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Five Ways to Fight Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation

As Americans, we believe that people of all ages and abilities deserve to be treated fairly and equally and to live free from abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Tomorrow, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day , we join the world in recognizing the importance of elders to our communities and standing up for their rights. Here are five ways you can join this fight.

1. Break Down Isolation

We cannot talk about elder abuse without talking about social isolation. Elders without strong social networks face a greater risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It is up to all of us to ensure that our communities are supporting and engaging older adults. One simple way to do this is by staying in touch with the older adults in your community. So go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s door just to say “hi” or start an intergenerational book club or movie night. You can also support community efforts to empower elders and fight isolation; act by volunteering to deliver meals or serve as a long-term care ombudsman.

Full story at acl.gov

Synthetic cannabis (‘spice’, ‘k2’) use may boost stroke risk in young users

The warning follows their treatment of a 25 year old prison inmate who had no family history of heart disease or traditional cardiovascular risk factors, and who was left with a permanent disability.

He was brought to emergency care in a state of severe confusion, with weakness on the right side of his body and double incontinence.

Prison warders had found him collapsed on the bathroom floor and thought that he might have used synthetic marijuana as a ‘suspicious’ looking substance had been found by his side, and he had had several episodes of confusion after using ‘spice’ in the preceding six months.

He had smoked cigarettes for five years, but had given up two years previously, and tests for traditional cardiovascular risk factors were all within the normal range.

Full story at Science Daily

Consider an In-Patient Rehab Facility Before You Suffer a Fall

AS A SAVVY MEDICAL consumer, you may already know which hospital you’d go to in an emergency or which doctor you’d turn to for a particular procedure. But many people never plan where they’d go for a few weeks or months of in-patient rehabilitation to recuperate from a fall. That choice may not even occur to a family until Mom, Dad or a spouse winds up in the hospital. “The case manager comes in and says, ‘Look at these facilities and tell us where you want to go so we can start our paperwork.’ The family and patients are overwhelmed,” says Dr. Saket Saxena, a geriatrician at Cleveland Clinic.

But it may be time to give the scenario a little thought. This year 1 out of every 4 older adults will fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 20 percent of those people will suffer a serious injury, such as a broken hip or a head injury. While the best option is to go home after hospitalization for a fall, where you can rely on in-home or out-patient follow-up treatment, not everyone is well enough or has the support at home. It could help to know which rehab facility would be best for your family, should you ever need to stay in one.

Full story at US News

Worse Depression Trajectory in Old Age

Major depressive disorder (MDD) may be more persistent for older individuals, a longitudinal study found.

Within a cohort of 18- to 88-year-old patients, older age was tied to a worse 2-year course of depression across several variables, reported Roxanne Schaakxs, PhD, of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Older patients were more likely to have a diagnosis of major depression after 2 years (OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.00-1.17) and to have chronic symptoms (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.13-1.35). They were also less likely to achieve remission of symptoms (HR 0.91, 95% CI 0.87-0.96) and had less improvement in depression severity (regression coefficient 1.06, P<0.0001).

Patients age 70 and older had the “worst outcomes” over 2 years, Schaakxs’ group said, compared to patients age 18 to 29 years old.

Full story at Med Page Today

Opioids and Other Elder Justice Challenges

In nine days, we will join the world in commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Elder abuse is, by definition, abuse that affects older adults, and yet every year on WEAAD I see people of all ages coming together to take a stand against elder abuse. This is because elder abuse doesn’t just affect the person being targeted. Friends, family members, and neighbors all feel the effects. It affects anyone who is, or hopes one day to be, an elder living in a community where they are treated fairly and equally. And ultimately, it affects all of us, because at elder abuse strikes at our core values, which are predicated on human dignity and the right of all people to live their lives without fear of harm.

Similarly, opioid addiction doesn’t just affect the person experiencing addiction. It affects everyone around them, and as we are seeing across the country, it can have devastating effects for the entire community.

And when these two issues overlap, the results can be heartbreaking.

Full story at acl.gov

A deeper understanding of AFib could lower risk

More than 2.5 million Americans are living with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). AFib is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

What doctors and researchers currently understand about treating AFib stems mainly from whether a patient has been diagnosed with the condition or not. University of Minnesota researchers are urging the medical community to take a closer look, specifically at AFib burden.

AFib burden refers to the amount of AFib that an individual has. The goal of the scientific statement published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation is to increase knowledge and awareness by healthcare professionals of effective, state-of-the-art science related to the causes, prevention, detection, management, and future research needs related to AFib burden.

Full story at Science Daily

Wisconsin Seniors Introduced to Virtual Reality Technology

As Kathy Helgerson slipped the pair of MINDVR goggles over Rita Strauss’ head, the reaction was instant.

“It looks like Midnight!” Strauss, 87, said with glee. “My tomcat.”

It’s moments like this that lead Helgerson, Strauss’ daughter and founder of “Simple Steps to Technology” to say she has “the best job in the world.”

“It is so powerful, I can’t even tell you,” Helgerson said, tears welling in her eyes at the spark of recognition from her mom, who has Alzheimer’s. “It brings up those memories of the past. … If you had asked my mom about (the cat) normally, she would have forgotten about it.”

Full story at US News

Experimental drug restores some bladder function after spinal cord injury, study finds

An experimental drug that blocks abnormal neural communication after spinal cord injury could one day be the key to improving quality of life by improving bladder function, new research suggests.

Researchers at The Ohio State University tested the drug — which is currently available only for research — to gauge its potential to improve bladder function after spinal cord injury in mice and saw promising results.

The experimental drug (LM11A-31) appears to help by blocking the dual activity of pro-nerve growth factor (proNGF) and a receptor called p75. ProNGF is known to be secreted from the cell after nerve injury.

Full story at Science Daily

How much should seniors exercise to improve brain function?

To boost their reasoning skills and the brain’s processing speed, seniors may need to exercise for 52 hours over a period of 6 months, concludes a new study. The good news is that low-intensity exercise such as walking has the same benefits — as long as it’s carried out for this length of time.

As more and more research keeps pointing out, exercise does wonders for our brain.

For instance, a recent study that Medical News Today reported on shows that running protects our memory from the harmful effects of stress.

Full story at Medical News Today

Research Pertaining to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

ACL has issued several funding opportunities for data collection and longitudinal research pertaining to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Please see the short descriptions below and links for more details.

State of the States in Developmental Disabilities-On-going Data Collection and Information Dissemination — The purpose of this project is to maintain national longitudinal research on state fiscal efforts related to services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Activities include: analyzing developmental disabilities and financial and programmatic trends in each state;  collaborating with other ACL or other federal agencies data collection projects; developing products for public knowledge and use; and conducting evaluation to demonstrate the impact of the project. View more details and application instructions . Deadline for submissions is by midnight on July 25.

Full story at acl.gov