How to Live Long and Healthy

90+

Helen Weil, 92, and Henry Tornell, 94 (CBS NEWS from 60 Minutes segment on “Living to 90 and Beyond”)

Until recently, very little was known about what it takes to live well into our 90s. That’s because there weren’t many people that old to study, and because records were sparse about their diet and lifestyle. But today men and women above the age of 90 have become the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and there’s new research that helps explain why. 

What can we do now to live long and healthy?

Finding out was the goal of a new research study known as “90+,” which was the subject of a 60 Minutes segment on Living to 90 and Beyond.   Read More …

Kick Back Pain with Healthy Habits

Senior Man Suffering From Back Pain At HomeThe Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that 27 million adults suffered from back problems in 2007 with upwards of $30.3 billion spent to ease the pain. While it may be comforting to know you’re not alone while facing back surgery or during post-op recovery, it doesn’t make the process any easier. However, there are healthy ways to manage your pain and stay on top of your recovery to get back on your feet as quickly as possible. Read More …

Life Over 60 Infographic – Stats and Advice

Life over 60INFOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS

These bullet points from the infographic (below) are for screen readers and search agents

More seniors – The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22%. Life over 60 doesn’t mean that positive lifestyle and outlook changes can’t be made.

  • 400 million – By 2050, the world will have almost 400 million people aged 80 years or older.
  • 80% – By 2050, 80% of older peole will live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Help needed – The number of older people who are no longer able to look after themselves in developing countries is forecast to quadruple by 2050.
  • The main health burdens of older people are from non-communicable diseases.
  • WHO maintains that all health providers should be trained on ageing issues.
  • Creating “age-friendly” physical and social environments can have a big impact on improving the active participation and independence of older people.
  • The risk of premature death decreases by 50% if someone gives up smoking between 60 and 75 years of age.

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US Healthcare Spending to hit $3.8 Trillion in 2014

Dan Munro wrote that annual U.S. healthcare spending will hit $3.8 trillion this year (~21% of GDP).

11/20/2015: Spending actually has stayed mostly flat at about $3 trillion.

There’s good info in his Forbes article and the referenced Deloitte report, but it should not be taken politically one way or another. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data shows a slow bending of the cost curve, where the increases in health care expenditures are slowing slightly, the increase is slower than the economy, and it’s slightly slower than in previous years. Still, many of us hope to see costs decline outright, and by a lot.

Total Health Care Expenditures Grew 19% from 2006 to 2010.

The past four years have seen a gradual slowing in health care expenditure annual growth rate. The percentage change from the previous year slowed between 2007 and 2010: 5.9 percent in 2007, 4.7 percent in 2008, and 3.7 percent in 2009 and 2010.

To me, the real value is recognizing that there are hidden costs not captured in the official 2012 estimate of $2.8 trillion/year. Read More …

Meals On Wheels Sequestration Cuts Take Effect

Meals on WheelsBy Arthur Delaney (original on Huffington Post)

ROANOKE, Va. — William McCormick remembers from his working-class upbringing in Covington, Va., that neighbors took care of neighbors.

“Both my parents worked in the mill,” he said. “For people in the neighborhood who were hungry we’d make up two or three bags of groceries, put $5 or $10 in it, set it on the porch, knock on the door and leave. We wouldn’t tell ’em who did it.”

Now McCormick is 70 years old and living alone in a one-bedroom apartment in a six-story building. Only about 40 of the building’s 144 units are occupied. The parking lots are barren and the hallways are dingy with torn carpets. McCormick considers the building “spooky.”

Some Disturbing Stats:

  • There are already 40M seniors 65+ today, with 10,000 more reaching age 65 every day.
  • 40% of them are low-income (below 150% of poverty level) and will need public assistance.
  • The poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,113, and the 2010 average income of the bottom 90% was $26.364.
  • People 90+ had a median income of just $14,760 in 2010, about half of it from Social Security. 37.3% of them lived alone and depend on services like Meels on Wheels.

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The BUSINE$$ of Obesity

Over two thirds of American adults are overweight.Because March is National Nutrition Month, we’re featuring this infographic (below) and these related articles.

