agebuzz weekly

May 31st, 2018

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

Back-Breaking: Guidance For Dealing With Back Pain: For some of us, every morning the reminder is there like clockwork: we live with back pain that starts at daybreak and remains with us through most of the day. And we're not alone. A new study published in The Spine Journal reports that 1/3 of those in the 40-59 age group have evidence of degenerative disk disease, which can cause back pain and impair quality of life and day-to-day functioning. The bottom line? Back pain can be miserable to live with, and for many of us who suffer, there's no easy or obvious solution to the pain. For a comprehensive overview of possible causes, symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatments for back pain, Click Here.

But take note: Consumer Reports has just put out a useful 3-step guide for addressing back pain, with the recognition that some of the standard approaches- such as surgery, steroid injections or opioids- are no longer considered optimal treatments- except in limited cases. The guide suggests a step-by-step approach and includes some more innovative suggestions for dealing with the pain, from cognitive behavioral therapy to acupuncture. So if back pain has become ever-present in your life, carefully take a seat and Read Here.

For All You Care: Preparing For Caregiving Responsibilities And Medication Changes: If you've reached a certain age, chances are you have some caregiving responsibilities for an older relative, often an aging parent. And if you've taken on that role, there are moments, some common and others more serious, for which it's valuable to be prepared ahead of time. So, for example, as a caregiver, it's likely you will at some point receive "the call," i.e. when your loved one has had an emergency and been taken to a hospital. While everyone dreads that phone call, it's better to be prepared than be in denial. For some essential tips on how to respond when the call comes, take a look at this recent post on Aging Care. And if preparation is something you embrace, then you need to know about a brand new book about all aspects of caregiving: My Parent's Keeper: The Guilt, Grief, Guesswork, and Unexpected Gifts of Caregiving by Jody Gastfriend. A social worker for over 30 years and a senior executive, Gastfriend combines her decades of caregiving expertise with anecdotes and practical wisdom so that you can be in the best possible position to undertake this essential, and often underappreciated, role.

Another good thing to prepare for is a change in medications, be it for yourself or your older loved one. If a new medication is prescribed, there are important questions to consider, to make sure everyone understands the situation and its implications. Over at Daily Caring, a recent post highlighted the range of questions to ask regarding new medications for seniors- everything from dosage regimens to side effects- in order to ensure that no important details fall through the cracks. And for a broader look at medications and seniors, take a look at the National Institute on Aging guide on medications in older adultsHere.

Cane And Able: Why More Of Us Should Embrace Using A Cane: Perhaps it's the stigma or maybe it's just the hassle. But many of us could really benefit from using a cane as we go about our daily activities- and yet we resist. We already know from a recent post in agebuzz that deadly falls are on the rise- and one common cause of senior falls is unsteadiness on your feet. In a recent post in the Chicago Tribune, commentator Don Rose even implored the fashion industry to promote canes as "must have' accessories, so that more of us will embrace their use. And in today's world, the options for canes are tremendous- and even enticing. Over at Fashionable Canes, you can find a cane in almost any conceivable style and material. And if you're looking for a cane that "multi-tasks," consider this option that also provides you with a sturdy seat. In the long run, using a cane is at most a minor inconvenience for a major boost to your stability and good health. For more advice on selecting and using a cane, steady yourself and read this Mayo Clinic Guide Here.

Poverty At The Door: Consequences From Being An Impoverished Senior: It's not easy to live in today's world if you don't have enough money. Couple the challenges of being impoverished with the realities of being a senior, and the consequences multiply- sometimes with life-altering impact. Take, for example, a new study out of University College of London and just published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers found an association between wealth in later life and the incidence of dementia. While it's not necessarily the cause of dementia, having limited economic resources may mean a less healthy diet, fewer social and cultural connections and, overall, a less healthy lifestyle, all traits associated with a higher risk of dementia. You can read more about this study Here. And another new study out of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons reports that poor older adults with Medicaid insurance have higher mortality rates following an ICU hospital stay than those with more robust insurance. This finding was especially true for those impoverished seniors who were discharged from a hospital to a nursing home. Read more about the provocative findings Here. And even if you wouldn't necessarily be considered poor, it seems that seniors who perceive themselves as less well off than others in their communities feel worse about getting older. Apparently, while it may be no fun growing old, it's even more distressing if you feel less wealthy than your peers. So flip those couch cushions for some loose change, and take a look Here.

Did You Hear? Some Updates On Hearing Loss: In case you didn't hear about it, there have been some recent studies updating our understanding of healthy aging and hearing loss. First, out of  Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School comes word about the connection between a healthy diet and age-related hearing loss in women. The study highlighted the potential that a healthy diet may play in reducing the risk of hearing loss, which we know is a gateway toward cognitive decline. So grab some veggies and read more about the study Here. Also in a recent post from the Harvard Health Letter, there's a brief description of new research that found an association between heart failure and hearing loss, as well as a decline in all areas of thinking skills in connection with hearing loss. The bottom line? It's important to pay attention to hearing loss and not just assume it's a normal part of aging. While age-related hearing loss does naturally occur, there are also other causes of hearing loss, some of which may be amenable to prevention or treatment if you pay attention to potential causes and symptoms. Find out more by reading Here. Finally, it may not help you, but it's important for the younger people in your life to understand how even subtle hearing loss in one's younger years may have implications for cognitive functioning as you age. So call up the grandkids and let them know about This.

Making Friends With Reality: The End-Of-Life Philosophy Of Comedian Emily LevineIf you've ever watched a TED Talk, you're prepared to be engaged and stimulated by the speaker, no matter what the topic. But perhaps you've never seen a TED Talk quite like the recent presentation of Emily Levine, who excels at both deep thinking and stand-up comedy, all in a dazzling display of intellectual wizardry. Levine's recent TED Talk, entitled "How I Made Friends With Reality," explores her state-of-mind, and day-to-day life, now that she has been diagnosed with stage IV, terminal lung cancer. It's one of the funniest, and yet deeply felt, presentations about living at the end of life you may ever see. And if you're struck by Levine's wisdom and philosophy as her life comes to a close, you may also enjoy thecommentary on this presentation by Maria Popova, the brilliant creator of the website Brain Pickings.

THE LAST WORD: “Life is just a short period of time in which you are alive." Phillip Roth