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, October 29, 2009

The growing problem of elder abuse

by Patricia Grace, Senior Care Examiner

Many uncompensated caregivers — spouses, adult children, relatives and friends — find caring for an elder to be satisfying and enriching. However, the responsibilities and demands of elder caregiving, can be extremely stressful. The stress of elder care can lead to mental and physical health problems that contribute to caregiver burn out. This stress often leads to unintentional as well as intentional elder abuse.

Even caregivers in institutional settings experience stress at levels that lead to elder abuse. Nursing homes may be susceptible to elder abuse issues if their employees do not receive adequate training, or have too many patients or responsibilities, and/or work under poor conditions.

Read full article

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When Parents Are Too Toxic to Tolerate

Published: October 19, 2009 New York Times

You can divorce an abusive spouse. You can call it quits if your lover mistreats you. But what can you do if the source of your misery is your own parent?

Granted, no parent is perfect. And whining about parental failure, real or not, is practically an American pastime that keeps the therapeutic community dutifully employed.

But just as there are ordinary good-enough parents who mysteriously produce a difficult child, there are some decent people who have the misfortune of having a truly toxic parent. Read full article

Monday, October 26, 2009

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) vs. Lifecare Community - are they the same?

By Patricia Grace, Senior Care Examiner

In the past 10-15 years, the senior housing industry has introduced several new concepts and terms that are easily confused. For example, many people believe, that life care and continuing care communities are the same, and they use these terms interchangeably. However, life care is actually a subset of continuing care. While the offerings may look similar at a glance, they are not. Read full article

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Swearing Eases Pain

by Dr. Vicki Rackner

It's almost involuntary. You slam your finger in the car door and out comes a colorful word. Even if you never, ever swear.

Swearing seems to be a universal response to pain, no matter what corner of the world you inhabit.

Why do we do this?

It may be a reflexive pain-reduction strategy like pulling your finger from a hot stove.

A group of scientists enlisted volunteers to submerge their hand in ice water while repeating either a neutral word or a swear word of their choice. students who swore kept their hands submerged longer and reported less pain that when they uttered a civil, neutral word.

The scientists speculated why. Your brain's speech center lies in the left side of your brain. words are generated in the amygdala--the emotional center on the right side of the brain involved with the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response seems to disrupt the connection between nerves that receive the pain signal and the nerves that interpret the experience. Blunted pain response would allow you to run away from a saber-tooth tiger who just released your calf muscles from its jaw.

So, next time your parents are in pain, encourage then to swear! Just think how much fun it will be to say to your parents with a smile, "Mom and Dad, you know how you always threatened to wash my mouth out with soap for saying naughty words? How things change!"

Vicki Rackner MD, founder of The Caregiver Club is a former surgeon who left the operating room to help family caregivers give their best and be their best by managing stress, speaking up with their loved ones’ doctors and asking the right questions. Dr. Vicki, as she has come to be known, is a speaker and author who is regularly quoted in the national media, including AARP, USA Today and NPR. Her most recent book is Caregiving without Regrets: 3 Steps to Avoid Burnout and Manage Disappointment, Guilt and Anger. You can reach her through at DrVicki@TheCaregiverClub.com or (425) 451-3777.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"My Name is Lisa"

A short film about a 13 year old girl dealing with her mother's Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's is one of many serious and scary diseases still without a cure. Alzheimer's causes gradual memory loss. 250,000 children, age 8-18 are caregiving for someone with Alzheimer's or dementia. To find out more and take action, visit: http://www.actionalz.org/\

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients for the first time in 35 years

Courtesy of Chris Orestis

Another sign of things to come for seniors in the 21st Century: for the first time since the darkest days of the economic crisis of the 1970’s, seniors will not see a cost of living increase in their Social Security checks. Combine this new development with proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and the trend for seniors is becoming clearer every day. The realities of a global economic recession intersecting with explosive growth in the senior populations will create increasing pressures for the United States. More people needing help (money), with less resources to go around (money), equals hard choices about how to help those who need it most (money).

