Home Automation Shows Promise for Seniors, but HomeKit Isn’t the Answer – Yet

By Beth Kelly

Home automation has been a mixed blessing for senior citizens and those who provide their care. Individual assistive technologies and comprehensive smart home “ecosystems” are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they’re more capable than ever of understanding older user’s needs and capabilities.

The development of comprehensive home technology platforms – such as Apple’s HomeKit and Google’s Home – has accelerated hopes that technology’s role in senior care will continue to make rapidly meaningful strides, via the ever-widening Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart Home applications of IoT

Integrating Disparate Subsystems

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Make Your Home Safe Again!

By Maggie Drag

As we age, we often forget that our homes should age with us! As more and more people aged 65 and older (90 percent according to AARP to be exact), choose to stay in their homes, many don’t follow the proper steps to make their homes safer.

Just a few updates will prevent falls and tragic accidents down the road, so take a look at our list of tips on how to make your living space safer, comfortable and convenient for life!

Stop trips for good

Place a non-slip pad under throw rugs.

  • The number one cause of trips in homes are slippery throw rugs, so make sure to make each rug slip proof with sticky pads or slip-proof tape.
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery. Either use slip-proof flooring or apply slip-proof coatings.
  • Try installing longer power cords for your electronics, lamps and appliances that you can tuck along a wall to avoid trips in the future.
  • Many homes have thresholds, a small raised edge, between two doors. This can cause trips and make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and walkers. Remove barriers like this with automatic door bottoms that act like special bridges that move across a difficult edge or barrier between doors, different rooms and other surfaces.

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Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

By Dr. Shaiv Kapadia, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder, Iggbo

The United States has the best and worst healthcare system in the world. Let me explain. If you are having a heart attack or stroke or a victim of an accident, there is no better integrated system of acute care delivery on the planet. Chronic disease, however, is a completely different story. [EDITOR: The medical industrial complex spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex, to avoid disrupting healthcare as they know it. That’s because cutting costs to match what other advanced nations pay per capita would mean losing over $1.5 trillion/year in profits – profits that today mostly come from treating symptoms.] Read More …

Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Abuse

Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Abuse

Research Shows That Medical Marijuana Lowers Prescription Drug Abuse

Guest article by Helen Smith

The abuse of prescription opioids such as heroin, morphine and prescription painkillers is a global problem affecting up to 36 million people worldwide. Opioid addiction is of particular concern in the United States, with over two million people abusing prescription medications and around half a million addicted to heroin. The consequences of opioid abuse are immense; the Centers for Disease Control (CDCP) and Prevention notes that deaths via the overdose of prescription medications have risen four-fould since 1999; almost half of all opioid overdose deaths involve prescription medications. The most common medications which contribute to so many needless deaths, are methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone. The CDC notes that around 1,000 people are treated daily in emergency rooms following the abuse of prescription drugs.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel, though, with research showing that medical marijuana may curb the rate of prescription drug abuse. Read More …

Blitab Braille Tablet for the Blind – Is it needed?

Blitab Braille TabletAs someone who has promoted the Universal Design concept for decades, I was taken back by a Futurism video I saw on the Blitab braille tablet. It is billed as “The World’s First Tablet for the Blind”, but that’s not true, and it’s arguably not nearly the best either. That title, in my view, goes to the Apple iPad with all of its accessibility features, but more on that later. This short article explains my concerns with the Blitab product and the company developing it, because they don’t seem to understand their market or target user. I urge any of my blind friends to challenge me on this assertion in the comments below.

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Who Should We Believe about Longevity & Other Claims?

Who should we believe about how long we can REALLY live?Who should we believe about how long we can REALLY live?

Controversy and catchy headlines help sell magazines and advertising, and that makes writing about outrageous claims profitable. The more outlandish, the better. The news media loves it, and so do the readers, whether it’s political controversy or in how long we can live.

The LA Times, in When, and why we must die, is just one of the many news outlets to pick up a story about two scientists who recently published study results concluding that humans can’t live beyond age 122. They’re entitled to their opinion, but I don’t buy it. Read More …

How to stay connected with parents from far away

When mom got dementia, I was stuck overseas.

