Journal of Gerontological Nursing

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New Report Provides In-Depth Details About National Statistics on Alzheimer's Disease

For the first time, total payments exceeded $259 billion for caring for individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD) or other dementias, according to data in the 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report.

The report provides an in-depth look at the latest national statistics and information on AD prevalence, incidence, use and costs of care, caregiving, and mortality.

  • Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans with AD in 2017, 5.3 million are older adults and approximately 200,000 are younger than 65 (i.e., younger-onset AD).
  • Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number of older adults with AD may triple from 5.3 million to 13.8 million by 2050.
  • Every 66 seconds, one individual in the United States develops AD. By mid-century, one individual will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
  • Approximately 480,000 older adults will develop AD in the United States in 2017.
  • Two thirds of American older adults with AD are women.
  • AD is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and fifth-leading cause of death for older adults.
  • AD remains the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

The report also illustrates that the strain of caregiving produces serious physical and mental health consequences. More than one in three (35%) caregivers of individuals with AD or another dementia report that their health has worsened due to care responsibilities compared to one in five (19%) caregivers of older adults without dementia. In addition, depression and anxiety are more common among dementia caregivers than among those providing care for individuals with other conditions.

Source.“New Alzheimer's Association Report Shows Growing Cost and Impact of Alzheimer's Disease on Nation's Families and Economy.” (2017, March 7). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://prn.to/2orSPFQ.

Most Older Adults Inconsistently Take Vitamin D Supplements Following Hip Fracture

Only 45.7% of patients reported consistently taking vitamin D supplements following a hip fracture, according to a new study.

Researchers interviewed 573 hip fracture patients about their vitamin D intake during physician visits for 2 years following hip fracture surgery. Mean patient age was 74.1 years, and most patients (66.3%) were women.

Less than 50% of patients consistently took vitamin D supplements as recommended, 35.6% took supplements inconsistently, and <19% took no supplements. Despite well-developed guidelines and close follow up in a clinical trial, a low proportion of older adult hip fracture patients consistently take vitamin D, suggesting a need to develop and evaluate additional strategies to promote compliance.

Source.“Despite the Known Role of Vitamin D in Preventing Osteoporosis and Related Fractures, Less Than Half of Elderly Hip Fracture Patients Take Supplements as Recommended.” (2017, March 14). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://prn.to/2n1GJza.

New Program Helps Older Adults Adjust to Hearing Aid Use

More than one half of older adults experience some form of hearing loss, which impacts everyday life and significantly affects health and safety if left untreated. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss; however, many adults fail to adjust to hearing aids and, as a result, stop using them. A new hearing aid adjustment program may significantly improve hearing aid wear time among older adults.

The Hearing Aid Reintroduction (HEAR) program is a systematically gradual method to support adjustment to hearing aids. With HEAR, the duration of hearing aid use increases slowly from 1 hour on Day 1 to 10 hours on Day 30. Sound complexity also increases, beginning with house sounds (e.g., fans, dishwasher) to complex listening situations (e.g., a restaurant or theater). The intervention is currently supported through a workbook that provides instructions, tips, and encouragement. Patients record their progress, as well as questions or concerns for their audiologist, in a journal.

Data from testing the success of HEAR will be used to create a complementary application, which will allow patients and audiologists to communicate more effectively regarding hearing aid use. Patients will be able to input their progress, which will be saved to their digital health records for their audiologist to view. In turn, audiologists will be able to answer questions and send encouragement.

Source.“New Program Improves Hearing Aid Use for Older Adults.” (2017, March 20). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2q0PsmC.

Genetic Test Calculates Age-Specific Risk of Developing Alzheimer's Disease

An international team of scientists developed a novel genetic score that allows individuals to calculate their age-specific risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) based on genetic information. Specifically, researchers combined genotype-derived polygenic information with known AD incidence rates from the U.S. population to derive instantaneous risk estimates for developing AD.

The team analyzed genotype data from more than 70,000 patients with AD and normal older adult controls who participated in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium, the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center, and the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Data were examined for AD-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are variations of a single nucleotide or DNA building block that occur at a specific position in the genome. Some SNP variation exists in genomic information in all humans, which affects individual susceptibility to disease. In this case, researchers looked at SNPs linked to AD risk and for APOE status. Individuals with the E4 variant in the APOE gene are known to be at greater risk of developing late-onset AD.

