Saturday, December 31, 2005

Health care in central Illinois: Pioneer Movement in Illinois

Dean Olsen of the State Journal-Register in Illinois passes along this story for age-beaters, "Putting the home in nursing home/'Pioneer Movement' stress building relationships with caregivers" ... It's on his blog at Health care in central Illinois: Pioneer Movement in Illinois

Friday, December 30, 2005

A day in the life

Please take a look at this story from Tom French in today's St. Petersburg Times. Tom is known for his long-form narratives, including one that got him a Pulitzer, but this is a shorter piece that looks at the life of one older couple on one typical day. It begins:
Sometimes, you can live an entire lifetime in a single morning. Just take a walk with Bill Futch.
Well done piece.

How many boomers are there?

So, the Census Bureau today reported that there will be 298 million people in America come New Year's Day. But how many will be boomers, who start turning 60 on Jan. 1. I've seen all sorts of figures, from 76 million to, today in USA Today, 79 million. The bureau says there are 78.2 million boomers, as of July 1, 2005.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Mass. passes Part D help

Massachusetts lawmakers passed a bill today that will help seniors and the disabled if their drugs are not covered under a new Medicare Part D plan. The bill, which now goes to the governor, offers a one-time, 30-day supply, which is meant as a safety net in case a drug is not on the plan or costs more. Not sure I've heard of a similar plan in any other state. Read the AP story here.

Census report on health, social revenue

Census Bureau today updated its "2004 Service Annual Survey: Health Care and Social Assistance (NAICS 62)." It provides data on "revenues by ambulatory health-care services, hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance firms." It a good resource to check when you are wondering how much revenue various providers bring in, plus there is good historical data to compare.

Medicare articles in today's NEJM

Four Perspective piece in today's New England Journal of Medicine take a look at various issues related to Medicare Part D. The full text of each is available online.

Take my RSS feed, please

This blog is a work in progress, and since it started in October, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of people checking it out. Most days lately, it averages about 50 viewers. Small, but so were the first electronic versions of Age Beat Online, which soon grew so big I had to divide the e-mail list in two because my Internet Service Provider thought I was a spammer.

One way to save time is to subscribe to the blog as an RSS feed. If you don’t know what those are, you probably have seen the letters in small boxes on more and more web sites. Essentially, it is a way for you to get notice whenever a web page is updated. You need an RSS reader – most are free; I use Bloglines, since it is Internet based and I can use it anyway.

If all of this is confusing, check out this column from Jonathan Dube of It’s a great primer on RSS feeds. (I get feeds from news sites, Romenesko, Medicare, the Census and more.) Once you read this, you can find this blog’s RSS feeds by clicking either the link that says "My Atom Feed" or the box that says Feedburner on the right side of the page. (I’d suggest Feedburner, because it will link to a page where you can pick the right feed for whatever RSS reader you use.)

Questions? Please ask me.

Privatization? What's that?

It might be true, as several age beaters suggested at the White House Conference on Aging, that the Social Security issue has fallen off the radar, but please check out the commentary from Greg Anrig Jr. on The Century Foundation web site. Called "The Best and Worst in Social Security, 2005," it's especially worth reading for the exchange about the media's use of the word "privatization" by pollster Frank Luntz. Anrig says it's the worst moment in 2005 for Social Security.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Just in time for the New Year...

...a "Welcome Back to Fitness" web site, from the International Council on Active Aging. It targets boomers who are new, or in my case (hoping to) return to exercise. Sounds like good topic. (And by the way...did anyone mention the first of the boomers turns 60 on Jan. 1. Still time to write that story.)

Age Beat Online for Dec. 28

The latest Age Beat Online, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging, is now available. Click here for full copy. In this issue: Father Time wins; it’s touch and go for Mother Nature.
1. “AGE BEATLES NEWS”: Respect Your Elders (in Tsunamis and Hurricanes); Willow Carey of WHYY’s “Wider Horizons” Wins Award
2. “LARKIN’S LINKS”: Alzheimer’s Imaging Study
3. “ON THE ABO BLOG”: Personal Misery on the Rise
4. ON THE CALENDAR: Health Care Journalists Awards Deadline

"Personal misery" up since early 1990s

Just released this week, in time for the New Year ... "Troubles in America: A Study of Negative Life Events Across Times and Sub-groups," from the respected folks at the U. of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center. According to a news release, "the number of people reporting at least one significant negative life event increased to 92 percent from 88 percent in 1991, the last time the survey was done." Tops on the list for many? Health care. There is a wealth of data by age and other status, including "retiree," but be warned, some of the charts use precise statistical terms, which can be daunting to some of us.

Tip sheet on Medicare, poisonings

Al Tompkins excellent morning tip sheet from Poynter Institute includes some links on Medicare drug plan, but it is the first item accidential acetaminophen poisoning that caught my eye. Wonder about ages of the victims -- up to 56,000 a year who end up in ER's.

Monday, December 26, 2005

New material on ABO newsletter

A late holiday present for all of you: a revised Age Beat Online newsletter for Dec. 20, with some addition material from White House Conference on Aging.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Christmas to all....

...and to all (as to us) a Good Night.

The blog (and the blogger) will be taking a break until after Christmas. Happy Holidays to all.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

1 million Part D enrollees so far

This from the Chicago Tribune this afternoon: "More than one million people voluntarily signed up for the new Medicare drug benefit in the first four weeks of a six-month enrollment period, according to Bush Administration estimates released today. The administration says the number will bring a total of 21 million or more elderly and disabled Americans drug coverage come Jan. 1. The number includes retirees that have already had drug coverage through employers or unions, people enrolled in managed-care plans and other arrangements that will be getting enhanced Medicare subsidiies." (Registration required to this or another Tribune paper)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

End-of-life essays from Hasting Center

The Hasting Center, a bioethics research institute, has published a new report on end-of-life issues, called "Improving End-Of-Life Care: Why Has It Been So Difficult?" The report includes essays from leading experts like Dr. Joanne Lynn, who is my favorite interview on this subject. (Note: Free Registration reguired to get this.)

Competing views on new drug plans

Families USA reported today that the new Medicare prescription drug plans "offer meager savings" and are, for example, substantially higher than VA plans. The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association quickly responded by challenging Families USA.

Study on detecting Alzheimer's biomarker

Part of news released this afternoon by National Institute on Aging: "The search for new measures, or "biomarkers," to detect Alzheimer's disease (AD) before signs of memory loss appear has advanced an important step in a study by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and the University of Pittsburgh. The researchers combined high-tech brain imaging with measurement of beta-amyloid protein fragments in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). They found that greater amounts of beta-amyloid containing plaques in the brain were associated with lower levels of a specific protein fragment, amyloid-beta 1-42, in CSF. Prior research indicates that amyloid-beta 1-42 is central to AD development. The fragment is a major component of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are believed to influence cell-to-cell communication and are considered a hallmark of the Alzheimer's brain. The study, published online December 21, 2005, by the "Annals of Neurology", is the first to examine the relationship between levels of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain and different forms of beta-amyloid in CSF in living humans." (Contact : Susan Farrer or Vicky Cahan, 301-496-1752 at NIA for more details.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Latest Age Beat Online is now available

Age Beat Online editor Paul Kleyman has published his latest edition. The intro is below; click here if you want to read the whole thing.
1. WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON AGING: Presidential "Cowering"
2. "AGE BEATLES NEWS": Seasoned Woman's Network by Gail Sheehy, now with Jane Glenn Haas; Diane Weddington in Remission
3. "LARKIN'S LINKS": Research on Aging

Monday, December 19, 2005

"Twins comparison suggests genetic risk for dementia"

Just e-mailed from National Institute on Aging: (Susan Farrer or Vicky Cahan, 301-496-1752) -- "On average, twins of people who have been diagnosed with dementia score lower on cognitive tests than do the twins of people without dementia, new research has found. The study, which included more than 100 Swedish twins age 65 and older, also found that, on average, identical twins of people with dementia have poorer cognitive skills than do fraternal non-identical) twins of people with dementia."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Intergeneration day care growing

I remember a couple of my first stories on aging were in the late 1980s at an intergenerational day care center in Palm Harbor, north of Clearwater, Fl. The LA Times says such day cares are growing. Good to hear.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Going dark for a few days

Hi all. I am starting another blog for my paper, so need to back off this for few days. I'll be back before the White House Conference on Aging starts next week.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What is I want to buy my drugs in Canada...

...what will that mean under Medicare Part D? Good question on one answered in this Scripps column.

CMS announces dual-eligible safeguards

According to an AP report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have a plan to assure it doesn't miss dual eligible who are being moved into the new presciption drug plan. The Medicare Rights Center, which sued over this issue, says it isn't dropping the suit just yet.

Now here's some good news for the morning

A new study finds an apparent link between drinking coffeee and better memory. YEAH! Read it here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Medicare Part D "unwise" ...

That is according to R. Glenn Hubbard, former chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers in the Wall Street Journal online, as quoted in the Health Business Blog. He was talking about the need for overall reform in entitlements. You'll need online access to WSJ to read whole thing, which came in an online exchange/debate with Robert Reich. But you can read the blog entry here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Anyone have a Bob Butler rookie card?

For the agebeater on your holiday cards that feature the top researchers in aging. The most popular? Aubrey de Grey of the University of Cambridge. I'm not sure if it is because of his accomplishments or his great beard. The fine folks at the Alliance for Aging Research are behind it. Check out the cards here.

