Stories & Tips

Creating Cancer Care Tailored to Seniors

New Ultrasound Technology Could Help with Parkinson's Symptoms

Cancer is an aggressive disease that requires aggressive treatment. The problem is that most seniors can’t handle that kind of treatment, often feeling worse than before. Now, doctors are recognizing this and creating cancer care tailored to seniors.

Creating Cancer Care Tailored to Seniors

Creating Cancer Care Tailored to Seniors

 

Doctors are starting to order geriatric assessments, which is a complete physical and medical history, an evaluation by a physical therapist, a psychological assessment, and a cognitive exam. They can even take in social lives, daily activities, and health goals.

The assessment allows doctors to have a better picture of the person and narrow down the choices of treatments. For some people, the procedure could be more deadly than the cancer itself, and it’s good for doctors to know this.

More than sixty percent of cancers happen in people older than sixty-five. Cancer is supposed to rise among seniors up to sixty-seven percent from 2010 to 2030.

A recently published study found that in one hundred and ninety-seven cancer patients, seventy and older got different treatment recommendations when getting an assessment versus not getting one. The patients who got an assessment got a less intense treatment option.

Geriatric Assessments Aren’t Being Used Enough

 

Though the assessment was created twenty years ago, it’s not widely used among oncologists. The Surgical Task Force at the International Society of Geriatric Oncology found that only around six percent of surgeons use this tool daily. Only around thirty-six percent partner with geriatricians too.

Many oncologists weren’t trained on how to perform these assessments and their value. People within the field are hoping to see a change happen, and the assessments are used all the time.

Read more here.

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and family that are far away. In fact, older Americans use Facebook more than any other age group, and scammers know it. Recently, a precious metal scam cheated many older adults, and the worst part, Facebook was advertising scams and didn’t know it.

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

Facebook Could Be Advertising Scams and Not Even Know It

 

Targeted ads are popping up more on all forms of social media, and some can be more aggressive than others. In particular, a precious metals scam targeted conservative seniors. The ads were created to scare people into buying precious metals to protect their future.

Instead of protecting their future, many seniors were cheated out of their retirement savings. Most of the ads led people to a site called Metals.com, a business that sells gold and silver coins at high markups.

Worst of all, Facebook showed the ads 45 million times even though Facebook claimed that the ads broke their rules.

Metals.com is under investigation for fraud and other related charges, but it’s unknown how much Facebook is involved.

How Facebook Ads Work

 

Facebook has an ad targeting system that allows companies to find their perfect customers through specifications like hobbies, location, and marital status. It’s easy for Facebook to do this because, in some ways, you give the information yourself by just being you.

While Facebook doesn’t sell your information, it does chop your information into segments and sell those segments. Segments can be based on age, gender, political leaning, and the wealth of your neighborhood.

This system has made billions for Facebook, but it appears the company struggles with controlling what goes out into the world.

While it makes legit companies find customers easier, it also makes scammers find their targets is easier too. Somehow Metals.com was able to funnel people to their site without triggering Facebook’s rules.

The ads for Metals.com used Facebook’s system to their advantage. They limited the ads to Americans fifty-nine and older. Why? Because they are the people whose money can be moved out of retirement accounts easily and are more afraid for their future.

Then they asked Facebook to show the ads to users in a handful of political segments, targeting those who categorized themselves as conservative or very conservative. It also targeted those who had interested in the Republican party or conservative media personalities.

By being able to narrow down their range of targets, the scammers got their cake and eat it too. They were able to be out in the world enough to find their targets, but still not get caught right away.

While Facebook always develops improvements to their system, it seems like people can take advantage of their system, and Facebook won’t even know it.

Read more about the scam and how Facebook ads work here.

Medical Devices Causing Bacterial Infections

Medical Devices Causing Bacterial Infections

Medical devices like cardiovascular stents, pacemakers, catheters, and implants have become commonplace to enhance patients’ lives. One thing that’s not mentioned is how these devices are vulnerable to infections, therefore, making the patients susceptible to infections.

