COVID UPDATES:

Here’s what you need to know: [full coverage]

Senior U.S. health officials on Friday sought to reassure an anxious public that the federal government is doing all it can to track and tamp down the spread of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top medical adviser to President Biden, said at a press briefing that the scientists are closely monitoring the rate at which cases double to see whether Omicron will overtake Delta to become the dominant variant in the United States — and if so, when. The variant has now been detected in 10 states, though most cases involve returning travelers. Within about two weeks, he said, “we’ll know more about transmission, immune evasion and severity of disease.”

But the problem is with the younger generations. Biden’s new strategy to keep Omicron at bay can help keep seniors protected.  Our population has been vaccinated and had booster shots, but too many others in the younger demographics have not.  President Biden, confronting a worrisome new coronavirus variant and a potential winter surge, laid out a pandemic strategy on Thursday that includes hundreds of vaccination sites, boosters for all adults, new testing requirements for international travelers and free at-home tests. After nearly a year of pushing vaccination as the way out of the pandemic, Mr. Biden has been unable to overcome resistance to the shots in red states and rural areas. His new strategy shifts away from a near-singular focus on vaccination and places a fresh emphasis on testing — a tacit acknowledgment by the White House that vaccination is not enough to end the worst public health crisis in a century.

Merck’s Covid Treatment Pill Wins Blessing of F.D.A. Panel. The treatment, known as molnupiravir, could be authorized in the United States within days, and available within weeks, if the F.D.A. follows the committee’s recommendation. The United States hopes antiviral pills from Merck and Pfizer will help end the most acute phase of the pandemic. A federal advisory committee on Tuesday voted to recommend that the government for the first time authorize the use of an antiviral pill to combat the worst effects of Covid-19. The advisory committee, in a surprisingly narrow 13-to-10 vote, endorsed the pill from Merck, while public health officials worldwide raced to buttress their defenses against the newly emerging Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The Merck treatment, known as molnupiravir, has been shown to modestly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid. The pill could be authorized for use in the United States within days and available to patients within weeks. In the coming weeks, the F.D.A. may also authorize a similar pill from Pfizer that appears to be significantly more effective than Merck’s. Together, the arrival of the two easy-to-use treatments could provide a cushion against a resurgent virus.

NEWS: NO MASK REQUIRED

Michael J. Fox is an inspiration. Parkinson’s disease tends to tamp and subdue its victims to various degrees, and Michael J. Fox is no exception. Even so, the frisky aura that first endeared him to the world some 40 years ago is readily apparent. Despite the disability that has brought his decades-long career to a close, he considers himself to be a lucky man. We should all have his optimistic approach to life! Here is an excerpt from his cover story interview with AARP. Do you still consider yourself a lucky man? “Absolutely. It began with the tough working-class family I was born into. My mom was a payroll clerk; my dad was in the Army for 25 years and then a police dispatcher. And they had this freak son who did all this acting and music, and they didn’t know where I came from, but they figured out how to help me. I told my father I was moving to Hollywood when I dropped out of high school, and he drove me down, because I was making a living. And my mother, at 92, is still great, full of advice. Then I met the woman I married and had the children I had and lived the life I live. Still, it’s hard to explain to people how lucky I am, because I also have Parkinson’s. Some days are a struggle. Some days are more difficult than others. But the disease is this thing that’s attached to my life — it isn’t the driver. And because I have assets, I have access to things others don’t. I wouldn’t begin to compare my experience to that of a working guy who gets Parkinson’s and has to quit his job and find a new way to live. So, I’m really lucky.” [More]

Wall Street’s wild swings continue. Typically, seniors invested in the stock market seek protection from sharp ups and downs by putting savings in funds and bonds.  But we’re not immune from the fitters! Stocks are churning in mixed trading on Wall Street Friday following a tough-to-parse report on U.S. jobs, as markets continue to swirl at the tail end of a dizzying week. The S&P 500 was 0.1% lower, as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern time, after an early 0.7% gain quickly vanished. It’s coming off a jolting stretch where it swerved at least 1.2% in five straight days, pounded by uncertainty about how badly the newest coronavirus variant will hit the economy and about when the Federal Reserve will halt its immense support for financial markets.

How willing are you to speculate with your retirement funds? Caution, seniors! Repeat, caution seniors. Bitcoin prices dropped sharply overnight Saturday, plunging to a low near $43,000. The world’s most prominent cryptocurrency pared losses subsequently, last changing hands at around $49,291, according to Coin Metrics. From a 24-hour period spanning early Friday morning to early Saturday morning, bitcoin’s price went from about $57,000 to $47,000, losing $10,000, or more than 17%.

Hospital at Home: The Future of Health Care in Your Living Room. Technology, affordability and patient satisfaction mean in-home health care solutions could revolutionize medical care for older Americans.  In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of older patients are more eager than ever to avoid hospitalization. Depending on their condition, many can receive the full complement of professional services in their home, paid for by Medicare as if they were in the hospital. Nurses and physician assistants will come to the home to monitor and administer antibiotics. With the technology today, they can take x-rays and EKGs and blood work right there in the apartment. COVID has provided tailwinds to pushing care inside the home. The market is demanding it. It may well be the future of health care at a lower cost and with more comfort and less anxiety for the patient.

