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The Weekender: Gender differences in retirement security, water shortages + new approach to back pain

Spotlighting original BirdDog reporting and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash



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1. Women are facing economic instability in retirement age. And it shows no signs of improvement

Maria del Russo, The Lily


Women retirees have significantly less economic security than men, a study looking at Florida retirees found.

The types of jobs women frequently work, such as home health aides, usually don’t offer retirement planning benefits. Add in a pay gap and the resulting effect is a lower contribution to Social Security and a reduction to benefits  later in life.


2. Keeping the same doctor reduces death risk, study finds

Nicola Davis, The Guardian

In a time when apps and new technologies are all the rage, this study speculates that continuity of care, in addition to other benefits, lead to longer lives.

Excerpt: (Sir Denis Pereira Gray, lead author) said the research supports previous work suggesting continuity of care means patients feel more comfortable opening up and discussing problems with their doctor, and allows doctors to accumulate knowledge about their patients, meaning they are better able to shape advice and treatment to individuals.

I often hear about the trials and tribulations of finding a primary care doctor who is taking new patients in-and-around Nashville. And personally, I’d like to experience the benefits of continuity of care, but three primary care physicians left, in succession, the practice I’ve been a patient of for two years … So much for trying to be a responsible patient and establish a relationship.


3. The Water Wars of Arizona

Noah Gallagher Shannon, The New York Times Magazine

This is a fascinating deep dive into an issue that highlights unexpected problems related to accessing a necessity for life.

Excerpt: “It began to dawn on her that she had never thought to ask about water quantity. It wasn’t something you needed to think about in Pennsylvania. ‘If you were washing your car and dropped the hose and let the hose run, no big deal,” she says. ‘There was always water.’”

Related and closer to home:

Times Free Press, July 2018: Tennessee leaders developing plan to address future water needs

Fox17 News, May 2017: Study: Tennessee, Kentucky among states that could face a water crisis by 2020


4. Specter of America’s Growing Fiscal Deficit and Debt Load Looms

Liz McCormick and Steve Matthews, Bloomberg

Tax and monetary policy at the federal level have put the U.S. in an “unprecedented economic experiment” of increasing deficits when unemployment is very low.  Recent moves mean there are fewer levers to combat a recession, according to economists.

This is a digestible breakdown of a very wonky topic and worth a quick spin.


5. This app could help your lower back pain

Reece Armstrong, Digital Health Age

People often get prescribed medication for back pain even though prescriptions don’t get at the root cause of the problem. Back pain “is a big part of the original story of the opioid epidemic,” a physical therapy researcher at Duke University told NPR.

One clinical study that looked at the results of a German-developed app, Kaia Health, found that it “helped reduce low back pain by 40% over a period of six months.” It’s offered via insurance to more than 20 million people and is on trial in the United Kingdom.

Excerpt: “The Kaia app was developed alongside physiotherapists, pain management physicians, orthopaedic surgeons and clinical psychologists to deliver a multidisciplinary approach to target 90% of all cases of back pain.”


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