Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Modern Death: Book Review

Published February 7, 2017.
Modern medicine has increased the average life expectancy of people living in industrialized nations.

However, modern medicine has also decreased the health span.

In other words, people are living longer, but many are living in a state where their quality of life is very low while managing numerous chronic diseases and sometimes--for years--a terminal disease.

Particularly salient are Warraich's questions about how to balance extending life with quality of life during end-of-life care.

Haider Warraich, a fellow in cardiology at Duke University, provides a thoughtful exploration of issues surrounding end-of-life care in his book Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life

His book is one of more erudite on the topic. The academic register is a bit high.  And one of the earlier chapters discusses death at a cellular level, which I found very challenging. 

Nevertheless, Warraich includes a number of case studies to balance out the history, philosophy, statistics, and evidence-based research.  These stories help illustrate the complex and difficult situations that patience and their support team of family members and health care professionals face. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Luckiest Old Woman Around: An Elder Tale


Photo by Paul Downey.
Once long ago in Northumbria near the village of Hedley, there lived an old woman.

She earned a living by doing chores and errands for the local women.  They would pay her with some fire wood here, some tea, sugar, and flour there.

It wasn't much, but she made do.

This post is part of a series on elder tales. An elder tale features an older adult who relies on strength of character and wisdom to solve problems. This contrasts with tales about younger heroes who often rely on riches, magic or a mentor to help them solve problems.  

One afternoon she was headed home and spotted a black iron pot by the side of the road. She hadn't seen anyone else on the road for a while, so how would she find the owner?

She thought to herself, "Perhaps it has been cast aside on purpose. Maybe it has a hole in it?  Still, I could make some use of it as a flower pot."

Even though it was a smallish sort of pot, the old woman discovered it was quite heavy. She opened the lid and saw, to her great astonishment, that it was full of gold coins.

"Oh, I am the luckiest old woman around. But how will I carry this home?"


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Creatinine Clearance: Biomarker of Health & Longevity

Photo of nephrons by eLife Journal.
What lab tests can signal signs of longevity?

The Dunedin longitudinal study showed that research participants with higher creatinine clearance levels had better health overall.

Nevertheless, kidney function does slow down a little as we age.

However, not every older adult is destined for kidney dialysis.

This post is part of a series on biomarkers of health and longevity.

Monitoring kidney function is important.

[Note: This post does not offer medical advice; its purpose is only to increase awareness. If you have any concerns about your kidney health, please see a licensed medical professional.]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Org Chart for Administration on Aging

Click on the image to enlarge.
This week, the President released his "Skinny Budget."

As a result, there's a lot of buzz about potential funding changes to a variety of federal programs.

Several programs affect older adults.

Meals on Wheels (MoW) is just one, and only a portion of their funding comes through the Administration on Aging under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Read MoW's press release about their funding sources. 

(Not all government programs benefiting older adults are affected by the President's proposed budget. For example, Social Security and Medicare are not part of the President's budget.)

It's difficult to monitor all programs available to older adults.

The enormity of the task discouraged me from looking at details. However, I feel as though it's time to start paying more attention to various programs that benefit our mature citizens.

So I'm getting my head out of the sand and looking at programs one at a time.

Where to start?