International News Desk – At Home: Seniors a ?drugged-out generation? – In Foreign News: Odourprinting becomes latest identification tool

International News Desk – At Home: Seniors a ?drugged-out generation? – In Foreign News: Odourprinting becomes latest identification tool

At Home: Seniors a ?drugged-out generation?

Street drugs may be a problem, but legal drugs also represent a crisis in North America?especially for seniors.

Women over the age of 65 are among the number one drug users in our society (not including patients in long-term care), and 12 per cent of them are on a prescription cocktail of at least 10 different medications.

As the Toronto Star reports, the situation is creating a raft of problems. As many as 15 per cent of seniors admitted to hospital are suffering from drug side effects, ?clogging emergency departments, blocking hospital beds and sicker than they have any reason to be.?

Nearly a quarter of seniors in the general population are taking at least five drugs; by comparison, the average senior in long-term care is taking six to eight medications. This can lead to a range of negative reactions, including dizziness and confusion.

?you’d fall down, too, if you were on so many drugs,? says Dr. William Dalziel, a prominent Ottawa geriatrician.

These symptoms can lead to even more health problems, including depression. One cause of over-medication is that seniors are often sent to numerous specialists for chronic ailments, with no single doctor having access to their full medication history. One notable exception is Baycrest, Toronto’s health sciences centre focused on geriatric care, which has an innovative computerized prescription entry system.

In Foreign News: Odourprinting becomes latest identification tool

In the increasingly high-tech world of identification, scientists have added another tool to the arsenal: odourprinting. Research has shown that all humans have a unique fragrance, ?similar to a fingerprint or DNA sample,? that can be used to accurately identify them.

In a Telegraph report, Jae Kwak, lead author of the study at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, said that the finding suggested ?odourprinting could soon have a practical use . . . it opens the possibility that devices can be developed to detect individual odourprints in humans.?

Chemical analyses of urine were used, along with ?sensor? mice. The sensor animals were trained to choose between pairs of other mice based on scent. The test animals had been fed different diets, leading to another interesting conclusion: odourprints can’t be masked by diet.

Although the test mice were fed diets containing strong-smelling foods, the sensor mice were still able to identify them by their ?underlying genetically-determined aroma.?

One theory about odourprints is that they may have evolved as a way of marking territories or as part of the process of choosing a mate.

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