Researchers then developed a continuous polygenic hazard score (PHS) based on this data to predict age-specific risk of developing AD, and tested it in two independent cohorts. They found that those in the top PHS quartile developed AD at a considerably younger age and had the highest yearly AD incidence rate. PHS also identified those who were cognitively normal at baseline but eventually developed AD. Even among individuals who did not have the APOE E4 allele, PHS informed age of onset; those with a high PHS developed AD 10 to 15 years earlier than those with a low PHS.

Source.“Genetic Assessment Developed to Determine Risk for Age-Associated Alzheimer's Disease.” (2017, March 16). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2q0U0JM.

Food Scarcity and Poor Oral Health Leading Older Adults to the Emergency Department

A new study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that food scarcity and poor oral health are major risk factors for malnutrition that lead older adults to emergency department admission.

The study included 252 patients 65 and older seeking treatment in emergency departments in North Carolina, Michigan, and New Jersey. Participants were screened for malnutrition and then asked about the presence of risk factors.

Overall prevalence of malnutrition in the sample was 12%, which is consistent with previous estimates from U.S. emergency departments and approximately double the prevalence in community-dwelling adults. Of the three sites, patients in North Carolina had the highest rate of malnutrition (15%), and one of the highest rates of older adults living below the poverty line (ranked third of 50 states).

Of risk factors studied, poor oral health had the greatest impact on malnutrition. More than one half of patients had dental problems and were three times as likely to experience malnutrition than those without dental problems. Ten percent of patients experienced food insecurity, which was strongly associated with malnutrition. Other factors associated with malnutrition that may contribute to the problem include social isolation, depression, medication side effects, and limited mobility.

Researchers are now developing and testing interventions to link malnourished older adults identified in the emergency department to food assistance programs in the community.

Source.“Poor Oral Health and Food Scarcity Major Contributors to Malnutrition in Older Adults.” (2017, March 23). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2osnSRZ.

Olfactory Ability Linked to Social Connectedness in Older Adult Women

A new study in Scientific Reports of U.S. older adults found that a woman's social life is associated with how well her sense of smell functions. The study found that older adult women who perform worse on a smell identification task tend to have fewer social connections.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, a population-based study of health and social factors in the United States. Collected in 2005 and 2006 from a nationally representative sample of 3,005 American adults ages 57 to 85, the data include odor identification test scores as well as information about participants' social lives.

Researchers compared participants' odor identification scores with an aggregated “overall social life” score, which included measures such as participants' number of friends and close relatives, and how often they socialized. Data were adjusted to control for possible confounding variables, including education level, tobacco use, and physical and mental health status.

Findings revealed a clear link between a woman's olfactory ability and her overall social life score: older women with good olfactory ability tended to have more active social lives, whereas those with diminished olfactory function were associated with a poorer social life score.

The same association between olfactory function and social life was not found in older adult men. Longitudinal studies could help clarify whether olfactory loss directly influences social life and potentially allow researchers to identify the mechanisms involved.

Source.“The Social Costs of Smell Loss in Older Women.” (2017, March 20). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2q2ti6n.

Upward Trends in Alcohol Drinking in Older Adult Women

Most American older adults drink alcohol. Given that this segment of the population is projected to double by 2050, there will likely be many more older drinkers in the United States. A new study examined trends in drinking status among U.S. adults 60 and older.

Researchers analyzed data from the 1997–2014 National Health Interview Surveys: 65,303 respondents 60 and older (31,803 men and 33,500 women) were current drinkers, and 6,570 men and 1,737 women were binge drinkers. Analysis of respondents by sex, age group, and birth cohort showed differing trends over time.

The observed upward trends in drinking among adults 60 and older, particularly women, are of public health concern. Among men, prevalence of current drinking trended upward an average of 0.7% per year, whereas average volume and prevalence of binge drinking remained stable. Among women, prevalence of current drinking trended upward an average of 1.6% per year, whereas average volume remained stable and prevalence of binge drinking increased an average of 3.7% per year.

These findings indicate a need for alcohol-related public health education, screening, and treatment for the growing older adult population.

Source.“An Increasing Proportion of Women Who are 60 Years of Age and Older are Drinking.” (2017, March 22). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://bit.ly/2qaNkb6.

Authors

10.3928/00989134-20170512-03

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