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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Real Life Among the Old Old

Susan Jacoby, New York Times

I RECENTLY turned 65, just ahead of the millions in the baby boom generation who will begin to cross the same symbolically fraught threshold in the new year to a chorus of well-intended assurances that “age is just a number.” But my family album tells a different story. I am descended from a long line of women who lived into their 90s, and their last years suggest that my generation’s vision of an ageless old age bears about as much resemblance to real old age as our earlier idealization of painless childbirth without drugs did to real labor.

In the album is a snapshot of my mother and me, smiling in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree when she was 75 and I was 50. She did seem ageless just 15 years ago. But now, as she prepares to turn 90 next week, she knows there will be no more holiday adventures in her future. Her mind is as acute as ever, but her body has failed. Chronic pain from a variety of age-related illnesses has turned the smallest errand into an excruciating effort.

Read full article...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Congress Passes National Alzheimer's Bill

Congress has voted unanimously to create, for the first time, a national plan to combat Alzheimer’s disease with the same intensity as the attacks on AIDS and cancer.

The bill, expected to be signed by President Obama, would establish a National Alzheimer’s Project within the Department of Health and Human Services, to coordinate the country’s approach to research, treatment and caregiving.

Its goal, the legislation says, is to “accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse the course of Alzheimer’s” and “improve the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and coordination of the care and treatment of citizens with Alzheimer’s.”

The project would include an advisory council of representatives from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Food and Drug Administration, the Indian Health Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Scientific experts, health care providers and people caring for relatives with Alzheimer’s would also be included.

“If you go to war, you have planning, planning, planning,” said Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, who co-sponsored the bill. “Well, this is a war on a dreaded disease. We need to bring all the disparate elements together for the greatest possible result.”

While the act itself does not authorize more money, one of the recommendations of the national plan “is likely to be for an increase in research money for Alzheimer’s,” said another co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

“We spend one penny on research for every dollar the federal government spends on care for patients with Alzheimer’s,” she said. “That just doesn’t make sense. We really need to step up the investment.”

The legislation was driven by the rapidly rising number of people with Alzheimer’s — about 5.3 million now, and expected to triple by 2050. The cost of their care to Medicare and Medicaid was about $170 billion last year. By 2050, Ms. Collins said, it will grow to $800 billion a year, more than the military budget.

One can only hope that the good intentions of this bill will not become buried in bureaucracy and red tape.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to Prevent Medication Errors in the Elderly

Every year there are countless deaths and hospitalizations resulting from the mismanagement of medication usage. These deaths occur from multiple factors including administration of the incorrect medication, taking drugs improperly and the wrong dose to name a few. We can help reduce these medications accidents and deaths, by implementing some safety precautions. Follow these steps to help your elders...

1. List all the medications prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and any vitamin and herbal supplements they take.

2. Educate the elderly person about their medications including the desired effects and be familiar with the instructions on how and when to take the medication, possible side effects and drug interactions.

3. Develop a medication usage sheet. Below is one example of how you can list all the medications. A medication list should include the following:

• Name of the medication, color and shape.
• Dosage and frequency
• Reason they are taking the medication
• The date they started taking the medication
• The prescribing physician's name and contact information
• Any special instructions and/or side effects about the medication

4. It is important to have all the medications filled at only one pharmacy. It can be very helpful to develop a relationship with one of the pharmacist' s where the elder picks up their medications. Pharmacists are well trained and can answer your questions about possible drug interactions, side effects and contraindications that your health care provider may not tell you.

5. Keep a list of all the medications the elderly are taking on the refrigerator or by the main telephone they use in a brightly colored folder
clearly marked.

6. Ensure that the medications are stored properly [away from the heat or in the refrigerator] and discard any drugs that have expired or have no labels.

7. Instruct the elderly to put on a light when taking medications and never take their drugs in the dark.

8. If the elderly person utilizes a pill box, always have them keep at least one pill in the original medication container for identification purposes.

9. Never have the elderly mix more than one medication in a pill container, especially when traveling.

10. Always have the elderly bring a list of all of the medications they are currently taking when going to a physician appointment.

Linda Winkler Garvin, R.N., M.S.N., of Alameda, California, is a Health Advocate/Consultant & Educator in the Bay Area and Director of Health Management Associates. With advanced training in gerontology, Linda has expertise in chronic pain management.She is the author of several articles on Pain Management, Healthy Lifestyles, Nutrition and Travel. Learn more at www.healthmanagerbayarea.com.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A simple apology goes a long way...

When eldercare providers tell families about a medication error or some other slip up that happened under their care, the family or resident is twice as likely to recommend that provider to someone else than if they had not been told about the mistake. However, the disclosure does open the door for legal action.

Admitting a mistake goes along way, says Patricia Grace, CEO, Aging with Grace.
"One is that you made a mistake, and the other is that you are prepared to disclose it to the family,” says Grace. “The eldercare provider is always fearful that any admission of error will lead to a lawsuit, however there is no evidence that residents or families would be any more likely to sue if this was disclosed to them.”

Most kids growing up hearing that "honesty is the best policy," and that is certainly the case when dealing with family members that entrust their elderly loved ones to a providers care.

