Social Security Care Giver Credit Act

Woman sandwiched between her son and her father

I read a wonderful article about how Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced a bill: the Social Security Care Giver Credit Act.  This bill, if passed, will provide countless caregivers who are presently not paid for their services to loved ones, whether it be a mother taking care of a new born or an adult child taking care of their elderly parent or grandparent.

The credit would be based on a sliding income scale related to previous earnings capped at the average national wage or a maximum credit equal to half the average national income for those who weren’t earning money previously, for up to five years of caregiving. And it would apply to anyone caring for a child, grandchild, niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, spouse or domestic partner, parent, or sibling who needs daily assistance with basic activities like eating and bathing or even managing finances and shopping for food.**

The law will also provide for those who are part-time caregivers.

Most caregivers are women.  Add this to the fact that women are already often getting paid less than their male counterparts in the workplace, it does not take a lot of imagination to recognize that aging women are at risk of finding themselves impoverished at a most crucial period in her life. This bill would help in avoiding that outcome.

The Senator points out that keeping a family member at home is far less expensive than sending them to a nursing home, usually paid for by the government through Medicaid.   Thus he sees his proposal as a win-win for government and for family members.

There is a slightly different House version of his proposal which has 54 cosponsors.

The bill was introduced on April 17, 2016.  So all you caregivers or potential caregivers out there, write your Congress representative and ask that they support this very important bill!

Copyright 2016  Yvonne Behrens

**http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2016/03/18/3761628/murphy-social-security-caregiver-credits/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tptop3&utm_term=5&utm_content=13&elqTrackId=c86a879020f3468cbd81587197095e9c&elq=e2b71a2d40924cc08ab7ecb678701d34&elqaid=29510&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=5255

Direct Association Between Paxil (Paroxetine), an Antidepressant, and Suicide

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A few years ago, a neighbor, having just switched antidepressant drugs, walked into his daughter’s room, exchanged a few words and then walked into the bathroom and blew his brains out.  At the time, according to news agencies, there had been a rise in suicides among individuals taking anti-depressants, particularly in the population that was switching their prescription.  My neighbor became one of those statistics.

I do not remember whether my neighbor had been on Paxil (Paroxetine) or had just switched to Paroxetine.  However, the British Journal of Medicine recently published a re-analysis of Paroxetine.  Unfortunately, the corrected analysis showed that Paroxetine indeed increases risks of suicide in young people and adolescents.

There were clinically significant increases in harms, including suicidal ideation and behaviour and other serious adverse events in the paroxetine group and cardiovascular problems in the imipramine group.

Conclusions Neither paroxetine nor high dose imipramine showed efficacy for major depression in adolescents, and there was an increase in harms with both drugs.1

A study funded by SmithKline Beecham (SKB; subsequently GlaxoSmithKline, GSK), the British multi-national pharmaceutical company that produced Paxil, had been done in 2001 that claimed no association between Paxil and suicide.

A group of international researchers concerned by the amount of selective reporting of outcomes found in research papers created an initiative called “restoring invisible and abandoned trials” (RIAT).  Doing their own research into publishing undisclosed outcomes or correct misleading publications, the initiative has been actively seeking and correcting publications that fit this profile.  Their findings dispute the claims made by GSK regarding Paxil.

According to the British Journal of Medicine (BJM)

We acknowledge the work of the original investigators. This double blinded randomised controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of paroxetine and imipramine compared with placebo for adolescents diagnosed with major depression was reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) in 2001, with Martin Keller as the primary author.2

According to BJM

The RIAT researchers identified Study 329 [study done on Paroxetine] as an example of a misreported trial in need of restoration. The article by Keller and colleagues, which was largely ghostwritten,3 claimed efficacy and safety for paroxetine that was at odds with the data.4 This is problematic because the article has been influential in the literature supporting the use of antidepressants in adolescents.

Martha Rosenberg, an award-winning investigative public health reporter, found that the 22 doctors and researchers listed as authors in the original research paper

were not authors at all and that the research was actually written by a medical communication company (MCC) that GSK  hired. Such ghostwriting is disturbingly common in establishing drug safety.

“You did a superb job with this,” wrote the paper’s first “author,” Brown University’s Martin Keller to Sally Laden, a ghostwriter working for the MCC Scientific Therapeutics Information. “It is excellent. Enclosed are rather minor changes from me. In 2006, Keller, former Brown Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, acknowledged that GSK had given him tens of thousands of dollars during and after the time the study was conducted.

When RIAT approached GSK in 2013 asking whether they would produce a corrected paper on the side effects of paroxetine, GSK

did not signal any intent to publish a corrected version of any of its trials. In later correspondence, GSK stated that the study by Keller and colleagues “accurately reflects the honestly-held views of the clinical investigator authors” and that GSK did ‘not agree that the article is false, fraudulent or misleading.’

Research studies are not cheap to perform.  Thus, many pharmaceutical studies are based on how much money the potential drug can produce rather than on the efficacy of the drug.  We live in times when money speaks much more loudly than services or health [please check the many articles in this blog that I have written on the abuses expressed by pharmaceutical companies].

