Posts tagged with "Baby Boomers"

Take a chill pill: You actually may not be allergic to penicillin

February 1, 2019

Penicillin was the original “wonder drug”—but, today, people are wondering why, for more than half a century, doctors have warned them it’s contraindicated for their care.

Discovered in 1928 and found to “miraculously” cure infections by 1942, penicillin was the first antibiotic that many Baby Boomers were prescribed as children. However, that first dose of penicillin also turned out to be the last for many youngsters—who broke out in bumps or rashes that were diagnosed as allergic reactions.

Now there is a different school of thought. In fact, according to a study posted by the Journal of the American Medical Association in January, fully 19 out of 20 people who have been told they are allergic to penicillin actually can tolerate it well.

Indeed, The New York Times reported on January 22, millions of Americans whose medical histories document their penicillin sensitivities are not actually allergic. But they are steered away from using some of the safest, most effective antibiotics—relying instead on substitutes that are often pricier, less effective, and more likely to cause complications such as antibiotic-resistant infections.

Experts in allergy and infectious disease, including the paper’s authors, are now urging patients to ask doctors to review their medical history and re-evaluate whether they truly have a penicillin allergy.

The evaluation—which may require allergy skin testing and ideally should be done while people are healthy— is especially important, The Times reports, for pregnant women, people with cancer and those in long-term care, and anyone anticipating surgery or being treated for a sexually transmitted infection.

“When you have a true infection that needs to be treated, the physician will see you have the allergy and not question it,” said  Dr. Erica S. Shenoy, an author of  the study, and an infectious diseases specialist who is s on the staff of Harvard Medical School of Massachusetts General Hospital.

The review was carried out with input from the boards of three professional medical organizations: the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All three groups endorsed the findings.

There is no question that some patients have potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to penicillin, but the label appears to have been applied far too broadly, experts say. About 10% of Americans report having a penicillin allergy, and the rate is even higher among older people and hospital patients—15% of whom have a documented penicillin allergy.

But studies that have gone back and conducted allergy skin testing on patients whose medical records list a penicillin allergy have found that the overwhelming majority test negative. A 2017 review of two dozen studies of hospitalized patients found that over all, 95 percent tested negative for penicillin-specific immunoglobulin E, or IgE, antibodies, a sign of true allergy.

 “We used to say nine out of 10 people who report a penicillin allergy are skin-test negative. Now it looks more like 19 out of 20,” Dr. David Lang, president-elect of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and chairman of allergy and immunology in the respiratory institute at the Cleveland Clinic, told the Times.

What’s more, the researchers say, many people who have avoided penicillin for a decade or more after a true, severe allergic reaction will not experience that reaction again.

“Even for those with true allergy, it can wane,” said Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, the review’s senior author, who is an allergist and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “We don’t really understand this, but once you’ve proven you’re tolerant, you go back to having the same risk as someone who never had an allergy” to penicillin.

Finally, the researchers warn, don’t challenge yourself to penicillin on your own. Patients who have been told they’re allergic to penicillin should talk to their doctors, who should take a careful history and review the symptoms of the reaction.

If the past reaction to penicillin included symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting and itching, or the diagnosis was made based on a family history of the allergy, the patient is considered low-risk and may be able to take a first dose of penicillin or a related antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, under medical observation.

If the past reaction included hives, a rash, swelling, or shortness of breath, patients should have penicillin skin test, followed by a second test that places the reagent under the skin if the first test is negative. If both tests are negative, the patient is unlikely to be allergic to penicillin, and an oral dose may be given under observation to confirm

Research contact:  @nytimes

Showing your true colors: What you didn’t know about gray hair

November 8, 2018

Some people don’t turn a hair when they start going gray; others run straight for the colorist. But for those who embrace the natural look, there is good news. According to AARP, “Gray hair is having a moment. Now more than ever, women are feeling empowered to embrace their natural roots as they age.”

And while the advocacy group for those over 50 does not mention men, they, too, have stopped shunning those silver streaks.

What started the trend? Maybe there is just strength in numbers, as Baby Boomers begin to show their age: By 2029, fully 20% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65.

Now, as millions of Americans dump the dye and go for authenticity, Good Housekeeping has posted a story on the “root causes” and recommended care of your newly metallic mane.

1. Normal aging is the biggest culprit. Okay, no surprise here, the lifestyle magazine says. Dermatologists call this the 50-50-50 rule. “Fifty percent of the population has about 50% gray hair at age 50,” Dr. Anthony Oro, a professor of Dermatology at Stanford University, told Good Housekeeping. And like skin, hair changes its texture with age, says Dr. Heather Woolery Lloyd, director of Ethnic Skin Care at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

2. Your ethnicity makes a difference. Caucasians tend to go gray earlier—and redheads, the earliest of all. Then Asians. Then African-Americans. Scientists haven’t figured out why yet.

