Look to Your Aunts, Uncles and Parents for Clues to Your Longevity

Your chances of inheriting genes linked to longevity are highest if you come from a family with many long-lived members, researchers say.

And that includes aunts and uncles, not just parents.

Using databases at the University of Utah and in the Dutch province of Zeeland, investigators analyzed the genealogies of nearly 315,000 people from over 20,000 families dating back to 1740.

“We observed . . . the more long-lived relatives you have, the lower your hazard of dying at any point in life,” said study lead author Niels van den Berg. He is a doctoral student in molecular epidemiology at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Full story at US News

The course of back pain over time

Back pain is among the most frequently reported health problems in the world. New research published in Arthritis Care & Research, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, examines patterns in back pain over time and identifies the patient characteristics and the extent of healthcare and medication use (including opioids) associated with different patterns.

The study included a representative sample of the Canadian population that was followed from 1994 to 2011. A total of 12,782 participants were interviewed every two years and provided data on factors including comorbidities, pain, disability, opioid and other medication use, and healthcare visits.

During the 16 years of follow-up, almost half (45.6 percent) of participants reported back pain at least once. There were four trajectories of pain among these participants: persistent (18 percent), developing (28.1 percent), recovery (20.5 percent), and occasional (33.4 percent).

Full story at Science Daily

Sleep Patterns May Offer Clues to Alzheimer’s

Poor sleep is common among Alzheimer’s patients, and researchers say they’re beginning to understand why.

Scientists studied 119 people aged 60 and older. Eighty percent had no thinking or memory problems, while the rest had only mild problems.

The researchers found that participants with less slow-wave sleep — deep sleep that’s needed to preserve memories and to wake up feeling refreshed — had higher levels of the brain protein tau.

Elevated tau levels are a possible sign of Alzheimer’s disease and have been linked to brain damage and mental decline, the scientists said.

Full story at US News

Having more than one chronic disease amplifies costs of diseases

Having two or more non-communicable diseases (multimorbidity) costs the country more than the sum of those individual diseases would cost, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Tony Blakely from the University of Otago, New Zealand, and colleagues.

Few studies have estimated disease-specific health system expenditure for many diseases simultaneously. In the new work, the researchers used nationally linked health data for all New Zealanders, including hospitalization, outpatient, pharmaceutical, laboratory and primary care from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2014. These data include 18.9 million person-years and $26.4 billion US in spending. The team calculated annual health expenditure per person and analyzed the association of this spending to whether a person had any of six non-communicable disease classes — cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal, neurological, and lung/liver/kidney (LLK) diseases — or a combination of any of those diseases.

59% of publically-funded health expenditures in New Zealand were attributable to non-communicable diseases. Nearly a quarter (23.8%) of this spending was attributable to the costs of having two or more diseases above and beyond what the diseases cost separately. Of the remaining spending, heart disease and stroke accounted for 18.7%, followed by musculoskeletal (16.2%), neurological (14.4%), cancer (14.1%), LLK disease (7.4%) and diabetes (5.5%). Expenditure was generally the highest in the year of diagnosis and the year of death.

Full story at Science Daily

Technology and doctors combine to detect patients who don’t take their pills

Almost everyone does it at some point — skip a dose of a medication, decide to not schedule a recommended follow-up appointment or ignore doctor’s orders to eat or exercise differently. Such nonadherence can seem harmless on an individual level, but costs the U.S. health care system billions of dollars a year. Now, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown how to best identify nonadherent patients, combining technology with the perceptions of health care providers.

The study, published online earlier this year and appearing in the December issue of Pediatric Nephrology, was conducted in a population of young people with chronic kidney disease, but likely holds lessons in how to track nonadherence more generally.

“We want to have better ways to figure out who is nonadherent so we can focus our efforts better on those patients who may require more assistance or specific resources to improve adherence,” says first author Cozumel Pruette, M.D., M.H.S., assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “There are resources we can provide to boost adherence if we know who needs them.”

