Monday, March 27, 2006

A new job for me

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but it's been busy. One reason is this: I'm switching over to online here at the Orlando Sentinel. I was named senior editor of, essentially the editor in charge of the daily/breaking news part of the web site day to day. It's one of two new senior editors (other does interactive stuff) who report to an AME for online. Our web operation is integrated into the newsroom, so I will be working with other editors and reporters, and continue to write the crime blog. When needed, I will do some live on-the-scene reporting/blogging, say from a big news event or major trial. Should be fun. I'm not sure what it will mean in finding time to do the Age Beat blog but expect to keep it going as best I can. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

“It's your responsibility to help your mom”

From tomorrow's Washington Post but online tonight -- Bush Prescribes Family Help on Drug Plan: “Faced with a persistent questioner who asked him what could be done to help her elderly mother understand Medicare's new prescription drug plan, President Bush offered a suggestion that at first elicited shocked gasps, and then supportive applause, from an audience of retirees in Silver Spring yesterday.”Look, I'm not going to tell you your business, but I think it's your responsibility to help your mom,“ Bush told Wendy Meyeroff. She had asked him to consider extending the May 15 deadline for registering for the new benefit without a penalty, but Bush refused.”

When I read that, I wonder two things: Is it insulting to assume seniors NEED the help of their boomer children? Or, conversely, is it that the plan is too complicated for even boomers?

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Sopranos, Clinton and Medicare

Click the link below for a quite funny post on the Right Here Now senior blog about a headline seen in the first show of the Sopranos:

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Mood effects in young and old

From EurekAlert today: Mood affects young and old differently, study finds
The effect of mood on how people process information changes greatly as they age, suggests new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. NIH/National Institute on Aging Research

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Old beat young in quitting smoking

Another one from EurekAlert today: Journal of American Geriatrics Society Older people more successful than younger in quitting smoking Older women appear to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes in higher numbers than men in their age group, and older men and women are more likely to quit if they have recently received a diagnosis of cancer, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Duke University Medical Center

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Two new Kaiser Medicare briefs

Just in: “The Kaiser Family Foundation today released two new
issue briefs
that describe the current landscape of private plans participating in Medicare. The Growth of Private Plans in Medicare, 2006 details the different types of private plan options available to people on Medicare. These include Medicare Advantage plans (such as Medicare HMOs, PPOs and private fee-for-service plans) and new stand-alone prescription drug plans. ...
The Landscape of Private Firms Offering Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage in 2006
describes key characteristics of the organizations that offer the new Medicare drug benefit, and analyzes how companies are positioning themselves to attract Medicare enrollees. ... The briefs, authored by Marsha Gold, Sc.D. of Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., are available

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

'A traveling infomercial'

Bush Campaigns for Medicare Drug Plan - Los Angeles Times: CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. -- With the initial enrollment period for his Medicare prescription drug plan more than half over, President Bush played the role of pitchman today, personally campaigning at a community meeting and senior residence to encourage participation in the program. “Take a look!” the president said, his rising pitch conveying urgency. “It's a good deal.” For 34 minutes, he was the emcee of a traveling infomercial, calling on the testimony of his expert witnesses: the head of the Medicare program, the manager of a grocery chain's pharmacies, a retired couple who had signed up for the program and had little but praise for it.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Another view of Medicare signup

On Washington Post web site this afternoon: Survey Refutes Criticism of Medicare Drug Plan: A majority of senior citizens in a recent poll say they had no trouble using -- or signing up for -- the controversial 10-week-old Medicare prescription drug plan, health insurance officials said today. The survey of more than 800 seniors differs from assertions by politicians and health and senior citizen advocacy groups that many Medicare enrollees have had difficulty choosing a drug plan from among the dozens that are being offered. “The data are very encouraging,” Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the trade group that commissioned the survey, said at an afternoon briefing in Washington. “ . . . What seniors are saying is this program is working for them. It's making a difference.” Advocacy groups said they were deeply skeptical of the results of the survey...

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La Raza and comic highlight scam

Oddly, within 10 minutes of getting a news release today from the National Council of La Raza about a series of comic strips in Baldo highlighting a lottery scam that targets mostly Latino elders, I got a release from Orlando Police about two recent incidents of the scam. Here's a link to La Raza release:

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Newest ABO is available

The latest AGE BEAT ONLINE, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA) is available.
March 10, 2006 - DOUBLE ISSUE Volume 6, Numbers 8 and 9
        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 John Cutter and Marilynn Larkin. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at

2. RESOURCES: Civic Ventures New Online Guide to Boomer Aging; National Press Foundation Seminar on Retirement; Link to New Census Bureau Report on Aging
3. ON THE ABO BLOG: New Report on Ageism in America
LARKIN'S LINKS: Aging and Technology
For full file, go to, where you can download a PDF of the file.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A $75 million Medicare loss?

