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Getting the pain prescription right for America’s seniors

By James Appleby

September was national Pain Awareness Month. And one of the major issues policymakers, healthcare providers, and average citizens alike need to focus on is how to improve pain management among older Americans.

Unsurprisingly, this population experiences more pain than younger Americans. Among active seniors, it’s estimated that 25-50 percent experience persistent pain. For these Americans, finding ways to manage pain without reducing quality of life is essential. Among seniors residing in nursing homes or receiving in-home hospice care, as many as 85 percent experience persistent pain.

Plus, older Americans account for an outsized shared of American drug consumption. People 65 years and older make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet they’re responsible for a full third of all pharmaceutical purchases.

And seniors rely heavily on opioid-based treatments, which are extremely powerful but come with elevated risks of addiction and abuse. Since 2007, the number of opioid prescriptions for patients aged 60 years or older has jumped by nearly a third. That’s double the rate of growth for middle-aged patients during that same period.

Of course, responsible prescription drug use – opioid-based based or otherwise – can be transformative for patients, alleviating chronic pain, speeding up post-operative recovery, boosting emotional well-being, and enhancing cognition.

However, opioid drugs can also cause huge, potentially fatal, problems for seniors. Elderly patients tend to be taking other drugs that can interact with opioids and cause adverse side effects. Their physical frailty exacerbates these problems. And opioid overuse can slow post-surgery recovery and speed up cognitive function decline.

Abuse also puts senior patients at much higher risk of falls, which can cause serious bone fractures and shorten life. In fact, a 2010 paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Medicare patients using opioids were four times more likely to suffer a fracture than enrollees using non-opioid treatments.

These risks are a big reason that the Joint Commission, a national non-profit that certifies healthcare organizations, specifically warns that opioids may not be appropriate for all patients.

The Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, which is run by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, recently published a comprehensive strategy for improving pain management that includes specific steps for helping seniors. Policymakers should heed its recommendations.

Avoiding addiction and overdose requires careful care management and regular dialogue between doctors and their senior patients.

Caregivers need to adopt treatment protocols that can help prevent addiction, such as using drugs with the fewest adverse effects first. Providing non-opioid pain medication before and after surgery can also help.

Likewise, caregivers should embrace proven non-opioid pain management alternatives, such as intravenous acetaminophen and over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen. These medications can be just as effective at reducing patient suffering without running the high risks of addiction. And even non-pharmaceutical pain management techniques such as yoga, stretching, massage, or acupuncture can help relive senior suffering.

All courses of treatment should begin with an honest and open conversation between patients and their caregivers about how pain affects them, how they are prepared to deal with pain, and how their ideas can be woven into treatment.

James Appleby is the executive director and CEO of the Gerontological Society of America. This piece originally appeared in The Tampa Tribune.

Día de los Muertos at Buena High

The third annual Día de los Muertos event is going to take place on Wednesday, October 28, from 6 – 8 p.m. in the hallways of Buena High School.  Día de los Muertos is a holiday that celebrates the lives of those who have passed in many countries in Latin America.  In Mexico, it is a joyous two days of displaying altars and offerings for deceased family members and in no way is a sad time!  At Buena, the students and the Spanish teachers transform the place into a little mini-Mexico in order to give the students the opportunity to really experience this cultural day hands on. The students are in charge of making altars for a person of their choosing, making authentic desserts, performing, promoting the event, designing the t-shirts and decorating.   During the event, the whole community comes out!  It’s a night filled with celebratory remembrance of those who have passed, performances, raffles, games, face-painting, delicious food and drinks, art work and gallery walks of the altar displays and more. Please join them in this celebration.

Vol. 9, No. 1 – October 14 – October 27, 2015 – Forever Homes Wanted

scamp to adopt VCASHi. My friends at the shelter named me Lucy. I love being around people. I have such good manners that the people here at the shelter picked me to be in a wedding (yes, that’s right, I walked down the aisle in a wedding). I think they picked me because a get along with people and other dogs – big or small. I am a really good walker, but I would rather not run. My favorite thing to do is sit next to you and get petted. All I need is a warm bed to sleep in and a family or person to call my own. Is that you? Ventura County Animal Services –Camarillo location – 600 Aviation Drive – Lucy A624462


scamp to adopt CARLHi: I’m Bullet a cute 1 1/2 year old Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen X, try saying that 10 times fast. I was rescued from VC Animal Services where I was turned in as a stray by my owner. Yes, you read that correctly. My owner turned me in and said he found me as a stray. Thankfully a C.A.R.L. volunteer knew of my situation and I was able to come into C.A.R.L.’s program because another C.A.R.L. volunteer (I call her my guardian angel) was willing to sponsor me. If you have a dog already in your family, please bring him/her along so we can do a meet and greet.

