Saturday, June 11, 2022

Two Hundred Years of Guns.... What if you knew the outcome when you were writing the Second Amendment?

Alexander Merezhko, a good friend since he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Dickinson Law from his home country of Ukraine, is now a member of Ukraine's parliament and a senior legal advisor to President Zelenskyy.  We email regularly about events in our respective countries; of course, there is a lot for us to discuss.  Recently, Alexander mentioned that discussions were underway about legalizing individual gun ownership in his country.  Suffice it to say, Professor Merezhko is worried about what happens after the war.  It seems likely the assault by Russian forces motivates those debates in Ukraine, but what about the future?  A similar struggle, America's own then-recent war for independence, was part of the context for the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, beginning with the words, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...."  

Could America's Founding Fathers have dreamed that the contextual phrase would be dismissed as significant and the remaining words of the Second Amendment would be treated as a mandate that permits unrestricted sales of weapons to individuals who are not part of any well-regulated system?  There is a very interesting article with historical  details I've never considered in The New Yorker, titled How Did Guns Get So Powerful?From the article by Phil Klay:

We wonder how we got here. How did guns grow so powerful—both technically and culturally? Like automobiles, firearms have grown increasingly advanced while becoming more than machines; they are both devices and symbols, possessing a cultural magnetism that makes them, for many people, the cornerstone of a way of life. They’re tools that kill efficiently while also promising power, respect, and equality—liberation from tyranny, from crime, from weakness. They’re a heritage from an imagined past, and a fantasy about protecting our future. It’s taken nearly two hundred years for guns to become the problem they are today. The story of how they acquired their power explains why, now, they are so hard to stop.

Why am I writing about guns (again) in the Elder Law Prof Blog?  The need for better support for mental health for youth and elders is part of what needs to be addressed.  Sadly, guns are part of a larger story not just for 18 year-olds in New York or Texas, but also for older Americans, as "firearm suicides are one of the leading causes of death for older Americans."  See Firearm Suicides in the Elderly: A Narrative Review and Call for Action, published in 2021 in the Journal of Community Health.  

June 11, 2022 in Cognitive Impairment, Crimes, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 6, 2022

Call for Papers: Journal of Elder Policy Issue on Technology as an Underutilized Late-Life Resource

Distinguished Professor and Editor-in-Chief Eva Kahana at Case Western University has advised us of the the most recent "call for papers" for her Journal of Elder Policy.  As most of us who work in law and aging recognize, our field is inherently cross-disciplinary and that is why it is so nice to hear from the sociology field when it is seeking new articles.  The focus for the upcoming issue is Technology: An Underutilized Late-Life Resource.  

The journal, which is peer reviewed, is seeking papers that address policy challenges and implications related to technology use and older adults. They welcome both empirical and conceptual papers from diverse disciplines and have a preference for pieces that employ policy approaches. 

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Internet use/access
  • Digital exclusion/inclusiveness
  • Interventions using digital platforms
  • Intergenerational learning
  • E-Health Literacy
  • Cultural influences on technology use in later life
  • Digital monitoring of frail older adults
  • Digital data collection
  • Scams/Fraud

Now the important part: 

Abstracts due by August 15, 2022 (500 words)
Full papers due by October 31, 2022 (8,000-10,000 words)

June 6, 2022 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Grant Deadlines/Awards, Statistics | Permalink

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Cognitive Aging, Maturity and Guns

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about gun use that several of my friends correctly characterized as heartfelt.  Of course, legal research is merited, and I find that my view echoes what is written in a key section of a very recent opinion:

Beyond these significant safety concerns, contemporary scientific research increasingly sheds light on the relative immaturity and incomplete cognitive development of young adults. California cites to evidence that young adults are less mature than older adults, which leads them to take more risks and behave more reactively than their elders. Young adults are thus quicker to anger than older adults and more vulnerable to intense mood swings and to making instinctive, rather than considered, decisions. This cognitive immaturity makes young adults more likely to use firearms in situations of significant emotional arousal or perceived threat, or other situations that require rapid, complex information processing. Other Circuits have credited similar evidence to uphold regulations on firearms affecting 18 to 20-year-olds. NRA, 700 F.3d at 208; Horsley v. Trame, 808 F.3d. 1126, 1133 (7th Cir. 2015). The semiautomatic rifle regulation helps to “ensure that access to these weapons is restricted to mature individuals who have successfully completed safety training,” such as members of law enforcement and the military, “furthering the public safety objectives and ensuring that the Founding Era balancing of Second Amendment rights with safety concerns continues today.” Jones, 498 F. Supp. 3d at 1328.

