Will This Surprising Way for Seniors to Boost Their Memory Have You Jumping for Joy?

Admit it: do you get a little bit annoyed when you see those workouts aimed at seniors? You know the ones: smiling older adults seated comfortably in chairs, sloooowly raising up one arm at a time, or stretching ever-so-gently from side to side? If those snails-pace workouts aren’t your cup of tea, and you prefer to get your heart pumping while you exercise with things like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you’re in luck! 

You might actually be doing more good for yourself than you thought, since a recent study shows that high-intensity exercise is not just good for your body, but also good for your brain. In fact, it looks like HIIT has some serious benefits for boosting memory, even if you’re already older. So if you want results now, both in terms of body and memory, you might want to give HIIT a try. Find out exactly why, and if it might be right for you.

What is HIIT?

In case you’re not up on the exercise lingo, here’s a refresher on what high-intensity interval training, or HIIT is. It’s pretty simple, really: HIIT involves switching between periods of high effort and recovery. These periods of work and rest are what set HIIT apart from other types of workouts, like circuit workouts (where you complete reps of a series of exercises) or steady-state cardio (like jogging). With those types of workouts, it’s more about completing the exercise, whereas with HIIT it’s also about the effort you’re putting in for a set amount of time.

illustration of a woman running on a treadmill

When it comes to the actual movements involved in HIIT, they can vary based on what’s right for you and your abilities. It doesn’t have to be the stereotypical things like burpees and tuck jumps, especially for older adults who might not be so comfortable with jumping. You can even do HIIT on a stationary bike or treadmill, you would just need to do a burst of high speed for, say, 30 seconds, then recover with a slower pace for a minute or so. 

To make sure you’re working at higher and lower intensities, you could try thinking about intensity as a 10-point scale, with zero being no effort, and 10 being all-out effort. If you’re a beginner, you can warm up at 1, then speed up to an effort of 3 for a few minutes, then slow down to a 2 for a few minutes. Eventually, though, as you get more fit, you’ll want to reach a high of 8, with recovery periods around a 4.

So why do HIIT? There are some definite benefits to this type of workout, if you’re able to do it. Studies suggest that doing HIIT can:

  • Improve heart health in a shorter time than other forms of exercise, since it improves the maximum volume of oxygen your body use (VO2), which in turn improves how well your heart pumps blood
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Improve cholesterol
  • Lower blood sugar and improve insulin resistance
  • Boost metabolism
  • Increase ability to do exercise that involves pushing your heart rate
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help with weight loss

And now, a study done in the last few years has found that there’s another big benefit to HIIT workouts, that is especially beneficial for seniors: a big boost in cognitive function.

The Study

brain neurons
Seniors who do more intense, HIIT-style workouts performed 30% better on tests that tap into the “newborn” neurons in the brain.

It turns out that there are actually a lot of lifestyle factors that go into cognitive health. According to Jennifer Heisz, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and lead author of the study we’re going to look at, “There is urgent need for interventions that reduce dementia risk in healthy older adults. Only recently have we begun to appreciate the role that lifestyle plays, and the greatest modifying risk factor of all is physical activity.

And it also turns out that not all physical activity is created equal when it comes to boosting memory in older adults. The study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, suggests that intensity is critical. Seniors who exercised using short bursts of activity saw an improvement of up to 30% in memory performance while participants who worked out moderately saw no improvement, on average.

That’s huge! So what did the study look like? For the study, researchers recruited dozens of sedentary, but otherwise healthy older adults, between the ages of 60 and 88 who participated in three exercise sessions per week over a 12-week period. Some performed high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT), while a separate control group engaged in stretching only. 

Those doing HIIT did four sets of high-intensity exercise on a treadmill for four minutes, pushing their heart rate to up to 90-95% for those short bursts, then followed that with a recovery period. The participants doing MICT did one set of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for nearly 50 minutes, only pushing their hearts to 70-75% of their max.

