Friday, November 16, 2018

You May Control Your Risk for Alzheimer’s

New research shows that each of us may have more control over the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s than we thought.




When Margaret Daffodil Graham, 74, heard that a local hospital was on the lookout for people with hypertension to volunteer for a study, she jumped on the opportunity. Like over 100 million Americans, Graham suffers from high blood pressure, a condition she’s been treating since her 30s. She figured that being in the study would get her blood pressure monitored at shorter intervals, and perhaps reduce her risk for developing heart disease or stroke.

Unbeknownst to Graham, the study would be benefiting much more than her heart. The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (dubbed SPRINT MIND) was designed to see if dramatically lowering blood pressure could influence the risk of cognitive decline, including symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The results are in, and provide evidence that lowering blood pressure has the benefit of also reducing risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), brain decline that may precede dementia, and probable dementia. Graham and others who participated in the study were taken aback by the results.

“It never occurred to me that controlling my blood pressure could protect me from dementia,” says Arthur Lane, 89, another participant in the study. “I think this is wonderful.”

Drug Treatments Prove Ineffective


Dementia is a concern for older adults around the globe, and rightly so. More than 150 million of them will be affected by it by 2050. Dementia is a broad term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to impact everyday life. Types of dementia include Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body and vascular.

Until now, researchers had little to offer when it came to positive steps to take to fend off cognitive decline. It was known that genes play a role in who gets dementia, and that age was a factor, but neither of those are under anyone’s control.

Accordingly, research has centered on drug treatments to battle the disease. But every anticipated breakthrough thus far has failed. With billions of potential dollars at stake, major drug companies have spent heavily on research, to no avail.

 “The data are pretty soft on a lot of things,” says Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, “so that was discouraging for the field and discouraging for the general public.”

Top Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Without Drugs

Although study participants were able to make use of medications, there’s plenty you can do to keep your blood pressure in a safe range without resorting to drugs. From the Mayo Clinic, here are 10 ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure:
  1. Watch your weight. Blood pressure rises right along with your weight. Excess pounds can disrupt breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), raising blood pressure even higher. Losing even a little weight can help. You’ll reduce blood pressure by about 1 mm Hg with every 2.2 pounds you shed. Generally speaking, a man’s waist should measure 40 inches or less, and a woman’s 35 inches or less.
  2. Make Exercise a Habit. Thirty minutes of exercise a day can take 5 to 8 mm Hg off of your blood pressure. However, that number will go right back up if you quit exercising, so being consistent is key. Walking, swimming, cycling, dancing – it doesn’t matter what you do. Interval training, or short bursts of high-intensity training, is effective. So is strength training for more powerful bones and muscles. The best option may be to combine all of these activities to keep your routine fresh and interesting.
  3. Eat a healthy diet. Skip the processed food aisles in your grocery store and hug the perimeter, where you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables. Try the Dietary approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is low on saturated fat and cholesterol. Also, boost potassium intake to lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure.
  4. Cut down on sodium. People with high blood pressure can see a reduction of 5 to 6 mm Hg by cutting sodium intake even a little. Sodium is almost always added to processed foods, rather than occurring naturally. Read labels to avoid products, such as soup, with added sodium. Put the salt shaker away; one level teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Pump up the flavor with herbs instead. If you can’t go cold turkey, reduce the amount of salt over time while your taste buds adjust.
  5. Limit alcohol intake. Men should limit themselves to two drinks a day, and one for the ladies to lower high blood pressure by 4 mm Hg. Over imbibing can actually send you in the opposite direction, raising blood pressure by several points. It may reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications, as well. One drink is 12 oz. of beer, five oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof liquor.
  6. Quit smoking. Every cigarette pops your blood pressure for many minutes, but quitting reduces your risk of heart disease and other health factors. It also takes away smoke-induced bad breath, smelly clothes, tar-stained teeth and a host of other nuisances.
  7. Rein in the caffeine. Looks like this one’s debatable and you may be off the hook. Yay! Caffeine may have little to no effect on habitual consumers. The ones who need to watch out are those who rarely take it in, as their blood pressure may zip up 10 mm Hg with a java jolt.
  8. Reduce your stress. Stop laughing. One method is to focus only on what you can control, and make plans to solve the problems. Another is prioritize time for yourself every day, even if it’s 10 minutes. Finally, research shows that an attitude of gratefulness is good for others and good for you. Smile and give thanks.
  9. Monitor your blood pressure and visit your doctor regularly. Home monitoring lets you know if your program is working, and will alert you if it goes awry. Blood pressure monitors are relatively inexpensive (here’s one for $30) and available without a prescription.
  10. Get support. Family and friends can offer encouragement and support. You can also contact outside groups to find others with practical tips to boost your morale.

SPRINT MIND Results


It looks like that is all changing. The study offers the most hopeful evidence yet that people may have control over their risk for dementia. Funded by various agencies at the National Institutes of Health, the trial results were presented in July and drew immediate responses from Alzheimer’s experts.
“It’s one of the first real demonstrations of a lifestyle modification having an impact on late-life cognition,” says Petersen, who was not involved in the study.

The aim of the trial was to lower systolic blood pressure to a target of 120 mm Hg or lower over 3.2 years among a group of people with cardiovascular risk factors. High blood pressure is generally defined as a systolic pressure of 130 or greater. Pressure of 120 to 130 is considered elevated, while normal pressure is 120 or less.

Lowering blood pressure alone reduced the risk of mild cognitive impairment by 19 percent and probable all-cause dementia by 17 percent in study participants who achieved 120 mm Hg or less. No amyloid-targeting investigational drug has ever approached this magnitude of benefit. However, Dr. Sanjay Kaul at Cedars Sinai cautions that it’s not as impressive as it sounds. Kaul calculates that the absolute risk reduction was only 1.34 percent for MCI.

The results do “not represent a robust effect,” says Kaul. “However, this has to be interpreted in the context of lack of treatment effect on this outcome with currently available interventions and the relatively short duration of treatment exposure. So, promising data, but not the whole enchilada, as spun by trial investigators.”