Found tonight on ResourceShelf Docuticker...Allergen Immunotherapy for Medicare Beneficiaries: “Allergen Immunotherapy--MedicareSource: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector GeneralAllergen Immunotherapy for Medicare Beneficiaries (PDF; 656 KB)”OIG found that approximately 62 percent of allergen immunotherapy and related services allowed by Medicare in 2001 were not medically necessary (and, therefore, not covered by Medicare), were miscoded, and/or were undocumented. These inappropriately paid services potentially cost the program and its beneficiaries approximately $75 million. Furthermore, approximately 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who received allergen immunotherapy in 2001 received care that did not meet professionally recognized standards at some point during their course of treatment.“

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Embargoed report on aging available, if...

If you have a signon to see embargoed Census reports, the press release and PDF of the report are now available to you at See item below about news briefing. Reports (and information on how to obtain access to embargoes reports) are here:

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Census, NIH plan briefing on new report

Hi all, in case you missed this, it just came in email:



Mike Bergman                                    Susan Farrer or Linda Joy
Public Information Office                       National Institute on Aging
(301) 763-3030/457-3670                   (301) 496-1752
   (301) 457-1037 (TDD)                   e-mail: <>
      e-mail: <>

        New Census, NIH Report Cites Dramatic Shifts in U.S. Aging

        Media Telebriefing, Thursday, March 9, 10:30-11:30 a.m. EST

Reporters are invited to take part in a phone-in telebriefing about 65+ in the United States: 2005, a major, new report on aging published by the U.S.

Census Bureau and commissioned by the National Institute on Aging, a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

65+ in the United States: 2005 cites dramatic shifts in demographic,
health, and economic aspects of aging in America and suggests how baby boomers, the first of whom turn 60 in 2006, will further redefine aging in the future. The report covers five important areas: growth of the older population, longevity and health, economic characteristics, geographic distribution, social and other characteristics of people 65 and over.

Telebriefing Information

When:  Thursday, March 9, 2006; 10:30-11:30 a.m. EST

Who:     Participants will first make brief remarks and then answer
-- Louis Kincannon, director, U.S. Census Bureau
-- Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director, National Institute on Aging, NIH
-- Victoria A. Velkoff, Ph.D., chief of the Aging Studies Branch, U.S.
Census Bureau
-- Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., associate director, Behavioral and Social Research, National Institute on Aging, NIH

How:   Reporters can participate by calling toll-free phone number and
using the confirmation
       code below.

       Call-in number: (877) 704-5391
       Confirmation code: 9548806

What:  Reporters with assigned logins and passwords may access the full
      report, 65+ in the United States, under embargo until March 9, 10:35
      a.m., EST, by visiting the "embargoed releases" section at
      <> on the Census
      Bureau Web site. Media members without logins and passwords can
      obtain a temporary login and password by calling the Census Bureau
      Public Information Office at (301) 763-3030.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Senate reports on Medicare complaint troubles

From tomorrow's Washington Post, but online tonight: Senate Report Faults Medicare's Handling of Complaints: “Medicare's process for investigating complaints about bad care is ”broken,“ leaves patients in the dark, and is of ”no benefit to improving the overall quality“ of medical care received by millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries, Senate investigators have found.”

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New meaning for Keep on Truckin'

From the Omaha World-Herald ... “The American Trucking Associations are looking at a new pool of potential truck drivers: the over-50 crowd. The ATA announced that it will participate in the Alliance for an Experienced Workforce, which promotes ways to recruit and retain workers over age 50. Truck driving could be the opportunity a baby boomer has been looking for, said the president of the Nebraska Trucking Association.”

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

AARP's and Medicare Part D

From today's LA Times: New Drug Program Is a Benefit for AARP - Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — In late 2003, when the Bush administration was struggling to get its Medicare prescription drug program through Congress, a timely endorsement by AARP helped turn the tide in its favor. But the program has become more than just a legislative victory for the influential lobbying group and its pro-senior-citizen agenda. The private insurance plan carrying AARP's label is emerging as the leading choice of Medicare beneficiaries signing up for drug coverage. With at least 1.8 million members and counting, the AARP plan has the potential to generate royalty revenues amounting to tens of millions of dollars for the organization. ... AARP spokesman Steve Hahn (said), “Any money AARP makes will get plowed back into the services our members want.”

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Young out means old in

Don't skip today's NY Times piece on young people leaving Vermont. It includes the following graph. (I heard similar things about a city in my county in Florida, worrying that too many age-restricted communities wasn't the best thing: Vermont Losing Prized Resource as Young Depart - New York Times:
“While Vermont's population of young people shrinks, the number of older residents is multiplying because Vermont increasingly attracts retirees from other states. It is now the second-oldest state, behind Maine.”