The participants then took tests that tap into the “newborn” neurons in the brain generated by physical activity; these neurons are great for forming new connections and memories – perfect for seniors who might struggle with that. According to Heisz, “The test looks at the ability to remember the details of new memories without mixing things up. For example, if you meet two new people today, it is important to not mix up their names or personal information, or to remember that you took your medicine yesterday rather than today.” 

The fact that participants doing the more intense, HIIT-style workouts performed 30% better should make us all sit up and take notice. Maybe it’s time to get a little sweatier and more out of breath! 

Some HIIT Options for Older Adults

First things first: if you’re interested in getting the benefits of a HIIT-style exercise regime, please talk to your doctor and get clearance before you start! It’s important to note that all the participants in the above study, while sedentary, were healthy, and were cleared by their doctors to do HIIT. So if you get the go ahead, where should you start? 

Well, Heisz says, “I always recommend that people do what they love because that means they will be more likely to do it! It’s never too late to get the brain health benefits of being physically active, but if you are starting late and want to see results fast, our research suggests you may need to increase the intensity of your exercise.” 

To do that, consider these starting steps to get yourself into higher-intensity workouts:

  • Always warm up before your workout
  • To make your workout more efficient, plan it out ahead of time – you can follow along with a written workout, audio workout, or a video (check out YouTube for some great ideas)
  • Make sure you keep good form
  • Drink water to stay hydrated throughout your workout
  • Start with a familiar exercise for you, like walking, cycling, or bodyweight exercises
  • Use a timer to keep track of your high intensity and recovery intervals
  • Start slow and increase your effort gradually
  • Don’t overdo it: start with just 1-2 HIIT sessions per week, and don’t do it more than 3 times a week
older couple holding hands walking
You don’t have to do a crazy exercise, walking for a long period of time can help boost your memory too.

And remember, HIIT doesn’t have to mean crazy, unfamiliar exercises that require you to jump up onto things. You can get a great HIIT workout by alternating between short periods of higher intensity and longer periods of recovery while:

  • Walking
  • Cycling (stationary or outdoors)
  • Swimming
  • Using an elliptical machine
  • Boxing (throw as many punches as you can during your work interval, then walk/jog it out during your recovery)
  • Low-impact bodyweight HIIT cardio, or low-impact HIIT with light weights (head to YouTube for some ideas, or some videos to follow along to)

Concerns about memory are very real, and can be very distressing as we age. But, while we can’t change our genetics, we are learning that there are things we can do to keep our brains healthy, while simultaneously benefiting our bodies. It sounds like HIIT might just be one of the best of the best when it comes to boosting your memory and keeping you lean and mean, so if it’s something you feel like you can do, and want to do, talk to your doctor about it ASAP. It could help you stay sharper for longer than you even hoped!  

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Does Medicare Cover Speech Therapy?

Let’s face it, it’s not fun getting older. Body parts give in to gravity, reflexes and movements get slower, and our vision and hearing weaken. As if that wasn’t enough, stroke risk increases with age and the older you get the more likely you are to develop dementia. While stroke and dementia are 2 conditions that are very complicated, they do have one thing in common: speech and language are affected. The range to which speech is affected varies from case to case but help is available. Luckily there are professionals called Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) trained to assess and treat many types of communication and swallowing problems including ones stemming from stroke or dementia and in many instances are covered under Medicare.

seniors toasting
Speech-language pathologists assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults.

First let’s discuss two of the more common reasons you are likely to need speech therapy, having dementia and having a stroke.


brain xray
A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency where an individual experiences brain damage caused by a lack of blood supply to parts of the brain.

A stroke is one of the most common reasons adults receive speech therapy. The left hemisphere of the brain houses the language center. If you have a left hemisphere stroke or brain injury, aphasia often occurs. Aphasia is the loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage. Meeting with a Speech-Language Pathologist will get you a formal diagnosis as to whether you have aphasia or no. They will set up with a treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery. Post stroke rehabilitation is possible and a Speech-Language Pathologist is an integral part of recovery.


Another common reason older adults receive speech therapy is because they suffer from dementia. Dementia is a condition that causes memory loss and other thinking problems that worsen over time. Once diagnosed, the goal of any treatment is to maintain the patients quality of life for as long as possible. This is where a Speech-Language Pathologist is beneficial. A SLP can work on attention, memory, problem-solving, and higher-level thinking skills.

