Review Category : Health

Staying Home Becoming More of a Reality for Older Americans

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — If given the choice, most senior citizens would prefer to remain in their own homes even if they become disabled than having to reside in assisted-living or long-term care facilities.

That preference is becoming more feasible, according to the 2013 survey by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

In a poll of 618 local service providers, 70 percent say they offer programs to help the elderly stay at home, which is also referred to as “aging in place.” Just six years ago, fewer than a third of providers offered this service.

The federal government is cognizant that the older population will grow dramatically as more Baby Boomers pass the 65-year-old threshold.

One way to help seniors continue a normal, independent way of life is the creation of supportive communities that assist them in their daily needs.

Meanwhile, when an older person returns home from a hospital stay, local providers partner with private health-care companies and managed-care providers to ensure a home is safe from hazards in an effort to reduce the chances of falls.

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Is Mexico the Real Happiest Place on Earth?

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — How does the U.S. measure on a happiness scale compared to 42 other countries?

Pretty well, according to a new Pew Research Center report, but still behind six other nations with economies considered advanced, emerging or developing.

The U.S., which is in the advanced category, ran second behind Israel, 75 percent to 65 percent, respectively, in terms of satisfaction with life.

However, the overall winner is Mexico, listed in the group of emerging countries. Mexicans ranked their happiness with life at 79 percent.

Also running ahead of the U.S. were Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and El Salvador, a country in the developing economy category.

The least satisfied in the advanced, emerging and developing categories respectively: Greece at 37 percent; Egypt at 11 percent; and Kenya at 14 percent.

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Marijuana Reform Supported by Most in High School

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A survey of high school seniors found that most 18 year olds want marijuana reform.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, nearly one-third of students surveyed felt marijuana should be entirely legal, and nearly three in 10 say that pot possession should be treated as a minor violation.

The survey included 12,000 students between 2007 and 2011. Researchers did find those more likely to be in favor of legalization were black, liberal and urban students while women, conservatives, religious students and those with friends who disapprove of marijuana use were less likely to support legalization.

Interestingly, nearly 17 percent of those students who had never used marijuana before were in favor of legalization.

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Marijuana Reform Supported by Most in High School

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A survey of high school seniors found that most 18 year olds want marijuana reform.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, nearly one-third of students surveyed felt marijuana should be entirely legal, and nearly three in 10 say that pot possession should be treated as a minor violation.

The survey included 12,000 students between 2007 and 2011. Researchers did find those more likely to be in favor of legalization were black, liberal and urban students while women, conservatives, religious students and those with friends who disapprove of marijuana use were less likely to support legalization.

Interestingly, nearly 17 percent of those students who had never used marijuana before were in favor of legalization.

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A Fifth of Adults Say They Live with Chronic Pain

iStock/Thinkstock(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Chronic pain is an unpleasant way of life for nearly one in five adults in the U.S.

Study author Jae Kennedy, a researcher at Washington State University in Spokane, polled 35,000 households to learn that 39 million people have to deal with persistent pain each day.

Kennedy did not include adults who complain about arthritis or back pain because it’s often not constant.

That still left 19 percent of the adult population with pain so serious that a majority said it was either constantly present or even “unbearable and excruciating” at times.

Most of those feeling chronic pain are people 60 to 69; women; the obese or overweight; people who were hospitalized during the past year; and those who claimed their health was fair or poor.

What’s more, Kennedy says that persistent physical discomfort can lead to psychological distress as well.

“Going forward, it will be important to track changes in rates of persistent pain within the U.S., and compare these rates to other countries with different health care systems,” Kennedy said.

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Brittany Maynard, Who Had Incurable Brain Cancer, Ends Her Life

Design Pics/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Terminally ill Portland, Oregon, resident Brittany Maynard, who became a symbol for the right-to-die movement, has ended her own life. She was 29.

Diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer and given less than six months to live, Maynard moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s physician-assisted suicide law.

Maynard took lethal medication prescribed by a doctor and died late Saturday, “as she intended — peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones,” Sean Crowley, a Compassion & Choices spokesman, said in a statement.

“We’re sad to announce the passing of a dear and wonderful woman, Brittany Maynard. She passed peacefully in her bed surrounded by close family and loved ones,” Compassion & Choices, a non-profit that works to improve care and expand the choices for people at the end of their lives, said on its Facebook page.

Over the past few months, Maynard and her husband, Dan Diaz, have used the time to complete the sick woman’s bucket list that included visiting the Grand Canyon.

Maynard has also had to deal with criticism from those who believed she had no right to end her life. However, she told People magazine last month, “For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me. They try to mix it up with suicide and that’s really unfair, because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”

Maynard’s final message on Facebook was as follows, “Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me…but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. …Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

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Tips to ‘Fall Back’ From Daylight Saving Time 2014

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — What’s better than sleeping in on a Sunday? How about dodging the days-long consequences of rolling the clocks back this weekend?

Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend, which means that most residents in the country returned to Standard Time at 2 a.m. Sunday. To do so, most people set the clocks back one hour Saturday night, before they hit the hay. This does not apply to you if you live in most of Arizona or Hawaii, where it’s always island time.

Sure, you’ll gain an hour when Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday. But spending said hour in bed after sunrise will do you few favors in the long run, sleep experts say.

“It will hit you Sunday evening,” said Dr. Yosef Krespi, director of the New York Head and Neck Institute’s Center for Sleep Disorders. “But if your body clock is tuned to waking up with sunlight, you’re going to benefit.”

