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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Anxiety disorder closely connected with arthritis

Depression or anxiety affect one-third of Americans with arthritis who are aged 45 or older, a new study shows.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that even though anxiety is nearly twice as common as depression among people with arthritis, doctors tend to focus more on depression in these patients.

The study included nearly 1,800 people with arthritis or other rheumatic conditions who took part in the CDC's Arthritis Conditions and Health Effects Survey. Among the study participants, 31 percent reported anxiety and 18 percent reported depression.

One-third of the patients reported at least one of the two conditions and 84 percent of those with depression also had anxiety. Only half of those with anxiety or depression sought mental health treatment in the previous year, according to the study, which was published in the April 30 issue of the journal Arthritis Care and Research.

"With so many arthritis patients not seeking mental health treatment, health care providers are missing an intervention opportunity that could improve the quality of life for those with arthritis," she added.

In the United States, 27 million people age 25 and older have osteoarthritis, and 1.3 million adults have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Need for respite programs continue to grow

The following article written by Jessica Marcy, appears in today's Kaiser Health News.
 Family caregivers provide 80 percent of long-term care needs in the U.S., but many need time away from that job so they can continue to care for their loved ones. Respite can provide short-term relief through several options, including a paid home care worker or providing temporary stays for patients at a residential care facility or adult day care center. Some families pick up the cost of such care out-of-pocket, but many must rely on state and community programs.
However, as states face tough budget decisions, such programs are increasingly on the chopping block.
“These services have just come under pretty serious attack at the state level,” said Jill Kagan, program director of the Access to Respite Care and Help (ARCH) National Respite Network and Resource Center. “The current economic climate that we’re in and that every state is facing has made it really difficult to expand any services at all. This comes on top of the fact that there was not enough respite for family caregivers to begin with.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Can the LTCi industry survive?

Could private long-term care insurance policies stop being sold? That's a distinct possibility, according to an article that recently ran in Investment News. The author notes that many of the companies that once offered the product no longer do so. In the past three years alone, Unum Group, Guardian, MetLife and Allianz have left the business.

 One challenge is that many companies did not know how much they would have to pay out once the policies were needed. Add in the low fixed-income returns insurance companies are making on the premiums, and the challenge becomes clear. According to some experts, insurers will have to revise coverage and increase premiums if they are to stay in this sector.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't worry...be happy!

Scientists (and Bobby Mcferrin singer/songwriter - Don't Worry Be Happy)  have long known that Type A personalities and people who are chronically angry, anxious or depressed have a higher risk of heart attacks. Now a Harvard review of the flip side of that psychology concludes that being upbeat and optimistic just may help protect against heart disease.

Rather than focusing only on how to lessen heart risks, "it might also be useful to focus on how we might bolster the positive side of things," said lead researcher Julia Boehm of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Boehm reviewed dozens of studies examining a positive outlook — as determined by various psychological measurements — on heart health. Optimism in particular seems key, as a number of studies found the most optimistic people had half the risk of a first heart attack when compared to the least optimistic, Boehm said.

Why? Previous work shows the stress associated with negative psychological traits can lead to damage of arteries and the heart itself. Boehm found that people with a better sense of well-being tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and are more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking. But she cautioned that it will take more research to tease apart if a positive outlook makes people feel more like taking heart-healthy steps — or whether living healthier helps you feel more positive.

More research is needed but that link between psychological and physical well-being makes sense, said Dr. Elizabeth Jackson of the University of Michigan and American College of Cardiology, who wasn't involved with the review. Among her own heart patients, she has noticed that those who feel they have some control over their lives and are invested in their care have better outcomes.

What if you're by nature a pessimist? "That's a hard question. There's no magic happy pill," Jackson said. "Sometimes it's hard, particularly in tough economic times, but taking a moment to just relax and enjoy a sunny day might be good heart health," Jackson said.

April 22, National Jelly Bean Day

National Jelly Bean Day on April 22, giving us another reason to celebrate these colorful treats.
This fun little confection has come a long way. Based on a Middle Eastern candy called Turkish Delight (yes, that’s what Edward was so fond of eating in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), the jelly bean has been popular in the U.S. since just before the turn of the 20th century.

