Posts tagged with "AARP"

FDA approves new treatment for hot flashes

May 17, 2023

Now, going through menopause may be “no sweat” for many women, reports AARP

The estimated 80% of women who get hot flashes when going through menopause have a new option to help them getsome relief. The treatment is a drug called Veozah, just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. Sudden hot flashes, often accompanied by sweating, flushing and chills, can persist for many years and disrupt daily life. Research shows that these flares can affect quality of sleep and concentration. They can also interfere with one’s ability to work, according to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“Hot flashes as a result of menopause can be a serious physical burden on women and impact their quality of life,” said Janet Maynard, M.D., director of the Office of Rare Diseases, Pediatrics, Urologic and Reproductive Medicine in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a statement. “The introduction of a new molecule to treat moderate to severe menopausal hot flashes will provide an additional safe and effective treatment option for women.”

How the drug works

The first-of-its-kind pill—called a neurokinin 3 (NK3) receptor antagonist—works by acting on a part of the brain that helps regulate a person’s body temperature. Estrogen helps to keep that part of the brain properly balanced. When a woman’s estrogen levels fall during menopause, the imbalance leads to hot flash symptoms.

“It’s very targeted,” Claudia Mason, M.D., a gynecologist with Cleveland Clinic, says about the new drug. “And when things are targeted like that, they tend not to have as many side effects because they’re not hitting all over the map.”

In clinical trials, moderate to severe hot flashes were reduced in study participants who took Veozah (fezolinetant). Common side effects of the drug include abdominal pain, diarrhea, insomnia, back pain, hot flush, and elevated hepatic transaminases (liver enzymes).

The label on the medication—a pill taken once daily with or without food—includes a warning for liver injury, and the FDA says patients should have their blood tested for liver damage before taking Veozah.

The treatment, from drugmaker Astellas Pharma, is expected to cost $550 for a one-month supply. How much people will pay out of pocket will depend on their insurance coverage.

Expanding treatment options

This new medicine is the latest in a tool kit of treatments for hot flashes. One alternative is hormone therapy. However, not all women are good candidates for hormones, including those with a history of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

Mason says Veozah could be an option for them. “We have loads of women that are going through menopause every single day, and so options are always good.” However, she notes that unlike hormone therapy, this new medication does not treat other symptoms caused by menopause, like vaginal discomfort.

The FDA has also approved an antidepressant, paroxetine, to treat hot flashes. And Mason anticipates more treatments will become available.

The National Institute on Aging notes that some lifestyle changes can help to reduce hot flash symptoms—such as avoiding alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine, which can make menopausal symptoms worse. Research shows that mindfulness meditation also may be used to help manage hot flashes.

Research contact: @AARP

When did you first feel old?

April 13, 2023

“I feel old.” Those three little words pop into just about everybody’s head, often at random moments, reports The Wall Street Journal. Your back gives out after a workout. Walking by a store window, you catch a glimpse of yourself that looks like your dad. You’re at a concert, can’t wait for it to end, and are dreading traffic.


Even the young feel old. Matt McDermit, who just turned 31, recently bought a coffee at Starbucks on the campus of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he works as a social media manager. The barista called him “Sir,” which is what his mother taught him to call older people when he was little. It was around the time a student jokingly said McDermit, who has a beard and shaved head, could pass as her dad and get a free guest meal pass.


He’s not particularly fond of his birthday either, because he feels that each one distances him further from the innocence of childhood. He still remembers his uncle telling him on his tenth birthday that it was the end of his single-digit years. “I was like ‘What? What do you mean?’”


Usually, when someone says they feel old, it’s not a good thing because the word “old” is applied widely and disparagingly. An old car means a wreck. An old dress means don’t be seen in it. “There is almost no way of saying ‘I feel old,’ to mean ‘I feel great,’” says Laura Carstensen, a Stanford University psychology professor and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.


She says people come to feel old for two reasons—one physical and one social. On the physical side, the doctor prescribes heart medication for the first time. Hairlines recede. The social “you’re old” cue often comes from others, either directly—the “You’re too old to wear that” comment from a friend while shopping—or indirectly by comparing ourselves with others, or our previous faster and leaner selves.


Feeling old matters, says Dr. Carstensen, 63. If you feel young, regardless of age, you tend to live longer than if you feel old, as in sick and tired. “Subjective age predicts how long you live,” she says.


People don’t mind feeling older when it’s in the context of being more capable and competent, says Bill Thomas, an author and geriatrician.


He distinctly remembers the day horsing around with his youngest son, then about 15, and realizing his son was stronger than he was. “I was no longer the dad who was stronger,” says Thomas, who describes himself as a big person who has always taken a lot of pride in his physical strength. “That time is gone from me and it’s not coming back.” He had to shift his ego center, away from physical strength, to emotional and intellectual strength.


