Photo by Nathan Dumlao

The Facts

More than 3.4 million (3%) Americans aged 40 years and older are either legally blind (having visual acuity [VA] of 20/200 or worse or a visual field of less than 20 degrees) or are visually impaired (having VA of 20/40 or less). The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics estimates that 17% of the age 65 and older population report “vision trouble.” Twenty-one million Americans report functional vision problems or eye conditions that may compromise vision. Older people are more likely to experience vision loss because of age-related eye diseases.

Prevalence of Visual Disability

The following estimates (for adult’s age 16 and older reporting significant vision loss, who were in the non-institutionalized, civilian population) are derived from the American Community Survey results for 2016, as interpreted by Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute (EDI), unless otherwise credited.  

The number of non-institutionalized, male or female, ages 16 through 75 +, all races, regardless of ethnicity, with all education levels in the United States reported to have a visual disability in 2016:

  • Total (all ages): 7,675,600 (2.4%)
    • Total (16 to 75+): 7,208,700 (2.83%)
      • Women: 3,946,300 (3.01%)
      • Men: 3,262,300 (2.65%)
      • Age 16 to 64: 4,037,600 (2.0%)
      • Age 65 and older: 3,171,100 (6.6%)
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This blog post originally appeared on Zaggocare.org

Medications save lives and make life more bearable for millions of people. No doubt about it. But medications can also cause harm. Logically, the more medications a patient takes, the higher the risk of side effects and dangerous interactions between medications. Did you know many patients take inappropriate or unnecessary medications? Unfortunately, over-prescribing is a widespread, dangerous problem in the US, especially for older patients (categorized as those 65+ years old). Why do doctors prescribe too many medications? What harm does it cause? And what can patients do?

An extensive report by the Lown Institute examines the impact of over-prescribing in older patients. Their report states that the US “is in the grips of an unseen epidemic of harm from the excessive prescribing of medications.” This important, often overlooked issue may impact your health, or the health of a loved one.

What are the dangers associated with medications?

Although medications are designed to help patients, they can also cause health issues. All medications have

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Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the U.S.. National Poison Prevention Week,  sponsored by the National Poisoning Prevention Council during the third week in March, promotes poison prevention tips and the free emergency services provided by poison control centers, including the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your smartphone.

In the time it takes to read the information above, at least two people will call a poison control center. That’s one person every 14 seconds, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS).

America’s poison control centers managed over 2.6 million encounters in 2017, of which 2.1 million were human exposure cases. And while human exposure calls to poison control showed a 2% decline from 2016, health care facility (HCF) human exposure cases increased by over 3% in this same period, representing almost a quarter of all human exposure calls. Calls with more serious medical outcomes have increased by nearly 4.5% every year since 2000.

Although young

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“Can Parasitic Worms Cure Seasonal Allergies?”

“New Study Shows Too Much of This Breakfast Staple Will Literally Kill You”

“Here’s Why Sitting is Worse for Your Health than Smoking”

You  — or someone you know — is bound to see headlines like these every day. After all, looking up health information remains one of the most popular internet activities. But as the saying goes, you can’t believe everything you read.

Kelly McBride, vice president of the Poynter Institute, last year told The Atlantic that “of all the categories of fake news, health news is the worst. There’s more bad health news out there than there is in any other category.”

Whether it’s viral stories that dandelion weed cures cancer, bogus health advice falsely attributed to the Mayo Clinic, advertisements masquerading as news, or outright fake medical news, scammers have found all sorts of new hacks to earn clicks and trick readers with sensationalized content.

Below I want to dive deeper into two recent examples of popular health stories that misrepresent the underlying science. I’ll point out where they went

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First, some recent, eye-opening facts:

  • In the US there are over 276 million registered vehicles with 222 million drivers holding a valid license. Of this number, nearly 43 million are 65 or older. That’s roughly one in every five.
  • 40,100 people died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2017 a 1 percent drop from the year before.
  • Almost a third of traffic fatalities involve drivers who were impaired by drugs or alcohol, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • According to NHTSA there were 795 fatalities that were drowsy-driving-related in 2017.

Adding Medicines into the Mix

Often people use more than one medicine at a time. The combination of different medicines can cause problems for some people. This is especially true for older adults because they use more medicines than any other age group. Due to changes in the body as people age, older adults are more prone to medicine related problems. The more medicines you use, the greater your risk that your medicines will affect your ability to drive safely.

If someone has a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, he or she will probably feel impaired and know not to get behind the wheel. But many people could be unwittingly taking medications that may slow their coordination and responsiveness or increase fatigue—making it dangerous to drive. The following broad categories of medications can impair the ability to drive:

  • Anxiety and depression medications
  • Products containing codeine
  • Some cold remedies and allergy products, particularly those that help you sleep; decongestants and cough suppressants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Sleeping aids
  • Narcotic pain relievers
  • Diet aids
  • Stimulants

In particular, consumers need to be knowledgeable about the adverse effects of two frequently used medicines – sleeping aids and antihistamines.

It is well known that sleeping aids can cause problems when driving. Pharmacists recommend that patients using

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