The good news gets better. The class of drugs used to lower blood pressure had no effect. Cheap generics performed just as well as name brands. Men and women were equally benefited, and race had no impact. Finally, lowering systolic pressure in those older than 75 provided just as much benefit as it did for younger test subjects.

The rigorous, randomized study involved a sizeable group, including 9,300 elderly adults with heart problems or at risk of developing heart disease. Participants were randomly told to lower their systolic pressure to either less than 120 mm Hg or less than 140 mm Hg. The group was tested over an average of three years on different cognitive abilities, including memory and processing new information.

Lead study author Dr. Jeff Williamson reports that biologically, it doesn’t seem like blood pressure would affect dementia. He makes a comparison between air pressure in your tires, and blood pressure: neither should be too high or too low. “Over time, high blood pressure can damage the walls of very fragile arteries that deliver blood to the brain and other organs,” he says. “And that can produce some of the things we see associated with dementia: inflammation and small strokes.”

Time will Tell


While the study could only make conclusions about a reduction in probable dementia, that doesn’t mean that reducing blood pressure won’t affect the disease. Dementia can take many years to develop, and because the study only covered a three-year span, the results are not in. Furthermore, you should check with your doctor before lowering your blood pressure. One side effect of over-aggressive blood pressure reduction is an increased risk of falling.

Still, it’s the first time a large study has shown we may each have some control over whether or not we get dementia.  “This provides great encouragement for people to say, yes, make sure your blood pressure is well controlled, because right now, it’s one of the things you can do,” says Williamson. “This opens the door to testing more interventions.”

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Managing Someone Else’s Money

Many children or trusted friends of older adults wind up managing their assets, but many don’t know if they’re doing a good job. Here’s an overview to get you on the right track.




A lot of older Americans wind up needing assistance with their financial assets, according to researchers. The skill needed to manage money is different from most daily functions because it relies on cognitive skills.

“Most older adults want to live independently for as long as possible. The problem is, it’s hard to live independently if you have difficulty managing your medications or finances,” said study coauthor Dr. Alex Smith of the University of California at San Francisco.

Many Seniors Need Help with Money


Smith and his colleagues analyzed data on 9,434 men and women available from the long-term U.S. Health and Retirement Study. Over 10 years, they found that 2,824 people, or 30 percent, developed difficulty managing their finances. Approximately a third of the original group died before demonstrating difficulty.

Among people at the relatively young age of 65 to 69 when the study began, nearly a quarter (23 percent) developed problems over the next decade.

“We don’t help people anticipate the fact that they may lose these abilities,” said Dr. Holly Holmes of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who wasn’t involved with the study. “We assess them when the abilities are already gone, and people often don’t have a plan in place. We rarely counsel 65-year-olds about their risk and how to plan for it.”

What the study couldn’t measure was loss of function about which the participants were unaware, since the answers were self-reported. “The elephant in the room is that this study covers self-reported losses of function, so the rates are actually much higher for those who don’t realize they’ve lost their abilities,” according to Dr. Mark Lachs, director of Cornell University’s Center for Aging Research in New York City.

Free Guides for Fiduciaries


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides guides tailored to the needs of four different fiduciary capacities:




Additionally, because fiduciary powers and duties vary from state to state, there are six state-specific money management guides. The six states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon and Virginia) have high populations of older adults. They also offer set of tips and templates for creating your own state-specific version.

Each guide is available as a PDF or can be ordered for free in quantities up to 200. 

What Caregivers Should Know


If you’re the one who steps in to help a loved one manage their money, there are many things you should know. One caveat is that it’s always easier to plan ahead. If your loved one is using the ATM and balancing their checkbook now, it may be possible to add a trusted name to their checking account. In the event of stroke or another emergency, that person can step in. It’s essential to have another name on the account if the loved one has been diagnosed with a progressive disease, such as dementia.

Although a joint account is usually the easiest way to make payments and track expenses, there is risk involved. Most fraud on older adults is committed by a family member (see sidebar). Creditors of either person can try to collect from the account. If either person dies, the money automatically belongs to the other account holder. Some banks will allow you to have a convenience account that allows another person to write checks and make deposits and withdrawals, but will not give them ownership in the event of death of the other account holder.

A caregiver can also help set up automatic, online payments for telephone, cable, utilities, mortgage, credit card and other payments. It’s wise to make a simple budget to monitor income and expenses.

Investments and bank accounts should also be monitored. Mint is one free resource that is both easy to use and capable of aggregating investment and banking information along with having a robust budget platform.

In the event that your loved one is uncomfortable allowing a friend or family member access to financial information, money-management programs can help. Find one at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Transparency 


Whoever is managing the money should be transparent and above reproach. Decisions should be made in the exclusive best interest of the account holder. Here are some guidelines for caregivers who manage money:

  • Always act in the best interest of your loved one.
  • Use the memo field to record what every check is for.
  • Never, ever borrow from the account.
  • Do not use the account to pay for anything that also benefits someone else. For example, your loved one’s account shouldn’t fund a car purchase that will take her to the doctor but also transport you to work.
  • An open-book policy is the best for establishing trust. Give other family members access to the books, and provide bank statements to assure them you are being a good steward.


Financial Fraud Often Committed by Family Member


About 1 in 20 older adults reports being financially abused by a family member in any given year, according to research funded by the U.S. Justice Department. It may involve stealing money or taking over assets without permission. Financial exploitation causes seniors to lose almost $36.5 billion per year, according to one estimate from financial services firm True Link Financial. Many of these cases never are brought to court because families don’t want to air their dirty laundry or send a member to jail.