Increasing emphasis on the individual to shoulder more of the costs of their senior years will grow quickly. Moves to cut COLA’s, raise the minimum age for Medicare and cut Medicaid funding in the states will become more common occurrences. The Baby Boom generation is still in the early stages of moving into their retirement years and the amount of money required to support these programs is already overwhelming.

As economic and demographic trends over the coming years continues to challenge the governments ability to keep pace, seniors and their families must do all they can to prepare themselves financially for the costs of retirement and the even greater costs of long term healthcare.

Chris Orestis, president and a principal with Life Care Funding Group, is an acknowledged national expert on insurance and long term care issues. His Blog on senior living issues has become one of the more popular forums on the internet about the impact of the economy and politics on seniors and their housing and long term care needs. Learn more about senior funding alternatives and life settlements on the Life Care Funding Group web site.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New LifeStyles and Aging with Grace now offer consumers Personal Assistance in their Eldercare search

New LifeStyles, the most comprehensive source on the web for senior housing and care, is now offering personal assistance service through the expertise of Aging with Grace, to people using NewLifeStyles.com to find communities or services for themselves, loved ones and others

Online visitors can access the services of Aging with Grace through a program that includes unlimited telephone access to experienced eldercare specialists for assistance with immediate needs and long-term planning. Trained eldercare consultants will use New Lifestyles' comprehensive, easy-to-navigate database to help the consumer find the right solution for their personal situation. If the consumer gets to the point where they would like some guidance in the process or an expert to answer a question or two, Aging with Grace experts will be available through an exclusive toll-free number.

"New LifeStyles recognizes that the search for senior housing and care can be a daunting one. While our web site and print guides have always provided an extensive selection of quality options and resources, the consumer often needs the help of an unbiased expert," says Doug Fusella, President, New LifeStyles. "We are now proud and honored to be providing this personal assistance through the experts at Aging with Grace!"

"We are pleased to be partnering with a company that shares the same passion for helping the elderly and those that love them," say Aging with Grace CEO, Patricia Grace. "It's a pleasure to be working with a company that is synonymous with senior housing information," adds Rita Files, COO.

Details on the program are available immediately by calling (866) 369-8072.


Founded in 1987, New LifeStyles provides the most comprehensive senior housing and care information to individuals in the U.S. and Canada. Over four million FREE copies of New LifeStyles Guide to senior living and care and The CareGuide are distributed annually. An extensive database of communities and providers, as well as helpful resources can be found at www.NewLifeStyles.com. For additional information, call 800.869.9549.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Exercise and the Elderly - It really can pay off

by Laura Bramly

Thank goodness for my stepfather. I'll never run out of material while he is still around...

My stepfather is 84 years old. He is in very good health but suffers from some back pain due to sciatica and other ailments. He also had a heart valve replaced last May (see earlier post!). Otherwise, he tries to stay as active and in as good spirits as he can.

For the past couple of years, he has attended weekly exercise classes at his local senior centre. He had to stop when his back pain was too severe, but started up again when the pain eased as he understood that building strength was one way to avert the pain. He stopped before he had his heart surgery and has not started again, as he is still feeling a little weak. However, he is lifting light weights and walks about a half mile every day to buy his paper. For someone in his eighties, I'd say he has worked hard to build optimal strength without overtaxing himself.

Two weeks ago, he stepped out of his elevator at his apartment building into thin air. Without getting into too much detail, the elevator door opened but the elevator itself had stopped two feet above the lobby floor! I kidded with him that he must have looked like Wiley Coyote, foiled again by the Roadrunner and stepping off a cliff into the abyss.

Of course he fell, and fell hard. But, no broken bones. No hip replacements on the horizon. He landed on his arms and hurt his back again, but other than that, he walked away.

Now how many of us 40-somethings could say the same if we had walked out of an elevator only to discover the floor was two feet below?

Truth is, all that exercise has paid off. He bounced. His bones and muscles were strong enough to withstand the fall. His balance was good enough to make him fell in the best manner to ensure the least harm. His arms broke his fall and his arms were strong.