Remember it's not the crime that gets most people in trouble...it's the lie and the cover up!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Study finds that narcotic painkillers pose danger to the elderly

written by Barry Meier

Older patients with arthritis who take narcotic-based drugs to relieve pain face a higher risk of bone fracture, heart attack and death when compared to those taking non-narcotic drugs, according to a government-financed study published Monday.

The study, in The Archives of Internal Medicine, appears to be the first large-scale effort to look at the comparative safety risks for the elderly taking different classes of painkillers. The use of narcotic painkillers has increased in recent years because of a prevailing belief that such drugs were safer for older patients than non-narcotic drugs like Advil and Motrin.

The review, financed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, appears to undercut that assumption. The report, which was based on an analysis of patient health care records, was conducted by researchers at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.

Read full article

Seniors lose out with payment cuts to primary-care doctors

The temporary fix that Congress has passed to stave off the looming 23 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements to physicians is better than nothing - but the long-term problem remains unsolved. Lawmakers have for years kicked down the road tough choices on a critical issue - and those who stand to suffer the most should physician pay be cut are elderly Americans.

Dr. Jerald Winakur has been a private practice geriatrician for 35 years. He has managed to keep his office doors open despite the edicts that have come down from Medicare year after year.

He is not against all payment cuts for physicians' services. There is growing recognition among doctors that many of the services at issue - primarily technical procedures - are over-compensated. We can thank the American Medical Association and its subspecialty-stacked "Resource Utilization Committee" for this state of affairs.

The implement that is needed to make these payment cuts, however, is a scalpel, not the meat cleaver that has hung menacingly over the program since Congress set a plan in motion in the 1990s to keep Medicare spending in line.

Here are some simple facts:

Those who practice primary care for the oldest among us are a vanishing breed. More geriatricians retire each year than are trained - and this at a time when every eight seconds, one of our countrymen turns 65.

Geriatrics is the lowest-paying specialty in all of adult medicine. Meanwhile, medical students graduate with six-figure debt loads. Is it any wonder why they choose to practice in other areas of medicine?

Geriatricians derive their incomes from actually seeing patients - at their office, in hospitals, nursing homes and even home visits - not from doing things to patients. We minister to them, face to face, and bring our cognitive skills and experience, not procedural wares, to aid in decision-making. Medicare has, from the inception of the program, undervalued these cognitive services. When an ear, nose and throat specialist receives significantly more for cleaning wax out of a senior's ear than a geriatrician receives for a "complex office visit" to evaluate that same senior's many medical problems, something is seriously out of balance.

Overhead costs for those in private practice range from 55 percent to 60 percent of collections. By necessity expenses have already been trimmed to the bone for rent, employee salaries, malpractice insurance and so on, because Medicare payments to doctors have, in essence, gone unchanged since 2001.

Given all this, Winakur believes it is fair to say that should Medicare proceed with its planned 23 percent cut in reimbursements for physician services, the current system of privately rendered, office-based primary care for seniors is in danger of becoming extinct.

"My patients realize this, even if our legislators and bureaucrats do not. It is increasingly common for primary-care doctors in my community to decline new Medicare patients or to restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practices. Not a day goes by when one of my aging patients inquire about my retiring", states Dr. Winakur.

For years he has said, "Of course not. I'll be here for as long as you need me." And he really means that!

But for him and other primary-care doctors around the country - especially geriatricians - this is a critical time. Congress must act to fix this unfair and ailing system for the long term. It must find an equitable substitute for Medicare's flawed "sustainable growth rate formula" that caused this problem in the first place.

Unfortunately the day is approaching that he can no longer promise his patients that he will be there when they need him most. If Congress allows these unkindest of cuts to occur, the already-fragile health-care system serving our seniors will bleed.

Jerald Winakur is the author of "Memory Lessons: A Doctor's Story" and a clinical professor of medicine and an associate faculty member at the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Monday, December 06, 2010



For the elderly, the holiday season can trigger a mourning period for the spouses, siblings and friends who are no longer here. When should you be concerned about an elderly loved one’s emotional state? How can you tell the difference between “holiday blues” and serious depression?

“Recognizing depression in older individuals is not easy,” says Patricia Grace, CEO of Aging with Grace, “but at the same time, depression is a matter that should be taken seriously.” Grace offers these tips for recognizing depression in the elderly:
1. Blues are normal – and temporary. It is normal to feel subdued, reflective and sad this time of the year. A person who is sad or anxious around the holidays can, in most cases, continue to carry on with regular activities. Such feelings are generally temporary and the individual eventually returns to his or her normal state of mind.
2. Depression interferes with every day activities. A clinically depressed person suffers from symptoms that interfere with his or her ability to function in everyday life. There are often feelings of diminished self-esteem or excessive feelings of guilt. The person may show little interest in his or her own welfare and little interest in doing things that in the past-brought pleasure. “If a person is very sad for more than a month and starts having problems with sleep, normal activities, appetite, maintaining their weight, then they might be clinically depressed and should see a physician for treatment,” advises Grace.
3. Understand the generational differences. The current population of older Americans came of age at a time when depression was not recognized as a biological illness and may be unwilling to discuss their feelings. “Those who are depressed may fear their illness will be seen as a character flaw,” says Grace.
4. Take symptoms as seriously you would any other health issue. The signs of depression – increased tiredness, loss of appetite, mood swings – are often seen as a normal part of aging. They aren’t. “Depression is not a natural part of aging,” says Grace, “When clinically depressed, an elderly person may lose the will to live, complicating existing health conditions.”
5. You can help. Spending time with a loved one, listening to their stories, and sharing family memories are the best gifts you can give an older individual. Use holiday time together to keep your eyes and ears open for signs of depression in older relatives.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Retirees need more than $100K to cover health costs