Money is only part of what is lost when the perpetrator is a family member or trusted caregiver. Some people lose their home, says Kathleen Quinn, a senior advisor and past director of National Adult Protective Services Association. Being victimized by someone trusted can lead the older adult to lose their ability to count on others, making her withdrawn and vulnerable to further victimization. Studies show financial abuse raises the risk for depression and suicide. “This is obviously about more than just money,” says Sarah Barnard, a social worker who manages an elder abuse prevention program at WISE & Healthy Aging, a nonprofit social services organization in Santa Monica, California.

If you suspect someone is financially abusing someone you love, contact Adult Protective Services, local law enforcement or the senior’s financial institution.

Making It Legal


Your loved one should choose someone they trust to be the legal guardian of their assets, or fiduciary, while she is still healthy. This can only be done while the person is still completely competent. There are four ways to become a fiduciary:


  1. Power of Attorney (POA). A durable power of attorney assigns power to another to make financial decisions in the event of incapacitation. POA must be granted when your loved one is of sound mind, and it can only be revoked in sound mind. If no one has a POA or trust, the family may have to spend time and money in court to file for guardianship.
  2. Trustee. In sound mind, your loved one can elect to transfer assets to a revocable living trust and name a trustee. If she becomes unable to make sound decisions in the future, the trustee acts to keep the trust’s property safe. This can include moving items to a safe-deposit box, maintaining insurance policies, making careful investment decisions and paying taxes. Because it is revocable, as long as your loved one is of sound mind and the trust allows, she can elect to change or terminate the trust.
  3. Government fiduciaries. Appointed by a government agency, these fiduciaries manage monthly benefit checks, such as Social Security or military pension payments.
  4. Court-appointed guardians.  A court may step in and appoint a guardian or conservator if it finds that someone cannot manage their money or property alone. The guardian is required to act in the best interest of the protected person, in addition to reporting regularly to the court. Guardians must prepare accountings of income and assets, along with details about how the money is being spent.


What to Do about Conflicts


Money has the amazing ability to create conflict, even among the most civil of families. Siblings are particularly vulnerable to its temptations as they deal with the ongoing loss of a parent to dementia or impending death. Nip this problem in the bud by reaching out to siblings and other interested parties before they voice a complaint. Offer to show them the record books, explain purchases, and answer any questions. If they aren’t satisfied, ask a family counselor, mediator or social worker who consults with families in your situation to step in. A list of mediators is available from The Association for Conflict Resolution.

If there is no one who wants to take over a loved one’s finances, or if the family dynamics don’t favor that solution, your best bet may be to consider a daily money manager/management (DMM) program. These versatile programs can do everything from reminding someone to pay a bill to taking over financial management. Daily money managers pay bills, balance checkbooks, maintain a budget, organize bank statements, track receipts and tax return documents, and even figure out medical bills. Start your search at the American Association of Daily Money Managers, which has an ethical code for members.

Remember to take your time and use caution when hiring a DMM, because they are not regulated by law. Get referrals, and ask the following questions:


  • What is your experience as a daily money manager?
  • What are your credentials?
  • How much do you charge, and what is included in the fee?
  • Is there a minimum charge per visit? a minimum of visits per month?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What will happen if you get sick or go on vacation?
  • Are you bonded and insured?
  • Will you work with your client’s professional advisors, such as her lawyer and accountant?


Remember to monitor accounts, even when you’ve hired a money manager, even though it’s annoying.

Click below for the other articles in the November 2018 Senior Spirit







Older Adults Without Children: A Growing Group

As more baby boomers head into retirement without children, they’re networking and finding a variety of ways to navigate old age just fine, thank you very much.




Former teacher and librarian Batya Lewton, 82, never married or had any children. She lives in New York and wondered who would take care of her as she grew older on her own.

“You have to think in advance; you can’t assume that people are going to know what you want done for yourself, or how you want to be taken care of, whether you want to stay in your home or not,” she said. “It’s important that people who you care about and who care about you know exactly what you want.”'

So eight years ago, Ms. Lewton granted power of attorney to two of her friends who live in the same apartment building. They are both listed as executors on her will, and she’s given them information regarding her funeral. She wants to stay in her apartment until that day comes. She knows just about everyone, and many are elderly like herself.

Other childless couples and singles are banding together in cohousing for people of all ages. People like Nancy Squires, 58, the owner of an I.T. company near Washington. Her biggest fear is being put in a nursing home. She’s been saving for retirement over decades, and now she talks with her friends about moving in together.

“I love the idea of a communal living arrangement with separate spaces and shared expenses,” she said. “Not like in the ’60s. More of a 21st-century model, like a large farm where someone has horses, another raises/trains dogs for others, some of the people might coordinate an organic garden, some might cook gourmet dinners a few times a month. It’s all about really living to your fullest without eating dinners alone — unless you want to, of course.”  

Although children typically provide nearly 70 percent of long-term care for their parents, a 2012 study found that only 3 percent of parents thought their children would care for them if they became ill. 

“While it’s great to have kids who are available to help, there are a lot of complications with having kids around,” said Audrey K. Chun, a doctor who is also a medical director at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Hospital, in New York. “A lot of the dynamics, decisions that have to be made around the end of life, disagreements that arise between siblings, what mom or dad may have wanted, can be very emotional. Many of my patients without kids are interested in not wasting resources at the end of life — when it’s their time, they don’t want unnecessary suffering, or to be a burden on society. They want to die naturally. Because they don’t have children to advocate for them, they’re much more open and direct about that.”

It’s always important to plan for retirement, but for those without children around, the task may be even more critical. You can’t always count on friends to fill in the gaps.

Planning for Old Age


“You have to build the infrastructure around yourself to compensate for the fact that you don’t have family,” says Ken Moraif, senior advisor at Money Matters, a financial planning firm in Dallas. Put together a team that includes both friends and paid professionals. 

A recent survey found 53 percent of childless seniors had no one to call if they were bedridden. Another concern is finding a ride to the doctor. It may be time to reconsider your living situation. One option is to move to an apartment building for seniors, where residents can use the buddy system to help each other out. 