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Dychtwald on “The Power Years”

I still haven't located a Harvard Business Review, to see Ken Dychtwald's article on “Managing Middlescence,” which I mentioned in earlier post. I did come upon this interview Ken did about his new book, “The Power Years,” from the Motley Fool radio show:
NPR : Ken Dychtwald: The Changing Face of Retirement:
“Ken Dychtwald: The Changing Face of Retirement: The Motley Fool, February 24, 2006 · Beginning on Jan. 1, 2006, every 8 seconds, another North American baby boomer will be turning 60. That's about 11,000 each day and 4.5 million each year. So what will it mean for society? What will it mean for you? David Gardner talks about the changing face of retirement with Ken Dychtwald, author of The Power Years: A User's Guide to the Rest of Your Life.”

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Friday, March 03, 2006

But it's not a reason for divorce

“In a study of 150 couples, mostly in their 60s, researchers found that women who behaved in a hostile manner during marital disputes were more likely to have atherosclerosis, especially if their husbands were also hostile.” Find the Reuters piece here:

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Blood-sucking journalism for a Friday afternoon

From the People's Weekly World, which describes itself as a direct descendant of the Daily Worker, posted this today for its March 4 edition. I've said before I think Social Security, as an issue, isn't dead, but not sure what I think of the vampire imagery. Still, certainly a view not covered much. "A vampire is not really dead until a wooden stake is pushed through its heart (so they say). The Vampire of the Empire arose last month and presented to Congress a federal budget proposal containing a Social Security privatization plan that, unless defeated, will suck the blood out of America's seniors and future seniors." You can find the whole piece here:

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Looking forward to (Cheney's?) retirement

An excerpt from Vice President Dick Cheney's remarks today to the 2006 Savers Summit:
"Today, the average American can expect to live well beyond his or her working years. And with the benefits of modern medicine -- and all we've learned about prevention and healthy living -- retirement is increasingly becoming a period of tremendous activity and vigor. As individuals, we have more and more reasons to consider retirement as something to look forward to. Come to think of it, I know some folks who probably look forward to seeing me retire. (Laughter.)"

You can find it at link below, with several comments on Medicare, HSA's and Social Security:

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Are 2 plans better than 1?

From Wednesday's NYTimes. Here's one I hadn't heard:
In Medicare Maze, Some Find They're Tangled in Two Drug Plans - New York Times: KITTANNING, Pa. — Having struggled to fathom Medicare's new drug coverage, tens of thousands of beneficiaries are perplexed to find themselves actively enrolled in two prescription drug plans at the same time.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Though not error-free, the drug benefit is helping

Bob Dole has an op-ed piece in Wednesday's The Hill newspaper:
Though not error-free, the drug benefit is helping: With the implementation of Medicare’s prescription-drug benefit Jan. 1, Medicare now offers a crucial component of health insurance it lacked for more than 40 years. In the first several weeks, the government has experienced problems putting that plan in force. Many people with Medicare are having trouble accessing the coverage, particularly the first time they go to the pharmacy with the new benefit. But a little perspective is in order. The new program is working for the vast majority of beneficiaries.“

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Customs releases seized medicine

Customs Releases Seized Prescription Medicines From Canada - Los Angeles Times:
“Amid mounting criticism of its crackdown on mail-order medications, U.S. Customs has released hundreds of seized packages to consumers since Friday, said Canadian pharmacies and U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. The crackdown began in November, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection quietly increased seizures of prescription drugs mailed from abroad. Previously, federal authorities generally allowed such shipments, although it is technically illegal for individuals to import pharmaceuticals.”

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Link between stereotypes and hearing loss

Found on EurekAlert, From Journals of Gerontology: Psychological and Social Sciences
Elders' stereotypes predict hearing decline
Older people who have negative stereotypes about the elderly have a greater chance of hearing decline, researchers at Yale School of Medicine report in the March issue of Journals of Gerontology.

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Reports on working women

Found on ResouceShelf's Docuticker:
Women--Employment--United States
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Two Brief Reports From the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau
Older Women Workers, ages 55 and over
Women in the Labor Force in 2005

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Managing mid-career employees

Chip Scanlan of Poynter and The Mechanic &the Muse blog mentioned an article to me today in the March issue of Harvard Business Review on “Managing Middlescence.” One of the authors is Ken Dychtwald of Age Wave fame. The article isn't available online (except for a price) but the abstract sounds intriguing (and on point for a middlescence manager like me). Some of this might be familiar ground for long-time agebeaters -- who also, I suspect, won't get middlescence past their editors -- but it's a great topic. I'll track down the article and post a report.

