Learn How Oxidative Stress Impacts Senior Care Choices

Does Blood Oxidative Stress (BLOS) Impact Senior Care Choices?

Mick Jagger taught Baby Boomers an important lesson this week.  Fitness activity is not enough to prevent Heart Disease.  Of all of the Stones, Mick was the last one that anyone would predict heart surgery.  Mick’s father was a Physical Education instructor and Mick learned his fitness lessons well.  According to news reports, he maintained a healthy lifestyle for decades. Yet, he still went under the knife to replace a heart valve.

Was it genetics, poor diet at an early age, or something else?  Of course, we will never know if he stuck to a healthy diet.  I suspect that Mr. Jagger suffered from long-term elevated blood oxidative stress (BLOS), which promotes atherosclerosis and heart disease.  Over time, BLOS results in multiple chronic conditions including heart disease, which leads to expensive medical and Senior care.

Demographics and Multiple Chronic Health Conditions

A 2010 survey revealed that 80% of adults over age 65 have multiple chronic health conditions.  The top 4 chronic health conditions for Seniors are Hypertension (58%), High Cholesterol (45%), Ischemic Heart Disease (31%) and Diabetes (28%).  Many of these chronic health conditions may be due to long-term blood oxidative stress (BLOS) from a poor diet.  As expected, the cost of Medical Care for Seniors with multiple chronic health conditions increases with more physician visits and prescriptions.  A recent report suggests that the number of adults with Alzheimer’s Disease may be double.  These chronic health conditions also limit lifestyle, which results in more expensive Senior Care Choices.  A lifetime of poor lifestyle choices will deplete savings for Seniors and their loved ones.  Let’s review the cost of the current options for Senior Care.

Senior Care Choices

The choices available for Senior Care are a function of Senior Health State.  As expected, healthier Seniors have more affordable Senior Care.  Living at home with local family support is the ideal Senior Care option with both lowest expense and highest quality of life.

Next, Independent Senior Communities offer limited services for active Seniors with minor health conditions for an additional monthly cost of $400-$2,000.  For most Seniors, this option would be ideal for their remaining years.  However, as Seniors develop multiple chronic health conditions, this option will not be available.  Friends and family are replaced by trained Senior caregivers and on-site nurses  and physicians.  As expected, the cost of medical care and Senior Care rise with the remaining options.

Assisted Senior Living Communities provide regulated assistance to Seniors and range in cost from $2,500-$6,000 per month. This assistance increases the monthly costs by $2,000-$4,000 compared to Independent Senior Communities.

Nursing Homes provide intense assistance with a hefty price tag of $4,500-$12,000 per month.  24/7 care for your Senior has a high cost.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities are the most expensive Senior Care option due to the first-rate care.  No cost estimate was available, but you should expect costs in the range of Nursing Homes.

Memory Care Communities are a more recent Senior Care option that provides assistance for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia have an average monthly cost of $5,000.

How Will You Pay for Your Senior Care?

These expensive Senior Care Options do not include the high cost of prescription medications.  Do you have enough savings to pay for your Senior years?  As a Senior, your best strategy for extending your limited savings and retirement funds is to delay or prevent the onset of multiple chronic health conditions.  Are there lifestyle choices that you can make today that could help you and your family in planning your Senior Care?

Family Plan for Sustainable Senior Care

The Senior’s family needs to prepare a sustainable plan for Senior Care.  Although it is an uncomfortable topic, it is in everyone’s best interest to have that conversation earlier.  First, review the financial status.  Second, review health status.  Third, review lifestyle choices.  Fourth, prepare a plan for Sustainable Senior Care.  You will not complete this 4-step process in one afternoon.  It may take several conversations with your Senior to get the complete truth about finances and health.  Be patient and take careful notes.

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Oxidative Stress is Blind Spot for Health Care

Is Blood Oxidative Stress (BLOS) the Blind Spot for American Health Care?

For drivers, the Blind Spot is the most dangerous unknown.  For Americans and others that consume the Western Diet, Oxidative Stress is the Blind Spot for Health Care.  Oxidative Stress is thought to be the cause of multiple health problems with many remaining asymptomatic for years.  The list of diseases attributed to Oxidative Stress include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and more.  If you ask Americans about their health state and compare it to their actual health state, then you will see their Blind Spot, too.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Healthiest of Them All?

The figure below compares the results of a 2015 Self Survey of Adult Americans for Health State and BMI.  In the third column, the corresponding Diabetic State or Blood Oxidative Stress (BLOS) level are shown.  About 1/3 of Adult Americans report Excellent Health with BMI and BLOS (most likely) in agreement.  About 10% are honest about their Poor (and Fair) Health with Type 2 Diabetes being difficult to ignore.  Here is the Blind Spot:  About 60% of Adult Americans think they are in Good or Very Good Health, but BMI and corresponding BLOS level tell a different story.  Why?

BLOS Blind Spot Adult American Health Survey 2015
Comparison of the 2015 Self Survey of Adult American’s Health Status, BMI, and estimated Diabetic State (BLOS).