Today, some manufacturers, like Jelly Belly and The Jelly Bean Factory, keep the world of jelly beans exciting with unique and fun flavors available at multiple stores. Jelly Belly, for example, makes over 50 flavors in addition to specialty flavors like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, popularized by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, which features jelly bean flavors like mashed potatoes, gravy and ear wax.

5 Fun facts about jelly beans

  • It takes seven to 21 days to make a single jelly bean.
  • In the early 1900s, the term "jelly-bean" was a slang term for a stylish man with no other positive qualities (like a "dandy" or a "drugstore cowboy").
  • Jelly beans were President Reagan’s favorite candy and Jelly Belly created the blueberry-flavored jelly bean especially for his inauguration.
  • Jelly beans were the first candy to be sold by weight, rather than by the piece.
  • During Easter season, an average of 16 billion jelly beans are manufactured -- enough to circle the Earth more than three times.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

National Garlic Day

April 19th is National Garlic Day and promotes the many uses of Garlic. You probably know it’s a herb but did you know it’s also a vegetable. Garlic has ben used medicinally for thousands of years. I’m sure Marie Laveau used quite a bit in her lifetime warding off evil spirits. About the only negative thing you can say about it, is that it can negatively affect an otherwise romantic evening.
Some fun facts:
•Garlic is believed to ward off heart disease, cancer, colds, and flu. The consumption of garlic lowers blood cholesterol levels. and reduces the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
 •It was even once used to treat acne, warts, and toothaches.
 •The psychological term for fear of garlic is alliumphobia.
 •The origin of National Garlic Day is unknown and it is not recorded in congressional or presidential proclamations.
 •Garlic is said to fight off evil spirits and keep vampires away.
 •If your garlic has sprouted, it is still usable although it has lost some of its flavor and health benefits.
 •The smell of garlic can be removed by running your hands under cold water while rubbing a stainless steel object.
 •Garlic is a member of the onion family which also includes leeks and shallots.
 •Its pungent flavor is due to a chemical reaction that occurs when the garlic cells are broken. The flavor is most intense just after mincing.
 •The majority of garlic (90%) grown in the United States comes from California.
 •If your rose garden is being attacked by aphids, an excellent home remedy to get rid of them is to spritz the leaves and blooms with a mixture of crushed garlic and water.
 • When picking out garlic at the grocery store, choose firm, tight, heavy dry bulbs.
 •Garlic has been used to infuse vodka and as an ingredient to make cocktails.
 •Finally, to tie garlic into Wedding week here on the Sugar Network: at ancient Greek and Roman marriages the brides carried bouquets of garlic and other herbs instead of flowers.
Medically speaking…
  • Phytochemicals in garlic are believed to provide protection against heart disease and cancer. Specifically, stomach and colorectal cancers.
  • Garlic helps to fight off colds and flu.
  • Garlic lowers blood cholesterol levels.
  • Garlic reduces the buildup of plaque in arteries.
  • Garlic is used as a treatment for acne and warts.
  • Garlic can be used for toothaches
Alliumphobia is the fear of garlic. Don’t be afraid of garlic today, embrace the garlic in you. Eat lots of garlic and live long…with bad breath!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vaccinations...not just for kids

 Most people think that vaccinations are just for kids, but adults, especially seniors, need their shots too. Here's a breakdown of what vaccines the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for adults age 50 and older, and how they're covered by Medicare.   
Influenza (flu): While you already know that seasonal flu shots are recommended to everyone age 50 and older, you may not know that seniors over 65 now have the option of getting a new high-potency flu vaccine instead of a regular flu shot.  All annual flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B.

Pneumococcal: Pneumonia causes more than 40,000 deaths in the US each year, many of which could be prevented by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. Everyone age 65 or older needs to get this one-time vaccination, as well as those under 65 who smoke or have chronic health conditions like asthma, lung and heart disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. This vaccination also is covered under Medicare Part B.

Zoster (shingles): Recommended for everyone age 60 and older, shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that affects more than 1 million Americans each year. All Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover this one-time vaccination, but coverage amounts and reimbursement rules vary depending on where the shot is given. Be sure you check your plan. If you aren't covered you can expect to pay between $150 and $250.

TDP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) A one-time dose of the Tdap vaccine, which covers tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) is now recommended to all adults. If you've already had a Tdap shot, you should return to getting a tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster shot every 10 years. Most private health and Medicare Part D plans cover these vaccinations, but if you have to pay, they cost between $20 and $100.