Although there are governmental bodies in place that have been created to protect consumers,  often these bodies turn a blind eye.   In fact, the health industry presently is one of the largest profit bearing industries and when there is a lot of money involved, much gets overlooked.  Obviously not all drugs produced have fraudulent studies or focus their studies on the monetary benefits rather than the health benefits of a drug.  But there are too many drugs being allowed on the market that have not been sufficiently researched.

Access to primary data from trials has important implications for both clinical practice and research, including that published conclusions about efficacy and safety should not be read as authoritative. The reanalysis of Study 329 illustrates the necessity of making primary trial data and protocols available to increase the rigour of the evidence base.

Pharmaceutical companies have to take more responsibility than small print warnings scrolling across the bottom of the Television screen as idyllic scenes with a soothing voice-over laud the benefits of a drug.  They also need to reflect on the potential impropriety of buying doctors a huge lunch in order to have their ear regarding the latest and greatest drug they are marketing.  On the other hand, doctors need to take more time to do their own research before prescribing a drug and consumers need to be more vigilant in the doctor’s office.

copyright Yvonne Behrens 2015

 

Aging with Famous Aging Actresses

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The other day, I saw an interview with Jane Fonda.  God bless her, she has decided to embrace aging as fully as she embraced living the French life with her French husband in early ’60′s France, the anti-war movement in the early ’70′s, her workout videos in the early ’80′s, being wife to Ted Turner in the ’90′s.

This is good.  Very good.  In our ageist society, we need actresses like Jane Fonda to speak about really enjoying getting old.  True, unlike the rest of us, she is able to pay for plastic surgery that permits her to look very good in her ’70′s.  Nevertheless, I don’t mind having her as a poster “girl” for aging.  Maybe it is her girl next door persona, the all American girl who, like so many, went through all the ups and downs along with our society during the tumultuous second half of the 20th century.  But probably it has more to do with her spunky attitude towards aging.  She is not coming across as apologetic, embarrassed or as someone who regrets no longer being young.  No.  She enthusiastically embraces this next stage in her life.  As we all should.

Yes, we have Helen Mirren who is very gracefully aging and playing roles that reflect women around her age group.  But she is British.  We have Charlotte Rampling who has just come out with a movie, 45 years, about an aging couple confronting certain situations that they permitted themselves to ignore for most of their marriage.  Charlotte Rampling was considered very sexy in her younger days.  That sexy person has permitted herself to age gracefully.  But again, she is British.  Then we have the beautiful Julie Christie, who played in a wonderful film dealing with Alzheimer’s.  But again, British.

Yes, it seems that the British actresses are much more accepting of their aging process than the American actresses.  There are probably many reasons for this, but the least is not because Hollywood has always worshiped the younger, beautiful actress over the older, more experienced actress.  This, of course, forces older actresses to do what they can to look younger and to seek younger roles that might be meatier rather than potentially being cast as a grandmother in a supporting role to the protagonist.  Ironically, these British actresses are finding roles that permit viewers to experience the process of aging, the transitions that occur and the means by which to deal with them.

More importantly, but probably influenced by Hollywood’s attitude towards aging, is the undercurrent of bias towards the aging process that exists in our society.  Since World War II, the media, which really has a major influence in how people think and what they gravitate towards, has spent millions of dollars extolling the benefits of youth over age.

I certainly hope that Jane Fonda, through embracing her age and proudly proclaiming it, will have as much influence on our outlook of aging as she has had in other areas.

 

copyright Yvonne Behrens 2015

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1.  https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=recent+interviews+with+Jane+Fonda&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-0042.

2.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/fashion/at-69-charlotte-rampling-knows-what-you-look-amazing-really-means.html?WT.mc_id=D-NYT-MKTG-MOD-42950-12-16-HD&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c=

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=movie+julie+Christie+played+alzheimer+patient&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2egwbz_woman-in-gold-trailer-2015-helen-mirren-nazi-drama-hd_shortfilms

 

Education As Preventative Medicine

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I always enjoy “meeting” someone on the internet who seems to hold the same views that I do and just recently, I came across an interesting article, Lifelong Learning and Wellness One Component to the Enlightened Gerosphere, in which the author, Paul David Nussbaum, Ph.D., Director, Neurobehavioral Services at St. John Center in Mars, Pennsylvania, put forth the suggestion that just as exercise and healthy eating are preventative, education can be a means of avoiding the dreaded Alzheimer’s.  As he writes:

Imagine an America where health insurance companies paid for attendance at church or synagogue, enrollment in higher education, residence within technologically advanced homes (smart homes) which can relay health information directly to the primary care physician, and even sustained employment. This approach to wellness stands in sharp contrast to the current model that incentivizes annual, invasive procedures such as a pap smear. While these ideas may render a humorous response, we must remember that the total dollar allocation for health care in this country is approximately one trillion dollars, and that one third (33%), or 300 billion dollars, of that total cost is for services delivered to the older adult. Despite this, Medicare and Medicaid are financially unstable. Imagine running a business in which you invest 300 billion dollars and yet the business is bankrupt! Perhaps we are not approaching the care of older Americans in a proper manner!”

