Aging Audaciously: Prevention Wisdom Kicked up a Notch Recap

aging event for postDuring the Aging Audaciously event, “Prevention Wisdom Kicked up a Notch,” Disruptive Women cohosted with the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program at the Library of Congress last Wednesday, our first speaker Dr. Lisa Nelson talked about the culture change that is necessary to transition from pill-centered treatment to lifestyle-focused prevention.

In the early 1900s, she said, infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and tuberculosis, were the top three causes of death. To drive down the rates of these diseases, providers prescribed pills and vaccines and public health campaigns were commissioned to spread awareness. These were critically needed and valuable solutions.

Now, however, as we are faced with alarming rates of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, which Nelson called “slow-accumulating diseases,” our behaviors, such as diet, exercise and sleep patterns, are the first line or prevention and can be game changers. (more…)

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In Synch – Growing Older with the Rhythms of Life


Dr. Donald L. McEachron, Teaching Professor, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University

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Dr. Eugenia V. Ellis, Associate Professor, Architectural and Interior Design, Drexel University

Human beings are the result of biological evolution rather than engineering design. One result of this reality is that humans are dependent on a variety of internal biological rhythms to control and coordinate both physiological and behavioral activities. Organisms, exposed to powerful geophysical cycles for countless millennia, have evolved specific mechanisms to adapt both internally and externally to daily and seasonal environmental cycles. These mechanisms depend on slowly changing light cycles marking the solar day and photoperiod changes associated with the seasons. The implementation of artificial lighting has changed the environment to which humans are exposed, disrupting biological rhythms and degrading physiological and behavioral function. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to such disruptions. To counter this, LED lighting technology can be implemented to mimic aspects of the solar day and help synchronize rhythms in the elderly, promoting temporal hygiene and thus, health and well-being. (more…)

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Aging & Technology: A realistic look at the challenges of using health IT

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MaryAnne Sterling

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Shannah Koss

The fast pace of evolving technology has awed most of us over the past two decades. Remember the first iterations of the mobile phone? We chuckle when we think back to these clunky oversized early versions when compared to the smart phones of today. Tech has come a long way. But when it comes to technology accessibility and usability for seniors, we are still in the dark ages. Even worse, we have failed to adapt health information technology to the needs of seniors, who traditionally have more health challenges and would benefit the most from using it.

We discovered many obvious and not-so-obvious examples of this during a recent focus group conducted to elicit feedback on our health information technology pilot project in Maryland. We are working with a residence for low-income seniors and the disabled. A few observations: (more…)

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Transportation for Family Caregivers – Driving Scalable Solutions

elenaAccording to a 2015 joint research study between the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are 43.5 million caregivers in the U.S.  Caregivers are typically female, 49 years old, caring for their mother, work full- or part-time, and provide care for an average of 4 years.

78% of caregivers provide transportation to care recipients
89% of these caregivers spend 21+ hours per week providing transportation to their loved ones

Source: National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2015)

Transportation is the leading activity caregivers provide

Transportation is the leading Instrumental Activity of Daily Living that caregivers provide to their loved ones.  Caregivers spend a lot of time in the car, driving the individuals they care for from appointment to appointment or social activities, picking up groceries and medicine and running other errands.  On top of this, many caregivers have children of their own and may also be shuttling them between soccer practice, friends’ houses, tutors and school.  This means the average caregiver can spend a lot of time acting as a chauffeur, which may test their capacity to be physically and emotionally present in other activities, such as work or spending quality time with the ones they are caring for and their friends and family. (more…)

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I Came to Live in Color: Reaching the Age of Audacity

Janice Lynch Schuster

I have spent so much of my life seeking to connect and be connected with others, that it rarely seemed worth the effort to connect to myself. I had so much invested in other relationships. And adulthood, with its usual joys, challenges, demands, losses and more, left little time to do much more than keep the trains running (or the house standing) as my husband and I raised our six children.

janice 1My longing to be connected is rooted in the oh-so-human need to love and be loved. For some of us, it takes a lifetime to understand that this means loving ourselves, too. And for most of my life, such connection has come through the roles I have played, first as a daughter and sister, and later as a lover, wife, mother, and grandmother. But most of all, as a writer.

From the moment I wrote my first sentence, I decided I was a writer. I have written ever since, moving from childhood limericks and lovelorn adolescence to a master’s degree in creative writing, and a career as a writer of essays, articles, and more. I have shelves full of journals that date from 1974, when I was 12. (more…)

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Living Your Best Life, Even In The Hospital

Val Jones, MD

This post first appeared on Better Health on October 6.

My patient was an elderly farmer with severe vascular disease. He had advanced leg artery narrowing, had survived multiple heart attacks, and was admitted to the hospital after a large stroke. He was incredibly cheerful, vibrant, and optimistic. He had a very large, loving family who took turns attending to him, and encouraging him with each small improvement in his leg and arm strength. They knew his neurological exam better than his doctors.

I was amazed at his recovery, given the size and location of his stroke (and his advanced age), I had suspected that he would end up wheelchair bound. But he was determined to walk again and get back to his gardening as soon as possible. (more…)

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72% of Us Are Wrong About Aging: Calling bullshit on aging in place.

Libby Ellis

The last disruption to how we might want to spend our retirement years was a pop culture revolution led by four women: Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia. The Golden Girls changed the conversation back in the 1980s by showing women choosing to team up and live life together.

One recurring theme of the show: Dorothy’s mom Sophia gets mouthy and Dorothy says, “Shady Pines, Ma.” Shady Pines is, of course, an assisted living facility.

Moving to a senior living community was, and remains for many, the threat to end all threats. But our shoulder pads have gotten smaller, our hair has gotten better and it’s time to pick up where the Girls left off and talk about what senior living is today.

While options have improved dramatically since the 80s, public perception has not. Envisioning hospital-like environments full of abandoned old women eating soup—74% of all assisted living residents in the U.S. are women (I don’t have data related to soup consumption)—we think: Hell no. We want to stay home. (more…)

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Aging Audaciously Series and Holiday Happening

ellenOur Aging Audaciously series starts tomorrow and runs through December 9, be sure to check back daily for some great posts from various experts. The series will culminate with AGING AUDACIOUSLY: A Holiday Happening brought to you by Disruptive Women in Health Care & Women in Healthcare DC.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
4:30—6:30 PM
Verizon 5th Floor Conference Room: 1300 I Street NW (Nearest Metro is McPherson Square)

2015 was a momentous year when it comes to aging: it marked the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security, not to mention the White House Conference on Aging which took place over the summer. And, at a local level, along with fourteen other worldwide jurisdictions, Age-Friendly DC was selected to participate in a pilot project assessing the World Health Organization’s Draft Age-Friendly City Core Indicator Guide. All this got us thinking. What is aging really, and how are people preparing for this phase of life: for yourself, for your family? What progress have we made on the Caregiving front? How is technology helping? (more…)

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