by Alicia Caramenico

Despite health reform, retirees will need hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to cover medical expenses when they retire, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Uncertainty related to healthcare use, prescription drug use, and longevity may push those costs even higher.
Men aged 65 retiring this year will need between $124,000 and $211,000 if they want a 90 percent chance of covering health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Women that age will need between $143,000 and $242,000 to have enough money because they tend to live longer, according to EBRI. Anyone retiring before age 65 will need even more, notes the Washington DC-based nonprofit research institute.

"Because employers are continuing to scale back retiree health benefits, and policymakers may soon begin to address Medicare's funding shortfall, more of the financial costs of healthcare will be shifted to Medicare beneficiaries in the future," said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI's Health Research and Education Program and co-author of the report.

The future is just as grim. Men retiring in 2020 will need between $111,000 and $354,000 in savings, while women will need anywhere from $147,000 to $406,000 (in 2020 dollars), according to the report.
"Many workers are generally unprepared for both healthcare expenses in retirement and retirement expenses," said EBRI CEO and co-author Dallas Salisbury. In fact, many retirees will need more money than the amounts cited, since the report doesn't factor in long-term care expenses or the fact that many people retire prior to Medicare eligibility, he added.

But the study also shows that individuals can reduce their retirement healthcare costs 40 percent or more by avoiding expensive prescription drugs, notes CBS Money Watch.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eldercare: Ask an Elder Law Attorney: Medicaid and the Primary Residence

Q. I’ve been told that if we put our mother in a nursing home, we must first spend down all her assets before Medicaid will kick in. But her major asset is her house. In this economy, with houses not selling, how will that work? Does Medicaid put a lien on the house and get reimbursed after it sells?

Also, my sister currently lives in the house. Is she allowed to continue living there until the house sells?

— Lynn                                  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to evaluate Medicare Advantage Plans

by Tammy Worth, Special to the LA Times

It's a good idea for seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans to review their choices every year for possible changes, experts say.

Two years ago, Ruth Collins found herself in a quandary. The primary-care doctor she'd been seeing for 17 years was not covered by her Medicare Advantage plan, a private Medicare plan. Instead, her health insurer tried to send her to other physicians and the insurers wouldn't accept some charges by the provider.

Luckily, there were other options for Collins. She switched to a different Medicare Advantage plan and can now see her doctor in San Bernardino, where she lives. She's happy with the change and has decided to stick with the same plan next year.

Read full article...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Empty Chair in the Dining Room

By Patrick Egan

Every other weekend, I drive the 55 miles between Brooklyn and Tinton Falls, N.J., where my father lives at an assisted living facility called Renaissance Gardens. Before I can give him a hug, see how he’s feeling and wheel him out to the car so we can go out for lunch and take care of his shopping, I pass the “Dearly Departed” table in the corridor leading to his room.
A frame sits on the table, displaying a face, sometimes smiling and sometimes not, along with a name, a room number and the date that person died. Almost always, the face has changed since my last visit. Read more

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hispanics face unique Alzheimer's challenges

Alzheimer's specialists in Chicago have recently launched a new effort to educate the city's Latino population about the disease, as it affects Latinos about seven years earlier than it does white Americans.

Experts say that low-income levels, language barriers and access to medical care contribute to higher rates of diabetes and high-blood pressure in Latinos, making them more susceptible to Alzheimer's, according to the Chicago Tribune. This has caused what the Alzheimer's Association refers to as a public health crisis. Read more...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Alzheimer's Starts Earlier For Heavy Drinkers, Smokers

Heavy drinkers and heavy smokers develop Alzheimer's disease years earlier than people with Alzheimer's who do not drink or smoke heavily, according to new research.

"These results are significant because it's possible that if we can reduce or eliminate heavy smoking and drinking, we could substantially delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease for people and reduce the number of people who have Alzheimer's at any point in time," said study author Ranjan Duara, MD, of the Wien Center for Alzheimer's Disease at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, FL, and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

"It has been projected that a delay in the onset of the disease by five years would lead to a nearly 50-percent reduction in the total number of Alzheimer's cases," said Duara. "In this study, we found that the combination of heavy drinking and heavy smoking reduced the age of onset of Alzheimer's disease by six to seven years, making these two factors among the most important preventable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease." Read full article...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Older drivers - how safe are they?

by Paula Span, The New Old Age, New York Times
The whole issue of older drivers — how safe they are or aren’t, how states should determine that, how families should respond when someone clearly seems a danger to himself and others — can be confounding, full of emotional overtones as well as pragmatic questions.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been thinking about this, too, and is holding a two-day public forum today and tomorrow called “Safety, Mobility and Aging Drivers,” which will feature academic and medical researchers, industry leaders, law enforcement officials, safety experts and advocacy groups like AARP.

