Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear of Falling Leads To Risk

People who are afraid of falling down have a higher risk of experiencing subsequent falls, compared to individuals who do not have that fear, says a new report published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). The authors say that both actual and perceived fall risk should be included in fall risk assessment in order to help protect elderly people from falls.

A significant number of elderly individuals are afraid of falling down. Fear of falling is also linked to anxiety, depressions, poor balance, and having had previous falls. The investigators, from Belgium and Australia wanted to understand fear of falling better, as well as determining its impact on the risk of falls.

The study involved 500 individuals, aged between 70 and 90 years. They all lived in Sydney, Australia. The participants underwent an extensive medical and neuropsychological assessment. Recognized scoring scales were used to estimate actual and perceived fall risks. All study participants were followed up each month for a twelve-month period.

The study revealed that actual fall risk and perceived fall risk both contribute to an individual’s risk, independently.

The researchers went further by splitting the sample into four groups, based on the contrast between actual and perceived risk. The groups were called: The vigorous group – those with low actual and low perceived fall risk. They were deemed to be at low risk of future significant falls. The aware group – those with high actual and high perceived fall risk. They were considered at high risk of future significant falls. The anxious group – those that had a low actual but high perceived risk of falls, which was linked to depressive symptoms, neurotic personality traits, and some physical characteristics (poor body function).

They found that the majority of individuals had an accurate perception of their fall risk. Approximately 30% of elderly individuals either overestimated or underestimated their fall risk, the authors wrote.

The researchers found that high levels of perceived fall risk tended to result in a higher risk of future falls, irrespective of the actual risk. They also found that the disparity between actual and perceived risk contributed towards the risk, mainly through psychological pathways.

The authors say that their findings indicate that attempts to reduce fear of falling among the elderly does not usually lead to increased risk of falls because the patients became overly confident and bold.

The concluded that perceived fall risk, as well as actual fall risk measures should be included in fall risk assessments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alzheimer’s: Achieving A Goal Helps

Achieving personal goals can help people in the early stages of dementia manage their condition.

Research published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry conducted by researchers at Bangor University, Wales found that people who received cognitive rehabilitation felt their performance of daily activities improved. Carers of those receiving the treatment also noted an improvement in their own quality of life.

Cognitive rehabilitation is a treatment where people with dementia work with health professionals to identify personal goals and develop strategies for achieving them.

Goals were tailored to the participants’ specific needs and included things such as remembering details of jobs to be done around the house, maintaining concentration when cooking, learning to use a mobile phone and remembering the names of people at an exercise class. The cognitive rehabilitation group said they saw an improvement in their ability to carry out all of the chosen activities.

The trial compared eight weekly individual sessions of cognitive rehabilitation with relaxation therapy and no treatment. As well as setting and working on goals the cognitive rehabilitation group also learnt and practised techniques for taking in new information, managing stress and maintaining attention and concentration.

The Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, says, ‘This research is the first trial of its kind to evaluate the effectiveness of the ‘cognitive rehabilitation’ technique. The findings provide a basis for a larger study of cognitive rehabilitation as a means of assisting people in the early stages of dementia and their families to better manage the condition.’

Millions will develop dementia in the next ten years according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. In order to enable people with dementia to live well with the condition we need more funding to further research in this area.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Low Calorie Diet Can Lead To Longer Life

Scientists have known that a restricted diet can extend lifespans. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. the new research shows that effects occur even if the restricted diet is adopted later in life.

“These findings could help scientists to better understand and ultimately prevent a range of age-related diseases in humans.” according to Jesse Slome, executive diirector of the organization. “When you live a long life however you are far more likely to need long term care.”

The research was conducted by scientists at the British Society for Research on Ageing at Newcastle University.

Working with the theory that cell senescence – the point at which a cell can no longer replicate – is a major cause of ageing the researchers set out to investigate what effect a restricted diet had on this process. By looking at mice fed a restricted diet the team found that they had a reduced accumulation of senescent cells in their livers and intestines. Both organs are known to accumulate large numbers of these cells as animals age.

