Monday, September 4, 2017
The Borchard Foundation Center on Law & Aging has announced the opening of the RFP period for academics to apply for academic research grants. The Borchard Foundation Center on Law & Aging Requests Proposals for 2018 Academic Research Grants explains that the foundation "awards up to 4 grants of $20,000 each year. This Request for Proposals is open to all interested and qualified legal, health sciences, social sciences, and gerontology scholars and professionals. Organizations per se, whether profit or non-profit are not eligible to apply, although they may administer the grant."
The grants support "research and scholarship about new or improved public policies, laws, and/or programs that will enhance the quality of life for the elderly, including those who are poor or otherwise isolated by lack of education, language, culture, disability, or other barriers." For more information about the grants, click here. The deadline for submission is October 16, 2017.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
USA Today ran a story, Can this eye scan detect Alzheimer's years in advance? This short article explains that according to scientists "early indicators of Alzheimer's disease exist within our eyes, meaning a non-invasive eye scan could tip us off to Alzheimer's years before symptoms occur... It turns out the disease affects the retina — the back of the eye — similarly to how it affects the brain, notes neuroscience investigators at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California. Through a high-definition eye scan, the researchers found they could see buildup of toxic proteins, which are indicative of Alzheimer's." The study on which this article is based was published in the Journal of Clinic Investigation. Retinal amyloid pathology and proof-of-concept imaging trial in Alzheimer’s disease is downloadable as a pdf by clicking here. The 19 page article offers this intriguing statement. "Such retinal amyloid imaging technology, capable of detecting discrete deposits at high resolution in the CNS, may present a sensitive yet inexpensive tool for screening populations at risk for AD, assessing disease progression, and monitoring response to therapy." (Warning-there are a lot of detailed photos of eyes in this article).
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
There was a lot of sad news this past week, especially the news about the damage that Hurricane Harvey has brought to Texas. I read a story about SNF residents in waist-high water awaiting evacuation. This brought back memories of Katrina and stranded residents then. The New York Times article, Behind the Photo of the Older Women in Waist-High Water in Texas, notes that there was some back and forth regarding the authenticity of the photo as the photo went viral. Ultimately, the residents were evacuated, as the article explains
On Sunday afternoon ... An evacuation was underway and the residents — more than a dozen — were being relocated... [A] Galveston County commissioner, confirmed on Sunday that the residents had been rescued, though he could not say for sure how many... He said the furor over the photo was not what brought emergency responders to the scene...“We knew about it before it hit social media,” he said. “We were working on a solution for the nursing home, and it was in progress, so social media can sometimes leave one with the wrong impression.”
A follow-up article in the Times, Houston’s Hospitals Treat Storm Victims and Become Victims Themselves discusses the impact on the "medically vulnerable" and what lessons were learned from Katrina. A number of improvements were made, as the article notes, but "[w]hile some vulnerable hospitals and nursing homes opted to move their patients out of the region in the hours before the storm, ... others “did not know to necessarily expect this level of chaos.” A large coalition of medical providers had drilled and planned regularly for catastrophes ... 'but honestly, not at this epic level.'" The article notes a change in the federal rule after Katrina has helped; it "requires a wide range of health providers to establish emergency plans —[which has] ... led to significantly better preparedness among nursing homes."
Federal health officials also analyzed Medicare claims to provide Texas officials with the likely addresses of homebound people who rely on power-dependent ventilators, oxygen concentrators and electric wheelchairs, among other needs. Responders also used the state’s voluntary registry to locate them and offer assistance.
So this is a good time to remind everyone about having an disaster plan. There are a number of resources on the web providing guidance on how to create a plan and to have an evacuation "go box" ready. It also is good to know what the SNF's plan is and under what circumstances do they evacuate residents or shelter in place. The stakes are too high not to ask about the plan.
I suspect that we will be posting more entries about the aftermath of Harvey for a while. Stay tuned.