I totally agree with Dr. Nussbaum’s assessment that nursing homes are not an answer, as I have written in previous posts, but because he writes it so eloquently, I will share what he writes:

Older Americans do not need high technology medicine, should not be treated in acute care centers as they suffer chronic illness, should not be forced to choose a nursing home, and should not be forced to retire or withdraw from a personal role and purpose. Instead, older Americans should have access to geriatricians who are afforded the same status of primary care physician as are pediatricians, should have access to a chronic care system, should be afforded multiple long term care options which do not include institutionalization and consequent family/financial death. Further, older Americans should be incentivized (financially) to remain well by promoting the social/human factors of health listed above.

I have championed the need to end the existence of nursing homes in the United States as I believe they represent the neglect of a great country to care for a vulnerable and needy segment of our population. Nursing and other services can be delivered without the cement walls of an institution. Nursing homes were built post-World War II and represented a warehousing model of care. Think about where nursing homes are located and you can understand the resulting removal of individuals from the vitality of life. My beliefs have nothing to do with the quality care and hard work that occurs every day in most of our nursing homes. In contrast, the United States must awaken to the fact that nearly one third of Americans would rather die than enter a nursing home, and the market has demonstrated consistently that potential employees seek work elsewhere— human beings do not want to live or work in nursing homes!

Again, Dr. Nussbaum so nicely summarizes the reality of aging in our society today:

Today, the United States has an extremely primitive understanding of aging. Our country maintains a negative perception about getting older, one that reflects a genuine misunderstanding of the facts regarding aging. For example, our entire social and legislative policy is based on an invalid age-threshold of 65. Clearly, we need to increase this age-threshold to reflect more accurately the expected lifespan of Americans. Most people are not aware that age 65 was employed for social benefits by Chancellor Bismarck in Germany over 100 years ago.  Americans believe that advanced age leads to poverty, illness, Alzheimer’s disease, nursing home placement, depression, and loneliness. These entrenched perceptions exist despite facts that nearly 70% of older adults (those living beyond 65) are independent, financially stable, happy, healthy, and productive. Further, the vast majority of older Americans do not have Alzheimer’s and do not live in nursing homes.

So my blog is entitled “education as preventative medicine”  Where does this part of the article begin.  Right here!  Dr. Nussbaum states that

Fortunately, researchers interested in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) which affects four million Americans, and costs the country 100 billion dollars annually in direct care and 30 billion dollars in indirect care related to caregiver illness, have underscored the importance of education as a potential preventative factor against AD. Multiple studies have demonstrated a reduced risk of AD for those with advanced education. The neurobiological explanation of this has been labeled Reserve Theory. Essentially, information which is learned must be processed by our brains, itself a physiological event. Such learning promotes development of new neurons and neural pathways. The theory advances that with increased cell density and cell volume, a progressive disease such as AD will not impact the brain or will impact the brain at a later age because the disease will have to destroy a greater number of cells to manifest clinically. The increased volume of cells in the brain provide a reserve to fight off invading diseases such as AD. Interestingly, the Reserve Theory has been advanced for other etiologies of dementia besides AD.

Although there is more in Dr. Nussbaum’s article on studies demonstrating more proof, I would refer the reader’s to his article, as I have reached my word quota for this particular blog.  Thank you, Dr. Nussbaum.

Copyright Yvonne Behrens 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Death and Dying

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Apparently the topic of death and dying is starting to become less taboo in our society.  I have just come across two articles that speak on this subject.  Now I do  not want to insinuate that we have turned a chapter on this topic.  We certainly continue to be a society that would rather avoid anything that reminds us of death than recognize that it is part of life.  As Walter Mosley penned in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey: ““We born dyin’…But you ask a man an’ he talk like he gonna live forevah.”

However, since those days in 2009, when ugly looking American Citizens held up signs like”Obama has created death panels” or “kill grandma” in response to a provision that had been placed in the Health Care Reform Act to enable doctors to receive compensation for end of life counseling [and because of all that nastiness, the provision was removed], we as a nation seem to have sobered up on the topic of death.

Recently, a new movement has occurred: death cafes.  According to Stacey Burling, Inquirer Staff Writer,

Death cafes are based on the ideas of Bernard Crettoz, a Swiss sociologist. They had made it to England by 2011 and were soon on their way to the United States, according to deathcafe.com, the mother organization of the “social franchise.” It says 200 death cafes have been held in nine countries.

I find it interesting that death is such a taboo subject.  It is almost as though people believe that they might bring it on if they talk about it.  But the fact is that we are all headed to the grave at some point or another in our lives and we should accept that fact.  As we do, we will become better prepared to deal with the topic.  As it is, we still wish to avoid it and so these baby steps that are starting to appear in our country are a very positive sign and not morbid in the least.  Further in Burling’s article, she quotes:

Raphael is a rabbinic pastor with Jewish Renewal, an emerging denomination. He’s also a therapist and death awareness counselor. He founded the DA’AT Institute for death awareness, advocacy, and training.