The body clock is a cluster of neurons deep inside the brain that generates the circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle. The cycle spans roughly 24 hours, but it’s not precise.

“It needs a signal every day to reset it,” said Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of Oregon Health and Science University’s Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory in Portland.

The signal is sunlight, which shines in through the eyes and “corrects the cycle from approximately 24 hours to precisely 24 hours,” said Lewy. But when the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles don’t line up, people can feel out-of-sync, tired and grumpy.

With time, the body clock adjusts on its own. But here are a few ways to help it along.

1. Wake Up at a Normal Time Sunday Morning

Many people see the extra hour as an excuse to stay up later and sleep in longer. But sleeping through the Sunday morning sunlight can leave you feeling out of sorts for the start of the week, according to Krespi.

Instead, try to get up at the same time. Use the extra hour to go for a morning walk or make a hearty breakfast.

2. Eat Well and Exercise

Speaking of morning walks and breakfast, an active lifestyle and a healthy diet can work wonders for your sleep, according to Krespi. So grab your partner, your dog or your favorite playlist and get outside some fresh air and exercise. And dig into a breakfast packed with whole grains and protein to keep you energized through the 25-hour day.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep Sunday Night

Still have extra time to kill Sunday? Use it to turn your bedroom into a full-fledged sleep zone.

“It has to be quiet, it has to be cool and it has to be dark,” said Krespi. “Shut down your gadgets and turn away that alarm clock so you don’t watch it tick.”

Try to hit the sack at your usual bedtime, even though it will be dark one hour earlier.

4. Try a Low Dose of Melatonin

While light synchronizes the body clock in the morning, the hormone melatonin updates it at night. The exact function of the hormone, produced by the pea-size pineal gland in the middle of the brain, is unclear. But it can activate melatonin receptors on the neurons of the body clock, acting as a “chemical signal for darkness,” Lewy said.

Taking a low dose of melatonin in the evening can help sync the sleep-wake and light-dark cycles. But be careful: Although melatonin is sold as a dietary supplement, it can cause drowsiness and interfere with other drugs. Talk to your doctor about the dosage and timing that’s right for you.

5. Know That Your Body Will Adjust

It might take a few days to feel 100 percent normal, but fear not: Your body will adjust to the new light-dark cycle.

“Some people suffer more, some people less, it all depends,” said Krespi, adding that falling back in November tends to be easier than springing forward in March. “On Monday morning, we’ll appreciate that we’re waking up for work or school with sunlight.”

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Florida Football Coach Rallies Team After Player’s Devastating Amputation

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA BAY, Fla.) — A Florida high school football coach delivered a rousing speech a week after one of his players had to have his leg amputated because of a football injury.

“The character that is in your heart. The blood that pumps through your veins,” head coach Jeremy Frioud said in a speech to the Northeast Vikings before they played their first game since teammate Leshawn Williams was carried off the field with an injury that resulted in his leg being partially amputated.

“Make sure there’s no chance that you ever take that road,” Frioud said. “That you never are a coward. That you never step away from adversity.

As he spoke, Frious’ new tattoo of Williams’ jersey number could be seen in footage taken by ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay, Fla.

The Northeast Vikings played East Lake High School Friday night, and although the team lost 49-14, Frioud said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I am so proud of you and how you have rebounded this week. How you have refused to make an excuse,” he said.

After the game, East Lake High School gave Frioud a donation to help Williams with his medical costs.

Williams reportedly developed a blood clot as a result of the injury that forced doctors to amputate part of his leg.

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Dallas Ebola Survivor Reunited With Dog

The Pham Family(DALLAS) — Dallas nurse Nina Pham was reunited with her dog Bentley on Saturday, a week after she was declared Ebola-free and discharged from the National Institutes of Health’s hospital in Maryland.

“I’m excited to take Bentley home,” she said at a news conference, hugging and kissing the happy dog.

The King Charles Cavalier Spaniel could not sit still during the news conference, barking and running across the green lawn, and once jumped into Phams’ arms. The dog had been quarantined for the past 21 days out of fear that he too would contract Ebola.

Bentley was presented with a basket full of toys and other gifts, donated by well-wishers from across the country.

Caregivers decided it was in Bentley’s best interests for Pham not visit during his quarantine. If Bentley saw Pham and she left, he might become anxious or depressed, and have other health concerns, Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed told ABC News.

Bentley was held in isolation at Hensley Field in Dallas where he was treated by a team of veterinarians, according to Syed.

“They played with him and hugged him, really just gave him that attention he needed during this time,” Syed told ABC News on Friday. “They dedicated so much time caring for Bentley to make sure he got loved during this isolation period.”

Pham was one of two nurses who contracted Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a native of Liberia who was the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and also the only person to die of the virus in the U.S.

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Dallas Nurse Nina Pham Reunites with Her Dog

The Pham Family(DALLAS) — Dallas nurse Nina Pham was reunited with her dog Saturday after the animal completed his 21 day monitoring for Ebola.

Pham was declared Ebola free last week and discharged from the hospital. The dog, Bentley, has also been declared free of the disease.

Pham said in a statement, “I’d like to take a moment to thank people from all around the world who have sent their best wishes and prayers to me and Mr. Bentley.”

She added, “My hope and thought with my treatment and care at the NIH researchers and doctors are one step closer to finding a cure for Ebola.”

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