What’s Covered?

Medicare will cover speech therapy services when you meet specific requirements. Speech therapy can improve social communication skills, thinking, and understanding, and even things like swallowing. Doctors may recommend speech-language therapy to patients suffering from a head injury, brain tumor, stroke, or dementia. For Part B to cover speech therapy, your doctor must certify that it’s medically necessary and have a treatment plan ready. Medicare will cover 80% of the cost. You’ll be responsible for the remaining 20% unless you have a Medicare Supplement Plan to cover the rest. 

seniors talkingIf you or a loved one find yourself in need of speech therapy services, having the right insurance coverage is vital. If there are costs not covered by Medicare, you may find that having a Medicare supplement plan can save you a lot of money and stress,. To find affordable plan options  with the coverage you need contact EZ.Insure. To speak directly to a licensed agent call 888-753-7207 or enter your zip code in the bar on the side.

7 Facts You Need to Know About Mental Health and Aging

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s clear that, after the few years we’ve had, we need this time to focus on our psychological well being. But here’s the thing: a lot of the talk surrounding mental health lately has been centered on young people, and while that is an extremely important topic, we need to remember that there is no age limit on mental health issues. In fact, older adults can be hit especially hard in this area. So, for this Mental Health Awareness Month, we’d like to remind everyone of that fact, and restart the conversation about mental health and aging with some important facts.

1. Mental Health Issues in Older Adults Are More Common Than Many People Thinkolder man talking with a doctor

We have a rapidly aging population. It’s projected that by 2050, we’ll have leapt from 900 million people over 60 to around 2 billion! And we have to start recognizing that all of these millions of older adults need to have their mental health needs addressed in the same way that we address their physical needs. Why? First of all, mental health is incredibly important: we know that good mental health contributes greatly to an overall feeling of well-being. But on the other hand, untreated mental health disorders in older adults can lead to diminished functioning, substance abuse, poor quality of life, and increased mortality. 

Second of all, mental health issues are very common among older adults – maybe more common than many people think. According to the CDC, around 20% of adults over 55 (or 1 in 5) experience some sort of mental health concern, with other studies putting that number at 1 in 4 adults over 60. The most common issues are depression, cognitive impairment, and anxiety. Depression and dementia are the most common, affecting 5% to 7% of the population over 60. Anxiety follows as a close second, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that it affects 3.8% of older adults. Considering the size of the older population, these numbers are pretty concerning.

2. Mental Health Issues Can Lead to Physical Issues

To pick up on a point from above, mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand, especially among older adults. Physical issues, like reduced mobility or chronic pain can lead to mental distress, and older adults with physical health conditions such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than those who are healthy. But, this is a two-way street: untreated depression in an older person with heart disease can actually lead to worse outcomes. In fact, studies show that treatment programs for depressed elderly patients suffering from cardiovascular disease and other major illnesses usually take longer than normal and are less successful. 

Mental health issues like depression can affect older adults physically in other ways, too. Depression can lead to overeating and obesity or, can even cause a significant loss of appetite and lower energy levels, sometimes resulting in a condition known as geriatric anorexia. Older adults with mental health issues could also end up with insomnia and memory loss, which is bad in itself, but can also lead to more accidents around the house or on the road.

3. Mental Health Issues Can Develop Later in Lifeblack and white picture of a man holding his head

While some older adults with mental health issues have been living with them for their entire lives, some develop these concerns later in life. Mental health can deteriorate after a stroke, or even after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes; some medications can also cause changes in mental health. Not only that, but the changes brought on by getting older, or declining health, can cause some older adults without a history of substance abuse to begin abusing medications, alcohol, or drugs.

4. Depression Is Often Overlooked in Older Adults

Conventional wisdom says that young people tend to experience mental health issues more often than older adults, and that might be true, but it’s also true that older adults seek help less often than young people do. And not only that, but according to the CDC, “Older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. Healthcare providers may mistake an older adult’s symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that may occur as we age, and therefore not see the depression as something to be treated. Older adults themselves often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment.”

