Eager to Talk About End-of-Life Care

End of life careNearly twice as many older Americans than expected took part in discussions with their physicians about end-of-life care under a new Medicare benefit that reimburses providers for such conversations. As Kaiser Health News’ JoNel Aleccia reports, the benefit went into effect in 2016, and 575,000 Medicare beneficiaries had discussions that first year. The American Medical Association had predicted just 300,000 people would receive the service. Proponents hope word about the Medicare benefit will spread and encourage many more discussions between patients and doctors. “It’s about taking the time when people are ill or even when they’re not ill to talk about what their values are,” one physician told Aleccia. “To talk about what constitutes an acceptable versus an unacceptable quality of life.”

Rethinking Vaccines for the ‘Young Old’ and the ‘Old Old’

Rethinking ImmunizationsLouise Aronson in the New York Times points out that the current vaccination guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lump all Americans 65 and older into a single group “as if bodies and behaviors don’t change over the last half-century of life.” She notes that the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population are 80- to 90-year-olds and people over 100. As individuals age, their immune systems typically weaken and immunizations may provide less protection. Some may need different doses or different kinds of vaccinations altogether. “As a result,” Aronson writes, “it’s likely that we are incorrectly vaccinating a significant number of the 47 million Americans over 65.”

More Proof Dogs Are Amazing

Elderly DogsA British study found that among 3,123 men and women around 70 years of age, those “who walked their dogs at least once a day got 20 percent more physical activity than those without dogs,” according to the New York Times. The study, published in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, also found that the dog walkers spent an average of 30 minutes less a day being sedentary.