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A geriatrics and palliative care podcast for every health care professional. We invite the brightest minds in geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care to talk about the topics that you care most about, ranging from recently published research in the field to controversies that keep us up at night. You'll laugh, learn and maybe sing along. Hosted by Eric Widera and Alex Smith.
 
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There are no currently approved disease modifying drugs for Alzheimer's disease, but in a couple months that may change. In July of 2021, the FDA will consider approval of a human monoclonal antibody called Aducanumab for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. If approved, it will not only make this drug the defacto standard of care for Alzhimers di…
 
One of our earliest COVID podcasts with Jim Wright and David Grabowski a year ago addressed the early devastating impact of COVID on nursing homes. One year ago Mike Wasserman, geriatrician and immediate past president of the California Long Term Care Association, said we’d have a quarter million deaths in long term care. A quarter of a million dea…
 
COVID has taken a devastated toll in nursing homes. Despite representing fewer than 5% of the total US events, at least 40% of COVID‐19–related deaths occurred in older individuals living in nursing homes. The good news is that with the introduction of COVID vaccines in nursing homes, numbers of infections and outbreaks have plummeted. However, onl…
 
Hospice may not be a great match for all of the care needs of people with dementia, but it sure does help. And, as often happens, when patients with dementia do not decline as expected, they are too frequently discharged from hospice, an experience that Lauren Hunt and Krista Harrison refer to in an editorial in the Journal of the American Geriatri…
 
The COVID pandemic brought to light many things, including how society views older adults. Louise Aronson wrote a piece in the NY Times titled “‘Covid-19 Kills Only Old People.’ Only? Why are we OK with old people dying?”. The ageist viewpoint she was rallying against was also brought to light in a study of ageism in social media. When looking at t…
 
So what exactly does a hospice medical director do? Why do some choose to become hospice physicians? What additional training is needed, if any, beyond Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship and boards? Who should take the new Hospice Medical Director Certification Board Examination? A recent study in JAGS found high rates of hospice disenrollm…
 
Where are we with Alzheimers? Are we about to see a revolution in how we diagnose and treat it with Amyloid PET scans and the amyloid antibody aducanumab (which is currently on FDA’s desk for approval)? Or are we still in the same place where there is no meaningfully effective treatment? Or is it somewhere in between, given the data that we have on…
 
Nursing home residents have been devastated by COVID. Somewhere around 40% of deaths from COVID have been among nursing home residents, though they make up just a sliver of the US population. Prognostication among nursing home residents who have COVID is important for a host of reasons - for counseling patients and families about what to expect, fo…
 
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults have lived through a lifetime of discrimination, social stigma, prejudice, and marginalization. Is the care that we are giving them in later life changing any of that or are we pushing them back into the closet? This is what we talk about in this week's podcast with Carey Candrian from the …
 
On the one hand, every year we are fortunate to have new medications that help older adults and people living with serious illness. New treatments for lung cancer with remarkable survival outcomes come to mind, for example. On the other hand, the tremendous growth in medications has led to an explosion of prescribing, polypharmacy, with attendant s…
 
Most of us know we are going to die. How often though do we actually let ourselves really internalize that understanding? To imagine it? To feel it? To try to accept it? On today’s podcast we invited BJ Miller back on our podcast to talk about death using as our guide his recent NY Times editorial What Is Death? How the pandemic is changing our und…
 
Many of us in geriatrics and palliative care assume that we are the experts in health care when it comes to understanding the caregiver experience. Every once in a while, we are humbled and reminded of what we don’t know. Jessica Zitter had such an experience. Jessica, as many of you know, is an award winning author (link to our podcast about her b…
 
Surrogate decision‐making around life-sustaining treatments in the hospital even in the best of circumstances is hard. It’s maybe even harder when caring for those who are conserved or have a professional guardian. The conservator may not have known the patient prior to them losing capacity, they may not know their values or goals that can help gui…
 
“Diagnose and adios.” That’s the sad phrase that I’ve heard quoted more than once, representing caregivers' sentiment of what it’s like to be told by a clinician that your loved one has dementia. This week we talked with Zaldy Tan, Geriatrician and Director of the Memory and Aging program at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. With David Reuben at UCLA an…
 
What does it mean to create a cultural shift to the end of life experience? Is it even possible? How do you even start something like that? On today's podcast, we talk to Shoshana Ungerleider about her experience making that change. Shoshana is one of those amazing advocates for palliative and end of life care. She started the Ungerleider Palliativ…
 
How long does it take to see a benefit of statin therapy for primary prevention of cardiovascular events in adults aged 50 to 75 years? That's the question we try to answer with our two guests today, Drs Lindsey Yourman and Sei Lee, the lead and senior author of a JAMA IM study that tried to answer this question. In this podcast Drs. Yourman and Le…
 