He thinks this is a great time to talk about death. Baby boomers are aging and many are losing their parents. Hospice participation is increasing. People are interested in near-death experiences and Eastern religions.

“I think we’re living through this profound revolution in terms of our cultural attitudes toward death,” he said.

He believes death is still more of a “great intimacy” than sex, and a topic that feels taboo to too many. That means many don’t get the support they need when someone they love dies. On the first day, friends will greet them with a serious, long face, he said. On day two, they’ll ask, “How you doing?” By the third day, friends have moved on and people are left to “live with their grief in this kind of invisible way.”

There are even “death dinner” events that also focus on the topic of death and dying.  Dinner, always being a place for good social gathering, seems a great way to bring up the taboo topic.  From a blog by mother nature network

The website Death Over Dinner offers a way to facilitate the process. It gently leads the organizer through a series of questions that can help make the planning of such a get-together a little more straightforward. Asking about who you’d want to attend, what your intention is (to make specific plans, to get a real conversation going about death and dying, or to prepare for another’s death), and even providing resources to watch, listen and read, the site helps you navigate what can be complex, emotional waters.

So yes, if not now, when?  Let’s talk death and dying!

copyright Yvonne Behrens 2014

 

 

 

 

1949 and the Calendar Page Opens to a New Year

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January 1 – UN sponsored ceasefire brings an end to the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947. The war results in a stalemate and the division of Kashmir, which is still continuing as of 2014.  (In compiling these events, I find it astounding how many things continue to this day!)

January 5 – U.S. President Harry S. Truman unveils his Fair Deal program.

January 17 – The first VW Type 1 to arrive in the United States, a 1948 model, is brought to New York by Dutch businessman Ben Pon. Unable to interest dealers or importers in the Volkswagen, Pon sells the sample car to pay his travel expenses. Only two 1949 models were sold in America that year, convincing Volkswagen chairman Heinrich Nordhoff the car had no future in the U.S. (The Type 1 went on to become an automotive phenomenon.)

January 25 – In the first Israeli election, David Ben-Gurion becomes Prime Minister.

March 25 – Operation Priboi: An extensive deportation campaign begins in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Soviet authorities deport more than 92,000 people from the Baltic states to remote areas of the Soviet Union.

March 28 -  English astronomer Fred Hoyle coins the term Big Bang during a BBC Third Programme radio broadcast

April 4 – twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO

May 5 – The Council of Europe is founded by the signing of the Treaty of London.

May 6 – EDSAC, the first practicable stored-program computer, runs its first program at Cambridge University

May 20 – The AFSA (predecessor of the NSA) is established.

May 31 – First trial of Alger Hiss for perjury begins in New York with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness for the prosecution, but would end in a jury deadlock (8 for, 4 against)

June 2 – Transjordan becomes the Kingdom of Jordan

June 8-

Red Scare: Celebrities including Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Danny Kaye, Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson are named in an FBI report as Communist Party members.

George Orwell‘s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is published in London by Secker & Warburg. (rather ironic that 1984 was published at the same time that the “Red Scare” was at its height in the U.S.

June 14 – Albert II, a rhesus monkey, becomes the first primate to enter space, on U.S. Hermes project V-2 rocket Blossom IVB, but is killed on impact at return.

June 19 – Glenn Dunaway wins the inaugural NASCAR race at Charlotte Speedway, a 3/4 mile oval in Charlotte, North Carolina, but is disqualified due to illegal springs. Jim Roper is declared the official winner. (and the sports world dominates to this day, with similar stories of illegal whatevers whenevers)

June 24 – The first television western, Hopalong Cassidy, airs on NBC.

June 29 - Apartheid become official in S. Africa: The South African Citizenship Act suspends the granting of citizenship to British Commonwealth immigrants after 5 years and imposes a ban on mixed marriage.

August 5 – A 6.75 Richter scale earthquake in Ecuador kills 6,000 and destroys 50 towns. 

August 8 -   Bhutan becomes independent

August 12 -The Fourth Geneva Convention is agreed to.

August 14 -

The Salvatore Giuliano Gang explodes mines under a police barracks outside Palermo, Sicily

A military coup in Syria ousts the president.

August 28 – The last 6 surviving veterans of the American Civil War meet in Indianapolis. (wow!)

August 29

The Council of Europe meets for the first time.

The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, code named “Joe 1“. Its design imitates the American plutonium bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.

August 31 – The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat at Mount Grammos marks the end of the Greek Civil War.

September 6 - Howard Unruh, a World War II veteran, kills thirteen neighbors in Camden, New Jersey with a souvenir Parabellum P.08 pistol to become America’s first single-episode mass murderer. (and so it began and the NRA is still screaming “2nd amendment!”

September 19 – The United Kingdom government devalues the pound sterling from $4.03 to $2.80, leading to many other currencies being devalued.