In fact, according to some studies, primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50% of the time, and only half of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive any treatment.

5. Older Adults Have the Highest Rates of Suicide

Think older adults don’t die by suicide at the same rate as younger people? You’re right: older adults actually have the highest rates of suicide of any age group. To be more specific, people aged 85 and over have the highest suicide rate of any age group, and those aged 75 to 84 have the second highest, with men dying by suicide more often than women. Not only that, but older adults’ suicide attempts tend to be more lethal: for people 65 and older, there is one suicide for every four attempts, compared to one suicide for every 20 attempts for all other age groups.

6. There Are Signs to Look Out For

While mental health issues can develop later in life in people who had never been previously diagnosed with them, they generally don’t come out of nowhere. Aging brings with it a lot of changes, both in physical condition and in life circumstances, and these changes can become risk factors for mental health issues. Risk factors can include things like:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Dementia-causing illness (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Illness or loss of a loved one
  • Long-term illness (e.g., cancer or heart disease)
  • Chronic pain
  • Medication interactions
  • Physical disability or loss of mobility
  • Physical illnesses that can affect emotion, memory, and thought
  • Poor diet or malnutrition

There are also warning signs to look out for that can mean things aren’t quite right, like:

  • Change in sleeping patterns (not enough sleep or oversleeping)
  • High stress levels or constant worrying
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Unusual ideas or behaviors
  • A need or dependence on drugs and alcohol
  • Feeling hopeless or giving up
  • Constant headaches and pain
  • Anger and irritability
  • Engaging in high-risk activities

If you or a loved one are experiencing the above, you should speak to your doctor or a trained mental health professional as soon as possible – and don’t be put off or told that what you’re feeling is a normal part of aging! As we’re about to discuss, we need to be doing more for the mental health of older adults.

man sitting across from another man with his head in his hands and the other one listening
It is important to seek help if you are experiencing mental health issues before it gets worse.

7. We’re Not Doing Enough

While adequate social and emotional support is associated with reduced risk of mental illness, physical illness, and mortality, we’re just not doing enough to keep older adults in tip-top mental shape. Unfortunately, the older people get, the less likely they are to say they receive the social and emotional support they need, according to the CDC. Their studies show that adults aged 65 or older were more likely than adults aged 50–64 to report that they “rarely” or “never” received the social and emotional support they needed (12.2% compared to 8.1%, respectively).

And, again, our health system is dropping the ball on this, with far too many older adults not being adequately diagnosed, cared for, and treated. Consider these shocking statistics:

  • Primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50% of the time.
  • Only half of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive any treatment.
  • Researchers estimate that up to 63% of older adults with a mental disorder do not receive the services they need.
  • 75% of older adults who commit suicide have visited a primary care physician within a month of their suicide.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs, especially when studies show that 80% of older adults recover from depression after receiving treatment that includes both psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Mental health issues are not a normal part of aging, but they are treatable, we just need to do more to raise awareness in older adults and those who care for them. 

So this Mental Health Awareness Month, take the time to check in with yourself and your loved ones, make sure you know the risks and what to look out for, and stay as social and active as possible to keep yourself in a good mental state and connected to what and who you love. And if you or a loved one are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted professional and get the help you need and deserve. Growing older has its challenges, but you have the strength to face them head on, with a little help if needed. 

Is There a Downside to Aging in Place?

Life is full of decisions to make, and the number of decisions we have to make does not decrease as we get older, nor do the decisions get less consequential. In fact, one of the biggest choices you’ll have to make is how to spend your old age: are you going to consider moving into an assisted living facility, will you have family to live with, or are you hoping to be able to “age in place,” or keep living in your own home for as long as possible? 

While it’s not always possible to make this decision on your own, depending on your health, it is a decision that you should have as much of a say in as possible. And if you’re like the majority of seniors nowadays, your preference is probably to stay put, for multiple reasons. But is there a downside to aging in place? As with anything, there are certainly pros and cons, but one major con to consider is the toll that aging in place can take on your mental health if you live alone, which can lead to feeling socially isolated. So does this downside negate the positive aspects of aging in place, or are there ways to combat this social isolation?

