One morning last June, Colorado mom Patricia Byrne went online to read her Canton, Mass., hometown newspaper. What she read changed her life: an obituary for a 26-year-old young man who was a childhood playmate of her children. The cause of death: heroin overdose.
An epidemic of heroin addiction is spreading among young adults, yet for the most part, the problem remains hidden. Shamed parents, blaming themselves and wondering what they did wrong, struggle alone. As one boomer mom told me, “No one wants to announce to family and friends that their son is a drug addict.”
Older patients are not the same as younger patients. You’d think this was obvious, yet doctors often use a one-size-fits-all approach to prescribing treatment that can put their older patients at risk.
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 cost.
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.
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.
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. A recent AARP radio series helps to do just that. "Beyond the Face of Alzheimer's," from Barbara Kline and Kathy Bernard, cohosts of the 2 Boomer Babes Radio Hour, gives voice to those with Alzheimer's as well as their caregivers. The series won a Gracie Award for best lifestyle/health coverage.
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.
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