Unfortunately, this is from the dissenting opinion in Jones v. Bonta, decided by the 9th Circuit with an opinion issued less than two weeks before the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.  Sigh.  

Or, as the always astute Professor Naomi Cahn observes, "The irony of the timing of such a ruling is beyond distressing." 

May 26, 2022 in Crimes, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Cases, Science, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

When It Comes to Guns, Age Matters

I suspect I'm not alone in thinking about guns this morning in the wake of the Texas shooting at a grade school in Uvalde Texas.  This post reflects matters I've been thinking about for a long time.  Indeed, thirty years ago I considered making gun violence a core academic research topic, until I realized how potent is the lobby supporting gun sales, and therefore gun ownership.

First, this morning I listened to a young man, David Hogg, speaking to an NPR interviewer about his own frustrations in opposing gun violence.  He urged legislators at state and national levels to do at least "one thing" to move forward on gun safety legislation.  My first reaction was "one thing?"  How is that going to help?  

Second, I heard a bit more about the background of the 18 year old shooter in Texas, as well as the background of the similarly-aged shooter in Buffalo New York.   More memories.  In one of my previous lives, I volunteered for a neighborhood tutoring program in New Mexico.  My first two students, in high school, had been sent to the program by judges trying to help youths in crime-related incidents.  One young man attended once -- and then disappeared.

I managed to have a good session with the other student, a junior in high school, who at my request wrote a short essay about what he saw as his future.  The 500 word piece was quite well written, and gave us something we could definitely use to gently work to improve his reading and writing skills.  The focus, however, proved to be a window into the bleak outlook of a young man who was involved in a so-called gang.  To put it simply, he saw no future for himself after high school.  He said with utter confidence that his high school "had" to graduate him regardless of whether he did any more work, as long as he merely attended class.  I didn't want to believe that, but he had plenty of evidence to support his hypothesis. He didn't have any post graduation plans.  He had equal confidence that he probably wasn't going to make it to age 21.  The following week during our tutoring session, he was creative in his resistance to my role as a tutor.  He turned in his next essay, but it was written entirely in what was some sort of "tagger's script," the stylized script he used when spray-painting his messages on public building.  Tagging was his only crime at that moment.  

I eventually decided to volunteer for younger students, and in fact I had a two-year working student-tutor relationship with a grade school boy who was in the program at his mother's insistence.  Actually, I got to know the whole family, including his parents and a sister who also sometimes attended our reading sessions (and she helped turn reading into a competitive adventure).  To mark the success of his "graduation" from the program, we went to a Phoenix Suns basketball game, because the opposing team that day had a player much admired by my student.  At his comparatively "youthful" age, he had written about his plans for the future, including somehow, against all genetic odds, planning to "grow" tall enough to be a professional basketball player, like his idol, Nate Archibald.  We talked about coaching as an alternative -- just in case.

I remember the difference in these individuals as I listen to the troubled histories of the two "boys" who bought guns as part of their 18th birthday celebrations.  I don't know what happened to most of the other the students involved in the tutoring program.  The second student dropped out of the program for reasons I never learned, but I later saw his name in the newspaper when he was accused of being the driver in a car-jacking where his "friend" shot the woman who resisted having her car taken.  Sadly, that student's essay was prophetic, as any true dreams for a future may have ended with that crime.

So, if we are going to do at least "one thing," could we -- should we -- focus on raising the threshold age for gun ownership?  Should we give young people in their late teens more  time to grow older (and "taller" or more mature) and thus to reach a point where the future seems brighter?  I'm not suggesting they cannot participate in shooting sports, hunting, and the military, where we hope their use and skill building would be supervised by knowledgeable people. I am suggesting making it unlawful for them to "own" or at least to purchase guns until they are older. Research suggests that substantially more crimes of gun violence against others are committed by individuals between the ages of 17 and 21.  There is research to support restricting gun ownership (and therefore gun sales) to individuals over 21 as one step forward in terms of safety. 