An age friendly health system is one in which everyone, from the doctors to the nurses to the people cleaning the rooms are aware of the unique needs of older adults. These needs are categorized around the 4 M’s - Medication, Mentation, Mobility, and What Matters Most. But we cannot achieve the ideal of an age friendly health system without, well, …
 
The Emergency Department (ED) is a hard place to have serious illness discussions, whether it be goals of care or code status discussions, or whether or not to consider intubation for a seriously ill patient. Emergency physicians often don't have the time for in-depth discussions, nor have been trained on how to do so. There often is limited inform…
 
In this week's podcast we talk with Kieran Quinn, author of a systematic review and meta-analysis of palliative care for non-cancer illness, published in JAMA. We also talk with Krista Harrison, first author of an accompanying editorial. JAMA editors cut out some of my favorite parts of Krista's editorial, possibly because they were more like a blo…
 
There are a lot of large numbers that involve heart failure, starting with the sheer number of patients diagnosed (6.5 million and counting), to the cost of their care (~$70 billion by 2030), to the amount of money invested by the NIH into research ($1 billion annually). But the smaller numbers deserve attention too - 50% of patients die within 5 y…
 
On todays podcast, we have Lauren Moo, a cognitive behavioral neurologist who has been doing video visits well before the COVID-19 pandemic to decrease the need for travel and to decrease the agitation in older adults with dementia that commonly occur when a clinic visits disrupts the usual routine. Now with COVID among us, Lauren talks to us about…
 
Last month we published a podcast with Sean Morrison that garnered a great deal of attention, in which Sean Morrison argued that Advance Care Planning is an idea that is “clear, simple, and wrong.” This week, we have a fresh updated counterpoint from Rebecca Sudore and Ryan McMahan. These two published a paper this week in the Journal of the Americ…
 
In 1968 a committee at Harvard Medical School met to lay down the groundwork for a new definition of death, one that was no longer confined to the irreversible cessation of cardiopulmonary function but a new concept based on neurological criteria. Over the next 50 years, the debate over the concept of brain death has never really gone away. Rather …
 
Chris Callahan (of Indiana University) and Lee Jennings (University of Oklahoma) have some righteous anger. Why do we have comprehensive cancer care centers and not comprehensive dementia care centers? We have a body of evidence dating back 30 years to support people with dementia and their caregivers with Comprehensive Dementia Care. Lee Jennings …
 
Every year, about a third of older adults fall. About one in five of those falls result in moderate to severe injury. What can we do to help not only prevent those falls but also the complications of them? On todays podcast, we talk to Tom Gill, one of the authors of the recent Strategies to Reduce Injuries and Develop Confidence in Elders (STRIDE)…
 
No dear listeners and readers, that is not a typo. Eric Widera is indeed our guest today to discuss his first author publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, Family Meetings on Behalf of Patients with Serious Illness. Our other guests include other authors James Frank, Wendy Anderson, Lekshmi Santhosh, me and actress and frequent GeriPal…
 
COVID-19 has created a perfect storm in nursing homes. As noted in a recent Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) article by Joe Ouslander and David Grabowski, the storm is created by the confluence risks, including a vulnerable population that develop atypical presentations of COVID-19, staffing shortages due to viral infection, inadeq…
 
Sean Morrison dropped a bomb. It's a perspective I've heard before from outside of palliative care, most clearly by bioethicists Angie Fagerlin and Carl Schnieder in their landmark article Enough: The Failure of the Living Will. But Sean Morrison, Director of the National Palliative Care Research Center and Chair of the Department of Geriatrics and…
 
In this week's GeriPal podcast we talk with Louise Aronson, author of the Pulitzer prize finalist Elderhood (https://www.amazon.com/Elderhood-Redefining-Transforming-Medicine-Reimagining/dp/1620405466). Louise has been one of the (sadly) few voices beating a loud and urgent drum in the medical and lay press about the insidious ageism taking place i…
 
Despite being in the field over 15 years, I've never felt so far outside my comfort zone as as palliative care provider as I have felt in the last four months. A worldwide pandemic of a novel virus had me questioning how I communicate prognostic information when uncertainty was one of the few things I was certain about. It also pushed me to have th…
 
If you looked at the academic literature, you would think that elder abuse and neglect, collectively called elder mistreatment, did not exist before the 1990s. Of course that's not true at all, it was hidden, covered, and not a major subject of research. Several pioneers have placed elder mistreatment firmly on the map, including XinQi Dong, Mark L…
 
This was a remarkable podcast. Eric and I were blown away by the eloquence of our guests, who were able to speak to this moment in which our country is hurting in so many ways. Today's topic is the impact of COVID19 on minority communities, but we start with a check in about George Floyd's murder and subsequent protests across the country. Our gues…
 