When mom got dementia, I was stuck overseas. (Photo credit: Chad King, https://www.flickr.com/photos/chdwckvnstrsslhm/208884800/sizes/z/, Some rights reserved)

By Daniel Lewis

Following my mom’s diagnosis of dementia, I got stuck. I was in shock and had no idea what to do since I was working abroad. I couldn’t leave my job, my kids and my home overseas to come back and take care of her, and I felt incredibly guilty for that. I have no siblings and no relatives that could help, so I had to find a solution. Read More …

The Big Heist – Become a Benefactor

The Big Heist, a satyrical documentary about our broken healthcare systemYou can be part of History by becoming a benefactor of The Big Heist, at any amount. This documentary-in-process is a satirical, follow-the-money film about healthcare, the status quo, and efforts to fix our broken system from the ground up.

The Big Heist blends the comedy & parody styles of ZDoggMD and The Daily Show — to entertain and educate with the goal of transforming the public’s understanding of our nation’s healthcare system, along with the causes of its dysfunction, and how to truly fix it. This has been my personal passion since founding Modern Health Talk five years ago. I’ve already published over 100 articles on different aspects of healthcare reform public polity, sharing my own technical & futurist perspective and insights, and I love hearing other viewpoints with similar aims. Read More …

Big Data Revolutionizing Healthcare

Big Data Revolutionizing Healthcare

Byline article by Jessica Oaks

The healthcare industry has long been a hotbed for technological and pharmaceutical development. Consider the discovery and later development of penicillin in the 1920s and 1930s to fight bacterial infection, or the use of X-ray imaging in the 1890s to see inside the body. Technology furthers the cause of healthcare and medicine by enabling better treatment and better outcomes.

So it should come as no surprise that technology continues to revolutionize the modern healthcare industry. What may surprise you, however, is the role that technology increasingly is playing in healthcare. After years of evolutionary development, in which existing processes and technologies were slightly refined and improved upon, healthcare is truly undergoing something of a seismic shift in the way patient care is approached. Read More …

Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence

This image represents Artificial Intelligence, a digital mind that can learn and act on its own. According to a recent article in MedicalFuturist.com, artificial intelligence (AI) will redesign health care with unimaginable potential. The author sees great benefits, and so do I, but he dispels the risks – risks that visionaries like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking warn against. They warn that full development of AI could spell the end of the human race, and I share that concern. That’s why I’m writing today’s article with a cautionary tone.

The accelerating pace of change

At issue is whether or not man will find ways to guard against the dangers of tech innovation accelerating exponentially and indefinitely. The questions start with, what will AI, automation and robotics eventually do to employment? Which jobs will be replaced first, and which are safe for now? What might AI do for (or to) government? I don’t share the author’s confidence and instead side with the visionaries. Here’s why. Read More …

Are Crypto-Currencies Safe?

Here's a Bitcoin - at least a representation of one since they're actually electronic

Here’s a Bitcoin – at least a representation of one since they’re actually electronic

Last week Yvonne and I closed on the sale of our Austin home and the purchase of another home in the Dallas area. The process was simpler than I remember from the past, and since we paid cash for the new home, we didn’t even need a notary. I just downloaded a few forms, signed them on the kitchen table, scanned into the computer, and sent them back to the Title Company through a secure email service. This experience foretells the future, but are crypto-currencies safe? Really safe?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting research papers related to blockchain applications in healthcare. Blockchain is the enabling technology behind BitCoin and other crypto-currencies, and it’s catching on fast — maybe too fast. Judge for yourself. Read More …

Aging at Home: Common Problems-Solutions

Here at Modern Health Talk, you’ll find hundreds of solutions for safe & independent aging-in-place, including dozens of articles about the principles of Universal Design, and numerous photo examples on our Pinterest boards. But today’s guest post brings together many solutions in one article.

Aging at Home: Common Problems & Solutions

For wheelchair accessibility, this home had a ramp installed. It's a removable model, but more permanent designs are available.

By Jessica Hoefer (Here’s the original.)

The most common problems as you age in your home:

As we get older, many of our homes no longer work as well for us. But most of us want to remain in the homes we love.

Fortunately, there are many solutions, and there are trained experts in home modification all over the country. There are also new tools to address the specific issues of aging.

Home Advisor has joined with the National Aging in Place Council® to create this guide to making your home work for you. Here you will find: Read More …

The Future of Healthcare? It’s In The Past

The future of healthcare is impacted by the ripple effects of past developments, trends, market drivers, and market inhibitors

The future of healthcare is largely affected by politics and population health successes of the past, including vaccines, clean water, safe food, sewer systems, public education, and the environment, each causing its own set of ripples in the system. But dampening these positive effects is special interest lobbying aimed at protecting profits. (Wayne Caswell, mHealthTalk editor)

By Tim Perry, MPA, MS, CPHIMS, PCMH CCE, CISSP

Look Back to See Where We Are Going

To celebrate its 200th anniversary, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article in June 2012 titled, “The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine“. The authors did a wonderful job of looking not only at clinical data on disease but also shed light on changes in society that affected the prevalence of diseases. A particularly interesting part of the article is a chart depicting the Top 10 Causes of Death in 1900 vs 2010. Notice the changes. Read More …

Health Care Reform – Progress and Next Steps

Obama and White House staff react to passing of the ACA.

