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Mature Focus: News and Notes

Researchers have predicted an additional 2.5 million long-term care workers will be needed in the U.S. by 2030, with the greatest need being for home health and personal care aides.

Researchers have predicted an additional 2.5 million long-term care workers will be needed in the U.S. by 2030, with the greatest need being for home health and personal care aides.

Long-term care jobs

If projections made by a UC San Francisco research team are on target, the job market for long-term care workers is about to explode.

Professor Joanne Spetz and her colleagues analyzed long-term care patterns and determined that between now and 2030, at least 2.5 million more long-term care providers will be needed in the U.S.

“Even if 20 percent of elderly patients move out of nursing homes into home health care, which would be (a) huge change, the projected increase in demand for long-term care would only drop from 79 percent to 74 percent,” Spetz said. “Filling these jobs will be a challenge under any scenario.”

The authors noted that in another 15 years, one in five Americans will be 65 or older and 19 million adults will need some type of long-term care – 11 million more than just 15 years ago. The jobs they predicted will be most in demand are counselors, social workers, home health aides and personal care aides.

“In terms of sheer numbers, the greatest need is going to be for home health and personal care aides, with well over 1 million additional jobs by 2030,” Spetz said. “The challenge is that these are currently very low-paid, high-turnover, entry-level positions. A lot of people in these jobs are living in poverty while working full time. We have to figure out how to make them sustainable.”

Retirement ups and downs

A survey of some of the first baby boomers to reach retirement revealed that while most are content with their decision to leave the workplace, many found the transition to retirement to be emotionally challenging.

Earlier this year, Ameriprise Financial released results of its Retirement Triggers study, a survey of 1,000 newly retired adults aged 60-73 who had retired within the last five years.

Following are some survey highlights:

• The most-cited reasons for retiring were “I decided it was time to enjoy my life” or “I no longer wanted to work” (51 percent); “I reached my retirement savings goal/my adviser helped me understand I could retire” (17 percent); and “I was forced to retire by my employer/was offered early retirement incentives or lost my full-time job” (16 percent).

• Three of four survey respondents said they were “very satisfied” with their retirement lifestyle.

• Nearly one in three respondents said nothing about the transition to retirement was difficult, but others said the hardest thing about retiring was making emotional adjustments such as losing connections with colleagues (37 percent), getting used to a different routine (32 percent) and finding purposeful ways to pass the time (22 percent).

• Despite emotional challenges, 65 percent of retirees surveyed said they fell into a new routine fairly quickly, and about half said they had expected to have more free time once they retired.

• Forty-three percent of respondents said they were having more fun in retirement than they had anticipated.

• The majority (57 percent) of respondents reported being “very satisfied” with their financial situation, and 37 percent reported being “somewhat satisfied.”

• About one in 10 respondents said they returned to work in some capacity, but most of those working for pay said they were not working for the money but rather because the work seemed like an interesting opportunity or because they wanted intellectual stimulation.

• Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of recently retired baby boomers said they felt stressed about retirement leading up to the decision, but only one in four said they remained stressed after having been retired for some time.

Commenting on the survey findings, Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise, said the importance of preparing emotionally retirement often gets overshadowed by the many financial decisions that need to be made. In reality, she said, emotional and financial preparation should go hand-in-hand.

CAM concerns

An increasing number of women are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to manage symptoms of menopause, according to a study published last month in the online journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Cited as the main reason for the increase in CAM therapies was fear of hormone therapy.

Because many women are opting for CAM therapies without consulting their doctors, the trend has some healthcare professionals concerned.

“There is still much to be learned in the CAM arena, and women need to understand that just because something appears natural does not necessarily mean it is without risk, especially for certain populations,” NAMS Medical Director Wulf Utian, M.D., said.

The study found that about half of menopausal women (53 percent) use at least one type of CAM to manage symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, joint pain/stiffness, back pain, headaches, fatigue and other conditions. Among the most popular therapies are massage; herbal remedies; vitamins and minerals; yoga and meditation; chiropractic/osteopathic treatment; acupuncture; aromatherapy oils and Chinese medicines.

According to study authors, the biggest safety concern is the concurrent use of CAM products and conventional medicine by women unaware of possible herb-drug interactions.

Strong bones at 50

Results of a study of thousands of women enrolled in the ongoing Women’s Health Initiative suggest that not all women need bone mineral density (BMD) tests as often as previously believed – but some definitely do need regular testing.

The study involved more than 4,000 post-menopausal women aged 50-64 who underwent BMD testing and were not taking hormones or calcium and vitamin D supplements. At the start of the study, none of the women had experienced a bone fracture due to osteoporosis.

Comparing study participants who were found to have osteoporosis when the study began to those who were osteoporosis-free at the study’s onset, researchers found those with the disease had a high fracture risk. Conversely, post-menopausal women younger than 65 with normal bone density at 50 were found to have a very low risk of experiencing a bone fracture before age 65.

Study co-author Margery Gass, M.D., said the study “provides evidence that the young, postmenopausal women without osteoporosis on their BMD test, if they happened to have one before age 65, are not likely to need a repeat BMD test before 10 to 15 years have elapsed, barring significant health developments.”

A recent study found that more than half of menopausal women use some form of complementary and alternative medicine to treat symptoms of menopause.

A recent study found that more than half of menopausal women use some form of complementary and alternative medicine to treat symptoms of menopause.

An aspirin a day

Results of a national survey revealed that more than half of older adults in the U.S. take aspirin every day, despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend the practice for the majority of those who have not had a heart attack or a stroke.

According to a report published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, aspirin use is on the rise especially among adults hoping to prevent an initial cardiovascular event or cancer. The survey found that 81 percent of older adults who take a daily aspirin have not had a heart attack or stroke.

Last year, the FDA updated its standing on aspirin, stating in part:

“The FDA has reviewed the available data and does not believe the evidence supports the general use of aspirin for primary prevention of heart attack or stroke. In fact, there are serious risks associated with the use of aspirin, including increased risk of bleeding in the stomach and brain, in situations where the benefit of aspirin for primary prevention has not been established.”

Study author Craig Williams, of the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University, said that despite the FDA’s standing on aspirin, its use remains “a very contentious issue among medical experts” and many of those taking it for primary prevention do so with a doctor’s blessing.

He noted also that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force has said aspirin may be appropriate for primary prevention among those with serious risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Following are some of Williams’ key findings:

• Several markers of a healthy lifestyle were associated with aspirin use. The strongest predictor of regular aspirin use was having discussed it with a health care professional. Other significant predictors included being physically active, consuming healthy foods, having achieved a healthy weight, having managed stress, having tried to quit smoking, and having undergone health screenings.

• About one in five people who have had a heart attack or stroke and should be on aspirin therapy do not take it.

• The reasons respondents gave for taking aspirin included heart attack prevention (84 percent); stroke prevention (66 percent); cancer prevention (18 percent); Alzheimer’s disease prevention (11 percent).

Williams’ survey was completed by more than 2,500 respondents aged 45-75, 52 percent of whom reported currently taking aspirin.

On the calendar

A big band dance featuring live music from Alley Kats is from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday, July 10 at Mid Rivers Mall, 1600 Mid Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters. Fairwinds – Rivers Edge, a leisure care retirement community in St. Charles, sponsors the event. There is no charge for admission, and reservations are not required. For details, visit www.shopmidriversmall.com.

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