Elder Safety

Too Many Colonoscopies in the Elderly

Courtesy Fight Colorectal Cancer Visitors tour an inflatable simulated colon, complete with polyps, created by a cancer prevention group. Bill Fullington doesn’t remember exactly where he read that all adults over age 50 should be screened for colon cancer. A magazine? Maybe the local paper? In any case, Mr. Fullington, a retired teacher in Birmingham,(…)

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Fear of Falling

Courtesy of Harley A. Rotbart, M.D. The keeper of the “flog” (fall log) and his subject. My 84-year-old father-in-law is a “flogger.” That’s the moniker his son gave him because Dad keeps a written record of every fall my 83-year-old mother-in-law takes. She has Parkinson’s disease, and the “flog” (fall log) of her spills has(…)

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For the Elderly, Medical Procedures to Avoid

The Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation in partnership with Consumer Reports, kicked off last spring. It is an attempt to alert both doctors and patients to problematic and commonly overused medical tests, procedures and treatments. It took an elegantly simple approach: By working through professional organizations representing(…)

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For the Elderly, Lists of Tests to Avoid

The Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation in partnership with Consumer Reports, kicked off last spring. It is an attempt to alert both doctors and patients to problematic and commonly overused medical tests, procedures and treatments. It took an elegantly simple approach: By working through professional organizations representing(…)

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Hospital Alarms Fail to Prevent Injury, Study Finds

When it comes to protecting older people from falls, it can take a long time to figure out what helps and sometimes an even longer time to take action against things that were supposed to help but don’t. A case in point: the so-called safety rails on hospital and nursing home beds. Their hazards, as(…)

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For the Old, Less Sense of Whom to Trust

Zheng Zhang/Sing Tao Daily, via Associated Press Elderly Asian women have been targeted in a scam that promises protection against “bad karma” in return for money and valuables. In San Francisco, young women were recently arrested for the fraud. There’s a reason so many older people fall for financial scams, new research suggests. They don’t(…)

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On the Alert for Fraud

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press The elderly are often victims of scams, like this fake lottery scheme that targeted an 88-year-old retired Coast Guard officer in Washington and bombarded him with mailings. Unlike some forms of elder abuse, financial exploitation leaves no visible scars. It is under-reported and hard to prosecute. Adding to the tangled dynamics, the(…)

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Old, Frail and in Harm’s Way

“Check on your elderly neighbors,” the weather forecasters say when a storm is bearing down, advice that’s always struck me as necessary but not sufficient. Community matters, and if what your neighbor needs is a grocery run, some hot soup or a reminder to keep drinking water during a heat wave, you can make an(…)

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A Novel Way to Prevent Hip Fractures

The Times reports today on a study finding that cataract surgery greatly reduces the risk of hip fracture in the elderly. The benefits accrued particularly to those who were most ill and those in their early 80s; they experienced almost 30 percent fewer hip fractures in the first year after cataract surgery, compared with similar(…)

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Who’s Watching Mom?

My mom, who had multiple sclerosis, depended on private duty companions at home — first part-time, then full-time — for nearly 30 years. Some of these women stole from her. Some ordered groceries on her dime and carried them away at the end of a shift. Some ignored her cries for assistance when they didn’t(…)

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