You may need to look for connections in your own community. Join a church, seek out your local senior center, or find a regular opportunity to volunteer. If you already have a group of friends, consider starting a breakfast group. One former teacher meets with friends six mornings a week. “It gives us something to look forward to in the morning,” says 83-year-old Wilbur Repp. If someone doesn’t show up, other members will check to make sure all is well. 

Making those connections well in advance of when you need help is key. Help out other community members by driving them to appointments, weeding the lawn or delivering food when they’re sick. “One 89-year-old may drive and another may not,” says Edwin L. Gaskin, a financial planner and founder of Your Financial Architects, a financial advisory firm in Elkridge, Md. “It’s really important to establish those relationships before you need them,” he says.

Linda Adler, founder and CEO of medical advocacy and consulting firm Pathfinders in Northern California, suggests that people carry a laminated card with the name and number of their doctor, along with current medications and dosages. She says, “I don’t want my clients to be anonymous when something bad happens.”


Figure Out Your Finances


Inheritance is another factor that should be in place long before it’s needed. Many childless adults choose favorite charities for donations. Former teacher Wilbur Repp built up a sizable housing portfolio in retirement. He decided that when he dies, his 30 buildings will be sold and the proceeds used for scholarships to further the educations of local students. “I don’t have any pressing heirs for my estate,” he says. “It’s for the student who is overlooked in the classroom. There’s always two or three like that.”

 Repp turned to a colleague in a local charitable group to dispose of his assets. This job should always go to someone you can trust, but that varies from person to person. Elder law attorney Michael Amoruso has clients who tapped long-term neighbors for the job. Others may name a sibling, or a niece or nephew. 

You’ll need to name a health care power of attorney for medical decisions, and a financial power of attorney for your assets. It doesn’t have to be the same person. In fact, naming more than one individual provides checks and balances and spreads out the work. One option is to hire a monitoring service such as EverSafe‎ to monitor accounts in order to provide protection against fraud and I.D. theft.

Not everyone has such an abundance of assets. Many in reduced circumstances have to think outside the box. When Elaine Bearden, 61, lost her job as a technical writer, she decided to become a landlord. “At this stage of life, my resources are thin,” she says. Bringing boarders into her home will help defray expenses and create a network of others to turn to when someone needs help.

Elder Orphans Connects Childless Older Adults


Shuttling the 125 miles from her home in Dallas to attend to her aging parents in West Texas over six years, Carol Marak realized how much help she might need as time went on. Marak, now 67, is one of a growing number of “elder orphans” who are childless older adults. In February 2016, Marak started the Facebook group Elder Orphans to connect with people in a similar situation and share concerns and ideas about how to manage without children to help out. Currently, the group has more than 8,000 members.

There are many people aging without a spouse or children, it turns out. Dubbed “solo seniors,” they represent close to 22 percent of adults age 65 and over. The group is growing. In 2010, 12 percent of women age 80 to 84 were childless, but that number is estimated to swell to 16 percent for the same age group in 2030, according to a report by AARP.

To join Marak’s group, you must be age 55 or older, unmarried and without children close-by. Members ask and give advice about revocable trusts, leaving the world of work, and what to cook when you can’t look at another frozen pizza. “It’s been impossible in my current life to find folks who can understand what I’m facing being 64, never married, no kids, nephews or other relatives in my life,” one poster wrote. “I foolishly counted on my ‘family of friends’ to be around in senior years, but they all have spouses, kids and grandkids, plus oodles of other relatives, and tell me they are too busy to be involved with me.”

Maintaining Control over End-of-Life Decisions


If you become incapacitated, a durable power of attorney can step in to make sure your wishes are carried out. This agent needs to be chosen when you are fully capable of making decisions. Otherwise, the court system will appoint a legal guardian for you. “You lose total control,” says Amoruso, who serves as president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Another method for keeping some control regarding your future care is to purchase long-term care insurance. The median cost of a home health aide hovers around $4,100 a month , while a semi-private room at a nursing facility runs about $7,148, according to the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Financial advisors say that those with more than $2 million of investable assets can self-insure against this risk, but anyone with less ought to weigh their options. 

As we age, our ability to make sound financial decisions often deteriorates. A daily money manager can pay bills, collect tax documents and even assist with medical claims. Social worker and daily money manager Barbara Boustead has several childless seniors as clients in Madison, WI. She prefers not to become financial power of attorney, although some do. One client in her 90’s is still sharp, but has failing eyesight due to macular degeneration. 

Solo aging doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. “In our society, we tend to put so much value on being independent,” says Anne P. Glass, a gerontology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. “I would argue that you’re better off being inter-dependent, especially as you get older.”



Click below for the other articles in the November 2018 Senior Spirit

Health – You May Control Your Risk for Alzheimer’s




Sources:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/relationships/10-things-never-say-childless-woman-50-believe/
http://time.com/money/5317214/solo-seniors-elder-orphans-resources/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/06/29/how-retirement-planning-childless-couples-different/86056964/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrae/2018/09/06/5-keys-to-a-better-retirement/#25cf69193994
https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/your-money/the-childless-plan-for-their-fading-days.html
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/050814/common-retirement-advice-dinks-can-ignore.asp
http://www.fidelity.com/static/dcle/welcome/documents/intra-family-generational-finance-study.pdf
https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/public_policy_institute/ltc/2013/baby-boom-and-the-growing-care-gap-insight-AARP-ppi-ltc.pdf


Help for Older Adults in the Workplace

The number of workers over age 65 is rising. Technology, oddly enough, is coming to their aid.




There’s a cultural change afoot in America: more and more people are working past the traditional retirement age of 65. As a result, challenges such as poor eyesight and aching joints are coming to the job with them. Technologists are responding with modifications to office environments.

Americans are getting older. Men who have a 65th birthday average another 17.9 years of life. For women, that rises to an additional 20.5 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. White collar workers are increasingly choosing to spend some of those years on the job, while lower-paid earners often find they have no choice because of meager savings.