And who should I see but Joe Volz...

While checking my Medicare page on Google News this morning, who should be staring back at me but a photo of Copley News Service columnist Joe Volz. Google News works on some automatic code I don't understand to aggregate its news. It changes constantly, so I'm not sure the link to his Aging Lifestyle column will still be there, but check it out here. If Joe is gone, that column, on Medicare, lives on here.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another reason I'm glad I don't smoke

USA Today is publishing an article tomorrow (Monday) that says up to half of smokers keep puffing away even after they are diagnosed with cancer. This is according to an article to be released Monday in the online version of the journal Cancer. As one person says, it's like putting a gun in your mouth. Bang.

What everyone is saying about Medicare

One way I track Medicare news is by creating a custom news section on Google News with the word "Medicare." It's an interesting way to get an overview of what newspapers big and small are saying about Part D. A lot of recent coverage is focusing on the confusion and frustration some seniors are expressing over the plan. Most of that is anecdotal, much of it from various informational gatherings, some from congressional representatives home for the holiday. You can check yourself here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Family photos and aging in DC

My brother and parts of our families took a tradition family portrait Thursday, after Thanksgiving dinner -- just two generations (all we have now) but with adults and children ranging in age from 6 to 54. Many changes over the years, not all visible to the camera. I thought of this after seeing this AP story about an exhibit of 31 annual photos of the Brown sisters, now in their 50s and 60s, at the National Gallery of Art in DC. Certainly worth a visit if you are nearby or in town for the upcoming White House Conference on Aging.

Latest Age Beat Online

Here is intro to latest Age Beat Online. Click here for full report.

AGE BEAT ONLINE: Newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA)
Nov. 22, 2005 –Volume 5, Number 37
IN THIS ISSUE: A toast to the birds that never flew.
1. ON THE CALENDAR: Beyond Schiavo Seminar at Poynter Institute;
Civic Ventures “Purpose Prize” teleconference, Dec. 1; White House Conference on Aging Update
2. “AGE BEATLES NEWS: Conservatorship Series in L.A. Times; AARP Pubs on Medicare Part D; NOW on PBS Expose on Retirement Health Benefits Nominated for Business Emmy; Pat Samples Get Buzz on Her New Book
4. “LARKIN’S LINKS”: More on Getting Physical

Friday, November 18, 2005

Going dark for holidays

Hi all. I'll be off the blog until after Thanksgiving. Happy Turkey Day to all.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The good and bad news about Medicare

For an interesting side-by-side, read Republican Tom DeLay's column in the Houston Chronicle about the "good news" and Medicare, and this AP story about Democrat Charles Schumer's desire to scrap the whole thing.

Resources for end-of-life reporting

My guess is everyone reads Romenesko, but you might have missed this on Poynter's web site. Kelly McBride, the institute's ethics group leader, recently posted column of tips and resources for end-of-life reporting. Find it here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Social Security debate making people save?

A survey from Transamerica released today says "the ongoing national dialogue surrounding Social Security may be making a strong impact on Americans'
attitudes and behaviors towards retirement savings, resulting in workers
saving more and employers placing higher value on retirement plans." I do know more young people who are saving in 401(k) plans, something I never considered until my 30s...which is why I expect to be working until 75. (That and being a "rapidly aproaching 50" father of a 6-year-old.)

Thinking more about 401(k) than IVF?

A trend story I've never seen before, adding another twist to the aging of the baby boomer -- a drop in in vitro fertilization even as the number of infertile couples grows, the Boston Globe reports: "But the growth rates of IVF (in vitro fertilization) are falling in part, specialists say, because of the aging of baby boomers: The youngest members of that great demographic wave are now in their 40s and starting to think more about their 401(k) than IVF."

When Boomers Lose Control of the Media

This was sent by pal on the age beat:  Jack Shafer, Slate’s media critic, has an interesting piece dissecting how we’ll know when Baby Boomers have lost control of the media.  It’s an interesting read, focusing mainly on the changing of the guard in pop-culture references slipped into stories and headlines.  Fits well into recent discussions. It contains this prescient piece of wisdom: “When the shocker appears in a New York Times headline, we'll know the boomers have been vanquished.”



Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Latest Age Beat Online is available

The latest issue of Age Beat Online, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging is available. Here is the intro:
IN THIS ISSUE: Medicare, as simple as A, B, C, #$%^%**& D

1. THE CALENDAR: Confusion--and Confondido--over Medicare Part D
2. "AGE BEATLES NEWS": Gen Y in the Newsroom; A Sad Farewell to Myrna Lewis; A Correction and Comment
4. "LARKIN'S LINKS": Getting Exercised About "Strengths-Based" Models
Click here to read the rest.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Previewing Medicare signup start

It seems, from my non-scientific review of coverage on the eve of the Medicare Part D signup, that many papers took the Q/A route -- explaining some ins and outs to readers. Others when the ways of the Sunday NY Times, talking with people who see doom on the horizon. Guess we'll see.

One way to track what colleagues are doing is to search Medicare in Google News. You can customize the page so the top Medicare stories come up when you go to the site. One advantage to Google News than, say, over is Google lets you sort by relevance -- bringing up grouping of stories on similar topic within Medicare, or by date, which brings up-to-the-minute list of things. (For those with lexis-nexis access, you can do something similar there as well.)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Guardianships for profit series in LA

LA Times begins a four-part series Sunday (Nov. 13) on the use and abuse of guardianships/conservatorship for the elderly. It's posted today on on LA's web site. with some amazing photos. Here's the nut: "Conservatorship began as a way to help families protect enfeebled relatives from predators and self-neglect. As a final recourse, courts take basic freedoms from grown men and women and give conservators sweeping power over their property, their money and the smallest details of their lives. But lawmakers and judges did not foresee that professionals would turn what had been a family matter into a business." Great topic.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

ABO/The Blog on a break

In a boomer rite of passage, I am off visiting a college with my
18-year-old daughter. I'll be back blogging by Monday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Congrats, you're a grandma, now move...

The Christian Science Monitor's Marilyn Gardner has excellent piece today on "trend" of grandparents moving to be closer to their grandchildren. Stats are hard to come by, but intuitively/anecdotally, you can see it. Marilyn even ties it into the retirement communities we are seeing more and more in the "frost belt." It's a good twist on the grandparents helping grandkids story.

Latest Age Beat Online available

Here's what's in the latest edition of Age Beat Online, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging:
IN THIS ISSUE: No deductibles or copayments.
1. "AGE BEATLES NEWS": Philly Inquirer Series on Aging in the Burbs; Jaffe's Plain D Plan D Guide; Kaiser Media Program's Duckham Honored by SPJ's Northern California Chapter; Two New Books
2. "THE CALENDAR": Free Seminars on Medicare Part D at Six California Newspapers
3. "ON THE ABO BLOG": Actuarial Clues to Living to 100, and more
Click here to read full newsletter.

What's word in blogosphere about Medicare?

There are several ways to search blogs for content. So if you are wondering what people are saying about Medicare, take a look at Google Blog search. Want another? This one comes from Technorati. Add more words to narrow the search. (This blog pops up in some search engines but not all, which has something to do with ping, which, I understand, means stop in Mandarin but go for blogsearches. UPDATE: Jonathan Dube has good article on searching blogs on

Is it really from the government?

Those with long memories on the agebeat will remember some of the controversy in the late 1980s and 1990s over advocacy groups for seniors that sometimes sounded more official than they were. Today's Washington Post talks about a potential Supreme Court case over some laws that grew out of that time that banned the use of certain words like "Social Security" on envelops. Certainly good issue to take up before ruling.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Medicare and the mid-term elections

Interesting article today by Michael Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute on the politics of Medicare and the coming backlash against GOP supporters. As he wrote in Detroit Free Press and online here: "Already, GOP candidates are putting distance between themselves and President George W. Bush. Worse, the drug program could foment an anti-Republican backlash. Many seniors will enter the voting booth angry over having lost their prior drug coverage. The Heritage Foundation estimates that by next November, 4 million seniors will be stuck in the program's infamous "doughnut hole" without any coverage." Anyone remember catastrophic health care?

Just saw my first Medicare commerical

Not sure if these are running in other markets but I just saw my first Medicare TV commercial, with a bunch of way-too-enthusiastic "seniors" greeting the mail carrier when he brings their "Medicare & You 2006." If everyone is that happy to get the book, I guess things we'll be OK. (The spot ran on the 5 p.m. news, which is probably good spot, since viewership of TV news is higher among older age groups. But wedged between sweeps-heavy news reports heavy on sex and crime, it was a little startling to see all those happy people.)

More more more on Medicare

Kaiser Family Foundation has couple of Medicare-related things this week. One is webcast at 12:15 p.m. TODAY on "Making Sense of Medicare's Drug Benefit: Information and Resources to Help Beneficiaries" ... On Thursday Kaiser will be releasing a new survey on what seniors thing of the Medicare drug benefit.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Living to 100 ... In Florida?

