More than half the nation’s programs programs for the elderly have cut services because of higher fuel and food prices — and about 90 percent will be forced to make more cuts next year.
Caregivers for the nation’s elderly also report an increase in the time that recipients wait for services — including transportation, home-delivered meals, cleaning and homecare.
In “Seniors Stranded,” the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging found that older adults who live on fixed incomes are being hit particularly hard by higher energy, food and oil costs.
The agency surveyed senior care programs across the nation to see if current economic conditions were affecting their ability to provide home and community-based services to older adults.
It found that 90 percent of the agencies expect to make cutbacks during 2009 because of rising operating costs.
More than 86 percent of the programs report that operating costs have spiked since the beginning of the year, and 73 percent said it is more difficult to retrain and recruit volunteers.

More doctor info online

Patients searching for a doctor in Colorado now have access to an online tool developed by the Department of Regulatory Agencies and the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners.
Patients can view a doctor’s profile at www.dora.state.co.us/medical.
Information available on the Web site includes felony convictions, actions taken by medical boards and hospitals, malpractice claim information, as well as board certifications, businesses and employment data.
The information has not been available electronically until now.

Rx for reducing jail costs

Colorado’s community mental health system can help keep thousands of people out of the criminal justice system, according to a study that examines the connection between time in jail and mental illness.
The study shows that mentally ill inmates stay in jail longer — with an average incarceration of 121 days compared to 25 days for other inmates.
They also have higher rates of recidivism.
Statewide, 17 percent of all inmates have a diagnosable mental illness.
These individuals are responsible for a large portion of the $599 million the state spends for criminal justice, the report said.
According to the report, it’s more cost-effective to treat these individuals in a community mental health setting before they become involved with the law enforcement system.
“Colorado is spending 8.8 percent of the state’s general fund on corrections,” said George DelGrosso, executive director of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council. “Most other states spend 6.6 percent on average. This report provides important information that can be used by the state and other local communities who want to ensure the best use of limited public resources.”

Worth pound of cure

Prevention efforts could reduce both heart attacks and strokes significantly during the next three decades.
A report in Circulation, released by the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, said that heart attacks can be reduced by 36 percent and strokes by 20 percent by following preventive care methods.
The groups used a mathematical model from a national survey of health and nutrition to project the effects of prevention on the U.S. population during the next 30 years.
Researchers considered preventive methods such as weight loss, smoking cessation, cholesterol-lowering medication and aspirin therapy.
Nearly 80 percent of U.S. residents between the ages of 20 and 80 would benefit from using at least one of the prevention methods.
“If every individual achieved 100 percent adherence with all the clinical prevention activities for which they are candidates, then heart attacks would decrease about 63 percent and strokes about 31 percent,” said Rose Marie Robertson, chief science officer for the heart association and a co-author of the study.
In addition, if followed, the 11 preventive measures could increase life expectancy by an average of 1.3 years for every person.
But researchers believe that no one will adhere to every prevention method — and in more realistic circumstances, “heart attacks would drop by 36 percent and strokes by 20 percent in the same period,” Robertson said.
According to the report, the cost of the prevention methods would be substantial, but focusing on prevention would result in lower treatment costs overall.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.