In 1992, only 3 percent of the workforce was 65 or older. Today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that proportion has nearly doubled as the number of older adults has increased as well. By 2022, an anticipated 13.5 million older workers will be between 65 and 74, and another 2.6 million will be 75 or beyond.

While these senior workers aren’t likely to be picking up a hammer or saw, they need different tools than younger counterparts to succeed on the job. “Many products are designed with younger users in mind,” says Sara Czaja, scientific director of the Center on Aging at the University of Miami. “Designers don’t always think about older people.”

Microsoft Hacks and Guides for Accessibility

Microsoft Corporation has long been a leader in hiring a diverse workforce that includes a variety of abilities and ages, so it’s no surprise the company has a site just for accessibility.  What’s unexpected is the variety of topics.
For starters, the company walks you through innovation for disabilities, personal preference or a unique work style available in Windows 10.  Find out how to make Office 365 deliver smoother communication and collaboration from any device.

But that’s just the beginning. There are links to vision tools, hearing assistive tools, tools for neurodiversity, mental health, mobility and learning. Everything from arthritis (type with your voice, keyboard shortcuts, click with your eyes and more) to low vision (color filters, Tell Me commands, maps in 3D sound and more).

There is even a set of Ability Hacks books that give a “behind-the-scenes look into developing technology for people with disabilities” available to download.

The site is definitely worth a look for anyone who uses a Microsoft system, or even those who prefer their Mac but want a simple way to view emerging technology for people of varying abilities.

Products for an Ageing Workforce


Consider back support. There isn’t any when you lean forward to use a laptop or tablet. Office furniture maker Herman Miller, based in Zeeland, Michigan, offers a desk with a sliding surface panel that can be pulled toward the user, enabling the worker to sit upright, supported by a chair back, while the device is in close for easier viewing.

By age 60, smaller pupils and clouded lenses only take in a third of the light they could at 20. Office lighting needs to be brighter, with fewer dark spots and shadows, according to Ryan Anderson, director of product and portfolio strategy at Herman Miller.‎ Illuminating circles of desktop with high lumens from lamps doesn’t do the trick; the overall space has to be brighter. In response, new kinds of overhead lighting fixtures throw their light at the ceiling to disperse around the room, rather than aiming down.

Itty bitty smartphone screens are another issue. While Apple and others continues to make increasingly larger devices that benefit seniors, it’s still tough to high-text documents like emails and newsfeeds. Older workers struggle to adjust their eyes between this near vision, which starts to diminish at about age 40, and focusing on people and places farther away.

Office workers may switch between near and far vision more than 100 times a day, according to researchers at Germany’s Carl Zeiss Vision, a leading lens manufacturer for eyeglasses. To minimize this so-called “digital eyestrain,” the company moved the reading area in its progressive lenses up and closer to the eyes, accommodating where most people hold their smartphones.

Older workers are generally quite comfortable using computers, but age can make certain aspects more difficult. “I’ve been studying aging for a long time,” says Neil Charness, director of the Institute for Successful Longevity at Florida State University, “and now, at age 67, I’ve become one of the people I study.” Charness describes how many operating systems can be set to activate programs and documents with a single click; double-clicking gets harder with age. Ditto for scrolling, and he reduces his need to use the mouse by turning his computer monitor vertical. In general, hand movements are more difficult than eye movements for senior workers.

Age-related macular degeneration affects 11 million Americans, according to BrightFocus Foundation. They often have trouble seeing black type on a white background. Software company Ai Squared, based in Manchester, Vermont, has developed technology to transform display colors for optimal contrast. “One gentleman uses our software to make everything purple on a pink background,” says Ai Squared marketing project manager Megan Long. “That’s what works best for him.”

We’ve all heard by now that standing on the job is healthier than sitting, and some work requires employees to be on their feet all day. Arthritis and other conditions cause pain in load-bearing ankles, knees and hips. Workers have welcomed “anti-fatigue mats” that cushion floors, and inventors continually refine the design. Hospitals are big buyers of these shock absorbers. It’s not surprising, considering the average age of U.S. nurses rose to 50 in 2013, according to the National Council of State Board of Nursing.

Plenty of futuristic tech is in development that will help older workers even more. Carnegie Mellon  is developing an escort robot (not that kind of escort!) for people with vision limitations. Boeing is working on a driverless cart to transport travelers through airports. Aaron Steinfeld, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon, is part of a team developing Tiramisu Transit, a crowdsourced app that would share real-time information on buses, including where they are and how full each one is. Such data “can be very important for those with balance issues or who use wheelchairs or scooters,” Steinfeld says. Finally, an accessible transportation program is in the works at the U.S. Department of Transportation for those with limited mobility, including seniors in the workforce.


Click below for the other articles in the November 2018 Senior Spirit







Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2017/article/older-workers.htm
https://www.abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs/microsofts-must-read-accessibility-user-tips-vision-speech-hearing-mobility-and-learning
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/541541/aging-workers-new-technology/

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Famous & 65


November 1 Jan Davis, Ph.D. and astronaut


How do you become a NASA astronaut? One way is to get your undergrad in applied biology, then grab another in mechanical engineering, and add a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering just like Jan Davis. But that’s just the start.

Davis joined Texaco as a petroleum engineer, but left two years later to join NASA as an aerospace engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center, where her specialty was structural analysis. She worked on the Hubble Space Telescope and studied the long-term strength of pressure vessels due to the viscoelastic characteristics of filament-wound composites. That is a very fancy name for testing how much pressure it takes to blow up a garden hose… now that sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Davis excelled at just about everything, and in June 1987 she became an astronaut. Her first job was providing tech support for Space shuttle payloads, and then she was put in charge of communicating with the crew for seven Space Shuttle missions. Eventually, NASA sent her to space on three flights, logging more than 673 hours away from the Earth.

Afterwards, she was rewarded with directing the Human Exploration and Development of Space, which had to be the coolest job ever. Nowadays, you can find Davis working as vice president and deputy general manager at Jacobs Engineering Group, which could possibly be a cover name for the Space Aliens Investigations Group (SPAIG). I totally made that up, but you never know.