Friday, August 18, 2017
I'm sure all of us have seen ads about fighting aging, or a product that is promoted as "anti-aging." I always am puzzled; it seems that we are in a battle against aging. So an article in Huffington Post caught my eye. Allure Just Banned The Term ‘Anti-Aging’ And Everyone Else Should, Too explains the company "will no longer use the term “anti-aging,” acknowledging that growing older is something that should be embraced and appreciated rather than resisted or talked about as if it’s a condition that drains away beauty." The article explains that the "anti" label reinforces a negative message about aging being something that is to be fought. The magazine's statement, "Allure Magazine Will No Longer Use the Term 'Anti-Aging'" is available here.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Here are some excerpts from the story about the study:
new measures of aging with probabilistic projections from the United Nations to scientifically illustrate that one’s actual age is not necessarily the best measure of human aging itself, but rather aging should be based on the number of years people are likely to live in a given country in the 21st Century.
The study also predicts an end to population aging in the U.S. and other countries before the end of the century. Population aging – when the median age rises in a country because of increasing life expectancy and lower fertility rates – is a concern for countries because of the perception that population aging leads to declining numbers of working age people and additional social burdens.
You'll recall the three cohorts of "old" 65-74, the "young old", 75-84, the old, and 85+ the old-old. According to this study, "[t]raditional population projections categorize “old age” as a simple cutoff at age 65. But as life expectancies have increased, so too have the years that people remain healthy, active, and productive. In the last decade, IIASA researchers have published a large body of research showing that the very boundary of “old age” should shift with changes in life expectancy, and have introduced new measures of aging that are based on population characteristics, giving a more comprehensive view of population aging."
The study focuses on the US, China, Iran and Germany. The study is available here.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Kiplinger ran a story for elders about staying cyber-safe online. Beware Fraudsters When You Go Online discusses cybersecurity safety. The tips include a strong password (I know we've heard this before, but it's so important) ,using tw0-factor authentication and even fingerprint ID to log on. Do this for every one of your online interfaces: for your email, your financial accounts and your social media. Keep your software and anti-virus updated (include your smart phone-update those apps!). Backup critical data (even a hard copy), don't share your passwords, don't use the same password for everything, keep a hard copy of your passwords, don't click on links in emails and remember your bank, Social Security and the IRS will not email you. You didn't really win a foreign country's lottery. Don't open attachments. Be mindful when on your computer. Think before you click!
Thursday, June 29, 2017
So if someone who has lived a long time offers you tips to living longer, would you follow those tips? There have been a number of interviews with centenarians asking them to what they attribute their long lives. I suspect if you research it, you will find different explanations from them, such as those in a Forbes article. (just Google, for example, "why centenarians live so long").
A recent story from Dr. John Day covers his visit to the "Longevity Village" in China where 1 of every 100 residents (out of a total of 550) is a centenarian. In this article, Tips for a Long, Healthy Life From ‘Longevity Village’, the centenarians offer several tips for living longer: smile more, rethink what is stressful, and enjoy your accomplishments at the end of the day. Oh and don't be afraid of aging.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
You are reading this blog either on your computer, your smart phone, your tablet, or some other device that I didn't mention. You are not likely reading this in hard copy. What about your daily dose of news in the morning? Do you read a physical copy of a paper? Is a morning news show (television or radio) part of your routine? If you are in the group of folks 50 and over, more and more you are likely reading your news on a mobile device, according to a report released by Pew Research Center. A fact tank report, Growth in mobile news use driven by older adults tells us the uptick is strong: "[m]ore than eight-in-ten U.S. adults now get news on a mobile device (85%), compared with 72% just a year ago and slightly more than half in 2013 (54%). And the recent surge has come from older people: Roughly two-thirds of Americans ages 65 and older now get news on a mobile device (67%), a 24-percentage-point increase over the past year and about three times the share of four years ago, when less than a quarter of those 65 and older got news on mobile (22%)." Those in the 50-64 age group also show a strong adoption of news on mobile devices with "79% now get news on mobile, nearly double the share in 2013. The growth rate was much less steep – or nonexistent – for those younger than 50."
Why this increase you wonder? Wonder no more. The report explains the growth is partially due to the fact that fewer of elders had been using mobile devices for their news, so there was opportunity for greater adoption than younger age groups who were already strong adopters. So even though more elders are using mobile devices for their news, it doesn't mean they are liking it! The report explains that those 65 and older aren't particularly keen on doing so with "[o]nly 44% prefer mobile ... [and] those 50 to 64 ... prefer to get their news on mobile (54%), up from about four-in-ten (41%) a year ago."