Just found this online. Sounds interesting, and Florida is a great place in January! "Source: Society of Actuaries Living to 100 and Beyond Monograph
From Forward (PDF) "This collection of papers is intended to add to the body of knowledge on subjects related to current survival rates, future improvement in survival and the impact of increasing numbers of survivors to retirement and beyond. It is hoped that the work described in these papers will encourage wider dissemination of current knowledge and further study leading to the production of more reliable data and advances in ideas and theories." From the Living to 100 and Beyond Symposium; January 12-14, 2005; The Hilton Hotel; Walt Disney World Resort; Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Is good sleep a new vital sign?"

It's a good question, and just one raised in a new survey on heathly aging and sleep released today by the International Longevity Center, where you find the venerable and media friendly Dr. Robert N. Butler. Make sure you look at sleep concerns among caregivers, which might make the story even more appealing to readers. Find it at

Ok, so I have an ego

Google, which sooner or later will own everything in the media, started its controversial Google Print service today, allowing you to search the full text of many books. So what did I do ... search for my name. There were more references to Wesley Snipes character of the same name in the movie Passenger 57 than to me, but I did show up in a journalism book pontificating on the age beat. The Journalists Exchange on Aging makes a respectable showing here and there, as does our own Paul Kleyman. Set aside your copyright concerns for a few minues and try it at ... (From a practical standpoint, it could be a way to check on what some source wrote or said in print.)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Yes, but is it funny?

"Senior citizens. People say they don't know how to drive. You think it's so easy to maneuver a car on the sidewalk?" ... that comes from a former professor and comedian mentioned in Time magazine article, posted today, on senior stand-up comedians. But speaking of "aging" funny guys, 68-year-old George Carlin's latest HBO special, Life is Worth Living, premieres Saturday at 10 p.m.

Reminder on Medicare webcast

"The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) and the Kaiser Family Foundation will host an interactive roundtable for reporters on Medicare and its new prescription drug benefit. The roundtable discussion will be webcast live on Tuesday, November 1, 2005, at 1:00 p.m. E.T., and viewers can ask questions by phone and email."

Budget cuts, with AARP reaction's daily health policy briefing has good background and links about the ongoing budget debate, which includes proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Meanwhile AARP weighed in today, saying the Medicaid cuts threaten older Americans who need nursing home care.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Higher retirement ages in Europe?

Not sure anyone could convince editors this requires a trip to Europe, but couple things in news this week note proposals to increase retirement age -- in Germany from 65 to 67 and in Belgium from 58 to 60 for earliest retirement.

Joe Volz, unretiree extraordinaire

One of my favorite age beat pieces was following around Joe Volz on his "last" day at work. It was meant to show the conflicting emotioning of someone facing retirement. Joe, a veteran -- is pioneering too much? -- age beater himself, sent this to me recently. Please post any thoughts you have on "unretiring." Seems a great subject to revisit -- John Cutter

By Joe Volz


I retired in 1987. And again in 1997. And in 2000.

Now, I am working full-time and have no immediate plans to quit.

Perhaps, I represent a new wave of seniors—call us "unretirees," if you wish.

I don’t need the money. But I enjoy what I do although I now do it my way.

I have been a newspaper reporter for 45 years and now I am a full-time columnist but without the perks that my younger colleagues in the columnizing business have. I don’t get health insurance or a pension from my current employer, Copley News Service, where, an independent contractor, I write a weekly syndicated column called "Aging Lifestyles."

(I am sure that word, aging" along with "senior citizens" and "elderly" will be on the banned list of words that Paul Kleyman and the gang at the American Society on---dare we say it--Aging are drawing up.)

Anyhow, I don’t need those benefits. I get them from one of previous employers, AARP. ( I worked there when it was called the American Association of Retired Persons).

Yes, our vocabulary is changing as well as our role in the work force.

The first time I retired I was a Washington correspondent for the financially-ailing New York Daily News. The paper, then owned by the Chicago Tribune, was trying to downsize before selling it. They offered us senior employees a buyout. They would pay me two years’ pay not to work there. I had been covering the Mafia. I knew an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I figured I would do a little freelancing but, before long, I was recruited by a new news service, Maturity News Service, then syndicated by the New York Times. I traveled the country interviewing, among others, retirees for 10 years. But the news service folded.

Yet, I took another full-time job so I could buy a fancy condo in Washington. I went to work for the American Psychological Association as a magazine writer but soon decided I really wanted to be retired . I didn’t want to commute to the office every day on a regular schedule.

But now I work at home—when I want to.

I vowed, after my third retirement, that I would never wear a necktie again nor would I wear socks most of the time. I have kept that promise.

As an independent contractor, I have to pay more Social Security but the tax people let me write off all sorts of expenses. And just to keep busy, I have taken another job, once again as an independent contractor. I write a three-times-a –week column on anything I like for the local daily in Frederick, Md.

So, maybe we need a new word for retirees, too. I suspect there are a lot of people like me who keep working under new self-imposed ground rules.

You can call me anything you like. Just don’t call me a white elephant.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Census on Computer and Internet Use

This is out today. If you click on the web link, you can download files that show age breakdowns and a lot more. For example, only about 35 percent of people over age 65 have a computer in house, but boomers, as you might expect, are higher -- in 60s to 70s, depending on age. Here's intro to release: "Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2003 -- A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 40 percent of adults used the Internet to obtain news, weather or sports information in 2003, a sharp increase from only 7 percent six years earlier. In a measure of how interpersonal communications are changing, more than half of adults (55 percent) used e-mail or instant messaging in 2003, a dramatic increase from the 12 percent who did so in 1997. The report also shows the Internet has become an integral part of the economy. In 2003, nearly half (47 percent) of adults used the Internet to find information on products or services. About one-third (32 percent) actually purchased a product or service online, compared with only 2 percent of adults who shopped online in 1997."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Home care quality measures

Someone a little more savvy than I probably could find some nuggets in this, just over on PR Newswire. (Note: The NQF has members from a wide variety of health care groups, businesses and consumers.) "WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Quality Forum (NQF) today announced publication of a new set of national consensus standards for home care. National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Home Health Care provides a set of standardized performance measures, to facilitate comparison of the quality of home health care providers. The Executive Summary of the report, with a list of endorsed performance measures and their specifications, can be found on the NQF web site,

Hey, You, Get Off of My ... Mercedes?

Quite an ad on Page A7 of the New York Times today -- The Rolling Stones leaning on a Mercedes-Benz. It's the official car of the Stones tour. Well, Start Me Up!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Latest edition of Age Beat Online (10-25)

Here is intro to latest edition of Age Beat Online from the Journalists Exchange on Aging. Click here to read whole newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE: A tip of the hat to Rosa Parks-everyone to the front of the bus!

3. "AGE BEATLES NEWS": Time's Barlett and Steele Expose "The Broken Promise" of American Pensions; USA Today Series on Aging This Week; New Cleveland Plain Dealer Column on Medicare Part D
4. ON THE ABO BLOG THIS WEEK (Plus a Half-Million Wasted Years)
5. THE CALENDAR: Medicare Part D Webcast, Nov. 1
6. "LARKIN'S LINKS": Elders Get Their Wishes, Too, Amy Grant!

Webcast of Medicare roundtable

This just moved: "The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) and the Kaiser Family Foundation will host an interactive roundtable for reporters on Medicare and its new prescription drug benefit. The roundtable discussion will be webcast live on Tuesday, November 1, 2005, at 1:00 p.m. E.T., and viewers can ask questions by phone and email."

USA Today on aging

The USA Today weeklong series on aging that I mentioned in earlier post started Monday. You can find it online here. Lots of familiar stuff, well-packaged, and includes interview with the ever-present Andrew Weil. The graphic is cool. Try to ignore the flashing toenail fungus ad that runs next to the main online page, giving a vision of aging that I'd rather not have right after lunch.

Monday, October 24, 2005

New study on heart attack death rates

This came this afternoon from NIH. "Ninety days after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) — or heart attack — death rates for African Americans and white patients were found to be significantly higher in hospitals that disproportionately serve African-American patients than in hospitals that serve mainly white patients, according to a major new study led by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School. The researchers suggest that quality of care, more than racial differences per se, determines AMI outcomes." Unlike some studies, this had a huge sample -- more than 1 million people in Medicare over several years. Could be great way into racial/ethnic differences in health care quality. For those, like me, who believe you need to read the actual study, you can find it here, in Circulation.

New Medicare rule on some mobility equipment

Here's a potential story: Apparently Medicare is changing the rules on how people can get "power mobility equipment" like power wheelchairs and scooters. An interim rule takes effect this week. Some in Congress aren't happy, according to this news release. I couldn't find many stories on this, but this is from Indy Star. I also found some info on the CMS web site.

Age Beat Online takes language survey

Paul Kleyman of the Journalists Exchange on Aging emailed a survey to many folks this week: “Seniors,” “senior citizens,” “elders,” “aging boomers,” “50 and older,” “midlifers,” “older people,” “old folks,” the “chronologically gifted”—what terms for those we write about in coving issues in aging do reporters prefer? What do your readers and audio/video audiences favor—or dislike? The Journalists Exchange on Aging hopes to enlist your help in developing the first national Journalists Language Guide on Aging. Unlike most such usage guides, though, ABO guide not only will reflect the thoughts of experts but also will incorporate the feedback of those who discuss and describe older people and issues in aging on a regular basis—you, the writers who cover aging.