Sept. 21 – German Federal Republic (West Germany) established

Oct. 1 – Communist People’s Republic of China formally proclaimed by Chairman Mao Zedong

October 2 – The Soviet Union recognizes the People’s Republic of China.

October 7 – The Democratic Republic of Germany DDR is officially established. (the other side).

November 17-  Second trial of Alger Hiss begins in New York, again with Whittaker Chambers as principal witness

November 24 – The ski resort in Squaw Valley, California officially opens.

November 26 – The Indian Constituent Assembly adopts India‘s constitution [1].

November 27 – Indonesia is recognized.

November 28 – Winston Churchill makes a landmark speech in support of the idea of a European Union at Kingsway Hall, London

December 16 – Sukarno is elected president of the Republic of Indonesia.

and some more events of 1949:

The Vatican announces that bones uncovered in its subterranean catacombs could be the apostle Peter; 19 years later, Pope Paul VI announces confirmation that the bones belong to this first pope.[6]

The first 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling gun prototypes are completed.

1949 was the first year in which no African-American was reported lynched in the USA.[7]

Joseph Stalin launches a savage attack on Soviet Jews, accusing them of being pro-Western and antisocialist.

Samuel Putnam publishes his new translation of Don Quixote, the first in what we would consider modern English. It is instantly acclaimed and, in 2008, is still in print.

This also seems to be the year that pinup pictures with focus on breasts became mainstream.

Prescription Drugs Detected in Drinking Water

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We have recently heard about the contaminated waters in the Elk River in West Virginia due to leaking toxic materials.  But for years now, our water sources have been the recipient of other potentially harmful elements: prescription drugs.

I have written in the past that pharmaceutical drugs are a predominant fixture in our society.  They are so prevalent, however,  that they have started to seep into our environment.  According to several sources,

Traces of prescription drugs—including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones—have been detected in drinking water.  (Wikipedia, USA Today, Sunday Telegraph)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did a study and found that the level of drugs found in our water supply is much higher than previously thought:

Specifically, more than half the samples of waste water from major cities tested by the EPA tested positive for at least 25 drugs. “We were surprised to find that many drugs occurring across all the waste water plants,” EPA research biologist Mitchell Kostich told The New Republic. “We were also surprised to see so many drugs of a particular class – the high blood pressure medications — appear at those levels across the board.” – See more at: http://healthydebates.com/25-plus-drugs-half-americas-drinking-water/#sthash.pWqKQ5Pl.dpuf
How, you may ask, do these drugs get into our water system?  Think about it:  the drugs are in our system, they are in our waste as well.  We are told to flush unused drugs down the toilet.  Right there are two sources.
In a survey conducted by CBS:
Researchers [found] that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions, reports CBS Atlanta.
This adds up to a lot of pharmaceuticals being dumped into our water systems.

If these chemicals are being found in our drinking water, they have to be entering other parts of the eco-system as well, ie, the fish we eat.

These findings frighten me.  We speak about the war on drugs and yet one could make a case that the biggest culprits are those who “push” pharmaceutical drugs on the unaware general public.  The irony is that the “pusher” is probably not fully cognizant of his/her role in the whole sordid picture or, at least,  I certainly hope not. Every time a doctor writes a prescription, he/she is potentially creating an addict. Think about it. How often have you heard a doctor stop something he/she has prescribed for a “chronic” situation such as high blood pressure (one of the highest levels of drugs found in our water systems) or high cholesterol?

Both of these “chronic” situations can be alleviated by exercise, eating properly, and removing oneself from stressful situations. But in the world we inhabit today, we take pills. Our doctors prescribe them and he/she must know that it is important to take these pills for our health.  Also, let’s face it: pills are so much easier to pop than going to the gym or preparing a meal…. and, it takes so much less time….. and, God knows, time is a luxury these days.  To add insult to injury, in spite of knowing that these pills may have potentially nasty side effects, we continue to push them into our mouths and swallow.

Many of the drugs we take have been presented to us as something we will need to take for the rest of our lives.  As an example, blood pressure medication.  Doctors caution, in no uncertain terms that once one starts taking blood pressure medication, they need to remain on it for the rest of their lives.  However, this may not be true.

Take the story of my mother-in-law. She had been on blood pressure medication since her 50′s. Her blood pressure probably had spiked as she entered menopause. The doctor had told her that she had to take the blood pressure pills for the rest of her life. When she had moved in with us, she had been taking this prescription drug for high blood pressure for over thirty-five years. Everyone assumed that these drugs were working beautifully because her blood pressure was normal.

One day, as fate would have it, she came down with pneumonia. She eventually recovered because of the miracle drug: antibiotics.

About ten days after my mother-in-law returned home, her doctor noted that somehow her blood pressure pills had not been resumed. Lo and behold, her blood pressure was still normal. He told us not to resume them. Who knows when she could have actually quit? But worse, think about how many people are on high blood pressure pills in our country today and how many might not need to be? A financial boom for the pharmaceutical companies, certainly.  Yet also, according to the EPA study, one of the most prevalent drugs found in our water systems.

