or slow reactions, and a weak pulse, he or she may be suffering from hypothermia.

For more tips go to:

Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention Program

Lower Extremity Amputation Prevention (LEAP) is a comprehensive program that can dramatically reduce lower extremity amputations in individuals with diabetes mellitus, Hansen's disease, or any condition that results in loss of protective sensation in the feet.

LEAP recommends that individuals with diabetes be screened for loss of protective sensation on an annual basis. LEAP recommends that patients who believe they have discovered a loss of sensation should see their health care provider as soon as possible.

The LEAP Program consists of five relatively simple activities:

  • Annual foot screening
  • Patient education
  • Daily self-inspection of the foot
  • Appropriate footwear selection
  • Management of simple foot problems

For more information about LEAP, go to:

New Technology Helps Elderly Stay Healthy At Home

By Elizabeth G. Olson

Kaiser Health News

Every morning at 10 a.m. sharp, Juanita Wood, 87, taps "okay" on a screen to start up a device that takes her blood pressure and transmits the information to her medical clinic. At 10:30 a.m., her husband, Arthur, 91, touch-starts his own device, neatly lined up next to hers. The machine calculates his blood pressure and weight and sends them off, along with a blood sugar count that he enters by hand.

The Woods, of Catonsville, Md., are participants in one of several pilot projects that home health-care providers, retirement communities and others are conducting to see if high-tech but simple devices can help doctors closely monitor aging patients at home. The goal is to help control problems before they escalate and cut back on the need for costly long-term care and hospital admissions - especially repeat hospital visits for chronic conditions.

Chronic Pain Found to Increase Risk of Falls in Older Adults

Newswise Chronic pain is experienced by as many as two out of three older adults. Now, a new study finds that pain may be more hazardous than previously thought, contributing to an increased risk of falls in adults over age 70. The findings appear in the November 25 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Its clear that pain is not just a normal part of aging and that pain is often undertreated in older adults, explains lead author Suzanne Leveille, PhD, RN, who conducted the research while a member of the Division of Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and is currently on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Our findings showed that older adults who reported chronic musculoskeletal pain in two or more locations mainly in the joints of the arms and legs as well as individuals who reported more severe pain or pain that interfered with daily activities were more likely to experience a fall than other individuals.

Leveille used data gathered as part of MOBILIZE Boston (Maintenance of Balance, Independent Living, Intellect and Zest in the Elderly), a cohort study headquartered at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife and led by Principal Investigator Lewis Lipsitz, MD. One of the goals of the study is to gain a better understanding of what causes falls in older adults in order to develop new ways to prevent falls from occurring.

Full article at:

Psychotropic drugs boost fall risk in the elderly

Mon Nov 23, 2009

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new analysis of studies including nearly 80,000 people aged 60 and older confirms that certain types of widely prescribed drugs, such as antidepressants and sedatives, can increase their risk of falling.

Falls often have serious consequences for older people, such as injuries leading to disability and admission to a nursing home, or even death.

Full article at:

Recovery Funds Advance Alzheimer's Disease Research

American Recovery and Reinvestment Funds are being used to promote the national research efforts to better understand, diagnose and treat Alzheimer's disease. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has targeted promising areas of research in granting the awards, such as new and ongoing studies to identify additional risk factor genes associated with Alzheimer's, improve diagnostic tools, find biomarkers, develop therapies, conduct clinical trials and explore preventive measures.

Full NIH News Release at:

Videos on How to Talk with Your Doctor Now Available on NIHSeniorHealth

From the National Institute on Aging

As you age, you probably find yourself going to the doctor more frequently. How can you make sure yore getting the most out of your visit with your doctor or health care provider? Should you make a list beforehand? What should you share? What should you ask? How can you recall the important things you and your doctor discussed? These and other questions are addressed in four new videos added to the Talking with Your Doctor topic on, the health and wellness website for older adults.

To watch the videos about talking with your doctor, visit NIHSeniorHealth at

To read about how to talk with your doctor, visit NIHSeniorHealth at

For more health and wellness information for older adults, go to is a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.

Walking Speed Predicts CV Death in Seniors

By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Published: November 11, 2009

Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Slow-walking seniors were more likely to die than their speedier counterparts, particularly from cardiovascular causes, researchers found.

The slowest walkers among those over 65 were 44% more likely to die of any cause over a five-year period than faster walkers, Alexis Elbaz, MD, PhD, of the University Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, and colleagues reported online in BMJ.

