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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Older Men Cling To 1950’S, ’60’S Blueprint Of Masculinity

Newswise, October 26, 2016 — As men age, they continue to follow dominant ideas of masculinity learned as youth, leaving them unequipped for the assaults of old age, according to a new study.

The mismatch between aging and the often ageless expectations of popular masculinity leaves senior men without a blueprint to behave or handle emotions, according to a new literature review from Case Western Reserve University.

Men who embodied prevailing cultural and societal hallmarks of manliness as younger men—projecting an aura of toughness and independence, avoiding crying and vulnerability, while courageously taking risks—are confronted by the development of health problems, loss of spouses and loved ones, retirement and needing to be a caregiver for ailing family members in later life.

“Who you are in the past is embedded in you,” said Kaitlyn Barnes Langendoerfer, a doctoral student in sociology at Case Western Reserve and co-author of the review, which mined narrative data from nearly 100 previously published studies.

 “Men have trouble dealing with older age because they’ve followed a masculinity script that left little room for them to negotiate unavoidable problems.”

“In our study, we hear men struggling with grief—which is a vulnerable state—and caregiving, which is associated with femininity,” she said.

“If they must cry, men feel it’s to be done in the home, away from others, even when spouse has died. They have to renegotiate their masculinity in order to deal with what life is bringing their way.”

This masculinity “script” still embraced by older men was outlined as the four-part Blueprint of Manhood, first published by sociologist Robert Brannon when the men in the studies were entering adulthood in the 1970’s. The blueprint included:

No Sissy Stuff - men are to avoid being feminine, show no weaknesses and hide intimate aspects of their lives.
The Big Wheel - men must gain and retain respect and power and are expected to seek success in all they do.
The Sturdy Oak – men are to be ‘‘the strong, silent type” by projecting an air of confidence and remaining calm no matter what.
Give ‘em Hell – men are to be tough, adventurous, never give up and live life on the edge.

“We’re all aging; it’s a fact of life. But as men age, they’re unable to be who they were, and that creates a dissonance that is hard to reconcile,” said Langendoerfer, who studies aging in men.

“We need to better understand how older men adapt to their stressors—high suicide rates, emotions they stifle, avoiding the doctor—to hopefully help them build better lives in older age,” she said.

The review, published in the journal Men and Masculinities, was co-written by Edward Thompson Jr., an emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross and now an affiliate of the Department of Sociology at Case Western Reserve.

Most of the data came from studies with white, middle-class men from the United States, Canada and Europe who had stable careers. “More research inclusive of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds is needed to obtain a more complete picture of how older men adapt,” Langendoerfer said. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Designing The Future Internet

 Credit: Shutterstock/monicaodo
New smart objects of future internet develop;mentRutgers’ Dipankar Raychaudhuri in the forefront of creating a mobile-friendly internet that can handle billions of devices and smart gadgets

The Internet of Things includes smart objects like fitness monitors, smart watches, smartphones and home thermostats.

Newswise, October 24, 2016 — This century, our world will be flooded with hundreds of billions of smartphones, gadgets, sensors and other smart objects connected to the internet.

 They will perform myriad services, such as monitoring our health, helping run households and boosting driver safety. At Rutgers, Dipankar “Ray” Raychaudhuri is at the forefront of efforts to redesign the internet to handle the enormous increase in traffic.

“The traffic that comes from mobile devices into the internet has been increasing exponentially. It used to be 10 percent five years ago – now it’s over 50 percent,” said Raychaudhuri, a distinguished professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineeringand director of the WINLAB (Wireless Information Network Lab).

“As a result, mobile wireless capacity is beginning to run out,” he said.

“That’s why cellular operators have to give you data limits. When you try to use a mobile phone and you’re downloading a web page, it stalls unexpectedly at times and you have to wait for the signal to improve. Also, there are all kinds of holes in the security system that need to be fixed.”

In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a Future Internet Architecture initiative and invited academics to take a fresh look at the internet. Raychaudhuri and colleagues proposed a“MobilityFirst” project aimed at reimagining the Internet, winning major NSF funding.

The MobilityFirst project, now in its sixth year, includes experts at Rutgers, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The NSF provided $3.275 million to Rutgers from 2010 to 2014 and $2.9 million since 2014, said Raychaudhuri, the project’s principal investigator.

“The internet has a lot of duct tape on it,” he said. “It works very well, but it has some limitations, especially when you try to do more mobile communications. How to re-architect the internet is a very ambitious goal.”