© Yvonne Behrens, M.Ed  2014

 

 

 

1948

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And so now we move into a New Year: 1948 and as in previous years, many events which continue to have their effects on our world to this day.

January 30 – Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated.

February 23-25 – Communists seize Czechoslovakia

Apr. 30, 1948:  Organization of American States (OAS), international organization, created , at Bogotá, Colombia, by agreement of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Another 15 nations have subsequently joined.  The OAS is a regional agency designed to work with the United Nations to promote peace, justice, and hemispheric solidarity; to foster economic development (especially during the 1960s; see Alliance for Progress); and to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the signatory nations. The general secretariat, formerly the Pan-American Union, located in Washington, D.C, is the permanent body of the OAS.

May 14, 1948  Israel becomes a recognized country and the State of Israel is born.  The next day, Arab forces from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the new nation. By the cease-fire on Jan. 7, 1949, Israel had increased its original territory by 50%, taking western Galilee, a broad corridor through central Palestine to Jerusalem, and part of modern Jerusalem. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first president and prime minister. The new government was admitted to the UN on May 11, 1949.

Berlin airlift, 1948–49, supply of vital necessities to West Berlin by air transport primarily under U.S. auspices. It was initiated in response to a land and water blockade of the city that had been instituted by the Soviet Union in the hope that the Allies would be forced to abandon West Berlin. The massive effort to supply the 2 million West Berliners with food and fuel for heating began in June, 1948, and lasted until Sept., 1949, although the Russians lifted the blockade in May of that year.

June 28:  Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia breaks relations with Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union.

December 27:  United States of Indonesia established as Dutch and Indonesians settle conflict.

Summer Olympics 1948: First summer Olympics in a dozen years and following World War II.  In London.

Winter Olympics 1948: Also the first Olympics after World War II receded from the landscape.  In St. Moritz, Switzerland.

The Hollywood Ten, a group of writers, producers and directors called as witnesses in the House Committee’s Investigation of Un-American Activities, are jailed for contempt of Congress when they refuse to disclose if they were or were not Communists.

Harry S. Truman ends racial segregation in the U.S. military.

Alger Hiss, former U.S. State Department official, indicted on perjury charges after denying passing secret documents to communist spy ring; convicted in second trial (1950) and sentenced to five-year prison term.

Read more: 1940 – 1949 World History | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005249.html#ixzz2n6pZldN8

Margaret Sanger founds the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.

Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 LP (“long playing”) record at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It allows listeners to enjoy an unprecedented 25 minutes of music per side, compared to the four minutes per side of the standard 78 rpm record.

It was a year of a lot of good literature as seen in the following publications:

And  a lot of breakthroughs in science and technology:

and the Nobel Prizes in Science went to the following individuals:

Chemistry: Arne Tiselius (Sweden), for biochemical discoveries and isolation of mouse paralysis virus

Physics: Patrick M. S. Blackett (UK), for improvement on Wilson chamber and discoveries in cosmic radiation

Physiology or Medicine: Paul Mueller (Switzerland), for discovery of insect-killing properties of DDT

This last entry, on hindsight, may have done more to harm our planet and us than to benefit it.  Certainly we learned twenty years later of the devastating affects DDT had on our environment and ourselves.  But back in the late ’40′s and early ’50′s this was a miracle element and children used to chase the mosquito spraying trucks on hot summer days.

Some years ago, I came across an article that my father had written for a travel magazine lauding the miracle of DDT and its effectiveness in killing mosquitoes.  He wrote: “If you are in a tent and those pesky mosquitoes start to attack, take that can of DD&T and spray them into oblivion.”  My father died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease.  Since finding that article, I have wondered whether my father’s apparent enthusiastic spraying of DDT as a young man may have played a role.  I also have a friend whose father was an avid gardner who died from complications of Parkinson’s.  I asked her if he sprayed his garden against insects.  She replied, “liberally.”

Tennessee Williams‘s A Streetcar Named Desire wins Pulitzer.

And that’s it, folks, for 1948.  I am sure there is much not included, but hopefully this catches most of the major events.

Read more: Top News Stories from 1948 | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/year/1948.html#ixzz2n6k4teh2

1947….and the baby boom continues…..

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And so the U.S. continues to develop its international personality while other countries around the world continue their march towards freedom.

January 1st.  WTTG TV channel 5 begins broadcasting

January 2: Mahatma Gandhi begins march for peace in East Bengali/

January 3 – 1st opening session of Congress televised.

William Dawson becomes 1st Black to head a congressional committee.

January 8: General George Marshall becomes first Secretary of State.

January 10: British stop ships Independence and In-Gathering from landing in Israel.

January 20th Brigadier General Edwin K. Wright, becomes Deputy Director of the CIA

January 22nd  1st commercial TV station west of the Mississippi opens in Hollywood, CA

January 24th NFL adds 5th official and allows sudden death in playoffs.