  • America’s Obesity Epidemic, a BIG Problem — features the trailer and all four episodes of HBO’s documentary, “The Weight of the Nation,” along with a collection of supporting statistics.
  • How States are Battling Obesity — a byline article by Scott Kahan, M.D., an Obesity Medicine physician and Director of STOP Obesity Alliance
  • Is Obesity a Disease — discusses the pros and cons of labeling it as a disease or just a risk factor for health problems and not a disease itself
  • MyPlate replaces Food Pyramid — Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveil the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices
  • The Hunter-Gatherer Diet — Dr. Terry Wahls presents an incredible TEDx talk, shares how she learned to properly fuel her body, and tells of the diet that cured her MS and allowed her to get out of her wheelchair
  • Six Ways TV Might Be Killing You — about typical Americans who watch an average of four hours and 39 minutes of television every day, one-quarter of their waking life, and how their lives may shorten considerably
  • Donuts Don’t Grow on Trees — a music video about healthy eating by health advocate Barry David Butler
  • A Place at the Table –- a new documentary about the relationship between Poverty, Hunger & Health
  • Working Poor Families Struggle to Pay Bills — featuring statistics and a video of Congresswoman Nancy Peloci about the direct relationship between poverty, obesity, and the cost of healthcare.
  • Poverty in America — featuring The Line, an important documentary that covers the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line
  • Sleep Apnea and Poverty — a byline article by doctors Susan Redline and Michelle Williams about how socioeconomics impacts proper diagnosis and treatment
  • Americans are Sicker and Die Younger — a byline article by Marty Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School
  • What the Fork — featuring the $100 HAPIfork device that functions like a friendly shock collar by paying attention to when you eat, how many bites you take, and the intervals between each bite, vibrating to tell you when you’re eating too fast or too much
View the Infographic and Read More …

A Place at the Table – about Poverty, Hunger & Health

Spread the word today! This important documentary is coming to movie theaters, YouTube and on-demand on March 1.

A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social, health and cultural implications for our nation, and how the problem of hunger can be solved once and for all, with your help.

Now think about the dramatic role that a proper diet can play in decreasing obesity, diabetes, chronic illness, food allergies, and healthcare costs by improving the health of Americans.

As Dr. Wahls says in her TED video, “Hunter-Gatherer diet feeds Mitochondria & Brain Cells.”  “You’ll pay one way or another” – either pay now for a nutritious diet that improves your productivity and quality of life, or pay more later for medical intervention and long-term healthcare. This concept applies individually or nationally as portrayed in A Place at the Table.

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What the Fork – $100?

Why do we need a smart fork, you may ask? Well, here’s the hype…

Studies show that people who eat slower eat 11% fewer calories and digest food better, so HAPILABS introduced 2 devices at CES: HAPIfork and HAPItrack. The dishwasher safe HAPIfork got immense press coverage, including articles in Consumer Reports and Bon Appetit, as well as placement on the Stephen Colbert Show (see video below).

This latest electronic gadget functions like a friendly shock collar by paying attention to when you eat, how many bites you take, and the intervals between each bite, vibrating to tell you when you’re eating too fast or too much. The goal is to encourage you to slow down, chew your food, improve your digestion, transform the way you eat, and… enjoy life more. HAPIfork then communicates with your smartphone so you can track your eating habits or share them with friends online. Read More …

As Our Health Goes, So Does Our Economic Recovery

 

It’s the Health Care, Stupid:

As Our Health Goes, So Does Our Economic Recovery

As Our Health Goes, So Does Our Economic RecoveryBy Peter Abaci, M.D., Chronic pain specialist
(original on Huffington Post)

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
— Albert Einstein

As we head into the final stages leading up to election day, expect the fight over whom and what is best for our economy to rage on. Debating how best to stimulate the economy has been anointed as the de facto topic of importance heading into our upcoming election, but let’s not forget that the health of Wall Street and Main Street is inextricably linked to the health of our citizens. As I have written here in the past, I am no economic expert, but I do work in the trenches every day in a profession that impacts our nation’s budget like no other.

The fact that doctors like me seem to drive the spending of tax dollars more than other occupations like teachers, governors, and generals tells you right there that health care is the elephant in the room of any debate on our economic future.

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6 Ways TV Might Be Killing You

Reprinted with permission from Online Psychology Degree

According to the latest statistics, watching television is America’s No. 1 pastime, and Americans watch an average of four hours and 39 minutes of television every day. For people lucky enough to get eight hours of sleep a night, the time spent watching television eats up one-quarter of their waking life, and their life may shorten considerably unless they can summon up the nerve to unplug their big screens. So before you set your DVR to record the two-hour premiere of that new reality show where two competing families of forensic scientists swap their pets for medical experiments, consider these six ways watching television might be killing you.

1. Too much sitting:

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Sleep Apnea and Poverty

Sleep Apnea and Poverty: How Socioeconomics Impacts Proper Diagnosis And Treatment

Poor Sleep For The PoorBy Susan Redline, MD, MPH and Dr. Michelle A. Williams, ScD

Individuals from disadvantaged neighborhoods and racial/ethnic minorities are at increased risk for sleep disorders due to a variety of environmental exposures, occupational and psychosocial conditions, and possibly genetic factors. Editor: They also have higher rates of obesity and other health conditions, and they don’t live as long.