Medical Devices Causing Bacterial Infections

Medical Devices Causing Bacterial Infections

 

With all the medical advancements made in the last few years, it’s surprising that bacteria is such a problem. The bacteria is already on the implants themselves or appear during surgery.

Fifteen percent of all in-hospital infections among surgical patients is due to medical devices.

Bacteria stick to the device’s smooth surface and multiple to produce a biofilm. A biofilm is a protective environment made of DNA, proteins, and polysaccharides. Doctors need to stop the biofilm developing because it makes bacteria stronger against the immune system and antibacterial agents.

Once the biofilm forms, the only way to get rid of it is to take out the implant. Not only does this take a lot of time, but can be risky for the patient.

This specific type of infection is especially strong against systemic antibiotherapy and natural immune defenses. Regular antibiotics result in a low concentration at the target site, making the drugs ineffective. Higher doses of antibiotics kill bacteria but make patients sick.

A possible solution is to use a clinical, drug-eluting coating that spread out therapeutic agents on the surface of metallic implants. Once the fluid between blood vessels and cells touch the implant, the biocompatible polymers will release drugs to targeted organs or tissues over a period of time.

Though it’s unknown if this will work for all kinds of implants, it has been proven that the coating doesn’t affect how the implant works or its strength.

Read more here.

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

The Department of Justice has arrested two people, Romana Leyva and Ariful Haque, for a tech support scam that has taken millions from older adults. They convinced people, mostly seniors, that they needed tech and virus protections that weren’t real.

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

Tech Support Scam Takes $10 Million From Seniors

 

Between March 2015 and December 2018, Leyva and Haque were scamming people in the US and Canada. They would target people with pop-up windows that said their computer had been infected with a virus. They then told the victims to call a number for tech support.

Sometimes the pop-up message would say that if they closed the window or turned their computer off, it would ruin their device or lose all their data.

So concerned people called the number and were connected with a fake technician. To get the victim to pay, the phony technician would load an anti-virus tool that you can get for free online and tell the victim they have a virus.

The scammers convinced people to pay hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to fix the fake virus. Some people were even contacted again by these scammers and paid them even more money.

There was a total of 7,500 victims and $10 million stolen altogether.

Read more here.

Medical-Alert Devices May Not Work as Well as You Think

How to Choose a Personal Medical Alert Device

Consumer’s Checkbook is an online and print resource published by the Center for the Study of Services, which is a nonprofit consumer organization. They reviewed eleven different medical-alert devices, and some got bad reviews.

Medical-Alert Devices May Not Work as Well as You Think

Medical-Alert Devices May Not Work as Well as You Think

 

Consumer’s Checkbook guesses that more than three million consumers, mostly seniors, use medical-alert devices. The devices were tested two hundred and ninety times over two weeks. Consumer’s Checkbook found that the response time for these panic devices took too long.

The average time was over a minute, and some companies took more than three minutes to respond. While that may not seem like much, remember when these are being used, a person is injured and needs help. Three minutes can mean life or death, depending on the situation.

Plus, there is a lot of waiting involved with these devices already. You have to wait for the monitoring service to pick up, then wait for them to understand your situation, and then wait for them to call 911. Finally, you have to wait for the paramedics to arrive.

Consumer’s Checkbook also found that these medical-alert devices have a lot of false alarms. The monitoring services don’t have the proper training to get the right information and alienate emergency services due to false alarms.

Out of the devices tested, GreatCall Lively Mobile is recommended. It’s easy to use, reliable, and quick.

How to Pick a Good Medical Alert Advice

 

Consumer’s Checkbook suggests a few things to make sure you pick the right device.

Avoid Contracts

Never use a service that requires a contract in case a better model comes around.

Ask for a Trial

You won’t know how well a device works until you try it. No one wants to pay for something that doesn’t work. Check to see if the device works with your lifestyle and is comfortable.

Use the trial to test out the service. Press the panic button throughout different times of the day on different days to see how fast the call center responds. If they take longer than thirty seconds, move onto another device.

Fill Out Your Customer Profile

Make sure your profile is filled out as soon as possible. It’s essential to have what kind of drugs your taking, how much, how often, and any conditions that you have. This helps the call center operators work faster, which means you get help faster.