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is an ecstatic act of ancestor-worship: a vividly dreamed, cunningly modified and visually staggering revival. We all remember the movie from the seventies. Evidently, if you liked the original, you’ve be ga-ga over the version opening in mid-December. The review is five star. “No one but Spielberg could have brought it off, creating a movie in which Leonard Bernstein’s score and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics blaze out with fierce new clarity. This new West Side Story isn’t updated historically yet neither is it a shot-for-shot remake. But daringly, and maybe almost defiantly, it reproduces the original period ambience with stunning digital fabrications of late-1950s New York whose authentic detail co-exists with an unashamed theatricality. On the big screen the effect is hyperreal, as if you have somehow hallucinated your way back 70 years on to both the musical stage for the Broadway opening night and also the city streets outside. I couldn’t watch without gasping those opening “prologue” sequences, in which the camera drifts over the slum-clearance wreckage of Manhattan’s postwar Upper West Side, as if in a sci-fi mystery, with strangely familiar musical phrases echoing up from below ground. Stunning recreations of the original film’s New York retain the songs and the dancing in a re-telling that will leave you gasping.”

Can a multivitamin taken each day improve your memory. Hmm, probably not, but then again, maybe a little bit. Like the old joke, wouldn’t help, but wouldn’t hurt. Those who took a daily multivitamin showed a statistically significant improvement in memory and executive function associated with normal and pathological aging, including Alzheimer’s disease., compared to the placebo group in the first two years of the study, the researchers found. After that, the benefits plateaued. The findings suggest that the multivitamin could provide some “additional cognitive resilience” that helps work against cardiovascular disease-related cognitive decline, Baker said. “That’s exciting because we don’t have treatments right now that can correct it, but it’s a preliminary finding and we need to replicate it.”

Aloe Vera in your medicine chest is a good idea. This natural plant can fight acne, prevent dark spots, and even slow down the signs of aging. The plant contains many well-studied vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and E, leading experts to believe that it may offer an assist to the products already in your arsenal. Its stems store water, creating a clear, gel-like substance in the leaves, which contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids. The gel from aloe has been used throughout history to treat a variety of skin conditions, such as burns, frostbite, psoriasis and cold sores.? [Read on to discover aloe vera’s skin-saving benefits]

Have you tried to grow an avocado a hundred times, and never had a pit that sprouted? Join the club. But let’s try again. Maybe there’s a flourishing plant waiting to light up your kitchen window sill. Growing an avocado plant indoors is just a matter of coaxing its pit to root and sprout. It won’t bear fruit, but you’ll have a cute little new houseplant for free. Here’s how to get one started [read more]

Automate your finances. Americans are increasingly on their own when it comes to managing their money in retirement. In 2017, $14.5 trillion was held in self-directed retirement accounts in the U.S., according to asset management firm Cerulli Associates. That’s a lot of money to manage, and it often becomes difficult for elderly people to handle their finances as their physical and cognitive functions decline. For this reason, seniors should automate their finances. Seniors should have all sources of income — such as pension funds, Social Security, and disability payments– deposited directly into their bank accounts. Similarly, regular bills such as utilities, insurance, and mortgage or rent payments should come out of your bank account automatically on set days each month. Automating your finances will make it easier to manage them and to track money flowing into and out of your bank accounts. [More financial tips]

POSTS FROM OUR EDITOR’S BLOG

Can a person change? In order to learn a new way, we have to see the old. It’s necessary to learn where we came from, recognize the influences that shaped us. Only then can we make sound decisions as to where we want to go. The primary lesson: life is lived in the moment, not in the past; not in the future.  The key to change is subordination of the ego. .  As Helen Keller wrote: “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”

The annual holiday emotions. The family gathering at the festive holiday table should be a loving affair. But all too often we slip back into the roles we plays as kids, and bedlam replaces the bon homie. More believable is this ironic quip attributed to Ram Dass, the American teacher of spirituality popular in the 1970s: “If you think you’re enlightened, go visit your family.”

On the brink of having an argument with your wife? Back off! Life is short, my friend! And I have learned time and time again that taking a stand over a petty issue is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. Who needs a hollow victory that is non-consequential in the long run and leads to a dismal, lonely victory lap and a stretch on the cold side of the bed!


A newspaper by and for seniors, Senior News Daily scours the internet each morning for news of interest to active men and women of retirement age. Coverage includes politics, financial and health news, retirement and community news and columns by our generation’s leaders.

Senior News Daily is written by and for active seniors. We believe seniors have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. We know our readers are intelligent, influential, have active lives and get their news from a variety of national sources, both left and right of the political center. We don’t simply duplicate what they report. Each day we scour the internet for articles that interest and benefit seniors. We publish health and financial news for seniors, breaking political news, and retirement and community news of value to seniors. Humorous or serious, they advocate for our generation of AARP members. In addition to news by and for seniors, Senior News Daily publishes a Blog featuring posts from our editors and the opinions of our contemporaries. Occasionally there are reviews of products and services we test and endorse.

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