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Yummy news on chocolate

Found on Newsday's site this afternoon: "CHICAGO -- Leave it to the Dutch to help demonstrate the health benefits of chocolate. A study of older men in The Netherlands, known for its luscious chocolate, indicated those who ate the equivalent of one-third of a chocolate bar every day had lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of death. The researchers say, however, it's too early to conclude it was chocolate that led to better health. The men who ate more cocoa products could have shared other qualities that made them healthier. Experts also point out that eating too much chocolate can make you fat -- a risk for both heart disease and high blood pressure." See the whole story here:,0,5999855.story?coll=sns-ap-health-headlines

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Kaiser releases state Medicare data

This just in from the Kaiser Family Foundation: A new

policy brief

from the Kaiser Family Foundation examines the latest estimates for enrollment in Medicare's new drug benefit. In addition, updated state-by-state enrollment breakdowns have been posted on the Foundation's


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ILC releases ageism report

From International Longevity Center today: Ageism, the denial of basic human rights of older persons, is one of the most pervasive prejudices across human society. Although ageism is less acknowledged than racism or sexism, it is a harmful prejudice that negatively affects older Americans, who experience widespread mistreatment, ranging from stereotypic and degrading media images to physical and financial abuse, unequal treatment in the workforce, and denial of appropriate medical care and services.

Press Release
Executive Summary
Download The Status Reports (PDF)
Download complete Ageism In America report (PDF)

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Excess cost of Medicare drug benefit

Found this weekend on ResourceShelf Docuticker:
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research
The Excess Cost of the Medicare Drug Benefit (PDF; 56 KB)
“The waste and inefficiency built into the structure of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) will add more than $800 billion to the cost of prescription drugs to the government and beneficiaries over its first decade, compared to a drug bill designed to maximize efficiency. The most simple and efficient way to cover the cost of prescription drugs would have been to establish a simple add-on to the basic Medicare program, comparable to the prescription drug benefit provided by most private health insurers.”

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Medicare asks about simplifying

This comes this evening from AP:

(AP) After promoting the wide choices available to the elderly and disabled for Medicare drug coverage, the Bush administration is now considering limiting those options. In a 39-page memorandum to insurers, employers and others administering the drug benefit, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asked for advice on how to simplify the program in 2007.

I found it here:

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NPR on black farmers in U.S.

I don't get to hear NPR's excellent Talk of the Nation show, although I do get a podcast of its Science Friday edition.But I stumbled upon this excellent piece about the book "Black Farmers in America." Wonderful photographs and an essay are online, plus link to audio from Thursday's show. (Why is this on AgeBeat blog...several of these farmers are old.) See and hear it here:

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Would the old-old be “mature matures”?

On CBS' Public Eye blog today: "Most news industry chatter these days never fails to touch upon on a declining interest in newspapers and networks scrambling to entice the kiddos to watch network news. And as such, Harris Interactive released the results of a poll today (it should appear on their site sometime in the next day) that attempts to quantify the news consumers' viewing, reading and Web surfing habits (at least those of the 2,985 U.S. adults surveyed online between January 12 and 17, 2006.) Some of the results:

"Unsurprisingly, “Matures” (that's people 59 and older, in pollster jargon) were the most likely to watch network or cable news, with 88% responding that they watched either "daily" or "several times a week." Fifty-one percent of “Echo Boomers” (18-27 year olds) did the same."

Read the rest of the blog entry here:

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Investigation in “high-pressure” Medicare sales

Caught up with this on The


Office of Inspector General

has launched an investigation into whether health insurers are using “high-pressure sales tactics to push” Medicare beneficiaries into HMOs under the new prescription drug benefit, instead of basic prescription drug plans, the

Chicago Tribune


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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

So, it's good crisis, right?

The good side of the Social Security "crisis" ... from a new survey:

Wachovia's annual Retirement Fitness Survey revealed that more than 80% of consumers said Social Security will be important to their own retirement well- being, yet nearly half are not confident that it will be available to them when they retire.

You can find the news release here:

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Don't eat as much, learn more

Today on EurekAlert...tucked at bottom of this is how the research might relate to Alzheimer's.
Nature Neuroscience
Learning and memory stimulated by gut hormone
Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found evidence that a hormone produced in the stomach directly stimulates the higher brain functions of spatial learning and memory development, and further suggests that we may learn best on an empty stomach.
<<...OLE_Obj...>> National Institutes of Health, VA Merit Review Grant; Contact: Karen N. Peart, 203-432-1326, Yale University

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Elderly in the suburbs

Another possible gem from ResouceShelf Docuticker. This report mentions inner suburbs and challenges, including number of aging residents. Sounds like good topic.