More at:

Seven new videos have been added to Medicare Basics for Caregivers on NIHSeniorHealth.

  • Who Is Eligible for Medicare?
  • Getting Medicare
  • Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B
  • Do You Have to Pay to Get Medicare Part A and Part B?
  • Choosing How to Get Your Medicare Coverage
  • Medicare Part D: Prescription Drug Coverage
  • Getting Extra Help

The videos can be found at

Americans Gaining Awareness of COPD: Survey

Yet half of those with lung disease symptoms remain undiagnosed, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans are aware of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but less than half know that the serious lung disease can be treated, according to national survey results released this week by the U.S. government as part of National COPD Awareness Month in November.

COPD affects 20 percent of U.S. adults over age 45. Half of the 24 million people in the United States with COPD remain undiagnosed even though they have symptoms, such as wheezing, chronic cough, or shortness of breath while doing activities that used to be easy.

Smoking causes 80 percent of cases of COPD (including chronic bronchitis and emphysema), while the remaining cases are caused by other environmental exposures or genetics.

More at:

NIH News

November 4, 2009

What Can Prevent Walking Disability in Older People?

Recovery Act Funds Support Large-Scale Clinical Trial to Test Specific Exercise Program

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced the award of $29.5 million in grant support over the next two years to determine whether a specific physical activity program can stave off disability in older people. The funding will begin the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders LIFE trial, the largest ever undertaken to prevent mobility disability among older people who are at risk of losing their ability to walk and to live independently in the community. The grant is being awarded to the University of Florida's Institute on Aging in Gainesville.

Full news release at:


Most Medicare beneficiaries will not see a Part B monthly premium increase as a result of a hold harmless provision in the current law. This allows for 73 percent of beneficiaries to be protected from an increase raising the 2010 Part B monthly premiums from $96.40 to $110.50. The Administration continues to urge Congressional action that would protect all beneficiaries from higher Part B premiums and eliminate the inequity of a high premium for the remaining 27 percent of beneficiaries.

By law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to announce the Part A deductibles and Part B premium amount a notice that is published annually in the Federal Register.

Under the Medicare law, the standard premium is set to cover approximately one-fourth of the average cost of Part B services incurred by beneficiaries aged 65 and over. The remaining Part B costs are financed by Federal general revenues. This monthly premium paid by beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part B covers a portion of the cost of physicians services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.

Full news release at: Factsheet

HHS, DOJ launch fraud prevention site for Medicare patients

The departments of Health and Human Services and Justice today announced a brochure and Web site ( to help seniors detect, deter and defend themselves against Medicare fraud. Among other precautions, the agencies advised Medicare beneficiaries to beware of offers of free medical equipment, services or goods in exchange for their Medicare numbers, and to regularly review their Medicare summary notices, explanation of benefits statements and medical bills for suspicious charges.

AHA News Now

October 15, 2009

Social Security Online Services

Did you know that you can apply for benefits online? Whether you want to retire, apply for disability benefits, request a replacement Social Security or Medicare card, or research Social Securitys history, the most convenient and easiest way to do it is online. Find out about all the online services available at:

Social Security has entered into an agreement with Microsoft

Social Security has entered into an agreement with Microsoft to test the use of Microsofts HealthVault service in the disability process. HealthVault is a free online service people can use to gather, store, and manage their families health information. They can share the information with doctors and healthcare providers.

The use of personal health records holds great promise for ensuring that the medical information we collect from someone applying for disability benefits is accurate and complete, said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. Combined with other advancements in health information technology, our use of HealthVault should result in faster decisions for disability applicants.

Full Press Release at:

October is Health Literacy Month.

This a time for organizations and individuals worldwide to promote the importance of understandable health information. This is the 11th year of Health Literacy Month -- an annual awareness-raising event started in 1999 by Helen Osborne along with a team of health literacy advocates.

The theme for Health Literacy Month 2009 is "Why Health Literacy Matters: Sharing Our Stories in Words, Pictures, and Sound."

Health literacy is personal with each persons experience being the heart of what matters. The intent of this year's project is to serve as a gathering place for sharing stories sort of like being together around a campfire or conference table, but not. It also is a way to create a more lasting record of personal experiences told in essays, podcasts, songs, photos, and poems.