For example, in June 1999, a "collaborative report" under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice noted in part:

In 1996, 26,040 people in the United States were killed with guns.  In 1997, offenders age 18, 19, and 20 ranked first, second, and third in the number of gun homicides committed.  Of all gun homicides where an offender was identified, 24 percent were committed by this age group, which is consistent with the historical pattern of gun homicides over the past 10 years.  

Other statistics suggest that gun-related suicide death rates are highest for females age 45 to 64 and for males age 75 and older, statistics that point to another form of age-specific gun tragedies. Age matters.

That first boy who "disappeared" after the first tutoring session?  I later learned he had been killed in a neighborhood shooting.  Would younger adults support delayed lawful-ownership as one form of protection against gun violence?   Certainly, more is needed on so many other levels including mental health supports. But could "one thing" -- at least -- include blocking gun sales to people who are still in the process of learning to plan for the future, for their futures?  

 

May 25, 2022 in Cognitive Impairment, Crimes, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Science, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2022

Researcher Explains: Misuse of Data Can Lead to "Pariah-Tizing" the Elderly While Failing to Provide Key Information for All Ages

In September 2021, I listened to a great set of speakers at the Aging, Health, Equity and the Law Conference hosted by Touro College in New York.  One session in particular captured my attention.  Barbara Pfeffer Billauer, JD, MA (Occ. Health), PhD, who is currently Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Porto and Research Professor at the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC. spoke about the misuse of statistics regarding COVID-19 on an international scale.  We exchanged emails, and it was clear she was deep into the emerging data from countries around the world.

Dr. Billauer's most recent analysis has received its first publication on May 19, 2022 by the American Council on Science and Health at ACSH.org, with the appropriate yet provocative title of Pariah-Tizing the Elderly: Another Casualty of COVID.

Here she takes on recent news media coverage, including the Washington Post, as well as some scientific community publications, to raise the significant concern that exaggerating the risk of COVID-19 stigmatizes one group -- here the elderly -- while failing to fully inform all age groups about the efficacy of vaccination.  She opens with this explanation:

I call a mistaken, targeted focus and overemphasis on any population group “pariahtization.” As recent evidence demonstrates, this "pariah-tized” focus on the elderly regarding COVID-19 is certainly misplaced. It also has resulted in untoward policies that caused more deaths in both the younger segments of the population. . . .  

 

Contrary to popular opinion . . . COVID is not a disease of the elderly—like dementia, or cataracts, or osteoarthritis. Indeed, older people are less likely to die of COVID than heart disease or cancer. This is not so for the younger cohort, for whom during several months last year COVID was the leading cause of death.

 

For six months of 2021—half the year, COVID was the leading cause of death in those 45-54. In three months of the year, COVID was the leading cause of deaths forages 55-64, but only in two months was it the leading cause of death for those 65-74, the same as for those 35-44; and only in one month was COVID the leading cause of death for those over 75. . . .

 

The misplaced focus [of the media] on the aged being especially vulnerable has led younger people to unwisely eschew vaccination on the grounds that the disease is not generous to them.

Dr. Billhauer clearly has a way with words and she makes effective use of data and charts to explain important data concerns.  The implications of her findings go beyond the problem of the current crisis.  

May 20, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Caregiving's Impact on the Work Force

Last month, the Washington Post ran this article, Caring for aging parents, sick spouses is keeping millions out of work.

Even as the job market rapidly approaches the levels last seen before the coronavirus pandemic, a lack of affordable care for older and disabled adults is keeping many out of the workforce. At least 6.6 million people who weren’t working in early March said it was because they were caring for someone else, according the most recent Household Pulse Survey from the Census Bureau.Whether — and when — they return to work will play a role in the continued recovery and could reshape the post-covid labor force.

Read these next two paragraphs from the article very carefully:

For all the attention on parents — and mothers in particular — who stopped working to care for children during the pandemic, four times as many people are out of the work force, caring for spouses, siblings, aging parents and grandchildren, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Monetary Policy Report.