“Feeling old isn’t bad. But it is really complicated,” he says.


Professional athletes and those who labor physically for a living might feel older before others. An NBA team with an average age of 28 might be considered old to some. Women tend to feel old more often because they pay close attention to their bodies and notice sagging arms.


Carolyn Black Becker, a professor of psychology at Trinity University in San Antonio, surveyed more than 900 women between the ages of 18 and 87 and found that more than half of 18- to 29-year-olds worried about looking old. She blames, in part, the proliferation of antiaging products and procedures, which send the message that aging is bad.


Becker, an expert on eating disorders, launched her study after her Pilates instructor came up to her and said, “So, the fat talk is much better, but what do I do about the old talk?”


Becker celebrates age, and says she is 50, even though her 50th birthday isn’t until January. Yet, she was taken aback a bit when she received a mailing saying she would soon be eligible for senior discounts. “I’m not dying to be 28 again, but even I found that it feels a little old to be a member of AARP.”


While young people sometimes feel old, the older often feel young or at least not as old as they are. A 2009 Pew Research Center study found that 60% of adults 65 and older feel younger than their age, with the gap between actual age and “felt age” widening as people grow older. Nearly half of those ages 50 and older say they feel at least ten years younger, while a third of those 65 to 74 feel 10 to 19 years younger.


Age hit Jon Banuelos, a musician, when he was about 35 and moved from flat Texas to hilly Pittsburgh and went for a long bike ride. “I came home and passed out for like five hours. I thought, ‘What is wrong with me?’” says Banuelos, now 40. A friend recently asked him to play tennis. “I can’t, man. My knees are hurting,” he recalls saying. But the birth of his son six months ago has made him feel young and determined to stay fit. “I need to be ready for when he’s two and three and running around,” he says.


Awareness of age isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist and author. Appreciating that time isn’t endless helps set priorities.

She believes people feel and act old because they are expected to once they reach a certain age—in part because of cultural markers, like senior discounts.


If anyone over 50 is sore after gardening, they blame age, rather than spending 45 minutes in an awkward position, says Dr. Langer, who was recently reminded of her age after scrolling down an inordinate number of years on her computer to log in her 1947 birth date.


Research contact: @WSJ

Staying put: Over 80% of seniors do not intend to sell their homes

September 30, 2021

For older Americans, a home signifies much more than just a place to live. New data from American Advisors Group (AAG), a provider of home equity solutions, shows that seniors’ homes not only have a great deal of monetary worth, but also significant sentimental value.

To find out more, AAG recently conducted the Importance of Home Survey among over 1,500 participants ages 60-75.

“Our studies have shown that seniors in this country have a strong attachment to their home[s] and the pandemic only strengthened that bond,” said AAG Chief Marketing Officer Martin Lenoir. “It’s no secret that many seniors have built substantial equity in their homes after years of ownership, but what is interesting is that very few want to sell their house to obtain that money. For seniors, the comfort, safety and independence of their home outweighs the desire to move and that’s why we’re seeing so many older Americans interested in reverse mortgages.”

Among the key findings of the survey are the following:

  • The majority of America’s seniors do not intend to sell their homes and have no plans of ever moving. Fully 82% of seniors say they want to live in their homes for the rest of their lives.
  • Seniors indicated that they want to remain in the comfort of their own home, with 92% saying they would prefer to live their later years in their current home instead of moving to an assisted living facility.
  • The desire to live in one’s home ties closely to a feeling of safety. More than four in five seniors (83%) say they feel safer at home than anywhere else.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic strengthened how seniors feel about living at home. Half of America’s seniors (50%) say that the pandemic made their desire to live at home stronger.
  • America’s seniors see value in their homes that goes beyond finances. Nearly two in three (62%) seniors say they have an emotional attachment to their home.
  • For many of America’s seniors, owning a home signifies more than just having ownership of a property. More than one-third (40%) of older Americans said their “independence” is the most important benefit of living in their home.
  • Family life is another substantial reason that seniors have an emotional attachment to their home. Over half of seniors (56%) say their home reminds them of their family.
  • Seniors are communicating their desire to stay at home to their children and close relatives. More than two in three seniors (68%) have told their families where they would like to live for the rest of their life.

To read the full results of AAG’s Importance of Home Survey, visit the link below:

Research contact: @aagreverse

Change of heart: Doctors find safer alternative to cardiac surgery

July 30, 2019

Just the thought of cardiac surgery is enough to strike fear into almost any heart. But now, patients with aortic stenosis—who previously were subjected to open-heart surgery for aortic valve replacement—can get a much less-invasive procedure, with no incision to the chest or ribs required, AARP reports.

