‘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

Are Hearing Loss, Mental Decline Related?

Dementia is hard to predict, but hearing loss might signal a higher risk, a new study suggests.

The eight-year study adds to growing evidence of a link between hearing loss and mental decline.

But don’t panic if you no longer can hear the doorbell. The study only points to an association, not cause and effect.

“Our findings show that hearing loss is associated with new onset of subjective cognitive concerns which may be indicative of early stage changes in [mental function],” said lead author Dr. Sharon Curhan. She’s a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Full story at US News

Why Should I Get the New Shingles Vaccine?

IF YOU’RE A HEALTHY adult age 50 or above, you should get vaccinated against shingles, medical experts say. The vaccine they recommend is Shingrix. The issue is whether it’s available.

Shingrix – a relative newcomer to the vaccine market – is in high demand. With its more than 90 percent success in preventing shingles, older adults are impatient to roll up their sleeves. However, Shingrix shortages and wait lists have been going on for months. Now, pharmacists say Shingrix supplies are being replenished.

Here’s why seniors are so eager to get the Shingrix vaccine – despite reports of injection discomfort – and why experts strongly recommend taking steps to protect yourself from shingles.

Full story at US News

AHA News: Post-Stroke Depression Common Among Black, Hispanic Survivors

For the nearly 800,000 people who experience a stroke each year in the United States, the aftereffects are likely to be life-changing.

Often, it’s the long-term physical complications that get the most attention, problems ranging from temporary weakness or permanent paralysis to difficulty swallowing, talking or thinking.

There are frequently psychological obstacles, too, according to new research that found about one-third of black and Hispanic stroke survivors experience depression, with those born outside the United States particularly at risk.

Full story at US News

Federal Trade Commission Scam Warning

The Federal Trade Commission is getting reports about people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) who are trying to get your Social Security number and even your money.

In one version of the scam, the caller says your Social Security number has been linked to a crime (often, he says it happened in Texas) involving drugs or sending money out of the country illegally. He then says your Social Security number is blocked – but he might ask you for a fee to reactivate it, or to get a new number. He will ask you to confirm your Social Security number.

In other variations, he says that somebody used your Social Security number to apply for credit cards, and you could lose your benefits. He also might warn you that your bank account is about to be seized, that you need to withdraw your money, and that he’ll tell you how to keep it safe.

Full story at acl.gov

The Challenge of Senior In-Home Caregiving

GIVEN THAT SO MANY older adults prefer to age in place for as long as possible, the assistance of home health aides has become a major industry and means of helping people stay in their homes longer. But it’s a sector of the senior housing market that’s often recognized more for its challenges than for how it can empower families to live their best lives.

As both a consumer of home health aide services and a senior care industry insider, Matt Perrin, co-founder of the independent online senior living facility review site Ro & Steve, says the challenge families face when arranging stable and qualified in-home senior care services are pressing, and very real.

“For us as consumers, it just comes down to a stability issue,” he says, explaining how arranging appropriate care for his wife’s father, who lives with them in New Hampshire, has been an ongoing process that requires flexibility and a lot of advocacy. From simple logistics of making sure the Perrin family has coverage when they need it to making sure the caregivers they’re working with are a good fit for his father-in-law’s temperament and medical conditions, the whole endeavor is an ongoing process that has involved working with several agencies and many different caregivers.

Full story at US News

Addressing Prescription Drug Addiction in Older Adults

WHEN THINKING ABOUT prescription drug addiction, one might understandably and automatically picture a young adult. Those 18 to 25 years of age “are the biggest abusers of prescription … opioid pain relievers, ADHD stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. However, research shows that there’s been a surge over the past decade in opioid misuse – which includes heroin as well as the powerful prescription pain narcotics like fentanyl fueling an overdose epidemic – in older adults.

In fact, between 2002 and 2014, opioid abuse nearly doubled in those 50 and older (from about 1 to 2 percent), while declining in younger age groups. And a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released in September found that, among people 65 and older, opioid-related emergency room visits were up 74 percent from 2010 to 2015 and opioid-related inpatient stays were up 34 percent. (That compares to a 17 percent decrease in non-opioid related hospital stays and ER visits.) In 2015, there were 124,300 opioid-related hospital admissions of patients 65 and up in the U.S. “So it’s a big problem,” says Dr. Arlene Bierman, director of AHRQ’s Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement, who was involved in the research and is the corresponding author on the report.

Full story at US News

Why Older Adults Should Eat More Protein (And Not Overdo Protein Shakes)

Older adults need to eat more protein-rich foods when losing weight, dealing with a chronic or acute illness, or facing a hospitalization, according to a growing consensus among scientists.

During these stressful periods, aging bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health and other essential physiological functions.

Even healthy seniors need more protein than when they were younger to help preserve muscle mass, experts suggest. Yet up to one-third of older adults don’t eat an adequate amount due to reduced appetite, dental issues, impaired taste, swallowing problems and limited financial resources. Combined with a tendency to become more sedentary, this puts them at risk of deteriorating muscles, compromised mobility, slower recovery from bouts of illness and the loss of independence.

Full story at Kaiser Health 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