HOW ABOUT THEM BOOMERS? The last JEoA survey on media uses of language was in 1997. What has changed since then is that the boomers are eight years older, and more within the age-beat sphere than ever. For the first time, in the year 2005, a majority of boomers edged past 50. And in January 2006, the first boomers will turn 60. So what will become the terms of art for the ageless generation—and for their longevous parents? This concern especially animated the JEoA meeting during the 2005 ASA-NCOA Joint Conference in Philadelphia, and we decided to see what ABO readers have to say. And with the increasing interest in the age boom, we decided to use your responses as the basis of a guide for all reporters. This will not be written in granite but will be a working document open to discussion and updating over time.

Please take a few minutes by our OCT. 31 DEADLINE (Halloween) to answer the short list of questions below. Just paste the survey below in an email and send to Paul Kleyman.

Thank you for participating,

Paul Kleyman, Editor, Age Beat Online
Steve Slon, Editor, AARP the Magazine


1. In the past year, have you participated in a discussion about terms preferred or not preferred for middle-aged or older people? Yes / No: ______

Indicate which entity or entities you discussed this with: colleagues at your news organizations, colleagues elsewhere in journalism, friends, family members, members of your audience.

2. What one or two terms for midlife or older people do your readers or audience members seem to prefer to others?

3. What one or two terms do you use for midlife or older people do your readers or audience members seem to dislike the most?

4. In the past two years has any reader/audience member formally or informally objected to a term or terms your news organization has applied to middle-aged or older people?

If so, briefly note the word or phrase in question and note the nature of the objection.

5a. FOR STAFF JOURNALISTS ONLY: Does your news organization include references to preferred usage of terms related to the age of those in articles in its official style sheet? Please recall these rules and quote them if you can.

5b. FOR FREELANCERS: Have you had to heed style variations among your clients? Yes / No: _______

Briefly cite key differences among them in preferred or abjured terminology, and note whether the media outlet was national or local/regional (names of outlets are optional).

6. Have you noted any words or phrases that indirectly convey positive or negative connotations or stereotypes related to aging, such as “feisty?” What are these words and usages?

Have you or your news organization noted (or plan to note in the coming year) these connotative or stereotyping words in its style guide or acted in any way to avoid such usages in your copy or that of the news outlet? Yes / No: ___


7. Briefly, please add any observations comments about what journalists should consider in their word choices about age.

8. If you could recommend one word to replace ‘senior’ in the journalism vocabulary, it would be ___________. ” (If you don’t have a problem with “senior,” please indicate this.

9. If you could recommend one word to replace “boomer” or “baby boomer” in the journalism vocabulary, it would be ___________. ” (If you don’t have a problem with “senior,” please indicate this.)

10. Please add any additional comments you would like to offer.

GAO on Social Security in other counties

A new report from the General Accounting Office looks for lessons in how other counties handle their Social Security program. Find the highlights here, with a link in the PDF file to full report.

Wilma OK here, but this note on Katrina deaths

So far, for us in Orlando area, Wilma has been mostly about "thunderstorm activity." So, back to the blog. This from AP today: NEW ORLEANS Oct 24, 2005 — A majority of people killed by Hurricane Katrina were older residents unable or unwilling to evacuate in the rising floodwaters, according to a study of almost half the bodies recovered in Louisiana. About 60 percent of the nearly 500 victims identified so far were age 61 or older, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Taking a break for Wilma

Yet another hurricane for Florida. The rains have started here north of Orlando. I'll be off the blog for a day or so, working my real job. Godspeed. Or something like that.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Horrible crash details from St. Pete

A 93-year-old driver ran down a pedestrian in St. Petersburg, Florida, this week and drove for miles with the victim's body poking out of his windshield, until he was stopped at a toll. St. Pete Times has folo today, pointing out what most of us would suspect -- driver had shown signs of dementia. This is certain to revive discussions in Florida and elsewhere about driving in old age. A good resource, mentioned in the article, is The National Older Drivers Research and Training Center at University of Florida. Sue Samson, of the AAA in St. Pete is also good, and there likely are people like her at your local AAA or state aging office. Also, this CDC page has good links at bottom.

I'm still quitting if I hit Powerball

A study released in today's British Medical Journal says there is no link between retiring early and living longer.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Medicare Q.I. bill signed, but...

The President today signed HR 3971, which among other things extends the Medicare Qualified Individual program that pays Medicare Part B premiums for some low-income people. There is post on this below. But the bill does take something away -- Medicare and Medicaid will no longer pay for some erectile dysfunction medications in 2006 (Medicaid) and 2007 (Medicare). I can't find any news stories yet on Bush's signature, just this note on Also, has some background and links on bill here.

A week of aging coming

As Paul Kleyman noted in this week's Age Beat Online, coverage in national media (Business Week on boomers, Time, NY Times and almost everyone else on Andrew Weil's new book on aging) sometimes translate into making it easier to get editors on board for aging coverage. USA Today, teaming with ABC News, will (perhaps) make it even easier next week when they team on a week of "living longer/living better" stories. USA Today promotes a kickoff for Monday with article on longevity. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, for another side of Andrew Weil, see the piece about him and his home in today's New York Times.

Reactions to my Poynter column

Interesting reaction to my Poynter column on being a boomer boss. All generally positive. One theme seems to be that both old editors and young reporters long for a directness -- in praise and criticism -- that many don't see today in their newsrooms. This thoughtful comment, posted with the column now, also was echoed in a few other e-mails to me: "It used to be that any news meeting anywhere included several people willing to play devil's advocate with bluntness and impunity. There is a lot less of that these days, and thus we are losing some intellectual honesty in our most basic tasks, assessing news value and the readiness of stories for publication."

It seems generation issues in the workplace would be good fodder for stories. Anyone have examples? Please let me know by posting comments, with link to story, if possible.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shameless self-promotion

A column I wrote on being a baby boomer boss is now online at Poynter Online. It's a response, more or less, to a previous column about managing Gen Y reporters. Please let me know what you think by posting response here or on Poynter.

Latest Age Beat Online Newsletter

The Oct. 18, 2005, issue of Age Beat Online, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA) was emailed this week. It is edited by Paul Kleyman of Aging Today, who email link is in box at top of the blog.

Here's the intro; to read more, click this link:

IN THIS ISSUE: Are we band-centric yet?

SPECIAL ABO NOTICE ON JEoA NATIONAL STYLE GUIDELINES: Within the next week ABO will send out the Journalists Exchange on Aging National Word Survey. This short survey will be your opportunity to add your input to the JEoA's first National Style Guidelines on usage in writing about older people. This will not be a PC Rosetta Stone but a working document to be updated according to your insights and experience in writing on aging. "Senior." "Senior citizen." "Old." "Older." "Geezerly." "Elderly." What do you and your audience members prefer-or abjure? What are the subtle words you use or avoid ("feisty"?). Don't answer now. The questions are coming and the answers will provide journalists and news organizations with a style sheet-with feedback from working reporters-to use or adapt. Watch for the JEoA National Word Survey in a few days, and please take a few minutes to autoreply your answers.

3. "AGE BEATLES NEWS": Supercentenarians Book; "Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause"; Roszak Uber Novels; Business Week is Booming
4. "LARKIN'S LINKS" on The Power of Music
5. "SAGE WATCH" on The Social Side of Health adds formulary tool

The drug formulary took is up online at I tried it, but with drugs more generally available, so got lots of info. There also is a comparison of plans, mentioned in posts below, plus something called "landscape of local plans," that bring up pdf's with various state info.

Good backgrounder on Medicare "drawback"

Good summary of the flap over the "drawback" provision of Medicare on New York Times and others wrote today about the issue, which involves states returning some fed money for drug costs for dual Medicaid/Medicare eligibles.

Yo, Adrian...Rocky's back at 60

Sylvester Stallone annouced that he is returning to fight again as Rocky, next year in "Rocky Balboa." Yo, what's up with that? "'Rocky Balboa' is about everybody who feels they want to participate in the race of life, rather than be a bystander," Stallone said in the New York Daily News. "You're never too old to climb a mountain, if that's your desire." As someone whose life list includes making it to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite before I turn 50, I understand Sly. But is America ready for Rocky, at 60, fighting again? And, if we are going to bring back a sports hero, how about Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was. Robert Redford was 47 or so when he played Hobbs, supposedly about 35, in The Natural. We could bring Hobbs back for some lightning swings, now in his 50s, played by Redford, who is almost 70. Now THAT would be inspiring. (PS: If Rocky yells for Adrian in the new movie, he'll have to yell loudly. She's dead, in the story, making Rocky a widow.)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Medicare drug tool up, but not completely

Veteran age beater Warren Wolfe writes in Minneapolis Star-Tribune, posted online tonight:" Medicare has delayed fully implementing the Internet tool that on Monday was to start helping 700,000 beneficiaries in Minnesota compare competing drug-coverage plans ... It could be one or two weeks before the tool is fully functional, Medicare officials said." See my short post below as well.

Bush won't stop on Social Security

From today's White House briefing with Scott McClellan (it's last question. There also is question about Medicare and budget cuts for Katrina.) It will be interesting to see how aggressive the president will be, since even he conceded the appetite appears low for "reform." "Q You talked about this briefly, about Social Security reform. The President made a big deal about it at the beginning of the year, but since then he's had a lot of political trouble, and it has sort of fallen from the limelight. So has the President stopped pursuing Social Security reform?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he'll never stop pursuing reform of Social Security."

