Monday, July 26, 2010

Medicare Payment For Nursing Home Increases

This increase will result in an estimated $542 million increase in Medicare payments to nursing homes across the country during the 2011 fiscal year. Medicare pays nursing home costs typically for short stays notes Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. For longer periods of care individuals must pay from their savings or have long-term care insurance to cover costs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updates the payment rates annually, using a market basket index reflecting changes in the prices of goods and services used to furnish covered care in nursing homes. In addition, CMS makes a forecast error adjustment whenever the difference between the forecasted and actual change in the market basket exceeds a 0.5 percentage point threshold for the most recently available fiscal year for which there is final data. In initially establishing the forecast error adjustment, CMS noted that it would reflect both upward and downward adjustments, as appropriate. For FY 2009 (the most recently available fiscal year for which there is final data), the estimated increase in the market basket index was 3.4 percentage points, while the actual increase was 2.8 percentage points. This resulted in the actual increase being 0.6 percentage point lower than the estimated increase. Accordingly, as the difference between the estimated and actual amount of change exceeds the 0.5 percentage point threshold, the payment rates for FY 2011 include a negative 0.6 percentage point forecast error adjustment. This adjustment, when combined with the FY 2011 market basket increase factor of 2.3 percent, yields a net update of positive 1.7% for FY 2011.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Common Drugs Cause Cognitive Impairment

The findings reported in a study in the July 13, 2010 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers report that drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and are widely-used medical therapies. They are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Sominex, Tylenol PM, and Unisom. Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, are available only by prescription.

Older adults most commonly use drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids and to relieve bladder leakage problems.

Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began. In addition to monitoring cognition, the investigators tracked all over-the-counter and prescription medications taken by study participants.

The scientists found that taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. Taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tai Chi May Yield Significant Health Benefits

The findings which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, included 77 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on Qigong or Tai Chi interventions published in peer-reviewed journals between 1993 and 2007. Taken together, there were 6,410 participants in the studies.

According to the researcher, there is strong evidence base for bone health, cardio-respiratory fitness, physical function, balance, quality of life, fall prevention and psychological benefits all important for aging Americans notes Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Slome recently returned from a visit to China.

Qigong is a very general term to describe exercises that will enhance qi flow or balance. Tai Chi is much more specific, focusing on a series of 24 to 108 movements that have a long written history over 19 generations. The research showed that simplified routines that are more practical for RCTs are in fact quite effective in health enhancement. Of the studies analyzed 27 considered psychological symptoms, 23 looked at falls and related risk factors, 19 looked at cardiopulmonary effects and 17 evaluated quality of life. Other included studies looked at bone density, physical function and immune function. Participants’ average age was 55, and for studies that looked at balance, 80 was the average age.

The researchers found quite consistent evidence of several benefits from this particular category of exercise.

Tai Chi and Qigong have many health benefits and therefore should be considered a high priority when one is selecting an exercise to practice, they noted.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Key To Long Life May Be Eating Proteins

New research may help explain why ‘dietary restriction’ (also known as calorie restriction) while maintaining sufficient quantities of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients appears to have health benefits. These benefits include living longer. and evidence suggests that dietary restriction can have health benefits for humans, too, though it is unclear whether it can increase longevity.

To understand whether the health benefits of dietary restriction stem from a reduction in specific nutrients or in calorie intake in general, researchers at University College London measured the effects of manipulating the diet of female fruit flies. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature.

Adding methionine to a low calorie diet boosted fertility without reducing lifespan; likewise, reducing methionine content in a high calorie diet prolonged lifespan. Previous studies have also shown that reducing the intake of methionine in rodents can help extend lifespan. The findings indicate that it is possible to extend lifespan without wholesale dietary restriction.

Methionine is one of the most important amino acids essential to the formation of all proteins consumed when eating different food types, including meat and dairy products, soy-derived food such as tofu, and pulses. The relative abundance of methionine differs depending on the food type in question; it occurs in naturally high levels in foods such as sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, wheat germ, fish and meats.

Although the human genome has around four times the number of genes as the fruit fly genome, there is a close relationship between many of these genes. Since it is easy to create mutants and carry out experiments on fruit flies, the functions of many fly genes have been established and newly discovered human genes can often be matched against their fly counterparts. Therefore, even though the fruit fly does not on the surface resemble humans, many findings about its basic biology can be interpreted for human biology.

Research report prepared by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance the national trade organization committed to educating Americans about living long, healthy and protected lives.