The MobilityFirst project is centered on shifting from the current internet protocol (IP) – an elegant, address-based routing technology designed in the 1970s – to name-based routing, he said.

An IP address is a unique number for an internet device, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which allocates the numbers used to route internet traffic to devices.

MobilityFirst’s name-based approach would be a fundamental change. Names would represent people, mobile phones, internet devices, small sensors or any other objects connected to the internet, said Raychaudhuri, a native of India who received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

The benefits of MobilityFirst include more flexible services, better security, support for mobility across many technologies, efficiency and the ability to handle large volumes of traffic and data.

“We are not expecting to rip out the old internet,” Raychaudhuri said. “The internet has a lot of nice properties that we don’t want to lose.

“But one of the challenges for today’s internet is that with all these different modes of communication, some of them such as mobility services, broadcasting or content delivery are not handled very efficiently, and this could lead to flooding the network with too much data.”

The different modes of communication include the “Internet of Things” – a swiftly flowering field featuring smart objects, such as fitness monitors and smart watches, home thermostats and lighting, smartphones and devices with sensors.

Smart objects are expected to become pervasive in society, managing energy use in homes, monitoring food consumption, diagnosing health problems, monitoring cybersecurity and making driving safer, among other benefits.

Some 50 billion smart objects are anticipated by 2020, and 1 trillion sensors soon thereafter, according to the NSF.

“The Internet of Things has a lot of potential, but it needs fast and low delay networks that can ensure that data are received in time,” Raychaudhuri said.

“A lot of people are working on how to make cellular networks faster – so-called '5G' – and more functional, and many of the goals are similar to what we have in the MobilityFirst project.”

Three MobilityFirst trials are underway or planned, including one with SES, a satellite services company with a Princeton office. SES is using the MobilityFirst system to deliver content closer to its users, reducing the cost and improving user experience.

The second trial – with the University of Wisconsin-Madison – will show how an internet service provider’s circuits can be extended to offer mobile service.

The third trial, led by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Texas, will look into how to do targeted emergency messaging in a disaster-recovery scenario, such as following a terrorism incident or a major hurricane like Katrina in 2005.

The Internet of Things also covers virtual reality and augmented reality, with people wearing special glasses that, for example, provide directions as they walk or show the stores in a shopping center, said Raychaudhuri, who joined Rutgers in 2001 after working at a startup company called Iospan Wireless in Silicon Valley, as well as the NEC USA C&C Research Laboratory and Sarnoff/ RCA Laboratories, both in Princeton, New Jersey.

New Research Explores What It Means When A Child Loses A Pet

When a child loses a pet
Publisher's note:  We offer this story as a gentle reminder that loss is a part of living, and that the first instance of this is often as a child suffering the loss of pet--or even a family member.  Loss is Loss, hopefully this article will offer some guidelines of the grieving process as findings show children describe their pets as siblings or best friends and have an existential fairness around whether or not an animal lived until an appropriate age.

Newswise, October 24, 2016 — Given the relatively short lifespans of many pets, it’s not unusual for children to witness the realities of life played out in their homes. But “how children understand death in these moments, and the ideas, feelings and responses they have when their pets die are largely ignored topics,” says Joshua J. Russell, PhD. 

New research by the assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology and conservation (ABEC) at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, reveals that pets are more than just animals to children.

 “They often see themselves as the center of their pets’ affections,” says Russell, who conducted one-on-one interviews with children between the ages of six and 13. “They describe their pets as siblings or best friends with whom they have strong connections.”

For example, Neville, a 13-year-old boy was shaken by the sudden death of his cat, even though it occurred two years earlier. “I asked Neville how he felt when he learned his cat was struck by a car and he replied, ‘My life was over.’”

Unfortunately, the joy of owning a pet often goes hand-in-hand with the heartbreak of losing one. Children, in particular, “have a distinct sense of existential fairness around whether or not an animal lived until an appropriate age,” Russell explains.

A short lifespan “is normal for hamsters and fish,” according to the children interviewed, “but unexpected for dogs, cats and rabbits.” Similarly, different kinds of deaths mean different things to children.

“Children whose pets lived the extent of their potential lifetimes – or beyond – expressed acceptance upon their deaths,” Russell says.

The children also suggested that euthanasia “was the moral thing to do when a pet is suffering.

” Conversely, children whose pets died unexpectedly “described it as emotionally and morally unfair, and had a much more difficult time reconciling the loss.”

In all instances, family and friends helped the children cope with the loss of their beloved pets through discussions and family rituals.
Although, Russell discovered ambivalence about whether a new pet would lessen their grief.

