Monthly Archives: August, 2018

“One in Five Americans Report Always or Often Feeling Lonely or Socially Isolated, Frequently With Physical, Mental, and Financial Consequences” – KFF/Economist Survey


One in five Americans (22%) say they always or often feel lonely or socially isolated, frequently with serious consequences, finds a new Kaiser Family Foundation/Economist three-country survey examining loneliness and social isolation.

Americans who feel lonely or socially isolated often report negative impacts on their mental (58%) and physical (55%) health, their personal relationships (49%) and ability to do their job (33%). Some also say it has led them to think about harming themselves (31%) or committing a violent act (15%).

The survey also finds that while most Americans (58%) view the increased use of technology as a major reason why people feel lonely and socially isolated, those who report feeling lonely or socially isolated are divided on the impact of social media in particular. About as many say using social media such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter has made their feelings of loneliness better (31%) and worse (27%).

The survey takes a comprehensive look at the prevalence, causes and consequences of loneliness and social isolation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan at a time when aging societies and increasing use of technology is generating concerns about the effects of loneliness on health. Findings appear in The Economist’s Sept. 1 issue and in a separate KFF report that looks at people’s views and experiences with loneliness across the three countries.

Reports of always or often feeling lonely or socially isolated are similar in the U.S. (22%) and U.K. (23%), compared to 9 percent in Japan.

Other findings include:

  • Loneliness appears to be closely tied to real life problems and circumstances, with at least six in 10 of those experiencing it across the three countries citing a specific cause, most often the death of a loved one. Those who feel lonely are much more likely to report a negative change in financial status, a change in living situation, a serious injury or illness personally, or loss of a job in the past two years than those who don’t report feeling lonely across the three countries.
  • In the United States, those most likely to experience loneliness include people who report having a mental health condition (47% report loneliness) or a debilitating health condition (45%). That’s roughly three times the rates for those who don’t have such conditions.
  • Similarly, Americans who are single, divorced, widowed or separated are more than twice as likely to report feeling lonely or socially isolated than those who are married or living with a partner (33% compared to 13%). The pattern is similar in the U.K. and Japan.
  • Half of Americans (51%) say they’ve heard “a lot” or “some” about the problems of loneliness and social isolation – fewer than say the same in the United Kingdom (67%), where a minister for loneliness was appointed earlier this year.
  • Across countries, large majorities of people say individuals and families should play a major role in helping to reduce loneliness and social isolation in society today. However, just about a quarter of Americans (27%) say the government should play a major role, less than half the shares who say the same in the U.K. and Japan. Most Americans (61%) also see a major role for churches and other religious institutions.

The three-country survey is part of a polling partnership between KFF and The Economist. The poll was designed and analyzed by survey researchers at KFF in collaboration with The Economist. Each organization is solely responsible for the content it publishes based on the survey.

The poll was conducted by telephone from April through June 2018 among random digit dial telephone (landline and cell phone) samples of adults in the U.S. (1,003), the U.K. (1,002) and Japan (1,000), including at least 200 adults in each country who report always or often feeling lonely or socially isolated.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the U.S. results and plus or minus 4 percentage points for results for the U.K. and Japan. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

“She’s worn both a hospital gown and a white coat. Now she wants to change how doctors perceive their patients” – STATNews

Shekinah-Elmore-1024x576Dr. Shekinah Elmore HYACINTH EMPINADO/STAT

by Orly Nadell Farber

BOSTON — Shekinah Elmore was not yet a physician when she gave her own second opinion. After a year of cancer treatment — including lung surgery, chemotherapy, and a double mastectomy — she was hell-bent on starting medical school. Her doctors tried to dissuade her, recommending that she take more time to recover from her third stint with cancer. But two weeks after finishing the therapies that left her bald and unable to walk without getting winded, Elmore took an oath to do no harm.

“’I’m a very stubborn person,’ she said a few weeks ago, laughing at the gall of her younger self.

“Eight years after starting medical school, Elmore wears her dark hair in long braids with golden ends. But against the brick walls of a quiet coffee shop, her earrings — orange hoops the size of peach slices — stand out the most.

“As a student, Elmore also paired her outfits with unapologetically loud earrings. Her classmates took her shaved head to be another style choice, and not the effect of toxic chemotherapy.