Source: The Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program
One-Fifth of the Nation: A Comprehensive Guide to America's First Suburbs
"Neither fully urban nor completely suburban, America's older, inner-ring, "first" suburbs have a unique set of challenges-such as concentrations of elderly and immigrant populations as well as outmoded housing and commercial buildings-very different from those of the center city and fast growing newer places. Yet first suburbs exist in a policy blindspot with little in the way of state or federal tools to help them adapt to their new realities and secure a role as competitive and quality communities. This paper defines first suburbs throughout the nation, examines their similarities and differences, and, finally, sets out a policy agenda tailored specifically to these distinctive places."
Full Paper (PDF; 746 KB)
See also:
Transcript from symposium accompanying release of report, including keynote address by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

GAO report on discount cards

New from GAO. This looked at how company's managed the discount cards in time before Medicare Part D. (Thanks again to ResourceShelf Docuticker for the link):

Medicare: Sponsors' Management of the Prescription Drug Discount Card and Transitional Assistance Benefit

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Another reason to like your 50s?

According to a news release, "Men in their fifties are more satisfied with their sex lives than men in their thirties and forties, recording similar levels to 20-29 year-olds, according to a survey published in the February issue of BJU International."

Sex drive goes down, the survey showed, but satisfaction was high.

Find the release here:

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Some links from Civic Ventures

From the latest Civic Ventures e-newsletter, some helpful links to recent "articles worth reading":

To see the whole e-newsletter and learn more about Civic Ventures, go to its web site at Home.

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Get the latest ABO newsletter

The latest AGE BEAT ONLINE, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA), is available (Feb. 21, 2006 –Volume 6, Number 7)

IN THIS ISSUE: Biting the gold.

1. CALENDAR: World Parkinson Congress Offers Phone Access to Press Briefings; Families USA Holds Conference Call Friday on Potential Harm of Federal Budget; National Silver-Haired Congress This Week; Influenza Teleconference Transcript Now Available; Civic Shmivick at NCOA-ASA Joint Conference on Aging.

2. “AGE BEATLES NEWS”: San Diego ElderCare Site Starts Blog by Many With Alzheimer’s; Cox Newspapers Testing Q&A Column on Medicare Part D

3. “ON THE ABO BLOG”: John Cutter Interviews Alzheimer’s Researcher on Wandering

4. “LARKIN’S LINKS”: Our Diligent Columnist Can’t See Eye-to-Eye with Glaucoma Technology

5. LETTERS: An Encore Story on Betty Friedan

Click here to go to a page where you can download a PDF of the whole newsletter.

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Brain health report online today

The National Institutes on Health sent out a news release today about “promising avenues for maintaining or enhancing cognitive and emotional function” as we age. If you want the NIH release, go here. The Alzheimer's Association has its release here. And you can the full report as a PDF here.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Medicare signups, but at what cost...

From Tuesday's Washington Post, an A1 story (available online tonight) that looks at the enrollment for low-income Medicare beneficiaries in Part D:
A $400 million campaign by the Bush administration to enroll low-income seniors in prescription drug plans that would cost them just a few dollars has signed up 1.4 million people, a fraction of the 8 million eligible for the new coverage.
At this rate, by some calculations, the government is on track to spend about $250 for each person it enrolls, and even then would have only 2 million poor senior citizens taking advantage of what is perhaps the most generous government benefit available today.

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Two reports from AARP available

These are from January but popped up this weeked on ResourceShelf Docuticker. You can find links there under postings for Sunday, Feb 19:

1. Phased Retirement: Who Opts for It and Toward What End?
Source: AARP Public Policy Institute
Phased Retirement: Who Opts for It and Toward What End?
“Which workers might opt for phased-retirement if opportunities were more widely available, when and under what circumstances they might do so, the factors that might be associated with taking phased retirement, and the consequences of their decisions for them and their families are explored in this AARP Public Policy Institute Issue Paper by Yung-Ping Chen and John C. Scott.”

2. The State of 50+ America 2006
Older Americans--Quality of Life, Source: AARP Public Policy Institute
“Compared with a decade ago, the state of 50+ America seems to have improved, but AARP’s third annual 'report card' on the quality of life of midlife and older Americans finds that the picture has become less favorable and the outlook more bleak during the most recent year.”

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Meet same (old) boss

Here's one I hadn't seen before:
The American boss of the future might look a lot like Dana Cable Sr., who works 10 hours daily, worries over bills, meets customers and tinkers with inventions that won't hit the market for years. Cable is 80 and refuses to quit.
That's from an article that originally appeared, apparently, in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but I found it here Sunday. I knew we boomers were getting old, but this makes point that so are our bosses. (Me? Everyone I work for is younger than I am, but journalism does seem to eat its young before they reach my age -- rapidly approaching 50.)