A wide range of serious health problems disproportionately afflict individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. These conditions, which reduce quality of life and shorten lifespan, include heart disease, stroke, diabetes,asthma, and cancer. Other health problems commonly associated with poverty are obesity,pregnancy complications, increased infant mortality,HIV/AIDS and dental disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s “Healthy People 2020,” which sets 10-year national objectives for improving the health of the nation, has prioritized the need to close the gap in these “health disparities.” There are numerous potential targets for improving the health of low-income people, such as improving nutrition and access to health care. In addition, accumulating research points to a need to improve sleep as means for improving alertness and daily functioning, as well as for reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

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Improving the Nation’s Health with More Efficient Care

Professor Carl J. Schramm wrote about Improving the Nation’s Health with More Efficient Care as part of a GE Ideas Roundtable that included two good interactive infographics about working in America and how different nations view innovation. But I don’t think improving the efficiency of care is where the biggest benefits lie, so I added this comment:

TechnologyGE's Innovation Barometer can be a two-edge sword. On one hand it has contributed to the doubling of the amount of published medical information every year or two, causing general practitioners to specialize just to keep up with changes in their field. On the other hand, innovations such as telehealth, remote monitoring and analysis of medical & environmental sensors, and IBM’s Watson supercomputer applied to medical diagnostics, will help to move many procedures and tests down-market from MD to PA, NP, RN, aid and consumers in their homes.

But aren’t we still addressing the wrong problem? It’s not so much about the efficiency of delivering care but eliminating the need for it. We currently have a “sick care” system, not a health care system, and that’s the real problem to focus on. When patients are viewed as customers of the health care system, practitioners and institutions have financial incentives to keep them as patients – i.e. treat symptoms rather than provide cures or prevent illness in the first place. Even health insurance providers fuel this backwards view, since more demand for medical care leads to higher premiums and larger profits.

Some of the most effective progress in health care has come from public health programs such as immunization, clean water, and education about smoking, nutrition, and exercise. I’d throw poverty and obesity into that mix since, according to HBO’s documentary The Weight of the Nation, public health officials can reliably predict a community’s average weight by zip code and have noticed lifespan differences of more than 20 years between poor neighborhoods on one side of town and affluent ones on the other side just 8 miles away.

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Is Obesity a Disease? What do YOU think?

Donuts Don't Grow On Trees (a music video by Barry David Butler)The American Medical Association (AMA) recently took up the question of whether obesity should be classified as a disease but deferred any decision to a later date. As noted in HBO’s The Weight of the Nation, obesity has now become the largest threat to the health, wellness and future survival of our nation. It’s an epidemic and one that needs swift action and an unprecedented public health campaign. But is it a disease? And what would it mean if we called it that? What do YOU think?

American Heritage Dictionary defines DISEASE as (1) an abnormal condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, inflammation, environmental factors, or genetic defect, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs, symptoms, or both AND (2) a condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.

Even doctors disagree. Read More …

Dramatic Change in the Causes of Death

photo image of Stephen C. Schimpff, MDby Stephen C Schimpff, MD

Most of us will not have the opportunity to just die of “old age” or to simply fall to sleep one night never to wake again. Most often, we develop an illness which causes our death. These have changed markedly over the years. For the pioneers, accidents, infections, childbirth were times and causes of great likelihood of death. A century ago, infections were the leading causes of death. Today, we will probably survive much longer than our ancestors but it is more likely we will die of heart disease, cancer or stroke. This is a dramatic change in the causes of death that has occurred over the years and with it is an equally dramatic change in the factors that predispose to those deaths.

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Donuts Don’t Grow On Trees (music video)

Donuts Don't Grow On Trees (a music video by Barry David Butler)space

space

To promote healthy eating and address America’s Obesity Epidemic, health advocate Barry David Butler wrote a Pop Song called “DONUTS DON’T GROW ON TREES“.

The song is up on YouTube already, but I’m embedding it here to further promote it. If you like it, add your comments or use the social media links at the bottom to share with friends.

 

 

Song Lyrics:

Donuts don’t grow on trees;
don’t you wonder why.

Cause all the foods that are good for you
are given to us alive.

 

Living foods they give us life,
so we stay healthy and thin.

Keep away from foods that are dead.
Today… let’s begin

 

God created man,
and he gave us food to eat.

Eat it in its natural state,
and always eat whole wheat.

 

He gave us fingers to pick and eyes to see
and a nose to smell our food.

Living foods are easy to find.
They help us with our mood (chorus).

Fruit juice and soda can make us sick
if we drink it to excess.

Too much sugar can make us fat.
We need to eat it less.

 

We don’t drink enough pure water
and don’t get enough exercise.

We all need to get moving
so we stay a normal size. (chorus, repeat)

America’s Obesity Epidemic – a BIG Problem (UPDATED)

Fatty Food, from HBO's The Weight of the NationNow that all four episodes of The Weight of the Nation have aired on HBO, I’m updating this article with new information, important statistics, and embedded versions of the trailer and each episode.