It’s the type of surgery that rock icon Mick Jagger had last April, before being able to hit the road with The Rolling Stones for their “No Filter Tour.”

Although under-diagnosed and under-treated, aortic stenosis is a common form of heart valve disease. Dr. Michael Mack, a leading heart surgeon at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, told AARP that up to 12% of the elderly population has some form of aortic stenosis.

Replacing the standard open-heart surgery is a less invasive procedure known as TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), a procedure during which a new valve is inserted into the heart through a leg artery.

TAVR typically used to be reserved for patients who were considered to be unable to withstand surgery. Now new research suggests that TAVR may be the safest option for many healthier patients as well.

Two studies, presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 2019 annual meeting, found that among relatively healthy patients needing valve replacement there were fewer deaths or serious strokes after TAVR: One study showed only 1%  for TAVR patients, compared with 2.9% for those who’d had open-heart surgery; the other showed similar death rates but fewer serious strokes.

stopping the heart while a new valve is sewed in to replace the old one.

TAVR was first introduced into the United States in 2006; since then, it has received FDA approval in stages. Today, doctors are performing about 60,000 TAVR procedures and about 50,000 surgical valve replacements every year in the United States.

The fact that the studies found that TAVR was safer for the lowest-risk patients “was kind of a surprise to everyone,” Mack notes. “Everyone figured it would be pretty much the same.”

The procedure will now need to be approved by the FDA for use in this group considered at low risk for surgical complications. But approval won’t mean that surgery will no longer be used for valve replacement; Mack estimates that 25% of patients are not candidates for TAVR, including those who have blockages in their leg arteries or have a particular kind of heart anatomy that makes the procedure too risky.

He offers another caveat: The trials followed patients for only a year after the valve replacements, “and we really don’t know if [the TAVR] valves last as long as surgical valves.” All patients will now be followed for ten years to find out how well they hold up. “It was a pretty compelling study,” he concludes, “but not the final answer.”

Research contact: @AARP

Report: Brain health supplements are ‘a massive waste of money’

June 12, 2019

Most of us have seen the TV ads for Prevagen and have heard about the protective effects of ginkgo biloba—and those are just a couple of the dietary aids that Americans swallow in the hope and belief that they will make our brains stronger.

In fact, more than one-quarter (26%) of U.S. adults age 50 and older are taking at least one brain-health supplement, according to the findings of the  2019 AARP Brain Health and Dietary Supplements Survey

And research by the Nutrition Business Journal indicates that fully 69% of U.S. adults age 50 and older are taking a dietary supplement at least three times a week—with 8% saying they’re taking one to “reverse dementia.”

But now we are hearing that those supplements are “a massive waste of money”—and that warning comes from people who should know these things: On June 11, the Global Counsel on Brain Health (GCBH) in partnership with AARP released a report concluding that dietary supplements do not improve brain health or prevent cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, yet 49% of older adults believe otherwise, Prevention magazine reports.

“The GCBH reviewed the scientific evidence on various supplements and determined it could not endorse any ingredient, production, or formulation designed for brain health,” the AARP said in a press release.

Under FDA law, it’s illegal for dietary supplement companies to make any claim that their product can treat, prevent, or cure a disease. If a supplement marketer wants to say their product can reduce the risk of a disease, they must notify the FDA first and get authorization before such a claim can go on a product label, Prevention notes.

Yet, the companies continue to market using misleading claims—among those currently in print or on-air:

  • Clinically shown to be safe and support memory and brain function
  • Clinically proven natural ingredients
  • Supports neurotransmitter development to promote a feeling of mental sharpness
  • Helps your brain maintain healthy neurons to support learning and recall
  • 13 scientifically proven nutrients for a healthier brain
  • Keeps your mind sharp and memory strong
  • Has shown statistically significant improvements in memory and recall in as little as four weeks when taken as directed
  • Designed to help improve memory while increasing focus and concentration
  • Comprehensive blend of vitamins, amino acids, and herbal extracts that support the brain’s structure and function to deliver amazing improvements in memory and concentration!
  • Help lessen the frequency of episodes of forgetfulness and brain fog
  • Improve your ability to retain and recall various kinds of information
  • For cognitive health, memory improvement, memory enhancement
  • These key nutrients have a powerful effect at reducing the inflammatory fires that destroy our brain tissue.

In addition, because dietary supplement companies aren’t regulated by the FDA, neither are their ingredients or dosages. The report warns that supplements “may have too much, too little, or, in some cases, none of the ingredients [consumers] think they’re buying.”

