Fear and Foresight: The Frightening Truth about Cognative Decline

Your worry is real

I don’t know about you, but I worry quite a bit about cognitive decline. Part of this worry is an occupational hazard. I eat, breath, sleep all things retirement. That means I read quite about cognitive decline and I worry whenever it feels like my “processing speed” seems slower than was in my 20s or 30s or 40s.

Now I have yet one more reason to worry. One in nine Americans aged 45 and older say they are experiencing thinking declines, according to this U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention report, Subjective Cognitive Decline Among Adults Aged ≥45 Years — United States, 2015–2016

According to the CDC, noticing a decline in your mental abilities (“cognitive decline”) is one of the earliest signs of impending Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The CDC notes in its report that subjective cognitive decline (SCD) is a form of impairment in which more frequent or worsening confusion or memory loss can affect the ability to care for oneself. The CDC notes that among adults aged ≥45 years, 11.2% reported SCD, including 10.4% of adults aged 45–54 years. What’s more, the CDC notes that among all persons who reported SCD, only 45.4% had discussed it with a health care professional.

“Symptoms of confusion and memory loss are not a normal part of aging,” lead researcher Christopher Taylor, a CDC epidemiologist told HealthDay. “Adults with confusion or memory loss should talk to a health care professional who can evaluate their symptoms and discuss possible treatments, management of other co-occurring chronic health conditions, advance care planning, and caregiving needs.”

According to the HealthDay report, one Alzheimer’s expert noted the findings point to an even larger issue. “This survey is an indicator of the future problem and burden of dementia, and what public health officials should start addressing now,” Matthew Baumgart, senior director of public policy at the Alzheimer’s Association, told HealthDay.

You can, of course, read the CDC report, but one of the takeaways for me was this:

“Adults with confusion or memory loss should talk to a health care professional who can assess cognitive decline and address possible treatment of symptoms, management of other co-occurring chronic health conditions, advance care planning, and caregiving needs, and who ensures that the patient receives appropriate information and referrals.”

While I have yet to establish secondary concerns for my own cognitive functions, the threat of cognitive decline is a very real concern as it pertains to the aging populous in the country. Cognitive decline may not have a set cure yet, but by working with our healthcare professionals and staying vigilant to our future care, most of us will be able to live a long and healthy life.

Public Opinion on Chronic Illness in America

• Six in 10 say they or someone in their immediate family have a chronic health condition that requires ongoing medical treatment. Compared to those without chronic conditions, these individuals are more likely to report having a hard time paying medical bills. One-third (35 percent) of those dealing with a chronic condition requiring ongoing medical care say they or their household have had problems paying medical bills in the past 12 months, compared to one-fourth (27 percent) of the overall public.

• The majority of the public are aware that heart disease, diabetes, asthma, mental health illness, cancer, and arthritis are all illnesses that are considered “chronic diseases,” but less than three in ten are aware of the prevalence of chronic diseases in this country nor how much of health spending is spent treating chronic diseases.

• Seven in 10 Americans say chronic diseases are usually due to factors and circumstances beyond a person’s control, while fewer say people who have chronic diseases mostly have themselves to blame for their condition. Despite this, half of the public (including half of those dealing with a chronic illness) say individuals themselves should play the largest role in helping to prevent individuals in this country from getting chronic diseases. This is larger than the share who say the same about health care providers, the government, or employers and businesses.

• When asked whether they favor or oppose various policy proposals aimed at preventing or managing chronic diseases, a majority of the public say they favor proposals aimed at promoting healthy behaviors but fewer say they favor other proposals that either ban or tax unhealthy choices. There are some partisan differences with larger shares of Democrats and independents favoring all of the policy proposals compared to Republicans.

For more, read this article on health costs and public opinion. Here

 

 

Read on for Additional Information

 

 

If You Live To 105, Your Chance Of Dying Actually Goes Down. But Getting There Is Tough.

 

A new study raises new questions about how long humans can live. Since 1900, average life expectancy around the globe has more than doubled, thanks to better public health, sanitation and food supplies. But a new study of long-lived Italians indicates that we have yet to reach the upper bound of human longevity. “If there’s a fixed biological limit, we are not close to it,” said Elisabetta Barbi, a demographer at the University of Rome. Dr. Barbi and her colleagues published their research Thursday in the journal Science. Read The New York Times: How Long Can We Live? The Limit Hasn’t Been Reached, Study Finds

Amazon Is Taking On Health Care’s Most Vexing Challenge: The Chronically Ill

The company’s acquisition of the home delivery pharmacy PillPack is entirely separate from its venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to improve and lower the cost of care for the companies’ 1 million employees. But taken together, the two initiatives realize the worst fears of many of the health care industry’s entrenched incumbents — that Amazon is making an aggressive play in portions of the market that many consumers, investors, and health industry specialists see as ripe for disruption. Click here for more.