Medicare drug plan tool now online

The online tool to compare Medicare prescription drug plans is up and running at

Studs is "very much alive"

A couple of my best age beat memories involve interviewing Studs Terkel. I was reminded of that when I saw this editorial in today's Chicago Tribune: There is a tradition at newspapers to kill people off long before their time is up, and so it was that the first "standing obituary" of Louis "Studs" Terkel was written in 1983 when he was a relatively coltish 71 and already had an estimable career as lawyer, actor, radio host, best-selling author and political activist."

It goes on to say, "Studs--relax, he's still very much alive ..."

Saturday, October 15, 2005 more Q.I. program in Medicare

It appears Congress did not renew the "qualifying individual" program that pays the Part B premium for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. According to the Robert Pear in tomorrow's NY Times (but posted this afternoon here): About 192,000 Medicare beneficiaries with low incomes face a steep increase in costs because Congress has not renewed a program that paid their monthly premiums, the Bush administration said on Saturday."

According to an AP report from Thursday: "Officials familiar with the program said it's caught up in a dispute between the House and Senate over how to proceed with welfare reform. Funding for the program is not an issue, congressional aides say."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wal-Mart, Kmart, Giant Food...and Medicare?

Seems a story here on all this "co-branding" between retail and health companies for Medicare Part D. This just in on PR Newswire. "BLOOMFIELD, Conn., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- CIGNA HealthCare today announced that it has agreed with Giant Food LLC to co-brand CIGNA's CIGNATURE Rx Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan and collaborate on co-sponsored educational communications for distribution in Giant pharmacies." See previous post on this topic.

Some reaction, resources on COLA

"...this COLA is being eaten up by rising gasoline and heating costs, another double-digit increase in the monthly Medicare Part B premium and escalating healthcare bills." -- Bill Novelli, AARP CEO. Here's a link to full release.

Good resources, background at the National Academy of Social Insurance. See their publications page.
See my first post below.

Social Security COLA is 4.1 percent

AP reports that "More than 48 million Americans will get a 4.1 percent increase in their monthly Social Security checks next year, the largest increase in more than a decade. For the average retiree, it will mean an increase of $39 a month." Although average person will get about 40 bucks more a month, the monthly Medicare premium will take about $10 more a month, and the new drug benefit could average $30. Here is SSA's news release.

Here's the top 10 previous COLA's
1980 14.30%
1981 11.20%
1979 9.90%
1975 8.00%
1982 7.40%
1978 6.50%
1976 6.40%
1977 5.90%
1990 5.40%
1989 4.70%

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Age breakdowns in new Bush poll

A new Pew Center poll shows President Bush's ratings going "from bad to worse" but be sure to probe the demographic data. While 38 percent overall approve of Bush's job, the number is 45 percent for those 65 and over. What's also interesting is that people 65 and over have a LOWER satisfaction rate (35 percent) with "the way things are going in this country today" than overall (40 percent). It would be interesting to go back to other Bush polls and see how age breakdowns play out.(Note the error rate is plus/minus 3 percent.) Lots of interesting nuggets if you click in the demographic pdf table on the web site. Also, not sure Pew can do this all the time, but I've asked for more age breakdowns in past and gotten them, since some tables only show 50 plus.

Blue light specials for drugs?

Kmart and Cigna Corp. are "co-branding" a Medicare drug plan, AP reports this afternoon. Or you can find the news release here. So take that Wal-Mart and Humana. Me? I'm waiting for whoever partners with Nordstrom.

Boomers worried about retirement!!!!!!

Yes, we all know that, but with the first boomer turning 60 on Jan. 1, 2006, it's a good topic to revisit. Just in time comes a new study today from the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Here's a quote from the news release: A new study, The MetLife Survey of American Attitudes Toward Retirement: What’s Changed?, shows Baby Boomers are increasingly anxious about retirement. Conducted in 2005 with Zogby International, the study set out to compare data from research conducted in 2001. The new study reports that the number of Boomers ‘worried about retirement’ has doubled, with younger members, ages 41 to 49, more likely to voice concern." There is link at bottom of news release to the full report.

OAA to take hit for Katrina?

The National Council on the Aging is urging people to contact senators "to urge them to oppose cuts in senior and poverty programs." The reason? Its release today notes that one plan discussed to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief is an across-the-board cut in some domestic spending, which would include the Older Americans Act. By NCOA's count, it could means a $73 million hit to the programs. This will be interesting issue to watch, not just for its impact on aging programs, but others like Medicaid. Here is link to some Administration on Aging background on the Older Americans Act.

Boomers, get your motors running...

Harley Davidson reported another good quarter of earnings, and, surprise, it's boomers who are helping the Milwaukee motocycle company. It's because -- I love reading this just before I check my own bank account -- "Baby boomers, generally, have a higher income," Don Brown, a motorcycle market analyst in Irvine, Calif. told the York (Pa.) Daily Record in today's edition. "They're older. They already have a nest egg in the bank. They are not affected by the general recession." Bike sales are increasing, with older rides going more for Harley's while younger ones go for sleek street bikes. If you think boomers on bikes is interesting, check crash stats. Some data, especially as it relates to alcohol involvement, suggests boomers are more likely to drink and crash than other age groups. See this from CDC.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New GAO report on Medicare medical equipment supply program

GAO says Medicare program for medical equipment suppliers needs more effective screening and stronger enrollment standards. Report says, "In fiscal year 2004, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that Medicare improperly paid $900 million for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies in part due to fraud by suppliers

New COLA number likely on Friday

The Social Security Administration told me today that it expects to release the COLA number on Friday (Oct. 14). Read related post below.

GAO report on long-term care program

The General Accounting Office posted a report late yesterday on the The Long-Term Care Partnership Program, which "is a public-private partnership between states and private insurance companies, designed to reduce Medicaid expenditures by delaying or eliminating the need for some people to rely on Medicaid to pay for long-term care services." It looks at data from four states -- California, New York, Indiana and Connecticut. I'm not that familiar with it, but seems worthy of review.

A cold winter for the poor and aged?

Lots of media coverage of rising costs of natural gas and home heating oil as winter approaches. Some suggestions today on Al Tompkins Morning Meeting at Makes me wonder what aging angles there are? The federal government, with programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, has had energy assistance programs since before Jimmy Carter's MEOW (the "Moral Equivalent of War") about energy conversation. Are governments, utilities and communities ready to help the poor and aged? Anyone written about this yet? Please post thoughts, links in comments.

Tuna casserole turns ... 50?

Well, not exactly, but the "Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cook Book for the Hostess & Host of Tomorrow'' (Meredith, $16.95) apparently does. Touted -- truly? -- as the baby boomers first cookbook, it's been reissued, the San Jose Mercury News reports today in a Cox News Service report, with such recipes as (yum) tuna casserole with potato chip topping.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Age Beat Online for Oct. 11, 2005

       Newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA)
Oct. 11, 2005 -Volume 5, Number 31