“There were those who felt it would be wrong to move on to a new pet because they had to honor their relationships with the deceased one.” Several children, however, “explicitly linked getting a new pet with feeling better,” Russell continues.

“They explained it as an opportunity to start over and suggested that replacing a companion animal is more about beginning a new relationship than erasing memories of an old one.”

Neville summarized it best, Russell concludes, when he said, “Sometimes death is tragic, like when a cat is run over by a car. But ultimately, death is part of life and life does go on.”

Joshua Russell’s research involving children and non-human animals is ongoing. He is using a grant from the national Culture & Animals Foundation to investigate how children describe and derive meaning from wildlife recreational experiences, such as hunting and fishing.

Plan Ahead For Successful Agin

Newswise, October 24, 2016— For many people, the prospect of aging is scary and uncomfortable, but Florida State University Assistant Professor Dawn Carr says that research reveals a few tips that can improve our chances of a long, healthy life.

Tips for Successful AgingCarr, who joined FSU’s Department of Sociology and the Pepper Institute on Aging and Social Policy this fall, is working to identify social programs and policy solutions that improve and maintain quality of life as people age.

“The ultimate goal is to set people up for having a good life for as long as possible in ways that are meaningful and productive,” she said.

As a gerontologist, Carr studies the biological, cognitive and social processes involved in aging and the ways that societies construct systems to accommodate aging populations.

 Carr’s specialization in social gerontology means she pays particular attention to the idea of “successful aging,” or the ways that people can continue to lead fulfilling, emotionally satisfying lives as they get older.

Fundamental to understanding aging from the perspective of a social gerontologist is the important distinction between “successful aging” and pop cultural or cosmetic ideas about “anti-aging.”

“Anti-aging is a movement that views youth as the best state of being,” Carr said. “It’s focused on the idea that good agers are those who look, act and seem young.”

Conversely, the idea of successful aging is based on the notion that getting older can be a healthy and positive process — that it can yield its own unique experiences and outlooks.

Proponents of successful aging ideas argue that, with adequate and deliberate preparation, late-adulthood can be a time of increased self-actualization.

Carr, who previously served as a research associate at Stanford’s Center on Longevity, has published extensively on the subject of successful aging.

“What my research has done is to try and understand the shifts in the way we live as we get older,” Carr said.

“What I’m trying to understand is what we can do to keep health and cognitive performance up for as long as possible.”

Carr shared a few basic tips for becoming a successful ager.

Get a College Degree

There is no more crucial variable in the formula of successful aging than education. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the indispensible value of meaningful educational experiences, and especially of attaining a college degree.

“Education has been the biggest predictor of aging outcomes for a very long time,” Carr said.

“You just can’t hold a candle to number of years of education and its relationship to any outcome related to aging. It’s hard for me to ever imagine that education wouldn’t be beneficial to health, well-being and aging well.”

Eat Healthy
Eating well can have significant, measurable effects on aging outcomes. It’s important to find a healthy diet that works for your individual lifestyle.

“There are a lot of diets that work well, but none of them involve eating a ton of fast food,” Carr said. “It’s important to use nutrition in a way that doesn’t result in bad outcomes like heart disease and diabetes, but that can vary from person to person.”

There is no substitute for a consistent exercise regimen.

“Exercise is crucial over the long term,” she said. “You can start at anytime throughout your life but it’s important to continue as much as possible. There’s no evidence that you can do too much, and exercise seems to be one of the few things that, for the average person with normal brain matter, keeps cognitive performance up later in life.”

Stay Socially Connected

Quality of social connection is one of the most reliable predictors of well-being in older individuals. This is particularly vital for older men, who tend to have a more difficult time forging important relationships as they age.

“Social connectedness is the thing that people probably pay the least attention to,” Carr said.

“Maintaining meaningful engagement with others through the duration of your life is crucial, and men aren’t so good at it, which is a problem.

”For example, research shows that older men who are married tend to do better than those who aren’t, so we know there’s something important in having close connections later in life.

“The thing is, it’s hard to have someone close to you later in life if you’ve never spent any time cultivating meaningful relationships with others.”

Carr recommends joining formal community groups as a way of ensuring sustained connection as we age.

“Embedding yourself in formal organizations like church, volunteer programs or book clubs can be a great way to cultivate relationships,” she said.

Plan Financially
It’s never too early to begin making financial arrangements for later life. While structures of economic inequality often make it difficult for some to plan in the long term, the prudent choice is always to begin considering your late-life finances as soon as possible.

“Being poor in later life is not good for your health,” Carr said.