This can have dire consequences. The AARP cites a 2013 report from the U.S. government which found that the FDA received more than 6,000 reports of health problems due to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2011. They included 92 deaths and more than 1,000 series injuries. As part of the FDA’s investigation, the agency’s researchers found “dangerous fungi, pesticides, environmental pollutants, and heavy metals in some products.”

Worse yet, the FDA found that more than 700 dietary supplements contained prescription drugs, including steroids and antidepressants.

“It’s tempting to think you can pop a pill and prevent dementia, but the science says that doesn’t work,” Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP SVP for Policy and Executive Director of the GCBH told Prevention. “We know what will keep your brain healthy: exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, challenging your thinking skills, and connecting with others.”

Research contact: @AARP

Keeping the flame alive: Sex after 65

May 29, 2018

Many American seniors feel young at heart—and in other meaningful ways—based on findings of a National Poll on Healthy Aging released in early May. Specifically, the researchers say, 40% of U.S. adults between the ages of 65 and 80 are sexually active; and 73% are satisfied with their sex lives.

The nationally representative pol of 1,002 seniors was conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.

Among the respondents, nearly three-quarters said that they currently are in a romantic relationship—and 54% of elderly couples reported that they still are sexually active.

But, whether or not they have an active sex life at the moment, about two-thirds of older adults say that they still are interested in sex, and more than half say that sex is important to their quality of life.

Among those who still are—or who want to be—sexually active, some need a little advice or help to get the job done. In all, 18% of older men and 3% of older women say they have taken medications or supplements to improve sexual function within the past two years.

However, just 17% of seniors said they had talked with a healthcare provider about their sexual health during the past two years. Most who had engaged in such discussions said they brought the topic up—suggesting, the researchers said, the need for more proactive conversations by clinicians with their older patients.

“Sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health and well-being,” says U-M’s Erica Solway, Ph.D., co-associate director of the poll. “It’s important for older adults and the clinicians who care for them to talk about these issues and about how age-related changes in physical health, relationships, lifestyles and responsibilities (such as caregiving) affect them.”

Factors: Gender, age and health 

Relationships aside, there are a few other factors—gender, age, and health—that may affect a senior’s sex drive.

For instance, compared with the 45% of respondents with excellent, very good, or good health who reported that they were sexually active, only 22% of those who said they are in fair or poor health could say the same. Indeed, just 28% of seniors who are in fair or poor health said they were extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives.

Those respondents between the ages of 65 and 70 were nearly twice as likely as those in their late 70s to be sexually active. One-third of those in their late 60s said they were extremely or very interested in sex, compared with 19% of those in their late 70s.

What’s more, as they age, men and women look at sex differently. Women are a little less likely than men to be sexually active—31% overall, vs. 51% of men—but were more likely to be extremely or very satisfied with their sex lives.

While 84% of older men said sex was an important part of a romantic relationship, fewer older women (69%) said the same. But that still means that over two-thirds of women remain passionately in love, whatever their age or the length of their relationship.l

Research contact:

33% of U.S. adults take sleeping pills

November 22, 2017

America’s chronic insomnia is enriching pharmaceutical companies. In fact, according to a study conducted by BCC Research, Americans spent an estimated $41 billion on sleep aids and remedies—everything from ZzzQuill to Melatonin, to Ambien to Valium— back in 2015; and that number is expected to increase incrementally to $52 billion by 2020.

That’s not even counting the money that U.S. families spend on pillows, mattresses, white noise machines, and whatever else conceivably could work.

Now, researchers from the University of Michigan have found that 33% —one in three —adults in the United States uses medicine of some sort to help induce sleep.

What’s more, the researchers say, many U.S. adults do it without the knowledge of their doctors, according to new findings of a poll broadcast.

The poll was based on an online survey of 1,065 people, 65 to 80 years of age, nationally, who answered many questions, according to a report released in mid-November by the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan; along with sponsors AARP and U-M’s academic medical center Michigan Medicine.

Overall, 46% of respondents said they had problems sleeping once or more each week. Fifteen percent of poll respondents said they experienced difficulty sleeping three nights or more in a week.

Among those who reported sleep disorders three or more nights a week, 23% said they used a sleep aid prescription; which is not advisable for the long-term, according to the medical community.

“Although sleep disorders can occur in people in any age and for many reasons, the problem cannot be treated by taking pills, whether prescribed, without a prescription or herb, no matter what the ad says on TV,” Preeti Malani, a University of Michigan doctor trained in a Geriatric Medicine, stated.

“Some of these drugs can create big concerns in older adults, from falls and memory problems to confusion and constipation, even if they are sold without a prescription,” she said.

What the poll does not offer is advice on what to do, if the pills are not recommended—except to exercise earlier in the day.

Lack of sleep also is dangerous. In fact, the university said, sleeplessness has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in adults and children.

Research contact: