Archive for the 'health' Category

Sarah Palin, the elderly, the disabled, older Americans and rural Alaska


naomidagenbloom 2008 September 2

Vuee, Vuee, We need to hear MORE from you now about the way Alaska has come into our consciousness via your governor–the believer in “stakeholders.”

Readers can’t get off that easy, Little Red Hen— what questions do folks have?

The reason I have been rather quiet, blogwise, is because the news from rural Alaska about living there isn’t good. There has been next to nothing improved since earlier posts, this includes the past 18 months of the personable Gov. Sarah Palin. I’ll give examples below, but they sound depressing. So readers, what do enquiring minds want to know? If nothing else, I can at least point you to some good sources of facts or commentary from Alaska perspective.

An older friend of mine (from Tucson) sends this musing upon the early photo of Sarah Palin and her caribou ( It is the photo of the red-nosed caribou NOT a reindeer.)

>My deep reflections, caribou inspired::
1. Macho women don’t need to wear pantsuits to assert themselves.
2. Most currently popular female names go from my daughter Michelle to my mother Sarah.
3. Sarah definitely shoots better than Dick. How about Joe’s expertise with firearms?
4. Candidates should not be judged only on basis of age, gender, and looks.
5. Candidate’s children are given on-stage prominence. It should be unfair to have the youngest ones debate politics, but what about having a food fight?


  • there’s the older gentleman who is resigning himself to move 400 miles away from home to be near his grandkids because his grown children had to move to Anchorage to find work to meet the utilities payments
  • there’s all the older people who need an assisted living arrangement or nursing home (a 400 mile trip, if one can afford to get into Bethel from the village to get on the jet)
  • there’s fuel oil at $6-15 a gallon
  • there’s the Bush-Cheney stimulus payments which only went to those who have taxable income. They don’t go to those who cashed in IRAs early to pay electricity or who struggle to make sense of their returns.
  • there’s electricity at 40 cents or more per kilowatt hour (with a subsidy for residences) in rural Alaska (Wasilla pays considerably less, without subsidy)
  • there’s gasoline, needed to go out and “grocery shop” on the tundra or out in the river, at $6 to $18 gallon.
  • there’s gaining grandmother status at 34
  • there’s raising grandchildren at 70
  • there’s having your one-time $1200 “energy check” from the state stolen by your children for smokes and booze

2008-09-04 Look guys, what someone else found

2008-09-04 Fact Check of Governor Palin’s Speech

PALIN: “Senator McCain also promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest – and as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.”

Andrew Halcro does a fine job at

Also: tech support has a listing of reasonable sources at Sarah Palin content

2008-10-27 Palin’s gaffe about her policy on “special needs” while her record shows she has none

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Liz Taylor takes comments

One of the best reads ever on aging deliberately is Liz Taylor–
Her series has been mentioned previously –

I just discovered that the columns published at Kitsap Sun Stories: Liz Taylor: Aging Deliberately allow comments (registration required) and have an RSS feed . This is so much more convenient and useful than the Seattle Times venue. I’m not sure which is the primary home for Liz’s work, however, and Kitsap may not carry all her columns. At the Seattle Times I have to subscribe by E-mail to their health series (once a week e-mail, all health stories which are interesting) to get notice of her columns. Otherwise I have a Google News Alert for Liz Taylor+ aging, which sometimes brings in notice of National Velvet. [the colors behind some items below mean nothing except straightening out the code remains to be done.]

Liz Taylor began her career as a federal consumer-fraud investigator and was appointed by Elizabeth Dole in 1976 to direct a nationwide investigation of the nursing-home industry. She’s worked in the aging field ever since.

In the 1980s, Liz became one of the first geriatric care managers in the Pacific Northwest, working with thousands of families and older adults to find high-quality services. In 2000, she founded Aging Deliberately, a business that teaches people how to prepare for their aging so they’ll have more control over what happens to them. In 2005, she served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. She’s won the American Geriatrics Society’s 2007 Aging Awareness Media Award and the Washington Association of Homes and Services for the Aging’s Excellence in Media Award.