BLOS is a Long-Term Health Problem

Being Overweight or Obese is the primary target of public health professionals, but it should be a secondary target.  Extra weight does not cause health problems beyond leg and joint problems.  The evidence that fat causes chronic health problems is scant.  Elevated BMI is only a Risk Factor.  However, oxidative stress is thought to cause several health problems, due to reactive oxygen species (ROS).  Continuous production of ROS by BLOS impacts tissue throughout your body.  Long-term, elevated Blood Oxidative Stress or BLOS should be the primary target, since it is an asymptomatic disease.  Reduction and management of BLOS may prevent the development of multiple health problems.

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Wellness Industry Should Focus on Oxidative Stress

Should the Wellness Industry Focus on Blood Oxidative Stress for Better Results?

The future of the Wellness Industry should focus on Oxidative Stress, since it affects more than 2/3 of adult Americans and many more around the World.  The primary source of Oxidative Stress is the blood.  Long-term, elevated levels of Blood Oxidative Stress or BLOS is thought to be an Asymptomatic Disease responsible for multiple health problems including Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Atherosclerosis, and a greater risk of Cancers.  In the United States, Oxidative Stress is responsible for an estimated $800B in annual health care costs.  The current Wellness Industry programs fail at delivering a return on investment (ROI), since they do not focus on the root cause of many modern health problems.

Wellness Industry Should Focus on Oxidative Stress

The Rand Corporation evaluated Wellness programs and identified two distinct offerings with different ROI.

1st Type: Make the Employee Feel Good

The traditional Wellness program offers employees a number of benefits that focus on improving morale with little if any ROI.  Encouraging employees to make healthier choices with respect to diet and exercise is great, but the financial gain is difficult to measure.  Does the employee’s Lifestyle Choices prevent major health care problems in the future?  This is a difficult question to answer, since weight or BMI are risk factors and not causes of health care problems.

2nd Type: Avoid the Emergency Room!

The second type of Wellness program focuses on identifying employees at risk of a major health problem.  For these employees, this wellness program is a disease management program that reduces the cost of intensive medical care (that means Emergency Room visit).  These plans don’t manage a disease.  Instead, they provide a strategy to avoid the high cost of a catastrophic event.  Periodic testing may reveal a significant change in the employee’s physiological state, which may lead to a major medical event (e.g., heart attack).  Immediate medical attention for this employee may prevent the medical event and reduce the overall health care costs.

Are There Only 2 Types of Wellness Programs?

Is this the best that we can do?  Should we wait for the cumulative effect of long-term poor Lifestyle Choices for an Asymptomatic Disease like Cardiovascular Disease to manifest as a major medical event?  Is there a better way to structure Wellness Programs?  Could there first type of Wellness Program that focuses on Life Style Choices be better with a ROI?  (of course, read on!)

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Oxidative Stress Blood Test Good for Patients and Pharma

How does Oxidative Stress Impact Clinical Trials?

The Right To Try Bill is a new Law, which offers hope for terminally ill patients interested in trying experimental drugs that passed Phase 1 safety standards from the FDA.  While encouraging, the grim reality of experimental drugs is that a large majority fail in Phase 2/3 of Clinical Trials.  This is despite Pre-Clinical experiments providing evidence that these experimental drugs work in animal models.  Could variable levels of Oxidative Stress in humans cause some of this failure?  If true, then there may be a simple way to improve the odds of an experimental drug working for Right To Try patients.  This approach should also interest Big Pharma.  An Oxidative Stress Test provides feedback on lifestyle choices for lowering Oxidative Stress.  This approach should be used prior to using experimental drugs for better results.

Elevated Blood Oxidative Stress May Impact Clinical Trials

The primary source of Oxidative Stress in adult Americans is from blood cells, which we call Blood Oxidative Stress or BLOS.  Although about 2/3 of adult Americans are thought to suffer from elevated levels of BLOS, medical researchers do NOT control it during Clinical Trials.  Control in this context means minimizing BLOS during the clinical trial.  But Big Pharma has been doing this for decades and this is the right approach for evaluating experimental drugs, right?

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BLOS is a Positive Black Swan for Health Care

BLOS could be a Positive Black Swan for Health Care.

If Black Swan in the title got your attention, then you are already familiar with Nassim Taleb’s work on Black Swans.  Beyond the financial sector, there is interest in predicting Black Swans in other sectors including Health Care.  What if the Black Swan for Health Care isn’t a digital product or novel class of promising drugs?  What if it’s a new, broad impacting asymptomatic disease that escaped the attention of medical researchers and the general public?  This potential Black Swan is Blood Oxidative Stress or BLOS.  An estimated 2/3 of adult Americans suffer from BLOS costing $1T/year in Health Care costs.  BLOS extends beyond the USA impacting Europe and many countries that adopted the Western Diet.

Blood Oxidative Stress may be the Black Swan for Health Care
BLOS could be the Positive Black Swan for Health Care.

What is Blood Oxidative Stress (BLOS)?

Blood Oxidative Stress or BLOS is a high percentage of blood cells generating reactive oxygen species (ROS).  Once induced to generate ROS, these blood cells generate it until replacement (about 1 week).  The high prevalence of BLOS in Western Countries suggests that the Western Diet may be the culprit.  One theory suggests that excessive dietary inorganic sulfur may lead to the proliferation of sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) in the gut.  Many food preservatives and additives contain inorganic sulfur, which is common in the Western Diet.  In turn, these SRB have the potential to generate high amounts of sulfide in the gut.  Short bursts of sulfide production in the gut are thought to induce the ROS response in captive blood cells.

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