November 5 Joyce Maynard, writer


Maynard is the daughter of a writer/journalist/English teacher father born in India to English missionaries and painter/English professor mother born in Saskatchewan to Jewish immigrants from Russia. Maynard attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where she won a slew of writing awards, and then went on to Yale. She got an article published in the New York Times Magazine as a freshman, which prompted a letter from the very famous and very 53-year-old J.D. Salinger, who warned her of the dangers of publicity (rather than the dangers of liaisons with older men).

They exchanged letters, and in the style of The Graduate,18-year-old Maynard moved in with the famous author after her freshman year. Their eight-month romance produced Maynard’s first book, a memoir which did not include their tryst. That emerged in a 1998 memoir titled At Home in the World. The same year, she put up for auction the letters penned to her by Salinger. Showing the ultimate class, software developer Peter Norton bought them for $156,500… and promptly returned them to Salinger.

Maynard has continued writing, including a weekly syndicated column “Domestic Affairs” during her marriage to Steve Brethel. After that ended in 1989, she moved with their three children to New Hampshire. Her works include several novels, of which Labor Day was made into a movie.
In 2010, Maynard adopted two girls from Ethiopia, then a year later told family and friends she could no longer care for them and sent them to a family in Wyoming. In July 2013 Maynard married attorney Jim Barringer, who died three years later.


November 19 Robert Beltran, actor


Maybe you’ve met him at a Fedcon convention, or perhaps a Sci-Fi Expo? Robert Beltran, the son of Mexican immigrants, is best-known for his role as Commander Chakotay, first officer of the starship Voyager. I can hear the theme song now! The science fiction television show Star Trek: Voyager aired from 1995 to 2001, and led to Beltran being nominated for a Bravo Award for Outstanding Television Series Actor in a Crossover Role.

But that’s not his only claim to fame. Beltran (I can’t help thinking that would be a great name for a Star Trek character) has worked steadily in theater and film since his debut in 1979. With a slew of roles under his belt, he founded the East LA Classic Theater Group, and collaborated with amateur actors performing parts from Shakespeare.


November 25 Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO


From Harvard Business School to prison, Skilling is the poster boy for bad business on Wall Street. Charges included conspiracy, securities fraud, false statements and insider trading.

Skilling was brought up between New Jersey and Aurora, Illinois, where he worked at a television station when he was 16. (His brother would become chief meteorologist at WGN-TV). Skilling got a full ride to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he majored in business. He worked at a bank after graduation, then continued his education at Harvard.

Skilling had a really bright business idea at Enron, which had initiated Enron Online, an internet-based trading system used by almost every U.S. energy company. By using “mark to market” accounting, future profits were accounted for by estimating their present value rather than their cost basis. Skilling began pushing the idea that by promoting their aggressive investment strategy, assets were unnecessary. Enron grew, and CEO Skilling made $132 million in a single year.

Skilling currently resides in a halfway house, where he is learning to reintegrate into the modern world.

Click below for the other articles in the November 2018 Senior Spirit







Source:


Wikipedia


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors
www.csa.us

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Valsartan Recall & What You Should Know




On July 13, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the recall of a popular generic medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. This announcement marked America as the twenty-third country to recall the drug after a potentially harmful impurity was discovered in the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) valsartan. It was initially determined that this contaminated ingredient was supplied by the Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. Many drug companies that used valsartan from this particular supplier voluntarily recalled their medications.

Throughout the remainder of July and into August 2018, the FDA’s investigation of the contaminated ingredient continued and the recall was expanded accordingly. The China-based company, Zhejiang Tianyu Pharmaceutical, and the India-based company, Hetero Labs Limited, were identified as additional suppliers of the contaminated valsartan.

On September 13, 2018, the FDA announced the discovery of a second impurity within some of the medications already recalled. Both impurities found in this worldwide investigation are classified as probable human carcinogens. 

This was a massive consumer drug recall affecting thousands of Americans. According to the American Heart Association, over 100 million adults in the United States live with hypertension or high blood pressure. That is nearly half of the U.S. adult population, and many of these people take medications that contain valsartan. It is easy to understand why this recall caused a great deal of alarm and confusion among American consumers. To clear up some of the questions and concerns about the valsartan recall, here are the main takeaways that consumers should understand:

Drug Recalls


Medications can be recalled for a number of reasons. However, not all of these reasons threaten the health or safety of consumers. It’s important to understand this and remain calm in the face of a consumer drug recall. The main reasons for a drug recall include a contamination like the one that prompted the valsartan recall, a health hazard that would risk patients’ lives, mislabeled medications, packaging or labeling defects, or manufacturing problems that threaten the quality of the drug. Discerning the reason for your drug’s recall will help you respond appropriately.

Valsartan


Valsartan was originally sold under brand names such as Diovan, Entresto, and Exforge until its patent expired and generic drugs were developed. It is a medication used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, and other cardiovascular health conditions. If you learn nothing else from this article, understand the valsartan is safe. The reason the medications were recalled was due to a contamination of valsartan supplied by certain manufacturers. This affected some, but not all of the medications that include valsartan. The brand-name drugs mentioned earlier, for instance, were not affected by the recall. While you might take a generic drug containing valsartan, your medication may be completely safe and excluded from the recall.

Impurities


This first impurity discovered is called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). It is classified as a likely human carcinogen based on the results of animal studies. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports, exposure to NDMA resulted in tumor growth throughout major vital organs in animal test subjects, and it’s believed to cause liver damage in humans. The second impurity found was N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), another likely carcinogen. The long-term effects caused by exposure to these two impurities remain unknown.

Consumer Response


Following an FDA drug recall, it is important to determine whether your medications were affected. The FDA posts a list of the specific medications recalled. Using the company name, lot number, and National Drug Code (NDC) found on your medication labeling, you can determine if your medication is included on the FDA’s list. If you cannot find this information, call your local pharmacist, and they should be able to answer your questions.