Read full story...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Records Set in Claims Processing

VA produced more than 103,000 decisions in August 2010, and just under 103,000 in September, breaking all previous records on the number of decisions rendered in one month's time.  The fiscal year ended with an annual total of more than 1 million disability claims completed, another first for VA.   Increasing efficiencies, use of overtime, and the spirit of a can-do workforce is helping VA strike historic marks in processing claims for disability benefits.  VA's commitment to quality is unwavering, and our systematic technical accuracy review shows quality continues to trend in a positive direction.  Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Caregivers “Reach Out for Help” - The ALS Association

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and this year’s theme is “Reach out for help.” The ALS Association recognizes that every day caregivers work many long hours taking care of loved ones. Caregivers tirelessly support those they care about with essential tasks such as bathing, dressing, feeding and activities associated with general health. All too often, caregivers perform this without assistance and with no monetary reimbursement. This can take an enormous emotional and physical toll on these dedicated men, women and children. The ALS Association encourages caregivers to embrace this theme and “reach out for help.” Read more...

Care Connection Video link

Thursday, November 04, 2010

November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

5 Reasons Why Alzheimer's Awareness Matters Than You Think

by Dennis Fortier,President, Medical Care Corporation

More so than with any other major disease, our near-term progress in the battle against Alzheimer’s will be determined largely by our ability to improve awareness about several aspects of this encroaching threat.

Summarized here are five reasons why greater awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, and a deeper public understanding of risks and prevention strategies, will play a key role in the nation’s ability to triumph against the prospect of a devastating AD epidemic.

Learn more...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alzheimer's disease can rob you of your memories & you money

Gina Kolata, New York Time contributor, chronicles two affluent professionals - an attorney and a physician, both of whom lost their money and financial security due to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.

This is a must read article for any family that suspects their older loved one may have one of the many forms of dementia.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Smoking in Your 50s, 60s Increases Risk of Dementia .

by Shirley S. Wang, Wall Street Journal

Need another reason not to smoke? Heavy smoking in middle age more than doubles the risk of dementia later in life, according to a study published Monday.

The study counters previous evidence suggesting that smoking might actually have a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers followed 21,000 patients in the Kaiser Permanente health system for more than 20 years and found those who smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day in middle age had a 157% greater risk of developing Alzheimer's compared with nonsmokers. And they had a 172% greater risk of vascular dementia, the second-most common form and one that is associated with stroke and other conditions affecting blood supply to the brain.

Read full article...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hospitals designing senior ERs to cater to needs of the elderly

Melissa Burden The Detroit News

When 85-year-old Aloysius "Al" Boroniec fell twice in a matter of weeks, he found treatment for his injuries in a different kind of emergency room — one that caters specifically to the needs of seniors.

The six-bed senior emergency room at St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital includes everything from padded mattresses and non-glare flooring to a consultation with a senior ER social worker.

"It's just been a wonderful experience," said Boroniec of Livonia. "This is very efficient. In a reasonable time the doctor was with you and took care of you.

"Before you leave, they explain everything to you, what to do to take care of yourself, when to come back."

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, which will have eight senior emergency rooms open in southeast Michigan by year's end, is not the only health system adapting to meet the needs of a growing elderly population. That population is expected to jump from about 567,000 in 2000 to nearly 1.2 million by 2035, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.


What to do now to feel better at 100

by Jane E. Brody
Columnist, Your Personal Health - New York Times

Many changes take place in physical abilities as we age. Try as I may, I simply can’t swim as fast at 69 as I did at 39, 49 or even 59. Nor am I as steady on my feet. I can only assume my strength has waned as well — I’m finding bottles and jars harder to open and heavy packages harder to lift and carry.

But in August, I hiked in the Grand Canyon, prompting my 10-year-old grandson Stefan to ask, “Grandma, how many 69-year-olds do you think could do this?”

The answer, of course, is “a lot.” And the reason is that we work at it. For my part, I exercise daily, walking three miles or biking 10, then swimming three-quarters of a mile. In spring and summer, heavy-duty gardening strengthens my entire body.

Read full article...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

'I Actually Took 9 Hours To Read The Healthcare Bill...'

By Martha B. Boone, MD
The following is a letter written by Dr. Martha Boone to her patients. Very enlightening...

Dear Wonderful Patients,

This is about the healthcare reform bill.

90% of my patients ask me what I think. 10% prefer to get their information from the media. If you want to know what has actually happened to me, my family, and some of my patients, please...read on.
If you prefer to form your opinions without the input of your doctor, feel free to delete this now.

There is MUCH “theory” out there about what the healthcare bill will and won’t do for Americans.
I actually took the nine hours required to read it. I am VERY, VERY, worried about its content and what it will potentially do to American healthcare.

