Longer Looks: Helping Alzheimer’s Patients; Getting Kids Dental Care; Birth Control Primer
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
I Thought I Could Fix My Alzheimer’s Patients. I Learned To Help Them Instead.
One of my grandmothers had had Alzheimer's, but it wasn't a disease I knew a great deal about. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to quit my tedious day job and help people instead of selling them things they didn't want or need. I took classes. There I learned quite a bit about Alzheimer's. I learned about plaques and tangles, the beta-amyloid protein, the possible causes, and all of the statistics. But neither my desire to help nor any class prepared me for the reality of working with actual patients. The first day I stepped onto the floor of a nursing home, when I transformed from a curious student to an actual caregiver, everything I thought about dementia, aging, friendship, and even the nature of death changed. (Nicholas Conley, 8/24)
The New York Times:
Your Brain, Your Disease, Your Self
When does the deterioration of your brain rob you of your identity, and when does it not? Alzheimer’s, the neurodegenerative disease that erodes old memories and the ability to form new ones, has a reputation as a ruthless plunderer of selfhood. People with the disease may no longer seem like themselves. Neurodegenerative diseases that target the motor system, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can lead to equally devastating consequences: difficulty moving, walking, speaking and eventually, swallowing and breathing. Yet they do not seem to threaten the fabric of selfhood in quite the same way. ... But maybe this conventional wisdom is wrong. (Nina Strohminger and Shaun Nichols, 8/21)
Kansas Town Takes Dental Care To School
A lack of preventive dental care for poor children is a national problem. Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which cover children from low-income families, both pay for dental services. But fewer than half of children and teens enrolled in those programs received a preventive dental service last year, according to Stacey Chazin, a public health specialist with the Center for Health Care Strategies. (Andrea Muraskin, 8/21)
When The Truth Hurts
More genetic information isn’t always better. Unlike for breast cancer, there are no clear preventative measures you can take if you find out you have a high risk of developing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. If that knowledge is going to be a dark cloud over your life, you might reasonably prefer not to know. Information about biological relatives has helped to reunite families, but it has also torn them apart. When ‘George Doe’ (an alias) gave his parents the ‘gift’ of genetic testing, he found out that he had a half-brother that no one else in his family knew about. His ‘gift’ to his parents turned out to be a divorce. (Jess Whittlestone, 8/25)
7 Facts Anyone Taking Birth Control Should Know
All birth control pills use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Some contain a hormone called progestin. Others contain two hormones, progestin and estrogen. All of them work by doing two things: They prevent women from ovulating, and they cause the cervical mucus to thicken, which makes it more difficult for a sperm to penetrate and make contact with an egg if the woman is ovulating. (Sarah Kliff, 8/25)
Medscape Vaccine Acceptance Report: Where Do We Stand?
In the first seven months of 2015, measles was reported in 173 US residents from 24 states and the District of Columbia. Most of these cases (64%) were part of a large multistate outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. ... On the heels of the California outbreak, sporadic news reports claimed that more parents (including some who had previously refused vaccines) were seeking and accepting vaccination for their children, and Merck sales of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine soared. It is unknown, however, whether clinicians across the United States have experienced any real or lasting changes in vaccine acceptance among parents of children in primary care settings. Medscape conducted a survey of vaccine providers to find out. ... According to the respondents, recent measles outbreaks have induced more acceptance of the measles vaccine and, in fact, vaccines in general, in at least some parents. Parents' fears about their children contracting vaccine-preventable disease is the driving force behind this greater acceptance, although admission to school, daycare, and camp and increased knowledge about vaccines are contributing factors. (Yox, Scudder and Stokowski, 8/26)