If you determine that your medication was recalled, call your doctor immediately. Depending on the condition you are treating, stopping your medication without your doctor’s approval could do more harm than remaining on the recalled medication. Talk to your doctor about alternative drugs that could replace the recalled medication, and unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, do not stop taking your medication until you have obtained a replacement. In the case of the valsartan recall, many patients were either prescribed another drug containing unaffected valsartan or an alternative blood pressure medication.

It is also important to mention that once you have switched to a new medication, be sure to pay close attention to your body and any side effects you might experience from the new drug. If you experience any adverse side effects on a medication, be sure to report your experience to the FDA through their MedWatch portal. Should you need medical services to treat adverse side effects of a drug, you might also consider taking legal action to compensate for the medical expenses.

Click here for the Worldwide Valsartan Recall Fact Sheet

Sources: 


www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm613532.htm

www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm620499.htm?utm_campaign=09132018_PR_FDA%20update%20on%20ongoing%20valsartan%20investigation%20and%20impurities&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=AFC65E191707E7C0A35119014755F97D&elq=b95870fbdc1d48d99a96140f25879c9a&elqaid=5073&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=4047

https://newsroom.heart.org/news/more-than-100-million-americans-have-high-blood-pressure-aha-says

www.consumersafety.org/legal/valsartan-lawsuit/

www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM615704.pdf

www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-10/documents/ndma_fact_sheet_update_9-15-17_508.pdf

www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM615703.pdf

www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/index.cfm?action=reporting.home

www.consumersafety.org/legal/


Author - 

Caitlin Hoff
Health & Safety Investigator
CDC Certified: Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals

Author Bio: Caitlin Hoff writes to shine awareness on important consumer topics that affect people every day. Through her writing, Caitlin hopes to guide families and consumers towards smarter decisions that will improve their overall health. Visit her author page for more information.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors





Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Famous & 65



October 13 Pat Day, jockey


After retiring in August 2005, Day is still the all-time leading rider at Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course in his adopted home state of Kentucky. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey four times over his decades-long career, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1991.

His riding style has been described as patient, much to the chagrin of many critics who dubbed him Pat (I’ll Wait All) Day. But plenty of trainers appreciated his gentle hands, giving him 22 rides in the Kentucky Derby. His single win in the race came on Lil E. Tee in 1992 after favorite A.P. Indy scratched. He was sixth on a wet track the year that his mount, Tabasco Cat, would go on to win both the Preakness and Belmont, the two other Triple Crown events.

Day admits to serious drug and alcohol abuse in the early years of his career. In the early 1980s, he became a born-again Christian, earning the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1985 for high standards of personal and professional conduct. Many of his best races were in the latter half of his career, including the day at Arlington Park in 1989 when he won eight of nine races and set a North American record.

Tip: How did old-time jockeys lose weight before their races? They would bury themselves in the manure pile up to their neck. The warmth of the decaying manure would act like a steam bath, sweating them down to race weight.


October 15 Toriano “Tito” Jackson, singer, instrumentalist


Big brother to Michael, Tito Jackson was the third of ten siblings born to steelworker Joe and devout Jehovah’s Witness Katherine. When he got caught playing his dad’s guitar at age 10 after breaking a string, Joe demanded to hear him perform. His playing earned him his own guitar, and soon after Joe formed a singing group comprised of Tito, Jackie and Jermaine.

The kids performed in grocery stores and at school functions, then moved to talent shows when Tito was 12. About that time, 7-year-old Michael joined in as lead singer and they won the Amateur Night competition at The Apollo Theater in August 1967. Joe started working part-time at the mill and got them a recording contract with Steeltown Records. Two years later, the Jackson 5 signed with Motown Records in Detroit, and the rest is history.

You’ll never hear Tito playing guitar on any of the group’s records with Motown; all the instrumentals had to be performed by session musicians according to their contract. In 1976 when the group left Motown for CBS Records, Tito began playing and writing songs with his brothers. Tito later performed solo, did some session work himself and managed his sons in a musical group called “3T.”



October 20 Keith Hernandez, first baseman


The Burt Reynolds look-alike was a first baseman who played most of his career with the Cardinals and the Mets. His hitting was 31 percent above league average, and he got Gold Glove awards in 11 consecutive seasons, a record for a first baseman.

Hernandez grew up in California, but he’s not Mexican, as many assume. His father is Spanish and his mother, Scots-Irish. A standout player in high school, he sat out his senior year over a dispute with his coach. Scouts noted his “poor attitude,” and he headed off to Jr. College for a year of play before being drafted a dubious 783rd in the 41st round in 1971 by the Cards. Sometimes it’s those late picks that really pay off.

Hernandez shares a birthday with superstar Mickey Mantle, and insisted on having a number that ended in “7” like his hero. Wearing number 37, he won National League MVP in1979, an honor he shared with Willie Stargell, the only time in history two players were awarded the exact same number of points by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He became a regular .300 hitter, and the Cards triumphed in the 1982 World Series, where he hit a home run in game six, and batted in eight runs over seven games.

Despite outstanding play, a dispute with manager Whitey Herzog got Hernandez traded to the Mets in 1983. Herzog said the first baseman had become a cancer in his team and he never regretted the trade. Later, Hernandez admitted it might have been his cocaine use that put him on the outs, and he testified that about 40 percent of players were using the drug at that time. He says he quit using it after getting traded.

Hernandez had a great career with the Mets wearing number 17 (37 had been retired for Casey Stengel), and is widely considered the greatest fielder among first basemen in major league history. With the Mets, he won the 1986 World Series and was named team captain the following year. His reputation was as a “party hard, play harder” pretty boy with a great arm and a vicious swing. However, even the best begin to age, and back, knee and hamstring issues forced a decision not to re-sign him after his contract ran out in 1989.

In retirement, Hernandez has published four books, did some acting work and served as a broadcaster, as well as supporting many charity organizations. He has a special fondness for funding the Alzheimer’s Association after losing his mother to the disease.


