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Senior Care News

Chicago ER cuts unneeded geriatric admits by 33 percent

Chicago, IL — A 2013-launched program focusing on seniors visiting ERs reduced the number of seniors admitted to the hospital, according to a study of the program in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.


Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s emergency department cut its geriatrics admissions by 33 percent, according to the study of its Geriatric Emergency Department Innovations (GEDI) program.


The program, in operation weekdays 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, uses a dedicated nurse to first evaluate if seniors in the ER are program candidates. If yes, the patients they are moved to a quiet floor that features rooms with non-glare, nonslip floors, doors and televisions and windows.  The nurses will then meet with the patient to determine what home needs they may have.


“We wanted to ensure that we weren’t just discharging older patients from the emergency department only to be hospitalized again relatively quickly after something preventable like a fall,” study co-author Scott Dresden, M.D. told Northwestern Now. “With this program, we have created an otherwise nonexistent safety net for this vulnerable population.


The program also uses a pharmacist and social worker to help seniors go home with those needs met.


Dresden also said that other hospitals can easily adopt the program because there is no need to build a separate space.



Protecting cells’ ‘powerhouse’ may fuel new Alzheimer’s treatment

Tempe, AZ — An interesting study by Arizona State University looks into the earliest origins of Alzheimer’s in the body—finding indications that the process eventually leading to Alzheimer’s may begin inside the body’s cells themselves.


Alzheimer’s today is generally believed to be caused by a buildup of toxic proteins in the brain that progressively disrupt its memory and function.  However, while most people with Alzheimer’s have significant buildups of these beta amyloid proteins in their brains, many people with significant buildups of beta amyloid proteins in their brains do not have Alzheimer’s.


In the current study, researchers now suggest that injury to mitochondria—the tiny powerhouses inside each cell that provide them with energy—triggers events that occur early in Alzheimer’s disease, well before any symptoms appear.


The research also suggests that protecting cells’ mitochondria from damage by oligomeric amyloid beta, a highly toxic protein, could possibly one day treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s.



Former senior-health official rejoins HHS as Secretary

Washington, D.C. — On Jan. 24, a former government official on issues of senior health rejoined the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS)—this time as its newly-confirmed Secretary.


Alex M. Azar, 50, an Ivy League-trained attorney and former pharmaceutical lobbyist, was confirmed after a U.S. Senate hearing to serve as the 24th leader of the HHS—which, at an average annual of $1 trillion, has a budget larger than the military.


Mr. Azar served as the United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2007, during which he oversaw senior health-related programs.  He is widely described as steady, knowledgeable and willing to hear both sides.