It’s relatively easy to age successfully if you’re wealthy. Money can’t buy happiness, but it certainly allows you to buy the things that make life more comfortable at any age. 1/26/2008 11:00 PM
In my last column, I wrote about a growing problem: what to do when an older person who has dementia hasn’t named anyone she trusts to make decisions for her. This week I’ll tackle a tougher issue: what to do when the person she names does a poor job. 11/17/2007 11:00 PM
My e-mail has had a repeated theme recently: An older person with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, isn’t paying bills, preparing meals, bathing, and other important tasks — but refuses to allow anyone to help.
11/3/2007 09:00 PM |
There’s a certain uniformity to finding a physician under Medicare these days. Rich or poor, if you’re 65 or older, you’re likely to have similar slim pickings (more so if you’re poor and on Medicare and Medicaid). 10/20/2007 11:00 PM |
Most of us want to live a long time, but nobody wants to grow old. The irony is, most of us will — live a long time and grow old. It’s easy to do — all it takes is letting the days roll by. As long as you’re healthy, getting old is a piece of cake.
10/6/2007 11:00 PM |
It’s easy as pie to age well when you’re healthy. The friction comes when you become frail. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted, the product of isolation, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and falls — all common problems for people who age in their homes but don’t plan it correctly. 9/22/2007 11:00 PM |
A woman in her late 70s, a good friend, is pondering her options. Her home is two stories (or three, including the basement), with many stairs to her bedroom, bathroom and the washing machine. 9/8/2007 11:00 PM
Dad is 87, fun and funny, with moderate dementia. He lived “on the edge” in his own home for years while we kids worried sick. 7/28/2007 11:00 PM
When I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, cars were sort of round and later sort of square. My dad wore a hat to work and took the bus.
7/14/2007 11:00 PM
I’m 75 and have lived in an assisted-living facility for a year.
7/8/2007 02:00 AM
Older people are not simply younger people with wrinkles our bodies change dramatically as we age, both inside and out; some parts wear out before others, sometimes several at once.
6/17/2007 02:00 AM
Whether you live at home, in a retirement community, or in a yurt on top of a mountain, as you age, you want to do it consciously.
6/3/2007 02:00 AM

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Older, more able

This is an interesting summary of trends in aging in the US. Part of the reason for less disabling aging is the involvement of people in their medical and health decisions [see also Preventive health care in elderly people needs rethinking], technology (from microwave ovens to walkers), smokers died before now and quitters started quitting awhile ago, availability of surgery from eyes to knees, older people exercise more than in the past, changes in attitude towards aging capabilities (changing expectataions of older people by older people and others. Off those rockers!), better availability of foods, etc.

Frank Greve of McClatchy Newspapers says, “The remarkable thing about National Public Radio senior news analyst Daniel Schorr, 91, who only recently gave up tennis, and Landrum Bolling, 94, the globe-trotting director at large for the relief agency Mercy Corps, is the same: They aren’t as remarkable as you’d think they are.

A surprising decline in disability rates among older Americans since the 1980s is enabling millions more to lead longer, richer, spryer lives. … older Americans typically are disability-free for the roughly 10 months of life expectancy that were added from 1992 to 2003.

…According to Dr. Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology and sociology at the University of Southern California, 25 percent of Hispanic and black Americans older than 65 need help with basic tasks. For whites, the rate is 17 percent. Differences in disability rates linked to income and education also persist, Crimmins and others have found, and while women live longer than men, they endure more disabilities. […]

Growing Older May Be Getting Easier, Tuesday 11 December 2007

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Love and respect never grow old

Love never grows old condom card

Safe sex for older people is a major concern of A Little Red Hen who has been reminding people with her condom amulets.

2007-11-30 [revised] Stop the ‘tubes! A Little Red Hen has a new blogzine announced here–
Knit A Condom Amulet, the Blogzine

and click image to see the new site–
button for knitacondomamulet

Fortunately, there has been recent news coverage about the need for HIV and STD testing, and practicing safe sex, by those over 50.

Experts and older patients are teaching a belated lesson to battle a risky HIV generation gap that has left many unprotected and infected.
By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 26, 2007

…although the number of HIV and AIDS patients in the over-50 crowd nationwide had grown in recent years, some of the increase was attributed to people who are living longer with the virus or disease, thanks to improvements in therapy treatments.

But without widespread testing, “we don’t really know what the true prevalence [of STD infection] is in this group,” Lieb said. “There’s reason to think, at least anecdotally, this is a combustible situation that is being overlooked.”

