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.