Millions of older Americans are now filling prescriptions for many different opioid medications at the same time, while hundreds of thousands are winding up in the hospital with opioid-related complications.

Carol Larson founded RetireeRebels.com in 2016 as a way of reaching retirees, to let them know they’re not alone during a stage of life that can be disorienting. Carol is a journalist who worked for 33 years in radio and television, bringing home an Emmy and two duPont-Columbia awards, among many others.

The Big Grey Area:

Opioid Crisis Can Leave Seniors in Pain


September 2019

BY CAROL LARSON

When we think about the more than 68-thousand people who overdosed last year, we often imagine young heroin addicts found dead in their cars, or veterans over-medicated on OxyContin. We rarely think of Grandma with her bad back and doctor-prescribed pain pills.

But here’s the reality: An estimated 25 percent of Americans over the age 65—more than 10 million people—are long-term users of opioids, according to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. In fact, between 2010 and 2015 the number of seniors with opioid-related hospitalizations rose 34 percent, with emergency room visits up 74 percent, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Plain and simple, seniors are the largest under-reported demographic of opioid users. For some, opioids are essential to coping with pain. For others, opioids create a confusion of symptoms and side effects that can diminish quality of life, and sometimes kill.

In this vast grey area, I’ll share two stories. First, my own.

In 2005 when I was first treated for chronic pain, I was prescribed small doses of hydrocodone because, as my doctor said, “It’s about all we’ve got to work with.” Back then no one knew opioids were not a good long-term solution.

So, that’s what I took for 14 years, until the side effects caused greater problems than the pain. For me it was sudden deafness (I stopped taking the pills and my hearing returned). But the list of other potential side effects is long: nausea, constipation, lower bone density, trouble urinating, respiratory depression, dementia, impaired sexual function, hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain) and increased fall potential.

All of the above are huge problems for seniors because (more…)

Race, Gender, Class:

How some of society’s most controversial issues are examined in the media


September 2019

Editor’s Note: The Reporters Inc. is pleased to present exclusive excerpts from a new compilation of readings that examine present-day matters of race, gender and class in the media. Told from rhetorical, social, scientific, critical and cultural perspectives, we’re including pieces that explore everything from body image, sex trafficking and economic inequality to cultural stereotypes about women as propagated on the reality TV dating show, The Bachelor. University of Illinois at Chicago Associate Professor Rebecca Lind edited Race/Gender/Class/Media: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content, and Producers and she starts us off with this introduction.

 

Laying a Foundation for Studying Race, Gender, Class, and the Media

By Rebecca Ann Lind (Editor)

Rebecca Ann Lind (PhD, University of Minnesota) is associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests include race, gender, class and media; new media studies; media ethics; journalism; and audiences.

 

From Sesame Street, Schoolhouse Rock and Dora the Explorer to fake news, filter bubbles and sexting, ours is a mediated society. Much of what we know about, care about, and think is important is based on what we see in the media. The media provide information, entertainment, escape, and relaxation and even help us make small talk. The media can help save lives, and—unfortunately—can cause harm.

The average American household has the television set on about eight hours a day. Worldwide, the average internet user is on social media more than five hours per day. Compare that to our involvement with other social institutions. How much time have we spent in the classroom in our entire lives? With a faith community? How does that compare to your time spent with media? How can the media not affect us in some way?

A primary assumption underlying media research is that the media do matter—what we see, read, and hear affect us in some way. Different types of scholars, however, approach the matter of media effects differently. Social scientists try to model their research on the natural sciences and strive to maintain objectivity. They often employ experimental or survey methodologies testing for precise and narrowly defined media effects (such as how people’s opinions change as a result of media exposure, how people’s perceptions of others or about the world in general are affected by what they see/hear/read, or whether people behave more aggressively after being exposed to violent media content). (more…)