That’s why some social service and public health officials have turned to HIV-positive patients like Fowler to speak out and try to get their peers’ attention…. Fowler recently met up with a graying group to commiserate about sexually transmitted diseases, and recounted her cautionary tale. How a divorce in her 50s led her back into the dating pool, and how she enjoyed a New Year’s Eve fling with a former co-worker. Fowler said she never considered using condoms, given that she had already gone through menopause.

“I had lived what I considered a conventional, traditional life. I had been a virgin on my wedding night in 1959,” said Fowler, a founder of the National Assn. on HIV Over Fifty, who now coordinates the speakers bureau at a local AIDS organization. She has spoken before hundreds of groups over the years, including medical researchers and HIV/AIDS advocates to senior centers.

“I remained monogamous for 23 years of marriage. . . . After the divorce, I didn’t consider myself promiscuous. I didn’t frequent the singles bars. I went out with men my age who, like me, had been married and were divorced.”

Her own physician, she said, dismissed her questions about getting tested for HIV as unnecessary for someone her age. Her early symptoms were dismissed as routine ailments of aging.

Read the rest at

The National Association on HIV Over Fifty (NAHOF) was founded at the National Conference on AIDS and Aging in October of 1995 in New York City. Our mission is to promote the availability of a full range of educational, prevention, service and health care programs for persons over age fifty affected by HIV.

People over age fifty are affected by HIV in numerous ways. People in their mid or later years may be infected with HIV, the virus associated with AIDS. Ten percent of all AIDS cases are persons age fifty and up, a quarter of these are over age 60. Older women appear to have higher incidence rates than older men, and persons of color are especially at risk.

AIDS and HIV affect families, both traditional and families of choice. Increasingly older adults care for relatives and friends infected with HIV. Many adults with HIV turn to older parents for help and care. Increasingly grandparents are substitute parents for their grandchildren whose own parents are unable to care for their children due to HIV-related needs. Many of these are “AIDS orphans” and grandparents have stepped in to be full or part time caregivers for the children; middle-age and older adults with adult children may need emotional support….

Older people with HIV/AIDS face a double stigma: ageism and infection with a sexually-or-IV-drug transmitted disease.

Safe sex is needed especially in what seems to be a new tourism–

By Jeremy Clarke, Sun Nov 25, 2007
Older white women join Kenya’s sex tourists

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) – Bethan, 56, lives in southern England on the same street as best friend Allie, 64….

Hard figures are difficult to come by, but local people on the coast estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex.

Allie and Bethan — who both declined to give their full names — said they planned to spend a whole month touring Kenya’s palm-fringed beaches. They would do well to avoid the country’s tourism officials.

“It’s not evil,” said Jake Grieves-Cook, chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board, when asked about the practice of older rich women traveling for sex with young Kenyan men.

“But it’s certainly something we frown upon.”

Also, the health risks are stark in a country with an AIDS prevalence of 6.9 percent. Although condom use can only be guessed at, Julia Davidson, an academic at Nottingham
University who writes on sex tourism, said that in the course of her research she had met women who shunned condoms — finding them too “businesslike” for their exotic fantasies.

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Vibrators and exercise for strength among the frail

There has been additional research into vibrating platforms as a means to improve bone and muscle health. An earlier post is here,

  • Vibrating beds as osteoporosis exercise
  • These platforms may be similar to one manufactured by Soloflex and one about to come out by Nintendo Wii. The Wii will have a game console attached for using video games as an exercise on a balance board. The news reports don’t mention how the human tests are done.

    Other Wii games mentioned earlier–

  • Ideas to exercise in small cold places
  • The SoloFlex would be easy to set-up as a study in a senior center. See the news story (Boston Globe) Vibrating machines are studied for health benefits. A home machine called Soloflex Whole Body Vibration Platform is smaller and less powerful, generating more of a massage sensation at the lowest setting. More and stronger vibration doesn’t mean faster results and could be dangerous as the article points out. There would have to be modifications for those with balance problems. However, measures of muscle strength, balance, and coordination are easy enough to set up.

    Here’s a cautious review from– It is considered a class 1 Medical Device by the FDA. Those who shouldn’t use this are recovering from surgery, have heart disease, neurological conditions, pre-existing deep vein thrombosis, joint implants or are pregnant.

