Death of an Elder Raises Uncomfortable Questions About Adequacy of Care



Yves here. I’ve taken the liberty of changing the title of this Kaiser Health New from A Family Death During the Holidays Prompts Questions and Reflection. The piece pulls its punches, perhaps because the health care journalist author Judith Graham, who regularly writes about aging, is hesitant to come off as an advocate and/or potentially alienate future sources. But you can see she is clearly not happy with the caliber of care her father-in-law received in his final days.

I’ve heard similar stories from readers and I saw it first hand with my mother, who like Graham’s father died at 94. I would be curious if practices are better or worse with the moderately and very old in other countries, particularly in Asia. The two times my mother was hospitalized in her final year, the care was horrid. And it wasn’t as if the staff was overburdened due to Covid. My mother’s aides would call for help, and after >10 minutes of getting no answer, would then go to the nurses’ station to find them doing their nails and watching TV. They also failed to keep her well hydrated and bruised her horribly.


But more broadly, an anti-aged attitude was evident. No one seemed willing to work that hard to save an old woman, or even help her have a more dignified death, particularly since she didn’t look that swell. Thanks to Covid, her hair and nails hadn’t been done for over a year and she came to the hospital in flannel pajamas. Notice the photos of the father in law below. Despite the upscale sweater, watch and glass frames, I suspect his very aged skin was held against him.

BTW, according to the Social Security life expectancy table, an average women my mother’s age typically would have lived another 3.8 years. So to hell with the bigots on staff.

And this sorry picture is set to get worse with Covid, with repeat infections reducing health baselines generally and resulting in more demands on doctors, nurses and hospitals that have no ability to increase capacity in less than many years. A sicker population will also produce more prejudice against older patients, even if they are robust and have managed to stay Covid-free.

Author(s): Yves Smith, Judith Graham

Publication Date: 9 December 2022

Publication Site: naked capitalism

The Time Has Come To Talk About Senior Poverty In America



If 40 million Americans were suffering from the same severe problem, you might think it would be the subject of considerable media attention, a host of government programs, infusions of business capital and a hot topic of national conversation.

That is certainly what I thought several years ago when I began researching the reality that nearly half of all people of over 55 — one in seven Americans — had no money saved and risked heading into poverty or certainly into dire conditions that would make their lives desperate for decades to come.


The average Social Security check is a meager $1,543 a month and about 40% of older Americans rely entirely on Social Security for their income.

Author(s): Joe Seldner, Next Avenue

Publication Date: 9 July 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Mortality From Falls Among US Adults Aged 75 Years or Older, 2000-2016


Reference: JAMA. 2019;321(21):2131-2133. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.4185



In the United States, an estimated 28.7% of adults aged 65 years or older fell in 2014.1 Falls result in increased morbidity, mortality, and health care costs.1,2 Risk factors for falls include age, medication use, poor balance, and chronic conditions (ie, depression, diabetes).1 Fall prevention strategies are typically recommended for adults older than 65 years. In several European countries, an increase in mortality from falls has been observed since 2000, particularly among adults older than 75 years.3,4 This age group has the highest fall risk and potential for cost-effective interventions. We report trends in mortality from falls for the US population aged 75 years or older from 2000 to 2016.

Author(s): Klaas A. Hartholt, MD, PhD1; Robin Lee, PhD, MPH2; Elizabeth R. Burns, MPH2; et al

Publication Date: 4 June 2019

Publication Site: JAMA