 "SAGE WATCH" is taking a breather and will return in the next ABO.
 IN THIS ISSUE: Have you atoned, yet?
 2. THE CALENDAR: Kaiser to Release Surveys on Medicaid; AARP Event on U.S. and International LTC Quality and Workforce; GSA Moves from New Orleans to Orlando
 3. "AGE BEATLES NEWS": "Chemotherapy and Radiation for Dummies"; San Diego Union-Trib's Marsha Kay Seff Still "Sweatin' With the Oldies."
 4. 'LARKIN'S LINKS" on Preparing for Disasters
 1. PREMIERING (TA-DA!) ABO THE BLOG: Journalists Exchange on Aging co-founder JOHN CUTTER has launched Age Beat Online/The Blog,  for journalists and others interested in issues on aging. It includes links to ABO The Newsletter. John, who also took Age Beat On Paper to its first e-life as ABO in 1999, is an assistant city editor with the Orlando Sentinel. He covered aging and health issues for the St. Petersburg Times from 1992 to 1998. He continued writing on aging as a freelancer for the New York times and many other publications until 2002, when he joined the Sentinel. This blog, which has no formal connection to the Sentinel or the American Society on Aging, has links and posts from many news sources, such as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, USA Today, NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "We hope ABO readers and others will visit the blog regularly, comment and get dialogue and ideas going," says John. Visit ABO /The Blog at As ABO Blog editor, John can be e-mailed with any questions at
 OCTOBER 19-THREE NATIONAL SURVEYS ON TRENDS AND CHANGES IN MEDICAID will be released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured on Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, ET. The Washington, D.C., briefing will focus on the current status of Medicaid in the states and emerging issues and trends in state actions overall. It will also provide a more in-depth look at eligibility and enrollment issues and prescription drug coverage. The session will also address Medicaid's role in the nation's response to crises like Hurricane Katrina. Those able to attend (lunch will be available) will go to the Barbara Jordan Conference Center, Kaiser Family Foundation Building 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC (one block west of Metro Center). Space is limited, so RSVP to Tiffany Ford at (202) 347-5270 or e-mail: Reporters outside the Washington area can view a live webcast of this event at
       OCTOBER 20-THE GLOBAL LONG-TERM CARE WORKFORCE will be the subject of an AARP forum, Thursday, Oct. 20, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,  ET, at the Grand Hyatt Washington. Again, there will be an online presence for journalists unable to attend in person. The International Forum on Long-Term Care (LTC): Delivering Quality Care with a Global Workforce will address the critical workforce shortages in long-term care systems and explore the potential causes and existing patterns of international migration of workers to work in developed countries. The conference will also consider the impact on quality of care and address the key policy issues and challenges the migration presents in both developed and developing countries. AARP Board Member JENNIE CHIN HANSEN, who for many years ran San Francisco's On Lok senior Services, the model for the national PACE program (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), will introduce the workforce issues and cover what is taking place and recent developments in LTC in the U.S. In addition, the conference will highlight and launch an international research report on LTC workforce and migration patterns, which will cover over a dozen developed and developing countries, including the United States. Breakfast and lunch will be served. If you have any questions or require more information, contact JAY ROSS (202) 434-2419 or Reporters can also look at the executive summary online:
 OCTOBER 20-SCIENCE REPORTERS' BRIEFING ON PARKINSON'S.  The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke(NINDS)and groups combating Parkinson's the Parkinson's will hold a panel of leading physicians, scientists, and caregivers to provide an overview of the newest advances toward controlling or curing the disease. The event, which reporters can attend either in person or by telephone audio conference, will be held at the Dana Center, 900 15th St, NW, Washington, D.C., Thurs., Oct. 20, 10 a.m.  to noon ET. Media can listen and ask questions by calling the toll-free conference line. Media should dial in 5-10 minutes before the start of the conference. Questions and interview requests that arise after the Q&A session should be directed to Margo Warren at (301) 496-5751. The U.S. dial-in number is (800) 905-0392; International dial-in number: 785-832-1523; Audio conference ID: NINDS.
NINDS, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will also enable people to view the speaker presentations by logging on to:
 THE GERONTOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA, as we previously noted, has moved its 58th Annual Scientific Meeting from New Orleans to Orlando, Fla., and will hold the meeting in conjunction with the American Federation for Aging Research. The meeting t will run Nov. 18-22, at The Orlando World Center Marriott Resort ( online schedule is posted at: Reporters can sign up electronically by following this link: Reporters with questions can contact GSA communications guy, TODD KLUSS at, (202) 842-1275, ext. 106.
 WHAT'S THE GOOD WORD? ABO readers will soon receive a brief survey (eight questions) that will give you a chance to sound off about the words used to refer to seniors ("the chronologically gifted?")--those words you love and those you love to hate. COMING SOON TO AN E-MAILBOX NEAR YOU!
 "CHEMOTHERAPY AND RADIATION FOR DUMMIES" is the new book by St. Louis Post-Dispatch health writer PATRICIA CORRIGAN, with oncologists ALAN LYSS and HUMBERTO FAGUNDES. Corrigan, who has noted that 1.3 million people will be diagnosed with caner this year in the United States and that one in four U.S. deaths result from Cancer, brings a special edge to the subject-as a cancer survivor. In spite of the diagnosis, rates," says Corrigan, "survival rates are at an all-time high--the number of people surviving cancer in the U.S. has more than tripled over the last 30 years." Corrigan and her medical colleagues were recently interviewed about the book on CNN, and this week the book's publisher, John Wiley & Sons, is sending a mini version of the book to oncologists and cancer centers across the country. As for writing a Dummies book, Corrigan told us, "The thing about the Dummies books is that they are organized very well and present complex information in readable fashion. It was a joy to write -- if 96,000 words can be considered a joy to write!" 
 SAN DIEGO'S MARSHA KAY SEFF SWEATIN' WITH THE OLDIES: Exercise celebrity RICHARD SIMMONS has nothing on the S.D. Union Tribune's MARSHA KAY SEFF, who reports that she's "doing it all." Seff continues to be the editor of the Union-Trib's San Diego ElderCare website (, which she created. Also, the second edition of her book, "The After-Hospital Planner for Children of Aging Parents," will be published this fall. It has local and statewide contacts, "but all the info applies statewide and even nationally," she added. Meanwhile, Seff e-mailed, "I still write features for the Union-Tribune, and I write two stories a month on long-married couples, how they met and stayed together. I'm now working on a story now on how to convince your parents to move to assisted living. So, I'm very busy. Oh yes, I started an online radio show, too." To date, the eldercare site includes eight interview segments on such topics as living wills, living trusts, stress and, our favorite for this week's observance of Yom Kipur, the Jewish day of atonement, "Guilt." Hear Marcia online at:
 By the way, Seff let ABO know that JONATHAN HELLER left the paper this summer not long after he was approved for covering news and policy issues on aging.
 I had just finished a feature article on the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita for The Lancet Infectious Diseases when I read the e-mail alert from National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a; Leigh E. Wade, executive director of the Area Agencies on Aging of Southwest Florida, was among those who testified at an Oct. 5 Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing entitled "Preparing Early, Acting Quickly: Meeting the Needs of Older Americans During Disasters." Wade's testimony focuses on her experience during the 2004 hurricane season when three hurricanes hit her public service area in the period of a little over a month.
 Testimony by Wade and other experts on aging and disasters is posted at
The site also links to a webcast of the hearing. Wade's testimony ( includes N4A's recommendations in the areas of long-range planning, coordination, communication technology, resources, and review and assessment.
 A good resource from the Department of Health and Human Services documents the psychosocial issues that confront older adults in disasters (
 Marilynn Larkin regularly contributes "Larkin's Links" to Age Beat Online. Readers can reach her at
 DU-UH OF THE WEEK: "Study Finds Young Men Attending Fewer Films" was the header for last Saturday's (Oct. 7) New York Times piece by SHARON WAXMAN. She reported that a 2003 survey of 2,000 young men ages 13 to 25 showed "that they were busy surfing the Web, instant-messaging with friends and playing video games on consoles like PlayStation 2 and Xbox," resulting in 25% drop in movie going. Waxman interviewed Vincent Bruzzese, the study's author and senior vice president of OTX entertainment insights and concluded the piece as follows:
 "Mr. Bruzzese said his study suggested that Hollywood might need to recultivate the practice of making movies for older audiences, who are less quick to adapt to the digital revolution. 'For the time being, you have a product that is in many ways geared to a particular audience that is the most distracted by the new digital environment,' he said. Other audiences 'aren't as distracted, but perhaps there isn't as much product for them.'"
 Waxman did not indicate whether she ended her interview by saying, "Goodbye and good luck."

The Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA) publishes AGE BEAT ONLINE with the assistance of the American Society on Aging (ASA). JEoA provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering issues in aging but not those representing services, products or organizational agendas. ASA is a nonpartisan, nonlobbying organization of professionals in aging that is based in San Francisco. Its mandate is to serve as a forum for all points of view. Opinions expressed in ABO do not represent those of ASA. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at

Monday, October 10, 2005

Kaiser relaunches its health reporting fellowship

The Kaiser Family Foundation just announced its decision to wrap two of its reporting fellowship programs into one. Now journalists will have the option of working on long-term projects (I did one in 2000-01 on Alzheimer's) or short-term one similar to the popular mini-fellowship. All fellows take part in the site visits that often are the best part of the experience. More details are available at:

Boomers OD on drugs, CEOs on...Social Security?

Couple things from today:

/ From LA Times today (and wonder if true in other states: Californians age 40 and older are dying of drug overdoses at double the rate recorded in 1990, a little-noticed trend that upends the notion of hard-core drug use as primarily a young person's peril. Indeed, overdoses among baby boomers are driving an overall increase in drug deaths so dramatic that soon they may surpass automobile accidents as the state's leading cause of nonnatural deaths. Find the article here.

/ From PricewaterhouseCoopers' Trendsetter Barometer: The majority of fast-growth CEOs describe the Social Security program as "in a crisis state," requiring an immediate, long-term fiscal solution. And, one-third says their business has been adversely affected by higher Social Security taxes over the past two years. But, like Congress, they see only a few options, most accompanied by heavy baggage. Find the full survey here.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Read USA Today editorial on fire safety

USA Today editorializes on its report about nursing home fire safety
(See post below about Peter Eisler story)
Click here to read editorial

A bright side to higher gasoline prices?

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazaette:

"Here's the bright side to last month's surge in gasoline and other energy prices: Come January, Social Security recipients probably will see the biggest increase in their monthly checks that they've seen in 15 years."

Find it at the newspaper's web site.

We should know the exact numbers sometime this month. Of course, the Social Security increase often is reduced by increase in Medicare Part B premiums, so is this glass half full or half empty? Or leaking badly?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

USA Today on nursing home fire safety

"More than half the
nation's 16,000 nursing homes violate federal fire safety standards
each year, and government regulations let thousands of older
facilities operate without the sprinklers or smoke alarms often
required in buildings used by the public."

Read it at
paper's web site.

Friday, October 07, 2005

New aging podcast from NPR

Podcasts -- audio files you can play on your iPod or other mp3 player
have saved my sanity on my commute to work. NPR has put several of its
programs, like Science Friday, online to download and grouped other
segments on health and books into a single podcast. One I like is
"Story of the Day," sort of a "best of NPR" on any given day. Tonight,
NPR posted this "Grandmother: A Story of Aging, Decline and Love."
Here NPR's description:

producer Jake Warga chronicles the life and decline of his paternal
grandmother. As she grew older, she mistook Warga for his father, who
had already died. Warga tells the story of how and when she started to
forget things as she entered her 90s."

