What role do brain lipids play in Parkinson’s disease?

New research looks to brain lipids to identify a new therapeutic target for Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that affects about half a million people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

One of the main characteristics of this condition is the buildup of alpha-synuclein, a type of protein that forms into toxic plaques, in the brain.

Earlier this year, a study that featured in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggested that there may be a link between the levels of certain brain lipids, or fat molecules, and the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Full story at Medical News Today

Senior Care Centers Files for Bankruptcy, Blaming ‘Expensive Leases’

Senior Care Centers announced Tuesday that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The move will allow Senior Care Centers, which has almost 10,000 residents and nearly 11,000 employees, address “burdensome debt levels and expensive leases,” according to a press release announcing the bankruptcy filing.

Senior Care Centers will continue paying vendors for the goods and services provided during the Chapter 11 process, in addition to continuing to cover payroll, according to the company.

“After careful analysis, we determined that the protections afforded by the Chapter 11 process are the best way to address the company’s debt and costly leases while allowing us to continue to provide all the top-level care and support our residents deserve,” Kevin O’Halloran, Senior Care Centers’ chief restructuring officer, said in the release.

Full story at Skilled Nursing News

What Activities Are Best for Seniors in Assisted Living or a Nursing Home?

WHEN IT COMES TIME TO find the right assisted living community or nursing home for your loved one, there are a lot of things to consider in finding the right fit, such as the quality of the medical care, fees and location. But in the scramble to find a good place for your loved one, it’s also important to consider the quality of life they’ll find in that community and whether they’ll be supported in living their best life possible.

Finding and engaging in appropriate activities for seniors – and these can run the gamut from hobbies and physical exercise to social events and outings – is a major component of a high quality of life for older adults in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. That’s because socialization and eliminating loneliness and isolation among older adults is a crucial component of staying healthy in our later years. “It’s a critical part of well-being to be able to interact with others and to have those social connections,” says Dr. Tanya Gure, section chief of geriatrics and associate clinical professor in internal medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Full story at US News

 

Medicare Cuts Payments To Nursing Homes Whose Patients Keep Ending Up In Hospital

The federal government has taken a new step to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions of nursing home patients by lowering a year’s worth of payments to nearly 11,000 nursing homes. It gave bonuses to nearly 4,000 others.

These financial incentives, determined by each home’s readmission rates, significantly expand Medicare’s effort to pay medical providers based on the quality of care instead of just the number or condition of their patients. Until now, Medicare limited these kinds of incentives mostly to hospitals, which have gotten used to facing financial repercussions if too many of their patients are readmitted, suffer infections or other injuries, or die.

“To some nursing homes, it could mean a significant amount of money,” said Thomas Martin, director of post-acute care analytics at CarePort Health, which works for both hospitals and nursing homes. “A lot are operating on very small margins.”

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Regular exercise can keep the body decades younger

In a new study involving people over 70 who have exercised regularly for years, scientists discovered that the participants’ hearts, lungs, and muscles were in equivalent shape to those of people in their 40s.

Researchers from the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, IN recently assessed the physical condition of people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades.

The team compared the health measurements of these participants with those of their more sedentary peers and with the measurements of healthy people in their 20s.

Full story at Medical News Today

Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver

This is Zora.

It may not look like much — more cute toy than futuristic marvel — but this robot is at the center of an experiment in France to change care for elderly patients.

When Zora arrived at this nursing facility an hour outside Paris, a strange thing began happening: Many patients developed an emotional attachment, treating it like a baby, holding and cooing, giving it kisses on the head.

Zora, which can cost up to $18,000, offered companionship in a place where life can be lonely. Families can visit only so much, and staff members are stretched.

Patients at the hospital, called Jouarre, have dementia and other conditions that require round-the-clock care.

Full story at the New York Times

CMS may allow hospitals to pay for housing through Medicaid

HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday said Medicaid may soon allow hospitals and health systems to directly pay for housing, healthy food or other solutions for the “whole person.”

In a speech supported by the Hatch Foundation for Civility and Solutions and Intermountain Healthcare in Washington, Azar said Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation officials are looking to move beyond existing efforts to partner with social services groups and try to manage social determinants of health as they see appropriate.

“What if we gave organizations more flexibility so they could pay a beneficiary’s rent if they were in unstable housing, or make sure that a diabetic had access to, and could afford, nutritious food?” Azar said in his prepared remarks. “If that sounds like an exciting idea … I want you to stay tuned to what CMMI is up to.”

Full story at Modern Healthcare

The good, the bad and the ugly of picking Medicare Advantage plans

Nearly half of all new Medicare enrollees are signing up for Medicare Advantage plans, which now account for about 35 percent of the entire Medicare market.

The other 65 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are in what’s called original Medicare, which consists of Part A (hospital, nursing home) and Part B (doctors, equipment, outpatient expenses). Those patients usually have a private Part D drug plan, and a quarter have a private Medigap supplement policy.

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans must cover everything that original Medicare covers, and they can’t discriminate against people who are ill or have preexisting conditions. Anyone, regardless of their health, can get an MA plan or switch to one during open enrollment, which continues through Dec. 7.

Full story at PBS.org

Weightlifting is good for your heart and it doesn’t take much

Lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent, according to a new Iowa State University study. Spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit, the researchers found.

“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective,” said DC (Duck-chul) Lee, associate professor of kinesiology.

The results — some of the first to look at resistance exercise and cardiovascular disease — show benefits of strength training are independent of running, walking or other aerobic activity. In other words, you do not have to meet the recommended guidelines for aerobic physical activity to lower your risk; weight training alone is enough. The study is published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Lee and his colleagues analyzed data of nearly 13,000 adults in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. They measured three health outcomes: cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke that did not result in death, all cardiovascular events including death and any type of death. Lee says resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three.

Full story at Science Daily

Better Training, Career Development Needed for America’s Direct-Care Workforce

By 2034, all of America’s baby boomers will be over the age of 70, many living with complex health care needs and multiple chronic conditions.

A well-trained direct-care workforce will be critical to keeping those baby boomers safely in their homes as they age. Without one, experts predict, public and private insurers will struggle in meeting the population’s needs.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that works to promote bipartisanship on key issues facing the United states, highlighted the need to support the country’s direct-care workforce in a report released on Thursday.

Full story at Home Healthcare News