The Food and Drug Administration, as of July 31, had reported 180 prescription drug shortages, which tops the previous record of 178 recorded last year. Additionally, the American Hospital Association found that 99.5 percent of hospitals have had one or more drug shortages in the past six months. The record number of prescription drug shortages has prompted an executive order from the Obama administration. The order directs the FDA to increase reporting of possible shortages and speed the application process required to begin production of drugs. Shortages have been reported on drugs that treat everything from cancer to bacterial infections. More here and here.
Though more seniors are aware of the costs associated with living longer than in past years, a recent survey found just 45 percent knew they’d need nearly 90 percent of their pre-retirement income to maintain their standard of living and 45 percent said they’d likely end up working longer than planned. Still, the number of respondents who were aware of the cost of living longer rose to 62 percent from 56 percent in 2008 and 23 percent in 2003. A majority of seniors were unaware of the financial tools available to them, including long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, and delaying social security. A quarter of respondents were familiar with reverse mortgages, though 42 percent of surveyed Americans believe health insurance or Medicare will cover the price of long-term care. More here.
Insomnia has been linked to higher risk of heart attack before but a recent study of nearly 52,000 adults is the largest of its kind to find a correlation between the sleep disorder and heart health. The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found people who had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep were at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack, even after accounting for age, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other factors that contribute to heart disease. According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, nearly 10 percent of Americans say they have chronic insomnia and approximately one-third say they have occasional bouts with the disorder. More here.
Eating a Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer but, according to a recent study, may have benefits for your brain as well. The diet, typical of Italians and Greeks, is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, non-refined cereals, and olive oil, among other foods that have been proven to be beneficial for health. Christy Tangney, PhD, said the more we can incorporate vegetables, olive oil, and fish into our diets the better for our aging brains and bodies. The study, which followed 3,759 adults over the age of 65, found those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet scored higher on memory and math tests than those who adhered to American dietary guidelines. More here.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention report that half of American adults will develop a mental illness at some point in their life. Among mental illnesses, depression and anxiety were the most common. Nearly 16 percent of adults say they’ve suffered from depression and 12 percent reported an anxiety disorder. Among seniors, 18.7 percent of people between the ages of 65 and 74 reported a mental illness, while nearly a quarter of people older than 85 say they’ve had a mental disorder. The study emphasizes the need for people with symptoms of mental illness to seek treatment and support services, as mental disorders are associated with higher risk of many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. More here.
Fish contain many beneficial nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve blood pressure and blood vessel function. But, according to a recent study from Northwestern University, the type of fish you eat and how its cooked determines how it effects your body. Darker fish, such as salmon and mackerel, contain higher levels of heart-healthy nutrients than tuna and whitefish and eating baked or broiled fish reduced the risk of heart failure while fried fish increased that risk. The study, which followed 84,493 women for 10 years, found women who ate the most baked or broiled fish were 30 percent less likely to develop heart failure. On the other hand, women who ate fried fish just once a week increased their risk by 48 percent. More here.
Experiencing moderate to high levels of stress consistently over a number of years leads to a 50 percent higher mortality rate, according to a recent study in the Journal of Aging Research. The study followed nearly 1,000 healthy men from 1985 to 2003 and compared their stress levels. The low-stress group had an average of two major life events per year, the moderate group experienced an average of three and the high-stress group had up to six. The study, unlike previous research, focused on stress that impacts people as they age, such as the loss of a spouse, as opposed to focusing on events geared toward younger people. The results found similar mortality rates for those experiencing moderate and high levels of stress. Carolyn Aldwin, lead author of the study, said the study suggests even moderate stress, over time, can have lethal effects. More here.
A survey of baby boomers approaching retirement age found a majority said they don’t understand Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for seniors. Even those past retirement age expressed confusion about the plans and how they work. The survey, conducted by the National Council on Aging, found less than half of seniors said they understood Medicare and even fewer could identify the individual components of the program. Only a third knew that Medicare Part A was for hospital insurance and just 23 percent of respondents correctly identified Medicare Part B as the component that covers doctor visits. Unfortunately, seniors’ confusion about how Medicare works means many will lose money because they didn’t shop for a better plan. Howard Bedlin, vice president of public policy and advocacy at NCOA, said he was hopeful that baby boomers would be more comfortable using the Internet to better educate themselves about the programs and policies. More here.
A recent study found each hour spent watching television may shorten your lifespan by 22 minutes. Though previous research has linked sedentary behavior to higher risk of death, the authors of the study say its the first to independently measure the effects of watching television on length of life. J. Lennert Veerman, of the University of Queensland, Australia, said watching television has negative health consequences that rival those associated with obesity and smoking. The results suggest that an adult who watches an average of six hours of television each day would live five years less than someone who didn’t watch TV. More here.
Once a year, seniors have an opportunity to make changes to their Medicare plan, whether they have Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage or a Part D prescription drug plan. The Medicare Annual Election Period began October 15 and ends December 7 this year, earlier than in the past. Costs, benefits, and coverage for particular drugs can change, as can your particular health needs, making an annual review of your plan necessary. The basic choices are between traditional Medicare and a separate Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes everything. Any changes made during open enrollment take effect January 1. Seniors who elect a Medicare Advantage plan but change their mind can switch back if they do so before February 14. More here and here.