October 24 James and Jonathan di Donato, open water swimming


Identical twins Jonathan and James di Donato (the Tiger Twins) swam 28 miles around the island of Manhattan to become the first to manage the feat using the butterfly stroke in 1983. It took them nine hours and 43 minutes to succeed. Training included a 16.5 mile butterfly swim from Ft. Lauderdale to Pompano Beach and back. The duo trained three hours a day.

All that training leads to a buff physique, and for these athletes, hard bodies led to becoming finalists in Cosmopolitan’s first male centerfold contest. Later in their careers, they set a record distance for swimming the butterfly of 47 miles.

If you’d like to give their record a go, you’ll need to get in shape. Their workout routine started by swimming four hours in the ocean wearing drag suits and 1-pound wrist weights. Dryland training included 3 miles of sprint interval runs, plus 20 sets of 50 pushups finished with countless sit-ups using  20-pound weights on their chests.

One last tip: sharks can be a problem in open water swims. The Tiger Twins added soap flakes to their wetsuits to put the beasts off their scent.


Click below for the other articles in the October 2018 Senior Spirit






Oldest Trapeze Artist Defies Time and Gravity


Have you been feeling stuck in a rut lately? How about challenging a Guiness record for 2019! Think of something really crazy where there won’t be much competition. Hmmm. Oldest trapeze artist? 


You’ll have to be over age 85, because that’s how old Betty Goedhart of California is, and she’s still at it. 


"I love to do things that are kind of ... extraordinary and have really enjoyed doing things that nobody else wants to do," Goedhart says. 


She liked watching circus performers in Kansas City when she was young, but she didn’t take her first trapeze class until she was 78. 


"[‘I] thought that looked a bit scary, but I could hardly wait to get up there," she says.


Goedhart wants to encourage everyone, but women in particular, not to “think that when they hit the age of 55, they’re old. We got a lot more on our journey,” she says. “Isn’t it fun to do the impossible?”



How Artificial Intelligence is Changing ETFs


A new category of exchange-traded funds that incorporate artificial intelligence to predict market outcomes has arrived, along with ETFs composed of AI technology leaders. Should you invest?



The robots have arrived.

They’re making decisions in your stock portfolio, and in more and more of the companies you invest in. Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay. Is there cause to be wary, or does this present a new set of investing opportunities?

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a staple of many stock portfolios. With generally lower expense ratios than mutual funds and the ability to maintain diversification by investing in a basket of stocks, they’re among the most popular investment vehicles. It’s no wonder that AI and ETFs have intersected to create novel products for today’s investor.

What Defines Artificial Intelligence


First, let’s talk about how to define AI. On a basic level, it’s a computer science field that builds smarts into electronic systems. An AI system is capable of perceiving data, learning and then taking action to reach specified goals. 

There’s no emotion involved. An AI asset management system will never engage in panic selling, and it won’t buy high when euphoria strikes the market. It will never go on gut instinct, either. Its key advantage lies in its superhuman ability to process massive amounts of data and make investment decisions based on that information. 

AI systems never make the same mistake twice, because they learn as they go. Based on statistical probabilities, they are able to analyze past reactions to economic events and calculate likely outcomes for a stock or industry under present circumstances.

Human investors can benefit from using AI to make better trades. These networks can aggregate large volumes of data to make continuous portfolio adjustments based on various market indicators, while incorporating new signals without human bias.

Top AI ETFs


There are a couple of ways to invest in artificial intelligence via an ETF. You can either invest in companies that are working on AI and robotics projects, or find an ETF that uses AI to select stocks. Here’s a list of some of the top ETFs in each category:

  • Invesco QQQ (QQQ) Focused on the big tech FAANG stocks. Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN) headline 104 holdings and nearly $68 billion in assets.
  • Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) Tech tied to AI. With assets of about $22 billion, its top two holdings are Microsoft (MSFT) and Alphabet (GOOG).
  • Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT) Broadly diversified with over 350 names and $21 billion. The largest holdings are Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT).
  • Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic ETF (BOTZ) Small ($2.3 billion in assets) and focused. BOTZ’s largest holdings are Nvidia (NVDA) and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG), while Japanese companies and those headquartered in Asia make up most of the rest.

Not all AI is Created Equal


It used to be that AI investment systems were considered “black boxes” where information got jammed into a conceptual box that then spit out recommendations. Current systems are much more flexible and suitable for constantly changing inputs and market conditions. Each of them is unique.

When analyzing current offerings among funds, an effort must be made to understand the system being used. Each investment platform design can differ in meaningful ways that affect performance output. An AI system is only as good as the team that designed and maintains it. Investors should attempt to understand what drives the algorithms and which opportunities they are programmed to find.

Use It or Lose Out


No long-term data is yet available to judge how well these systems work. Around 90 percent of electronic data was created within the last two years, and in another couple of years, we will likely be saying exactly the same thing. Investing without using AI will quickly become obsolete.

AI is disrupting the ETF industry by assisting fund managers in making subtle tweaks to their baskets of stocks in search of better returns. There are currently a growing number of ETFs that either promote the use of AI to balance the fund, or are made up of stocks that lean heavily on AI, such as robotics. 

ETF management is enhanced by AI without raising expense ratios exorbitantly. While the research that goes into AI development isn’t cheap, there are no known cases of a computer demanding a raise or insisting on a bonus.

It’s unlikely that AI will replace investment advisors, human managers and fund analysts right away. Currently, it allows them to work more efficiently as the machines do the dirty work of wading through masses of market data. But that could be changing.

Chida Khafua is the co-founder and CEO of EquBot, the first firm to introduce an AI-powered ETF, and the first to offer an AI-powered ETF focused on international equity. 

“As AI investment products produce out-performance numbers, we anticipate the same type of shift we saw from taxis to Ubers,” Chris notes. “As you consider the future shape of the investing landscape, ask yourself this question: Are there taxis in your portfolio?”


Click below for the other articles in the October 2018 Senior Spirit