U.S. families provided $470 billion in unpaid care to loved ones in 2013

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - Family caregivers in the U.S. provided an estimated $470 billion in unpaid medical support and other services to their loved ones in 2013, up from $450 billion five years earlier, according to a recent report from AARP.

Those unpaid services are worth more than total Medicaid spending for 2013 and also more than annual combined sales that year from the four largest U.S. technology companies (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Microsoft), researchers say.

Telemedicine works for older veterans with depression: study

By Madeline Kennedy

(Reuters Health) - Talk therapy delivered by two-way video call helped older veterans with depression as much as in-person therapy sessions, a U.S. study found.

Many seniors face obstacles to getting help for depression, including mobility issues and fear of social stigma, researchers say, so telemedicine might expand their access to treatment.

Insulin resistance might increase Alzheimer's risk

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - Insulin resistance may increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease by depriving the brain of sugar needed for normal cognition, a small study suggests.

"By altering insulin resistance in midlife, it may be possible to reduce future risk of Alzheimer's," said study co-author Barbara Bendlin, an Alzheimer's researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, in an email to Reuters Health.

Healthcare improving for older Americans

By Andrew M. Seaman

(Reuters Health) - The number of deaths, hospital stays and healthcare costs decreased among older Americans on Medicare over the past 15 years, according to a new study.

"Although our health care system has its failings, we are making remarkable progress," said Dr. Harlan Krumholz, the study's lead author from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Older migraineurs who smoke at increased risk of stroke

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Older people with migraine face an increased risk of stroke if they smoke, according to new findings from the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMS).

The study, published online July 22 in Neurology, found that older, nonsmoking migraineurs were actually at lower risk of stroke than their migraine-free peers.

Delay urged on ICD decision in hospitalized elderly

By Megan Brooks

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The benefits of primary implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy seen in outpatients with heart failure (HF) don't seem to translate to elderly patients who get an ICD during a hospital stay for HF flare-up or other acute problem, new research indicates.

Hospice care may start later for patients in assisted living

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - Hospice care may start closer to the end of life for residents of assisted living facilities than for people receiving care at home, a recent study finds.

Assisted living facility residents may also be less likely to receive opiate painkillers to ease discomfort in their final days, and less likely to die in an inpatient hospice unit.

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation eases spasticity after stroke

By Will Boggs MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Used with other rehabilitation techniques, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) reduces spasticity and improves range of motion after a stroke, Brazilian researchers report.

"We believe that NMES should be included in standard rehabilitation programs," Cinara Stein, a physiotherapist from Universidade Federal de Ciencias da Saude de Porto Alegre, told Reuters Health by email.

Main fund for U.S. Medicare program to run out of money in 2030 -trustees

By Reuters Staff

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A slowdown in healthcare spending has shored up the funding outlook for the federal program that pays elderly Americans' hospital bills, trustees of the program said on Wednesday.

The Medicare program's trust fund for hospital care will run out of money in 2030 the trustees said in a report. That was the same year as in their previous estimate, although the trustees said the program now appears on better footing over the longer term.

More retirees flock to U.S. states for legal pot

By Chris Taylor

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When choosing retirement locales, a few factors pop to mind: climate, amenities, proximity to grandchildren, access to quality healthcare.

Chris Cooper had something else to consider - marijuana laws.

The investment adviser from Toledo had long struggled with back pain due to a fractured vertebra and crushed disc from a fall. He hated powerful prescription drugs like Vicodin, but one thing did help ease the pain and spasms: marijuana.