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Expert Insights

Analysis of trends in senior care, advice for people coping with an aging patent, and health advice for seniors.

Helpful exercises for osteoporosis

Many older women struggle with osteoporosis, a condition causing bone thickness and density to decrease. Osteoporosis increases your risk for spinal problems and broken bones, which in turn can limit your level of independence. According to Mayo Clinic, exercising is an effective way to strengthen your bones and remain as independent as possible.  

FDA relaxes approval rules for Alzheimer’s drugs

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration decided to ease up on the approval process for new Alzheimer’s drugs. The decision is an effort to progress the battle against Alzheimer’s and dementia by finding ways to prevent or slow their progression in the early stages. Because the number of people with Alzheimer’s could triple to 16 million by 2050, the FDA says aiding efforts to combat the disease are more important than ever. 

So how are the rules changing? For more than a decade, the FDA required manufacturers to conduct clinical trials showing that drugs would improve daily functioning and preserve mental capacities. While manufactures will still have to hold drug trials, they will only need to demonstrate that people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s have shown subtle improvements on memory or reasoning tests.

The FDA rationalizes the policy change by asserting that the previous policy was unrealistic; there simply may not be a practical way to demonstrate via clinical trial that a drug improves daily functioning. Thus, they don’t want to prevent new drugs from making their way to the market due to impractical standards.

Keeping senior drivers safe behind the wheel

Driving safety as we age can be a delicate subject. Loved ones and caregivers of aging seniors can find it a difficult topic to broach, especially if a senior is reticent to address their own declining driving skills. There are, however, things caregivers and seniors themselves can do to help ensure a senior’s safety on the road. And it may be as simple as using a gym a few times a week!

According to researchers from MIT’s AgeLab and the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, exercise may be the key to keeping seniors driving independently as they age.

"We know that exercise is valuable as we age," says Joseph Coughlin, Ph.D., director of the MIT AgeLab in a press release, "but we were interested in looking at connections to specific driving issues associated with aging."

Caring for elder abuse victims

Elder abuse is more common than you might think, affecting one in 10 adults aged 60 and older. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or financial. One of the most frequent scenarios of elder abuse is stolen social security checks or money. According to a 2011 MetLife Mature Market Institute study, seniors who are victims of financial abuse lose $2.9 billion a year.

So who is perpetrating the abuse? Often, people close to the victim, including adult children. As many as two million people perpetrate abuse against a senior in their lives. Many seniors are hesitant to seek help, feeling guilty or embarrassed to report family members. As if this weren’t heartbreaking enough, public awareness of senior abuse is relatively low.  

ACOs, or Accountable Care Organizations: What you need to know

Why do we need to know about Accountable Care Organizations?

They’re rapidly growing:

2012 saw rapid ACO development, and growth is expected to accelerate in 2013.

As of November 1, 2012, there are 328 ACOs. This is a significant increase from the 221 ACOs counted at the end of May 2012, and the 164 ACOs counted at the end of September 2011. Somewhere between 25 and 31 million patients are affected by ACOs, and 2.4 million Medicare patients receive care through ACOs. (Stats from American Medical News.)

Additionally, there is expected to be increasing demand for physician practices to lead or participate in ACOs. With the health care trend moving toward ACOs, and with an increasing push for health care providers to participate in them, it’s important we understand them as they relate to EPOCH.

They’re part of health care reform:

In 2009, ACOs were included in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Congress included ACOs in the Affordable Care Act as a way to save Medicare money.