If you have iTunes, you can find this and others under Podcasts at the
Music Store. You also can find it and other NPR podcasts here

Nursing Homes must vaccinate against flu

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services posted this today:
"Nursing homes serving Medicare and Medicaid patients will have to provide immunizations against influenza and pneumococcal disease to all residents if they want to continue in the programs, according to a final rule published by CMS in today's Federal Register.

"As a condition of participation in the two programs, nursing homes will be required to ensure that residents received the immunizations. The resident or the resident's family can refuse the shots. Residents who cannot receive the vaccines for medical reasons are exempt. Under the final rule, nursing homes will also be required to educate the resident and/or the resident's family about the advantages and possible disadvantages of receiving the vaccines."

To read full release, go to

WHO warns of epidemic of chronic disease

Posted on ResourceShelf Docuticker

"A new report launched today by WHO stresses that the global epidemic of chronic disease can be stopped. The report projects that around 17 million people die prematurely each year from chronic disease. The economic consequences are also significant, with countries forgoing billions of dollars over a decade as a result of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes."
News release ||| Report

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Medicare Part D Forum

The Kaiser Family Foundation's held an "Ask the Experts: Medicare Part D" forum today.  Here's info it posted:
An archived video of this event will be available by 5 p.m. ET today. With sign ups for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit less then two months away,'s next "Ask the Experts" will address how implementation of Medicare Part D is proceeding.


    • Larry Levitt, vice president for Communications and Online Information, Kaiser Family Foundation and editor-in-chief,


Age Beat for Oct. 4, 2005

Newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA)

Oct. 4, 2005 -Volume 5, Number 30

NOTE: Let ABO Editor Paul Kleyman know if you have technical problems receiving issues of ABO or if you'd like to be removed from the list. Phone: (415) 974-9619; e-mail: Thanks for help on this issue go to Mary Johnson, Evelyn Strauss and Marilynn Larkin. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at

IN THIS ISSUE: No paper trail.

1. AGE BEATLES NEWS: L. A. Times' Health Editor Olmos Moves to Foundation; 10 Attend 2005 Age Boom Academy

2. THE CALENDAR: Spots Still Open for Century Foundation Seminar, Oct. 20-21; Gerontological Society of America Meeting Relocates to Orlando

3. "SAGE WATCH" on Longevity Secrets of Telomerase

4. "LARKIN'S LINKS" on Inspiring Elders to Move

LOS ANGELES TIMES HEALTH EDITOR DAVID OLMOS, a supporter of aging coverage in the paper, is the new director of publishing and communication at the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF, Olmos, who had headed the Times' health section since 1998, was a Pulitzer Prize co-finalist for his work covering managed healthcare. He is a former director of the Association of Health Care Journalists and former director of the California Chicano News Media Association. He joins the Oakland-based nonprofit Oct. 24. The Times has not yet named a new health-section editor.

TEN ATTEND 2005 AGE BOOM ACADEMY: Ten reporters from cities ranging from London to San Francisco spent last week in New York City attending the fifth annual Age Boom Academy for journalists hosted by the International Longevity Center-USA and sponsored by the New Your Times Company Foundation. The class of 2005 comprised EILEEN BEAL, columnist and veteran age beat freelancer, Cleveland; PATRICIA CORRIGAN, reporter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; MARY BETH FALLER, health reporter, The Arizona Republic; ALEXANDRA FREAN, social affairs correspondent, The Times, London; ANN GERACIMOS, features writer, The Washington [D.C.] Times; MEG HECKMAN, Concord [N.H.] Monitor; WILLIAM O'DRISCOLL, senior reporter, Reno Gazette-Journal; MATT POMMER, state capitol correspondent, The Capital Times, Madison, Wisc.; CAROLYN SAID, business and aging reporter, San Francisco Chronicle; and SUZANNE TRAVERS, aging reporter; Herald News, West Paterson, N.J.


A FEW SPOTS REMAIN OPEN FOR CENTURY FOUNDATION'S SEMINAR: The Century Foundation ( has a few spots still open for its "The Life in an Older America" seminar for journalists being held at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisc., Oct. 20-21. The foundation will cover your room costs, reimburse travel expenses and provide some meals as part of the program. Although the event is targeting reporters in the Midwest, the program is open to journalists elsewhere around the United States. The speakers lineup includes top-notch national sources slated to talk about Medicare Part D, the Social Security debate, the retirement of the boomer generation, and other prime issues. Speakers will include MARILYN MOON, president of the National Academy of Social Insurance, vice president, director of the health program at American Institutes for Research, and a former Social Security Trustee; HENRY AARON, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; ROBERT FRIEDLAND, director of the Center on an Aging Society, Georgetown University, and author of the report "Demography is Not Destiny"; and TERESA GHILARDUCCI, director of the Higgins Labor Research Center at the University of Notre Dame. The training program is designed for national and local reporters, producers, columnists, and editorial writers. Those Interested in attending should move quickly, because spaces are limited. To receive more information or to register, contact LAURIE AHLRICH at or (212)452-7722, or CATE BRANDON, (212) 452-7726.

GSA MOVES TO MEETING TO ORLANDO. Just as ABO received the conference brochure announcing the Gerontological Society of America's 58th Annual Scientific Meeting - in New Orleans, GSA announced it was able to move the event to Florida's Orlando World Center Marriott Resort, Nov. 18-22. Wise move. Even if Florida were to be battered by another hurricane that late in the tropical storm season, rescue and evacuation operations have proved far more efficient and well funded in the Sunshine State than in other areas of late. Those planning to attend GSA can obtain the online schedule of presentations at To apply for press credentials contact Todd Kluss,; (202) 842-1275, ext. 106.




Telomerase has long been credited with keeping chromosomes from crumbling, a function once thought to influence longevity. Now researchers are discovering new telomerase talents that might help keep tissues young.

Check out SAGE Crossroads stories at SAGE Crossroads includes in-depth articles and webcast debates on major developments in the science of aging and their policy implications.

SAGE KE (Knowledge Environment) is Science Magazine's website on aging, providing information and analysis of cutting-edge aging-related research: The site requires a subscription for full-text access, but ABO members can sign up for free sample articles, abstracts, and weekly news alerts about commentary articles on new findings in the field.



A study published in the October issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine (

shows the negative power of self-fulfilling prophecies: Elders with the lowest expectations for aging-that is, for what one can do at an advanced age-were the most likely to lead sedentary livestyles. Study participants were 636 adults age 65 or older (mean age, 77) recruited from 14 Los Angeles-area community-based senior centers. Those elders with the lowest expectations were more than twice as likely to report having engaged in less than 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity during the previous week compared with those with higher age expectations. Lead researcher Catherine Sarkisian, assistant professor of medicine, geriatrics division, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, commented: "We know that the number-one way we can improve the health of older adults is to increase physical activity-it's more powerful than common expensive medications. We might be able to help more seniors exercise if we can change what seniors believe."

The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Aging (UCLA Mentored Clinical Scientist Program in Geriatrics, Paul Beeson Career Development Award in Aging, UCLA Center for Health Improvement in Minority Elders/Resources Centers for Minority Aging Research) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Chicago Healthy Aging Research Network Center), is one more reason to try to get positive role models of healthy aging "out there." And so I urge ABO readers are urged to go to, the home page of an award-winning film that chronicles the efforts of five women ages 50-82 to win a place in the World Masters Athletics Championships. My review of the DVD and more information on trends in older adult fitness will appear in the January-February issue of Aging Today.

Marilynn Larkin regularly contributes "Larkin's Links" to Age Beat Online. Readers can reach her at

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: In moderating a panel of editors of national magazines (Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Time, Men's Health) last week for Advertising Week in New York City, Daily show host John Stewart was quoted by the New York Times (Oct. 2) as commenting, pointedly if unfunnily, "The print media doesn't suffer from the excesses that TV and radio suffer from because it's a more measured medium. Unfortunately, print provides stability and balance in the same way that your parents provide stability and balance. And yet when you look at what advertisers think is relevant, it's not the parents, it's the kids."

The Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA) publishes AGE BEAT ONLINE with the assistance of the American Society on Aging (ASA). JEoA provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering issues in aging but not those representing services, products or organizational agendas. ASA is a nonpartisan, nonlobbying organization of professionals in aging that is based in San Francisco. Its mandate is to serve as a forum for all points of view. Opinions expressed in ABO do not represent those of ASA. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Who is John Cutter?

I am the senior editor/online news for the Orlando Sentinel. I covered aging and health issues for the St. Petersburg Times from 1992 to 1998 and then as a freelancer until 2002 when I came to the Sentinel. This blog has no formal connection to the Sentinel or the American Society on Aging. I maintain it, so direct any questions to me by clicking here John Cutter.