The question of who should get limited supplies of drugs that treat COVID-19 is not a theoretical question, like what seems to have happened with ventilators in the US. This is happening now. Hospitals right now have limited courses of remdesivir. For example the University of Pittsburgh hospital system has about 50 courses of remdsivir. They expec…
 
Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors. They are revolutionary and transforming cancer care. They shrink tumors and extend lives. Plus they have a better side effect profile than traditional therapies for conditions like metastatic lung cancer, so when those with really poor performance status can't tolerate traditional chemotherapy, immune checkpoint inhibi…
 
As Ashwin Kotwal and Lynn Flint note in the introduction to their Annals of Internal Medicine essay (https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/full/10.7326/M20-1982?journalCode=aim), one year ago people were outraged at the thought of a physician using video to deliver bad news to a seriously ill man in the ICU. And look at where we are today. Video and tele…
 
Parkinson disease affects 1% to 2% of people older than 65 years. Most known for its distinctive motor symptoms, other distressing symptoms are pain, fatigue, depression, and cognitive impairment. About 2/3rds of individuals with Parkinson's will die from disease-related complications, making it the 14th leading cause of death in the United States.…
 
One million inpatient falls occur annually in U.S. acute care hospitals. Sitters, also referred to as Continuous Patient Aids (CPA's) or safety attendants, are frequently used to prevent falls in high-risk patients. While it may make intuitive sense to use sitters to prevent falls, it does beg the question, what's the evidence that they work? We di…
 
We are rationing in the US. We may not be explicitly rationing, as we're going to discuss on this podcast, but we are rationing - in the way we allocate fewer tests and less PPE to nursing homes compared to hospitals, in the way we allow hospitals and states to "fend for themselves" resulting in those hospitals/states with better connections and mo…
 
The cross-over episode is an American tradition that is near and dear to my heart. My childhood is filled with special moments that brought some of my very favorite characters together. Alf crossed over with Gilligan's Island. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air crossed over with The Jeffersons. Mork and Mindy crossed with Happy Days and Laverne and Shirle…
 
We are delighted to have Dani Chammas, psychiatrist and palliative care physician, back on the GeriPal podcast to talk about emotional PPE. None of us can recall who originated the term, but we've all heard it bandied about much needed for front line providers treating patients with coronavirus. Headlines about the New York emergency room doctor co…
 
What's the role of geriatrics and palliative care in the care of individuals with COPD? We talk this week with Anand Iyer, the lead author of this weeks JAMA IM article on this subject. It's a little off from our ongoing COVID topics, but given that his along with his co-authors (Randy Curtis and Diane Meier) JAMA IM piece just got published, we fi…
 
Many of you listened to our prior podcast with Jim Wright and David Grabowski about COVID in long term and post acute care settings. In this follow up podcast, we talk about the situation in long term and post acute care in Indiana with Kathleen Unroe, Associate Professor at Indiana University, a scientist at the Regenstief Institute, and a PI of O…
 
The peak hospitalizations and deaths in New York City hit around April 7th. Life though in hospitals in New York though have not returned to normal. What were previously operating rooms, post-hip fracture units, or cardiac cath labs, are now units dedicated to the care of individuals hospitalized with COVID. We talk with two NYU clinicians, Ab Brod…
 
In today's podcast we talk with Zara Cooper, Rachelle Bernacki, and Ricky Leiter about the state of COVID at the Brigham and Women's hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston. While they have flattened the curve somewhat in Boston, they're still seeing huge numbers of seriously ill Covid patients in Massachusetts. They have 143 out of their …
 
"It's not about perfection...it's about connection." - Keri Brenner This week's podcast features a dynamic duo of palliative care psychiatrists, Dr. Keri Brenner from Stanford, and Dr. Dani Chammas from UCSF. Dani was a huge hit as a guest on one of our earliest podcasts talking about "Formulations in Palliative Care." This week, Keri and Dani talk…
 
The vast majority of hospice services are delivered in patient's homes or other places of residence like nursing homes. This makes the traditional model of hospice care vulnerable in this coronavirus pandemic, especially in the era of social distancing and limited personal protective equipment (PPE). So how are hospice's responding to the COVID-19 …
 
Imagine that you are the medical director of a large (>150 bed) nursing home. Two-thirds of the patients in the home now have COVID-19. Seventeen of your patients are dead. The other physicians who previously saw patients in the nursing home are no longer coming to your facility because you have COVID positive patients. You're short on gowns and fa…
 
In today's podcast we talk with Audrey Chun, Professor in the Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Sheila Barton, a social worker in the Geriatrics practice at Mt. Sinai. Mt. Sinai has a HUGE outpatient geriatrics service, with a mean age of 85. We talk with Audrey and Sheila about the challenges they face in overcom…
 
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