Medical Research

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Everything Gets Complicated When a Person has Dementia

An Annals of Internal Medicine paper reports that the money needed to treat dementia in a patient’s final five years is greater than for heart disease and cancer. Take a look at this New York Times article by Gina Kolata.
Three diseases, leading killers of Americans, often involve long periods of decline before death. Two of them — heart disease and cancer — usually require expensive drugs, surgeries and hospitalizations. The third, dementia, has no effective treatments to slow its course.

So when a group of researchers asked which of these diseases involved the greatest health care costs in the last five years of life, the answer they found might seem surprising. The most expensive, by far, was dementia.

The study looked at patients on Medicare. The average total cost of care for a person with dementia over those five years was $287,038. For a patient who died of heart disease it was $175,136. For a cancer patient it was $173,383. Medicare paid almost the same amount for patients with each of those diseases — close to $100,000 — but dementia patients had many more expenses that were not covered.

On average, the out-of-pocket cost for a patient with dementia was $61,522 — more than 80 percent higher than the cost for someone with heart disease or cancer. The reason is that dementia patients need caregivers to watch them, help with basic activities like eating, dressing and bathing, and provide constant supervision to make sure they do not wander off or harm themselves. None of those costs were covered by Medicare.

"Everything gets complicated when a person has dementia," noted Dr. Christine K. Cassel, a geriatrician and chief executive of the National Quality Forum.

Maine Center for Elder Law attorneys have helped many seniors and their families with estate planning designed to fit each unique situation. We never know what life will bring our way, but we do know we can plan in advance--for everyone's sake.

Read more of the NYT article here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our new national goal: Defeating Alzheimer's in 10 years (The Washington Post, 12-17-2010)

Our new national goal: Defeating Alzheimer's in 10 years

By Sandra Day O'Connor and Maria Shriver
The Washington Post, Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

USM Muskie School receives federal grant to improve patient safety among elderly

Portland, Maine — Researchers at the USM Muskie School have received a two-year grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and test patient safety practices that improve communication and information flow during transitions of patients and care between nursing facilities, emergency medical services and critical access hospitals.

Hands-off and care transition errors are among the most common and consequential errors in health care. Transfers between nursing homes and hospitals present significant challenges because they involve multiple settings, many different health care providers and exchange of patient care information.

 “The quality of care during the transfer can be affected by missing or inaccurate information, which can then snowball into other problems,” said Judy Tupper, a project director at the Muskie School. “This is particularly important for Maine as an older, rural state. Rural elders are more likely to reside in nursing facilities and face more frequent transfers to the hospital.”

Full story:

Monday, August 16, 2010

NYT: Moose Offer Trail of Clues on Arthritis

The moose of Isle Royale have something to say — well, their bones do. Many of the moose, it turns out, have arthritis. And scientists believe their condition’s origin can help explain human osteoarthritis — by far the most common type of arthritis, affecting one of every seven adults 25 and older and becoming increasingly prevalent.

The arthritic Bullwinkles got that way because of poor nutrition early in life, an extraordinary 50-year research project has discovered. That could mean, scientists say, that some people’s arthritis can be linked in part to nutritional deficits, in the womb and possibly throughout childhood.

The moose conclusion bolsters a small but growing body of research connecting early development to chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, which currently affects 27 million Americans, up from 21 million in 1990.

Full story:

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