agebuzz weekly

July 27th, 2017

Good morning and welcome to agebuzz… Headlining today’s topics:

Do Not Enter: Best To Minimize Your Hospitalizations: While you never know when an emergency will strike and you'll need to be hospitalized, there's much evidence to support the goal of minimizing hospitalizations, especially for those who are older. For example, new research out of the University of Michigan has shown that 1/4 of seniors admitted to post-acute care or rehab facilities following a hospitalization had evidence of drug-resistant "superbugs" on their hands, which could lead to serious infection, especially in vulnerable seniors. While this research underscores the need for hand washing in patients as well as caregivers, it also highlights the risk of infection to seniors during hospital stays. And additional new research out ofRush University confirms the heightened risk of cognitive decline in older individuals due to emergency or urgent hospital admissions. Such hospitalizations put seniors at greater risk for long term problems with cognitive function than was previously realized. The bottom line? While hospitals certainly play an important role in our health care system, seniors and their caregivers also need to be aware of the risks that can accompany a hospital stay. Find out more about these research studies Here and Here.

In The Long Term: Good And Not So Good News For Centenarians: The percentage of people living to 100 or older is increasing each year and there's much to celebrate about that. Especially as there is now research that shows that for those who live beyond their 90s, their last years of life tend to be healthier than was previously recognized. New research out of Berlin, published in the Journal of Gerontology, finds that those who have died at age 100 or older tend to have less disease and illness in their last years than those whose died in their 80s or 90s. Given the growing number of centenarians worldwide, that's encouraging news. Read about this researchHere. What's less hopeful, however, is that centenarians with life insurance policies are now coming to realize that they have "outlived" their policies, and many of their insurance contracts are being cancelled upon their 100th birthday. While policies written today often use a standard maturity date and age of 120, those written earlier never anticipated the growth of centenarians and these very late-in-age payouts. Therefore, if you or a loved one is counting on a life insurance payout beyond age 100, best to check out the fine print of your policy. Read more about this limit on life insurance payouts in this Wall Street Journal article Here (paywall). 

Slow And Steady: Expanding Your Health Span Along With Your Life Span: Speaking of centenarians, the concern for many of us is do we really want to live a very long life if our activity is limited due to disease or illness? In essence, isn't quality of life as important as quantity of life? Researchers looking at the process of aging are determined to make sure quality goes hand in hand with quantity as our life spans continue to expand. One such researcher, Dr. Brian Kennedy, recently gave a TED talk about why focus on slowing down the process of aging itself might mitigate concern about some of the most dreaded diseases of later life. Like many of his research colleagues, Kennedy's goal is extra years of health, not simply a longer life. Watch his engaging presentation on targeting aging Here. And for more words of wisdom about healthy aging, Click Here on the latest research that finds you can gain an average of 7 more years of disability-free living by eliminating smoking, reducing weight and moderating alcohol consumption. 

An Ounce Of Prevention: High Dose Flu Shots Recommended For Certain Seniors: While flu vaccinations are a highly recommended, if underutilized, public health measure, they're especially important for seniors and particularly those seniors who reside in residential care facilities. Flu can be a serious and even fatal illness in older people. Now researchers from Brown University have found that upping the usual amount of flu vaccine in nursing home residents can cut the risk of hospitalization for flu significantly. Published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine the research demonstrated that a dose of 4x the usual amount could help even the most frail seniors avoid hospitalization. Find out more about this important new researchHere. And if you've been avoiding a flu shot because the thought of a needle in your arm is too much to stomach, you'll need to know this: Clinical trials are now underway to eliminate the shot, and switch to a "patch" that contains tiny dissolving needles to painlessly transmit the flu vaccine. In preliminary results, these new patches, which patients could self-administer, seem to be as effective as old-fashioned shots. Check out more about this vaccination innovation Here.

Should You Or Shouldn't You: Continued Questions About Medications For Your Ailing Stomach: Not too long ago, new research came out about PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors), the medications (such as Nexium or Prilosec) used for heartburn, stomach ulcers, GERD and other gastrointestinal ailments. The research suggested that PPIs seemed to be linked to higher incidence of dementia among long term users. That's worrisome, as so many of us rely on these drugs for relief. However, in newly published research in the journal Gastroenterology, the authors came to the conclusion that in fact no such link with increased dementia exists when using PPIs. While no drugs are without risk, the researchers concluded that PPIs are an effective treatment that should continue to be prescribed for patients in need. However, at the same time, in the British Medical Journal, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis once again warned of potentially serious side effects from PPIs, including heightened risk of fractures, kidney disease and even death. How are consumers to figure out which way to go, given these seemingly conflicting pronouncements? Part of the problem may be that because PPIs can be available without prescription, too many of us are taking them for too long without careful consideration of need and risk. If this sounds like you or a loved one, best to consult your physician about your specific circumstances and whether long term usage of PPIs makes sense for you. Read more about the study published in Gastroenterology Here and take a look at what the researchers from St. Louis suggest Here.

If The Shoe Fits: The Colorful Life And Career Of Shoemaker Manolo Blahnik: You may have heard his name spoken with reverence if you watched Sex and The City. Or, perhaps, you've emptied your wallet to own one of his coveted styles for yourself. For many a stylish woman, the name Manolo Blahnik is synonymous with the height of fashion. Even if you can't wear his shoes, his creations are considered works of art. Born in 1942 on the Canary Islands of Spain, Mr. Blahnik remains one of the great personalities in today's fashion world. He continues to go non-stop forward in a field where designers half his age have trouble sustaining their success. A true artisan, his story will be told this September in the new film,The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards. Self-taught and still hand crafting at the age of 75, you can watch Manolo in action in the trailer for his film Here. And read more about his long and extraordinary life and career in this W Magazine profile Here.

THE LAST WORD: “There is nothing charming about a woman who cannot walk in her shoes."  Manolo Blahnik