I love being around people and don’t like to be left alone. I’d do best in a home where I’ll rarely be left alone or can be taken along too when you go out.

If you’re looking for an energetic, lovable little guy, look no further, I’m the one for you!

Vol. 9, No. 1 – October 14 – October 27, 2015 – Harbor Patrol Blotter

10-1 10:15am, while on patrol in Boat 17 an officer observed a capsized kayak and the operator in the water.  The kayaker and kayak were rescued and taken to Ventura Harbor Marina dock and released without injuries or damage.



10:30pm, officers were monitoring a wind storm with gusts to 40 knots from their operations center.  One of the local fishing vessels requested to move from their slip to the launch ramp due to the high winds.

8:30am, received a report of a 34ft fishing vessel with two persons onboard taking on water.  Officers responded along with Vessel Assist and U.S. coastguard.  The vessel was 3 miles Southwest of the Harbor.  The source of the water was an old intake hose that failed.  The vessel was dewatered and Vessel Assist towed it back to their slip in Ventura Harbor for repairs.

11:48am, officers received a report of a man resisting arrest from Ventura PD.  He fled by jumping in the ocean at Pierpont.  Patrol responded by boat and PD ascertained that the individual did not commit a crime and was left swimming.

12:46pm, officers were dispatched to a water rescue at the Ventura Pier.  Ventura PD received a report that a suicidal woman was en route to drive her vehicle off the pier.  Officers responded by boat with a rescue swimmer but Ventura PD stopped the vehicle on the California Street bridge.




12:05am, officers monitored lobster season opener at the detached breakwall.  Officers estimated 30 various types of vessels, small boats/kayaks/inflatables were engaged in hoopnetting for spiny lobster.  Warnings were issued to operators of several vessels for various boating and fishing violations.

6:15pm-11:30pm, officers monitored hoop netting activity and issuing multiple warnings for violations to several fishermen for boating and fishing infractions.  Patrol confiscated several unattended hoopnets placed illegally in closed areas inside and outside the harbor.

10-4 12:39pm, officers received a dispatch to a fall victim at the VHV fuel pier.  Patrol responded by vehicle and assessed the patient along with Ventura fire department.  The patient fell 10ft from a deck on a purse seiner injuring his ribs.  He refused transport and drove himself to local hospital.

Kinetic Sculpture Race returns to the Ventura Harbor 

event kinetic sculpture“Where art and engineering collide”
Photo by John Ferritto

Turning Point Foundation’s  Annual Kinetic Sculpture Race will be held on October 17 in, and around the Ventura Harbor. This is a free family oriented thrilling, exciting and sometimes humorous event.  Bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful harbor or dine in one of the harbors many fabulous restaurants. Launch begins at 10:17am at the boat launch.

The Kinetic Sculpture Race in Ventura is the only Kinetic Race held in Southern California. In 1969, Hobart Brown started the Kinetic Sculpture Race, almost by accident when he modified his son’s tricycle to a five-wheeled, decorated “Pentacycle” and another local artist and gallery owner, Jack Mays, challenged him to a race.

This unique event features people-powered works of art built to travel over an exciting all-terrain racecourse beginning with the launching of the vehicles into the water at the boat ramp on Spinnaker drive, continuing across the sand and around an oval track and ending with a drive through the Mud Pit at Ventura Seaside Village. These Kinetic Sculptures can have over 100 gears, ingenious treading, flotation and propulsion, athletic pilots and mechanically advanced pit crews. These uniquely engineered machines are transformed into moving artful sculptures.

For information on how you can get involved visit

And how to build your own winner visit

East Ventura Community Council meeting

Commercial and residential development plans, as well as updates on other civic issues such as proposed library plans, proposed residential growth management, and water shortage concerns, are on the agenda for the next meeting of the East Ventura Community Council.

