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FDA Approves Delays in Labeling Sunscreen Products

Under intense lobbying from the cosmetic and personal care industries, the Food and Drug Administration has wilted and granted sunscreen manufacturers an extra six months to clarify the efficacy of their products in terms of how they are labeled. Originally it was hoped that the new labeling would be in effect for the 2012 summer season with correct labeling required by June 17, 2012.  That has been pushed back to December 17, 2012.

It is widely known that sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or less do not provide total sun protection. The new labeling system was supposed to carry warnings so that consumers do not think they are getting more sun protection than they actually are.

Under the new regulations, manufacturers may no longer refer to their products as “sun block,” “waterproof,” “sweat proof,” or providing “ all day protection”.  If the product is SP15 or greater they may say that the product protects against sunburn, early signs of aging and skin cancer. Sunscreens that meet the FDA’s guidelines and protect against both ultraviolet A and B rays will be allowed to say they are “broad spectrum”.

The FDA claims the extra time was granted to allow testing of each product to determine if the product can justify its packaging claims. The delay was felt to be preferable to pulling products from the shelf in the summer sun exposure season.


What’s New in Dementia, Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia and considered to be a progressive, fatal neurologic disease. Medications to slow it down are successful in about 50 % of patients for a very limited amount of time (6 -12 months).  As Baby Boomers age and move into the retirement sector, we are always looking for positive data regarding the disease to offset the expected epidemic of dementia.  We have a limited amount of good news to report.

Japanese researchers report that they have developed several types of contrast material for imaging studies which will allow doctors to see accumulating plaque in the brain and possibly the tangles of neurons associated with the disease at a much earlier stage.  At the same time researchers now claim to be able to do a spinal tap and, by examining the spinal fluid, make an earlier and more accurate diagnosis. At this point there might not yet be an advantage to early detection of the disease but as research proceeds it may become an important advantage.

The British Medical Journal is reporting that cognitive decline actually starts in midlife. They studied a mix of 7,300 men and women at five years intervals beginning in 1997 and found a decrease in intellectual functions beginning at 45 years old. They concluded that “what is good for our hearts is also good for our heads.”  They stressed the importance of controlling hypertension, obesity and abnormal cholesterol as a way to prevent dementia.

You might ask why I consider the fact that dementia begins in midlife a positive?  It’s a positive because we have the ability to control our weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and exercise level. Anytime a disease is modifiable by how we live our life we are given the chance to prevent it or limits its impact. This fact is supported by a recent study published in the Archives of Neurology looking at individuals with a genetic variant which predisposes them to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.  They found that older adults with the genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s Disease who exercised regularly, at or above the American Heart Association recommended levels, developed “amyloid deposits” on scans of their brain less than expected and in line with the general public who did not have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease.

These are small but positive steps in facing dementia. We can find it earlier and slow down or turn off genetic predisposition by living a healthy life.

Dealing with the issue of Aging Parents – by Andy Berger of Senior Wellness Specialists

I am writing this in response to an article published in the Mercury News titled “Savvy Senior: Elder mediation can help adult families resolve conflicts”

How you deal with the issue of aging parents has a lot to do with the way you were raised. As kids do you remember having dinner with grandparents? Visiting with them at their home? Watching your parents interact with them? Was there respect shown the grandparents? Many cultures revere their elders and gain tremendous insight into many wonderful things through them. But when respect and reverence are absent resentment and anger tend to show their ugly face. Solutions exist before the first salvo is fired, making mediation the choice of last resort.

Money matters among other things, as we have read, bring out the worst in people. The expenses associated with maintaining an independent and dignified lifestyle are enormous.. Insurance and medical costs have gone through the roof. Parents and adult children find themselves in a very stressful situation, as each worries about how they will manage in retirement.

Mom and Dad are living longer and are going through their savings fast, Most Boomers want to be able to help in some way. But they worry about their own retirement. They fret and fight amongst themselves over whether they can or should help out their parents if the need arises, as in the case of a parent having to enter an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Sadly, there have been instances reported where their kids have had to sell off jewelry and other possessions to pay for more time in a facility. From here the frustration and resentment continue to mount.

