weekly blog--one for the ages
This past week Bloomberg had an interesting opinion piece on the state of relations between young Americans, middle-agers and boomers. As presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg explained recently, “the reason we’re having this argument over socialism and capitalism is that capitalism has let a lot of people down.”
It’s no accident that many younger Americans take a dim view of capitalism. They were surrounded by great wealth, but they had limited access to good-paying jobs and faced ever higher housing prices. Many middle-aged Americans probably aren’t so sure about capitalism either: They may have had a brief taste of prosperity in the 1990s, yet not nearly enough to set themselves up for retirement or prepare them for the choppy labor market and wage stagnation of the last 20 years.
What to do? According to the opinion writer...the U.S. government should cut taxes on workers and replace them with taxes that target the lifestyles of the more fortunate. A straightforward way of doing this would be to cut or even eliminate payroll taxes and slowly replace them with a value-added tax, or VAT. A VAT is a tax on the consumption of goods and services, and thus falls more heavily on those who spend a lot. The tax does raise the cost of living for those on Social Security, and that would have to be addressed. But it is also more progressive than a state and local sales tax.
Another way to tamp down generational resentment...eliminate the mortgage interest deduction to deflate the artificial rise in home prices. The bottom line: Affluent boomers living off their gains from investments in the market and real estate might want to ask themselves which is more painful--giving up some of their wealth or ignoring the plight of the millennial generation and fomenting revolutionary change?
4G...5G...What comes next? Before the century is out, advances in nanotechnology, nanomedicine, AI, and computation will result in the development of a "Human Brain/Cloud Interface" (B/CI), that connects neurons and synapses in the brain to vast cloud-computing networks in real time.
Instant access to information thus becomes possible without the need for external architecture such as computers and internet cables. Search and retrieval exercises will be initiated by thought patterns alone. Communications, education, work, and the world as we know it would be transformed.
The B/CI concept was initially proposed by futurist-author-inventor Ray Kurzweil, who suggested that neural nanorobots, the brainchild of Robert Freitas, Jr., could be used to connect the neocortex of the human brain to a “synthetic neocortex” in the cloud.
A new study by investigators from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that for older men, a better overall healthy diet was strongly associated with decreased odds of physical impairment, including a 25 percent lower likelihood of developing impaired physical function with aging. The researchers also concluded that greater intake of vegetables and nuts, and lower intake of red or processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages each modestly lowered risk of impairment.
Consuming garlic helps counteract age-related changes in gut bacteria associated with memory problems, according to a new study conducted with mice. The benefit comes from allyl sulfide, a compound in garlic known for its health benefits. The researchers observed that the older mice receiving the garlic compound showed better long- and short-term memory and healthier gut bacteria than the older mice that didn’t receive the treatment. Spatial memory was also impaired in the 24-month-old mice not receiving allyl sulfide.
As we get older, changes in our bodies can lead to food allergies. Aging can cause your stomach to produce less gastric acid, resulting in deficiencies in nutrients like zinc, vitamin D or iron. This can lead to an alteration in the immune system. In addition, there is a higher usage of antacids and alcohol, both of which can change the pH (acidity) of the stomach over time leading to food allergies. (study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital)
About one in 10 people have food allergies, and half develop them as adults. And half of adults with numerous food allergies developed at least one of them as an adult. A food allergy is an immune system response to a food, causing itching, hives, swelling, low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock or a respiratory reaction that can be life-threatening.
The most common allergen people develop as adults, according to the Northwestern Medicine study, is shellfish, affecting 7.2 million adults in the U.S. Other common adult-onset food allergies are to milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fin fish, eggs, wheat, soy and sesame. It’s not uncommon for a health care professional to mistake food allergy symptoms in an older adult for problems with a medication, sleep issues, viruses, autoimmune diseases, general aging or gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome. The longer a person continues to eat the allergen, the more serious the reactions can be, a particular concern in people with other health issues.
With the Boston Marathon scheduled for Monday, April 15, it’s time to hit the road. Just one hour a week of brisk walking staves off disability in older adults with arthritis pain, or aching or stiffness in a knee, hip, ankle or foot, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.
An estimated 14 million older adults in the U.S. have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of osteoarthritis. Approximately two in five people with osteoarthritis, most of whom have it in their lower joints, develop disability limitations.
The study found an hour of weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity allowed older adults to maintain their ability to perform daily tasks like getting dressed or cross a street before a traffic light walk signal changed.
The weekly hour of exercise also reduced their risk of mobility disability (walking too slowly to safely cross a street or less than one meter per second) by 85 percent and their risk of activities of daily living disability (difficulty performing morning routine tasks such as walking across a room, bathing and dressing) by almost 45 percent.
Meanwhile, if you are wondering where’s the best place to recover after a hip or knee replacement, the trend seems to be at home if the procedure is elective, and friends and family are available to help with the recovery.
The newest data comes from a March study in JAMA Internal Medicine of 17 million Medicare hospitalizations of people from 2010 to 2016. All the patients were older adults and went home or to a skilled nursing facility after a medical procedure or a serious illness. Knee and hip replacements were the most common reason for these hospitalizations.
Overall, costs were significantly lower for patients who went home, while hospital readmissions were slightly higher--a possible signal that home health care services needed strengthening or that family caregivers needed better education and training.