Family inHome Caregiving Blog
The number of Centenarians continues to grow, and they are living longer lives. Those who were born during the Woodrow Wilson Administration (or earlier) are up by 44% since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Back in 1980, they numbered 15,000 but have since grown to more than 72,000. Death rates declined for all demographic groups in the six years ending in 2014, according to the CDC. Women, who typically live longer than men, account for more than 80% of centenarians.
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, CHOMP, is holding a class weight-loss surgery and what you can eat afterwards which will be held on January 21 from 3:0 to 4:30 p.m. at the Ryan Ranch Outpatient Campus in Suite 0200. There is a $75 charge for this class which will teach you what you can eat after gastric bypass or lap-band surgery.
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, CHOMP, is holding a number of interesting classes during January and February including one on T’ai Chi which will start on January 22 and run on Fridays from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. through March 25. Held in the It’s My Life studio, this class will teach you how Tai chi’s gentle, slow movements can strengthen arms, legs, and improve balance and flexibility. It can also help prevent falls and help manage stress. To register for this class (there is a $60 fee), call 625-4996.
It has long been known that being sedentary can cause a number of serious health problems. A new study from the Mayo Clinic found that the time spent sitting is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and a shorter life span, regardless of the physical activity level. They found that nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) such as walking, standing and even fidgeting improved the levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and insulin in the blood. They recommend that we all increase our NEAT activities which can range from reading a book while standing up to going out and raking the yard.
In a huge setback for the medical research community, it was announced yesterday that five men participating in a clinical drug trail for treating degenerative disease like Parkinson’s as well as anxiety, were rushed to the hospital and one has died. The trial involved 90 people in total, with four suffering neurological disorders, one dying and another hospitalized and under observation. The trial was being conducted in France and the French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that there were no documented cases of this type of tragedy ever happening before in any clinical trial. “We have never seen any trace of a similar accident,” Ms. Tourain told The Wall Street Journal. The drug had been administered on chimpanzees and other animals but this was a first trial using humans. News of the tragedy reverberated around the world and is likely to cause researchers to use extreme caution in future clinical trials.
Many physicians believe that older Americans are too resistant to change and when diagnosing them with Diabetes and other diseases which can be controlled with diet and exercise, they just prescribe drugs instead of referring them to educational and exercise programs. This is sad but I think much of it has to do with new Medicare rules designed to cut costs and make the medical system more efficient. But it’s rather impersonal and doctors just don’t often take the time that they used to discussing a medical problem in depth with their patients. Developing access for seniors to intense exercise and education will require provider-community collaboration. YMCAs in many cities are beginning to offer such programs.
Research which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine analyzed 105 obese adults (mostly men) who were assigned to either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet, while studying another 102 who were allowed to choose between the two. After 48 weeks, those who weren’t given a choice lost 15 pounds compared to 12.5 pounds the group where the diet was chosen for them. Researchers believe part of this might be that people do better on diets when told what to do. In addition, if you choose your own diet, you are likely to pick the one which has more of the foods that you like rather than the best diet for your body composition.
In 1982 doctors told Jackie Smith’s parents to take their 3-year old daughter home, she likely wouldn’t live until she was 16 due to a rare muscle disease passed on via a mutation in her DNA. Now 35 years old, she has proven her doctors wrong and is still alive and kicking and Claritas Genomics at last gave her the answer that she was looking for. The company allows a person to have their DNA sequenced for about $1,000. About 25 million Americans have at least one of what is called a Mendelian disorder—one of 7,000 ailments brought on by a defect in a single gene. Analytics company WuXi NextCode has created a database of hundreds of thousands of people’s DNA which companies like Claritas Genomics are able to sift through and match your DNA against. In Smith’s case, it was found that she had centronucleary myopathy, a milder version of the disease she was diagnosed with when she was three years old. Although there’s no cure, at least she knows what she has. Millions of Americans will someday benefit from this leap forward in health care technology.
According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the Type 2 Diabetes drug sitagliptin (Januvia), the drug does not raise the risk of heart failure or other bad outcomes such as heart attacks or strokes. This is great news given that previous studies had suggested possible heart failure risk with another drug that works similarly to sitagliptin. This study should be reassuring for those on the drug as it was large (14,000 people) and long (3 years). Both those taking the drug and a placebo had the same risk of bad events (11%).
The speed with which Alzheimer’s research has developed has been extremely disappointing although there is some hope after the massive increase in Alzheimer’s research funding that President Barack Obama recently signed into law. There are so many areas of research which simply haven’t been fully exploited due to a lack of proper funding. Another problem is that, unlike many other diseases, using experimental drugs on animals doesn’t track well with what happens when these same drugs are given to people as far as Alzheimer’s disease goes. One area which shows potential is using stem cells to simulate the disease outside of the human body which will enable more efficient testing of experimental drugs without the risk of them having serious side effects on humans, prior to going into clinical trials. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, recently used this method to test a drug which had previously been withdrawn from clinical trials because it was found to worsen the symptoms in patients. In vitro testing, however, found that there wasn’t anything wrong with the drug. Rather, the dosage needed to be changed. Researchers are hoping that using stem cells can weed out ineffective drugs and find new dosages for existing drugs which are more effective. Regular readers of my blog know that both my grandmother and my father had this terrible disease when they passed away, and I have been working diligently with the Monterey Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association to raise money to find a cure. In addition to being the largest private funder of Alzheimer's research in the United States, they have support groups and a 24-hour hotline (800-272-3900) where a dedicated staff can help you if you are struggling with caring for a loved one with the disease.