Let’s talk about what has actually come to pass, so far- Read full article...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stretched to the limit – money for college tuition or a parent’s elder care

As people live longer and start families later, thousands of them are caring for children and elderly parents simultaneously. The competing demands from children and parents for time and resources are emotionally and financially draining. This situation has become all too familiar for many of the 77 million baby boomers and their younger Generation Boomer counterparts who find themselves "sandwiched" between caring for aging parents while still raising their own kids, to say nothing of working full time and saving for their own retirement.

Financial issues are at the heart of the elder care system, and adult children often find themselves faced with concerns about their parents' finances along with how they will fund their children’s college education. Aside from purchasing a home, paying for college for one’s children is probably the greatest single expense that parents encounter. Everyone dreams of getting a scholarship, academic or athletic, to help defray the cost of a college education, however the reality is that very few students actually secure a scholarship and if your child is one of the fortunate ones, the scholarship may only cover a small portion of the total cost.

A new employee benefit is gaining in popularity – College Tuition Rewards Program. This program allows you to accumulate for children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews at over 260 colleges throughout the country. This program is not a scholarship where you are competing against other prospective students and your child may not be selected. It is guaranteed money towards the cost of tuition at any of the participating colleges. This program is not a 529 plan or other similar college savings program rather it is a plan which affords you the opportunity to save for some of life’s other expenses and as an added bonus accumulate tuition rewards which can significantly reduce the cost of tuition at one of the participating colleges. This program can also be utilized by grandparents to accumulate tuition rewards for their grandchildren. It can be a way for grandparents to give their grandchildren a gift at no cost to them.

For more information on how the program works and what colleges participate, please click on the following link www.collegerewardsprogram.com or cheryl@benadvantage.com.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Are you one of the 54 million Americans who care for a family member? One of the 20 percent to 50 percent of employees who tend to a loved one before going to work, then return to care again after a long hard day on the job?  Feeling torn between both “jobs,” and trying to perform well at each, causes so much stress that working caregivers are often plagued with more mistakes, conflicts, and stress-related illnesses. These simple tips will help ease that stress: continue reading

Friday, October 15, 2010

Older Americans doing the most online research for products and services

Who has the time and money to make the most information purchasing decisions after doing their research online? Baby Boomers, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, have the highest percentage of respondents that are researching products and services online. The survey shows that 81% of the 50-64 age demographic surveyed are doing research for products and services online versus 80% for the 30-49 demographic. Only 68% of respondents over 65 were doing research according to the survey. Whether they’re searching for senior housing, airline tickets or cars, this group’s internet research savvy is going to grow over time and their dissatisfaction will drive their search further for the truth. The truth is out there and like Mulder and Scully, they will find it.

Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project Online Product Research Survey

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seniors look to traditional remedies to ward off flu

Garlic. Yogurt. Steamed pears. Not all seniors believe it's just the flu shot that prevents the flu. Many believe in various foods and treatments to stave off the seasonal bug, according to a new study.

Seniors who skipped the vaccine reported a wide range of indigenous practices to help prevent illness. Canadians said eating garlic helped fend of the flu, while the Greeks ate cheese, yogurt and honey as a cure. Seniors in Turkey, Brazil, Nigeria, China and the U.K. reported drinking (or sometimes bathing in) herbal teas and hot lemon to preserve health. Steamed pears were the treatment of choice for South Koreans. Indonesian seniors practiced “Kerokan,” defined as “chafing someone with a coin as a medical treatment.”

Seniors are at heightened risk from the effects of the flu, and should get annual vaccines, researchers conclude. It is important to regularly remind seniors about flu shots, and to create a culture in which flu shots for seniors are the norm, according to the researchers. The study appears in the Oct. edition of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Alzheimer's guidelines aim for early diagnosis

Experts on Alzheimer's disease are proposing new criteria for diagnosing the dementia which would pick it up at an earlier stage and should get more patients onto treatment or into trials of new drugs.

An international expert group said the new guidelines would revise the definition of Alzheimer's to take into account recent scientific developments - including the use of so-called biomarkers, or biological signals, which can show if a person is at risk of the disease before they have any symptoms.

This pre-clinical stage, which can be about 10 years before dementia sets in, is widely seen as the best time to intervene in Alzheimer's. Recent studies have shown that brain scans, spinal fluid analyses and other tests can help predict who will develop Alzheimer's and they are becoming crucial to researchers and drug firms trying to develop new treatments.

"It's very important for us to move from the old way of seeing Alzheimer's disease to a new one that incorporates the importance of biomarkers," said Bruno Dubois from France's Salpetriere Hospital.

"There is no longer a reason to wait until patients have developed full-blown dementia," said Dubois, who leads the International Working Group for New Research Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.

Read full article...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Social Security covers all the seasons of life

The cool winds and changing leaves are tell-tale signs: another autumn has arrived. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how quickly the seasons change and the years pass by. Whatever season of life you happen to be in, it may be a good time to reflect on the protection you have through Social Security.

Each stage of life — from the spring of youth to the summer of middle age to the autumn of retirement — comes with its own set of financial concerns. And in each situation, Social Security is there to help.

