Author Archives: Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Report: Caregivers tackling complex medical tasks with little training

Half of the nation’s 40 million family caregivers are performing complicated medical/nursing tasks for their family members and friends, including giving injections, preparing special diets, managing tube feedings, and handling medical equipment, according to a recent report from AARP. Additionally, 70% of these caregivers are dealing with the stress of managing pain relief amid a national opioid crisis. Continue reading

Report tackles the risk of medication overload among older adults

Photo: tr0tt3r via Flickr

Experts on aging are sounding the alarm about another U.S. drug crisis: Too many older adults taking too many medications.

This trend is leading to a surge in adverse drug events (ADE) over the past two decades. The rate of emergency department visits by older adults for ADEs doubled between 2006 and 2014 — a problem as serious as the opioid crisis but whose scope appears to remain virtually invisible to families, patients, policymakers and many clinicians, according to a recent report by the Lown Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Brookline, Mass. Continue reading

Researchers identify new Alzheimer’s-like condition

Image: Brain by Injurymap.

A recently recognized dementia that mimics many of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, but actually is an entirely different form of brain deterioration, has been documented in a new research paper.

Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (also known as LATE) primarily affects adults 80 years and older and “has been associated with substantial cognitive impairment that mimicked Alzheimer’s disease,” said researchers of the paper, which appeared in the June edition of Brain: A Journal of Neurology. Continue reading

Roadmap helps states address the public health crisis of Alzheimer’s disease

There’s little question in Lisa McGuire’s mind that Alzheimer’s disease is a public health threat in progress. She leads the CDC’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Both the prevalence and costs of Alzheimer’s are expected to increase as baby boomers age, meaning this crisis is fast approaching.

So the CDC, along with the Alzheimer’s Association, embarked on an ambitious “Healthy Brain” initiative to help bring down the trajectory. They created a series of roadmaps for state and local health departments, highlighting different health strategies that can quickly and easily blend into existing public health programs. Continue reading

Tip sheet highlights program addressing older adults’ mental health

Photo: Togar Sianturi via Flickr

Mental and physical health often go hand in hand, but for many older adults, mental health conditions can be missed or misdiagnosed. Conditions such as depression and anxiety are common and may be indicators of or stem from more serious illnesses, like Parkinson’s or heart disease, as this new tip sheet explains.

Stigma, self-blame, and lack of training among physicians to recognize mental health issues are just some of the reasons that fewer than 3% of older Americans seek help for mental health issues, according to this Health Affairs article. Geropsychologists are trained to deal with the specific needs of older adults, but are in short supply. Continue reading

HIDI highlights inherent challenges when reporting on vulnerable adults 

Photo: Ken Lund via Flickr

People do what they must to survive, says the subject of a story by Lisa Gillespie, health reporter at NPR affiliate WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky. Even if it means traveling three hours back and forth to a food pantry, then lifting heavy bags that likely will exacerbate chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Continue reading