Friday, March 18, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Longer Looks: Interesting Reads You Might Have Missed

Each week, KHN finds longer stories for you to enjoy. This week’s selections include stories on mental health care, weight discrimination, senior home care, and more.

The New York Times: As A Crisis Hotline Grows, So Do Fears It Won’t Be Ready

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — the number posted on student identification cards, atop Google search results and in warning labels on television shows — is about to get a major reboot, casting it as the 911 for mental health. With an infusion of federal money, the upgraded Lifeline starting in July will have its own three-digit number, 988, and operators who will not only counsel callers but eventually be equipped to dispatch specially trained responders. That will reduce interventions by armed law enforcement and reliance on emergency rooms — and ultimately keep people alive, advocates say. (Eder, 3/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Cold Showers, Hot Saunas And The New Way To Tame Stress

What if the key to managing your stress is…more stress? That is the finding of a growing body of biological research that indicates that short intermittent bouts of stress such as heat, exercise and dietary restriction can strengthen your ability to withstand chronic stress. Doing yourself with bursts of pressure, called hormetic stress, can help your body and mind weather tough periods at work and home and help counter some of the unhealthy chronic stress caused by two years of pandemic. (Morris, 3/14)

The New York Times: This Year, Try Spring Cleaning Your Brain

The arrival of spring can serve as a natural point to take stock of our mental well-being and reconnect with the things that bring us purpose and joy, offering our brains a respite when possible. “It really is — for a number of reasons — a perfect time for folks to turn their attention to taking an inventory. Where do I find myself? What have I been through?” said Paul Napper, a psychology consultant to business leaders and co-author of “The Power of Agency: The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms.” (Caron, 3/14)

Bloomberg: Weight Discrimination Remains Legal In Most Of The US

Unlike other forms of discrimination, companies can get away with such treatment because, in most places in the US, there’s no clear law against it. Only the state of Michigan and a handful of cities, such as San Francisco; Madison, Wis.; and Urbana, Ill., Ban discrimination based on weight. (In contrast, more than half of US states have laws protecting people who smoke cigarettes on their own time.) In 2013 a New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that because the state hadn’t clearly outlawed weight discrimination, an Atlantic City casino was within its rights to regulate the weight of its “Borgata Babe” cocktail waitresses. “Plaintiffs cannot shed the label ‘babe’; they embraced it when they went to work for the Borgata,” wrote Judge Nelson Johnson, who’s also the author of Boardwalk Empire. (Eidelson, 3/15)

The New York Times: A Ketamine Clinic Treads the Line Between Health Care and a ‘Spa Day for Your Brain’

The décor of the Nushama Psychedelic Wellness Clinic was designed to look like bliss. “It doesn’t feel like a hospital or a clinic, but more like a journey,” said Jay Godfrey, the former fashion designer who co-founded the space with Richard Meloff, a lawyer turned cannabis entrepreneur. The “journey,” in this instance, is brought on by ketamine, administered intravenously, as a treatment for mental health disorders, although one that has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. (Meltzer and Blum, 3/14)

Bloomberg: ADHD Drugs Are Convenient To Get Online. Maybe Too Convenient

For three days in July, Jeneesa Barnes was haunted by voices. It was as if people were just out of sight discussing her flaws, picking her apart, even when she was home alone. The morning of the third day she retreated to her car, thinking she might feel safer in a small, enclosed space. But the voices remained. Something was going horribly wrong. She turned on some foreign-language pop music, trying to drown out the voices amid lyrics she couldn’t understand. She started driving. At some point she stopped and texted: “I definitely feel like my mental health is getting worse not better since I’ve started cerebral.” (Mosendz and Melby, 3/11)

The New York Times: Here Come The Artificial Intelligence Nutritionists

After 20 years of living with Type 2 diabetes, Tom Idema had given up hope of controlling his condition. He had tried many diets that proved unsuccessful and even considered weight loss surgery. When his employer offered him a chance to try a new dietary app that uses artificial intelligence to control blood sugar, he took it. Mr. Idema, 50, sent in a stool sample to get his microbiome sequenced and filled out an online questionnaire with his blood sugar, height, weight and medical conditions. That data was used to create a profile for him, to which he added continued blood sugar measurements for a couple of weeks. After that, the app, called DayTwo, rated different foods according to how good or bad they might be for Mr. Idema’s blood sugar, to aid him in making better food choices. (Ravindran, 3/14)

The Washington Post: ElliQ, A New Robot For The Elderly, Uses AI To Provide Companionship

On Tuesday, an Israeli company, Intuition Robotics, commercially released ElliQ after a long beta-use period. Billed as an AI companion for the elderly, ElliQ offers soothing encouragement, invitations to games, gentle health prodding, music thoughts and, most important, a friendly voice that learns a person’s ways and comforts them in their solitude. (Zeitchik, 3/16)

The New York Times: Meet The Underdog Of Senior Care

Felicia Biteranta was struggling when, five years ago, she enrolled in a PACE program operated by Lutheran Senior Life in Jersey City, NJ Having suffered a stroke, she found it hard to eat without choking. She fell frequently; her diabetes was out of control; she had pulmonary disease and asthma. She might miss a medical appointment if she could not arrange or afford a taxi. Her family lived far away. She was, in short, a candidate for a nursing home. But such a move is what PACE — the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly — was designed to prevent. (Span, 3/12)

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