Many ‘Gen Xers’ Desolate as They Navigate Adulthood: Study

Despair runs rampant through Generation X as these Americans struggle through middle age, a new study reports.

So-called indicators of despair — depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse — are rising among those in their late 30s and early 40s, and it’s occurring across-the-board, researchers say.

“These are getting worse as people age through their 30s,” said lead researcher Lauren Gaydosh, an assistant professor with the Vanderbilt University Center for Medicine, Health and Society. “For example, heavy drinking is really peaking again, almost to levels equivalent to where they were at college age.”

Previous studies have drawn attention to these “deaths of despair,” but initially it appeared they were occurring mainly among poorly educated whites, Gaydosh said.

Full story at US News

Scientists Test Whether Brain Stimulation Could Help Sharpen Aging Memory

It’s an unfortunate fact of life — as we age, we tend to become more forgetful.

Aging brains struggle especially with working memory. Called the workbench of the mind, working memory allows us to store useful bits of information for a few seconds and use that information across different brain areas to help solve problems, plan or make decisions.

Researchers are trying to understand why this ability fades as we age and whether we can slow, or reverse, that decline.

One leading hypothesis contends that working memory works by far-flung brain areas firing synchronously. When two areas are on the same brain wavelength, communication is tight, and working memory functions seamlessly.

Full story at npr.org

Countdown to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019

Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and around the world.

Through WEAAD, we raise awareness about the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. As many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year and only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities. Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. WEAAD reminds us that, as in a just society, all of us have a critical role to play to focus attention on elder justice.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL), along with our federal and aging partners, invites you to join us in Lifting up Voices for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019, a theme that is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront the lived experiences of older people around the globe.

Full story at acl.gov

Caring for an older adult with cancer comes with emotional challenges for caregivers, too

The number of informal caregivers who look after older adults with cancer is on the rise. Caregivers could be relatives, partners, or even friends who provide assistance to people in order to help them function.

Most older people with cancer live at home and are dependent on informal caregivers for support with their cancer treatment, symptom management, and daily activities. Caregiving itself can also take a toll on a caregiver’s own physical and emotional well-being, which makes it important to ensure the proper supports are in place.

Until now, no large study has evaluated whether or not caring for older adults with advanced cancer is linked to caregivers’ emotional health or to their quality of life. Recently, researchers studied a group of adults aged 70 or older who had advanced cancer (as well as other challenges). This study used information from older patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers from local oncology practices enrolled in the “Improving Communication in Older Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers” study conducted through the University of Rochester National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program Research Base between October 2014 and April 2017. Results from the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Full story at Science Daily

Where There’s Rarely a Doctor in the House: Assisted Living

The patient moved into a large assisted living facility in Raleigh, N.C., in 2003. She was younger than most residents, just 73, but her daughter thought it a safer option than remaining in her own home.

The woman had been falling so frequently that “she was ending up in the emergency room almost every month,” said Dr. Shohreh Taavoni, the internist who became her primary care physician.

“She didn’t know why she was falling. She didn’t feel dizzy — she’d just find herself on the floor.” At least in a facility, her daughter told Dr. Taavoni, people would be around to help.

Full story at the New York Times

Smarter automatic defibrillator

Thousands of patients with congestive heart failure benefit from automatic implantable cardiac defibrillators (AICDs) that deliver shocks to the heart to correct abnormal heart rhythms. These defibrillators improve survival in patients who are at risk for sudden cardiac death.

AICDs administer shocks based on data from intra-cardiac electrocardiograms (ECGs) obtained from leads that measure the heart’s electrical activity. However, do these devices receive enough information to shock accurately in all cases?

“Existing systems in patients primarily sense the ECG,” said Marc D. Feldman, M.D., professor of cardiology at UT Health San Antonio. “They don’t sense blood pressure or stroke volume — how much blood is being pumped out of the heart. Since physicians in the emergency room measure blood pressure and stroke volume at the time of an abnormal heart rhythm before deciding to shock the patient, we believe AICDs should do the same.”

Full story at Science Daily

Dementia looks different in brains of Hispanics

A major new study from the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Center has uncovered dramatic differences in the brains of Hispanics with a dementia diagnosis compared with those of non-Hispanic whites and of African Americans.

The first-of-its-kind study, based on extensive analyses of autopsied brains, found that Hispanics diagnosed with dementia were much more likely to have cerebrovascular disease than either non-Hispanic whites or African Americans. Researchers also found that Hispanics and African Americans were more likely to have mixed pathologies, that is, a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and cerebrovascular disease, than non-Hispanic whites. And non-Hispanic whites were shown to have more pure Alzheimer’s disease than either Hispanics or African Americans.

Published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the findings may help explain the higher rates of dementia among blacks and Hispanics, and point to the importance of treating each patient based on their individual risk factors.

Full story at Science Daily

Napping may be as good as drugs for lowering blood pressure

A midday nap may be just what you need, not just to boost your energy levels but also to lower high blood pressure. This, at least, is what new research from Greece suggests.

When the afternoon slump hits in the middle of a busy workday, many of us may feel tempted to catch some shut-eye in a quiet corner.

Daytime napping can definitely help boost our energy levels and productivity for the rest of the workday, but does it bring any other health benefits?

A new study that investigators from the Asklepieion General Hospital in Voula, Greece conducted now suggests that taking a nap at midday can effectively help people lower their blood pressure levels.

Full story at Medical News Today

How to Help a Loved One With Chronic Pain

MULTITASKER AND FAMILY provider. Always attentive, do-it-all parent. Handyperson, cook and family vacation planner. Busy, active spouse who still finds time for fun. People tend to take healthy loved ones and all they contribute for granted – until chronic pain throws a wrench into what once was a comfortable household.

Chronic pain disrupts the balance of give and take among spouses, parents and children. Drastic shifts in a family member’s ability to function, financial burdens from reduced income and rising medical costs, and the ever-present awareness of suffering can’t help but take a toll at home. Breezy conversations of the past can become emotionally loaded minefields.

Young children may blame themselves when parents seem angry or impatient. Kids can feel neglected when their mom or dad can’t attend school activities or sporting events and they may resent the loss of attention. Kids sometimes have to take on additional chores or unaccustomed caregiving roles.

Full story at US News

‘Young blood’ company Ambrosia halts patient treatments after FDA warning

A company that charged patients thousands of dollars for infusions of blood plasma from younger donors said Tuesday that it had stopped treating patients after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against such treatments, purported to prevent aging and memory loss.

The company, Ambrosia, said on its website that it had “ceased patient treatments.” The announcement came hours after the FDA issued a statement saying there is no proof that plasma from young donors can be used as a treatment for dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder, as some companies have claimed.

The plasma infusions can also be dangerous, the agency added, because they are associated with infectious, allergic, respiratory and cardiovascular risks.

Full story at NBC News