...

Caregiving is the second-largest factor keeping people out of work, behind early retirements, at a time when job openings continue to outnumber potential workers. That mismatch is contributing to labor shortages around the country and playing a role in overall inflation. Roughly one-quarter of the workers missing from pre-pandemic levels are on the sidelines for caregiving reasons, according to the report. Overall, the economy is still short 1.6 million workers, two-thirds of them women, from early 2020.

Did you catch those numbers?  4x as many folks are not working because of caregiving responsibilities, and caregiving is the 2nd most common reason why folks aren't working.

Read the article. It's important!

May 3, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2022

Working Longer Means Fewer Years of Healthy Retirement?

Earlier this month, Forbes  ran this article, American Elders Are Short-Changed 5 Years Of Healthy Retirement,  which explains that

America’s elders die sooner and are sicker than their counterparts in other rich nations. American elders also must work longer than their cohort abroad. These trends mean that Americans get fewer years of healthy retirement life than elders in comparable wealthy nations—five years less, in fact.

One reason for this big gap in healthy retirement is the pressure for American elders to work longer. Among major rich nations, Americans work longer than anyone except the Japanese, who retire at age 67.9 while Americans work until age 65 on average; but the Japanese live longer, so experience more healthy retirement time.

Consider this from the author: "It's sad to know that America’s de facto plan for retirement is working longer and dying sooner. This inequality of retirement time is caused by the crossing of two swords: the growing inequality of retirement wealth and the growing inequality of longevity. These inequities are deeply connected. If people who die younger could retire earlier than those with longer and healthier lives, retirement time could at least be distributed more equally."

The full article discussing life expectancy in the U.S. and abroad, as well as work histories, is available here.

April 29, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Retirement, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2022

The Sandwich Generation Is Still Going Strong

The sandwich generation, those who are raising kids and caring for their parents, continues on, as noted in the data from a recent Pew Research Fact Tank report, More than half of Americans in their 40s are ‘sandwiched’ between an aging parent and their own children.

As people are living longer and many young adults are struggling to gain financial independence, about a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) are now part of the so-called “sandwich generation,” according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2021. These are adults who have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising at least one child younger than 18 or providing financial support to an adult child. 

...

Americans in their 40s are the most likely to be sandwiched between their children and an aging parent. More than half in this age group (54%) have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child younger than 18 or have an adult child they helped financially in the past year. By comparison, 36% of those in their 50s, 27% of those in their 30s, and fewer than one-in-ten of those younger than 30 (6%) or 60 and older (7%) are in this situation.

The full report is available here.

April 25, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Statistics | Permalink

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Colorado Aid-In-Dying Cases Update

Earlier this week I blogged about a recent development with the Oregon statute.  In a recent story in the Colorado newspaper, it's reported that there has been an uptick in requests for aid-in-dying in Colorado. Number of patients who sought medication to end their lives under Colorado’s aid-in-dying law on the rise offers this information:

Last year, 222 people obtained prescriptions for the lethal doses of medication, which they must ingest themselves after getting approval from two physicians who certify that they have a terminal illness and fewer than six months to live. That brings to 777 the five-year total prescriptions since the End-of-Life Options Act was passed, according to a recently completed report on the law by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  The department tracked how many of those 777 prescriptions were dispensed — 583 — but is not required to follow up with patients’ families or doctors to find how many of those patients actually took the medication.

More data is available in the article, as well as the report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The article also discusses a study from a researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. 

March 31, 2022 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Increase in Multi-Generational Housing

Pew Research Center recently released a report on multi-generational housing. In Financial Issues Top the List of Reasons U.S. Adults Live in Multigenerational Homes   consider this key finding:

A third of U.S. adults in multigenerational households say caregiving is a major reason for their living arrangement, including 25% who cite adult caregiving and 12% who cite child care. Among the other reasons given for living in a multigenerational household, 28% say it’s the arrangement they’ve always had, while smaller shares cite a change in relationship status (15%), or companionship (12%) as a major reason why they live with family members. About one-in-eight adults (13%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a factor in why they live with multiple generations under one roof.