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Take this pill...uh, maybe not

The NY Times news analysis today and the similar Washington Post article today about the unexpected results of two recent studies on women's health are good ones. When this kind of thing happens -- when conventional wisdom or early studies are trumped by more rigorous research -- the typical person says HUH? That's why pieces like today's work so well. This easily could be done in many different markets, but also, I might suggest a story in general on how research is conducted, using, perhaps, someone stage 2 or 3 of a drug study.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Older soldiers never...quit?

An A1 story today in Washington Post about older soldiers who are still, or are back fighting or serving as contractors. Would be good one to try locally, perhaps before next group ships out or someone goes to work there. Here's nut graph from Post:
Decades removed from the conflict that molded -- and, for some, scarred -- their generation, dozens of Vietnam veterans have signed up for duty in Iraq. Some are still in uniform, graying guardsmen and reservists activated as part of the largest call-up since the last time most saw combat more than 30 years ago.

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GOP running off older voters?

The NY Times has posted this afternoon a Sunday story by Robin Toner that looks at the effect the problems with Medicare Part D's start (and some other issues) might have on the GOP's popularity among older voters as we approach the midterm elections:
“...pollsters say the Republicans' difficulties with the over-60 vote go beyond the complicated drug benefit, which began Jan. 1. President Bush's failed effort to create private accounts in Social Security last year was also unpopular with many older Americans. That, in addition to confusion over the drug benefit, has ”taken the key swing vote that's been trending the Republicans' way and put it at risk for the next election,“ said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster. ”And what that means is Republicans are going to have to work extra hard.“

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Live long and not prosper?

How about a retirement age of, oh, 85? Here's part of an interesting news release, from EurekAlert:

In the 21st century, state-of-the-art anti-aging technologies may extend human lifespans at an unprecedented rate, bringing with them a host of social and economic challenges, says biologist Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University.
The combined impact of these medical advances would have major implications for the global community in the new century. Tuljapurkar, the Dean and Virginia Morrison Professor of Population Studies, will give a talk Feb. 17 on the demographic and economic consequences of anti-aging therapies at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in St. Louis.

“Some people believe we are on the brink of being able to extend human lifespan significantly, because we've got most of the technologies we need to do it,” Tuljapurkar said.

There is hope in the scientific community that extending life also will prolong the healthy and active years of life, he said, adding, “That's where I come in.”

(Note: I'm guessing most people know EurekAlert, where you can search for science news like this. Another I recommend is Newswise. If you have others like that to recommend, post here as comment or e-mail me.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Research on dementia and wandering

In the blog world -- or blogosphere to many -- this is known as a cross-post. I blogged on my Orlando Sentinel blog about a University of Florida researcher who is helping with the search for a local 91-year-old woman. Dr. Meredeth Rowe is a leading researcher in the area of dementia and wandering, and talks in a Q/A I did about the issue and recent research. You can find it here.

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GAO on disasters and nursing homes

Found on ResourceShelf Docuticker

New GAO Correspondence (PDF)
Source: General Accountability Office
Disaster Preparedness: Preliminary Observations on the Evacuation of Hospitals and Nursing Homes Due to Hurricanes

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Study on risk to spouse/caregivers

The study that showed limited benefit for older woman from Vitamin D got more play in most papers, but I found this other study from this week's New England Journal of Medicine a little more interesting -- it showed the risk of death of a spouse/caregiver when their loved one is seriously ill. (Here's a Boston Globe article from today on the research.)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Maybe we don't want to know

A lot of media published the quiz designed to tell you how much longer you might live. But my favorite headline was in the Globe and Mail:

When will Boomers die? Take this test.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

ABO for Feb 14

Newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA)
Feb. 14, 2006 -Volume 6, Number 6

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 John Cutter, Marilynn Larkin and Mary Johnson. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at
Send news about substantial articles or series on aging, special sections, your book, awards or other developments to And check out ABO the Blog at
IN THIS ISSUE: Yummy flavanoids for healthy hearts.
1. RESOURCES: PBS's “Almost Home” Caregiving Film Previewed Tomorrow at Senate Aging Committee Hearing; NCOA-ASA Joint Conference registration
2. “AGE BEATLES NEWS”: Stan Hinden's Updated Book “How to Retire Happy” Released; Saul Friedman's 10th Anniversary Column for Newsday; Greg Daugherty Returns to Consumer Reports Staff; Winokur and Kashi Post New Project on
3. “LARKIN'S LINKS” on End-of-Life Conundrum
4. “ON THE ABO BLOG”: Social Security, Medicare and “Middlesex”?
5. “SHE SAID WHAT?”: Letters on Betty Friedan
Click here to go to get a PDF of the whole newsletter.