Law Aims To Help Medicare Tackle Expensive Problem Of Costs From Chronic Illnesses

Half of Medicare patients are treated for five or more chronic conditions each year, and they account for three-fourths of Medicare spending. The law, which has bipartisan support, allows Medicare to focus on the social factors outside the reach of traditional medicine. Read Medicare Allows More Benefits For Chronically Ill, Aiming To Improve Care For Millions

Over the transom

With rising concern over increases in prescription drug costs, the Trump Administration has proposed what it calls a “5-part plan” that would change several features of the Medicare Part D drug benefit. This brief describes the Administration’s five Part D proposals and discusses the potential implications for people with Part D prescription drug coverage and Medicare program spending. Read Issue Brief here.

Less than one-third of adults with diabetes and cardiovascular disease achieve goals for secondary prevention, including smoking cessation, use of prophylactic medications, and blood pressure and lipid control, according to a presentation at the Heart in Diabetes Clinical Education Conference. (link here)

There’s more to good health than good genes and healthy habits. “I can educate my patients about the value of healthy eating and exercise,” writes Dr. Patrick Conway, CEO of AHIP member BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, “but if they don’t have transportation to a grocery store, or a safe neighborhood to walk in, then they can’t do what they need to improve their health.” Read Healthy Food, Transportation to the Doctor are New Frontiers for Health Insurance Providers. (Click here for more)

Researchers created a web-based game, using a smartphone and a Fitbit, that increased the number of steps sedentary office workers took per day by 2,092, or almost 1 mile, compared with workers who only had a Fitbit, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The gains made from using MapTrek with a Fitbit were short-lived, however, as step counts for players in both groups decreased during the 10-week study period. The Economic Times (India)/Asian News International. (Click here to learn more)

Lifestyle factors, such as adequate exercise, healthy diet and smoking cessation, are often overlooked but key to reducing the risk of cardiometabolic disease, Dr. Christos Mantzoros said at the Heart in Diabetes Clinical Education Conference. Mantzoros urged clinicians to share practical advice with patients, such as encouraging them to follow Mediterranean or plant-based diets and limit sedentary activities.  (Click here for more from Healio/Endocrine Today)

The employee wellness program at Illinois Valley Community Hospital includes challenges, email-based programs and incentives for participation. The program is run by a committee that includes dietitians, community outreach and infection control staff, and a personal trainer. (Click here for more from News-Tribune)

Researchers evaluated 54,089 individuals from five cohort studies through 2017 and did not find an increased rate of mortality among those who were obese but otherwise healthy. The findings in the journal Clinical Obesity revealed that diabetes, dyslipidemia or hypertension were associated with increased mortality risk, but obesity alone was not. (Click here for more from United Press International)

Overweight or obese individuals who participated in cognitive behavioral therapy counseling combined with an online health behavior change support system lost more weight, and 33% achieved a weight loss of 5% or more over 24 months, compared with those who received only CBT-based group counseling, self-help guidance-based group counseling, both with or without HBCSS, and control groups, according to a study in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Finnish researchers used a cohort of 532 people ages 20 to 50 and found those in the web-based intervention groups also had three times higher odds of losing more than 10% of their body weight. (Click here for more from MobiHealthNews)

Stress can affect employee health, motivation and morale, leading to significant costs for employers, said Matt Miller, StayWell vice president of behavioral science. Wellness programs can help address the problem by including mental health benefits, such as stress management, that incorporate technologies such as digital health games, wearable trackers, virtual reality-guided meditation and online platforms that connect people to health coaches, Miller said. Employee Benefit Adviser. For additional info (Click here for information from the FDA, CNET, and VIDA.)

Gallagher’s 2018 Human Capital Insights Report offers recommendations for employers on workplace well-being and encourages them to invest in the full spectrum of wellness initiatives. “Looking beyond traditional compensation packages, health care and retirement plans, today’s employees choose an organization because it truly cares about the total well-being of its workforce and communities, and demonstrates a higher social purpose,” said Gallagher Employee Benefits Consulting and Brokerage CEO William Ziebell. (For more info visit BenefitsPRO)

The Associated Press: Medicare Proposes To Pay Docs For Analyzing Texted Photos (click here for more) –

Doctors would also be able to bill separately for brief video consultations with patients. Medicare may count phone calls as well. Additionally, Medicare would expand the range of telehealth services already covered, important in rural areas. The proposals are part of a 1,500-page physician payment rule released Thursday that would take effect in 2019.

Bloomberg: Startups Look To Mainstream Medical Tourism (Click here to read the story)–

About 14 million people spent $68 billion on medical tourism in 2016, according to consulting firm PwC. A growing number are Westerners headed to developing countries for cosmetic surgery or dental work, procedures that are less expensive and invasive than major operations and often aren’t covered by insurance. PwC predicts that by 2021 the medical tourism market will reach $125 billion. The growth will be built not on nose jobs and dental implants but on costlier and riskier procedures with longer recovery times, such as knee replacements and heart surgeries. Startups from Berlin to Bangkok are trying to do for medical tourists what Airbnb or Hotels.com does for the general public. Instead of searching for a place to stay, users type in a medical procedure and get a list of clinics or doctors in nations that offer the surgery—scroll and click on a link to make an appointment.