The Coming Caregiving Crisis

By Scott LaFee

May 22, 2019 6 min read

With roughly 8 million middle-class Americans currently over the age of 75, the costs of needed housing and personal assistance is already a big and seemingly intractable issue. A new study suggests it will be bigger and even more problematic in 2029, when the number is projected to almost double to 14 million and more than half are expected to not be able to afford appropriate housing and assistance.

Approximately 54% of seniors won't have sufficient income to afford an assisted living facility or adequate care to stay in their own homes, reports NORC, a research institution at the University of Chicago.

The study concluded middle-class seniors will be hit hardest. Richer folks will continue to have sufficient income; poor seniors will qualify for Medicaid, which covers the cost of nursing homes and long-term care services. It's estimated that a senior will need at least $60,000 a year to cover assisted living rent and other out-of-pocket medical costs in 2029.

Body of Knowledge

Your bellybutton could be a forensic goldmine. A few years ago, researchers swabbed 60 bellybuttons and identified 2,368 species of bacteria. More than half were determined to be "new to science." And each person's swabbed bellybutton microbiome was bacterially unique — like a fingerprint.

Get Me That, Stat!

The ongoing measles outbreak is not limited to the United States. The World Health Organization has reported 34,400 cases in Europe in the first two months of 2019 — triple last year's count. Thirteen measles deaths were also reported in Albania, Romania and Ukraine, according to CNN.

Counts

35: Monthly threshold, in dollars, at which drug companies will be required to list prices of drugs advertised on television

488 to 16,938: Monthly price range, in dollars, for the 10 most commonly advertised drugs

Source: U.S. Health and Human Services

Stories for the Waiting Room

Looking for a "popular" but healthy low-calorie snack? A cup of live jellyfish contains just 5 calories — one-third the amount found in a cup of celery. Marine biologists had believed jellyfish were so calorie-deficient (they're 95% water) that hardly any marine life ate them. It turns out that a gelatinous blog of jelly is a highly prized and coveted foodstuff in the ocean, consumed by everything from tunas to penguins.

Doc Talk

Veisalgia: A fancy word for hangover. Coined in a 2000 medical journal paper combining the Norwegian word "kveis" (meaning "uneasiness following debauchery") with the Greek word for pain.

Phobia of the Week

Chronomentrophobia: Fear of clocks

Best Medicine

First surgeon: "Thank you, doctor, for your assistance. If we hadn't removed that vein at just that moment, the procedure might have gone very poorly."

Second surgeon: "Yes, it was varicose."

Observation

"The scrub sink is the place where doctors wash their hands after they operate so that they won't get flecks of your vital organs on their Lexus upholstery." — Humorist Dave Barry

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research study: "You Probably Think This Paper's About You: Narcissists' Perceptions of Their Personality and Reputation" by E.N. Carlson et al., published August 2012 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Self-Exam

True or false: The human body glows.

True: Humans emit a visible light (1,000 times too weak to be seen with the naked eye) that rises and falls through the day. The light, which is emitted by all living creatures, is believed to be the byproduct of biochemical reactions involving free radicals. It is different from infrared radiation, an invisible form of light that comes from body heat. Peak light emission, according to research published in 2009, is around 4 p.m.

Medical Myths

Rest is best for back pain — maybe sometimes. More often these days, physicians recommend that persons suffering lower back pain employ nondrug therapies such as heat, massage, tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, spinal manipulation and/or over-the-counter pain medications — and remain active.

Last Words

"My friend, you will come second to me once again." — Five-time Tour de France champion Jacques Anquetil (1934-1987) to his friend and competitor Raymond Poulidor, who was frequently runner-up in races behind Anquetil.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: truthseeker08 at Pixabay

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