February 3rd 1st Black reporter in Congressional press gallery (Percival Prattis)

February 7th: Arabs and Jews reject British proposal to split Palestine.

February 10th: WWII peace treaties signed

February 12th: Daytime fireball & meteorite fall seen in Eastern Siberia

Record 100.5 KG sailfish caught off Galapagos Islands

February 17th: Voice of America begins broadcasting to USSR

February 20th: Chemical mixing error causes explosion that destroys 42 blocks in LA

Lord Mountbatten appointed as last viceroy of India

State of Prussia ceases to exist.

February 21: First broadcast of TV soap opera.

February 21: First instant developing camera demonstrated in NYC.

February 23: General Eisenhower opens drive to rais $170 million in aid for European Jews.

February 28: Taiwan civil disorder is put down the the loss of 30,000 civilian lives.

March 1st: International Monetary Fund begins operation.

March 4th:  WWJ TV, channel 4 (NBC) begins broadcasting in Detroit.

March 6th: XB-45, 1st US 4-engine jet bomber makes 1st test flight, Muroc, CA

March 12th: President Harry Truman introduces Truman-doctrine to fight communism.

March 15th: John Lee appointed 1st Black commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.

March 20th: 180 metric ton blue whale (record) caught in South Atlantic.

March 21st: President Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9835 requiring all Federal employees to have allegiance to the United States.

March 24th: John D. Rockefeller Jr. donates NYC East River site to the UN.

April 1st: First Jewish immigrants to Israel disembark at Port of Eliat.

April 8th Largest recorded sunspots observed (7,000).

April 9th: Atomic Energy Commission confirmed

April 10th: Jackie Robinson becomes 1st Black in major league baseball (Dodgers)

April 16th: Lens to provide zoom effect demonstrated (NYC).

May 1st:Lt. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg ends term as 2nd head of CIA

Rear Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN becomes 3rd Director of CIA

May 3rd: Japan forms a constitutional democracy.  New Post-war Japanese constitution goes into effect.

May 7th: Paraguayian government unleashes contra revolt.

May 13th: Senate approves the Taft-Hartley Act limiting the power of unions.

May 22nd: “Truman Doctrine” goes into effect, aiding Turkey & Greece

1st US ballistic missile fired

May 31st: Communists grab power in Hungary

June 1st Photosensitive glass developed

June 4th House of Representatives approves Taft-Hartley Act

June 5th  Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines “Marshall Plan”

June 6th: Treaty drawn for establishment of International Patent Institute

June 16th: First network News – Dumont’s “News from Washington”

Pravda denounces Marshall Plan

June 17th:  Pan Am Airways chartered as 1st worldwide passenger airline

June 19th: 1st plane (F-80) exceeds 600 m.p.h.

June 20th: President Truman vetoes Taft-Hartley Act

June 23rd: Truman’s veto of Taft-Hartley Act overridden by Congress

June 24th: Flying saucers sighted over Mount Rainier by Pilot Ken Arnold

Jackie Robinson hits his first of 19 home runs.

June 25th: Tennis shoe introduced.

June 27th: NBC, channel 4 begins broadcasting

July 6th: the AK-47 goes into production in the Soviet Union

July 7-8: Reports that a UFO has crash landed in Roswell New Mexico are broadcast and disputed.

July 9th: Princess Elizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten are engaged.

Spain votes for Franco monarchy

July 18th:  British seize “Exodus 1947″ ship of Jewish immigrants to Palestine

King George VI signs Indian Independence Bill

President Truman signs Presidential Succession Act

US beings administering Trust Territory of Pacific Islands

July 19th: Prime Minister of shadow Burma Government, six cabinet members, and two non-cabinet members assassinated by the British, causing political chaos that continues to this day.

July 23rd: First (U.S. Navy) Air squadron of jets flown

July 25th:  US Air Force, Navy & War department form U.S. Department of Defense

US Department of Army created

July 26th: National Security Act establishes CIA

August 15th: India declares independence from Britain.  Islamic part becomes Pakistan

Sept. 29: Record World Series crowd of 73,365 at Yankee Stadium.

Oct. 1: US control of Haitian customs & governmental revenue ends.

Oct 2: revised International Telecommunication Convention adopted

Oct. 3: 1st telescope lens 200″ in diameter completed.

Channel 7 ABC begins

Oct 5: First presidential television address televised from White House

Oct. 9: First telephone conversation between a moving car and an airplane.

Oct. 11: Brazil and Chile break diplomatic relations with USSR

Oct. 14th: Chuck Yeager makes 1st supersonic flight.

Oct. 19th: Charles de Gaulle wins French elections

Oct. 23rd: NAACP petition on racism presented to the UN

Oct. 26th: British military occupation of Iraq ends

Oct. 27th: Channel 2, NBC begins broadcasting

Oct. 30th: 23 countries sign GATT agreement in Geneva

Nov. 17th:  The U.S. Screen Actors Guild implements an anti-Communist loyalty oath.