Boomers who were fortunate enough to have had positive family role models in their youth usually show a strong willingness and a certain calmness when faced with being put in the role of caregiver. Not so much for those whose memories of family time in their childhood were less positive … love, compassion, and tolerance are learned. We all have the capacity to acquire them. We just need better role models.

  • How willing are you to give of your time if your parents need you?
  • Sibling rivalry in adulthood can be as intense in this scenario as it was in your youth?
  • Who’s going to take charge of your parents’ finances to make sure their needs are met?
  • Which of you is nearest Mom and Dad to check up on them if they’re still living on their own? Chances are one of you is going to feel put out.
  • On whom does the responsibility fall to be the primary caregiver in old age?

The need for greater involvement of one’s family in the care of loved ones in later years has never been presented with this much clarity. The government wants you to participate more; heck they’re willing to pay you to stay home with Mom/Dad instead of Medicare and Medicaid picking up the tab at a much higher cost. Unless you have a plan to implement to get you through some of these tough times, expect chaos, apathy and total resentment from your siblings.

The last thing any parent wants to see is their kids miserable. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to have great role models growing up, there are things you can do to make the transition to caregiver an enjoyable one. Start by meeting with an attorney to map out how your parents will be cared for as they age; he/she will help determine who among you is best equipped (emotionally and financially) to act on behalf of the parents; as well as who gets what when the parents pass. Long-term life-care insurance should be purchased in your 30s, 40s and 50s; any later and it is cost prohibitive. Insurance companies are also looking into insurance policies that let you age-in-place at home by paying for modifications to your house. And there are communities in suburban areas popping up where neighbors share various expenses, making aging-in-place more affordable. Concierge programs and services exist that can help you plan and assist with all your health and wellness needs.

This guest post was authored by Andy Berger of Senior Wellness Specialists.

Financial Hurdles of Aging – Guest Post by Andy Berger of Senior Wellness Specialists

There’s no getting around it, aging is very expensive! Hard fact: Tens of millions of Boomers are stressing out over caring for their parents while at the same time trying to map out a course for themselves for the day they lose their independence. We have officially entered a Tsunami of Seniors. But there is hope.

We’re living longer and paying for increased medical procedures. We also have to place parents in assisted living facilities for special care, where they go through their life’s savings quickly. The fastest growing segment of the aging population is the 85 group. As was pointed out by many of you in your comments, Medicare and Medicaid may not be able to handle the demand placed on them. Signs of problems manifested over a decade ago when Florida and Tennessee put a moratorium on the construction of nursing homes; they had simply begun to run out of money to pay for the care of the elderly. Somehow the rapid growth of the senior population fell under their radar. Further cuts to both programs will take shape by 2012, as Congress tries to balance the national budget.

Suffice it to say a greater burden will be placed on families to take care of their own.  So much for parents not wanting to be a burden to their kids or to be an inconvenience to friends.

It’s been reported in the various media time and again that compared with their parents’ generation, Boomers have amassed significantly greater wealth. It’s fair to say, in light of current economic hardships placed on them, they will now have to strike a balance between the dream of a fun, relaxed lifestyle and the changing realities that aging has brought to the landscape.

The government has incentives for families that decide to take in loved ones who would otherwise be placed in a nursing home. It is significantly less expensive to write a monthly check to the family than to pay for the 24/7 care provided at a nursing home.

Other new concepts in senior living are also emerging. In the planning stages in Florida is a village where seniors live on their own in lushly landscaped suburban communities and are able bundle all expenses at discounted rates with their neighbors. This would include doctor visits, transportation, entertainment, etc. Homes are universally designed and technologically enhanced so residents can age safely, worry-free in a 21st Century approach to senior living.

Less costly alternatives to assisted living and nursing homes exist. Concierge programs and services allow you to live independently in your own home through technological innovations that make it possible to stay connected to loved ones and friends.

Long-term care insurance providers are also taking a fresh new look at selling policies that will help pay for expenses related to aging. If purchased by people in their 30s and 40s the costs would be very reasonable. Let’s all try to be better prepared for the second half of our lives.

This guest post was authored by Andy Berger of Senior Wellness Specialists.