Category Archives: Health

Friday Wrap-Up, March 16, 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.

“A Quiet Drug Problem Among the Elderly” – The New York Times

Despite warnings from experts, older people are using more anti-anxiety and sleep medications, putting them at risk of serious side effects and even overdoses.

elderly drugs

by Paula Spahn

“At first, the pills helped her feel so much better.

“Jessica Falstein, an artist living in the East Village in Manhattan, learned she had an anxiety disorder in 1992. It led to panic attacks, a racing pulse, sleeplessness. ‘Whenever there was too much stress, the anxiety would become almost intolerable, like acid in the veins,’ she recalled.

“When a psychopharmacologist prescribed the drug Klonopin, everything brightened. ‘It just leveled me out,’ Ms. Falstein said. ‘I had more energy. And it helped me sleep, which I was desperate for.’

“After several months, however, the horrible symptoms returned. ‘My body became accustomed to half a milligram, and the drug stopped working,’ she said. ‘So then I was up to one milligram. And then two.’ Her doctor kept increasing the dosage and added Ativan to the mix.

“Now 67, with her health and stamina in decline …

Click here to read this New York Times article in its entirety.

“Why does the U.S. spend so much on health care?” – STAT: Morning Rounds

health care spending

“A new report finds the U.S. spent nearly twice as much on health care in 2016 as 10 other high-income countries — but by and large, our health outcomes are worse. The U.S. had the highest maternal and infant mortality rates and the lowest life expectancy of the 11 countries included in the study. So what’s driving that difference in spending? A look at the numbers:

  • We spend a lot on health care. The U.S. spent about $1,443 a person on health care in 2016. The next highest: Switzerland, which shelled out $939 per person.
  • But it’s not because we use it much more often. For the most part, people in the U.S. used health care services about as often as people in other countries.
  • Prices for goods, like prescription drugs, seem to play a big part. Take the cholesterol drug Crestor, with a list price of $86 per month in the U.S., but $41 in Germany and $9 in Australia.
  • So do labor costs, such as physician salaries. General physicians in the U.S. had the highest salary of any country in the study, making $218,173 on average, compared to $154,126 in Germany, which had the next highest salary.”


“New Dental Care Model Helping to Solve Healthcare Inequality” – Modern Healthcare

dental3by Jane S. Grover, D.D.S., M.P.H., Director, Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, American Dental Association (ADA) 

“While Congress continues the seemingly endless debate over healthcare reform, we need to remember that community-based solutions are addressing our health equity crisis right now. The Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC), along with improved Medicaid dental benefits, are proven, complementary solutions to a complex problem.

First, consider the challenge. 2.2 million people visit hospital emergency departments (ED) each year for dental pain, according to the ADA’s Health Policy Institute. 91% of adults aged 20-64 have caries, the disease that causes tooth decay and cavities, and nearly a third (27%) go untreated, according to the CDC. Almost half (47%) of people over age 30 have some form of gum disease.”

Keep reading this article at Modern Healthcare, click here.

“The Anti-Inflammation Checklist Discover common targets of chronic inflammation — and quick ways to put a damper on it” – AARP


“‘Inflammation drives the aging process faster than any other biomarker,’ says physician Tasneem Bhatia, author of The 21-Day Belly Fix. ‘As we get older, inflammation increases, in part because our bodies are less adept at digesting and processing the nutrients we need to regulate it.’ It’s that growing inflammatory process that plays a role in so many diseases of aging.

“Inflammation is our body’s natural response to physical and microbial attack. ‘When you injure a muscle or a tendon, red and white blood cells migrate to the part of the body that’s injured to help heal it,’ says Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine physician and author of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription. But chronic inflammation occurs when our bodies perceive that they’re under threat, putting our immune system in a perpetual state of attack; this dramatically increases our risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Check out some of the common places inflammation shows up and how you can fight the fire.”

Inflammation Body Map

Illustration by Steve Sanford

Click here to read this article in its entirety at


“Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines” – NPR

Bending-motionSource: Courtesy of Jenn Sherer/Spinefulness

by Michaeleen Doucleff

“To see if you’re bending correctly, try a simple experiment.

“‘Stand up and put your hands on your waist,’ says Jean Couch, who has been helping people get out of back pain for 25 years at her studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

“‘Now imagine I’ve dropped a feather in front of your feet and asked to pick it up,’ Couch says. ‘Usually everybody immediately moves their heads and looks down.’

“That little look down bends your spine and triggers your stomach to do a little crunch. ‘You’ve already started to bend incorrectly — at your waist,’ Couch says. ‘Almost everyone in the U.S. bends at the stomach.’”

Click here to read this NPR article in its entirety.

“A new blood test can detect eight different cancers in their early stages” – The Conversation

blood test for cancer“A liquid biopsy is far less invasive than a standard biopsy, where a needle is put into a solid tumour to confirm a cancer diagnosis. from”

“Researchers have developed a blood test that can detect the presence of eight common cancers. Called CancerSEEK, the blood test detects tiny amounts of DNA and proteins released into the blood stream from cancer cells. This can then indicate the presence of ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic, oesophageal, bowel, lung or breast cancers.

“Known as a liquid biopsy, the test is distinctly different to a standard biopsy, where a needle is put into a solid tumour to confirm a cancer diagnosis. CancerSEEK, is also far less invasive. It can be performed without even knowing a cancer is present, and therefore allow for early diagnosis and more chance of a cure.”

Read this article at The Conversation in its entirety, click here.

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight stealing disease. – Vision Resource Center of Berks County

Glaucoma… The Leading Cause of Preventable Blindness”

glaucoma eye

“Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent.

“As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.Over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma.

“Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.”

Click here to continue reading this important article at the Vision Resource Center of Berks County Website.

“Winterize to Prevent Falls” – National Council on Aging

Winter weather can lead to devastating slips, trips, and falls. Below are five simple steps that YOU can take this winter to reduce falls among older adults and adults with disabilities in your community.

Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ falls every year? Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls are costly—in dollars and in quality of life. However, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be reduced substantially.

winter falls prevention

Download the above information sheet as a .pdf file for sharing, printing or enlarging, click on the graphic above or here

The Slippery Slope of Opioid Use

slippery slopeThe Slippery Slope of Opioid UsePowToon