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Medicare: Tough to pick, easier to use

Posted this evening on Wall Street Journal Online:
Most seniors who have enrolled in a Medicare drug plan say they have found it difficult to choose a plan and to understand the benefits; however, once enrolled, only one in four seniors has found the plan difficult to use, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll.

Of seniors enrolled in a Medicare drug plan, 60% said “It is/has been difficult for me to choose a plan,” and 63% said “It is/has been difficult for me to understand the benefits.” In contrast, only 26% said “It is/has been difficult for me to use the plan.”

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Is Social Security dead?

I've hit this drum a couple of times -- that Social Security is not dead as an issue, that Republicans won't let it. (See recent posts tagged Social Security). Below is a Technorati chart that shows blog posts about Social Security in last 30 days, with spike after State of the Union. (Click on chart to go to Technorati, where you can change chart to go back as much as a full year.)
Posts that contain “Social Security” per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

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Really tough choices on Medicare

From David Letterman's Top Ten list of Dick Cheney excuses ... No 2 . "Until Democrats approve Medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly."

Read the whole list here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

War? Social Security? How'm I doing?

From the Heritage Foundation's Michael Franc today, a commentary whose headline says “History will judge Bush on terror war, Social Security.” I grew up in New York and wonder if Bush, as my old mayor Ed Koch, ever is moved to ask, “How'm I doing?” (I know Social Security is one of the Heritage Foundation's favorite issues, but am I in the minority to think the issue is not going away?)

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New study on estrogen and hearts

From tomorrow's (Tuesday's) Washington Post (but online tonight)...more news from the confusing world of estrogen. This time, a study indicates estrogen “does not increase the risk of heart disease for women in their fifties and may even be protective.” The piece says:
“These findings are reassuring for women who want to use these hormones around the age of menopause in the short term for the relief of symptoms,” said Jacques Rossouw of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the research published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. But experts, including some of the researchers involved in the new analysis, disagreed sharply about whether the findings also support a controversial theory that the hormone may prove to be effective for cutting a younger woman's risk of heart disease.

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Older hunters and accidents?

Tucked in today's Washington Post article about Vice President Dick Cheney shooting a 78-year-old companion in a hunting accident is this:
The International Hunter Education Association, which represents safety coordinators for fish and wildlife agencies and tracks incident reports by state, said on its Web site that hunting accidents in the United States have declined about 30 percent over the past decade. In 2002, the most recent year for which data were available, 89 fatal and 761 nonfatal incidents were reported. In 26 of the cases, including one fatality, the intended target was quail.
All of this makes me wonder how many older hunters there are, how many get hurt in accidents, how many own guns.

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

NYT column on “Middlesex”

Tucked in the NY Times magazine today is a column with the title “What's so hot about 50?” It's a response to the the “feel good tiding” on “middlesex.”

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New survey on retiree benefits

Just in from Kaiser Family Foundation (and good one for anyone in DC early for White House Conference on Aging. Note ... you also can call in from out of town): “The Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates will release their 4th annual survey documenting the increasing costs of retiree benefits for both large private-sector employers and their retirees. The new survey adds an in-depth examination of employers’ plans for both 2006 and in future years. The survey also assesses the bottom-line impact of the federal subsidies related to the new Medicare drug benefit, which provide financial incentives for employers that continue to provide drug coverage to Medicare-eligible retirees. The Kaiser/Hewitt survey will be released at a reporters-only briefing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, December 7 at 11 a.m. ET. (Reporters unable to attend in person will be able to participate via a conference call.) ... Space is limited for the briefing. Reporters should RSVP to Tiffany Ford at (202) 347-5270 or to participate either in person or via teleconference.”

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Something NOT said in State of Union

In his weekly radio address today, President Bush said there are “challenges” in the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, but still said it would work out. Here's a link to a story. You can read or hear the address on the White House Web site here -- and even subscribe to a podcast. (You go, George.)

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Three new studies to check out

Post on ResourceShelf Docuticker this morning, three aging related studies (find them and links on the Docuticker Web site, under Feb. 11):
  • Alzheimer's Disease--Patient Care, Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute. From press release: “A survey by the MetLife Mature Market Institute® shows that 61% of assisted living facilities in the U.S. provide specialized care for those suffering from dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, with fully 50% charging extra for the service. Of those with additional costs, rates ranged considerably, from $50 to $3,000 per month with the majority reporting additional costs of up to $1,000 per month.”
  • Public Attitudes towards the Severity of and Treatments for Chronic, Debilitating Conditions. From press release: “A new report issued today by the National Consumers League (NCL) has found that the American public believes that patients suffering from chronic, debilitating conditions are lacking adequate treatments.”
  • Retirees--Substance Abuse--Treatment. Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Office of Applied Studies (OAS) “About four in five admissions among retired persons (80 percent) reported alcohol as the primary substance of abuse -- a substantially higher proportion than other admissions (44 percent) -- in the 29 States reporting retirement status (Figure 1). Retired admissions were correspondingly less likely to report illicit drugs including opiates (5 vs. 13 percent), cocaine (4 vs. 14 percent), marijuana (3 vs. 18 percent), or stimulants (1 vs. 6 percent) as their primary substance.”