Talk to your doctor during your next visit about what vaccinations you should get.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Americans planning for long term care...less than 40%

A recent study reveals that many Americans acknowledge their potential need for long-term care, but do not understand their options to afford such care. Many consumers who had overseen the long-term care of a loved one recognize the impact and financial strain long-term care can cause their family, and 36 percent of survey respondents with assets of less than $100,000 fear they will be a burden to their family.

Only 39 percent felt confident that they have planned for the costs of long-term care. Of those over 65-years old who have planned for these costs, 55 percent say they feel more confident generally.

The Lincoln Financial Life Stages Survey: Long-term Care found, through a survey of 1,002 Americans, that 65 percent felt it was important to plan for long-term care, yet less than half (44 percent) actually have a plan. Of the survey respondents who did have a plan, they were primarily dependent on increasing some form of savings. Nearly three-fourths, or 73 percent of Americans, said their lifestyles would change in order to pay for long-term care. Over half said they were willing to sell their homes, while 21 percent said they would be willing to accumulate debt, and 18 percent said they were willing to declare bankruptcy in order to qualify for government aid like Medicaid.

“The survey shows consumers are not aware of all of the funding options they have to pay for long-term care. Unfortunately, many do not realize that programs like Social Security simply will not cover all those costs,” said Mark Konen, President of Insurance & Retirement Solutions, Lincoln Financial Group.

With an average savings of $120,000, most American families could not afford long-term care for an extended period of time, since costs can easily exceed $60,000 in a year. However, the majority of respondents, at 75 percent, said they would use their savings to pay for the costs of long-term care, revealing that many Americans are simply unprepared for such financial burdens.

For those who had overseen the long-term care of a loved one, 26 percent said their loved one had to sell their home in order to pay for their own long-term care. Others sold their cars (21 percent), stopped donating to charity (32 percent), and stopped going out to dinner (33 percent). While some of the survey respondents had heard of long-term care insurance, it ranked seventh amongst likely sources for long-term care funding.

“As Americans live longer and healthcare costs continue to rise, the issue of long-term care takes on greater importance,” said Lou Moore, a Lincoln financial planner with Lincoln Financial Advisors. “The emotional burden of taking care of a loved one is difficult enough without having to also worry about the financial impact. The good news is there are funding options that can provide the flexibility consumers need when planning for unexpected long-term care needs.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finally...a room of their own

Phyllis Spielberger, a retired hat seller at Bendel’s, picked at a plastic dish of beets and corn as her husband, Jason, sat at the foot of her hospital bed, telling her to eat. Although she had been rushed to Manhattan’s busy Mount Sinai Hospital by ambulance when her leg gave out, the atmosphere she encountered upon her arrival was eerily calm.

There were no beeping machines or blinking lights or scurrying medical residents. A volunteer circulated among the patients like a flight attendant, making soothing conversation and offering reading glasses, Sudoku puzzles and hearing aids. Above them, an artificial sun shined through a skylight imprinted with a photographic rendering of a robin’s-egg-blue sky, puffy clouds and leafy trees.
Ms. Spielberger, who is in her 80s, was even getting into the spirit of the place, despite her unnerving condition. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “Everything here is wonderful.”

Yet this was an emergency room, one specifically designed for the elderly, part of a growing trend of hospitals’ trying to cater to the medical needs and sensibilities of aging baby boomers and their parents. Mount Sinai opened its geriatric emergency department, or geri-ed, two months ago, modeling it in part after one at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., which opened in 2009.        

Monday, April 09, 2012

Perfection...US News Honor Roll for Best Nursing Homes

U.S. News Best Nursing Homes aims to make one of life’s most difficult decisions a little easier. For the 3.3 million Americans who move into a nursing home each year, and for their caregivers and loved ones, the realization that a move is inevitable can be just the beginning of an agonizing process: figuring out where to go. Everyone deserves a home that will take care of their health needs and treat them with dignity. But only some nursing homes consistently deliver.

The 39 nursing homes listed alphabetically below make up the 2012 Honor Roll. They were the only homes, out of more than 15,500 that U.S. News reviewed, to receive four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all three areas—health inspections, nurse staffing, and quality of care—in which CMS evaluates these facilities. While that’s no guarantee a home is free of shortcomings or that it’s ideal for a specific person, it can provide some peace of mind.