President Barack Obama, Joe Biden and the White House staff react to the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) on March 21, 2010.

A special issue of JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, on July 11, 2016 published this summary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), by President Barack Obama, describing successes, challenges, and next steps. JAMA encouraged current and future presidential candidates to submit their own ideas on how best to reform healthcare, so here’s my list of What to Ask Clinton and Trump.

Obama’s article, included below in its entirety, was accompanied by three editorials from Peter Orszag, former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama; Stuart Butler, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution and former director of the Center for Policy Innovation at The Heritage Foundation; and coauthors Jonathan Skinner and Amitabh Chandra, economic and government professors at Dartmouth and Harvard. Read More …

What to ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare?

I responded to a Huffington Post article about proposed changes to Medicare and questions that should be asked of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but I went deeper into the serious healthcare issues, citing an article I posted yesterday about The Ideal Healthcare System. It referenced differences between public and private sector organizations but primarily spoke of the need to better align incentives to the nation’s health goals. Therefore, my questions to Presidential candidates relate to that larger view of health and healthcare.

What to ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare?

What would YOU ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare? (please comment below and share with others)

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Ideal Healthcare System is Somewhere Between the Extremes

America's Ideal Healthcare System is Somewhere Between the ExtremesKevinMD.com published a good article by internal medicine physician Suneel Dhand. He had worked under UK, Australian and American healthcare systems and brought a broad perspective to suggest that the ideal healthcare system is somewhere between the extremes. He makes good points, and I wanted to respond, but unfortunately comments are closed. That prompted me to post my response here on this blog.  Read More …

Some LED Street Lights Harm Humans, Environment

Because some LED street lights harm humans and the environment, the AMA has adopted Community Guidance for their use.

6/14/2016, http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/news/news/2016/2016-06-14-community-guidance-street-lighting.page

Some LED street lights harm humans and the environment, the AMA says.CHICAGO – Strong arguments exist for overhauling the lighting systems on U.S. roadways with light emitting diodes (LED), but conversions to improper LED technology can have adverse consequences. In response, physicians at the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted guidance for communities on selecting among LED lighting options to reduce potential harmful human and environmental effects.

Converting conventional street lights to energy-efficient LED lighting leads to cost and energy savings, and a lower reliance on fossil-based fuels. Approximately 10 percent of existing U.S. street lighting has been converted to solid state LED technology, with efforts underway to accelerate this conversion. Read More …

Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again

Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again

Click the image to see some of our other articles on public policy and health reform.

Editorial by Wayne Caswell, Founding Editor, Modern Health Talk

According to Forbes, House Republicans released this week a 37-page draft of their plan to “replace Obamacare and reform entitlements.” To that I say, Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again.

Even though Obamacare has slowed the rising costs of healthcare as our population ages, significantly more work needs to be done to bring our total costs in line with what other advanced nations pay, and with better outcomes. Doing that – continuing to reform health care – has the potential of cutting our $3.4 trillion/year costs in half, thus saving well over $1 trillion/year. Those savings can then be redirected to other purposes, such as lowering taxes, paying down debt, or making strategic investments in education, poverty, research, and infrastructure. The aim of such reforms is to help all Americans regardless of age, income, or socio-economic status.

But powerful opposition to true reforms comes from within the medical industrial complex that stands to lose over $1 trillion/year in revenue and so spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex. It’s important that the public keep House Republicans from being tempted to cave into the lobbying pressure. So what should our goals be? Read More …

How to pick the good smartphone health apps

With so much choice, here's how to pick the good smartphone health apps and avoid the bad onesBy Carol Maher (original here)

With an estimated 100,000 health and fitness apps available on the two leading smartphone platforms, iOS and Android, it seems there is an app for everything – from tracking your bowel movements, to practising your pimple-popping technique.

However, a number of apps are starting to raise the ire of government regulators. Brain-training juggernaut Lumosity was recently fined US$2 million (A$2.7 million) for making unfounded claims that its app could improve work performance and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. Read More …