Read more here.

5 Stretches for Seniors with Back Pain

5 Stretches for Seniors with Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common types of pain seniors suffer from. It can be caused by arthritis, being overweight, bad posture, other internal problems, and even stress. There are some stretches that seniors with back pain can do without causing too much discomfort.

5 Stretches for Seniors with Back Pain

5 Stretches for Seniors with Back Pain

 

All these exercises should be done while sitting in a sturdy chair. Make sure to start each stretch with your feet firmly on the floor and knees at a ninety-degree angle.

1. Neck and Chest Stretch

This stretch works your scapulae and trapezius muscles in your neck and pectorals and in your erector spinae muscles.

Start with your feet planted on the floor and sitting straight. Put your hands at the base of your skull, fingers intertwined, thumbs running by your ears and down your neck. Ease your head back into your hands, putting your face toward the ceiling.

Inhale deeply, and as you breathe out, ease your left elbow, so it’s pointing towards the ground and right elbow toward the ceiling. Even if you only move an inch or two, that’s fine, just make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

Take two deep breaths and go back to your original position and then do the other side. Do this three times on each side, alternating sides.

2. Seated Gentle Backbend

This stretch works your spinal extensors, anterior neck muscles, and pectorals.

Bring your hands to your lower back, with fingers on your back and thumbs wrapped around your hips. Press your hands firmly into your hips/lower back and inhale.

As your breath out, gently arch your spine, leading with your head. Don’t force it too much, make sure you tilt your chin up with your face to the ceiling.

Hold this position for five full deep breaths and then slowly go back to the starting position. Do this three to five times.

3. Reach Back

This stretch will help with the range of motion in your shoulders and stretching your shoulders and chest.

Sit up straight and feet on the ground. Take a breath and breathe out as you reach behind you and interlace your hands. If you can’t connect your hands, you can grab opposite wrists or elbows.

Breathe in again and feel your spine growing longer as you sit up taller. Roll your shoulders up and backward, moving your shoulder blades down your back.

As you breathe out, gently straighten your arms, if your hands are clasped. If you are holding your elbows or wrists, gently pull in the opposite direction.

After three deep breaths, let go and go back to the beginning position. Do this three times.

4. Seated Cat-Cow

This stretch will work erector spinae, serratus anterior, iliac rib muscle, and external abdominal oblique, and rectus abdominous.

Put your hands on your knees with fingers pointing in toward each other and the heel of your hands on the outside of your legs. Breath in, and as you breathe out, press in your hands and arch your back, using your whole spine. Put your face toward the ceiling and push out your butt.

As you breathe in again, roll your shoulders forward and pull your belly button toward your spine. Drop your chin toward your chest and pushing toward your knees with your hands. When you breathe out, reverse the motion, pulling your chest through your arms and arching your spine again.

Do this slowly three to five times.

5. Gentle Twist

This stretch works your serratus anterior, erector spinae, rhomboids, and neck muscles.

Go towards the edge of the seat, but not too far that the chair tips over. Breath in and press down into your seat, sit up straight, and lift your arms up overhead.

As you breathe out, turn gently to the right, putting your left hand on the outside of your right knee and your right hand where feels comfortable. You want to feel the twist equally throughout your spine.

Stay in the twist as you breathe in, and you’ll feel yourself sit taller. As you breathe out, twist just a little deeper.

Take three to five deep breaths before gently releasing the twist and doing it on the other side.

Read more here.

101-Year-Old Publishes Her First Poetry Collection

101-Year-Old Publishes Her First Poetry Collection

You are never too old to start a new interest, just ask Sarah Yerkes. She was in her nineties when she started taking poetry classes. Now at 101, she published her first poetry collection, Days of Blue and Flame.

101-Year-Old Publishes Her First Poetry Collection

101-Year-Old Publishes Her First Poetry Collection

 

Yerkes has always been a creative person. She’s had careers of being a landscape architect and then as a sculptor. She worked as a sculptor into her early 80s. When sculpting became too physically painful, she turned to poetry.