“A lot of people don’t have control over that, which is a huge deal. But one thing we know to be true is that if you have a sufficient income, that’s pretty critical in improving outcomes. You have a lot working against you if you don’t have the money to maintain your well-being over time.” 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ode to Recall: To remember events in order, we rely on the Brain’s ‘Symphony’

How the Brain Works to Recall Events
Newswise, October 17, 2016 — To remember events in the order they occur, the brain’s neurons function in a coordinated way that is akin to a symphony, a team of New York University scientists has found. Their findings offer new insights into how we recall information and point to factors that may disrupt certain types of memories.

“The findings enhance our understanding of how the brain keeps track of what happened and when it happened relative to other events,” explains Lila Davachi, associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and the study’s senior author.

“We’ve known for some time that neurons increase their activity when we encode memories. What our study shows is there’s a rhythm to how they fire in relation to one another—much like different instruments in a symphony orchestra.”

The study’s first author was Andrew Heusser, a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology. Its collaborators were David Poeppel, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, and Youssef Ezzyat, also a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology at the time of the research and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

The research, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, sought to determine the validity of a long-standing hypothesis, proposed in 1995 by neuroscientists John Lisman and Marco Idiart, which outlines how the order of memories is encoded.

The “theta-gamma phase coding” model states that when our brains create a memory for a specific event, our neurons oscillate in a coordinated fashion, with cells firing at high (gamma) frequencies. To encode the order of multiple events, cells representing each event fire in a sequence that is coordinated by a lower (theta) frequency brain rhythm.

To test this, the scientists had the study’s participants view a series of six objects (e.g., a butterfly, headphones, etc.), one at a time, on a computer screen.

During the experiment, researchers examined the subjects’ neural activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG), which captures measurements of the tiny magnetic fields generated by the brain.

Later, they asked subjects to recall the order of the objects they viewed.

In their analysis, the researchers examined the neuronal activity of the subjects when they first viewed the objects, then matched it to the results of the recall test.

Their data showed notable differences in the patterns of neural activity when the order of the objects was correctly encoded compared to when it was not.

Specifically, when the order of the objects was correctly encoded, the gamma activity associated with each object was temporally ordered along a slower theta oscillation so that the gamma activity for object 1 preceded that for object 2 and so on.

By contrast, when subjects incorrectly recalled the order in which the objects were presented, gamma activity was just as high—but there was no discernible pattern.

“When particular oscillations are in step with each other, we remember the order,” Davachi observes. “But when they are not, we don’t.”

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1–MH074692).

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Can Older Adults with Dementia Continue to Drive? More Study is Needed

Should elderly with dementia continue to drive
Newswise, October 9, 2016--How do you know when it's time for an older adult with mild dementia to stop driving? Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. It can impact a person's ability to drive safely.

Although all people with dementia will have to stop driving eventually, each case can be unique based on the individual. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, we still need to explore mental or physical tests that can best predict when people with dementia should stop driving.

People with dementia are between two and eight times more likely than adults of the same age without dementia to be involved in car accidents. Since dementia makes it difficult for people to evaluate their own ability to drive safely, furthermore, the decision about when to stop driving must be based on objective tests.

To determine which kinds of tests best evaluate driving safety, researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, reviewed 28 studies that investigated the relationship between driving and cognitive function in people with dementia.

The study was the first of its kind to examine drivers with dementia and which existing tests might be most helpful in assessing their driver safety.

The researchers reviewed studies that examined various testing methods, including mental status tests, on-road assessments, tests using computerized and simulated driving, and those using motor vehicle crash data.

The researchers determined that current testing procedures are only about 77 percent accurate for predicting how safely people with dementia can drive.

They concluded that better, more accurate testing tools are needed to assess whether or not people with dementia can continue to drive safely. In the interim, older adults and caregivers should continue to work closely with their healthcare professionals when it comes to safe driving. Doctors, nurses, social workers, and other experts can evaluate your abilities and help you transition to driver retirement when the time is right.

When Washington Doesn't ‘Get America

Why Washington DC bureaucrats don't get things right
Newswise, October 9, 2016--  Washington doesn’t think very highly of the American people, concludes a yearlong Johns Hopkins University study of 850 non-elected officials working in the nation’s capital….These Beltway insiders, who work in federal agencies, on Capitol Hill and in other Washington policy jobs, tend to think Americans are uninformed, know “very little” about key issues, and have opinions that can be ignored.

The findings by political scientists Jennifer Bachner and Benjamin Ginsberg, will appear in the book, What Washington Gets Wrong: The Unelected Officials Who Actually Run the Government and Their Misconceptions about the American People, which will be published by Penguin Random House on Oct. 4.

