Helping Older Adults With Depression

The recent death of actor and comedian Robin Williams prompted much-needed public discussion about depression, which affects millions of older Americans — including many who face a number of common risk factors such as financial stress, decline in physical and cognitive health, and social isolation. Research has linked depression to poorer functioning, health status and quality of life among older adults. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify and treat depression in this population, a challenge that comes with a substantial …

When Is ‘No Treatment’ the Best Treatment?

The swift, lethal nature of brain cancer — and the terrible decisions it forces families to face — has been in the news recently, with three of its victims forcing us to think about choices we hope we never have to make. There was, of course, the well-publicized death of Brittany Maynard, 29, diagnosed with the most common and deadly form of brain cancer — glioblastoma. Doctors don’t know what causes these insidious growths, according to the National Brain Tumor …

Expensive New Hepatitis C Drug Raises Alarms

This piece originally ran in the Huffington Post and was written by Leigh Purvis and Debra B. Whitman. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It currently affects more than 3 million Americans, many of whom do not know that they are infected. Left untreated, it can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer. Until recently, hepatitis C treatments only cured about half of patients and often had undesirable …

Should All Older Adults Be Screened for Dementia?

Should older adults be routinely screened for Alzheimer’s disease or memory problems? Maybe, maybe not. A government panel says there’s not yet enough data to recommend either for or against it. The panel’s uncertainty reflects the complexity of the issue at a time when scientists are progressing much faster in their ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s than in their ability to treat it. This news is especially relevant in light of the recent discovery of a blood test that can predict with 90 …

Radio Series: ‘Beyond the Face of Alzheimer’s’

Alzheimer’s. Just hearing the word makes my heart lurch and my body tense up. It’s a disease that has hit very close to home for me. Both my grandmother and now my sweet Daddy are victims of Alzheimer’s disease. Yet I’m a believer that the more we talk about it, the closer we get to effective treatments and a cure. The more stories we share with one another, the more hopeful we become – and the less alone we feel. …

Mammogram Study: Are We Missing the Point?

It’s a large, new study that raises doubts about the value of mammograms in preventing breast cancer deaths, but a lot of the publicity and debate about it seems to have missed an important point. According to the 25-year Canadian study, published Tuesday in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), there was no difference in the number of breast cancer deaths between women who got annual mammograms and women who got an annual physical breast exam by a nurse. The …