Two New Research Funding Opportunities: Small Business Innovation Research and Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training

Two new funding opportunities from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL have been announced for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) ProgramPhase I and Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program–Health and Function.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Phase I

The purpose of the SBIR program is to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, strengthen the role of small business in meeting federal research or research and development needs, and improve the return on investment from federally-funded research for economic and social benefits to the nation. The goal is to improve the lives of people with disabilities through research and development of products generated by small businesses, and to increase the commercial application of NIDILRR-supported research results and development products.

Full story at acl.gov

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

Largely unrecognized role of youth caregivers illuminated in new study

‘I need this — can you grab my pills?’ ‘Can you help me with this?’ ‘Can you go in my bag and get me my medicine?’

For more than half of her 16 years, 10th grader Destiny has answered calls like this to help her grandmother and great-grandmother manage their medications.

“I’ve been helping out basically most of my life,” she said.

Despite the essential role Destiny and other youth caregivers play, little is known about how they learn to manage medications, what they know about the medicine they administer, and what kind of rewards and challenges they encounter day to day.

To find out more, Julia Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine physician-researcher and pediatrician, and colleagues studied 28 middle school and high school students 12 to 19 years old. Their study is the first of its kind to take a comprehensive look at this population; they reported their findings online in the Journal of Adolescence.

Full story at Science Daily

Using community choirs to boost well-being

Community music programs may help combat loneliness in older adults and heighten their interest in life, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

A recent study that featured in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences looked at a novel way to fight loneliness in older adults — joining a choir.

The aim of the program, called Community of Voices, was to measure the impact of art-based interventions on well-being and quality of life.

People are now living longer thanks to medical and technological advances. However, as our average lifespan steadily increases, the issue of loneliness grows in parallel.

Full story at Medical News Today

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

Bacterial pneumonia far more dangerous to the heart than viral pneumonia

Heart complications in patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia are more serious than in patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia, according to new research from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

In the study of nearly 5,000 patients, researchers found that patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia had a 60 percent greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death than patients who had been diagnosed with viral pneumonia.

“We’ve always known pneumonia was a risk factor for a major adverse cardiac event, like a heart attack, within the first 90 days of being diagnosed,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiovascular researcher with the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center. “What we didn’t know was which type of pneumonia was more dangerous. The results of this study provided a clear answer, which will allow physicians to better monitor patients and focus on reducing their risk of a major adverse cardiac event.”

Full story at Science Daily

Could singing relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s?

According to a recent pilot study, singing therapy might reduce some of the difficult-to-treat motor and mood symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects more than 10 million people worldwide.

Because Parkinson’s predominantly affects older adults, as the population of the United States ages, its prevalence is increasing.

Symptoms include tremor and difficulty coordinating movements. Also, mood changes can occur, with anxiety and depression being relatively common.

Full story at Medical News Today

One of the fastest-aging US states has rejected free care for seniors

Voters in Maine were presented with a ballot measure that would have provided disabled adults or people over the age of 65 with full-time, long-term care in their own homes, at no cost to individuals or their families. It was hailed by supporters as a visionary model for ensuring support for vulnerable people, one that could be rolled out in other states as the US elder population grows.

Alas, it’s a vision whose time has not yet come. Voters in Maine soundly defeated Question 1 at the polls on Tuesday (Nov. 6).

Maine is one of the fastest-aging states in the US. People aged 65 and older there are expected to outnumber those under 18 by 2020, a full 15 years before the US as a whole reaches that crucial threshold.

The vast majority of seniors prefer to age in their own homes. The availability and affordability of in-home care in Maine, however, is among the poorest in the nation. Without access to home care, family members typically shoulder the work—along with the financial cost of their own lost wages—to care for elderly relatives.

Full story at Quartz at Work