Welcome ...

All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Cross-talk" responsible for slower response as we age...

What we might have here is a failure to communicate: Breakdowns in certain brain connections could be responsible for slowed physical reaction times as we age, new research suggests.

“Cross-talk” occurs in the brain when one side sends out signals that control movements on the opposite side of the body—for example, when the left side of the brain sends signals that control movements on the right side of the body. This signal chatter is regulated by an area of the brain called the corpus callosum, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. But as we age, the brain's ability to regulate the cross-talk diminishes. As a result, both sides of the brain send signals when one side of the body moves.

Researchers compared the response times and brain activity of a group of 65 to 75-year-olds with those of a group of 20 to 25-year-olds. The researchers used computer joysticks to measure physical response times, and functional MRIs to measure brain blood flow and activity. As regulation of the cross-talk lessened and both sides began chatting at once, physical response time slowed, according to the report. Full implications of the discovery were not known but give researchers another springboard from which to study aging, the brain and behavior. The study appears in a recent edition of the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

hmmm...I thought we could keep our inusrance plan if we liked it?

A plan by Medicare to try to make it simpler for consumers to pick drug coverage could force 3 million seniors to switch plans next year whether they like it or not, says an independent analysis.

That risks undercutting President Barack Obama's promise that people can keep their health plans if they like them.

And it could be an unwelcome surprise for many seniors who hadn't intended to make a change during Medicare's open enrollment season this fall.

The analysis by Avalere Health, a leading private research firm, estimated that more than 3 million beneficiaries will see their prescription plan eliminated as part of a new effort by Medicare to winnow down duplicative coverage and offer consumers more meaningful choices.

Seniors would not lose coverage, but they could see changes in their premiums and copayments.

Medicare officials dismissed the Avalere estimate without offering their own number. "Anybody who is producing that kind of analysis is simply guessing," said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator for Medicare.

But Bonnie Washington, a senior analyst with Avalere, said the company's analysis used Medicare's specifications.

For example, Medicare has already notified insurers they will no longer be able to offer more than one "basic" drug plan in any given location. Several major prescription plans, including CVS-Caremark and AARP, offered two basic options throughout the country this year, Washington said. Eliminating that particular form of duplication among the top plans would force 2.75 million beneficiaries to find new coverage, according to Avalere's estimate.

When other changes are taken into account, as many as 3.7 million Medicare recipients may have to switch, the analysis concluded. That amounts to about 20 percent of the 17.5 million enrolled in stand-alone drug plans.

Avalere serves industry and government clients with in-depth research on Medicare and Medicaid. The company's president was a health care budget analyst in the Clinton White House.

Former Medicare administrator Leslie Norwalk said the change might make things easier for people signing up for Medicare but harder for those already in the program.

"If you're in a plan that you like and you have to change it, it will be disruptive," said Norwalk, acting administrator under President George W. Bush. "It depends on how (Medicare) handles it to try to make it as seamless as possible."

Reducing the number of Medicare drug plans has long been a goal for consumer advocates. This year, nearly 1,600 plans offered a dizzying range of options, many of which were not significantly different.

But Medicare is going ahead with the consolidation in a hard-fought election year. Republicans have barraged seniors with charges that Obama and the Democrats raided the program to expand coverage for younger generations under the health care overhaul. Obama's promise that people can keep health plans they like was made in the context of that broader debate, but the president has repeatedly assured seniors their Medicare benefits are safe.

"Some opponents of the (health care) law may say that this is taking away choices, but we have heard from our members for years that the (drug coverage) options can be confusing," said Nora Super, AARP's top health care lobbyist. The seniors lobby supports the change. AARP's public policy branch is separate from its business side, which sponsors Medicare and other insurance plans.

Medicare official Blum said the agency is working with insurers to keep disruptions to a minimum. For example, seniors could be automatically reassigned to a comparable plan offered by their insurance company. Premiums may not necessarily be any higher, Medicare officials said.

"We are not reducing the number of (insurers). We are not reducing the number of quality plans," said Blum, adding that having fewer, more distinct choices will benefit seniors. "That puts beneficiaries in a stronger, rather than weaker position."

Besides eliminating duplicative basic coverage, insurers that offer more than one enhanced coverage plan will have to show they are clearly different.

Medicare is expected to release its list of drug plans for 2011 late next month. Instead of 40 or more choices in each state, seniors may have around 30 plans to pick from.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mountain climbing, a metaphor for caregiving

Recently, two leaders at Brookdale Senior Living scaled Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. The purpose was to raise awareness of caregivers' tireless work.

Carol Cummings, manager of Optimum Life wellness programs, and Sara Terry, vice president of Optimum Life for Brookdale, climbed the 6,288-foot mountain in New Hampshire along with about 50 others in late July.