There will be one or more health literacy stories posted on this website each day in October. We hope you will visit daily to read, listen to, watch, and otherwise enjoy and learn from these stories. Please also share them with others. Together, let's let the whole world know why health literacy matters!

To learn more about Health Literacy Month, contact Helen Osborne by e-mail at: [email protected] or by phone at: 508-653-1199.

Participate for Healthy Aging New Tip Sheet

Participating in enjoyable social and productive activities, like playing games or volunteering, is fun. But did you know that emerging research suggests they may help older people maintain their health and even live longer?

A new publication from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Participating in Activities You EnjoyMore Than Just Fun and Games: Tips from the National Institute on Aging, includes vignettes about active older adults to highlight the wide range of things seniors can dofrom gardening to helping children with homework that may contribute to their well-being. The tip sheet also cites supporting research and lists resources to help readers find activities they might like.

Physical Activity Helps the Very Old

By Nancy Walsh, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today

Published: September 14, 2009

Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

No matter how old you are, increased physical activity is associated with decreased mortality and improved function, a longitudinal Israeli study found.

Among physically active participants, eight-year mortality at age 70 was 15.2%, compared with 27.2% among those who were sedentary (P<0.001), according to Jochanan Stessman, MD, and colleagues at Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem.

At age 78, eight-year mortality was 26.1% among active participants, compared with 40.8% among the sedentary (P<0.001), and at age 85, three-year mortality was 6.8% among the active compared with 24.4% of the sedentary (P<0.001), the researchers reported in the Sept. 14 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Full article on MedPage Today at:

U.S. health spending for seniors climbs 30% over decade

The U.S. spent an estimated $333.3 billion on health care for people 65 and over in 2006, $106 billion more than in 1996, according to a new report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. That's an average increase of $2,091 per senior who used health services. About 20% of seniors had emergency room expenses in 2006, up from 13% in 1996. The portion spent on inpatient care decreased over the 10-year period to 37% from 43%, while the portion spent on outpatient care increased to 29% from 23%. The portion spent on prescription medicines rose to 22% from 13%, while the portion spent on home health care decreased to 7% from 15%. The spending estimates include payments from all sources to health care providers for services reported in the household component of the federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

AHA News Now Aug 27, 2009 -

AHRQ Report -

Many Seniors Worry Health Reform Could Hurt Instead Of Help

Kaiser Health News

August 12, 2009

What Percentage of U.S. Adults Report Having Ever Looked Online for Health Information?


Thursday, July 30, 2009

In 2009, 67% of U.S. adults reported having searched for health information online, up from 34% in 1999, according to a new Harris Interactive survey. The percentage is a slight decrease from the 71% of Americans who sought health information online in 2007. Of those who said they have looked for health information online, 33% reported looking for health information online one or two times in the last month, while 21% said they have looked for health information online three to five times in the last month and 6% reported looking for health information online six to nine times in the last month.

Eighteen percent of U.S. adults who have looked for health information online said they did so 10 or more times in the last month. The survey also found that 83% of U.S. adults who have looked for health information online said they were successful, while 9% said they were unsuccessful. In addition, 87% of respondents who said they have looked online for health information said the information they found was reliable, while 7% said the online health information they found was unreliable. Results are based on a telephone survey of 1,010 U.S. adults conducted from July 7 to July 13.

Ask Medicare' seeks to cut red tape for caregivers

  • Story Highlights
  • Ask Medicare is new Web site designed to help caregivers cut through red tape
  • At least 44 million Americans care for chronically ill, disabled, elderly family members
  • Eighty percent of long-term care is provided by family caregivers
  • The cost -- if family caregivers were paid -- would be $375 billion Full story at:

Senior Citizens Begin To Embrace Online Tools To Better Manage Their Own Health Care

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Senior citizens are beginning to embrace the use of online tools to better manage their health care.

A recent survey by Kaiser Permanente found that Medicare beneficiaries who are registered to use its personal health record tool report being satisfied using the Internet to manage their health care.

More at:

Helping Older Adults Transition From Hospital To Home

Medical News Today

July 28, 2009

Program is top priority under new health care imperatives to reduce the rate of 30-day readmissions

In light of health care reform measures, Rush University Medical Center has launched a study of its program to help older adults transition from hospital to home.

The goal of the study is to determine whether the program, first implemented two years ago, succeeds in reducing readmissions within 30 days for seniors. If it does, it could serve as a model for hospitals across the country that are seeking ways to lower their rates of readmission.

