By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday July 17, 2014 - 11:35:00 AM

This month is the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed July 26, 1990. Not only a landmark in removing barriers and increasing autonomy for people with disabilities, it is one of the nation’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation. The ADA is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The death-with-dignity movement represents the latest civil rights struggle. All people deserve full autonomy in living and in dying.  


Chronic pain has special meaning for seniors, elders and old people. Dictionary definitions associate chronic with something of long duration or continuing, or as an example of frequent recurrence, chronic colitis.  

The new, second edition of Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief is a glossy tome that e-x-p-l-a-i-n-s pain. It is based on the take-charge approach to managing chronic pain practiced at Mayo’s Comprehensive Pain Rehabilitation Center. The publisher, Mayo Clinic, continues: “thorough, easy-to-read information about the same solutions that are offered the Clinic’s patients, the latest advances for treating arthritis, migraines, low back pain, fibromyalgia, and painful illness and injury. Mayo doctors know how pain interferes with sleep, work, social life, and simple daily life.” Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D. and Tracy E. Harrison, M.D. are the Guide’s “Medical Editors.” Their compilation consists of three parts: understanding, treating, and managing chronic pain.  

There is no particular reference to or consideration of senior citizens, aged persons, or the relationship of pain to aging. Much as in life, family and friends are incessantly referenced. Some of Mayo Clinic’s other volumes deal more specifically with health concerns directly related to aging and old people, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure.  

To control pain, one needs to understand how it develops. Part 1 discusses the anatomy of pain — the parts of the body involved in the development of pain — and why some people respond to pain differently than do others. Part 2 explains options for treating pain… the various drugs used to treat pain, why some medications are more effective for certain types of pain, potential side effects, other types of available treatments, e.g. pain-site injections, nerve stimulators and medication pumps as well as alternative and complementary therapies. Managing chronic pain, part 3, is a self-care section describing steps one can take independently.  

Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated nonprofit medical group practice in the world. a nonprofit medical practice and medical research group in Rochester, Minnesota. It specializes in treating difficult cases through integrated, tertiary care. Tertiary care is defined by Johns Hopkins as specialized consultative care, usually on referral from primary or secondary medical personnel, by specialists working in a center that has personnel and facilities for special investigation and treatment. Secondary medical care is provided by a physician who acts as a consultant at the request of the primary physician

Mayo Clinic is located in Rochester, Minnesota. It has been near the top of the U.S. News & World Report List of Best Hospitals for 20+ years and on the list of America's 100 Best Companies to Work For published by Fortune magazine for 8. 

The July/August/September 2014 issue of Senior Update, “the eyes and ears of Alameda County Seniors,” carries an article by Moshe Lewis, MD, MH, MBA titled “Recent advances in pain management.” Dr. Lewis focuses on new advances in non-invasive treatment. To subscribe to Senior Update – it’s free -- , phone 1 800 510 2020. 


Ranking America’s Fifty States; A Comparison in Graphic Detail considers numerous aspects of Americans’ lives. (Berman Press, 2013) Here are some of author Michael D. Dulberger’s findings that are California- and age-related: 

  • One third of the U.S. population lives in 4 states: #1 California, with 32.6% of the U.S. population. The others are New York, Texas and Florida.
  • Americans’ median age in 2010 was 37.2 nationally. California 35.2; Utah the youngest median 29.2; Maine the oldest 42.7.
  • Life expectancy at birth: males 76 years, females 80.9.
  • Suicide rate in 2007: 11.3 per 100,000 residents nationally. California 9.8; New Jersey the lowest 6.7; Alaska the highest 22.1. [See also "Baby boomers have the highest rate of suicide," by Rick Montgomery (Kansas City [Missouri] Star, July 6, 2014).)
  • Medicaid recipients in 2009: 20% of population nationally.
  • Age-adjusted cancer death rate in 2009: 173.2 deaths per 100,000 persons nationally. California 159.1. Lowest, Utah 120.6; highest West Virginia 208.2.

On Sunday, July 20, 2014 from 2-4 P.M., the Berkeley Historical Society will present From DNA to Genetic Genealogy: Everything You Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask. 

Steve Morse will discuss genes, chromosomes and DNA, and then show how DNA is inherited. “That knowledge can be used for finding relatives you didn’t know you had, learning about your very distant ancestors and the routes they traveled, and possibly determining if you are a Jewish high priest (Kohan). 

Examples presented will include Genghis Khan’s legacy, the Thomas Jefferson affair, and the Anastasia mystery.”  


The Berkeley Historical Society and Berkeley History Center are at 1931 Center Street, Berkeley, CA in the Veterans Memorial building.  


“As A Husband Becomes Caregiver To His Wife, A Marriage Evolves," by Julia Mitric (US National Public Radio. All Things Considered, July. 4, 2014) is about one of the 15 million Americans caring for a family member with dementia is described. A spouse often becomes the round-the-clock caregiver. This husband’s goal is to keep his wife at home for as long as possible. He is confident he can handle the many physical demands of caregiving. It is the social isolation that that is brutal for him. He says their social life as a couple evaporated when his wife’s dementia accelerated. 

From another, quite different perspective, a “Husband's health and attitude loom large for happy long-term marriages," by Jann Ingmire (University of Chicago [Illinois] news release via Eurekalert [American Association for the Advancement of Science], March 12, 2014). 


JAPAN NEWS: "Early onset dementia poses special problems," by Tomohiro Osaki (Japan Times [Tokyo], July 4, 2014). 

"Assistance for vulnerable elderly on the rise," by Mami Maruko (Japan Times [Tokyo], July 5, 2014). 

NEW ZEALAND NEWS: "Euthanasia legitimate up to a point, says (Prime Minister John) Key," by Simon Collins (New Zealand Herald [Auckland], July 6, 2014). 

"ISO (In search of) Romance: Dating Sites Help Older Singles," by Ina Jaffe (US National Public Radio All Things Considered, Feb. 25, 2014).  

"More Baby Boomers Divorcing And That Means More Dating," by Jim Shea (Hartford [Connecticut] Courant, April 23, 2014).