Higher education won’t prevent mental decline, study finds

Education has long been thought to protect against the ravages of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Numerous studies seemed to suggest that the more educated were less likely to develop dementia.

But a large new study finds little difference between people with a high school diploma and those with a Ph.D. when it comes to staving off the damage to brain cells caused by dementing diseases or the rate at which mental decline progresses, once it starts.

“It’s been a longstanding idea that education might be one of those things that allows a person to tolerate these kinds of brain pathologies,” said the study’s lead author, Robert S. Wilson, a professor of neurological and behavioral sciences at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We found that the more pathology you find in the brain, the faster the cognitive decline was.”

Full story at NBC 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

Boot camp after 60: 10 steps to turn around unhealthy habits

It takes moxie to flip an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one — particularly for folks over 60.

Most baby boomers approach retirement age unwilling to follow basic healthy lifestyle goals established by the American Heart Association, said Dr. Dana King, professor and chairman of the department of family medicine at West Virginia University, referencing his university’s 2017 study comparing the healthy lifestyle rates of retired late-middle-aged adults with rates among those still working.

Kaiser Health News interviewed three other prominent experts on aging and health about how seniors can find the will to adopt healthier habits.

“People do financial planning for retirement, but what about retirement health planning?” King said.

Full story at NBC News

Following heart health guidelines also reduces diabetes risk

Lifestyle and health factors that are good for your heart can also prevent diabetes, according to a new study by researchers at The Ohio State University College of Medicine that published today in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Diabetes is a growing problem in the United States, with nearly a third of the population living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, an endocrinologist and assistant professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, wants to bring those numbers down. He studies various ways to prevent diabetes. His latest work looked at how cardiovascular health can impact diabetes risk.

“This research adds to our collective understanding about how physicians can help their patients prevent a number of serious diseases, including heart disease, cancer and now diabetes,” said Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of the College of Medicine.

Full story at Science Daily

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

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

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

Inclusion Today, Community Living for Life

When Megan Scully’s four month old son, Danny, was diagnosed with a developmental disability resulting from genetic brain lesions, two of the first questions she asked the doctors were, “would he ever go to school?” and “would he ever make friends?”

Danny is now three, and his mom says, “Not only does he make friends, but he gets in trouble! He has to be separated from his best friends at nap time because they make too much noise.”

Danny’s parents attribute much of his success to his participation in an inclusive early childhood program at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Child Development Center in Washington, D.C., where children with and without disabilities learn and play side-by-side.

Full story at acl.gov

Assisted Living’s Breakneck Growth Leaves Patient Safety Behind

They found Bonnie Walker’s body floating in a pond behind her assisted living facility in South Carolina. There were puncture wounds on her ear, her temple, her jaw and her cheeks.

Her right forearm and her pacemaker were inside one of the alligators that lived in the pond.

Like 4 in 10 residents in assisted living facilities, Walker, 90, had dementia. Shortly after midnight one day in July 2016, she slipped out of her facility, Brookdale Charleston, as she had done a few days before. This time, no one noticed her missing for seven hours.

“No one should have to pass away that way,” her granddaughter Stephanie Weaver said.

Full story at Kaiser Health News