The Desire to Age in Place

What is aging in place? According to the CDC, this means “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Sounds good, right? That’s probably why, as we mentioned above, if your goal is to age in place, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, a survey by the AARP has found that 77% of adults over 50 plan to stay in their homes for the long term, and that’s on the lowest end of the spectrum. Most surveys tend to show that 90% of older adults want to stay in their own homes as they age.

silhouette of an older couple under a house roof

According to Martin Lenoir, chief marketing officer at American Advisors Group (AAG), which did a survey on how meaningful “the home” is to seniors, “For seniors, the comfort, safety and independence of their home outweigh the desire to move.” In fact, AAG found that:

  • Over 90% of seniors prefer to remain in their homes as opposed to moving into an assisted living facility
  • 82% have no concrete plans to ever sell their home or move away

And why is this? According to this survey:

  • 83% of respondents stated they feel safer at home compared to elsewhere
  • 40% said their independence is the most important benefit of aging in place
  • More than 50% of seniors have an “emotional attachment” to their home because it reminds them of their family

Studies have also found that aging in place can promote life satisfaction, a positive quality of life, and self-esteem, all of which are needed to remain happy, healthy, and well into old age. But as mentioned above, there can be a dark side to staying at home.

The Dangers of Isolation

Aging in place can often mean living alone at some point; in fact, nearly one-third of all seniors live by themselves, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s close to 14 million seniors aging alone. And while living alone is not problematic for some older adults, it can lead to loneliness – generally around 40% of seniors report feeling lonely, with that number rising to well over 50% in 2020 during the pandemic – and even isolation-induced depression.

And it isn’t just the actual living alone that can be a problem for older adults, it’s the perception of loneliness and isolation (remember: loneliness doesn’t refer to being alone, rather it refers to feeling alone). As you age, it can be harder to get out to do the things you want to do, you might have lost a spouse who was your confidante, or family might be further away than you’d like them to be.

dangers of isolation infographic

These feelings of social isolation and loneliness can actually put your health at risk. Recent studies have found that:

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia.
  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
  • Loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
  • Loneliness among heart failure patients was associated with a nearly 4 times increased risk of death, 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and 57% increased risk of emergency department visits.

Those are some very dire statistics, but they don’t mean that you should give up on the idea of aging in place. If you’re physically able to stay home, the sense of independence, and the connection to the memories in your family home, can make staying put totally worthwhile. And there are ways to combat loneliness, social isolation, and all of the negative consequences that can come with those psychological impacts of living alone.

How Older Adults Can Avoid Social Isolation

If you’re aging in place, and living alone (or even if your spouse is still living with you, and you need more socializing), there are ways to combat loneliness. For example:

2 older women sitting on a bench outside
If you are feeling isolated, then reach out to family or friends.

Reach out

This is something that you’ve heard before, but it’s worth saying again: the first step to combating loneliness is to reach out. Have friends stop over, keep up with your neighbors, and set up a weekly time for grandkids or other close contacts to stop by for a visit. 

Consider a roommate

Sure, your college days are over, but there’s no reason why you can’t buddy up in your older age. In fact, seniors taking on roommates is a growing trend in the U.S., as more people are looking for help with the rent or mortgage, as well as companionship. And don’t worry, you don’t have to rely on placing an ad and hoping for the best: there are actually services that safely and effectively match up older adults with roommates.

Get some help around the house

If you need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to look into an in-home caregiver. They can provide practical assistance with things like meal prep, housekeeping, and transportation (so you can get out of the house more!), but they can also provide companionship, as well.

Give back 

Now that you’ve got more time on your hands, and you’re looking to spend some time with others, it’s the perfect time to consider volunteering. Local libraries, museums, schools, animal shelters, gardens, etc all need help, so whatever your interests you should be able to find a way to get involved in your community and meet new people.

Share your interests

Whatever your hobbies, try to find others who share them – and don’t be shy about telling your loved ones about them. They’ll be interested to know what makes you happy, and might want to join in so you can spend time together.

