Falling is a common occurrence and a serious problem among the elderly population.  A myriad of studies has found that the use of psychotropic drugs on older adult patients in nursing homes significantly increases the risk of falling.  A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA) examined the relationship between fall occurrence and the prescription of psychotropic drugs and various categories of psychotropic drugs, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines, among a representative nursing home population.

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With more than 47 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia there is a growing need to identify the cause of these diseases as well as treatments for them. Millions of dollars have gone into the improvement of technologies and the research of brain mapping. At the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson have been leading projects that are changing the world of neuroimaging. Toga and his team of researchers are on a quest to use digital imaging to map the brain. They believe that this type of detailed brain mapping will lead to solutions for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Recent developments have led these scientists closer to the goal of better understanding these diseases and providing a breakthrough in how to prevent them.
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As we begin to age our bodies react to the changing conditions and often sleep disturbances can begin to occur. The effects of aging can have an impact on the sleep cycles of the elderly. Sleep disturbances, common amongst seniors, bring about less meaningful REM sleep and shorter sleep periods in general. This puts them at risk of developing serious health conditions and increases the risk of injuries.

While the elderly need about 7-9 hours of sleep a night, many of them do not manage to sleep undisturbed for this long. About 50% of elders’ experience sleep insomnia and about 30% suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Both insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness can bring about muscle strength loss, impaired mobility and balance, slower gait speed and awareness, often leading to accidents that could injure a senior. Other conditions, such as increased inflammation or insulin resistance, can also develop from these sleep disturbances.
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An increase in the health of the elderly population has produced a spike in the number of elderly that undergo surgery at an older age. Elderly who are candidates for major surgery often run great risks that are increased when partnered with frailty. Frailty in s can increase the risk of complications during medical procedures and surgery, or with the prescription of medications. Yet, within the surgery population, frailty is believed to be seriously under recognized, leading to a lack of proper preparation of these patients. Diagnosing an elderly patient with frailty early on can seriously reduce the risk of unforeseen complications post medical procedures.

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A billionaire owner of one of America’s biggest nursing home chains has just been convicted of intentionally overbilling federal healthcare programs.  According to a recent article from Forbes, the Life Care Centers of America owner, Forrest Preston, has agreed to pay $145 million to settle the government lawsuit.  This settlement, announced on October 24th, is by far the largest ever obtained by the Department of Justice from a nursing home company.

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Older adults are the fastest growing segment of our population and one the most vulnerable group of people in the world. Older adults are most likely to suffer from chronic health problems.  More than half are patients with a dementing illness, and half of those people are at high risk of being victims of abuse or neglect.  Financial abuse of elderly Americans is usually difficult to identify, commonly hidden by fear and shame and far too often quieted by the debilitation of mental impairment.  Yet the abuse is as commonplace as it is reprehensible—and appalling.  A recent study found that older adults are scammed out of almost $3 billion every year.  It is likely that this is only the tip of the iceberg, however, because most financial elder abuse cases are never reported.

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One of the primary health issues in the United States that significantly affects the older adult population is diabetes mellitus. Not only is this disease related to premature aging, chronic diabetes is related to serious physical and cognitive problems as well, particularly among people with poor blood glucose metabolism.  Furthermore, the danger of uncontrolled diabetes is reduced quality of life and increased healthcare expenses.

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Diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose levels and is the most common age-related disorder of the endocrine system. Diabetes is found in an estimated 10% of people between the ages of 56 and 64, 20% in those ages 65 to 74, and 40% in those over the age of 85. Approximately 24 million people in the US have this disorder.

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Urinary and faecal incontinence are serious health problems that are detrimental to overall health and quality of life and commonly affect older adults. Both types of incontinence are prevalent among the elderly population all over the world. According to statistics, nearly 800,000 people residing in the Netherlands suffer from some level of incontinence, although the actual statistic could be greater due to reluctance to disclose such personal information and get help. It is common among people to find incontinence a difficult topic to discuss, even with a general practitioner.  One of the reasons why people may be uncomfortable talking about incontinence is because of the stigma that the health issue is associated with ageing.  It is commonly believed that there are no available treatment options for incontinence, as well, which is a myth. Often times, patients appear to have suffered from incontinence for a long duration of time prior to seeking help from a general practitioner.

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As the older adult population continues to grow worldwide, age-related health issues will further increase the high clinical, economic, and social challenges of caring for the elderly.  Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are two cognitive health problems that are increasing in prevalence among older adults.  Currently, no cure for dementia exists, and available treatment options provide primarily symptomatic reliefs. Therefore, finding ways to prevent or delay the development of dementia through implementing lifestyle changes, such as diet, is critical.

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