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Can Telehealth contribute to successful longevity?

When the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite on October 4, 1957, it did more than trigger the Space Race — it also laid the foundation for today’s telehealth, the remote provision of health care and education via communications technology.

Long Term Care in the U.S.: From Community to Corporate Control

Long term care for impaired younger and older adults has been a major part of the nation’s health care system for several decades, but until now it has not received much attention from the media or policymakers. With the projected doubling of the 70+ population over the next thirty years, however, it is being looked at with renewed interest.

Pay for Performance: Can it Help Improve Nursing Home Care?

Nursing home quality of care is a chronic problem the country over. Nearly 95 percent of nursing homes flunk one or more quality measures on regulatory surveys. A quarter of homes have problems that threaten patients’ lives. Regulators strive to pull laggards up to the minimal standards required to keep licensure and certifications, but they can go only so far. A small group of facilities is always at the bottom. Nothing seems to move them up.

Nursing Home Culture Change: Legal Apprehensions and Opportunities

Despite significant improvements over the past quarter century, problems persist in nursing home quality of care and quality of life in nursing homes. They persist despite an atmosphere of extensive regulation and litigation. The Culture Change Movement is an attempt to improve quality of life by making nursing homes less institutional and more homelike. The movement officially originated in 1997, has been spearheaded by the Pioneer Network, and is currently embodied in such projects as the Eden Alternative, Wellspring Program, Green House Project, and Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes campaign.

​Information needs of an aging population

Information scientists are a scholarly community who believe that it is vital to do empirical research to identify the information behaviors (a broad concept that encompasses many behaviors of people vis-à-vis information) of groups of users, and the environments (contexts, social worlds, etc.) in which they engage with information. Information behavior research within the field of information science centers the user and his/her needs, with the goal that information sources and services will be designed and delivered to meet those needs.

What is the Difference Between Experimental Economics and Behavioral Economics? How Does That Affect Potential Research Involving Older Adults?

The Institute on Successful Longevity at Florida State University has a strong track record of promoting interdisciplinary exchanges among researchers. I am an economist, and Florida State University is the home of the Experimental Social Sciences Research Cluster at Florida State (XS/FS). I wanted to use the ISL blog to discuss an interesting question about experimental and behavioral research and to use that question to illustrate how social scientists in our field have been and could continue doing research applicable to the mission of ISL.

The “Overtreated” Movement Gains Steam

Shannon Brownlee, an investigative health writer, published “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer” in 2008. It was pretty controversial but was expertly documented. Other writers such as John Abramson (Overdosed America), Norton Hadler (Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society), and H. Gilbert Welch (Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health) have written similarly comprehensive, and damning, exposes of the state of modern medicine in America. Now some of the major medical journals and medical societies have taken up the call to expose medical treatments and diagnostic tests that ought to be stopped. This movement is long overdue and is a potential solution to the exorbitant rise in health care costs that continues, even in spite of the slow-down seen since the Affordable Care Act was passed.

A Brave New Roadway: Are Autonomous Vehicles the Solution to Improving the Safety of Aging Road Users?

First, the good news with respect to crashes: It’s getting better. Over the past 20 years we’ve seen reductions in fatal crash rates, with declines greater for older drivers. This is due in part to the improved crashworthiness of vehicles which differentially benefits older drivers due to age-related increases in fragility. Declines may also be related to increases in the health of older adults, allowing older drivers to better survive crash forces and recover from crash injuries. The fact that older adult crash rates are declining even for property-damage only crashes, however, suggests that declines in crash risk represent more than just a decrease in injury severity, but that the crash involvement of older drivers may be declining as well. The bad news, however, is that even if there is only a small increase in crash risk associated with advancing age, we can expect age-related crashes and injuries to persist as the number of older road users increases dramatically in the United States and around the world. By the year 2050 it’s predicted that 1 in 5 individuals in the U.S. will be 65 years of age or older, with the 85+ age group being one of the fastest growing population segments of the United States. This makes increases in crash risk faced by older road users an important and urgent problem.

Aging Populations as a Wicked Solution

The term “Wicked Problems” arose in the 1970s to distinguish major challenges of public policy from those of the hard sciences. Most famously articulated in a 1973 paper by Rittel and Webber in Policy Sciences, Wicked Problems are issues that are very difficult, if not impossible, to solve because they are 1) highly complex, with no readily apparent solution, 2) intricately interconnected with other problems, 3) entrenched in the landscape and/or the political arena, and 4) volatile, presenting constantly moving targets to policy makers. These problems defy conventional solutions because the typical set of policy responses are insufficient to address these problems in any meaningful way.

What is cognitive aging and how do we mitigate some of the negative effects?

​In my last blog entry I discussed some of the challenges associated with intervention studies to improve cognition.  However, I didn’t really spend much time defining cognition and cognitive aging.  A very recent publication by the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences (NAS) provides a book-length treatment of cognitive aging.