Get moving

Joining an exercise class is a great way to get out and meet people, as well get healthier and give yourself a shot of all those mood-boosting endorphins, making working out a win-win-win situation!

Be a joiner

Look into your local senior center, which probably has classes and activities geared towards older adults. You can meet people with similar interests, and learn something new!

Know your transport options

If you’re still driving, great! But if that’s not something you’re as comfortable with now that you’re getting older, make sure you know your options. Public transport can really be your friend (and many cities offer free bus passes for seniors), but if you live somewhere without as many public options, set up an account with a ride-sharing app like Lyft, or look into local senior centers, which sometimes offer transport for older adults.

hands on a tablet screen
If you cannot see your family or friends, then you consider seeing them through technology!

Embrace technology

If you can’t see your family and friends in person as much as you’d like, remember that you can see them anytime you like with the help of modern technology! Get yourself a smartphone or tablet and install an app like WhatsApp, which has a super easy video calling function, and your loved ones will be literally in your pocket and right there at your fingertips! Sure, it’s not exactly the same as spending time in person, but if you’re not sure about it, consider this: studies show that older adults who use email, instant messaging or social media platforms like Facebook have about the same rate of depressive symptoms as those who do not use any communication technologies. But people who use video chat applications have almost half the estimated probability of depressive symptoms.

Find a balance

Remember, only you can determine what the “right” amount of socializing is for you. Your friends and family might be concerned about you spending time alone, and with the best of intentions, try to pack your social calendar. If that’s not what you need, let them know! 

If you’re healthy and in the financial position to do so, aging in place can be a great option for keeping you feeling independent and in control as you age. You should absolutely be able to make this decision for yourself, but you also have to remember that avoiding social isolation needs to be near the top of your list of things to consider when thinking about what staying in your home as you age will look like. But with a good plan, some creativity, and a willingness to seek out opportunities, you’ll be able to ensure good mental health and continued social connections as you age in place.

Can ADHD Get Worse As You Age?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, often gets misdiagnosed in young people. While around 11% of children ages 4-17 in the U.S. have received a diagnosis of ADHD, studies show that this is just a small percentage of people who actually have ADHD. This misdiagnosis, and failure to treat ADHD, can end up causing bigger issues for people when they get older: those with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD have a higher risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression. Symptoms can become worse after midlife, and continue to worsen with regular age-related cognitive decline. Don’t ignore the symptoms, speak to your doctor before your condition gets worse.

What ADHD Looks Like In Older Adults

An estimated 3% of older adults have been diagnosed with ADHD, although the number of those who are actually living with the condition might be higher. While some studies show that ADHD doesn’t necessarily get worse with age, and that some adults can outgrow their symptoms, this is not the case for everyone. In fact, some people will experience more severe or intense symptoms during their day-to-day activities when they get older, since the more stress you encounter, the worse your ADHD symptoms can get. That means adults with ADHD will need more support than the average aging adult.

When Do Symptoms Get Worse?

Symptoms of ADHD generally change during the transition from childhood to adolescence and young adulthood, again when a person enters midlife, and yet again during older age. Often, older adults with ADHD will have issues with things like:

older man with his head dispersing as puzzle pieces

  • Misplacing items
  • Forgetting words
  • Talking too much
  • Having trouble following conversations
  • Difficulty maintaining their home
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships
  • Memory issues
  • Not getting things done
  • Time-management challenges
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Poor nutritional habits

In addition, a 2012 study found that 62% of those with ADHD had at least one other disorder, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

Eventually, if left untreated, ADHD can lead to serious mental health issues. Specifically, older adults with ADHD have an increased risk of developing depression and dementia. “Older people with ADHD who have never been diagnosed may suddenly fear that they’re developing dementia because they are absentminded and forgetful,” says Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.

Managing & Treating ADHD

illustration of a head with scrambled brain and a person grabbing a rope from the brain and pulling
Cognitive behavioral therapy can help manage symptoms of ADHD as you age.