  2012 Honor Roll Includes:

 Alzheimers Resource Center of Connecticut     Plantsville, Conn.
 Avalon Nursing Home  Warwick, R.I.
 Bethany Skilled Nursing Facility Framingham, Mass.
 Catherine Kasper Home  Donaldson, Ind.
 Charles A. Dean Memorial Hospital  Greenville, Maine
 Covenant Shores Health Center Mercer Island, Wash.
 Dahl Memorial Nursing Home  Ekalaka, Mont.
 De La Salle Hall  Lincroft, N.J.
 Duxbury House Nursing Home Duxbury, Mass.
 Elmhurst Extended Care Center Elmhurst, Ill.
 Heywood Transitional Care Center  Gardner, Mass.
Hillhaven Nursing Center Adelphi, Md.
Island Nursing Home Honolulu, Hawaii
 J. Arthur Dosher Memorial Hospital  Southport, N.C.
 Jamaica Hospital     Jamaica, N.Y.
Jeanne Jugan Residence  Newark, Del.
 Katahdin Nursing Home Millinocket, Maine
 Little Sisters of the Poor  Pittsburgh
 Lourdes Health Care Center  Wilton, Conn.
 Matulaitis Nursing Home  Putnam, Conn.
 Menig Extended Care  Randolph, Vt.
 Passavant Area Hospital   Jacksonville, Ill.
 Peconic Landing at Southold    Greenport, N.Y.
 Pioneer Lodge  Coldwater, Kan.
 Providence Seaside Hospital  Seaside, Ore.
 Quyanna Care Center Nome, Alaska
 Rady Children’s Hospital Bernardy Center  San Diego
 Rehabilitation Pavilion at the Weils   Chagrin Falls, Ohio
 Riverview Lutheran Care Center  Spokane, Wash.
 South Mountain Restoration Center  South Mountain, Pa.
 St. Mary’s Hospital for Children   Bayside, N.Y.
St. Vincent Care Center  Emmitsburg, Md.
 Sub-Acute Saratoga  Saratoga, Calif.
 The Colony at Eden Prairie  Eden Prairie, Minn.
 Tockwotton Home  Providence, R.I.
 Vi at Grayhawk   Scottsdale, Ariz.
 Westchester Meadows Valhalla, N.Y.
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, Lakeshore Manor Racine, Wis.
 Wibaux County Nursing Home Wibaux, Mont.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The student loan debt impacts Boomers and beyond...

The Washington Post reports some interesting data regarding student loans and seniors. The article reports that new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.

That even seniors remain saddled with student loans highlights what a growing chorus of lawmakers, economists and financial experts say has become a central conflict in the nation’s higher education system: The long-touted benefits of a college degree are being diluted by rising tuition rates and the longevity of debt.
Some of these older Americans are still grappling with their first wave of student loans, while others took on new debt when they returned to school later in life in hopes of becoming more competitive in the labor force. Many have co-signed for loans with their children or grandchildren to help them afford ballooning tuition.

Read full article...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Most US cities are not equipped to Age in Place

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging conducted a survey six years ago that showed less than half of participating cities were prepared to deal with the needs of older folks, says the article, and said at the time the results should “serve as a wake-up call” for communities to begin planning. Five years down the road, the same group revisited the survey—and found that little has changed.

Because of the tight economy, many communities have had to curb or even eliminate programs providing meals to the homebound or transportation services for shopping or doctor’s visits, according to the AP:
These cuts, advocates for older Americans say, are coming when the services are needed more than ever. And those needs will grow tremendously over the next two decades.
The nation’s population of those 65 and older will double between 2000 and 2030, according to the federal Administration on Aging. That adds up to one out of every five Americans — 72.1 million people.
Just eight years from now, researchers say, a quarter of all Ohio’s residents in half of the state’s counties will be 60 or older. Arizona and Pennsylvania project that one in four of its residents will be over the age of 60 by 2020. 
Six years ago, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging said less than half of cities it surveyed at the time were preparing to deal with the needs of older folks. It said the results “should serve as a wake-up call for communities to begin planning now.”
Finding ways for people to remain in their communities will be crucial, with top concerns including adequate transportation and renovating homes and apartments to allow for aging in place.

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