Alongside this the CISBAN scientists also found that the telomeres of the chromosomes of the mice on restricted diets were better maintained despite their ageing. Telomeres are the protective ‘ends’ of chromosomes that prevent errors, and therefore diseases, occurring as DNA replicates throughout an organisms lifetime but they are known to become ‘eroded’ over time.

The adult mice were fed a restricted diet for a short period of time demonstrating that it may not be necessary to follow a very low calorie diet for a lifetime to gain the benefits the scientists found.

Researchers looked at parts of the body that easily show biological signs of ageing, suggests that a restricted diet can help to reduce the amount of cell senescence occurring and can reduce damage to protective telomeres. In turn this prevents the accumulation of damaging tissue oxidation which would normally lead to age-related disease.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congressman Launches Effort To Stop The CLASS Act

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), CLASS will likely not be implemented until 2013. “If the plan is going to be changed now would be the time before employers have to evaluate the pros and cons and dollars are withheld from employee paychecks,” Slome notes.

The Congressman’s letter released reads as follows: Most Americans remain unaware of the CLASS program, a new government-run long-term care insurance program that was slipped into the health-care law.

Speaker Pelosi and her allies behaved recklessly when they used the CLASS program as a $70 billion budget gimmick to fund other portions of the new health-care law. Congress has a duty to stop the implementation of this new unfunded entitlement before a single premium dollar is collected from hard-working Americans.

Instead of setting money from CLASS premiums aside solely for promised benefits, Democrats used it to pay for other parts of the new health law and merely put an IOU in a government trust fund. Americans could be required to repay these IOUs in the form of higher taxes.

Actuaries and budget experts widely agree CLASS is fatally flawed. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad publicly called the program “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would be proud of.”

The Congressional Budget Office, the American Academy of Actuaries and CMS’s own actuary warn the program will disproportionately attract enrollees with the highest costs. Premiums will skyrocket and discourage young and healthy workers from enrolling. The program will enter what Medicare Chief Actuary Rick Foster called “an insurance death spiral.”

The Chief Actuary predicted that CLASS will begin to run deficits in 2025 and continue to run deficits thereafter. He also estimated that an initial average premium of about $240 per month would be required to adequately fund CLASS program costs. CBO said CLASS “…would add to budget deficits in the third decade – and in succeeding decades—by amounts on the order of tens of billions of dollars for each 10-year period.”

I urge you to cosponsor the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act (H.R. 5853). This bill would stop the Obama Administration from implementing a final CLASS plan without a vote of approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Study Finds Sitting Shortens Life Span

According to a new study of more than 120,000 American adults the effect remained even after researchers factored out obesity or the level of daily physical activity people were engaged in.

“If you want to live a long life, get up and walk,” says Jesse Slome, executive director for the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance the industry trade organization which helps match consumers with local professionals.

According to medical experts, if you’re in a job that does require sitting, that’s fine, but any time you can expend energy is good. That’s the key they note. The salutary effect of exercise on being overweight or obese, rates of which are at an all-time high, have been well documented. But according to background information in the study, which is published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the effects of sitting per se are less well-studied. Although several studies have found a link between sitting time and obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease risk, and unhealthy diets in children, few had examined sitting and “total mortality,” researchers noted.

The authors of the study analyzed responses from questionnaires filled out by 123,216people (53,440 men and 69,776 women) with no history of disease who were participating in the Cancer Prevention II study conducted by the American Cancer Society. Participants were followed for 14 years, from 1993 to 2006. In the study, people were more likely to die of heart disease than cancer. After adjusting for a number of risk factors, including body mass index (BMI) and smoking, women who spent six hours a day sitting had a 37 percent increased risk of dying versus those who spent less than three hours a day on their bottoms. For men the increased risk was 17percent.

Exercise, even a little per day, did tend to lower the mortality risk tied to sitting, the researchers noted. However, sitting’s influence on death risk remained significant even when activity was factored in. On the other hand, people who sat a lot and did not exercise or stay active had an even higher mortality risk: 94 percent for women and 48 percent for men.