Of the more than 53 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits, nearly one-third are not retired workers or their dependents. They’re disabled workers and their families, or the survivors of a deceased worker. These non-retirement Social Security benefits can be especially important to young workers because about one-in-eight young people will die before retirement, and about one-in-four will become disabled.

While the death of a husband, wife, or parent is emotionally devastating, it often can be financially devastating as well. Social Security provides a monthly survivors benefit payment to help the qualified family members of a deceased worker.
Social Security disability protection is equally valuable. Few workers have an employer-provided, long-term disability policy. With Social Security, however, the average worker has the equivalent of a disability insurance policy that pays monthly benefits to workers and their families, based on the workers’ lifetime earnings. So you can rest a little easier knowing that Social Security provides some measure of security, if life does not turn out as planned.

On the other hand, if you do work and retire as planned, Social Security serves as the foundation for a secure retirement. Social Security is the largest source of income for most elderly Americans today, but Social Security was never intended to be your only source of income when you retire. You also will need other savings, investments, pensions or retirement accounts to make sure you have enough money to live comfortably when you retire.

The Social Security Statement that you receive in the mail each year provides an estimate of your retirement, survivors, and disability insurance benefits. If you’d like to try out some different scenarios and see how various retirement ages and future earnings may change your retirement picture, visit our online Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. It provides an instant, personalized estimate of your future benefits.

And perhaps the best news of all is that it’s easier than ever to apply for retirement benefits. You can do it right from the comfort and convenience of your home or office by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/applytoretire. It can take as little as 15 minutes.

Whether you’re young or old, Social Security is there through every season. You can find out more at www.socialsecurity.gov

Friday, October 01, 2010

New "kid" on the block...

by Patricia Grace
National Senior Care Examiner, Examiner.com

For many older Americans that lean right politically, their dream has come true. The Association of Mature American Citizens – AMAC – a nonpartisan organization now provides a conservative alternative to AARP.

Read full article...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ordinary can be Extraordinary...

photo courtesy of Michael Chehkov Association

Recalling a simple life in Brooklyn
by Dale Russakoff

Jessie Singer Sylvester moved anonymously through old age in Brooklyn in the 1970s, absorbing one loss after the next — her job of 59 years, her beloved sister, her friends, her sense of security, her sharp mind. Still, she soldiered on, attending to her sister until she died, cooking and cleaning for herself, going to classes at the local senior center and visiting parks, museums and what she called “the Botanical.”

It sounds so ordinary and unremarkable, which is exactly why Ms. Sylvester, 22 years after her death, is experiencing a rebirth of sorts as Every Elder. A film of her life, “Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn,” has won awards at film festivals from Los Angeles to Moscow, and will be shown on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan.

New York City’s commissioner for aging, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, is showing it at senior centers across the city as a teaching tool to sensitize staffs to the inner lives of New York’s elderly. Schools of social work are using it in courses on aging.

“It really drives home the point that life is not made up of great big events. It’s an accumulation of little things that happen every day that can make or break you,” said Ms. Barrios-Paoli.

Ms. Sylvester’s story came to light when Ellen Cassedy, her great-niece, discovered a diary she had kept faithfully from 1976 through 1979, following her retirement from the Society of Automotive Engineers, where she worked as a secretary until age 77.

Ms. Sylvester died at age 89 in 1988. She willed her dresser to Ms. Cassedy, who came upon the diary in a recessed drawer of its pull-down desk. Ms. Cassedy said that her great-aunt must have turned to keeping the diary as “a secretarial impulse — keeping a record.” It was written by pen in immaculate Palmer method script.

“I sat down on the floor and started to read it and could not put it down,” said Ms. Cassedy. “It was this extremely spare, unemotional, very functional, daily record of her life, but I was mesmerized and I saw a real poetry in it. It was precious to me to know that even after all the losses, she continued to find her life meaningful.”

Using her great-aunt’s own words, Ms. Cassedy, a writer and founder of 9 to 5, a national working women’s organization, wrote a one-woman play about Ms. Sylvester, which became the basis for the film. The actress Joanna Merlin played Ms. Sylvester in both.

Besides Jessie, the heroine of the story is a staff worker identified only as “Sunny” at the Jay Senior Center on Ocean Avenue. Ms. Sylvester writes with joy about Sunny’s classes and discussion groups. “Sunny’s on vacation,” she wrote one day. “Nobody can take Sunny’s place.”

At Sunny’s poetry hour, Ms. Sylvester is introduced to Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” which links the unsung individual to the majesty of all humanity. (“Very nice,” Ms. Sylvester wrote of it.) Ms. Cassedy interspersed soaring, celebratory lines from the poem with such factual, mundane phrases from her aunt’s diary as: “Rested a while. Got an apple. Had supper. Washed the dishes. Then to bed.” The title of the film and play, “Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn,” is drawn from the poem.

Ms. Cassedy tracked down “Sunny,” Sondra Brandler, now an associate professor of sociology, social work and anthropology at the College of Staten Island, part of the City University of New York. Dr. Brandler remembered Ms. Sylvester as a lonely woman and energetic volunteer; she was shocked and thrilled to learn of her impact on the older woman’s life.