Obesity is a really BIG problem (excuse the pun), and with over two thirds (69%) of us overweight or obese,  it’s now the largest threat to the health, wellness and future survival of our nation. Obesity has become an epidemic that needs swift action and an unprecedented public health campaign. Otherwise, we’ll end up like those fat Axiom characters in Pixar’s movie, Wall-E, and we’ll bankrupt America.

I hope everyone young & old will watch HBO’s The Weight of the Nation. It’s a four-part documentary that premiered on Monday, May 14 to explore our uphill battle with obesity. If you prefer to watch on your TV or want to learn more, you can visit the link above to buy the CD or the book that it’s based on. (An online version of the book is free.)

The Trailer

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Health Reform needs a WELLNESS emphasis

This intimate but tasteful photo of a man and wife in bed shows how Sex can be used to promote Health & Wellness.How can healthcare systems encourage patients to take greater ownership of their health so they live longer? That was the question posed to a Linkedin discussion group that generated some interesting responses. I initially weighed in with:

Public Health and Social Programs

We don’t often think of clean running water, indoor toilets, sanitation systems, and school vaccinations as having profound effects on the health of our citizens, but they have. So too would programs that address poverty, unemployment, and the widening income gap. That’s why next on my list is access to nutritious food, exercise opportunities, and full-time employment, which translates into access to health insurance.

Others said consumers would need support from various health care organizations and suggested several initiatives designed to move from medical response systems to health, wellness and prevention systems. Read More …

What do Patients Really Want?

Image from Wikipedia - "Drawing Hands" is a lithograph by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher first printed in January 1948. It depicts a sheet of paper out of which, from wrists that remain flat on the page, two hands rise, facing each other and in the paradoxical act of drawing one another into existence.What do Patients Really Want? PART 1

By Joseph Kvedar, MD

I recently wrote about an innovator’s dilemma of sorts – or call it a paradox – in healthcare.  The paradox is that as we look to innovate in healthcare, the very authority figures we must turn to for fact-checking our innovative ideas are conflicted and highly motivated to support the status quo.  I’m talking about physicians of course.

Dr Kvedar shares his view of what patients want from an out-patient physician’s perspective. See how closely his views match your own and then join the discussion below.

In a fee-for-service world, physicians are both the fountain of relevant knowledge and the source of all revenue.  So we have built our workflows, systems and processes around their comfort and success.  As physicians succeed, so does the rest of the healthcare juggernaut.  I know other industries fall victim to these kind of MC Escher-like business models, but it seems particularly acute in healthcare.

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Your doctor is overwhelmed, and you can help

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is featured in this 5:17 min video by ForbesAccording to Dr. Soon-Shiong, your doctor is overwhelmed and forced to specialize, just to keep up with the amount of published information from medical and scientific discovery. Just last year more new scientific information was created than in all of previous history combined.

What does that mean for us as patients? It means we must help them out and become a partner in our own health care. It means we must take a much more active role in maintaining our own wellness and understanding what’s going on with our bodies so we can together identify the most appropriate treatment plans for any ills and injuries. It also means we can help research new drugs, procedures, technologies, and preventive measures, even if we lack the medical training of a doctor. After all, we have much more at stake than they do and are more in touch with how we feel. It is, after all, our lives at stake.

The recorded interview below discusses healthcare reform and how to provide quality patient-centric health care from a cost standpoint. Read More …

A Totally New Healthcare System

KingOfTheWorldFive months ago I posted a challenge on Linkedin titled, “Innovative Ideas for a Totally New Healthcare System?” and it generated a discussion that’s been active for 5 months now with over 900 responses from different perspectives worldwide.

As a fun exercise to stimulate creative, out-of-box thinking, pretend you have all been appointed to the new World Health Commission by the new King of the World (or whatever title you prefer). You have absolute power to determine health strategy, for the whole world. Think like a child, and forget the constraints you’re used to dealing with as adults. There are no financial hurdles, no political worries, no cultural barriers, no legacy to contend with, no managers looking over your shoulders, and no imposed time frames. What is it that patients, providers and society seek from healthcare? Why can’t they get that now? Starting with a completely blank canvas, what would be the objectives of the new System? Imagine potential roadblocks and how we might overcome them.

The discussion has evolved, and most participants have come in and out of it, but Clifford Thornton posted one of the longest and most thoughtful replies and gave me permission to reprint it here.

A Totally New Healthcare System

By Clifford Thornton

Wow sir, a blank sheet; this is a dynamic exercise.

I came into the healthcare field about 9 years ago from a marketing strategy business background in the cable/telecommunication industry. Let me say that I cannot think or even imagine a bigger contrast in terms of quality of service, efficiencies, level of customer satisfaction, duplication of service levels, delivery, and range/availability of services.

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