Breaking it down by age, the report notes that

[A]mong the oldest Americans – ages 65 and up – 20% of women live in multigenerational households, compared with 15% of men. Older Americans are less likely to live alone than they were several decades ago, a change linked to the growing share of older women who live with their spouse or children. 

By broad age group, Americans ages 25 to 39 and those ages 55 to 64 are about equally likely to live in multigenerational family households (each 22%). But within the younger group, those ages 25 to 29 (31%) are far more likely to live with multiple generations under one roof than those ages 30 to 34 (19%) or 35 to 39 (15%). 

The full report is available here.

March 29, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Aging in Place Village Model Has Its Limitations

According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News, Despite Seniors’ Strong Desire to Age in Place, the Village Model Remains a Boutique Option, "[t]wenty years ago, a group of pioneering older adults in Boston created an innovative organization for people committed to aging in place: Beacon Hill Village, an all-in-one social club, volunteer collective, activity center, peer-to-peer support group, and network for various services.  Its message of “we want to age our way in our homes and our community” was groundbreaking at the time and commanded widespread attention. Villages would mobilize neighbors to serve neighbors, anchor older adults in their communities, and become an essential part of the infrastructure for aging in place in America, experts predicted."  Fast forward to now. where even though "there are 268 such villages with more than 40,000 members in the U.S., and an additional 70 are in development ... those numbers are a drop in the bucket given the needs of the nation’s 54 million older adults. And villages remain a boutique, not a mass-market, option for aging in place."

What exactly is a "Village" you ask? The article explains the concept: "[they] share common features, although each is unique. Despite their name, physical structures are not part of villages. Instead, they’re membership organizations created by and for older adults whose purpose is to help people live independently while staying in their own homes. Typically, villages help arrange services for members: a handyman to fix a broken faucet, a drive to and from a doctor’s appointment, someone to clean up the yard or shovel the snow. Volunteers do most of the work." They also offer educational and social events and facilitate introductions to other residents of the village.   

The question posed by the article is whether this concept can have widespread acceptance and adoption with various socio-economic groups, especially given their costs. The article discusses some options pursued by existing villages, in addition to discussing the hurdles.

 

March 17, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 21, 2022

Another Impact of COVID: Apathy?

Kaiser Health News examined how COVID's continued presence is wearing folks down in As Covid Slogs On, Seniors Find Fortitude Waning and Malaise Growing.

Despite recent signals that covid’s grip on the country may be easing, many older adults are struggling with persistent malaise, heightened by the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant. Even those who adapted well initially are saying their fortitude is waning or wearing thin.

Like younger people, they’re beset by uncertainty about what the future may bring. But added to that is an especially painful feeling that opportunities that will never come again are being squandered, time is running out, and death is drawing ever nearer.

As the article notes, some older adults who are vaccinated and booster still can be at risk for serious illness from COVID. "The constant stress of wondering “Am I going to be OK?” and “What’s the future going to look like?” has been hard" for one older adult quoted for the article.  The article quotes several older adults who describe the impact this has had on them. 

And COVID isn't done with us yet.

February 21, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Free Webinar: Social Security Overpayments

Mark your calendars for this upcoming webinar from the National Center on Law & Elder Rights,  on Social Security Overpayments and Low Income Adults. set for February 23, 2022 at 2 eastern.  The webinar will cover the following: "An overpayment of Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits occurs whenever an individual receives more money for a month than the amount that should have been paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This training will review the options individuals have when they receive a notice of an overpayment from SSA. Presenters will cover the steps advocates can take to ensure the accuracy of an overpayment claimed by SSA, to reduce or eliminate the amount taken by SSA, and to enforce clients’ due process rights. Participants will also learn about recent changes SSA has made to address some of the problems with the overpayment appeal and waiver processes, and how advocates can be part of the efforts to tackle these problems. "  To register, click here.

February 16, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, Programs/CLEs, Social Security, Statistics, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 14, 2022

Maine Releases Elder Justice Roadmap

A couple of weeks ago Maine's Governor released the new Elder Justice Roadmap.