Monday, June 12, 2017
Parts of the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule is finally in effect, but whether the rule with stay or be repealed remains to be seen. Investments News ran a recent article, DOL fiduciary rule takes effect, but more uncertainty lies ahead. The article explains that "[t]wo provisions of the measure, which requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients in retirement accounts, become applicable [June 9th]. One expands the definition of who is a fiduciary, and the other establishes impartial conduct standards." According to the article, the entire rule is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2018, but that may be delayed since the agency is undertaking regulatory reviews as part of the mandate from the administration. As far as the 2 regs in effect, the article explains that those "will govern adviser interactions with clients in retirement accounts. Under those provisions, advisers must give advice that is in the best interests of their clients, charge reasonable compensation and avoid "misleading statements" about investment transactions and what they're being paid." There is a grace period until July 1, 2018 regarding advice being given to clients, as long as the "fiduciaries who are working diligently and in good faith to comply with the fiduciary duty rule."
The article also mentions that the SEC has asked for comments regarding fiduciary duty.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Kaiser Health News ran a story about the impact of loneliness in elders. Like Hunger Or Thirst, Loneliness In Seniors Can Be Eased explains that loneliness is "fixable".
[L]oneliness is the exception rather than the rule in later life. And when it occurs, it can be alleviated: It’s a mutable psychological state... Only 30 percent of older adults feel lonely fairly frequently, according to data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, the most definitive study of seniors’ social circumstances and their health in the U.S....The remaining 70 percent have enough fulfilling interactions with other people to meet their fundamental social and emotional needs.
There are significant physical and psychological manifestations of loneliness but the good news is that it can be resolved. The article discusses a study on loneliness, with one result worth mentioning here, "[w]hat helped older adults who had been lonely recover? Two factors: spending time with other people and eliminating discord and disturbances in family relationships." The study also examined loneliness prevention factors; the "study also looked at protective factors that kept seniors from becoming lonely. What made a difference? Lots of support from family members and fewer physical problems that interfere with an individual’s independence and ability to get out and about."
The article distinguishes between loneliness and isolation, an important point. The article discusses a couple of ways to alleviate loneliness: altering perceptions and investing in relationships. The article also mentions a project from The Netherlands, "a six-week “friendship enrichment program” [with the] goal is to help people become aware of their social needs, reflect on their expectations, analyze and improve the quality of existing relationships and develop new friendships."
Monday, May 22, 2017
The Pew Research Center released a new report on tech use and older adults. Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults explains the rise in "wired" elders: "[a]round four-in-ten (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013. Internet use and home broadband adoption among this group have also risen substantially. Today, 67% of seniors use the internet – a 55-percentage-point increase in just under two decades. And for the first time, half of older Americans now have broadband at home." That seems like good news, but what about those who aren't connected? "One-third of adults ages 65 and older say they never use the internet, and roughly half (49%) say they do not have home broadband services. Meanwhile, even with their recent gains, the proportion of seniors who say they own smartphones is 42 percentage points lower than those ages 18 to 64."
The report shows a correlation between use and age, income and education. The report discusses tech adoption by type of tech, obstacles to adoption and use, levels of engagement and perceptions of the value of tech on society. A pdf of the 23 page report is available here.
Monday, May 1, 2017
I blogged a few days ago about an upcoming hearing for the Senate Committee on Aging. That hearing, on April 27, 2017, concerned the Mental and Physical Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness. Testimonies from the hearing can be accessed here.
The April 27, 2017 hearing was the first of two parts looking into the issue. As noted in the first hearing
The risks of social isolation and loneliness compare with smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed those associated with physical inactivity and obesity. According to researchers, prolonged isolation is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Isolation and loneliness are associated with higher rates of heart disease; weakened immune system; depression and anxiety; dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease; and nursing home admissions.
The next hearing is set for May 10, 2017 and will focus on Aging With Community: Building Connections that Last a Lifetime.