This is why Ms. Barrios-Paoli wants the city’s senior center staffs to see and discuss the film. One discussion it inspires, she said, is whether life is better for today’s Jessie Sylvester. Ms. Barrios-Paoli said that these days the city could have provided Ms. Sylvester with a home health aide and meals, perhaps allowing her to remain longer in her home — if someone were to inform social services of her decline. The senior center might have provided more opportunities to get out and enjoy the city.

It was the crime wave of the late 1970s that ultimately drove Ms. Sylvester from Brooklyn. A Social Security check was stolen. Elderly neighbors were mugged and robbed. “The situation in our neighborhood becomes worse every day. We are all in it,” she wrote.

Then in 1979, she came home to find her apartment ransacked. Her niece in Great Neck found her an apartment there, and although Ms. Sylvester had resisted moving before, she signed for it. Ms. Cassedy said her aunt never recovered from the move. She later moved to a nursing home, where she died.

Ms. Sylvester’s diary stopped when she left Brooklyn. She reported her last day, like all the other days, without sentiment. Her niece had told her to make out a final rent check for $120.94. “I did as she suggested,” Ms. Sylvester wrote. So ends the diary, the play and the film.

But now Ms. Sylvester lives on, at film festivals, senior centers and universities. The film had its worldwide premiere in Moscow last year at the International Zolotoy Vityaz film festival. “I have to wonder what on earth my aunt would have made of it all,” Ms. Cassedy mused. “I hope, like Whitman, she would feel she contained multitudes.”

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seniors shouldn't pay to collect benefits

From the DesMoines  register 09/28/2010

"It's really about taking advantage of seniors."

That's how Cathy Hicks of Windsor Heights described what happened to her 94-year-old mother. A man who identified himself as a "certified senior advisor" held a meeting at the senior community where her mom lives. He was informing elderly veterans and their spouses about a special benefit to help pay for medical and assisted-living costs.

By the time Hicks got involved, the man had all her mom's financial information and a plan: Move her assets to make her appear to have less money and be eligible for a monthly government check.  Read more....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finally, a communication tool for families with older drivers

Keeping Us Safe has dedicated itself to improving the mortality rate of older drivers and drivers with certain disabilities. They accomplish this by working one-on-one with the older driver, and by developing and delivering education programs to older drivers and their families, geriatric professionals, and the public in general.

To learn more about Keeping us Safe or to order Beyond Driving with Dignity, a workbook for families with older drivers please visit - http://keepingussafe.org/index.html

Saturday, September 18, 2010

War: One Thing It's Good For

By Kelly Greene

Millions of families of wartime veterans are failing to take advantage of a little-known benefit that could help pay for long-term care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' so-called aid-and-attendance benefit pays a maximum of $1,949 a month to married veterans who qualify. Single veterans and surviving spouses may be eligible for smaller payments.

To qualify, veterans must have served at least 90 days of active military service, including at least one day during a war, and not have been discharged dishonorably. (The rules are stricter for wartime veterans who entered active duty starting Sept. 8, 1980.) They also must meet certain thresholds for medical need and financial need.

Almost 105,000 veterans were using the benefit as of last year, along with a large number of widows, according to the VA. But the pool of potential recipients could be much higher: 2.3 million veterans who served in World War II still are living, according to VA estimates, plus another 2.6 million who served in Korea and 7.7 million in Vietnam. Read full article..

Friday, September 17, 2010

Aging With Grace Partner Receives Accredition As Claims Agent By Veterans Affairs

Hatboro, PA – Rita Files, partner and chief operating officer of Aging with Grace, has been designated an Accredited Claims Agent by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. As a VA Accredited Claims Agent, Ms. Files can help veterans and their families apply for VA benefits, including often under-utilized long-term care benefits.

The VA accreditation program ensures that claimants for VA benefits receive qualified assistance in preparing and presenting their claims. To earn her accreditation, Ms. Files underwent a comprehensive character review by the VA and passed a written exam. Read more...

Study finds 'Senior moments' are not necessarily part of aging process,

Those momentary memory lapses that typically accompany aging may not be so normal after all. A new study links common forgetfulness in old age to strokes and Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied the mental acuity 354 Catholic nuns, priests and brothers for 16 years. Autopsies conducted after their deaths revealed that brain lesions caused by abnormal proteins and neurofibrillary tangles were present among all the participants who showed even mild or moderate mental decline during the study. These proteins and tangles are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers also noted evidence of stroke in all those with mild or moderate mental decline.

The good news, according to researchers, is that the mild memory lapses associated with old age did not predict the development of Alzheimer's. They also did not correlate with dementia at the end of the study. Also, not all participants had the same level of lesions. This suggests there could be other causes for mental decline in the years before death. The report appears in the Sept. 15 issue of the journal Neurology.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Risks for falling are different based on location of the fall

Nearly 40 percent of seniors fall each year and at least half of the falls occur outdoors, but indoor and outdoor falls are different, U.S. researchers say.