“Elmore was perceived as ‘among the healthy,’ and recalls that wrong assumption with both fondness and frustration. It was nice blending in at school, she said, surrounded by new people who didn’t constantly ask, ‘How do you feel?’”

Continue reading this STATNews article, click here.

“The 17th Century Guide to Sleep” -History Today

“Despite the modern obsession with a good night’s rest, more of us are sleeping less. Perhaps we should pay attention to the advice of early modern doctors.”14.40.611“Detail from A Maid Asleep by Johannes Vermeer, c.1656–57.”

by Katharine A. Craik

Sleep is an urgent topic for neuroscientists and now more than ever is known about its crucial importance for concentration and memory formation. Despite all this, the western world spends fewer and fewer hours asleep. With human interaction increasingly taking place in timeless virtual spaces, our time spent asleep is shortening and our working days are lengthening, with profound implications for the quality of the lives we lead. In particular, the impact of light-emitting screens upon the circadian rhythms, so essential to well-being, are only just becoming apparent. A similar debate took place during the Enlightenment when artificial lighting offered many people the novel opportunity to manipulate their hours of wakeful productivity. But the origins of sleep science lie centuries earlier, in Renaissance theories about the body’s sensitivity to light and darkness.

“The science of sleep was developing rapidly in the 17th century, when rest was regarded as one of the core factors for maintaining good health, along with other essential ‘non-naturals’ such as air, food and drink. Most writers agreed that the optimum quantity of sleep lay somewhere between seven and nine hours and that its health-giving benefits were many and varied. The medical literature of the time however suggests that people – then as now – were often plagued by slumber’s elusiveness.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety at History Today.


Department of Human Services Highlights Service Expansion for Pennsylvanians with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism

dhs logo

Harrisburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Deputy Secretary for Developmental Programs Nancy Thaler today discussed the expansion of services available for Pennsylvanians with autism spectrum disorder and their families at an event in the Capitol Media Center. Because of Governor Tom Wolf’s current and 2017-2018 budgets, combined investments of nearly $100 million resulted in the second-largest expansion of services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and/or autism in the program’s history.

“Expanding access to support services can be critical to helping people with an intellectual disability or autism live an enriching life in their community with their family and friends,” said Thaler. “This continued investment demonstrates a commitment to supporting Pennsylvanians with an intellectual disability or autism and making it possible for more people to live everyday lives.”

Governor Wolf’s 2018-2019 budget included $74 million in support of programs and services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. This funding allows for a significant expansion of services in waiver programs, and all Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities or autism will be able to use support coordination to help find and use resources in their communities.

People with autism spectrum disorder now have access to all support programs offered through DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and will be considered for all waiver programs. Previously, only people with autism who expressed interest in waiver services were considered.

This investment in ODP services also ensures that 800 public school graduates with autism and intellectual disabilities will be able to access support services at the time of graduation. Graduates previously waited up to six months for services – a gap that can result in loss of skills learned during school.

“Our goal is to ensure that individuals with an intellectual disability or autism and their families have support at every stage and transition in their lives. Graduation is an exciting but uncertain time for all students, but for graduates who require additional supports, that life change can bring additional challenges” said Thaler. “Connecting graduates to services eases this change and helps graduates find a job and navigate the next step of their lives with confidence.”

Funding in the 2018-2019 budget supports:

  • 100 individuals transitioning from the emergency waiting list to the Consolidated Waiver;
  • 800 students graduating in 2018 in the Person/Family Directed Support Waiver and the Community Living Waiver;
  • 40 individuals transitioning from the interest list to the Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP).

For more information on DHS, the Office of Developmental Programs, and services available for Pennsylvanians with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder, visit

SOURCE: news release

“What Would You Pay For Mobility?” – Tech50Plus


by Gary Kaye

“According to the website Pants Up Easy, which tracks disabilities, some 3.6 million Americans over the age of 15 use a wheelchair for mobility. Perhaps that seems kind of low, but it doesn’t include all the folks using a cane, crutches or a walker (11.6 million). Overall 20 percent of women in the U.S have disabilities and 17 percent of all men. Those are staggering numbers that will only go higher as baby boomers age. Earlier this year, I became disabled as a result of cascading medical problems.

“The disabled population pays a huge price, one which American society largely ignores. Let’s start off with medical devices from stairlifts to wheelchairs, from ramps to commodes.


