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Help your body heal itself

help your body heal opt

During sleep, your body restores, repairs and rejuvenates itself, and replenishes hormones to a healthy level. According to NIH neuroscientist Dr. Merrill Mitler, “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood.”

The older we get, the harder it becomes to get a good night’s sleep. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports that 50 percent or more people 65 years older and older have sleep problems.

This can trigger a vicious cycle: Sleep problems increase the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. And age-related chronic conditions such as high blood pressure can cause sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Dr. Yuko Hara, of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, notes that there’s a chicken-and-egg relationship between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. Poor sleep is connected to higher levels of Alzheimer’s markers amyloid and tau in the brain, but “we don’t really know if poor sleep causes Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease causes poor sleep,” she says.

3 ways the post-COVID world will be better for seniors

post covid optThe pandemic has accelerated three trends already in the works – and that’s good news for seniors.

Remote Working 

In response to COVID-19, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) announced that it was selling its just-completed new headquarters complex and having its staff of 1,200 work from home. In July, Google announced that its 200,000 employees would be working from home through 2021. Facebook will have at least half of its staff working remotely by the end of the decade. Twitter employees will be working home “forever.” Roughly 95% of Fidelity National Information Services’ employees are working from home.

In total, the number of Americans working at home doubled from 31% in March to 62% in April, according to Gallup.

And that’s a win-win-win-win situation.

Price isn’t the only difference between brand-name meds and generics

brand generic meds optIt should comes as no surprise to learn that pharmaceutical research and development isn’t cheap.

Developing one cancer drug to the point of FDA approval, for example, can take as long as 15 years and cost as much as much as $2.6 billion, according to one JAMA analysis. From 2007 to 2014, the US pharma industry as a whole spent between $47.9 and $53.3 billion dollars per year developing new medicines.

Patent law gives manufacturers 17-year-long monopolies to earn back that cost and make some profit. After that, anyone can legally make generic versions with the same active ingredients – and sell them at markedly lower prices. That’s why 90% of prescriptions filled are for generics.

But price can be just one of several differences – some of which are visible and some of which aren’t.

How safe is surgery for older patients?

surgery optWhen it comes to surgery for older adults, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that “In modern surgery, it’s a rare event to die from surgery,” according to Dr. Emily Finlayson, director of the University of California San Francisco’s Center for Surgery in Older Adults.

The bad news is what might happen afterwards, particularly for patients older than 80.

As people age, so do their bodies’ heart, lings, kidneys and other organ functions, making it harder to bounce back from the intense stress of a surgical procedure. Age also slows down the body’s overall healing processes – even for something as trivial as a scratch or scrape. So older patients are vulnerable to virtually every potential post-op complication, including not only infection, but also heart, lung or kidney problems.

“Replacing someone’s hip when they’re 85 is harder than when they’re 50,” explains Dr. Clifford Ko, director of research and optimal patient care at the American College of Surgeons. “You body takes longer to recover.”

That’s bad news.

But there’s also good news:

Can COVID-19 cause heart attack deaths?

can covid optIn a few cases, yes. But many, many more deaths are caused by the fear of the coronavirus.

“Nearly everyone dying of COVID-19 has concurrent health problems,” writes Dr. Joel Zinberg, associate clinical professor of surgery at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York. Hypertension, heart disease, respiratory diseases, and diabetes are the most common. Their presence and interaction, Dr. Zinberg adds, are “what sometimes changes COVID-19 from a relatively benign disease into a killer.”

But these conditions don’t need a coronavirus to be fatal.

When VCU and Yale researchers analyzed the causes of over 87,000 excess deaths during March and April, they found that some 30,450 of those deaths were not from COVID-19.