3. Stress seems to play a role. “Stress won’t cause you to go gray directly,” says Roopal Kundu, an associate professor in Dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “But stress is implicated in a lot of skin and hair issues.” During an illness, for example, people can shed hair rapidly. And hair you lose after a stressful event—such as a course of chemotherapy—may grow back a different color.

4. Lifestyle makes a difference. Smoking, for example, stresses your skin and hair. “Low vitamin B12 levels are notorious for causing loss of hair pigment,” says Karthik Krishnamurthy, director of the Dermatology Center’s Cosmetic Clinic at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

5. Hair and its color are separate things. Hair stem cells make hair, and pigment-forming stem cells create pigment. Typically, they work together—but either can wear out, sometimes prematurely. Researchers are trying to determine whether a medicine, or something you could put on your scalp, could slow the graying process.

6. Your hair basically bleaches itself. You may be familiar with hydrogen peroxide as a way to go blonde, but it’s also the way we go gray. According to a 2009 study conducted by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, hydrogen peroxide naturally occurs in our hair follicles, and as we age, it builds up. This build-up blocks the production of melanin, which forms our hair’s pigment.

7. Your hair doesn’t turn gray—it grows that way. A single hair grows for one to three years; then you shed it—and grow a new one. As you age, your new hair is more likely to be white. “Every time the hair regenerates, you have to re-form these pigment-forming cells, and they wear out,” says Stanford’s Oro.

8. Gray hair isn’t coarser than colored hair. Gray hair actually is finer than colored hair, but it may seem drier because our scalps produce less oil as we get older. Another reason? Your hair may also ‘feel’ coarser if you pull out your first few grey hairs, because constant pulling-out of hair can distort your follicles.

Finally, the experts say, gray hair turns yellow in the sun. Wear a hat, or spray on a hair sunscreen to keep those silver strands at their best.

Research contact: @karenspringen

Loneliness is reaching ‘epidemic’ levels in America

May 2, 2018

Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46%) or left out (47%), based on findings of a national survey of 2,000 U.S. adults sponsored by Cigna and conducted by Ipsos.

The new report, released on May 1, evaluated the subjective feelings of loneliness experienced by respondents using the UCLA Loneliness Scale—a 20-point questionnaire.

Indeed, UCLA researchers estimate that some 60 million Americans suffer from loneliness. And with millions of Baby Boomers now facing a radically shrinking social world as they retire from the workplace, see their children disperse, lose friends and family members to illness and death, the rising tide of loneliness has all the hallmarks of a widespread and costly epidemic.

Among the more alarming features of this epidemic, as identified by the Cigna/Ipsos survey are the following:

  • One in four Americans (27%) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them;
  • Two in five respondents sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43%) and that they are isolated from others (43%);
    One in fiveS. adults rarely or never feel close to people (20%) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18%);
  • Only slightly more than one-half of Americans (53%) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis;
  • Generation Z (age 18-22) is the loneliest   claims to be in worse health than older generations; and
    Very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).

Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2). Although they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.

“We view a person’s physical, mental and social health as being entirely connected,” said Cigna CEO David Cordani adding, “In analyzing this closely, we’re seeing a lack of human connection, which ultimately leads to a lack of vitality—or a disconnect between mind and body. We must change this trend by re-framing the conversation to be about ‘mental wellness’ and ‘vitality’ to speak to our mental-physical connection. When the mind and body are treated as one, we see powerful results.”

The survey also revealed several important bright spots. The findings reinforce the social nature of humans and the importance of having communities. People who are less lonely are more likely to have regular, meaningful, in-person interactions; are likely to exercise regularly; have achieved balance in daily activities; and are employed and have good relationships with their coworkers.

Research contact: elinor.polack@cigna.com

What drives vanity license plate owners?

April 27, 2018

Many Americans have a lot more on their plates than you would expect—vanity license plates, that is. The plates give clues to other drivers about the car owner’s name, attitude and more, if you can decode what they say, which is frequently abbreviated.

Among those we have recently seen: “I Gotta P,”  “OVR D EDG,” “L8R G8OR,” and “HOWIROL”

In fact, 18% of Americans say they have displayed vanity license plates on their vehicles at some point—and these folks are happier than non-owners, based on findings of a poll conducted among 2,625 U.S. adults by Civic Science and released on April 25.

The researchers say that, even though owners of vanity plates are more likely to be in a high income bracket ($100,000 annually), salaries are “all across the board for those who opt for more than a random license plate.”