“This disdain for the public results from the wide gulf between the life experiences of ordinary Americans and the denizens of official Washington,” the authors say.

 “Official Washington is wealthier, whiter and better educated than ordinary citizens. It lives in its own inside-the-Beltway bubble, where Washingtonians converse with one another and rarely interact on an intellectual plane with Americans at large.”

In their 2013 survey, the authors found people who either work in government or directly with it not only have very little in common with other Americans, but have a disturbingly low opinion of them.

They found 73 percent of government officials think the public knows little or nothing about programs aimed at helping the poor, 71 percent think the public knows little or nothing about science and technology policy, and 61 percent think the public knows almost nothing about childcare.

In fact, when it comes to fundamental policy areas like social security, public schools, crime, defense and the environment, it was hard to find government officials who thought the public knew “a great deal.”
Assuming Americans know so little, government officials tend to use their own judgment rather than the people’s when making policy decisions, the authors conclude.

With issues of science and defense, more than half of officials think they should “always” or “mostly” heed their own opinions. With crime, welfare and the environment, at least 42 percent of officials felt the same way.

Government officials actually tended to believe their own views diverged more from those of ordinary Americans than they actually did.

For example, 76 percent of officials believe they disagree with average Americans on half of the policy areas surveyed, but only 12 percent of them really do. The data on “average Americans” is largely drawn from the 2012 American National Election Study.

“This sense of “false uniqueness” reflects a sense of cultural or intellectual superiority,” the authors say. “The officials tend to view the citizenry with a considerable amount of disdain.”

Previously released findings from the book showed:

--Ninety-one percent of those who work for federal agencies are white, versus 78 percent of the public.
--In 2012, federal workers compensation averaged $81,704, or 48 percent more than the private sector average of $54,995, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That puts federal workers in the top 10 percent of American earners.
--Sixty percent of those who work on the Hill are Democrats versus 35 percent of Americans at large.
--In the 2012 presidential election, 97 percent of congressional and White House staffers voted versus 80 percent of other Americans. Sixty-two percent of those Hill staffers believe election votes are counted fairly “very often” compared with 33 percent of other Americans.
--Washingtonians are reading the news at least five days a week compared with about three days a week for the rest of the country.

Bachner is director of the Master of Science in Government Analytics program at Johns Hopkins. She teaches courses in statistical analysis, survey research, public opinion, elections and American political behavior. Her research examines coalition building in Congress, government responsiveness and the growth of online education.

Ginsberg is the David Bernstein Professor of Political Science and chairman of the Johns Hopkins Center for Advanced Governmental Studies. His research interests include American politics, Jewish history, higher education policy, and the societal impact of war and violence. He is the author of 24 books, most recently The Worth of War.

Monday, October 3, 2016


End of Life forms Confusing to Elderly
The majority of end-of-life forms for elderly patients in the study were incomplete

Newswise, October 3, 2016. – In recent years, Physicians’ Orders for Life Sustaining Treatments (POLST) forms have been seen as an important way to honor the end-of-life wishes of frail elderly or terminally ill patients who cannot speak for themselves.

But while the goal of filling out POLST forms is to let providers know patients’ preferences regarding life-sustaining treatments, the information they contain is often ambiguous, a new University at Buffalo study has found. 

Published online  in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, the study is called “Decisions by Default: Incomplete and Contradictory POLST in Emergency Care.”

“We called it ‘Decisions by Default’ to make patients aware that if they don’t make a decision about a specific life-sustaining treatment, then in an emergency, they will most likely get the most aggressive treatment available,” said Brian Clemency, DO, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and first author on the paper. He also is a physician with UBMD Emergency Medicine.

Deborah P. Waldrop, PhD, professor in the UB School of Social Work and a nationally- recognized expert on palliative care, is senior author.
The study was conducted in the busy Emergency Department of Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), a partner hospital of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where Clemency is an emergency medicine attending physician.

“In emergency medicine, we are trained to do everything we can to prolong life,” Clemency said.

“The goal of this paper is to help us as emergency medicine physicians honor our patients’ wishes as much as possible.”

Strictly speaking, the study’s focus was not on the patients themselves, but on the forms that had been completed before their emergency. In New York State, the forms are called Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment or MOLST forms.

One hundred MOLST forms were collected from patients arriving at the emergency department.

Items included on the form cover whether or not patients requested cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, intubation, hospitalization, intravenous fluids, feeding tubes and antibiotics.