"Indoor and outdoor falls are both important," senior author Marian T. Hannan, a senior scientist at the Institute for Aging Research, said. "But people at high risk for indoor falls are different in many ways from those at high risk of outdoor falls. Failure to separate the two can mask important information on risk factors and may hamper the effectiveness of falls prevention programs."

The study, published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, finds indoor falls are associated with an inactive lifestyle, disability and poor health, while outdoor falls are associated with higher levels of activity and average or better-than-average health.

The researchers examined 765 men and women, age 70 and older, from randomly sampled households in Boston -- including a baseline falls assessment, a home visit and clinic examination. Falls were reported monthly. During a nearly two-year period, 598indoor falls and 524 outdoor falls were reported.

The study finds older adults who fell outdoors were somewhat younger than those who fell indoors, more likely to be male and better educated, and had lifestyle characteristics indicative of better health. Those who fell indoors had more physical disabilities, took more medications and had lower cognitive function than those who fell outdoors.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Camp For Alzheimer's Patients Isn't About Memories

Article featured in NPR - Deborah Franklin & Cindy Carpien

When Samara Howard recently dropped off her elderly mother Johnnye Jennings at a three-day camp for people with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, it was the first night she'd been away from Jennings in seven years.

"Normally, I only sleep maybe two hours a night because she wakes up and she wanders and she turns on the stove," says Howard, who eventually had to quit her job to take care of her mother full-time. "I haven't slept through the night in years."

You hear these stories of exhaustion and frustration often from the families of the roughly 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Confusion, wandering and agitation are common with dementia, and usually any break in the daily routine only increases those reactions.

Not Remembering, But Feeling

But things are different at the Camp for Caring, a weekend sleepover camp at a woodsy conference center outside San Francisco. The retreat, sponsored a few times a year — funding permitting — by the nonprofit Family Caregiver Alliance, brings together 18 to 20 people who have dementia for a refreshing, engaging weekend of music, dance, reminiscing and other activities that emphasize strengths instead of losses.

The campers typically don't remember details of the retreat, says Caitlin Morgan, the gerontologist and social worker who directs the camp. But the experience significantly lifts their mood.

"It's all about the feeling," Morgan says. "By the end of the retreat, [they say] 'whatever we did, it feels like something good has happened here.'"

Tapping Into Emotion

Post-camp surveys of family caregivers indicate that the "good feeling" lingers, and it even can improve daily functioning. Though there is still no cure for Alzheimer's or a treatment for it that significantly slows its progression, experts have learned in recent years that by tapping into emotion — using techniques like those employed by the Camp for Caring — it is often possible to tunnel through the mental fog of dementia and engage people who are pulling into themselves.

Here's a sampling of the communication tips experts say can help make the illness easier on everyone:

1. Acknowledge the elephant in the room.

People newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's say being able to admit their memory gaps and other lapses to trusted family members and friends can be a relief — and helps everyone feel less alone.

2. Listen between the lines.

As dementia progresses and syntax and word finding falters, "listen with your ears, eyes and heart," the Family Caregiver Alliance advises. Keep your conversation unhurried and simple, and watch for nonverbal clues and body language to find the meaning underlying the words.

3. Set a calm, positive tone.

Limit noise and distractions as best you can during conversation. Look your loved one in the eye with affection and respect, and use calm, relaxed body language. Keeping choices simple and offering visual prompts — "Would you like to wear this shirt or that one?" — can help when words fail.

4. Offer stimulating, meaningful activities.

Light exercise helps everyone sleep better, and outdoor walks, reminiscing with old friends and singing or dancing to familiar tunes engage the body and mind. Activities don't have to be complicated to be meaningful. "I hear over and over again from people with Alzheimer's that they want to be useful," Morgan says. "If somebody wants to wash and rewash the dishes, what's wrong with that?"

5. Don't needlessly confront or contradict misconceptions — validate and redirect, instead.

If your grandmother thinks she's 8 years old and late for school, don't correct her, experts say. Fib if you have to — tell her today's a school holiday. If she insists on sleeping on the floor, put down a mattress to make her more comfortable. Dehydration or a medication side effect may be behind a hallucination. Check with the doctor.

6. Keep your sense of humor.

A shared laugh is good for everyone. "People who have Alzheimer's can make the most brilliant sense in the world," Morgan says. "If you validate where they're coming from and truly listen, you're going to find a lot of truth, and you're going to find a lot of sense in the middle of it."
Related NPR Stories

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

2011 Medicare Benefits include a 50% discount for covered brand medications for those in "doughnut hole"

Older voters are less likely to support recent federal healthcare reforms, so a visit from Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Howard Koh to a seniors center in Chicago on Tuesday, was viewed by some as part of an Obama Administration effort to sway seniors' opinions before the November mid-term elections, the Associated Press reports.

Koh told seniors at the John Baran Senior Center about preventive care services that will be available through the new healthcare reform law. Fraud prevention was another key topic.

The visit comes one day after the announcement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that her department had issued more than 1 million checks worth $250 to Medicare beneficiaries who had fallen into the Part D prescription drug coverage gap this year.

Next year, those who fall into the doughnut hole will receive a 50% discount on covered brand name medications while in the doughnut hole, according to an HHS release.

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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