Seniors benefit from strength training

Science Centric | 22 July 2009

An updated Cochrane review finds that progressive resistance muscle training improves strength in older adults and enhances their ability to do daily tasks such as walking, climbing steps or getting out of a chair.

This form of exercise has people working against resistance that increases as the muscle gets stronger, usually using exercise machines, free weights or elastic bands. It fills a need in the older population.

Full article at:

NIH and Wikimedia Foundation Collaborate to Improve Online Health Information

The National Institutes of Health and the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, are joining forces to make health and science information more accessible and reliable. This collaboration is the first of its kind for both organizations.

"NIH works to ensure that the information it provides on science and health is of the highest quality and reaches the widest audience," said John Burklow, NIH associate director for communications and public liaison. "We look forward to this opportunity to collaborate with the Wikimedia Foundation and participate in a resource that is used by millions of people around the world."

Full NIH News Release at:

Kaiser Permanente Survey Shows Seniors Embrace Internet to Manage Their Health

New Data Show Medicare Beneficiaries are Overwhelmingly Satisfied with My Health Manager, Kaiser Permanente's Personal Health Record

OAKLAND, Calif. New data show that Medicare beneficiaries registered to use My Health Manager, Kaiser Permanentes personal health record, are overwhelmingly satisfied with using the Internet to manage their health care online. Results from the recent Kaiser Permanente survey examining Web site usage and Medicare beneficiary satisfaction were presented today at the World Health Care Congress 5th Annual Leadership Summit on Medicare in Washington, D.C.

The e-mail survey received 4,560 responses and had a response rate of 23 percent. It looked at respondents comfort in using computers, Internet use habits, and current health status, including chronic conditions and prescriptions. More than 87 percent of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with My Health Manager on

Full News Release at:

The Social Life of Health Information

America's pursuit of health takes place within the widening network of both online and offline sources.

Susannah Fox & Sydney Jones

Pew Internet & American Life Project

An Initiative of the Pew Research Center Washington, DC June 2009

Currently 74% of American adults go online, 57% of American households have broadband connections, and 61% of adults look for health information. Over half of all online inquiries (52%) are on behalf of someone other than the person typing in the search terms and two-thirds of the seekers share what they find online with someone else, most often a friend or spouse. The lowest percentage of adults looking online for health and/or medical information are those 65 and older (27% compared to 61% for all adults).

The 72-page report is at:

"An Aging World: 2008"

This report, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), NIH, was produced and released (July 20, 2009) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The full NIH News release is available at:

The average age of the world's population is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The number of people worldwide age 65 and older is estimated at 506 million as of midyear 2008; by 2040, that number will hit 1.3 billion. Thus, in just over 30 years, the proportion of older people will double from 7 percent to 14 percent of the total world population. Within 10 years, for the first time in human history there will be more people aged 65 and older than children under 5 in the world.

"The world's population of people over age 65 is growing rapidly, and with it will come a number of challenges and opportunities," said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "NIA and our partners at Census are committed to providing the best data possible so that we can better understand the course of population aging and its implications."

The report contains detailed information on life expectancy, health, disability, gender balance, marital status, living arrangements, education and literacy, labor force participation and retirement, and pensions among older people around the world.

The full 204 page report is available at:

Third Biennial Health Literacy Summit

March 31 - April 1, 2009

Wisconsin Literacy held its Third Biennial Health Literacy Summit in Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis. on March 31 - April 1, 2009. The summit included six plenary speakers and 28 health literacy workshops and information sessions. The Health Literacy Summit agenda, webcast and powerpoint slides of presentations are all available at:

Two NEW tutorials on Medicare are available thanks to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can listen to the tutorials and/or download and print off the Power Point slides used in the tutorials.

June 25, 2009


Medicare 101: The Basics

Tricia Neuman, ScD, vice president and director of the Medicare Policy Project at Kaiser, provides an overview of the Medicare program. The tutorial begins with a brief look at the program's history and its crucial role in serving millions of people who are elderly or have disabilities. Neuman also explains the program's limitations, spending, and financial challenges as well as outlook for the program's future.


Medicare Drug Benefit

In this narrated slide tutorial, Juliette Cubanski, PhD, principal policy analyst for Kaiser's Medicare Policy Project describes the design of the Medicare drug benefit program, how it is financed, and the impact of the program to date on Medicare beneficiaries.