Late last week I learned that CMS may be reversing course on prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home admission contracts. I couldn't decide if my response should be "say it isn't so" or "you have got to be kidding me". Nevertheless, Justice in Aging reported in their weekly newsletter, This Week in Health Care Defense that:
CMS Backtracks on Nursing Home Arbitration Prohibition
As part of last year’s revision of nursing facility regulations, CMS prohibited federally-certified nursing facilities from obtaining arbitration agreements at the time of admission. CMS concluded that it was unfair to have residents and families waive legal rights during such a difficult and chaotic time. Now, however, CMS has reversed course and has filed language that would revise the regulation to allow facilities to obtain arbitration agreements at admission. For more on the revised regulations, see the series of issue briefs developed by Justice in Aging in partnership with the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
May is the time of many things. Spring is in full swing, flowers are blooming, we celebrate mothers, the school year is ending, and more. Not only that, May is also Older Americans month and National Elder Law month. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has a website dedicated to older Americans month. The theme for 2017 is Age Out Loud. Need ideas for events? ACL offers that here. Helpful hints for using social media are offered as well.
Elder Law attorneys... are you considering an event or activity? Need ideas? Take a look at NAELA's toolkit for National Elder Law month. Although it's the end of the academic year, consider involving your students in planning and offering events.
If you have something planned, share it with the rest of us?
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The Senate Special Committee on Aging has a hearing scheduled for April 27, 2017 starting at 9:45 a.m. The topic of the hearing: Aging Without Community: The Consequences of Isolation and Loneliness. Four witnesses are scheduled to testify, including two academics and the head of a Council on Aging from Pima County, Arizona. Video of testimony and resources will be posted to the committee's hearings website subsequently. Stay tuned.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
The New York Times ran an article earlier this month about a 94 year old genius. To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old features Dr. John Goodenough. who "at 94, has just set the tech industry abuzz with his blazing creativity. He and his team at the University of Texas at Austin filed a patent application on a new kind of battery that, if it works as promised, would be so cheap, lightweight and safe that it would revolutionize electric cars and kill off petroleum-fueled vehicles." Back when Dr. Goodenough was 23 and starting college, he was told by a professor that he was too old to succeed in his chosen field of physics. The article mentions how for some creativity increases with age but there are biases and hurdles in their way.
At least in Silicon Valley, the article notes, youth seems to be the common denominator. But, for others "there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no anomaly. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers." Even someone from the Patent Office has noticed that “there’s clear evidence that people with seniority are making important contributions to invention.”
The author asks Dr. Goodenough for his thoughts.
When I asked him about his late-life success, he said: “Some of us are turtles; we crawl and struggle along, and we haven’t maybe figured it out by the time we’re 30. But the turtles have to keep on walking.” This crawl through life can be advantageous, he pointed out, particularly if you meander around through different fields, picking up clues as you go along. Dr. Goodenough started in physics and hopped sideways into chemistry and materials science, while also keeping his eye on the social and political trends that could drive a green economy. “You have to draw on a fair amount of experience in order to be able to put ideas together,” he said.
Plus being a 94 year old scientist is freeing. "Last but not least, he credited old age with bringing him a new kind of intellectual freedom. At 94, he said, 'You no longer worry about keeping your job.'"
Friday, April 14, 2017
The AARP blog, Thinking Policy last week posted about new data: Labor force participation rate for people ages 55+ edges up in March
The monthly Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the economy added 98,000 jobs in March 2017 — an unexpectedly smaller increase from the first two months of the year. The number of persons ages 55+ who are employed increased slightly from February. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and older remained unchanged, at 3.4 percent and approximately 1.2 million unemployed. The percentage of the 55+ population that is either working or actively seeking work, i.e. the labor force participation rate, increased slightly to 40.1 percent. The labor force participation rate of persons ages 55+ has remained at around 40 percent throughout the past year. In March the labor force participation rate of men ages 55+ was 46.1 percent, compared with 34.9 percent for women ages 55+.
The post specifically examines the data about women in the workforce, with the highest percentage of those 55 and older hitting the high in 2013. "Education has been a key factor influencing women’s labor force participation and is likely to continue to have an impact in the future. Over the past several years, women earned the majority of college degrees of all levels. If this trend continues, employers faced with the need for college-educated workers are likely to seek more ways to attract and retain female employees. This in turn may influence the number of women in the labor market – and the number who continue to work at older ages."
