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Withholding flu drugs from seniors a new discussion item

September 1, 2009
by root
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As governments prepare for the anticipated spread of the swine flu pandemic, a team of Italian researchers is suggesting elderly populations be last in line for treatment.

Using the devastating influenza pandemic of 1918 as a benchmark, researchers from Italy's Bruno Kessler Foundation wrote in the journal BMC Infectious Disease that providing elders with antiviral drugs would not significantly reduce mortality. In fact, the virus could develop an increased resistance.

“Our work demonstrates that even in countries where the antiviral stockpile is not sufficient to treat 25% of the population-the minimum level suggested by the World Health Organization-it is possible to reduce morbidity and excess mortality by prioritizing the use of antivirals by age,” researchers said.


Stating that it is too soon to predict the pandemic's behavior, researchers confirmed the use of antivirals to be “the most effective single intervention, in the absence of vaccines.” This requires a very large stockpile of antivirals, however, leading researchers to come to their conclusion that the young be treated first, depending on available supplies.

“Although a policy of age-specific prioritization of antiviral use will be controversial ethically, it may be the most efficient use of stockpiled therapies,” researchers said. “This is of particular importance for countries where the amount of drugs stockpiled is well below the World Health Organization's suggested level.”

Brookside offers seniors complimentary at-home services

Middleburg Heights, Ohio- Brookside Estates here is reaching out to elders in the community.

According to Tammy Wearsch, community relations director, the Emeritus Community has initiated a complimentary home visit program, “You Don't Have to Live with Us for Us to Help.” It is part of Emeritus's “Living Safely Somewhere” program. “We are committed to making sure that every senior in our area in need finds the combination of programs and services that serve them best, even if they do not live at Brookside Estates,” Wearsch said. “We realize there are many seniors in our area going without the vital health, social, and supportive services they need to maintain their quality of life at home.” The program helps seniors cope with their challenges and provides a host of resources to help them stay healthy and connected to the community while living in their own home.

Some of the services Brookside offers at-home seniors are:

  • Nurse evaluation to help identify care needs

  • Support system check to identify potential challenges based on gaps in needed assistance

  • Referrals to other area providers as needed based on needs that are uncovered

  • Post-visit follow-up coordination with families and referral sources after the home visit

  • Access to Emeritus resources such as the family lending library and senior safety tips

  • A listening ear and enjoyable visit

Long-Term Living 2009 September;58(9):10
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