The two aforementioned tutorials plus three additional ones are listed under the "Tutorial" section on the following Extension website:

Telemedicine house helps older people stay safe and independent


June 22, 2009

Sam Lister, Health Editor

It sounds like a fantasy straight from The Truman Show: a house that monitors your every move, from bedside to bathroom and from medicine cabinet to fridge. The aim, however, is to help the elderly to lead safe and independent lives.

Researchers are working on a health house so sophisticated that it will not only track everyday habits but also check weight and blood pressure and predict whether a person is at risk of a serious fall.

Britain is one of the largest investors in telemedicine using medical technology to help chronically ill and older people to be treated for longer at home rather than in hospitals or care homes.

The system, developed by GE Healthcare and Intel, uses sensors that track a persons behaviour and send alerts when unexpected disruptions or data are picked up. Similar networks are already being used by about 3,000 people in care-home settings but researchers now hope to introduce a much more sophisticated model for private homes.

Patient data, such as risks of hypertension, diabetes and respiratory problems, would be combined with information on daily routines to create an algorithm capable of identifying subtle health changes that might signal more serious problems.

Full article at:

Baucus announces health reform deal with drug companies

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) Saturday announced an $80 billion commitment from the pharmaceutical industry to reduce Medicare Part D prescription drug costs for seniors as part of health care reform. The agreement, to be included in the Finance Committee's health care reform bill, would give the Health and Human Services secretary authority to create a new Medicare prescription drug discount program effective July 1, 2010, which would be administered by an independent third party. According to Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the agreement would provide a 50% discount to most beneficiaries on brand-name medicines purchased in their health plan's coverage gap. Baucus said the agreement "would dramatically increase government savings."

AHA News Now, Monday, June 22, 2009

Sen Baucus Announcement, June 20,2009


CMS has developed several educational products related to Medicare-covered preventive services, including screenings for various forms of cancer. Please visit the Medicare Learning Network for more information, including the following cancer-screening pages:

        The MLN Preventive Services Educational Products Web Page ~ provides descriptions and ordering information for Medicare Learning Network (MLN) preventive services educational products and resources for health care professionals and their staff.
      Cancer Screenings Brochure ~ This tri-fold brochure provides health care professionals with an overview of Medicare's coverage of cancer screening tests, including colorectal and prostate cancer screenings.
      Quick Reference Information: Medicare Preventive Services ~ This double-sided chart provides coverage and coding information on Medicare-covered cancer screenings.

Medicare's Role for Women

A new Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet highlights Medicare's important role in providing health insurance coverage for older women and women with disabilities. Women are disproportionately low-income, with fewer resources and more chronic conditions than men, making Medicare a particularly critical source of retirement security. More than half (56%) of all Medicare beneficiaries are women; among those beneficiaries ages 85 and older, 70% are women, and many need long-term care services that are not covered by the program. The fact sheet provides new information about the health needs and income of women on Medicare, and their supplemental coverage, especially the role of Medicaid. It also discusses key issues for women on Medicare, such as gaps in coverage and rising out-of-pocket expenditures for medical care.

The two-page Fact Sheet is available at:

2009 Medicare Part D Data Spotlights

The Kaiser Family Foundation has issued a collection of analyses and other resources related to the Part D Medicare drug plan options available to seniors for calendar year 2009.

Each of these spotlights focus on a key aspect of the drug plans that will be available to Medicare beneficiaries in 2009 and examine relevant trends since the Medicare drug benefit took effect in 2006.

They were prepared by a team of researchers at Georgetown University, NORC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

More information at:

Seniors stay healthier when they live with spouse

Fri May 29, 2009 6:59pm BST

By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Elderly, community-dwelling men and women appear more likely to obtain preventive health care when they live with their spouse, as opposed to living alone or with an adult child, researchers report in the American Journal of Public Health.

Still, "colorectal cancer screening, routine dental check-up, and influenza vaccination remain well below national targets according to the Centers for Disease Control's Healthy People 2010," report Drs. Denys Lau of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, and James Kirby with the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality in Rockville, Maryland.

Their findings call attention to elders' underuse of preventive health care screenings, the researchers say.

