Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Can blood transfusions from younger adults help people with Alzheimer's?

The Washington Post has a story Sept. 30 in Health and Science by Helen Thomson, reporting experiments giving the elderly blood or plasma transfusions from younger people, to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other diseases.   The link is here
 There have been reverse “vampire” experiments with mice where the retrograde happens:  young mice age more rapidly. 
The practice might make sense in reversing early Alzheimer’s or dementia.  It sounds as though it would be less appropriate for the extremely elderly.
But the question as to whether a person should look at himself as a repository of spare body parts for others still seems disturbing to me.  But, after all, I am banned from giving blood because of the exclusion of MSM.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

More calls to limit social security payments even to existing retirees, by means testing or by actuarial math

Here we go again, with talks about means testing to stopping Social Security. On a site called “Against Crony Capitalism”, Nick Sorrentino argues that current retires could be paid back (by an actuarial formula) what they put in, and nothing more.  People should not retire until 70, or later.  The link is here
The “young cannot fund the old” – partly because there are fewer of them as people have fewer children, and as people live much longer.  The writer says that the Baby Boomers were not particularly concerned about future generations. 
In fact, when I was working in my “mainline career”, 55 was thought of as a good corporate retirement age.  Some company pensions then would pay a “Social Security Bridge” until age 62.  Nobody took the demographics seriously.
Also, when I was back home looking after my mother, I was already in my 60s (as a never-married homosexual man with no children), while my mother was in her 90s.  The situation seemed unprecedented.
But if you couldn’t retire until, say, age 75, I would have had to take all those unsolicited entreaties to become a huckster much more seriously. 
“Sales” won’t replace “making things” or developing real wealth as a source of reliable income for older workers, either.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Medicare reimbursement policies discourage discharging elderly from hospitals into home care

The health care system, with Medicare reimbursement policies, sometimes discourages the elderly from being discharged back home in cases where there are relatives to care for them.  Home day care is said to cost only about 20% of that, according to the New York Times front page article Friday September 26, 2014 by Nina Bernstein, link here.   However 24 hour care would cost much closer to the Medicare amount (unless a live-in is used, which is usually less expensive but perhaps exploitive).
It is common for people to be discharged from hospitals into skilled nursing facilities, where Medicare can reimburse for 20 days.  Supplementary insurance may help pay for up to 100 days in some cases.  My own mother stayed in an SNF after coronary bypass surgery in 1999 (with a bad experience), and then after a mini-stroke in 2009 (a much better experience).  

Friday, September 19, 2014

IOM recommends major reforms in reimbursement for end-of-life care

The Institute of Medicine has recommended massive reforms in the country’s end-of-life care systems, according to a story by Pam Belluck in the New York Times Thursday Sept. 17, on p. A17, link here.  The master link for the report itself is here
Changes include reimbursement for end-of-life counseling discussions, more emphasis on home care, and removal of unnecessary incentives for hospital care. 
In my own mother’s situation, I was offered the opportunity to send her either to the hospital or to hospice for her last crisis in December 2010, after many hospitalizations already, at the age of 97. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Can insurance companies rescue public employees's pensions with "private" annuities?

As someone who worked in the life and annuity industry for twelve years, for USLICO-ReliaStar-ING, the story by Michael A. Fletcher in the Washington Post on Friday, Sept. 12, Economy and Business, p. A16, about whether private insurance companies should take over public employee pensions, intrigued me.  The title is “Can insurance companies save public pensions? Hatch’s bill would turn over assets; Retirement groups endorse proposal”, link here.
That would indeed mean whole new lines of businesses to code in existing annuity systems (probably Vantage). 
Workers might wind up with smaller payments, the article says.
The bill seems to be S1270, the SAFE Retirement Act of 2013, or “Secure Annuities for Employment Retirement Act of 2013”, govtrack link here
So, MetLife and ING, have at it.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Social Security garnishes benefits to pay student loan debts

People with unpaid student loan debt are finding that Social Security garnishes their benefit payments, CNN is reporting today in a story by Patrick Sheridan, link, with  assistance from legal advisor Joshua Cohen.  The public may be surprised that a number of baby boomers are now reaching 62 with unpaid student loan debt,

It is possible to negotiate a payment schedule, which will be inflexible once set up, with the institution that holds the note.  

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Are women more susceptible to Alzheimer's, even allowing for longer life spans?

On Thursday, September 4, 2014, the Washington Post carries a story by Fredrick Kunkle examining “Why do more women get Alzheimer’s?” The link is here.
The rather common sense answer would be that women live longer than men.  But research shows that women may be more susceptible to a particular gene, APOe4, and, particularly when having two copies of it (not possible for men) might be more likely to develop it at a particular age. 
My own anecdotal observation, however, seems to be that longer lifespans are the main reason.  An Emeritus facility told me a few years ago that its Alzheimer’s wing was 70% female.
My own mother had significant dementia by age 94.  Although examination showed some plaques, I think most of her dementia was vascular in nature, related to congestive heart failure and small strokes.

About a year before her passing, a neurologist had given her an exam, in which she answered 18 out of 27 questions.  She could not remember President Obama’s name, but could remember Bush.
High profile men have developed Alzheimer’s. Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with it in 1994, and Maria Shriver made an HBO series about it in her dad, Sargent Shriver, reviewed here May 10, 2009 on the TV blog.