Report: Dying in America Harder Than It Has to Be

By Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News Staff Writer It is time for conversations about death to become a part of life. That is one of the themes of a 500-page report, titled “Dying in America,” released Sept. 17 by the Institute of Medicine. The report suggests that the first end-of-life conversation could coincide with a cherished American milestone: getting a driver’s license at 16, the first time a person weighs what it means to be an organ donor. Follow-up conversations …

Older Americans Face Increasing Risk of Hunger

More than 15 percent of Americans over age 60 – some 9.3 million men and women – experienced the threat of hunger in 2012, according to a report just released by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. From the start of the recession in 2007 to 2012, the number of older people threatened by hunger has jumped 49 percent. The report, based on statistics from the 2012 Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, says the following groups of older Americans …

Watching These Video ‘Pen Pals’ Will Make Your Day

Here’s a sweet, uplifting video that’s guaranteed to brighten your day. It features some Chicago-area seniors and young Brazilian students of English, and the long-distance friendships kindled by learning a language. CNA, a Brazilian language school that emphasizes online learning, matches up its young students with older adults in U.S. senior residences in a program called Speaking Exchange. Watching the video, you can see how eagerly the residents of Windsor Park Retirement Community outside Chicago await their turns to talk. …

‘Day of Service’ Kicks Off AARP’s National Event in Boston

The tables were stacked high with groceries: pasta, peanut butter, cans of peaches and beans. In front, an assembly line of volunteer workers packed them in brown paper bags and passed them along to be loaded into cartons for delivery to a food bank. “It’s fun,” said 66-year-old Ronna Davis of Stoughton, Mass., “and it’s a way to help people in need.” Davis, who had heard about the project on the radio, showed up with her lifelong friend, Esther Kaplan, …

Medicare Lists Best, Worst Hospitals for Hip and Knee Replacements

By Jordan Rau, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News Medicare has begun tracking the outcomes of hip and knee replacement surgeries, identifying 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks. The government also named 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries. The analysis, which was released last week, is the latest part of the government’s push to improve quality at the nation’s hospitals instead of simply paying Medicare patients’ bills. Medicare already assesses hospital …

Beware the ‘Befriender’

It’s often true that older people feel lonelier as their children leave the nest, their friends move south and their spouses pass away. That’s one reason they’re particularly vulnerable to new “friends” who in truth are out to exploit them. As Katherine Pearson, a professor at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, explains in the Elder Law Prof Blog, these “befrienders” aim to gain the trust – and eventually access to the assets – of their victims. But if you …