Full article at:

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, July 2009

Medicare Information for Caregivers Now Available on NIHSeniorHealth

NIH News Release

May 13, 2009

If you're caring for an older friend or family member, you've probably had questions about Medicare, the federal health insurance program for adults 65 and older and people under age 65 with disabilities. While you may know that Medicare helps pay for medical and prescription drug costs, you may want to become more familiar with the Medicare benefits and resources available to your friend or loved one. An easy-to-read overview, "Medicare Basics for Caregivers," is now available at, the Web site for older adults from the National Institutes of Health. This brief, yet comprehensive introduction to Medicare gives caregivers the basics and helps them find answers to their questions.

Full News Release at:

Sensors Help Keep the Elderly Safe, and at Home

By John Leland

The New York Times

Published: February 12, 2009

Increasingly, many older people who live alone are not truly alone. They are being watched by a flurry of new technologies designed to enable them to live independently and avoid expensive trips to the emergency room or nursing homes.

Home Health Prospective Payment System Fact Sheet

Monday, Feb 2, 2009

The revised Home Health Prospective Payment System Fact Sheet (December 2008), which provides information about coverage of home health services and elements of the Home Health Prospective Payment System, is now available in downloadable format from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Medicare Learning Network at :

Internet use increasing among seniors

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A growing number of U.S. senior citizens, particularly those in the 70-75 age range, are taking part in online activities, a Washington think tank says.

The Pew Research Center said in a release Wednesday that 45 percent of respondents aged 70 to 75 taking part in a series of recent surveys between 2006 and 2008 said they are currently active on the Internet.

That percentage represents a marked increase in the age demographic. Only 26 percent of 2005 survey respondents aged 70-75 acknowledged taking part in online activities.

The center's Internet & American Life Project surveys also found that the most popular online activity for Internet users above the age of 64 was e-mailing.

The surveys indicated 74 percent of those senior Internet users routinely send and receive e-mail.

"Partnering with Seniors for Better Health": computer use and internet health information retrieval among older adults in a low socioeconomic community.

Adeline Chu, RN PhD, Jeffrey Huber, Professor, PhD, Beth Mastel-Smith, Professor, RN PhD, and Sandra Cesario, Professor and Doctoral Program Coordinator, RN PhD

College of Nursing; Texas Woman's University, Institute of Health Sciences-Houston Center, 6700 Fannin, Houston, TX 77030. J Med Libr Assoc. 2009 January; 97(1): 1220.



This health communication project measured the psychosocial influences of computer anxiety, computer confidence, and computer self-efficacy in older adults at six meal congregate sites. The adults completed a five-week education intervention, based on Bandura's self-efficacy model, designed to assist older adults in retrieving and evaluating health information resources on the Internet.


One hundred thirty-seven participants, ages sixty-five and older, were randomized in a controlled, two-group, prepost, repeated measures design. Participants in the intervention group received a two-hour training session, once a week for five weeks. The Computer Confidence Subscale and Computer Anxiety Subscale of the Computer Attitude Scale and the Computer Self-Efficacy Measure were administered to both groups at three time intervals: at baseline, completion of the five-week intervention, and six weeks after completion of the intervention. Data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance.

Results: Findings showed a reduction in computer anxiety and increases in computer confidence and computer self-efficacy in retrieving and evaluating online health information (P < 0.001).

Discussion: The study suggests an array of possibilities to engage older adults in the use of Internet health information resources to better contribute to their health, independence, safety, and wellness.

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Seniors should apply for homeowner/renter tax credit

January 22, 2009

Montanans who were 62 or older as of Dec. 31 should check to see whether they qualify for Montana's elderly homeowner/renter tax credit for 2008.

If you can answer "yes" to the following questions, then you may be eligible for the credit.

  • Were you age 62 or older as of Dec. 31, 2008?
  • Did you reside in Montana for nine months or more during 2008?
  • Did you occupy Montana residence(s) as an owner or renter a total of 6 months or more during 2008?
  • Was your total gross household income less than $45,000 in 2008?

The state of Montana allows people who qualify a credit for a portion of their property taxes or rent paid based on their income. The credit can be used against their state income tax liability or as a direct refund, if they are not required to file a Montana state income tax return. Only one claim is allowed per household.

To determine eligibility, complete Form 2EC that may be available at your local library, post office, from tax preparers or at the State or local Department of Revenue Office.