Incomplete forms
Of the 100 forms collected, 69 percent were incomplete with at least one section left blank. That may compel emergency medicine providers to perform interventions the patient would not have wanted.

“We want to do what the patient wants,” explained Clemency, “but if you don’t tell us what you want, we’re forced to assume you want ‘everything’ done.”

Waldrop, who has spent her career working to provide families dealing with end-of-life issues with better options, says that the research demonstrates a need for greater training among primary care providers.

“Primary care providers are having these difficult conversations with their patients,” said Waldrop.

“More education and training are needed to help them be comfortable guiding people with serious illnesses to effectively communicate their wishes about life-sustaining treatment.”

That means going over any inconsistencies in the patients’ responses, Clemency said.

 For example, if a patient says they don’t want any life-saving interventions but they do want a breathing tube inserted, Clemency said that that discrepancy may reflect a lack of understanding on the part of the patient and should be questioned by the physician.

“I think the doctor’s job is to guide the patient through it and ask them about the implications of their decisions,” said Clemency.

Waldrop noted that the forms about life-sustaining treatment and the conversations about them are a major step toward improving end-of-life care for patients, but there is room for improvement.

“This research shows that to be effective in reflecting patients’ wishes, these forms need to be filled out completely and without contradictory orders after an informed conversation between a primary care provider and the patient,” she said.

Improving communication

“Our hope is that this paper will improve communication between patients and providers, better informing the end-users, the emergency medicine doctors who typically meet these patients when they arrive at the emergency department at 3 a.m.,” Clemency added.

And it isn’t only the emergency physicians who need more clarity, he noted. Families need it too.

“You already have many stressors when an elderly parent is ill,” Clemency said, “but if the parents’ wishes aren’t clearly articulated, you might have multiple children, all of whom have the best of intentions, each of whom has a different understanding of what that parent wanted.

“Patients and their families can only benefit when the patients’ wishes are clearly articulated.”

UB co-authors are Jeanne M. Basior, MD, associate professor and Heather A. Lindstrom, PhD, assistant professor, both in the Department of Emergency Medicine. Colleen Clemency Cordes, PhD, of Arizona State University also is a co-author.


Current added to new bandages boosts healing of wounds
Newswise, October 3, 2016-- Good news for the millions of people who suffer from skin wounds that won’t heal. A team of researchers at The Ohio State University has brought a potentially transformative solution to the problem by creating a portable adhesive patch that drives a continuous, small electrical current to stimulate healing and reduce the risk of infection.

Nearly 7 million Americans have chronic wounds – typically a result of diabetes, obesity or other conditions that impact circulation – costing the healthcare system nearly $25 billion each year. The non-healing wounds are painful, can permanently damage nerves, prevent mobility and in extreme cases, cause infection that can lead to death.

The patch’s design significantly advances existing FDA-approved wireless electroceutical dressing (WED) that harnesses the body’s innate response to injury to help wounds heal.

“A wound naturally produces its own electrical fields that help reduce bacteria and promote cell regeneration; however, this function is likely impaired in chronic wounds,” said Sashwati Roy, PhD, an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at Ohio State’s College of Medicine.

“The prototype dressing mimics this physiological process, and while it has proven to create an optimal environment where chronic wounds can heal, we are always looking for new ways to keep pathogens under better control.”

Roy notes that chronic wounds are particularly susceptible to infection because bacteria, which at times are free floating within a wound – can sometimes mobilize, creating colonies covered by a thick sticky coating called a biofilm.

The immune system cannot penetrate the biofilm, and antibiotics can’t get in either – causing constant inflammation and low-level infection that can further dampen the healing process.

Now, with support from Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), researchers from both the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine are taking the technology to the next level.

Working with a mechanical and aerospace engineering team led by Shaurya Prakash, PhD and Vish Subramaniam, PhD, the scientists have optimized the bandage’s design and the amount of electrical current delivered. Like present WEDs, the new prototype is flexible, portable and self-contained.

 Made of silk and silver, the experimental dressing includes a self-contained battery that delivers a continuous, safe, low-level electrical current to the injury. 

“We’re hoping this new design may allow electric fields and currents to penetrate more deeply into wounds, and really get to where these biofilms may be hiding,” said Subramaniam, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Ohio State.

“The destruction of the biofilm would enable antibiotics to start killing off bacteria, reduce chronic inflammation and allow the body’s natural immune response to work more effectively. Bacteria are known to quickly acquire resistance against antibiotics, but to our knowledge, bacteria do not develop resistance against electroceuticals.” 

