Thursday, August 23, 2018

PBS examines the growing shortage of home care workers and challenges of unpaid family care

Here’s a rather sobering interview on PBS conducted by Paul Solman on the growing shortage of home care workers. 

It’s obvious that tighter legal immigration would tighten the shortage.

Martha Kwant, in particular, makes a point of the personal aspects.  Americans aren’t as willing to give up their privacy or expressive independence to care for elderly relatives as people in other cultures are.

There is also discussion of giving home care workers higher pay, benefits, and more training and more authority – but how will be pay for it?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Many seniors declare bankruptcy even before Social Security starts; many work in retail or pimpy sales jobs

Tara Siegel Bernard has a booklet-length article in the Sunday New York Times on Sunday Aug. 5, “Too Little, Too Late: Bankruptcy Books Among Older Americans”, link

She notes the numbers of filings in the year or two before Social Security eligibility, which creeps up.  More and more old people are taking minimum wage jobs in retail (with some risk of security to themselves).

I went through the “paying your dues” phase of job interviews for a few of these in the 2000s, even before I worked as a substitute teacher. 

Ironically many of the jobs are cheesy sales pyramids or multi-levels (starting out with hotel weekend sessions) in areas like cash flow.  Many of them are in debt collecting or credit counseling, of people in much worse shape than you are.  They call it, people skills.

Some were in “development” – raising money for non-profits, which has come to seem demeaning.
The established custom in the past of expecting salaried professionals to retire as early as 55, and then freezing pensions and replacing them with 401(k)’s with too much money in an employer’s own stock, is backfiring.  I came out of this OK but a lot of people didn’t.  I came out of 2008 OK because I saw it coming in time.  Is that capitalism?    (No, it wasn’t insider trading.  It was a feeling you can’t get something for nothing forever.)

Thursday, August 02, 2018

New studies suggest anti-Alzheimer's drugs should be started much sooner; at age 85, 50% of people have symptoms

Science Daily reports on an accepted drug, memantine, which may halt the process of neuron destruction in Alzheimer’s disease long before there are symptoms. 
Moreover, the article explains and diagrams the process where amyloid beta oligomers enter brain neurons and prime the cells for death.

The article makes the startling claim that 50% of people at age 85 have symptoms of Alzheimer’s serious enough to lead to fatality in even five years if they don’t die of something else.

It also describes a loss of 30% of the cells in the cerebral cortex, responsible for “content” (not wakefulness) in brain function, as typical in Alzheimer’s.

My mother took Namenda (memantine) in the last year (2010) of her life (as well as Aricept).
I was told that when adults start on these medications, legally they cannot be left alone for significant periods. However that would not be true if the treatment is started before symptoms.

CNN has a distantly related story that regards Alzheimer’s as a malignant process that can be treated with immunotherapy.