Form 2EC at the Department of Revenue website is a "self calculating" form but taxpayers can simply print it if they prefer Form 2EC was redesigned for the 2008 tax year. Among the most notable changes are fewer lines on the form, and better instructions to help taxpayers calculate the credit. Form 2EC must be filed on or before April 15, 2009 or with your Form 2 or 2M.

If you think you may have been eligible for the tax credit in prior years and didn't take advantage of it, you are still allowed to file for the credit for up to five years from the original due date of the Form 2EC. If you need help in completing Form 2EC, call (406) 444-2830 (hearing impaired only) or toll free: 1-866-859-2254. If you are calling from the Helena area dial: 444-6900.

Contact: Marsha Goetting (406) 994-5695 or [email protected]

Easygoing, social people may get dementia less often Those unstressed by mundane events may fare better in old age than those who fret

By Nathan Seppa

Science News

Web edition : Monday, January 19th, 2009

People who dont typically get distressed by routine events that might unnerve others seem to have a reduced likelihood of developing dementia in old age, concludes a study of elderly Swedish people published in the Jan. 20 Neurology.

Physician Laura Fratiglioni of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and her colleagues studied 506 people in their 80s who didnt have dementia upon enrolling in a long-term medical study. All participants agreed to take personality tests, filling out a questionnaire that assessed what scientists call neuroticism, a state of being easily distressed. The questions also revealed how extroverted a person is.

Interviews of the participants determined whether a person was likely to be socially active or to live a more isolated life.

Over the six-year study, 144 of the participants developed dementia. An analysis of the personality and lifestyle data suggested that people with low levels of neuroticism and high scores on extrovert traits were the least likely to develop dementia. When addressed in the context of an individuals lifestyle ranging from social butterfly to shut-in the findings suggested that having a socially integrated lifestyle may provide a buffer against the pro-dementia risk of being easily distressed. But in people leading more isolated lives, having low neuroticism scores still seemed to offer some protection against dementia.

Full article at:,_social_people_may_get_dementia_less_often

Report: Home Health Technology Improves Access to Care

Jan 7, 2009, News Report

Government Technology

Veterans with chronic conditions can manage their health and avoid hospitalization by using special technology provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in their homes, according to a recent study. "The study showed that home telehealth makes health care more effective because it improves patients' access to care and is easy to use," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "A real plus is that this approach to care can be sustained because it's so cost-effective and more veteran-centric. Patients in rural areas are increasingly finding that telehealth improves their access to health care and promotes their ongoing relationship with our health care system."

The study found a 25 percent reduction in the average number of days hospitalized and a 19 percent reduction in hospitalizations for patients using home telehealth. The data also show that for some patients the cost of telehealth services in their homes averaged $1,600 a year -- much lower than in-home clinician care costs.

The authors of the study in the current issue of the journal Telemedicine and e-Health are VA national telehealth staff members. The study looked at health outcomes from 17,025 VA home telehealth patients.

More at:

New Tech Gadgets Target Older Folks

by Laura Sydell


All Things Considered, January 12, 2009 Consumer electronics is usually all about catering to the young and hip. But this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the industry's big showcase there was a spotlight on the market for seniors.

As consumer electronics companies face a shrinking overall market, there's a big market for aging baby boomers. While there were fewer people than last year at the show and the lines were shorter, organizers for the first time set aside an area of the floor for technology that caters to older people including video games.

While there's nothing unusual about a man in a suit trying to sell a computer game at the show, Dan Mitchell says it isn't a typical game. It's for people over 60 who want to keep their minds alert and avoid dementia. That means no music from the latest Coldplay album.

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Home Sick: When the Burden Of Care Falls on the Family

The Wall Street Journal, Jan 13, 2009

Health Journal

By Melinda Beck

Last fall, I wrote about how important it is for hospital patients to have a friend or family member act as an advocate. A few readers wrote to say that a hospital stay can be a breeze compared to bringing a patient home.

Suddenly, responsibility for monitoring, medicating and meeting other needs shifts to the family. "We're asking family members to do things that even professionals find difficult -- like taking care of complex wounds," says Diane Mason, editor in chief of the American Journal of Nursing, which devoted an issue to the topic in September.

Bringing a Hospital Patient Home

  • Have you cared for a patient at home?
  • Patients are being discharged "quicker and sicker" than ever, as insurance companies and Medicare seek to limit costly hospital stays. The number of patients who needed home health care after being discharged grew 53% between 1997 and 2006, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Full article at:

A Chill Wind Increases Blood Pressure in Older Age

By Crystal Phend, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Published: January 12, 2009

Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

PARIS, Jan. 12 -- Old man winter can boost blood pressure in older patients, French researchers found.

