May: The Month Of Elder-Health

Countries all over the world fill their calendars with national observances and public holidays.  Did you know that there is an International Day of Older Persons, established by the UN, and celebrated on October 1stNational Grandparents Day is observed by over a dozen countries on different days in August through November as well as in January and March.  The US also separately recognizes a Senior Citizens Day on August 21st, whereas Taiwan marks its Senior Citizens Day on the 9th day of the 9th month of the Chinese calendar.

The front seats on public buses in Israel are labeled with stickers quoting from the verse in Vayikra 19:32 which states, “מפני שיבה תקום”, and loosely translates as, “stand up for the elderly”, but I was not aware of any particular day – or month –  in Israel that specifically honors the elderly population. 

Maybe it’s something in the air, but it looks like the month of May might be vying for the spot, especially as it relates to their health.

On May 8th, Nature Medicine published a study by scientists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (along with scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany) that shows that the administration of a low dose of a chemical known as THC reversed the age-related decline in cognitive performance of mice aged 12 and 18 months.  Apparently, that’s considered old for mice.

The article was actually first received by the journal nearly 2 years ago, in July 2015, but only published online this month.  Coincidence?

Well what about this.  Next week, May 23rd-25th, the annual BioMed conference is taking place in Tel Aviv, and this year the theme is… aging.  In the welcome letter of the chairmen they write that the program will include lectures and panel discussions focusing on the senior segment of the population.

We will study and discuss diseases affecting the elderly population such as chronic diseases, cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases, and diabetes. As we look at the future of our healthcare system, we would like to address ways to diagnose and treat elderly patients by utilizing new methods and innovations in precision medicine, genetics, personal diagnosis, treatment and monitoring with the ultimate goal of being preventive, if and when possible.”

And get this.  Just yesterday, Israeli company Essence, providers of connected-living technologies, sent out a press release regarding their newly introduced Care@Home Active™ device.  Care@Home Active enables seniors to move between their homes and outdoors while maintaining connectivity with their families and TeleCare Service Providers

And if that weren’t enough, would you also believe that the d.Health Summit that took place in New York City last week, was also focused on the same topic?  With talks like, “The Future of Aging: Optimizing Healthcare Systems”, “Moving Forward: Collaborating for Successful Aging by 2030” and “Aging Priorities for the New Administration: Advancing Policy for Meaningful Change”, clearly the month of May has a motif.  (Granted, NY isn’t Israel, but boy are there a tremendous number of former Israelis who live there…)

While it could be that I’m simply grasping at straws, and it’s just that I’m looking forward to next week’s conference so my ears perk when I read something related, but I prefer to think that I’ve found a pattern here, and May is, for some reason, Israel’s Month of Elder-Health.

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