Full story at Science Daily

Announcing the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems

The Administration for Community Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announce the launch of the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems (NCAPPS).

During the past 30 years, systems for people with disabilities and older adults with long-term service and support needs have generally shifted to embrace person-centered principles, premised on the belief that people should have the authority to define and pursue their own vision of a good life. Yet, the degree to which these systems have fully adopted person-centered practices varies, and many continue to grapple with how to effectively implement them.

The goal of NCAPPS is to promote systems change that makes person-centered principles not just an aspiration, but a reality in the lives of people who require services and supports across the lifespan. NCAPPS will assist states, tribes, and territories to transform their long-term care service and support systems to implement U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy on person-centered thinking, planning, and practices. It will support a range of person-centered thinking, planning, and practices, regardless of funding source. Activities will include providing technical assistance to states, tribes, and territories; establishing communities of practice to promote best practices; hosting educational webinars; and creating a national clearinghouse of resources to support person-centered practice.

Full story at acl.gov

New Issue Brief from the Evaluation of the Nutrition Services Program: An Examination of Social Activities at Congregate Meals Sites and Their Role in Improving Socialization Outcomes of Participants

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) conducted a three-part evaluation of its Title III-C Nutrition Services Program (NSP). The Process Evaluation, Cost Study, and two reports from the Outcome Evaluation have previously been released.

ACL is now releasing an issue brief based on surveys of local service providers and participants at congregate meal sites: An Examination of Social Activities at Congregate Meal Sites and Their Role in Improving Socialization Outcomes of Participants.

This issue brief examines the types of congregate meal sites that offer social activities and whether the effect of congregate meal participation on socialization outcomes differs for participants who attend meal sites that offer social activities and those who attend meal sites that do not offer these activities.

Full story at acl.gov

Small Modular Houses May Offer Alternatives To Older Adults

Walk around the campus of the University of Southern Indiana, and you may notice a very small house. It’s part of an experiment to create houses of 600 square feet that can be built in days. These little homes could offer housing alternatives for elderly people. Isaiah Seibert of member station WNIN in Evansville has the story.

ISAIAH SEIBERT, BYLINE: The small, 600-square-foot modular house is called Minka. The name is derived from a simple and functional style of Japanese home. Bill Thomas is a geriatrician by training, but today he’s overseeing the construction of one of the first Minka prototypes on this university campus in southwestern Indiana, with his elderly patients in mind.

Full story at npr.org

Turned down for federal disability payments, thousands die waiting for appeals to be heard

MILWAUKEE – It isn’t easy to be patient when you can’t work and you’re in pain, as Christine Morgan knows all too well.

Her chronic pain comes from fibromyalgia. Morgan, 60, also has spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces within the spine that pinches the nerves, most often in the lower back and neck. To top it off, she is diabetic, has kidney disease, high blood pressure and depression.

Yet Morgan has been turned down for Social Security Disability Insurance –  twice. “They sent me a letter that said I wasn’t disabled,” she said.

Full story at Science Daily

Urine drug testing may be important in early phases of addiction treatment

A new study performed by Boston Medical Center (BMC) and faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine shows that urine drug testing can be a useful tool to treat patients with opioid use disorder in a primary care setting. The analysis revealed that patients are less likely to disclose drug use earlier in treatment, and although the study was not able to identify reasons for this, the authors believe that it may be related to fear of discharge from a treatment program and stigma related to relapse. Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the study indicates the need to develop interventions for patients who have positive urine drug tests in order to keep them engaged in care.

Office-based addiction treatment has become a key strategy in combating the opioid epidemic in the United States, where patients get treatment for their disease in a primary care setting with close monitoring during their recovery. However, one of the questions in the current practice of is how best to monitor for illicit substance use, especially when patients do not report it. There has also been a lack of data regarding how frequently patients in these programs report substance use compared to finding a positive result by urine drug testing (UDT).

Full story at Science Daily