If you suspect that you have ADHD, speak to your doctor. The best way to help manage your condition is to seek treatment as soon as possible: the earlier you get help, the more manageable the condition is. You can do this by going to a support group, or attending cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy can help raise your awareness when symptoms occur, help you combat feelings of low self-esteem to reduce feelings of depression, and teach you how to cope with stress and increase productivity.

If you need more help, doctors can prescribe medications such as amphetamines and methylphenidate to help deal with ADHD. And in rare cases, doctors will prescribe antidepressants.

If you’re on Medicare, getting medications and therapy for ADHD will be partially covered, but you will still have out-of-pocket expenses, such as your Part B deductible and 20% Part B coinsurance, which can add up to a lot. It’s worth looking into a Medicare Supplement Plan to save as much money as you can, so speak to an EZ agent for all of your options. EZ’s agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation and can compare plans in minutes for you at no cost. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

The U.S. Approves Its First New Alzheimer’s Drug In 20 Years

Someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease every 65 seconds; in 2020, it was estimated that 5.8 million Americans aged 65 or older had the condition. These startling statistics are made all the more unsettling by the fact that there is currently no known cure, and few effective treatments, for the disease. But there might be good news on that front: for the first time in nearly 20 years, a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has been approved for use in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aducanumab, known by the brand name Aduhelm, targets dementia, the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s. But while U.S. manufacturer Biogen, Inc, creator of the drug, has found that the drug works well in higher doses, use of the drug has been narrowed after the FDA received criticism for approving it.  

The Approval

two caucasian hands with their thumbs up
The FDA collaborated with Biogen, the creator of the Alzheimer’s drug, and fast-tracked the drug’s approval.

Aducanumab has had a somewhat rocky approval process. In March 2019, late-stage trials involving 3,000 patients were halted when it was determined that the drug was not slowing down deterioration in participants. However, after Biogen and the FDA worked together to further analyze the data, they concluded that the drug might actually work; Biogen then began collaborating on the drug with the FDA, who fast-tracked its approval this year. They agreed that the drug targets and reduces amyloid, a protein that forms abnormal clumps in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s, which damages brain cells. 

The FDA said there was “substantial evidence that aducanumab reduces amyloid beta plaques in the brain” and that this “is reasonably likely to predict important benefits to patients.”

The drug would cost roughly $56,000 a year and requires monthly IV infusions. 

The Controversy

The FDA’s approval of the drug has been criticized by many, including members of the FDA’s advisory panel, some of whom resigned in protest, and other drug manufacturers are also voicing their concerns. 

Experts are split on whether the FDA’s fast-tracking of the Alzheimer’s drug is potentially harmful or beneficial. Some think more evidence is necessary to prove that the drug is effective, and others worry that this might mean the FDA will begin to fast-track treatments for other diseases, which could put false hope above solid clinical science, and possibly harm patients. On the other hand, some advocacy groups see this as a possible way to help patients dealing with other diseases: “If the FDA can find a way to be flexible for Alzheimer’s, maybe they can find a way to be flexible for ALS,” said Neil Thakur, chief mission officer at the ALS Association. magnifying glass over a piece of paper The acting head of the FDA, Dr. Janet Woodcock, has weighed in on the controversy, calling for a government investigation into the contacts between Biogen and some of her agency’s drug reviewers. “We believe an independent assessment is the best manner in which to determine whether any interactions that occurred between the manufacturer and the agency’s review staff were inconsistent with FDA’s policies and procedures,” Woodcock said on Twitter.

After the criticism of the drug’s approval, Biogen has narrowed the use of Aduhelm, recommending the treatment be used for people with mild cognitive impairments. They have asked for an update to the label, stating there is no safety or effectiveness data on treatment at earlier or later stages of Alzheimer’s.

As for now, the debate over the drug’s approval continues: aducanumab is being hailed by patient advocates who are eager for a treatment for Alzheimer’s, while others are saying that clinical trials of the drug are inconsistent and more research is needed. Biogen has now been required to conduct a follow-up study to provide more solid evidence that the drug is actually effective. At the very least, this controversial drug could help boost underfunded dementia research, which would be a win for everyone.