To test the experimental design, Roy and a team of scientists developed an animal model to mimic the skin function of a person suffering from metabolic syndrome – obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar - which mirrors the type of patient that typically develops chronic wounds.

Animal models had skin injuries infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus or Acinetobacter baumannii, three different types of bacteria that commonly infect wounds and develop biofilms that are treatment resistant.

Early results, which were presented at the Wound Healing Society’s Annual Meeting in April 2016 indicate that infected wounds covered by the experimental bioelectric dressing healed better and more quickly than those covered with a plain dressing that is commonly used in the care of wounds today.

Scientists hypothesize that the electrical currents may disrupt bacteria in two ways: by interrupting the production of chemical messages that instruct bacteria to develop biofilms and by weakening the molecular structure of existing biofilms, potentially making them more susceptible to antibiotics or the body’s natural immune response.

The team’s next move is to focus on the bioelectric bandage as a treatment for chronic wounds in a patient population; however, the technology could also be used to treat acute injuries.

Roy also notes that the U. S. Department of Defense is very interested in the dressing as a temporary measure to help prevent infection in soldiers wounded on the battle front.

“This technology has a long shelf life and is compact enough to be put into any field medical kit. It could be applied immediately to wounds help keep bacteria from mobilizing and start promoting healing until the soldier could be transported to a facility for more intensive medical care.”

The team already has interest from several industry partners, and is hoping to begin testing the new technology in patients before the end of the year to determine optimal treatment duration and more about the healing effects of electrical fields on skin cells on a molecular level.

Roy’s research team includes Shomita S. Steiner, PhD; Shaurya Prakash, PhD; Gayle Gordillo, MD; Vish Subramaniam, PhD and Chandan K. Sen, PhD.
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The Ohio State University Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program (UL1TR001070, KL2TR001068, TL1TR001069) The CTSA program is led by the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). The content of this release is solely the responsibility of the CCTS and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.


Most Americans want more rest and well-being
Newswise, October 3, 2016 — Over two thirds (68 per cent) of the public would like more rest, according to the world’s largest ever survey on the topic.

The results of the survey, led by Durham University researchers, also revealed that nearly a third (32 per cent) of respondents said they need more rest than the average person, while 10 per cent think they need less.

Rest and well-being
More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness, and the results were unveiled during BBC Radio 4’s programme The Anatomy of Rest.

The survey found that those who felt they needed more rest scored lower in terms of well-being.

Similarly, those who responded saying they think they get more rest than average or don’t feel in need of more rest, had well-being scores twice as high as those who wanted more rest. This suggests that the perception of rest matters, as well as the reality.

Dr Felicity Callard, principal investigator on the project and social scientist in the Department of Geography,said: “The survey shows that people’s ability to take rest, and their levels of well-being, are related. We’re delighted that these findings combat a common, moralizing connection between rest and laziness.”

Five most restful activities
The survey asked people to choose the activities that they find the most restful. The results show that the top five most restful activities are those often done alone:

Reading (58 per cent)
Being in the natural environment (53.1 per cent)
Being on their own (52.1 per cent)
Listening to music (40.6 per cent)
Doing nothing in particular (40 per cent)

Dr Felicity Callard continued: “It’s intriguing that the top activities considered restful are frequently done on one’s own. Perhaps it’s not only the total hours resting or working that we need to consider, but the rhythms of our work, rest and time with and without others.”

Modern life
The results of the survey come at a time when the urge to be busy defines modern life and the topic of rest is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Rest can seem hard to find, whether in relation to an exhausted body, a racing mind or a hectic city.

Rest is a much broader category than sleep, and has physical, mental and spiritual components. But much less is known about the potentially restorative benefits of rest – in part because it means different things to different people.

The survey asked respondents to state how many hours rest they had within the last 24 hours.

The results showed that, on average, being younger and having a higher household income was associated with having fewer hours of rest. Those with caring responsibilities or in shift work which included nights also reported fewer hours of rest. The average time spent resting by UK respondents the previous day was 3 hours and 8 minutes.

Pressing issue
Claudia Hammond, presenter of Radio 4’s All in the Mind and associate director of Hubbub, said:

“We had no idea how many people would choose to complete the Rest Test. More than 18,000 gave up their precious sparetime to tell us what they thought about rest which shows us what a pressing issue it is. These results show just how crucial it is to our well-being to ensure people do have time to rest. We can begin to try to work out what the optimum amount of rest might be and how we should go about resting.”

The Rest Test has been designed by Hubbub, an international collective of social scientists, artists, humanities researchers, scientists, broadcasters, public engagement professionals and mental health experts, in residence at the Hub at Wellcome Collection in London, led by Durham University.