It was not an easy trip.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Moderate Drinking, Especially Wine, Associated With Better Cognitive Function

A large prospective study of 5033 men and women in the Tromsø Study in northern Norway has reported that moderate wine consumption is independently associated with better performance on cognitive tests. The subjects (average age 58 and free of stroke) were followed over 7 years during which they were tested with a range of cognitive function tests.

Among women, there was a lower risk of a poor testing score for those who consumed wine at least 4 or more times over two weeks in comparison with those who drink < 1 time during this period. The expected associations between other risk factors for poor cognitive functioning were seen, i.e. lower testing scores among people who were older, less educated, smokers, and those with depression, diabetes, or hypertension.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to handle Aging Parents' Pets

The following is a great article written by registered nurse and attorney Carolyn Rosenblatt. Carolyn together with her husband Dr.Mikol Davis are the founders & owners of AgingParents.com

You can't buy unconditional love at a pharmacy, so don't expect Mom or Dad to give up Fifi or Fido.

One day he was jogging, and the next, my husband woke up with pneumonia. It was a scary six weeks of bed rest for him. My dog, Tigra, who had been coming to work with me for years, just looked at me the morning my husband got sick. She wouldn’t come with me. Instead, she stayed by his bedside night and day until he was better.

Dogs--how do they know these things?

When it comes to animals and our aging parents, we know the bond between animal and human that has probably existed from the beginning of humankind isn’t going away. Seniors depend on their pets for company and love in ways we may not always understand.

Read full article...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Distinguishing 'Senior Moments' from Alzheimer's

With the help of volunteers aged 18 to 89, UC Irvine researchers have identified for the first time in humans a long-hidden part of the brain called the perforant path. Scientists have struggled for decades to locate the tiny passage, which is believed to deteriorate gradually as part of normal aging and far more quickly due to Alzheimer's disease.

"The nice thing about this is we may be able to predict Alzheimer's very early," said Craig Stark, UCI associate professor of neurobiology & behavior.

That's what prompted Diana Burns of Anaheim to participate in the study. In late 2008, when she forgot yet again where she'd put her purse, and then couldn't remember why she was in the laundry room, Burns decided she had to know: Was she, like her aging mother, going to be a victim of the debilitating loss of brain function known as Alzheimer's disease?

"When you're a caregiver for somebody with Alzheimer's, you always wonder if it's going to happen to you," said Burns, who had quit her job to stay home the day her mother was found unconscious and bleeding half a mile from their house, with no idea how she got there. "I was becoming concerned because I myself was forgetting things, so I thought, 'Now is the time to find out.'"

Learn more...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Caregivers: Making the transition from hospital to home easier

Coming home from the hospital or other care setting after an illness or surgery can be worrisome for both patients and the friends and family members who care for them. Planning ahead can make the process much easier. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has advice that is useful to the millions of Americans who are actively involved in caregiving. Through its caregiver initiative, Ask Medicare, CMS recommends the following steps to prepare for a transition:

* Plan ahead: You can - and should - start thinking about the discharge process well in advance, even as early as at the time of admission. CMS has a helpful checklist of key points in its "Planning for Your Discharge" guide, available at the "Medicare Basics" link on the home page of the Ask Medicare website at www.medicare.gov/caregivers. This checklist will help you prepare for the next steps in care.

* Get ready for new responsibilities: Talk to hospital staff about what you will need to do at home, who will show you how to properly carry out any new tasks you will be taking on, such as administering medication, using medical equipment, changing bandages or giving shots.

* Make needed changes to your home: You might need to rearrange your home to have room for items such as a hospital bed, walker or a wheelchair. You might need to consider installing a ramp in place of stairs - be sure to ask the hospital staff what will be needed. You should also remove area rugs and other items that may cause falls and group electrical cords together with ties or clips to keep them clear of high-traffic areas.

* Prepare for extra costs: The person you are caring for may need new medical services or medicines after coming home. Medicare may cover some of these costs, but not all. You can learn about services and care that are covered by Medicare at the "Help With Billing" and "Is It Covered?" links at the Ask Medicare home page.

* Keep a list of key contacts: Put contact information for doctors, pharmacists, home care agency staff and others involved in the care process where you can easily find them.

* Don't be afraid to ask for help: If you're overwhelmed, don't hesitate to ask a friend or family member to lend a hand. If paid home health services are needed, you can learn more about home health services in the "Medicare and Home Health Care" booklet, which is also accessible at the Ask Medicare home page.

It's also important to keep a file of resources on hand and to bookmark useful web sites, including Aging with Grace - www.agingwithgrace.net.

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Helpful Resources

Low Vision Therapy Services

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)

Well Spouse Association

U.S. Administration on Aging


Nursing Home Compare

Senior Safety Online

Mature Market Institute

Connections for Women

50Plus Realtor

Alzheimer's Speaks

Official VA Website