New Nurses Study Needs Participants

More research with nurses will give us more insight into how people age.
from Health Day, March 1, 2012

Researchers are looking for 100,000 female nurses and nursing students to join the long-running Nurses’ Health Study, which has yielded insight into a wide range of health issues, such as the benefits of physical activity and whole grains and the dangers of tobacco and trans fats.

The study is open to registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing students between the ages of 20 and 46 who live in the United States or Canada. More than 25,000 have signed up and recruitment will remain open until the study reaches the target of 100,000 new participants. It’s the first time nursing students have been eligible.

Read the rest of the article at Health Day

Senior Parent Hospitalization, Report #6: Learning About Cardiac Procedures and Surgeries

Visit Medline Plus

My dad’s recent heart attack turned out to be treatable — still serious, but not as much as first surmised. In the process of various diagnostic physician visits, he (and we) discussed a number of procedures with his doctors including a possible cardiac catheterization. We watched  this slide show, A Visual Guide to Heart Disease, at WebMD, to learn more about the heart.

This was not the first time we needed a lot of information.  Two years ago, my father’s internist referred him to a cardiologist who diagnosed  an abdominal aneurysmDad underwent several cardiac procedures. Understanding an enormous amount of information about cardiovascular disease in a short time was difficult for everyone in our family, and especially for my parents. While the physicians’ explanations were clear and helpful, many questions arose after the office visit, and these were often answered by office staff whose responses often felt pre-packaged and rushed. We needed more information. Continue reading

The Good Caregiver: Rules of the Road for Adult Children

Rules of the Road for Caregiving

I have just read The Good Caregiver cover-to-cover. The recently published book, by Robert L. Kane, M.D., is an all-in-one user’s guide with thorough, indexed, and therefore easy-to-find information about every aspect of elderly parent caregiving. Though he is a world-renowned specialist on aging and long-term care (Read Dr. Kane’s faculty bio), and he produces lots of research papers, Dr. Kane’s writing style is low-key and easy to read. Listen to his talk about aging and his book on a recording made for the Public Health Moment series, a program produced by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

My husband and I have twice assisted with caregiving. The first time, for his father, we managed our mini-part from a long distance; the second, for his mother, also began as a long distance affair but moved close to our home for the last several years. Despite great challenges the two of us, both only children, mastered much of the minutia and took care of ourselves. Still we yearned for a user’s manual.

The Good Caregiver is that manual, the one we all need. Read some of the reviews. Continue reading

Does Parental Longevity Predict How Long We Live?

Those of us with parents who are living long and rich lives tend to assume that we have inherited their genes and therefore possess the capacity to live at least almost as long.

However, a recently published study in the Journal of Internal Medicine, published by the Karolinska Institute (a Swedish NIH), questions that assumption. The study, Factors Associated with Reaching 90 years of age: A Study of Men born in 1913 in Gothenburg Sweden (abstract), describes in-depth research of men, starting at age 50. The researchers hoped to identify, or at least associate, factors that predict reaching the age of 90.

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Communication is Critical in Aging Adult Health Care

A friend’s 85-year-old mother had surgery requiring two different types of cardiologists. Besides the primary care physician (PCP), her parent was seeing the two heart physicians and two additional specialists for other reasons. When my friend, on a visit to the primary care physician with her mom, asked a question about dizziness and the possibility that one of the cardiologist’s medications was interacting with one of the primary care doctor’s medications, confusion arose because a report from the specialist’s care and prescriptions had not yet been sent to the PCP’s office. No communication occurred between the specialist and the primary care doctor.

Recently a January 10, 2011 article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Referral and Consultation Communication Between Primary Care and Specialist Physicians (abstract), described a study that addresses the effectiveness of communication between physicians. The article is not freely available. The objective of the research was to examine “… PCP’s and specialists’perceptions of communication regarding referrals and consultations” because interaction appears to be inconsistent. Moreover, the researchers surmised that better communication can lower, at least somewhat, medical care costs.

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Too Many Medications? More Aging Parent Health Problems?

Check out this site about polypharmacy.

Polypharmacy is a serious problem for many seniors. Here on AsOurParentsAge I’ve written multiple posts (links to a few at the bottom of this page) about the medications that our aging parents take for various chronic conditions. I’ve wondered, after considerable experience with my husband’s and my parents, why they have so many, and more importantly, why their physicians do not coordinate the medications. It seems like it would be prudent for primary care physicians to review a patient’s medications, perhaps once a year, comparing and contrasting the drugs with patient experiences and outcomes.

My musings led me to a terrific blog posting by Joanne Kenen, “Pill Popping–Or Pill Stopping? Polypharmacy’s Impact on Older Patients.” Kenen, a health policy writer, posted her December 11, 2010, piece on the Altarum Institute blog — Altarum focuses on improving health care delivery. She writes about a study, Feasibility Study of a Systematic Approach for Discontinuation of Multiple Medications (abstract), published in the October 11, 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine. The journal article is not free, but Kenen’s blog post provides a comprehensive, almost perfect and easy-to-understand summary of the research, and she has even communicated with the researcher. If you have aging parents who are on multiple medications, I strongly recommend that you read these two articles, though you may need to read the journal article at a hospital library.

The study, undertaken by Doran Garfinkel, MD, set out to discover what might happen if seniors’ medications were re-evaluated and where possible, discontinued. Continue reading