Monday, April 3, 2017
The way Americans currently think about aging creates obstacles to productive practices and policies. How can the field of aging help build a better understanding of aging, ageism, and what it will take to create a more age-integrated society?
To answer this question, a group of leading national aging organizations and funders commissioned the FrameWorks Institute to conduct a Strategic Frame Analysis®, an empirical investigation into the communications aspects of aging issues. In this toolkit, you’ll find this original research as well as a variety of materials to help you apply it. If you use communications to make the case for adapting society to the needs of an aging population, the evidence-based insights here will be useful to you.
You’ll notice that the materials here are primarily designed to build framing concepts and skills. You won’t find “turnkey” handouts that are ready to print, but rather, examples and guidelines that help you work more intentionally and strategically to advance the conversation about older people in the United States.
Sharing and telling a common story is part of what it takes for a movement to drive major and meaningful social change. We invite you to begin to use these framing recommendations in your work, learn more about them, and share them with others working to create a more equal, more inclusive society.
There's a quick start guide and a "frame brief" that provides "an approach to changing public thinking about aging in America." Among other things, the toolkit provides resources as well as suggestions for conversation. Check it out. It could be a great exercise for your law students!
Thursday, March 30, 2017
The AARP Foundation Drive to End Hunger with their ambassador, Jeff Gordon, "is committed to solving the hunger crisis among older Americans." The commercial is available on You Tube. If you haven't thought about the issue of hunger amongst older Americans, you will be shocked when you look at the data. For example, over ten million folks age 50 and older are in danger of being hungry. As well, the costs of health care resulting from food insecurity is in the billions (yes billions). The website offers the opportunity to volunteer, donate and resources.
Here's some background about the initiative
Since 2011, AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger campaign has been raising awareness about the problem of food insecurity among older adults, meeting the immediate daily food needs of hungry seniors, and working to establish permanent solutions to end senior hunger once and for all. Through a collaboration with NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports, four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne, and both public and private sector organizations, Drive to End Hunger has donated more than 37 million meals to help feed hungry seniors across the country.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Have you gotten one of these telemarketing calls? You answer, and then a female voice, sounding surprised you answered, makes a comment about her headset and asks if you can hear her. Before you realize this is a robocall, you say yes. Then you realize, it's a recording and you hang up. All's good, right? Maybe not.
The LA Times recently ran a story that explains all of this and what may happen if you say yes. Whatever you do, don’t say yes when this chatbot asks, 'Can you hear me?' calls this scam as the "Can you hear me" scam. "This is a new and highly sophisticated racket known as the “can you hear me” scam, which involves tricking people into saying yes and using that affirmation to sign people up for stuff they didn’t order."
Wait, you say. How can you be signed up for stuff if all you said was yes to the question, can you hear me? The article explains how this spins out
As the scam plays out, the recorded voice will raise the possibility of a vacation or cruise package, or maybe a product warranty. She’ll ask if you could answer a few questions. Or she’ll make it sound like her headset is still giving her trouble and say, “Can you hear me?” ... Don’t say yes.... Police departments nationwide have warned recently that offering an affirmative response can be edited to make it seem you’ve given permission for a purchase or some other transaction. There haven’t been many reports of losses, but a Washington State man reportedly got bilked for about $100.
So don't say yes. But what should you do? If you get one of these (and I have several times), hang up!!! Also, sign up for the do not call list, block the number, screen your calls and check your credit reports. (remember you can get your credit reports free annually).
How is that this robocall is even possible? Technology. As software evolves, this scam will be child's play. According to one expert quoted in the article
[A]s the technology improves and becomes more commonplace, it almost certainly will be embraced by telemarketers and scammers to try to dupe people into thinking they’re speaking with a real person, thus making a questionable sales pitch all the more believable. ... She said machines become more human-sounding the more they can be taught to pepper conversations with the occasional “um” or “uh-huh,” or to laugh at the right moment. They’ll soon convey what sounds like emotion and will adjust their vocal pitch to match the context of the discussion.
The author of the article concludes "[t]ink the “can you hear me” scam sounds devious? Just you wait." Sheesh. I think I'll just quit answering my phone.