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Over the last few years, the human body's microbial population has been the subject of numerous discussions and controversies. But few topics have sparked as much interest as the concept of fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT. This rather easy procedure has become a lightning rod for debates ranging from its effectiveness to ethical issues regarding donations.
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Over the last few weeks, researchers have discovered a natural yet nasty phenomenon leading to troubles in the elderly. The reports focus on two very different parts of our bodies, the immune system and the microbial population in our guts. Though both studies were conducted in mice, the results unveil an inconvenient reality we may all face as we get older.
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The evidence is clear: Large-scale private equity investments in nursing home facilities too often jeopardize the quality of care and put seniors' health at risk. So what can we do to stop it? Here are some ideas.
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Two Sundays ago, I was watching the Academy Awards with my parents and during its last moments I had something of a surreal epiphany. I never thought I'd say 'Warren Beatty' and 'my father' in the sam...
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Whether it's young children growing up and needing your time for activities and school or aging parents needing extra attention, the generation caught in the middle of this is being spread thin. The sandwich generation has become the norm for Canadians, bringing packed schedules and extreme stress.
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As the founder of Microsoft, there are few people on the planet who have helped to guide technological progression (at least in the realm of computing) as much as Gates over the course of his 42-year career. The thrust of his argument is this: if robots replace human workers whose pay would otherwise be taxed, why then should the labour of the robots not also be subject to taxation?
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Many drugs prescribed to seniors have either not been adequately studied for this age group or have not been formally approved for the conditions they are being prescribed to treat. They are sometimes prescribed without any evidence they are safe and effective for them, and in some cases, even when they are known to present a possible risk (antipsychotics prescribed to older patients with dementia, for example).
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The beginning of a new year and the accompanying reflections of what the future holds is the perfect time to tell family and friends your healthcare preferences in case one day you are unable to speak for yourself. This is called advance care planning and it is good to do for your peace of mind and for your loved ones too.
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This week, as expected, flu has taken over the headlines. All across Canada, hospitals are being overwhelmed by patients suffering from this well-known disease. Yet, among those looking for medical assistance, many will not have the influenza virus but another lesser known pathogen.
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Our population is now the oldest it ever has been, with more people currently aged 65 and older than there are children under the age of 15. As with any significant demographic shift, this trend has significant implications for society at large, impacting health care, finance policy, infrastructure, family relationships, and legal issues.
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Of the $220 billion spent on health care annually in Canada, 45 per cent is spent on those over 65 years old, although they only represent 15 per cent of the population. It's time we improved the quality and quantity of care delivered for frail Canadians - and improve the health system for everyone in the process.
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National Seniors Day happened in Canada on Saturday and we didn't do anything about it. Countless moments and opportunities squandered to say, "Wait, I should call my grandparents," or "I should go to that senior's home and say hello to some residents," or even say some kind words to a senior on the street. We didn't do any of it. Did you?
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In a country as diverse and varied as Canada, such a per capita funding model creates winners and losers. For provinces with flourishing economies and/or younger populations, the formula may be a welcome one. But for many provinces and territories, this funding formula fails to recognize and accommodate their particular challenges and needs.
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As a memory doctor, the most difficult thing I have to do is to tell the patient and their family about the diagnosis of dementia. The second most difficult thing I have to do is recommend driving cessation. There's no question that driving cessation has potentially dramatic effects on independence and quality of life for patients (and their spouses).
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Funding home care and long-term care is fast becoming the main challenge of our outdated medicare system -- a system developed in the mid-twentieth century for a young population that mostly required acute care from hospitals and physicians. But that need is changing rapidly with our aging population.
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It's a lot to take on, and it's a difficult workload to maintain. Ultimately the caregiver has to make sacrifices in some area of their life, and it's usually their own emotional, physical or mental well-being that suffers the consequences. Sound familiar? Probably.
A new study examining elder abuse -- released by researchers at the University of Toronto, Cornell University and Weill-Cornell Medical College -- has found that older adult victims living alone with their abuser were up to four times more likely to endure more severe levels of mistreatment.
From a very young age, my parents taught my siblings and I, through instruction and example, that doing even a little can lead to a lot. But what initially felt like a pointless, mind-numbing activity became a valuable exercise in developing understanding and empathy.
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Recently I needed to renew my Canadian passport. To my surprise, I was given a choice: Renew for five years (Canada's customary period) for $120, or for ten years for $160. Canada, I realized, had dec...
We're fortunate to live in an era where the average life expectancy is today over 80 years young. Unfortunately, the flip-side of Canadians living longer and generally healthier is that many older seniors experience multiple health problems -- a common yet under-recognized health state known as frailty.
Call your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and all your great aunts and uncles too.
It is challenging for many people to accept a loss of control as their independence gradually declines. Based on this loss of control, many become anxious, demanding, or resistant. This creates a new set of challenges for the caregiver.
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A new Canadian study shows that age is a critical factor in the kind of treatment patients receive. According to the research, which involved patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries, "patients over 70 years of age experienced considerable delays between admission and surgery."
Pension reform continues to hold interest across the country, especially given the willingness of the federal Conservatives to at least talk about expanding the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Pundits and politicos are weighing in now with blunt talk of "voluntary" or "mandatory" enhancements to CPP. Neither may be exactly what Canadians want. Here's why.
A new report came out this week that reiterates what we've heard from other sources a few times now: Canadians aren't saving nearly enough for retirement. The Deputy Chief Economist of the CIBC warns that without pension reform now, younger workers today will see a steep decline in living standards as they retire. The Conservative government has recently announced it would like to have a dialogue with Canadians about a potential expansion of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). While this, in itself, is a purely political action -- since it commits the government to nothing -- it is worth looking at what the possible outcomes might be.
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The impacts of informal caregiving commitments do not remain confined to the home: they are felt in the Canadian workplace and reduce productivity. They translate into 2.2 million hours of reduced effort in the workplace every week and cause an estimated $1.3 billion productivity loss annually, says the report.
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The percentage of long-term care home residents who are using antipsychotic medications varies from zero per cent in some of the province's homes to 67 per cent in others, according to a new report published by Health Quality Ontario. That's a striking amount of variation.
A government agency in Ontario has called for nursing homes in that province to re-evaluate their use of antipsychotic medications like quetiapine (marketed under the brand name Seroquel). What is missing from these studies and investigations, however, is what is happening with these drugs in hospitals. I learned about Seroquel, like so many patients and families have, the hard way.
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The trouble with inflammaging is how hard it can be to detect. One of the more popular directions in controlling inflammation involves targeting not human cells but microbial ones. The trillions of bacteria in the intestines are known to play a role in inflammation particularly in the elderly.
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If a person continued to supplement bacteria with our health in its best interests, such as probiotics, mutiny may be prevented or at least belayed. With more research, we may be able to prove this point and find a means to offer the elderly, the sick and even the brokenhearted a way to prevent the onslaught of virulence and live a happier, longer life.
Rather than placing a tax on health needs -- as income-based drug plans do -- Ontario should consider a more positive road to universal pharmacare. Specifically, it should consider tax financing a universal drug benefit program that would give non-seniors the same coverage elderly residents enjoy today.
I heard a story this week about a civics lesson. It did not take place in a high school. It was a lesson both learned and taught by some elderly newcomers who were participants in a civic awareness project. Along with learning to speak English and finding out about the systems and the laws of Canada, these folks are being challenged to engage with their new communities.