Even though she claimed she wasn’t a poet, her instructor Bonnie Naradzay disagrees.

“I loved the fact that she is a sculptor. I realized whaqt a lively and intuitive mind she has– or nshould I say, imaginative. She said it was kind of like doing a sculpture.”- Bonnie Naradzay

The publisher, Passager Books, focuses on older writers. They appreciated how Yerkes told her life’s story in imaginative ways.

Yerkes says that she shares feelings that she hasn’t even shared with her family. The act of writing the poems was therapeutic, though.

“I was just writing for me. I didn’t think of it being in the public domain or that anyone would be interested.” -Sarah Yerkes

Read more here.

Hackers Targeting Medical Devices

Medical Devices Causing Bacterial Infections

Some of the top medical device companies gave hundreds of ethical hackers permission to break into their devices to see if any bugs could pose problems if found by the wrong people. These devices range from pacemakers to drug infusion pumps. These companies are hoping to get ahead of hackers targeting medical devices.

Hackers Targeting Medical Devices

Hackers Targeting Medical Devices

 

Back in 2011, cybersecurity researcher Jay Radcliffe made waves for showing how he could hack his own implantable insulin pump at Def Con’s sister conference Black Hat. He got intense blowback from the medical device industry. Most of these companies see hackers who are trying to do good by pointing out these flaws with suspicion.

Now, eight years later, vendors have submitted 40 medical devices for hackers to test.

Even the government is backing them up. Since 2011, the FDA has released a series of rules urging device makers to vet their products for vulnerabilities and to have a formal process for dealing with them. They even encouraged companies to bring their products to the ethical hackers at the Def Con conference.

Def Con even brought doctors to pair up with the hackers since they handle medical devices with their patients. They also created a fake hospital environment for the hackers to work in.

“It really helps to create that hospital environment for (cybersecurity researchers to work. It will help them understand how these devices are really used, how they fit into the clinical setting,  how a patient really uses this.” –Chris Tyberg, vice president of Abbott’s product security division (medical device manufacturer)

Read more here.

Older and Like to Ski? Join Silver Streaks!

Older and Like to Ski? Join Silver Streaks!

Waterville Valley Resort has the country’s longest-running ski club for those fifty and older called the Silver Streaks. The club allows for older people who like to ski to find other like-minded people and get exercise.

Older and Like to Ski? Join Silver Streaks!

Older and Like to Ski? Join Silver Streaks!

 

Each winter, around 140 enthusiasts fifty through ninety-five come to Waterville Valley for skiing, coffee and doughnuts, and companionship. Members even participate in an amateur racing competition known as “The Beer League.”

It’s a great way to stay active and social through NH’s long and rough winters. Members can also do moonlight snowshoe treks and Nordic ski outings. There are potlucks on Wednesdays, and a Silver Streaks early bird dinner special at the nearby Coyote Grill.

Everyone of all skill levels and endurance is welcome to join. There’s no pressure to do multiple runs if a person isn’t up to it.

Learn more about Silver Streaks here.

Bruises can be a Sign of Health Problems

Bruises can be a Sign of Health Problems

Bruises are a common part of life, and often times we wonder where they came from. As you get older, bruises can be a sign of health problems and need to be paid attention to. How can you tell the difference between having thinner skin due to age and having a problem with your body?

Bruises can be a Sign of Health Problems

Bruises can be a Sign of Health Problems

 

What causes bruises? They form when an impact breaks your small blood vessels near the skin’s surface. The discoloration is from the blood leaking out of the vessels. Once the blood is reabsorbed into the body, the bruise goes away.

Bruises can be a sign of a serious condition like:

  • Low levels of platelets
  • Abnormally functioning platelets
  • Problems with proteins that help blood clot

Medications can also cause you to bruise more quickly because they reduce your body’s ability to clot blood.

There’s not much you can do to treat a bruise. Sometimes you can apply a topical cream to help with sensitivity or use ice. It takes time for the body to reabsorb the blood, so you’ll have to be patient.

Make sure to see your doctor if you have any concerns.

Read more here.