While 19% of owners make more than $150,000 (which makes sense, because vanity plates are a splurge) a surprising and still solid 12% of vanity plate folks make under $25,000.

The researchers comment,”Maybe vanity plates are an aspirational item or a way to live like the other half-lives?”

 Demographically, vanity plate owners also are diverse—but they are likely to be suburban, married parents who are in the Generation X or Baby Boomer age range.

However, there is an interesting exception: Although the age group for vanity plate owners is on the older side, active Snapchat users are much more likely than others to have had a vanity plate at some point.

Maybe that means that they know how to have fun. But the fact is that 72% of those drivers who have had a vanity plate say they are happy, while only 57% of those who have never had one can say the same.

Finally, yes, respondents with vanity plates appear to be vain: Respondents told Civic Science that they consider themselves to be more physically attractive than others in their age group or gender.

Research contact: mary@civicscience.com

Young adults and Boomers increasingly prefer renting

April 10, 2018

Younger Millennials and Baby Boomers increasingly are leaning toward renting rather than owning as an affordable solution to housing, based on survey findings of research released on April 4 by Freddie Mac Multifamily.

However, interestingly enough, both the Baby Boomers and the Millennials say they still want to live in single-family homes, according to the research, conducted on behalf of the federal agency by conducted on behalf of the agency by The Harris Poll.

Specifically, the agency’s latest Profile of Today’s Renter reveals that of those who expect to rent, 39% are looking for a single-family house; 27%, for a complex with more than 50 units; 12%, for a complex with fewer than 50 units; 11%, for a townhouse; and 7% for something else.

Over the past two years, younger Millennials and Baby Boomers have become less sure that they will purchase a home in the future—with the Millennials ages 21 to 27 decreasing in numbers of intended buyers from 51% in March 2015 to 31% in the “extremely likely” category; and the Boomers ages 53 to 71 seeing a definite, but smaller downturn, from 19% to 17% in the same segment.

Similarly, 67% of renters who will continue renting say they will do so for financial reasons—up from 59% just two years ago.

Indeed, overall, the survey found that, among those Baby Boomers who currently are renting, 50% do not anticipate buying a home in the future. Of those who believe they will not purchase property, 35% have no interest in owning and 15% believe they will never be able to afford it.

Research contact: Hellonyc@harrisinsights.com

Baby Boomers are ‘aging out’ of tech industry

November 9, 2017

How old is too old for the tech industry? The employment site, Indeed, recently conducted a national study of 1,011 currently employed U.S. tech workers to dig deeper into the issue and here’s what the researchers found.

“While stories about anxious tech workers in their 30s getting plastic surgery to conceal their age make good headlines,” the pollsters said, “ we don’t need to look to such extremes to find evidence of the problem; It’s there in the cliched, but widespread, perception that employees need to be young to have a good grasp of the latest technology. And it’s there in startup cultures that push for long hours and low pay, which are hardly friendly to older workers with families. And as firms battle to attract young talent with ever more extravagant perks, they can unintentionally create an environment and culture that excludes older workers.”

In fact, 29% of survey respondents say that the average employee age at their tech company is between 31 and 35. Millennials, yes—albeit at the older end of that demographic. A further 17% say that the average age of company employees is between 20 and 30.

By contrast, 27% of  respondents say that the average age of employees at their company is 36-40 years old, making them members of the younger end of Generation X. The over-40s (Gen X and Boomers, alike) have to share the remaining 26%.

In other words, close to half of employees (46%) are Millennials. And yet, only 23% of survey respondents think that this demographic is over-represented at their workplaces. By contrast, under one-fifth (18%) of respondents believe that Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) are under-represented at their company.

The researchers note that, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that 25% of workers should be 55 and over by 2019, it’s clear that these numbers don’t reflect the diversity of the population when it comes to age.

In fact, not only do employees witness an imbalance in age representation, but it is also causing anxiety among some workers.The recent survey found  that close to half of respondents (43%) worry about losing their jobs because of their age. Even more troubling, nearly one-fifth (18%) say they worry about it “all the time.”

More than one-third of workers surveyed (36%) report experiencing at least one instance during which they weren’t taken seriously by colleagues and managers due to age.

And yet, most respondents (78%) still consider older tech workers (those aged 40+) to be highly qualified, and over 83% state that these workers have good experience and can share wisdom.

The solution for Baby Boomers is not an easy one: The study found more Boomers showing  interest in cities such as Minneapolis (home to 3M) and Durham, North Carolina, which don’t appear on the top ten list for Gen X or Millennials.

Research contact: Raj Mukherjee @rajatism