“Some of these are covered by either private insurance or Medicare Part B, but many are not. You will need a doctor’s prescription and a prior authorization which will only be granted if the device is deemed a medical necessity. Many of the electric powered personal mobility devices such as scooters are not approved medical devices.”

Continue reading this Tech50Plus article, click here.

“We can all help to improve communication for people with disabilities” – The Conversation

disability communicationsCo-author Harmony Turnbull with Fiona Bridger, who has cerebral palsy and uses a speech generating device.” Bronwyn Hemsley

“Around 5% of the population, or 1.2 million Australians have a communication disability. Communication disability can arise if a person has a health condition affecting their speech, language, listening, understanding, reading, writing, or social skills.

“Communication disability can be lifelong (as for people with cerebral palsy or intellectual disability) or acquired (as for people with stroke and aphasia, motor neurone disease, or traumatic brain injury).

“All people need to be able to communicate in order to work, build relationships, and seek the support they need. But they will encounter many barriers to taking part and being included.”

Continue reading this article at The Conversation, click here.

“A New Smoking Ban in Public Housing Roils Some Residents” – StateLine

“Public housing tenants are more likely to smoke than people who don’t live in public housing.”

smoking“Larry Curry, left, and Delores Hall, right, light up outside the Barge Highrise senior housing complex in Atlanta, Georgia. A new nationwide ban on smoking in public housing has them hopping mad — and relegated to smoking at a nearby bus stop.” – The Pew Charitable Trusts

“ATLANTA — It’s August here, which means things are hot, verging on swampy. And it’s cigarette break time, which means the denizens of the Barge Road Highrise senior housing complex are both hot and cranky. Really cranky.

“The source of their ire: Thanks to a new nationwide ban on smoking in public housing, they can no longer light up in the air-conditioned privacy of their own homes. Instead, as Atlanta Housing Authority tenants, they’re now relegated to the steamy outskirts of the property — to be precise, the MARTA bus stop, where a cluster of them are now huddled.

“So yeah, they’re mad.”

Continue reading this article at StateLine, click here.


“An explosive investigation into orphanage abuse in the US” – BuzzFeed News


Nuns killed children, say former residents of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage 

This BuzzFeed article is shocking and not easy to read.

Take a deep breath, because this is an explosive and difficult story. Millions of American children were placed in orphanages. Some didn’t make it out alive.

After hearing whispers that seemed almost too awful to believe, BuzzFeed News investigative reporter Christine Kenneally embarked on a four-year-long journey to find out what really went on in these institutions. BuzzFeed News publishes her special investigation, with a powerful video, revealing the systematic abuse and even the alleged murder of children by nuns.

Her searing report — part true crime drama, part ghost story — cracks open a secret history of American life, and adds a vast new dimension to the Catholic church’s mistreatment of children.

From a world shrouded in secrecy, she tells the story of Sally Dale, Joseph Barquin, Dale Greene, and other former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont, who somehow found the courage to come forward and tell the world what they had witnessed, begging to be heard and believed. The local Catholic diocese put up the fight of a lifetime.

The legal battle upended every assumption that the people of Burlington had. Could memory be trusted? Could forgetting be forgotten? Could a thriving community turn a blind eye to evil? And could nuns, the very women charged with protecting the most vulnerable members of society, have tortured and even killed them?

The Catholic Church abuse scandals — including this month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report on how the church hid the crimes of hundreds of priests — shattered the silence that for so long had protected the church’s secrets. But the truth about what went on inside its American orphanages somehow remained unspoken.

Across thousands of miles, across decades, the abuse in orphanages took eerily similar forms. People who grew up in orphanages said they were made to kneel or stand for hours, sometimes with their arms straight out. Children were forced to eat their own vomit. Children were dangled upside-down out windows, over wells, or in laundry chutes. They were locked in cabinets, in closets, in attics, sometimes for days.

While other countries have opened national inquiries, in the US, there has been no national reckoning. The few times that people who went through the orphanages have sought justice, the courts have tended to be largely indifferent.

So the dark secrets, like the children who haunt survivors’ dreams, lay buried.

Read the article at BuzzFeed News.

Friday Wrap-Up, August 24, 2018 | a message from the Secretary of Aging

Each week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.

Click here download the newsletter as a .pdf file. 


“Mental illness is a death sentence for many in America’s jails.” – The Virginian-Pilot

“Mental illness is a death sentence for many in America’s jails.” Click here to read more.

prison mental health