Two years of work went into developing the road map, resulting in "the 21-member Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership [identifying] challenges to the prevention of, detection of, and response to elder abuse in the State of Maine and [developing] strategic priorities across the public and private sectors to prevent and respond to elder abuse. These recommendations, contained in the Elder Justice Roadmap, range from improvements in direct victim services, public and professional education, public policy and data collection and evaluation." 

The snapshot of the roadmap leads off with noting that  "There is a health, justice, financial, and social crisis facing Maine: • Research shows that one out of ten adults aged 60 and older have experienced abuse in the past year. That means tens of thousands of older Mainers experience elder abuse every year. • Abuse is most often committed by a trusted person, including intimate partners, adult children, and other family members. • The adverse health and broad economic impacts of elder abuse are well documented."  The snapshot notes that "[t]he Roadmap contains recommendations to achieve three desired results: 1. Decrease the incidence of elder abuse; 2. Increase the number of elder abuse victims who seek and receive help in stopping abuse; and 3. Improve the multidisciplinary response to elder abuse."

The full 122 page roadmap is available here.

 

February 14, 2022 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Tech Use Among Older Adults Increased

Pew Research Center periodically releases reports about older adults using tech, with the latest one released last week. Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade explains although tech use is higher among younger folks, "on several fronts, adoption of key technologies by those in the oldest age group has grown markedly since about a decade ago, and the gap between the oldest and youngest adults has narrowed, according to new analysis of a Center survey conducted in 2021."  Here's some data collected about specific technologies:  about 65% of older adults (65+) have smart phones, about 1/3 less than younger people.  There's a bigger gap between the age groups as far as social media uses. The gap on internet access is narrowing, although those 65+ are connected at about 75% of the rate of younger folks, but this gap narrows for the near old. However, the data on frequency of internet usage shows a significant gap based on age,  with less than 10% of the 65+ group indicating they were on the internet constantly.

I was a bit surprised at the numbers, thinking with social isolation, the participation by older adults would have been higher.  There is some good info in this report, so check it out.

January 20, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Statistics, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

California Aid-in-Dying Statute Revisions

You may have already read about this, but just in case....  Kaiser Health News has reported about changes to California's aid-in-dying law.   New California Law Eases Aid-in-Dying Process explains that "in October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a revised version of the law, extending it to January 2031 and loosening some restrictions in the 2015 version that proponents say have become barriers to dying people who wish to avail themselves of the law." This change becomes effective in 2022. 

With the original law, as an example, "patients who want to die must make two oral requests for the medications at least 15 days apart. They also must request the drugs in writing, and two doctors must agree the patients are legally eligible. After receiving the medications, patients must confirm their intention to die by signing a form 48 hours before ingesting them."

Now, with the changes, "the revised law reduces the 15-day waiting period to just two days and eliminates the final attestation [and] requires health care facilities to post their aid-in-dying policies online. Doctors who decline to prescribe the drugs — whether on principle or because they don’t feel qualified — are obliged to document the patient’s request and transfer the record to any other doctor the patient designates."

The article offers poignant examples, provides statistics, and discusses the approach of insurance companies for coverage of the prescription ("[M]ore than 60% of those who take the drugs are on Medicare, which does not cover them. Effective life-ending drug combinations are available for as little as $400.")

December 16, 2021 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 13, 2021

Who Has Been Most Affected by COVID-19?

The New York Times reports that even through people in the US aged 65 and older are the "most" vaccinated of all age groups, they still comprise "three-quarters of the nation's coronavirus death toll."  Of course, the impact has not been "just" in terms of the greater risk of serious illness and death.  I think it is pretty clear there has been an age-related leveraging of fear and isolation with each news story that reports another surge in outbreaks.  

One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.

 

The heightened risk for older people has dominated life for many, partly as friends and family try to protect them. “You get kind of forgotten,’’ said Pat Hayashi, 65, of San Francisco. “In the pandemic, the isolation and the loneliness got worse. We lost our freedom and we lost our services.” 

 

....

In both sharp and subtle ways, the pandemic has amplified an existing divide between older and younger Americans.

COVID-19 is now "the third leading cause of death among Americans 65 and older, after heart disease and cancer.  It is responsible for about 13 percent of all deaths in that age group since the beginning of 2020, more than diabetes, accidents, Alzheimer's disease or dementia." 

