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September 2005
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November 2005

Retiring Early Doesn't Mean You'll Live Longer

I am turning 60 in December, and the only birthdays that have bothered me have been turning 40 and now turning 60. They seem like milestone birthdays to me.

Many of my contemporaries, especially teachers and police officers have retired by my age. I wonder what they do with themselves. Many find other employment at least part time. I plan to work until 66 at least when I can get my Social Security and maybe on into 70 or 75.

I have often sensed that retiring early is not necessarily a good thing for one's physical or mental health. Reuters reported on October 21, 2005 on an article in the British Medical Journal in October, 2005 which essentially says what I have thought all along.

"It is widely held that early retirement is associated with longer life expectancy and later retirement is associated with early death, but a new study shows this isn't so.

According to a report in this week's British Medical Journal, the long-term survival of people who retire early at age 55 or 60 is no better than that of those who retire at 65. On the contrary, survival rates appear to improve with increasing age at retirement. This seems to be the case for both high- and low-income groups."

Link: MedlinePlus: Retiring Early Doesn't Mean You'll Live Longer.

Dark Days, the film

Dark Days is a documentary released in 2000 about the homeless folks who live in the tunnels by Penn Station in New York City. The film reminds me of Lee Stringer's book, "Grand Central Winter: Stories From The Street".

"Near Penn Station, next to the Amtrak tracks, squatters have been living for years. Marc Singer goes underground to live with them, and films this "family." A dozen or so men and one woman talk about their lives: horrors of childhood, jail time, losing children, being coke-heads. They scavenge, they've built themselves sturdy one-room shacks; they have pets, cook, chat, argue, give each other haircuts. A bucket is their toilet. Leaky overhead pipes are a source of water for showers. They live in virtual darkness. During the filming, Amtrak gives a 30-day eviction notice."

If you are interested in homeless people, how they live, you'll find this film fascinating. I recommend it.

Link: Dark Days (2000).

Sunset Story, the film

Sunset_story Where do social activists go to die? They go to Sunset Hall in Los Angeles.

Sunset Story is a documentary released in 2003 which follows the lives of Irja Lloyd and Lucille Alpert who become fast friends in this assisted living facility. Lucille finally dies at age 95 of esophogeal cancer and Irja is devastated to loose her friend, but Irja keeps on protesting.

I love this film about these two old ladies as they harvest the bounties of their lives in discussing their views of themselves, their neighbors, and the world.

I recommend this film.

Link: Sunset Story.

Quote of the day

"If I have learned anything, it's that people must be treated with exquisite care, as individuals. The more we classify people and warehouse them in groups - "prisoners,", "the mentally ill", "the condemned", - the less we are able to see who they are and be of help to them."

Melody Ermachild Chavis

Red Ribbon Week 10/23 - 10/31/05

The twentieth anniversay of Red Ribbon Week begins today, October 23, and goes through October 31.

"Red Ribbon Week is dedicated to helping to preserve Special Agent Camarena's memory and further the cause for which he gave his life, the fight against the violence of drug crime and the misery of addiction. By gathering together in special events and wearing a Red Ribbon during the last week in October, Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their opposition to drugs.

According to DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, “Even though 20 years have passed, Kiki Camarena continues to inspire the nation to this day. In 1985, in an act of valor that shook DEA and the world, Kiki Camarena gave his life to keep our country and its children safer. Since then, American kids have taken up the banner Kiki inspired—the Red Ribbons they proudly wear every October. Because of Kiki, millions of children in big cities and small towns have taken a stand against drugs: pledging that drugs are not—and never will be—part of their lives.”

GCASA is sponsoring a week of activities including a visit from San Diego, California of Enrique Camarena, Jr. one of Kiki's sons who was 11 when Kiki was killed in 1985. Enrique, Jr. will be speaking at a number of schools in Genesee and Orleans counties, will be given a key to the city of Batavia tomorrow at a ceremony at the Batavia City center, and give a talk at Parent's Awareness Night at Genesee Community College, Tuesday evening. For more information go to GCASA's web site.

Link: News from DEA, News Releases, 10/03/05.

Patients Still Smoke After Heart Attack

You'd think that if smokers ever had an incentive to quit smoking it would be after a heart attack, but only about half of smokers quit smoking according to a study of over 5,500 heart attack patients in 15 European countries.

As a substance abuse professional I am well aware that nicotine is the most addictive and deadly of all drugs. In the U.S. about 30,000 people die every year from street drugs, 100,000 from alcohol, and 430,000 from tobacco.

Reuters reported on this study on Thursday, October 6th, 2005.

"Having a heart attack is a good incentive to quit smoking, but an international survey published on Thursday shows that only half of patients who have an attack manage to quit."

Ironically, most HMOs and health insurance plans do not pay for treatment of nicotine addiction while they pay for treatment for other drugs.

Link: MedlinePlus: Patients Still Smoke After Heart Attack - Survey.

Quote of the day

"Yes, the corporate leaders run the system more than the President does. The Republicans tend to be more closely tied to the interests of certain corporations, but the leaders of the corporatocracy will find some way to render ineffective any president who fails to advocate for what they want or who tries to stand in their way."

John Perkins

Parents Often Ok with Teens' Medical Privacy

Reuters reported on October 5, 2005 on a study published in the October, 2005 journal, Pediatrics, which found that most parents are OK with medical confidentiality for their teenage children, and those who were not OK at first, were more accepting with some education about confidentiality's benefits.

"A majority of parents seem to accept that their teenagers have a right to medical privacy -- and those who are resistant to the idea can often be persuaded to change their minds, a new study suggests.

Doctor-patient confidentiality is a standard of medical care, even when the patient is an underage adolescent. But some parents object to that idea, wanting to know about any health issues -- such as smoking, drugs and sex -- their children have.

The new study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, looked at parents' opinions about teen medical privacy, and whether doctors and nurses could persuade resistant parents to accept the principle.

In their initial survey of 563 parents, researchers at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, found that about 65 percent believed there are "good reasons" for teenagers to have the right to medical privacy.

And while 35 percent of parents disagreed with that notion at first, only about 14 percent believed as much after receiving either written information on teen privacy or having a discussion with a doctor or nurse.

Similarly, before receiving any education on teen privacy, more than 30 percent of parents thought teenagers should not speak with doctors alone. That figure also dropped to about 14 percent after the education effort -- which included giving parents national statistics on risky behaviors among U.S. high school students, as well as reasons for allowing teenagers to have a confidential relationship with their doctor."

The sticky situations occur with parents who are over controlling and/or perhaps afraid of the disclosure of abuse.

"One looming obstacle, the researchers note, is "giving a 14-year-old the courage to ask his or her parent to leave so that he or she can talk." This is particularly true, they add, of teenagers who are victims of abuse -- a situation that can make it impossible for them to have a private conversation with a doctor or nurse."

Link: MedlinePlus: Parents Often Ok with Teens' Medical Privacy.

Child abuse investigation report disclosure

Child abuse investigation reports are made frequently on people who later may want a job driving a school bus, working in a school, or day care center, and any number of social service settings. Who can access this information?

The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect web site has a document that outlines the rules and regulations of all the states in the United States. If you are interested in seeing what rules apply to the access of this information, click on the link below.

Link: Statute-at-a-Glance: Disclosure of Confidential Records.