Age Beat Online, Oct. 18, 2005, continued

Newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA), Oct. 18, 2005 -Volume 5, Number 32 ... continued YES this really is from Oct. 18, 2005

As we announced last week, ABO now has been be-blogged, thanks to Journalists Exchange on Aging co-founder, John Cutter, assistant city editor at the Orlando Sentinel. This is the first of his regular week-in-review reports about the news traffic on the blog. Age Beat Blog is updated during the day, with links to articles and reports of interest to journalists who cover aging and others interested in the age beat. You can post comments and reactions on any blog entry.
He-e-e-er's Johnny:
Hello, age beaters: The past week on the Age Beat Blog began with some tips on the impact of energy prices on the low-income energy assistance programs and ended with talk of the Social Security COLA increase and the cuts in the "qualified individual" program in Medicare. My favorite, however, might be the link to an article on baby boomers and motorcycles, even if I wasn't "born to ride."
If you have a suggestion for the blog, post it under the appropriate blog entry or email me at You can find the blog at
The age beat is alive and kicking in Japan these days, according to RITSUKO INOKUMA of Yomiuri Shimbun. Some ABO regulars might recall meeting her during her year in the United States (1999-2000) as a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University and on a Fulbright Scholarship (not to shabby a combination). ABO readers not familiar with her newspapers might think, at least in circulation terms, of USA Today X 5. That's right, Yomiuri is one of three national dailies with a circulation of 10 million, compared with USA Today's approximately 2 million. Inokuma, who has been at Yomiuri for about 18 years, spent much of the past several years as a full- time feature writer on aging. Most Japanese papers assigned a reporter to cover aging after the government made a major commitment to the concerns of its rapidly aging population with its 1990 Gold Plan. The fortunes of the age beat have been up and down since then. So when ABO recently received a note from "Riri," as her friends know her, we took the opportunity to pump her with questions about the state of age-beat coverage in Japan. Here is what Inokuma-san reported:
"I'm not sure I can answer your question precisely, but I will try. First of all, when you say 'aging' (or age beat), does that mean whole issues related to aging society, i.e., demographic change, including number of seniors and children, social security issues (mainly, pension system, medical insurance system and long-term care system), employment, housing and so on? If so, I can say that the number of reporters who are covering aging is increasing dramatically recently in Japan.

"Aging, particularly pension reform, is getting to be one of the most crucial and political issues in Japan. All media want to cover it. As you may know, our birthrate is going down, and the newest TFR (total fertility rate) is 1.19, historical low. If the birthrate remains at such a low level, we can't continue our current social security system, because, it is a 'pay as you go' system, that is, it cannot exist without the younger generation being able to pay for the retirement of current retirees. To avoid collapse of the systems, Japanese government has tried to reform the system, for example, with pension reform in 2004, and long-term care reform in 2005.

"A recent topic is the '2007 problem.' The baby boomers (first born in 1947) are going to retire starting in 2007. It may cause lots of social and economic problems. All media have a strong interest in this issue and want to cover it.

"As for the media, in March 2000, the Yomiuri Shimbun became the first newspaper to establish a special age-beat department, which is called the 'Social Security News Department.' Actually, after coming back to Japan that June, I was asked to join the department, and I still belong to it. After the Yomiuri created it, the Asahi (our rival quality newspaper) and the Kyodo (one of a news agency) also made a special department covering social security news.

"As for my department, there are 11 staff members there. Some have special knowledge about the pension system, and some knew about long-term care. We do not only write articles but also make proposals about the social security system to the government, and give lectures to citizens. In our company, there are other departments, such as politics, economics, city news and international affairs, in which the staff also cover aging, if necessary.

"Besides newspapers, TV, radio, magazine, the Internet and all media have a special interest in cover aging. As for the public, they get lots of information on aging. However, the quality of some information is questionable. It is just spreading anxiety for the future."

Mate ne,


THE SUPERCENTENARIANS: Photographer-writer JERRY FRIEDMAN might say, "I'll meet your 100 and raise you to 110." His four- year trek from Massachusetts to Mongolia has finally resulted in the publication of his handsome new book, "Earth's Elders: The Wisdom of the World's Oldest People." Not only does the book include photographs and profiles of more than 50 people at least 110 years old, it begins with essays by ROBERT COLES, LAMA SURYA DAS (a colleague of the Dalai Lama), former U.S. Surgeon General JOYCELYN ELDERS and CHIEF ARVOL LOOKING HORSE, spiritual leader of the Lakota Nation and 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe. The book is published by the nonprofit organization Earth's Elders Foundation, which will receive all proceeds from the book. Friedman says that the nonprofit was founded "to raise consciousness about the elderly in America" and to develop initiatives aimed at bringing elders together with children. Friedman premiered the exhibition of his photographs in 2004 at the Mitsukoshi Gallery in Tokyo, and it will be shown at the United Nations next Spring before touring internationally. To learn how to obtain a review copy of this holiday-gift-quality title, contact Freidman by e-mail at

"OUR BODIES OURSELVES: MENOPAUSE" is a special edition of the groundbreaking book first created more than three decades ago by the Boston Women's Health Collective. MARGARET MORGANROTH GULLETTE reports that the new book will be released by Simon and Schuster in 2006. The current (September-October 2005) issue of Aging Today includes an article by JOAN DITZION, one of the original "Our Bodies Ourselves" authors, about how issues of aging have increasingly become a presence as the book has been revised over the years, most recently last year in its eighth edition. Meanwhile Gullette, author of "Aged By Culture" (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and a resident scholar at Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., has been writing commentaries for Women's e-News (also featuring NICOLE HOLLANDER'S wry "Sylvia" comic strip). Click: Most recently, Gullette filed a commentary titled "Feeling Old or Ugly? Take Another Look."

THEODORE ROSZAK IS A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, AGAIN - This time in Germany. ABO reported last year that the social critic-and the person who coined the term "the counterculture" in the 1960s-hit the top of the charts in France. But the unexpected surge of book sales wasn't for his nonfiction books, more recently, "Longevity Revolution: When Boomers Become Elders," Berkeley Hills Books, 2001, but for his novel "Flicker." First published in the United States in 1991, the conspiracy-entangled social satire, which centers on early Hollywood and an ancient European religious society, garnered critical praise and swelling sales in 2004, with the release of the book's French translation. This year, the German translation hit the bookstores with a similar public response. And the French translation of his 2003 novel, "The Devil and Daniel Silverman" was also published this year to critical acclaim. All of this comes as a pleasant surprise to the (mostly) retired history professor. He won't be heading to Europe soon, though, to bask in his newfound glory. Roszak, who is recovering from an Achilles-tendon injury, prefers sticking around his Berkeley environs these days and spending as much time as possible with his granddaughter, Luci, who will soon turn six.

BUSINESS WEEK IS BOOMING: "Love Those Boomers: Their new attitudes and lifestyles are a marketer's dream" is the cover story by LOUISE LEE in this week's issue of Business Week (Oct. 24; Along with last week's health and longevity cover story in Time, featuring wellness guru ANDREW WEIL, issues in aging are having their moment in the media sun. Some questions, ABO readers: Does this kind of national spotlighting of issues help you sell story ideas to editor? Are they a pain? That is, do your editors only want pieces on those subjects for now, when you're trying to get them to go for something else? Or is there no effect? Over the years, ABO's editor has heard from reporters that a major piece in the New York Times or Washington Post, for example, can pique the interest of an editor who was previously cool to a story pitch. So, how are these cover stories playing in your newsrooms or those you might deal with freelance?



I am writing this column in the midst of preparing for an NYU Medical Center workshop for caregivers of relatives with Alzheimer's disease. Having spent a good deal of time selecting what I think is appropriate music for the exercises-both for caregivers and for patients-I was intrigued to find a study in the current issue of the medical journal Heart that suggests that music can be good for the heart and respiratory systems (; a draft version of the full article is posted at

"Music induces an arousal effect, predominantly related to the tempo," the authors write. "A pause in the music induces a condition of relaxation greater than that preceding the exposure to music, and leads one to speculate that music may give pleasure (and perhaps health benefit) as a result of this controlled alternation between arousal and relaxation. It may be viewed as an alternative technique of relaxation or meditation . . . ."

Although the study subjects were colleagues of the authors or medical students, and so not necessarily "older," it would be surprising if age were to make much of a difference in the findings. Actually, as suggested in the Family Caregivers Alliance fact sheet, "Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia," music can play an important role in reducing agitation, providing a structured afternoon activity that could prevent sleeplessness later, and in helping make mealtimes "special." Also, a New York City nurse who was involved in Sept. 11, 2001, relief efforts notes the following on the site of the American Musical Therapy Association: "During the Caring for the Caregiver sessions I felt some of that tension melt away, evidence of the magical way music can seep into the nooks and crannies of our souls and psyches, not to mention that raw collective nervous system we have all been carrying with us" (

Marilynn Larkin regularly contributes "Larkin's Links" to Age Beat Online. Readers can reach her at



Posted October 17: "THE SOCIAL SIDE OF HEALTH"

When it comes to health and longevity, the United States ranks near the bottom among the richest countries. Dismal health statistics have generally been blamed on poverty, racism, blocked access to medical care, and poor lifestyle choices. But many experts are now exploring the effects of social status, organization, and interconnectedness.

Check out SAGE Crossroads stories at

SAGE Crossroads includes in-depth articles and webcast debates on major developments in the science of aging and their policy implications.

SAGE KE (Knowledge Environment) is Science Magazine's website on aging, providing information and analysis of cutting-edge aging-related research: The site requires a subscription for full-text access, but ABO members can sign up for free sample articles, abstracts, and weekly news alerts about commentary articles on new findings in the field.

The Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA) publishes AGE BEAT ONLINE with the assistance of the American Society on Aging (ASA). JEoA provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering issues in aging but not those representing services, products or organizational agendas. ASA is a nonpartisan, nonlobbying organization of professionals in aging that is based in San Francisco. Its mandate is to serve as a forum for all points of view. Opinions expressed in ABO do not represent those of ASA. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at