Falls cause untold amounts of injury to the elderly (and not so elderly). Exercise is vital, for fall prevention and to continue to participate in all of your activities as you age. The message of this story is that it is never too late to start. My stepfather was no athlete. He was moderately active, enjoying a weekly round of golf and one or two daily walks. When his back started to give him trouble, he enrolled in exercise classes. He was already in his early 80s. And now, he can bounce, and because of that, he's back home in his apartment after his fall, and not in the hospital.

Laura Bramly, a member of the Aging with Grace "Ask an Expert" program, is a communications consultant specializing in education programs about dementia. She is author of ElderCareRead Life Scenes 1, a book for people with moderate to advanced dementia to read and enjoy. Learn more about Laura

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Breast Cancer… not just a young woman’s disease

by Patricia Grace, National Senior Care Examiner

When, if ever, have you seen an advertisement for breast cancer awareness featuring an old woman? There are many public service announcements, TV commercials and People Magazine articles featuring young beautiful A-List celebrities advocating the importance of mammograms, but none featuring an 80+ year old woman. There is no question that mammogram’s save lives…at any age. Mammography, the gold standard for breast cancer screening and early detection, has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of being diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer in women over the age of 80, an age group currently without clear guidelines recommending regular screenings. Read full article

War Stories from the Medical Billing Advocate Battlefield

by Sheri Samotin

Today was a very interesting session at the Medical Billing Adovcates of America's (www.billingadvocates.com) annual workshop. We spent the day hearing interesting speakers from the Florida Attorney General's office talk about fraud and abuse as it applies to medical billing. We also spent time with an attorney who specializes in helping patients fight with their insurance plans and providers.

There seems to be no end to the tactics that providers, especially hospitals, will go to in order to capture extra dollars from payors and patients. They will try to charge for the drapes and gowns in the operating room, even though they are already being paid for the use of the OR and are supposed to include (or "bundle") those items into the facility fee. Or, I'm sure you've heard the one about the "infection control device" charge for $17.44 that was actually a box of tissues. I can tell you that spending the day with more than thirty medical billing advocates reinforces my belief that the profession we are in is absolutely critical to any chance of meaningful health care reform!

I'm especially proud when I hear from colleagues about the many thousands of dollars they have saved patients. The really nice part, is that so often, in the process of helping their clients, they are also saving "the system" money either directly or by uncovering sytematic fraud that can then be reported to the appropriate authorities. As we learned today, once a reporr has been filed, the state has the responsibility to investigate and if they find sufficient evidence, they will pursue civil, and sometimes criminal, action against those conducting the fraudulent activity.

While your medical billing advocate is typically not an attorney and can't provide you with legal advice, we can identify the errors and sometimes outright fraud that is found on an estimated 90% of provider bills. And once we find these things, we will work on your behalf to get them fixed so that you only pay what you really owe. From time to time, we will hit a brick wall and advise you to consult with an attorney who specializes in these matters.

Sheri L. Samotin, President of LifeBridge Solutions, is a member of the Aging with Grace "Ask an Expert" program. With more than 25 years of business and management experience LifeBridge Solutions provides the necessary expertise and skills to help people with Insurance claims advocacy and daily money management.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Many Diseases of Dementia

by Patricia Grace, Senior Care Examiner

"Mom doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, she just has dementia", so say many adult children to eldercare professionals. Somehow families find comfort in believing that a loved one only has dementia, as if it is the lesser of two evils.

Dementia is not a disease but a group of symptoms caused by gradual death of brain cells. The loss of cognitive abilities that occurs with dementia leads to impairments in memory, reasoning, planning, and personality. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause, followed by vascular or multi in-farct dementia, Parkinson‘s disease, Lewy body dementia, Pick’s disease and Hydrocephalus dementia. Read full article ...

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Low Vision Therapy Services

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Well Spouse Association

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Nursing Home Compare

Senior Safety Online

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Alzheimer's Speaks

Official VA Website