Monthly Archives: December 2016

Dismay as Alzheimer’s Drug Fails in Clinical Trials

December 14, 2016

A drug that was seen as a strong contender to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has failed to deliver in the final stage of clinical trials. The results, based on 2,000 patients with mild dementia, are a significant blow because there are currently no treatments to slow the effects of Alzheimer’s. Few have made it to phase three trials. The drug, called solanezumab, is an injectable antibody designed to stick to amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and clear away the abnormal proteins. Scientists had hoped that, by helping to destroy the sticky plaques in the early stages of the disease, the drug would protect patients against more severe cognitive decline later on. However, the latest results, announced by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly ahead of the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference in San Diego next month, show the drug has no significant benefits to memory when compared with the placebo taken by some patients. John Lechleiter, president and chief executive of Eli Lilly, said: “The results of the solanezumab trial were not what we had hoped for and we are disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s.” In a statement, the company said: “Lilly will not pursue regulatory submissions for solanezumab for the treatment of mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Source/more: The Guardian


Creating a Safety Net for Isolated Seniors

December 14, 2016

The rapidly rising number of elderly Americans has prompted the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) to unveil guidelines for a segment of these older adults who can no longer make their own medical decisions and have no designated surrogates. The nonprofit dubbed them “unbefriended” and called for a national effort to help prevent a surge among incapacitated seniors who don’t have a decision maker and face a health crisis. Single seniors have always existed, but demographic and social changes have slowly transformed aging America. In 1900, average life expectancy was 47. Now, the combination of increased longevity, the large and graying baby boom generation, the decline in marriage, the rise in divorce, increased childlessness and family mobility has upended the traditional caregiving support system. Timothy Farrell, a physician and associate professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City who worked on the new AGS policies, said he would “regularly encounter patients with no clear surrogate decision maker.” The guidelines include “identifying ‘non-traditional’ surrogates — such as close friends, neighbors, or others who know a person well.” Boosting social ties among elders is part of a national campaign launched last week by the AARP Foundation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, a nonprofit. The aim is to combat loneliness.

Source/more: Kaiser Health News
Also see Supporting “Orphan” Elders by Amy Acheson, Esq., Jan/Feb/Mar 2016 NAELA News


Center for Medicare Advocacy Publishes Infographic Explaining Observation Status

December 14, 2016

“Outpatient” observation is a hospital billing classification that can have devastating consequences for Medicare beneficiaries, resulting in non-payment by Medicare for their entire hospital stay, prescriptions, and nursing home care after leaving the hospital. Many Americans never learn about Observation Status until it’s too late. The Center for Medicare Advocacy has just published a short, easily understandable infographic addressing the following issues:

  • What is Observation Status?
  • Why does Observation Status matter?
  • How can a beneficiary fight Observation Status?

This one-page document can be shared with clients who might be at risk for hospitalization under the “Observation Status” classification.

Access the infographic at CMA.
Share this campaign using the hashtag #AskAboutObservation.


Seniors Increasingly Getting High, Study Shows

December 14, 2016

Baby boomers are getting high in increasing numbers, reflecting growing acceptance of the drug as treatment for various medical conditions, according to a study published Monday in the journal Addiction. The findings reveal overall use among the 50-and-older study group increased “significantly” from 2006 to 2013. Marijuana users peaked between ages 50 to 64, then declined among the 65-and-over crowd. Men used marijuana more frequently than women, the study showed, but marital status and educational levels were not major factors in determining users. The study by researchers at New York University School of Medicine suggests more data is needed about the long-term health impact of marijuana use among seniors. Study participants said they did not perceive the drug as dangerous, a sign of changing attitudes. The study was based on 47,140 responses collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Source/more: Kaiser Health News
Related (sort of): Cannabis Marketing Company Is Bringing Pot Parties to the Elderly


Beware Medicare Advantage Plans

December 14, 2016

An increasing number of seniors are choosing to get their Medicare benefits through Medicare Advantage plans. But do they understand what they’re signing up for? A recent report suggests they may not, especially when it comes to which hospitals are included in the plans’ networks.

Medicare Advantage plans are typically health maintenance organizations or preferred provider organizations that offer seniors hospital and medical coverage (Medicare Part A and Part B), and sometimes prescription-drug coverage (Medicare Part D), dental care or benefits such as gym memberships. These plans typically offer lower out-of-pocket costs than traditional government-run Medicare in exchange for members using in-network doctors and hospitals. The problem, according to the report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, is that the size and composition of hospital networks varies greatly among plans, yet that isn’t always apparent to those shopping for coverage. Plan directories contain incorrect, confusing or outdated information about which hospitals and specialty institutes are included in networks, the study found, and the directories can be difficult to navigate. One directory featured 600 pages without a table of contents or index, it said.

Source/more: Wall St. Journal