Social Isolation: The Silent Killer that Costs Medicare Billions in Extra Spending

Last week the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) sponsored a Solutions Forum on Capitol Hill (view recording HERE)  that put the spotlight on groundbreaking research showing how much social isolation—lack of meaningful contacts with others—costs the Medicare program. In two separate panels, participants in the packed room heard from experts who discussed the global problem of social isolation—or lack of meaningful contacts with others—among older adults. Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President at AARP kicked off the event with a compelling …

Older Adults Who Don’t Have Meaningful Relationships are Sicker—and Cost Medicare More

Elizabeth “Izzy” Barnett, 80, is a full-time caregiver for her husband, Bob, who has dementia. They have no children or family to help and Izzy has lost contact with friends because she is busy taking care of Bob. Izzy’s is not alone in this situation. Millions of older adults are socially isolated—in other words, they lack meaningful relationships with family and friends. Life circumstances—losing a spouse, friends, and loved ones, or retirement—put older adults at increased risk for isolation.   …

Regulatory Reform Options for Implantable Devices

In 2011, some widely used implantable heart defibrillators, designed to correct potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms, developed cracked insulation on their high-voltage electrical wires. The result was that in some cases they caused severe shocks, and even deaths. Consumers with the defective implants had to decide whether to undergo dangerous surgery to replace the device or simply monitor it. Until the defective device is replaced, consumers run the risk that it will deliver an unnecessary high-voltage jolt of electricity—described as …

New Nutrition Facts Label: What’s in It for Older Adults?

Since the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, Nutrition Facts labeling has been mandatory for most packaged foods. The majority of food items sold in grocery stores are processed and packaged. Nutrition Facts labels provide consumers with the amount of calories and nutrients in these food items, which can help them make healthier choices. Now more than ever, Americans, especially older adults, are using Nutrition Facts labels when they shop for food. In May, the FDA …

Diabetes Prevention Program Shows Investing in Prevention Pays

Diabetes among older adults is associated with significant health and cost burdens. Nearly a quarter of individuals age 65 and older have been diagnosed with diabetes, and one of every three Medicare dollars is spent on beneficiaries living with the condition. An estimated one-half of the Medicare population is prediabetic, meaning their blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis. To address this growing public health concern, in 2011 the Centers for Medicare & …

Shingles Vaccine May Be out of Reach for Some Medicare Beneficiaries

Introduction to Shingles Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once people recover from chicken pox, the virus remains in their body in an inactive state. In some people, it stays dormant; in others, the virus reactivates and causes shingles. The condition is most common in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. The most common complication of shingles is …