    No one has yet tested vibrating motel beds (don’t forget your condom amulets or

    Vibrations Shown to Build Bone, Reduce Fat (National Public Radio)

    Morning Edition, October 29, 2007 · Standing on a gently vibrating platform for 15 minutes a day can build bone mass and reduce fat in mice, according to a new study. The changes are due to a stem cell in bone marrow that can become muscle, bone or fat. Testing has begun in humans…. Scientists are about to launch a similar study in humans. Douglas Kiel works at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, where subjects will soon get 10 minutes of jiggling a day.

    Tolstoy’s Bicyclist nonagenarian George Dawson and brain fitness

    “Some people say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” Edwards said. “So I always like to mention George Dawson. He died a couple of years ago at age 102 or 103. What’s remarkable about George Dawson is that he learned to read at age 98.”

    Dawson, of Texas, who was the grandson of slaves, then collaborated with co-author Richard Glaubman to write his autobiography, “Life is So Good,”‘ published in 2000 by Random House.

    2011-05-28 Oprah recently posted this video about Mr Dawson’s legacy, George Dawson’s Legacy May 13, 2011

    According to this entry, Mr Dawson published his first book at 102 years.

    African American Read-In has a more detailed biography, “George Dawson also received two Doctorates of Humane letters from Texas Weslyan University and New School of New York City. In 2002, George Dawson Middle School was named in his honor in Southlake, Texas.” Click the photo to visit. George Dawson reading at 102

    Mr Dawson’s accomplishments came up in a news summary of what the latest studies say about retaining or improving mental agility (caffeine in women. not men, is another finding). The summary is pretty good about the types of “neurobics” (stupid term, IMO) which are recommended more and more frequently. They also note the relationship between physical exercise and mental ability, “The general concept is: what’s good for your heart is good for your brain,” Mirza said.

    In Bethel, they will probably just hide another jigsaw piece I hear they still won’t let the elderlies run the place.

    Work your way to brain fitness
    Posted by Linda S. Mah/Gazette August 21, 2007 17:14PM

    …Physical exercise, social involvement, challenging activities and new experiences are all recommended as ways to help keep our brains in top-notch condition.

    “The analogy may be trite, but the brain is like a muscle,” said Morry Edwards, a licensed clinical psychologist with Neuropsychology Associates in Kalamazoo. “The circuits strengthen when you use your brain. If you don’t, the circuits fade.”…

    “Some more-recent research shows it’s not just the exercise but the type of exercise or variety of exercise that you do which is important,” Mirza said.

    O’Folks off their rocker Add this to Bookmarks:

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    Preventive health care in elderly people needs rethinking

    This sounds like it could be an interesting think-piece. Unfortunately, BMJ no longer gives free access to articles the first year. [this article was subsequently made available to the public for discussion.]

    I don’t know what they mean by elderly, the oldest olds? The age group was 70-82. See comments.

    BMJ 2007;335:285-287 (11 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.39241.630741.BE1
    Analysis by
    Dee Mangin, senior lecturer in general practice1, Kieran Sweeney, honorary clinical senior lecturer in general practice2, Iona Heath, general practitioner3

    1 Christchurch School of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch New Zealand, 2 Peninsula Medical School, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter EX2 5DW, 3 Caversham Group Practice, London NW5 2UP

    Dee Mangin, Kieran Sweeney, and Iona Heath argue that, rather than prolonging life, preventive treatments in elderly people simply change the cause of death—the manner of our dying

    The first 150 words of the full text of this article appear below.

    Summary points

    * Single disease models should not be applied to preventive treatments in elderly people
    * Preventive treatments in elderly people may select cause of death without the patient’s informed consent
    * Preventive use of statins shows no overall benefit in elderly people as cardiovascular mortality and morbidity are replaced by cancer
    * A more sophisticated model is needed to assess the benefits and harms of preventive treatment in elderly people

    Preventive health care aims to delay the onset of illness and disease and to prevent untimely and premature deaths. But the theory and rhetoric of prevention do not deal with the problem of how such health care applies to people who have already exceeded an average lifespan. In recent years, concerns about equity of access to treatments have focused on ageism. As a result, preventive interventions are encouraged regardless of age, and this can be harmful to the patient and expensive for the health . . .

    [Full text of this article via paid subscription only] The full text is now available.

    O’Folks off their rocker Add this to Bookmarks:

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    O’Folks (off their rocker)

    Old age isn't a disease.

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