Rape Kit Delay, Alcohol-Related Falls, Electronic Devices And Young People

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A new report shows that nearly 2,000 untested rape kits in Wisconsin could be related to crimes against childrean. We learn why the backlog still exists.The rate of falls caused by alcohol consumption is growing. We look at how this health risk can be reduced. A psychologist shares how technology has affected a generation of young people and considers what this means for their future and our culture. And we take a deeper look at a top headline.

Featured in this Show

  • More Wisconsin Seniors Are Injured In Alcohol-Related Falls

    As people age, the likelihood of fall-related injuries increases significantly. The National Institute on Aging estimates that one in three people over the age of 65 fall every year, with falls becoming more dangerous the older people get. But beyond the typical age-related falls, a new issue has been cropping up for Wisconsin seniors: alcohol-related falls, which can often be fatal.

    This issue was highlighted in a new report from the Capital Times. According to the piece, Wisconsin has the second highest rate of alcohol-related falling deaths for senior citizens, after Vermont.

    “Wisconsin absolutely stands out when it comes to alcohol-related fatal falls for senior citizens,” said Peter Coutu, the author of the Capital Times piece and a special projects intern for the publication. “Because it brings together two of Wisconsin’s worst health problems to a culmination: the really elevated drinking rates as well as the already elevated falling rates.”

    Wisconsin is well known for its relationship with alcohol. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the alcohol consumption rate in the state for adults is 10 percent higher than the national average. And drinking alcohol, if you’re 65 or older, can be particularly fraught.

    According to DHS, the body’s ability to break down alcohol decreases with age. And older adults are more likely to be taking medications that could interact with alcohol, leading to injuries or falls.

    In addition to already apparent risk factors, Coutu said that the way seniors are drinking is exacerbating the problem.

    “Seniors see an interesting trend: they’re starting to drink more and more when compared to a decade ago,” he said. “Throughout Wisconsin a lot of other age groups, their drinking rates have stayed about the same or have actually improved a little bit. That trend with Wisconsin seniors drinking more than ever is fairly concerning, especially when it related to alcohol-related fatal falls.”

    Coutu said there isn’t a clear answer as to why alcohol-related falls are on the rise and the experts he spoke with couldn’t give concrete answers. He said this could be because many people aren’t studying the issue as much compared with other concerns, such as drunken driving. But, he said, part of the reason why there isn’t a lot of focus on alcohol-related falls for seniors is that it’s out of the public eye.

    “Senior citizens drink more in their house typically, I heard that echoed a lot,” Coutu said. “It’s not as public. It’s something that doesn’t really affect other people — other than themselves — too much.”

    In the 2016 report from DHS, there were 429 deaths from alcohol-related falls in the state in 2015. The agency estimates that 85 percent of those fatalities occurred in the 65 and older age group.

    Coutu said while there might not be a lot of research into alcohol-related falls in the state, he did see some counties in Wisconsin take a targeted approach to educating its senior population about the dangers posed by alcohol.

    “When there were certain programs or educational materials released that targeted falls there was actually a drop in falls in following years,” he said.

    According to the 2010 U.S. Census, residents aged 65 and older made up 13 percent of Wisconsin’s population. And that number is expected to increase significantly over the next few decades.

    Coutu said that some statistics estimate that the senior population could double by 2040, meaning that this trend could pose a significant public health hazard in the coming years.

    “So, if we keep up with our current rate we’re going to see hundreds of more deaths each year from this type of injury,” he said. “And if the rate keeps increasing the way it is, we’re possibly going to see thousands each year.”

  • More Than 2,000 Untested Rape Kits Are From Cases Involving Crimes Against Children

    According to research obtained by the USA Today Network-Wisconsin, one-third of the backlog of untested rape kits are those involving crimes against children. We speak with Keegan Kyle, Investigative Reporter for the USA Today Network-Wisconsin, about the statistics and what is being done to test the kits.

  • How Technology Has Changed The Lives Of A Generation Of Young People

    Young people born in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s (and later) are the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the “age of the smartphone.” We talk with our guest about how this access to technology has affected their social lives and mental wellness. We also look at what this means for their generation as a whole and consider the cultural impact.

  • Alcohol-Related Falls A Health Hazards For Wisconsin Seniors

    Falling down can be a major health hazard for seniors–and alcohol is a big factor in those falls here in Wisconsin. A reporter talks about the impact of alcohol-related falls, and efforts to prevent them.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Rob Ferrett Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Breann Schossow Producer
  • Peter Coutu Guest
  • Keegan Kyle Guest
  • Jean M. Twenge Guest