Breakdown of brain’s visual networks linked to mental illness

Individual regions of the brain have to team up to get things done. And like in any team, the key to working together is communication.

Duke researchers used brain imaging to identify how patterns of brain connectivity — the ability of different brain regions to talk to each other — can affect a person’s likelihood of developing common forms of mental illness.

Surprisingly, they found that brain regions that help process what we see may play a key role in mental health. The results show that a person’s risk of mental illness broadly increases when the visual cortex has trouble communicating with brain networks responsible for focus and introspection.

Full story at Science Daily

Fall prevention gets harder when elderly leave hospital

More efforts are needed to prevent falls among the elderly, especially those just discharged from the hospital, Australian researchers say.

Older adults have a greater risk of falling to begin with. But this risk heightens considerably within the first six months of a hospital release, authors note in Age and Ageing.

More than half of those who do fall during this period suffer serious injury, such as hip fractures, they say.

Exercise interventions, vitamin supplementation and patient education about high-risk scenarios are known to reduce the risk of falling for elderly people in general. But in a new review of previous research, the Australian team found that these strategies were not as effective in older people following hospital discharge.

Full story at Reuters

Tips to Help You Age in Place

Joanne Theunissen was talking on the phone in the front yard of her remodeling company’s latest project. “I hope the hammering in the background isn’t too loud,” Theunissen said. “We have a full crew here: framers, electricians, and the plumber is just pulling in.”

Theunissen is the remodelers chair of the National Association of Home Builders and also the co-owner of Howling Hammer Builders in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She and her team have been busy transforming the two-story home of a couple who want to age in place. “They’re tired of the stairs, so we’re adding on a first-floor master bedroom, closet and bathroom,” Theunissen explains.

These kinds of jobs are big business for remodelers. Since last year, the NAHB has seen a 30 percent increase in the amount of its members seeking special training to help older clients who want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. Remodeling a house is just one way to make that happen.

Full story at US News

Trial for gout drug meets primary endpoint, raises safety

Febuxostat, a gout drug that has been in use for nearly a decade, was found to significantly increase the risk of death, even though it did not raise the risk of the trial’s primary endpoint, a combined rate of fatal and nonfatal adverse cardiovascular events, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session.

It is unusual for a clinical trial to reveal an increased risk of death without also showing a heightened risk of other cardiovascular outcomes such as nonfatal heart attack and stroke. The findings, which showed an uptick in deaths after patients had been taking febuxostat for two years or longer, call into question the safety of long-term febuxostat use in patients with cardiovascular disease, researchers said.

“This finding was entirely unexpected, and we’re at a loss at this time to explain why this finding was seen,” said William B. White, MD, professor of medicine at the Calhoun Cardiology Center of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “The results were consistent across many subgroups; there was no evidence of a relationship with age, sex, race or ethnicity, history of cardiovascular disease, or duration or severity of the gout.”

Full story at Science Daily

He has autism. He’s willing and able to work. Can he find the right fit?

In the past decade, Tom Whalen, a 27-year-old Baltimore County man, has had jobs at an animal shelter, a mailroom, multiple grocery stores, a doggy day-care center and a landscaping company.

He is chatty, outgoing and engaging, quick to win over strangers and ask for opportunities. Then, in short order, he loses them.

“He could get jobs,” says his mother, Sue.

“The problem is maintaining them,” adds his father, Ed.

Full story at The Washington Post

New Technologies Help Seniors Age In Place — And Not Feel Alone

Nancy Delano, 80, of Denver has no plans to slow down anytime soon. She still drives to movies, plays and dinners out with friends. A retired elder care nurse who lives alone, she also knows that “when you reach a certain age, emergencies can happen fast.” So, when her son, Tom Rogers, talked to her about installing a remote monitoring system, she didn’t hesitate.

With motion sensors placed throughout the house, Rogers can see if his mom is moving around, if she’s sleeping (or not), if she forgot to lock the door and, based on a sophisticated algorithm that detects behavioral patterns, whether her activity level or eating habits have changed significantly, for instance.

“It gives both of us peace of mind, particularly as she ages and wants to live at home,” said Rogers, who lives near Washington, D.C., hundreds of miles away from her.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Frail, Old and Dying, but Their Only Way Out of Prison Is a Coffin

Kevin Zeich had three and a half years to go on his prison sentence, but his doctors told him he had less than half that long to live. Nearly blind, battling cancer and virtually unable to eat, he requested “compassionate release,” a special provision for inmates who are very sick or old.

His warden approved the request, but officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons turned him down, saying his “life expectancy is currently indeterminate.”

Congress created compassionate release as a way to free certain inmates, such as the terminally ill, when it becomes “inequitable” to keep them in prison any longer. Supporters view the program as a humanitarian measure and a sensible way to reduce health care costs for ailing, elderly inmates who pose little risk to public safety. But despite urging from lawmakers of both parties, numerous advocacy groups and even the Bureau of Prisons’ own watchdog, prison officials use it only sparingly.

Full story at The New York Times

A tale of love, family conflict and battles over care for an aging mother

“Edith + Eddie,” a short documentary vying for an Academy Award Sunday, is a gripping look at a couple in their 90s caught up in an intense family conflict over caring for an aging parent. As a columnist who covers aging, I’m familiar with such stories. But as I immersed myself in the details of this case, I found myself reaching a familiar conclusion: real life is more complicated than in the movies.

On my first viewing, the events depicted in the 29-minute film were unsettling. It begins in the fall of 2014 with Edith Hill, 96, and Eddie Harrison, 95, who were married only a few months before, enjoying a series of intimate moments — dancing together, holding hands, exercising and chatting comfortably. It ends months later with the couple being separated by Edith’s court-appointed legal guardian, with police on the scene, and Edith taken off abruptly to Florida. Shockingly, Eddie died only a few weeks later.

Full story at news-medical.net

Macular Degeneration: Managing This Vision Condition

Helyn Guerry, 88, of Houston, looks around her room but struggles to make out the objects directly in front of her. Macular degeneration, a common eye condition among older adults, seriously blurs her central vision.

Driving is no longer possible for Guerry. Fortunately, she has a support system in place. “I have a grandson who’s very near and dear, and he comes once a day,” she says. He helps her catch up with paperwork and takes her to the grocery store because she can’t read labels now. She also has occasional professional help from an aide who accompanies her on visits to the doctor.

Guerry can’t read print books anymore. When she recently picked up her Kindle, she noticed her eyesight had deteriorated a bit more. Now she uses a machine that reads books aloud. Fortunately, she says, her hearing is still good.

Full story at US Health News

What Are the Secrets to Aging Well?

Numbers are important to Jan Sirota, a retired investment banker who lives in Sarasota, Florida. Sirota just celebrated 11 years of marriage, he cycles 40 miles per day, mentors four high school students and races cars 150 miles per hour in High Performance Driver Education events. The number that doesn’t seem to matter? His age.

“I’m 75, and it’s irrelevant to me,” Sirota says. “There’s no reason to say that I’ll slow down because I’m getting older.”

Many older adults do slow down, however, when faced with chronic disease, disability or isolation. So why is it that some people, like Sirota, can escape that fate and live vibrantly later in life? “Certainly genetics play a big part in this, and then of course luck. However, I don’t want anyone to think we can’t fight destiny a little bit,” says Dr. Patricia Harris, a geriatrician and professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Full story at US News