In light of my most recent post (April 23, 2013) about the effect of music during my parents’ Bible study sessions, I am reposting this blog post describing an article about music, eurhythmics, and elders.
How interesting to read about the research Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People (abstract), an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The article is not freely available from the medical journal, so to read it you will need to speak with a librarian or go to a hospital library.
The article points out that most seniors’ falls occur when people are performing concurrent tasks and that “each year more than a third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall.” The Swiss medical researchers wondered whether participation in a music-based program involving concurrent tasks of movement and music might have a positive effect on the factors that can cause a fall — gait and balance — thereby reducing the frequency of falls.
The music activity they chose for their research is eurhythmics, a program of music education that combines music and movement, developed by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, at least not from my perspective as a college music major and life-long very amateur musician, people who participated in six months of Dalcroze eurhythmics reduced both the rate and the risk of falling by the end of the program compared to a control group that did not take the class but carried on with life as usual. When the control group subsequently took the class for six months, the researchers found the same results.
I just finished reading Too Many Colonoscopies for the Elderly, a short article that appeared on the New Old Age blog at the New York Times. The March 12, 2013 post, by New Old Age journalist and editor Paula Span, explains how the United States Preventive Task Force recommends that routine screening colonoscopies not be performed on people older than age 75. It brought back some dramatic memories for my husband and me.
A few years ago we helped my husband’s 89-year-old mother go through the colonoscopy preparations and the procedure itself. She was exceedingly healthy and still six months away from a serious stroke.
Spending a day on liquids was difficult for the small woman — she was dizzy during the entire day and exceedingly so by the evening. Then she proceeded with the preparation, drinking the gallon of liquid and going through the various stages of diarrhea. Added to the dizziness was nausea, and she felt worse and worse. Despite her uncomplaining nature, getting through the final hours and procedure was a huge challenge.
Flu is here and for the next couple of months or so many of us will need to take precautions to prevent, if possible, getting sick.
Some influenza seasons are worse than others, and this year appears to be more severe than the last few flu seasons. But no matter what year it is, it’s doubly important to help aging parents avoid influenza exposure as much as possible — for elders every season is a severe flu season, and no senior of any age should get very far into the fall months without getting a vaccination at a physician’s office, pharmacy, or local clinic.
Today I went to Google Flu Trends to learn where in the United States influenza is hitting the hardest, and right now this dynamic mapping site indicates that the flu is everywhere. Google collects its data by keeping track of internet searches for symptoms such as fever, headache, or sore muscles. The collected search statistics turn out to be good predictors of what parts of the country are experiencing influenza-like illnesses.
Right now, January 12, 2013, the Google flu map shows that the flu is widespread — almost every state in the U.S. is the same bright read color, indicating that lots of people are sick with the flu and searching to learn more. A user can click in each state to look at the influenza-related searches from there. Click on the map to visit Google Flu Trends. Read more »
A few years ago, when my mother-in-law was sinking deeper and deeper into dementia, my husband and I suddenly realized, with some help from professional geriatric counselors, that the devious brain disease had been lurking for some time. Although we had noticed a number of memory issues and behaviors, we continually chalked them up to mundane issues of aging and personality. By the time we realized what was really going on and got serious about supporting his mother, she was well into the fourth stage of dementia, and we had missed many opportunities to offer support.
When I first read Inside the Dementia Epidemic by Martha Stettinius, I could not put it down. Right in front of my eyes, the author described and documented almost every step that her mother (and ours) experienced, first early on and then as it progressed incrementally. I wish that the book had been around for us to read five or six years ago.
Inside the Dementia Epidemic should be required reading for anyone who is beginning to notice changes and to feel concern about an elderly parent. Stettinius writes clearly, though not without emotion, about her caregiving role and her mother’s developing illness, sharing observations, explaining how her mother was changing, noting the effects of caregiving on her family’s life, and documenting the many caregiver support services that she found to be personally helpful. She describes the nuances of aging parental finances, sharing what she learned, pinpointing her mistakes, and highlighting the difficult decisions that she and her husband made.
It’s that time of year again — the open season when Medicare beneficiaries keep, change, or make modifications to their prescription drug benefit plans (Part D).
A September 25th Associated Press (AP) article, Report: Double-Digit Premium Hikes Seen in 7 of 10 Top Medicare Prescription Drug Plans appeared online in The Washington Post. Adult children with elder parents should treat this article as an excellent primer that can help them understand more about their parents’ prescription benefits.
The AP article discusses a report by Avalere Health. This report finds that “seniors enrolled in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will be hit with double-digit premium hikes next year if beneficiaries don’t shop for a better deal.” The report/press release is about three pages and includes three easy-to-read tables (see linked image at right).
A Few Highlights and Salient Points from the AP Article Read more »
Adult children who help aging parents should check out the Washington Post article At End of Life, Medicare Beneficiaries Spend Thousands Out-of-Pocket. Reporter Sarah Kliff explains that a recent study, Out of Pocket Spending in the Last Five Years of Life (abstract), published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, examined the amount of money that aging Medicare recipients spend on health care during the last five years of life. The abstract leads to the first two pages of the study, freely available.
According to the Post article, “The average Medicare beneficiary spent $38,688 out-of-pocket during the last five years of life.” This is in addition to the portion that Medicare covers. The Post article also features two excellent charts.
Researchers studied people who died between 2002 and 2008 using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), based at the University of Michigan. HRS is a large nationally representative study funded launched in 1992 and funded by the National Institute on Aging.
Over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the Vital Signs September 2012 issue focuses on controlling good pressure. The article, Getting Blood Pressure Under Control: Many Missed Opportunities to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke, explains that many people are not treating their blood pressure and many others are taking medication but not monitoring enough to know that the treatment is not effective. Adult children and their aging parents need to monitor blood pressure.
To make the point that people of all ages need to tune in about blood pressure issues, the Vital Signs feature includes some terrific graphs such as the one I’ve reproduced below.
One out of five hospitalized Medicare patients needs to return to the hospital a second time within 30 days of their first discharge.
A second hospital admission, shortly after the first, is a no-win situation for everyone concerned about an elder parent. Patients are often sicker, they are unnecessarily exposed to other hospital bacteria, and families of the patient have more worries and parent monitoring. Moreover, Medicare spends a lot more money — 17 billion dollars — on these readmissions.
A blog post at The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) website, explains a lot more about preventing Medicare patient hospital readmissions. Written by the agency’s director, Carolyn Clancy, M.D., the post provides links to research, successful hospital readmission prevention programs, and patient guides. Dr. Clancy’s columns are also available at the AARP website.