A full analysis of the data will be published in the next year. Hubbub hope the results will increase understanding of people’s perceptions of rest and the way these relate to an individual’s work or daily habits, as well as their experiences of health, illness, disability, satisfaction with life and the tendency to mind wander.

The results coincide with a new exhibition Rest & its discontents open at Mile End Art Pavilion from 30 September-30 October and a new Hubbub publication The Restless Compendium available free to download or to buy as a hard copy from 27


Epigentic clock predicts life expectancy
UCLA-led study shows 5 percent of population ages faster, faces shorter lifespan

The rate of your biological clock influences how long you'll live.

Why do some people lead a perfectly healthy lifestyle yet still die young? A new international study suggests that the answer lies in our DNA.

Newswise, October 3, 2016 — UCLA geneticist Steve Horvath led a team of 65 scientists in seven countries to record age-related changes to human DNA, calculate biological age and estimate a person’s lifespan. A higher biological age—regardless of chronological age—consistently predicted an earlier death.

The findings are published in today’s edition of the journal Aging.

“Our research reveals valuable clues into what causes human aging, marking a first step toward developing targeted methods to slow the process,” said principal investigator Horvath, a professor of human genetics and biostatistics at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Fielding School of Public Health.

Drawing on 13 sets of data, including the landmark Framingham Heart Study and Women’s Health Initiative, a consortium of 25 institutions analyzed the DNA in blood samples collected from more than 13,000 people in the United States and Europe.

Applying a variety of molecular methods, including an epigenetic clock developed by Horvath in 2013, the scientists measured the aging rates of each individual.

The clock calculates the aging of blood and other tissues by tracking methylation, a natural process that chemically alters DNA over time. By comparing chronological age to the blood’s biological age, the scientists used the clock to predict each person’s life expectancy.

“We were stunned to see that the epigenetic clock was able to predict the lifespans of Caucasians, Hispanics and African-Americans,” said first author Brian Chen, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Aging.

“This rang true even after adjusting for traditional risk factors like age, gender, smoking, body-mass index, disease history and blood cell counts.”

The group’s findings, however, don’t bode well for everyone.

“We discovered that 5 percent of the population ages at a faster biological rate, resulting in a shorter life expectancy,” Horvath said. “Accelerated aging increases these adults’ risk of death by 50 percent at any age.”

For example, two 60-year-old men, Peter and Joe, both smoke to deal with high stress. Peter’s epigenetic aging rate ranks in the top 5 percent, while Joe’s aging rate is average. The likelihood of Peter dying within the next 10 years is 75 percent compared to 60 percent for Joe.

The preliminary finding may explain why some individuals die young – even when they follow a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, drink in moderation and don’t smoke. 

“While a healthful lifestyle may help extend life expectancy, our innate aging process prevents us from cheating death forever,” Horvath emphasized. “Yet risk factors like smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure still predict mortality more strongly than one’s epigenetic aging rate.”

Scientists have long searched to identify biomarkers for biological age, according to coauthor Dr. Douglas Kiel, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a senior scientist for the Institute of Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife.

“In geriatric medicine, we are always struck by the difference between our patients’ chronological age and how old they appear physiologically,” said Kiel.

“This study validates the use of DNA methylation as a biomarker for biological age. And if we can prove that DNA methylation accelerates aging, we can devise strategies to slow the rate and maximize a person’s years of good health.”

The precise role of epigenetic changes in aging and death, however, remains unknown, said coauthor Dr. Themistocles Assimes, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Do the epigenetic changes associated with chronological aging directly cause death in older people?” said Assimes.

“Perhaps they merely enhance the development of certain diseases--or cripple one’s ability to resist the progression of disease after it has taken root. Future research is needed to address these questions.”

Larger studies focused only on cases with well-documented causes of death will help scientists tease out the relationship between epigenetic age and specific diseases, he added.

By 2017, according to the World Health Organization, the number of people worldwide over age 65 will outnumber those under age 5 for the first time in recorded history.

By 2050, the proportion of the global population over 60 will double from 11 to 22 percent. Many countries will be ill-prepared to keep pace with the high costs associated with disease and disability as more people live longer, said Horvath.

“We must find interventions that prolong healthy living by five to 20 years. We don’t have time, however, to follow a person for decades to test whether a new drug works.” said Horvath. “The epigenetic clock would allow scientists to quickly evaluate the effect of anti-aging therapies in only three years.”

The University of California has applied for a provisional patent on the epigenetic clock.