5 Steps for Picking a Medicare Plan

FOR MOST OF US, MAKING the move from private, employer-provided health insurance to Medicare is a daunting task. First, there’s the new lexicon: Medicare Advantage, Part B, Part D, Medigap – what do they mean? Then there’s the fear: “The Medicare decisions you’re about to make will affect your health care and out-of-pocket costs for the rest of your life,” says the Medicare information organization 65 Incorporated.

Yikes – that’s a lot of pressure! Take a deep breath, because with some research and careful consideration, you can find a Medicare plan that works for you. Here are the steps you should take to make the right choice.

1. Check your timing. “Timing is one of most important decisions a person can make,” says Diane Omdahl, co-founder and president of 65 Incorporated. Many people need to enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period, which is the seven months surrounding one’s 65th birthday – including the three months before, your birthday month and the four months after. Patients may be responsible for late penalties and lapses in coverage if they don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll outside your 65th birthday window or during open enrollment, for unplanned events like losing a job and associated health insurance coverage.

Full story at US News Health

Keto diet may protect against cognitive decline

Ketogenic, or keto, diets are low-carb and fat-rich, and many people who follow such regimens do it to shed excess weight. However, a keto diet may bring other benefits, too. In particular, it may help keep the brain healthy and young, as new research in mice seems to suggest.

A keto diet is high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and has an adequate amount of protein.

This kind of diet is meant to trigger ketosis, which is a metabolic process through which the body breaks down fat and protein and transforms them into energy, leading to weight loss.

Full story at Medical News Today

A compound found in apples can slow down aging

New research has identified a natural compound found in many types of fruit, such as apples and strawberries, and vegetables that can slow down the aging process.’

One key factor in the aging process is known as “cellular senescence,” or the aging of the cell.

When a cell enters this stage, it is no longer able to divide.

When that eventually happens, the cell releases inflammatory signals that prompt the immune system to “clear out” that damaged cell.

Full story at Medical News Today

Can chiropractic care disrupt vision?

For those in the habit of getting their neck adjusted by a chiropractor, the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center has interesting information to know about: High velocity neck manipulation has been shown to result in stress on the eye and lead to spotty vision.

The risk is rare, but one that Yannis Paulus, M.D., a retina specialist at Kellogg, reports on in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports.

The energetic thrusts and rotations sometimes performed in high-velocity neck manipulation have been linked to damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Resulting abnormal bleeding inside the eye may also cause vision loss.

This was the case for a 59-year-old woman who experienced a “tadpole” shaped spot in her vision while driving home from a chiropractor visit — with her sight worsening the next day. She had just received cervical spine manipulation using the high-velocity technique to help with her headaches.

Full story at Science Daily

What Is a Geriatric Emergency Department?

NOBODY LOVES AN emergency room visit, least of all older patients. Everything about the ER experience can be more challenging for older adults. Time in the waiting room is harder to tolerate: You’re cold and they’ve run out of blankets. If you’re confused or disoriented, the harsh lighting, bursts of yelling and constant noise make it worse. If you’re unsteady on your feet and need the bathroom, navigating cramped ER quarters is difficult. If your joints are painful or your skin is thin and delicate, “resting” on a cot or stretcher is tough. If you’re alone, without a friend or family member, it’s frightening.

When older patients are admitted to the emergency department, vague-sounding symptoms (“I feel dizzy.” Or “I just don’t feel right.”) may actually be more serious than for someone younger. Common conditions like urinary tract infections can present themselves quite differently depending on age, and treatments may vary. For these reasons and more, some emergency departments are making changes to tailor their care and better meet the needs of older adults.

Full story at US News

Daily Aspirin Doesn’t Appear to Prolong Healthy Life for Older Adults

IF YOU’RE AN ADULT IN your late 60s or 70s who’s physically healthy, mentally sharp and trying to stay that way, taking a daily low-dose aspirin probably won’t help that much, new research shows. Until now, there hasn’t been much guidance for healthy older people trying to weigh the possible preventive effects of aspirin against its known increased risks of bleeding.

On Sept. 16, findings from a large new study on preventive aspirin use appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. The three-pronged clinical trial encompassed more than 19,000 older adults in the U.S. and Australia. Participants were living independently, without heart disease, dementia or diabetes when they enrolled between 2010 and 2014 in the study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.

Participants, whose average age was 74, were randomly assigned to take either a daily low-dose 100 milligram aspirin (the international equivalent of a standard 81 mg baby aspirin) or a placebo. Over a roughly five-year period, researchers followed these healthy seniors to see whether regular preventive aspirin extended their lifespan free of disability or dementia. However, there was no real difference between people on aspirin and those on a placebo, results showed.

Full story at US News

Divorcing After 50: How Gray Divorce Affects Your Health

DIVORCE CAN BE TOUGH ON health, no matter your age. Legal uncoupling is listed as the No. 2 stressor on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, a scale that predicts which life events are likely to cause a stress-induced health breakdown within two years.

And for people age 50 or older, whose divorce rates have doubled since 1990, divorce may be even harder on their health. “What I see among older patients is that divorce can have myriad psychological and physical consequences, especially for those with already existing medical problems,” says Dr. Andreea Seritan, a geriatric psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California—San Francisco.

Divorce rates for people younger than age 50 are higher (about double) than they are for seniors. But younger couples’ divorce rates aren’t seeing dramatic increases. For 40-somethings, divorce rates are only slightly higher than they were in 1990. For people younger than 40, divorce rates have actually fallen.

Full story at US News

State of addiction: For the elderly, when is opioid prescription worth the risk?

Just one pill can kill.

It’s a slogan nurse Lori S. Joseph, a wellness educator with Lifestream Services Inc., repeats over and over to her clients. It’s written on bookmarks she passed out to elderly patients during a speaking tour this past spring on opiate use, abuse and its effect on elderly patients.

It’s reinforced through quizzes she gives to her audiences both before, and after, her presentations on signs and symptoms of opiate abuse, withdrawal and proper disposal.

“The education needs to be there because so many clients leave the hospital setting without the proper education (on opiate use),” Joseph said. “Patients get home and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know who to ask.”

Full story at the Indy Star

A biomarker in the brain’s circulation system may be Alzheimer’s earliest warning

USC scientists say Alzheimer’s could be diagnosed earlier if scientists focus on an early warning within the brain’s circulation system.

That’s important because researchers believe that the earlier Alzheimer’s is spotted, the better chance there is to stop or slow the disease.

“Cognitive impairment, and accumulation in the brain of the abnormal proteins amyloid and tau, are what we currently rely upon to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, but blood-brain barrier breakdown and cerebral blood flow changes can be seen much earlier,” said Berislav Zlokovic, the Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This shows why healthy blood vessels are so important for normal brain functioning.”

In a new review article in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature Neuroscience, Zlokovic and his colleagues recommend that the blood-brain barrier, or BBB, be considered an important biomarker — and potential drug target — for Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s is irreversible, and not fully understood, understanding the first step in the disease process is a critical step in fighting it.

Full story at Science Daily

CDC: Alzheimer’s, Dementia Rate Expected to Double by 2060

THE SHARE OF AMERICANS with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to more than double by 2060 as people increasingly survive into older adulthood, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An estimated 5 million older adults had Alzheimer’s or a related dementia in 2014, and by 2060 that figure is expected to rise to 13.9 million, or about 3.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the report, which evaluated health claims data for more than 28 million Medicare beneficiaries.

Alzheimer’s – the fifth-leading cause of death for adults 65 and older and the sixth-leading cause of death for Americans overall – destroys memory and cognitive functioning and poses a greater risk as people age.

Full story at US News