The council represents those who live east of Victoria Avenue. Books in good condition are always accepted by San Buenaventura Friends of the Library, and are very much appreciated.

The October 15 meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the First Assembly of God Church, 346 N. Kimball Road. The public is encouraged to attend and participate! Check the Facebook page for updated agenda items. For more information call 804-7558.

Celebrity photo exhibit by Ivor Davis at Ventura College, Santa Paul campus through Dec. 18

event IvorThe celebrity photo exhibit by Ivor Davis is on display at the  Ventura College, Santa Paul campus, through Dec. l8. Ventura author journalist Ivor Davis, shares his photo collection of over half a century featuring some of the greats of showbiz and the world.

Santa Paula campus, 957 Faulkner Road, 106, Santa Paula, is open from 8 a.m. to  8:30 pm.

The photos “From Presidents to Pop Stars” chronicles movie stars and politicians and sports superstars,  interviewed by Davis over half a century. Davis, a longtime resident of Ventura, is also the author of the prize winning memoir “The Beatles and Me on Tour.”

California Coast Classic Bike Tour cycles through Ventura

health arthitris bike ridePhoto by George Robertson

health arthitris bike ride insetThe California Coast Classic Bike Tour is a scenic bike ride that takes place over 8 days and covers 525 miles along the coast on Highway 1. The Tour starts in the heart of San Francisco and ends on the iconic strand of Los Angeles with a stop in Ventura. The California Coast Classic benefits the Arthritis Foundation by raising vital funds needed to find a cure for arthritis. Money raised provides educational resources for adults and children, scholarships for our national Juvenile Arthritis Conference, kids’ camps and much more.


Vol. 9, No. 1 – October 14 – October 27, 2015 – Ventura Music Scene

music sceneHighland Way at the Seaside Highland Games Sunday, October 11, 2015.

Erin go Bragh!
By Pam Baumgardner

The Seaside Highland Games came and went taking those gorgeous men and beautiful women in kilts with them. I stopped in to check out the Celtic music and I wasn’t disappointed; crowd favorites were The Angry Brians, Tannahill Weavers and Highland Way, I’m certainly looking forward to next year’s event and may even be bold enough to try haggis, but probably not.

Congratulations to Plan B Wine Cellars on their 3rd anniversary!  They partied in fine form with Jen Staves and the Bluzfish on Sunday, October 11.

Local hip hop artist, Michael Crawford drops his new album “Escape Artist” on October 16 with a CD release party at the Tavern. I was sent an advance copy and yeah, the man’s got talent.

Frost and Fire, a heavy metal festival will take over Bombay’s on October 17th with such bands as Manilla Road from Wichita, KS, Ashbury from Tucson, AZ our very own Night Demon over a half dozen more bands. There will also be a meet and greet with Tim Baker and Robert Garven of Cirith Ungol. Doors open at 4:30 pm.

Mike Toler is the official new owner of Amigos and he’s brought in his good friend Luke O’Dea to help out with booking bands, promotion and social media. I’ve been assured they plan to offer a variety bands 365 days a year. It’s all good news with the exception of losing Bernadette who will be returning to England this month. Mike is throwing her a farewell party on Saturday, October 17, so swing by to say goodbye and wish her well.

Three-time Grammy winner Tom Scott returns to Squashed Grapes October 24, and it will be another first for the Grape when they offer two seating’s in one night. Both are only $10 with 7 and 9 pm show times.

Oh! And I have to share about the extraordinary night recently at Squashed Grapes when Bruce Forman performed the Red Guitar.  The place was at capacity, and you literally could have heard a pin drop the audience was so captivated. The second set Forman brought up his special guest whom he had teased earlier on social media stating he couldn’t say who it was for “contractual reasons.”  Well it turned out to be Tierney Sutton who sang requests the entire second set.  Five time Grammy nominated and the 2005 Jazzweek Vocalist of the year, Sutton heads up the Tierney Sutton Band  who have headlined the Hollywood Bowl, the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Yeah, it was intense and a privilege to witness.

And finally, don’t forget Keifer Sutherland will be at W20 at the Watermark on Friday, October 23.  Ten-dollar tickets will be available the night of the show. Doors open at 7 pm.

Do you have any music related news or upcoming shows you want help publicizing?  Send all information short or long to, and for updated music listings daily, go to .