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Is the assisted suicide debate really back?

In his NY Times Beliefs column today, Peter Steinfels looks at whether the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in assisted suicide really will reopen the debate. Whether it does or doesn't, Steinfels says “the question will not go away” because “the public is evenly divided over legalizing doctor-assisted suicide.” He mentions a Pew study -- see my previous blog post about it -- from a survey taken last November. In other right-to-die news earlier this week, St. Pete Times reporter Curtis Krueger wrote about the dueling books that are coming about the death of Terry Schivao - one from her husband and one from others in her family. (Of no particular relevance, I was an intern at Commonweal magazine in New York City in 1978 when Peter Steinfels was an editor. I almost gave up the profession, because I thought he and the other editors -- Edward Skillin, James O'Gara and my friend and teacher Ray Schroth -- were so much smarter and better journalists than I was that I would never make it. Peter, of course, would be horrified to hear that, since I remember him as a most gracious -- but tough -- editor. For agebeaters into trivia and coincidences, Daniel Callahan of the Hasting Center -- and a great source on death and dying issues -- was once an editor at Commonweal in the 1960s.)

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Will boomers go to senior centers?

Here's a good topic -- how are communities planning for the recreational needs of aging boomers? Do they expect them to have the same interest in senior centers? This comes from San Jose Merc on Friday:

An effort to assess the inevitable impacts of the aging Baby Boom generation on Palo Alto's recreational and community services is under way, the city announced Thursday.

A city-led task force plans to meet for six months and eventually produce a ``white paper'' describing the repercussions of the changing demographics. The paper will also outline how Palo Alto should prepare for a senior citizen population to double what it was in 2000.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

What's a Technorati tag?

I have started to tag my blog entries. Basically, this means assigning each entry a subject or category -- Aging, Baby Boomers, Social Security, etc. By clicking on a word, you will be taken to Technorati's web site to see other blog entries on the Internet that are similarly tagged. So, if you want to see what people, for example, are saying on blogs about Medicare, on a day when I post on Medicare, click on the Technorati tag and see. You also can search yourself for tag entries here.

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Social Security: A 2008 campaign issue?

From Newsday this afternoon:
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday attacked President Bush's Social Security proposals as "morally and fiscally bankrupt" because it seeks to end some payments to widows and orphans.
Perhaps the prediction in the earlier post was correct.

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Wisc. extends Medicare coverage

Anyone else following extended it this long? I thought other states extended it a month or so. It comes from AP story on Duluth New Tribune, Wisc. web site:
MILWAUKEE - The state is extending its emergency Medicare coverage through March 15 to give the federal government more time to work the glitches out of its new drug program, Gov. Jim Doyle said Friday. "Wisconsin's seniors are still facing obstacles to getting the prescriptions they need. These people shouldn't have to pay the price because of the federal government's mess," Doyle said in a statement.

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Social Security keeps on giving

This comes this morning on from Inquirer columnist Andrew Cassel:

Fellow pundits, it is time to face the truth. We are doomed.

Our fate is sealed. For the rest of our working lives, we ink-stained media wretches (and that includes you with bytes under your fingernails) will be writing, blogging and podcasting about Social Security.

It is the Sisyphus story, the issue that never goes away.

Thank my stars I am not a pundit anymore, but I do recall we were all thinking Social Security was off our radar after President Bush's last attempt to "save" it.

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The numbers game in Medicare

How many people are enrolled in Medicare, the Detroit Free Press asks this morning?

The Department of Health and Human Services says 24 million of the 42 million eligible Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled. Others say only 3.6 million have voluntarily enrolled in the new prescription drug plans.

Seems like good question...and good story.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

'Naughty old-timers" in movies

A commentary in the LA Times opens with this question: "What's with naughty old-timers in movies lately?" It looks at older people as "figures of fun" in film

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Move over and let the boomers eat

From PR Newswire today (and is anyone surprised!):
NEW YORK, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Whether they're cooking, dining out, feeding their children, entertaining, or eating on-the-go, Baby Boomers are not afraid to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to food, according to Baby Boomers and the U.S. Food and Beverage Industry, a new report from market research publisher Packaged Facts, a division of, a leading provider of industry-specific market research reports.

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Why Chip blogs

A little off the agebeat, but Chip's a boomer, so maybe not. Chip Scanlan of Poynter recently started a blog, the Mechanic & the Muse. Yesterday he posted a column about seven reasons why he blogs,

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