Sunday, May 31, 2015

'Elder Orphans' Are Childless Boomers who Have no one to Look After Them in old age

Some 25 percent of Americans 65 or older could find themselves "elder orphans," according to a report in Psych Central.

These are people who have no family support to fall back upon when they run into health problems leaving them to deal with the medical and social service system on their own.

"We have a sense that this will be a growing population as society ages and life expectancy increases, and our government and society need to prepare how to advocate for this population,” said physician Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.

"There is potentially no structure to address this population as this population is hidden right before us," said Carney.

"Our goal is to highlight that this is a vulnerable population that's likely to increase, and we need to determine what community, social services, emergency response and educational resources can help them," Psych Central reported.

About 19 percent of women aged 40 to 44 do not have children, about double the number  in 1980.

"This is a population that can utilize expensive healthcare resources because they don’t have the ability to access community resources while they’re well but alone," Carney said.

"If we can provide earlier social services and support, we may be able to lower high healthcare costs or prevent the unnecessary use of expensive healthcare. With greater awareness and assessment of this vulnerable population, we can then come up with policies to impact and manage better care for them."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hassidic Woman in Israel Gives Birth at age 65

I loved the coverage offered by The Jewish Press, a Brooklyn-based strictly-Orthodox newspaper, that headlined its story about an Israeli ultra-Orthodox woman, aged 65, who gave birth to her first child this week:  

"Mazal Tov to 65-Year-old Mother of 'Illegal' Baby."

Israeli reproductive clinics do not generally offer free IVF treatments to women over 45 – hence the "illegal" in the headline.

The original reports appeared in the Israel Hayom and Yediot tabloids and has now been widely disseminated. So I am assuming it is true.

The woman has been identified as Hana Shahar. She is said to have given birth to the 5.9-pound boy after a C-section at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.

Shahar had been unable to conceive throughout her 45-year-long marriage.

Her husband's name did not appear in the news coverage other than the first initial of his name -- "shin."

According to Yediot, Hana was married at age 19 (Shin was 21) and she is the oldest woman to give birth in Israel. Hana is a member of the "Nadborana" hassidic dynasty which stems from Hungary and Romania.

Friends credit the intervention of the previous rebbe ("Ha'bo'er Yaakov") with facilitating the miracle by giving the woman a special blessing. The current rebbe is said to be on a pilgrimage in the Ukraine.

Members of the community donated the eggs which were fertilized. It is not clear  if the sperm belonged to the husband though given  that members of the community probably inter-marry my hunch is the sperm donor is very much an outsider.

The story beautifully illustrates the lengths Jewish couples – especially Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox ones—will go to bring a child into the world. 

Not sure what happens to an infant whose parents are already of retirement age. But given that the child is part of a large, tight knit, nurturing community – I expect he will be widely cherished.

"We do not recommend this," Tal Biron, an obstetrician/ gynecologist at the Kfar Saba hospital told reporters.

"It is illegal to perform in-vitro fertilization on a woman of this age, and it is dangerous," she said. "There are many possible complications. Pregnancy is an unnecessary burden on the mother’s body."

The mystery of where the IVF was performed and by whom is unlikely to be solved any time soon.