Benefits

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Bilingualism Benefits The Brain, Helps Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Disease

KEY POINTS

  • Bilingualism prompts the brain to work harder
  • It helps in keeping the brain healthy
  • Learning a new language is possible even in adulthood

The Alzheimer’s Association revealed that more than five million Americans are currently living with the disease and the number is projected to reach 14 million by 2050. The numbers may be grim, but recent research showed that there is one way to delay its onset, and that is through bilingualism. Learning a new language at any age can greatly help keep the brain healthier.

Dr. Ellen Bialystok, a Canadian psychologist and professor who has the rank of Distinguished Research Professor at York University, Toronto, has made one of the most compelling researches on the relationship between bilingualism and the brain. Bialystok, in a research published in Neurology, titled, “Delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Bilingualism as a form of cognitive reserve,” revealed that bilinguals often receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s about four to five years later than monolinguals. 

“The more you use another language, the better you get at it. Well, that’s not surprising, but along with that, the more you use two languages, the more your brain subtly rewires,” Bialystok told CNN 

Bialystok noted that in terms of the benefits that the brain gets when it comes to bilingualism, levels of education do not matter at all. She highlighted that one of the most profound results of bilingualism was observed among illiterates or those who did not have any formal education. Speaking two languages was the only real way that their brains receive stimulation, such that the exercise provides protection to their brains as they grow older.

Bilingualism good for the brain Bilingualism benefits the brain. Photo: jamesoladujoye/Pixabay

Bialystok stated that the number of years that one speaks two languages would mean a longer period that the brain keeps on reorganizing. The earlier that people start becoming bilingual, the better.

Tamar Gollan, professor at the University of California, San Diego, said that people could not just turn off a language. Bilinguals are faced with everyday choices that monolinguals do not face. To this effect, the brain works harder to speak two languages.

Learning a new language even as an adult can greatly benefit brain health. Just like exercise, wherein the more that one exercise, the greater that one expands his capacity for oxygen. By exercising the brain more through bilingualism, the brain maintains its flexibility. Add in physical activities, eating healthy and sufficient amounts of sleep, and one may be able to keep the brain healthier.

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California’s $100M dialysis battle comes with ancillary benefits for labor union


A patient undergoes dialysis at a clinic in Sacramento, Calif.

A patient undergoes dialysis at a clinic in Sacramento, Calif. | Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

OAKLAND — In initiative-happy California, one set of ads stands out — those involving dialysis clinics, an industry that’s historically been a lower-profile player in politics.

The ads are unusual not only because of their unlikely topic but their volume, which is high because industry opponents of a labor ballot measure are spending more than any group opposing the other 11 proposals California voters must decide on.

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The massive spending gap between the $100 million opponents, including DaVita Inc., have raised and the $8.9 million by supporters led by SEIU United Healthcare Workers West means that the dialysis industry has flooded airwaves as it defends itself against organized labor. The same chain of events played out two years ago, resulting in a resounding defeat for the union’s ballot initiative.

California’s ballot wars have escalated in recent years as industries see little problem spending more than $100 million — and nearly twice that amount in the gig industry’s case — to persuade the electorate. Businesses and organizations that don’t get their way in the state Capitol often use the ballot to change state laws or as leverage to pressure lawmakers and other powerful interests. Proposition 23 is the third most expensive ballot initiative in 2020, according to data compiled by POLITICO.

While SEIU-UHW says it is committed to passing Prop 23, political strategists suggest that labor backers may simply be playing the long game by placing an initiative on the ballot every two years challenging the industry. Win or lose, the union is putting pressure on dialysis companies to spend gobs of money each general election.

“The threat of a ballot measure is something UHW has used strategically,” said Brian Brokaw, a Democratic strategist in Sacramento who is not involved in the Prop. 23 campaign. “In order for a threat to actually be credible, sometimes you have to put it on the ballot. But appearing on a ballot and actually running a campaign to support something are two different things.”

Proposition 23 faces long odds not just because of the industry’s $100 million war chest, but also because it involves a regulatory matter on a crowded ballot — a perfect recipe for voter rejection.

Two years ago, Californians voted 60-40 to reject Prop. 8, another SEIU-UHW-backed initiative that would have capped dialysis profits. But to get that win, the dialysis industry, led by the dominant franchises DaVita Inc. and Fresenius Medical Care, invested about $111 million to defeat it, or nearly six times what the proponents spent.

One day after that Nov. 6, 2018 election, the union vowed to refile the initiative in California and other states. SEIU-UHW did file another initiative, but Prop 23 looks dramatically different, focusing on requirements that clinics must meet such as staffing one doctor on site.