15,000 demonstrate in Brussels against mild sentence of nazis

Nov. 20th: 1st permanent TV installed on seagoing vessel (New Jersey)

Nov. 24th: Un-American Activities Committee finds “Hollywood 10″ in contempt because of their refusal to reveal whether they were communists.

Nov. 29th: UN General Assembly partitions Palestine between Arabs and Jews.

and the reign of terrorism begins in that part of the world

Dec. 10th: USSR & Czechoslovakia sign trade agreement

Dec. 12th: United Mine Workers union withdraws from AFL

Dec. 13th Maine Turnpike opens to traffic

Dec. 14th: The National Association for Stock Car Automobiles (NASCAR) opens on Daytona Beach, FL

Dec. 23rd: Transistor invented by Bardeen, Brattain & Shockley of Bell Labs

Dec. 25th: The Constitution of the Republic of China goes into effect.

Dec. 26th: Heavy snow blankets Northeast, burying NYC under 25.8″ of snow in 16 hours and LA sets a record high of 84 degrees.

Dec. 27th: First “Howdy Doody Show”

Dec. 29th: Ship carrying Jewish immigrants driven away from Palestine

Dec. 30th:  King Michael of Romania, forced by Communists to abdicate his throne.  Romanian Republic declared.

Do Economics Influence Attitudes Towards Aging?

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I have been working on a power point presentation entitled “One Size Does Not Fit All.”  The presentation will focus on how the cultural  mores of the aging population in our country are beginning to influence how we, as a culture, need to respond.

While doing research on this project, I am finding some very interesting studies.  One in particular struck a chord:  How economics influences our attitude towards aging.

Early studies which focused on socioeconomic predictors found that higher levels of economic development and industrialization are associated with less favorable attitudes towards aging and a lower societal status of older adults (e.g., Simmons, 1945Arnhoff, et al., 1964Maxwell, 1970Bengtson, Dowd, Smith, & Inkeles, 1975Palmore & Manton, 1974).

Why would this be?  Well, first off, the more money there is, the easier it is to “put an elderly away.”   In this country, retirement communities have sprung up all over and have, in fact, become an accepted part of the aging process.  This, in turn, means that grandchildren do not have a lot of opportunities to spend with their grandparents.  If the grandparent is not a regular part of the child’s environment, what sort of rapport can develop between the two individuals?  The less youth has an opportunity to interact with older citizens, the more likely they will develop a disdain for the apparent fogginess they encounter and even the inability to close the cultural gap that naturally exists between the energy of youth and the less energetic elder.

On the other hand, if a child grows up with [a] grandparent(s) in which the grandparent(s) [is] a very dynamic part of their world, their attitude will be very different.  There will be a bond.  There will be a sense of love.  They will actually see that Grandma or Grandpa has many sides to their personality.  They might even have the opportunity to see how grandma or grandpa change as they age and recognize that this is the natural order of things.

In turn, if the grandparent(s) [is] in a retirement community and the family visits them once a week, usually on a Sunday after church or brunch and the kid is in a strange environment, still in his/her church clothes witnessing a forced situation of having to make conversation, how much relating can really occur?  Most children don’t think to ask their grandparent what their life was like when they were younger.  So they sit there, feeling awkward in front of a virtually old stranger, just waiting for the moment when they can get up to leave to go home.

(Cowgill, 19721986) argues that industrialization has undermined the societal status of older adults and with the break up of the traditional extended family through urbanization, has shifted the value of the elder’s means of production and experienced based knowledge to a much lower rung.  Although in some circles, modernization theory is considered an oversimplification, I find that there is enough within the studies that validate the argument that modernization has had a negative influence in society’s general attitude towards its aging population.

In a study done by Corinna E. Löckenhoff, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, USA, the researchers approached their study with the following predictions:

In general, we predicted that perceptions about aspects of aging that are strongly linked to biological changes (i.e., physical aging and changes in fluid cognitive abilities) would show less variation across cultures and fewer associations with culture-level variables than perceptions of socioemotional aspects of aging (e.g., family relations and life satisfaction) and societal views of the aging process. For culture-level associations with socioeconomic characteristics, we expected to replicate previous research indicating that advanced development is associated with less favorable perceptions of aging.

Their findings confirmed this.  Utilizing Dutch Sociologist, Geert Hofstede’s value dimensions:

participants from cultures with greater Uncertainty Avoidance* reported more negative societal views of aging. Uncertainty Avoidance was also associated with less favorable expectations about age-related changes in family authority and life satisfaction. Further, participants from cultures higher in Power Distance** reported less favorable views of age-related changes in knowledge and wisdom.

Although this is a large topic of which only a small piece is reviewed in this blog entry, it just is another indication of how we need to re-think aging and bring it back as part of the mix.

 

* the concept of Uncertainty Avoidance deals with a society’s tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty.  The more structured a society is, ie, Germany, the less comfortable its citizenry is with ambiguity.

** Power Distance refers to how those individuals who are less powerful within an entity (whether a society or a family) accept and expect inequality in the power structure with which they find themselves.