For more, including the difficult choices some older adults have encountered, only to find that all their efforts failed to keep them safe, read the full NYT article, "As U.S. Nears 800,000 Virus Deaths, 1 in Every 100 Older Americans Has Perished." 

 

December 13, 2021 in Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A New Map of Life

The Stanford Center on Longevity has released a new report, The New Map of Life. Looking at the 100 year life,  "make a clear distinction between aging, the biological process, and longevity, the measure
of long life. The Center’s goal is not to advocate for longer life—a phenomenon that is well underway—rather, it is to identify ways to enhance the quality of those century-long lives, so that people experience a sense of belonging, purpose, and worth at all ages and stages." One focus is looking forward, "on the economic potential of a more age-diverse population in which older adults contribute in increasingly significant and measurable ways to the social good and to GDP, so that opportunities for healthy longevity are shared across races, geographical regions, and socioeconomic status." (citations omitted).

The report addresses the following: Age diversity is a net positive, investment in centenarians to gain big returns, realignment of health spans to life spans, be amazed by the future of aging, work to an older age courtesy of flexibility in working, lifelong learning, invest in longevity communities, and look at life transitions as a positive.  In preparing to take this new road on the new map of life, the authors note that "[m]eeting the challenges of longevity is not the sole responsibility of government, employers, healthcare providers, or insurance companies; it is an all-hands, all-sector undertaking, requiring the best ideas from the private sector, government, medicine, academia, and philanthropy."

Be sure to read this report!

December 2, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other, Retirement, Science, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Great Resignation Doesn't Mean More on Social Security

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post ran this article, The latest twist in the ‘Great Resignation’: Retiring but delaying Social Security

For better-off Americans, the pandemic economy created some of the strongest incentives to retire in modern history, with generous federal stimulus, incredible market gains, skyrocketing home values and health concerns drawing many Americans into early retirement.

The surprising twist? Many of these retirees also opted to put off claiming Social Security benefits, an exclusive Washington Post analysis shows. By delaying their benefits, these retirees can expect to collect higher monthly checks in the future.
The data in the article show retirements up about 5% but Social Security Retirement apps down about the same for the same time period.  Do we know what is going on?
 
America’s retiree population grew by about 3 million during the pandemic, about double what would have been expected given pre-pandemic trends, which has been previously reported. But the surprising surge in older Americans delaying Social Security upon retirement is another example of a number of unusual trends roiling the American labor market. Most notably, workers of all ages are quitting jobs in record numbers, in what has been dubbed the “Great Resignation.”
But why is this happening? Perhaps it's the "generous federal stimulus and unemployment insurance payments that enabled retirees to make ends meet in the short term; soaring stock and home prices that fattened retirement accounts; and pandemic-related restrictions at Social Security field offices nationwide that forced seniors to apply online."  We know that the pandemic is a great risk to all of us, but older workers can be even more vulnerable.  Once we are out of the pandemic, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues or reverses.

November 18, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, Social Security, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Friday's Public Hearing re Approval for Third Dose Covid-19 Boosters Can Be Viewed Online

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hearing on Friday, September 17, 2021 to address the question of approval for "booster" doses of Covid-19 vaccines is scheduled to be "open" to the public through online portals.  The hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

The FDA's website helpfully links to the submissions from the drug companies and other interested parties as well to the hearing portal.  In contrast to The Lancet article published earlier this week which takes the position that a booster vaccine dose is not "currently" indicated for most members of the public, Pfizer and Moderna each submitted materials to the FDA this week in support of administering third shots beginning six months after an individual's second shot. Pfizer is recommending a full-strength dose for its booster shot, while Moderna is recommending a dose that is 1/3 the level of its original doses.  It appears both companies are citing observational studies, clinical trials, and antibody tests in support of their recommendations, including studies in the U.S., Israel, and South Africa, and discuss histories of reactogenicity, adverse events, and risk/benefit assessments.  

Here's the useful FDA vaccine hearing webpage and links:  https://www.fda.gov/advisory-committees/advisory-committee-calendar/vaccines-and-related-biological-products-advisory-committee-september-17-2021-meeting-announcement#event-materials

September 16, 2021 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)