John Logan, director of labor employment studies at San Francisco State University, said unions have long used non-traditional tactics like ballot-box campaigns to get

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health

Gilead questions WHO study that cast doubts on drug’s COVID-19 benefits

By Deena Beasley and Vishwadha Chander

(Reuters) – Gilead Sciences Inc has questioned the findings of a World Health Organization (WHO) study that concluded its COVID-19 drug remdesivir does not help patients who have been admitted to hospital.

The American company told Reuters the data appeared inconsistent, the findings were premature and that other studies had validated the drug’s benefits.

In a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat people with COVID-19, the WHO said on Thursday its “Solidarity” trial had concluded that remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease.

The antiviral medication was one of the drugs used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump’s coronavirus infection, and has been shown in previous studies to have cut time to recovery, though the European Union is investigating it for possible kidney injury.

The WHO trial was conducted in 11,266 adult patients in more than 30 countries. The evidence was conclusive, the WHO said.

Gilead said other trials of remdesivir, including with 1,062 patients that compared it with a placebo, showed the treatment cut COVID-19 recovery time.

“The emerging (WHO) data appears inconsistent, with more robust evidence from multiple randomized, controlled studies published in peer-reviewed journals validating the clinical benefit of remdesivir,” Gilead told Reuters.

Gilead said it was “unclear if any conclusive findings can be drawn” given what it called differences in how the trial was conducted from site to site and between the patients who received the medicine.

In April, the top U.S. infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, predicted remdesivir would become “the standard of care”.

Companies such as Gilead are racing to find a treatment for COVID-19. Some 1.1 million people have died and 39.1 million have been reported infected in the pandemic, and the global economy has been thrown into chaos.

Remdesivir was developed for Ebola, which causes fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea and spreads among humans through bodily fluids.

It was quickly repurposed and has offered some hope for patients, though the WHO’s findings may shift the focus of the search for a vaccine to new monoclonal antibodies being developed by companies including Regeneron.

The Solidarity trial also evaluated hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon, and concluded that they, like remdesivir, did little to help patients survive or leave the hospital more quickly.

The WHO trial’s results are yet to be reviewed and were uploaded on the preprint server medRxiv. (https://bit.ly/3nViYIf)

“PREMATURE”

Gilead say the Solidarity conclusions, lacking scrutiny from other scientists, were premature.

“We are concerned the data from this open-label global trial has not undergone the rigorous review required to allow for constructive scientific discussion, particularly given the limitations of the trial design,” it said.

Remdesivir got emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 1, and has been authorized for use in several countries.

During the Solidarity study, trials of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June after

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health

As Open Enrollment Begins, Health Benefits May Not Change Much

If you take medication regularly for a chronic condition, she added, make sure the plan’s prescription benefit covers it.

If your employer offers multiple plan choices, Ms. Watts of Mercer said, you should take the time to compare the total cost of coverage for each option — don’t just look at the premiums. She advises taking the total premium and subtracting any contributions made by your employer, such as to a health savings account, to compare the cost of different plans.

“Do the math,” she said.

To see your total potential financial exposure, add the plan deductible. If you are generally healthy and don’t take regular medication, a plan with a higher deductible may save you money. If you can’t afford unexpected costs, a lower deductible — typically with a higher premium — may be the best option. The average deductible for an individual is $1,644, Kaiser found.

Theresa Adams, senior knowledge adviser at the Society for Human Resource Management, said many workers didn’t take enough time to evaluate benefits. She encouraged them to make use of online tools offered by their employers to help choose options and to reach out with questions.

How much can I contribute to a health savings account in 2021?

Contribution limits ticked up for next year, the Internal Revenue Service announced. The maximum contribution is $3,600 for an individual and $7,200 for family coverage. (People 55 and older can save an extra $1,000.) H.S.A.s, however, are available only with specific types of health plans with high deductibles — at least $1,400 for individual coverage and $2,800 for family coverage for 2021. Typically, your employer will specify if a plan is H.S.A. qualified.

Some plans have a different option, called a health care flexible spending account. You can contribute to it before taxes, via paycheck withdrawals, to pay for care and products that your health plan doesn’t cover. Contribution limits are lower than with an H.S.A., and if you change jobs, your flexible spending account doesn’t go with you, as an H.S.A. does.

When is open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act marketplace?

According to Healthcare.gov, open enrollment for coverage starting on Jan. 1 runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. Open enrollment for state-run marketplaces may vary.

The legal challenge before the Supreme Court isn’t expected to affect this year’s open enrollment, as the court’s decision would probably come before next summer.

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