More payoffs from social networking

Residents in senior living settings experienced multiple cognitive and emotional benefits from being trained in how to use social media, according to findings from a “landmark” study in the United Kingdom.

The Ages 2.0 project involved nearly 80 “vulnerable” participants, who were between 60 and 95 years old. They were all receiving services through Somerset Care Ltd. and resided either in the community or in one of Somerset’s communities. 

Compared to a control group, the study participants displayed improved cognition, a greater sense of self-competence and self-identity, and were more socially engaged, the investigators found. They were given a touchscreen computer and keyboard and three months of training in how to use social media such as Facebook and Skype. They kept the computer for a one-year period.

“We’re always keen to build upon and ensure continuity of our integration success and Ages 2.0 has provided the perfect research mechanism to help promote discussions around future models of care,” stated Mandy Seymour, chief executive officer at Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust, a partner in the project. It was led by the University of Exeter, which announced the results.

Rotating shift dangers

Senior living nurses who work rotating night shifts might be at increased risk of death, particularly from heart disease and lung cancer, according to recently published findings from Harvard Medical School.

For nurses who worked rotating night shifts for at least six years, all-cause mortality increased 11%, the investigators determined. Cardiovascular disease mortality was about 20% higher for this group. For nurses who worked this type of schedule for 15 or more years, risk of death by lung cancer increased 25%.

Flu cases rising

The current flu season continues to be especially bad in the United States, according to the government’s latest flu surveillance report. Forty-three states have reported either high or widespread flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes.

Senior living residents often have weakened immune systems, which can make them especially vulnerable, experts caution.

This year’s predominant flu strain, H3N2, has accounted for 95% of all cases reported. This strain is associated with more severe illness and more deaths. And the challenge will likely get worse, experts said.

SMART wound care

International researchers have teamed up to create a liquid bandage that maps oxygen concentrations in skin wounds.

A lack of oxygen can lead to chronic sores. Current methods to assess wounds are either subjective or require highly specialized staff or equipment, says Harvard Medical School Professor Conor Evans, Ph.D., the study’s lead author.

The bandage is made of phosphors — molecules that absorb light and then emit it via a process known as phosphorescence. It’s painted onto the skin’s surface as a liquid, and dries to a solid thin film within a minute.

New COPD guide

Residents with COPD should get pneumococcal and flu vaccines to manage their disease and ward off complications, according to new guidelines issued by two of North America’s largest thoracic societies.

Though the pneumococcal vaccine may not prevent acute exacerbations, first-of-their-kind recommendations from The American College of Chest Physicians and the Canadian Thoracic Society note that patients with the bacteria in their lower airway have a “significantly increased risk” of exacerbations.

Leg ulcer help

When senior living caregivers provide clear, tailored exercise and education to adults with venous leg ulcers, residents are more likely to engage in regular exercise — which can improve outcomes. 

The findings come from a series of interviews with 10 patients conducted by researchers at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.