Systolic blood pressure among patients 65 and older rose 5.0 mm Hg on average along with a roughly 25 F drop from summer to winter in southern France, reported Christophe Tzourio, M.D., of Hopital La Salptrire here, and colleagues in the Jan. 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In the population-based study, hypertension rates likewise rose from 23.8% to 33.4%, with an even more pronounced effect on those ages 80 and older.

Full article at:

Cookbook Medicine Won't Do for Elderly

The New York Times

December 30, 2008

By Jane Brody

The Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York is like no medical clinic Ive ever seen. It is brightly lighted and quiet there is no television blasting. It has wide corridors and plenty of comfortable chairs with sturdy arms, and yet few people wait more than 10 minutes to see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

The center, which opened in 2007, was designed especially for primary care of older adults, many of whom have complex chronic medical problems like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension as well as debilitating conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis.

Just as a child is not a small adult and requires specialized care, adults over the age of, say, 65, are not just old adults and should not be treated like patients half their age.

The population of aging Americans is expected to mushroom in the years ahead. Geriatricians, the experts in elder care, are already in short supply, and their numbers will continue to shrink. But knowing the kind of care that these specialists provide may help older people and those who look after them learn to seek it out wherever they go.

Full article:

Researchers Link Blood Sugar to Normal Cognitive Aging

Maintaining blood sugar levels, even in the absence of disease, may be an important strategy for preserving cognitive health, suggests a study published by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). The study appeared in the December issue of Annals of Neurology.

Senior moments, also dubbed by New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks as being "hippocampically challenged," are a normal part of aging. Such lapses in memory, according to this new research, could be blamed, at least in part, on rising blood glucose levels as we age. The findings suggest that exercising to improve blood sugar levels could be a way for some people to stave off the normal cognitive decline that comes with age.

More at:

OHSU study: nurse tracking of elderly patients saves lives

By Peter Korn

The Portland Tribune, Dec 15, 2008

A nurse-managed, computerized system that can keep good track of seniors and their health problems can cut their death rate by as much as one-third, according to a new study from Oregon Health & Science University.

The patients, studied over three years by a team led by OHSU internist David Dorr, were actually enrolled at primary care clinics in Utah. Their average age was 76, and most had at least two chronic illnesses.

Full story at:

Report: Patient-monitoring tech could save $200B in health costs by 2033

By Nancy Ferris

Government Health IT

October 24, 2008

Remotely monitoring patients with chronic diseases could cut nearly $200 billion from the country's health care costs in the next 25 years, according to a new study by economist Robert Litan.

Public policy changes would be necessary to achieve the full savings, Litan said, but even without them, the technology could reduce health care costs by $153 billion.

Litan's report, "Vital Signs Via Broadband: Remote Health Monitoring Transmits Savings, Enhances Lives," was released today at a press conference in Washington. AT&T and Better Health Care Together, a nonprofit consortium that promotes health care reform, funded his research. Litan is vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Besides reducing costs, remote monitoring could improve health outcomes and the quality of life for about 10 million people, Litan said. He analyzed potential effects on patients with four conditions: congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic skin ulcers.

Full article at:

Health Care Goes High-Tech with Intel Health Guide

In an effort to make home healthcare management easier and more effective for individual patients, Intel has launched pilot programs to test a computerized system that will link patients and their healthcare providers, via the internet, making it possible for healthcare providers to know, on a daily basis, exactly what's going on with each patient in their care. The system, the Intel Health Care Management Suite, includes a patient laptop, online interface between physician and patient, the necessary software applications, and a database that stores patient data. Joining Intel in the pilot programs are Aetna, Erickson Retirement Communities, the Providence Medical Group in Oregon, and the Scan Health Plan. The Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association will supply medical assessments, treatment guidelines based on an individual's medical data, and educational content provided in multimedia form.

The laptop has been designed for patients with little or no computer experience and limited medical knowledge. It features a touch screen with extra-large buttons and step-by-step instructions that appear as text on screen at the same time it is read aloud by the computer. Intel received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the pilot programs in July.

For full news item posted By MedHeadlines On 12 November, 2008 go to:

Updated: 06/14/2011 11:39:48