President-Elect Obama's Positions on Health Care Reform

As seniors analyze their Medicare options before the end of the year, it may also be a good time to learn more about
President-Elect Obama's positions on health care reform.  During the 2008 Presidential campaign, President-Elect Barack Obama announced a comprehensive health care reform proposal and laid out his positions on a number of other key health care issues.
Budget cuts will be necessary with the government's need to budget for the necessary economic booster programs and financial bailouts.  At the same time, President-Elect Obama's team has said they will be eliminating some of the government fat and favors implemented for special interest groups.  Many critics of the Medicare drug program have indicated that the prescription plans were somewhat out of whack because of the drug company's involvement through lobbying efforts (and when you try to understand why anyone would create a program with a "donut hole" as a term needed to explain coverage when a senior is left out of the prescription plan for a window of time, a red flag seems to go up that perhaps seniors best interests were not the only driver of this Medicare program).
Right now, Medicaid pays for long-term care in a nursing home, but not in the home (except in a few small population states which have recently developed home care programs).  Medicare only pays for caregiving in a nursing home and not in the home, yet statistics show most seniors prefer to stay in their homes for long-term care.  And, with the cost of nursing home care being from $150 - $350 per day, and home care costing from $18 - $25 an hour and providing one-on-one care from a caregiver, it may be time to look at how the government is allocating the funds for senior care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation prepared two reports to summarize President-Elect Obama's campaign health care policies and positions. They are based on information compiled from Obama's campaign Web site, speeches, campaign debates and news reports.  Check it out and let your voice be heard.

 

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Medicare Coverage Plans

Until December 31st, Medicare-eligible beneficiaries have the opportunity to manage costs by signing up or switching their current coverage in Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans.  During this time, Medicare beneficiaries may either enroll in or switch plans.

Remind your senior relatives to review thier "Annual Notice of Change" advising them about upcoming company-mandated changes to existing plans. 

Educate yourself, too.  There are 4 parts of Medicare.

Part A:  Includes hospital coverage

Part B:  Provides coverage for doctor's visits

Part C:  Medicare Advantage plan which means Medicare pays a private insurance company to provide and administer your Medicare and your plans' benefit

Part D:  Prescription drug coverage

And, remember, Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care, just short stays in a nursing home for rehabilitation.  Long-term care insurance is one solution for care needs, along with private pay.

 

 

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Considering Caregiving Needs at Holidays

As you gather with your family for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, remember to take time to really talk with the seniors in your family and notice if there are any changes they are experiencing as they age, and think about what you can assist them with to age well.  Remember, some age-related illnesses, if caught and treated early, can be given the proper medical attention in order to slow progression.  Take the time to think about any care needs your senior relative may need as their health conditions change.

It is sometimes easier for those who do not see their parents and grandparents often to notice changes than for those who have daily interactions with them.  Take the time to notice hearing, vision and overall appearance.  Are your elder relatives keeping up with their home maintenance as well as their own appearance?  Are they taking their medications at a regular time each day?  Are they incorporating physical exercise into their daily routine?  Are they maintaining social activities?

Healthy aging requires maintaining physcial and mental exercise and socialization, along with eating a nutritious diet.  Many seniors will find it necessary to change their lifestyle some to make sure they are keeping up with both health needs and social needs as they age.  And, sometimes, it is necessary to involve a family member or caregiving service to assist with care needs, at least part-time, as abilities change.

If you live far away from senior family members, take the time to investigate senior care options in their town when you are visiting.  Find out what quality Senior Home Care Agencies are in their area and learn about senior service programs.  Obtain names and numbers so you will be able to contact someone to assist if the need should arise.

 

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Planning for a 30-Year + Retirement

As the financial markets fall, many retirees are very concerned as they watch the value of their investments fall by 25% or more.  In addtion to investments in the stock market, many maintain the bulk of their assets in home ownership and have watched real estate values decline as well.  While Social Security benefits provide some support, they do not allow a senior to enjoy the same income they did prior to retirement.

According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy in the United States is at a record high of 77.8 years and will continue to increase.  As a country of wealth and knowledge, we know how to stay alive longer, although we may not always remain in optimal health for all of these years.

Remember as you plan for retirement to keep in mind you most likely will need resources for at least another 30 years after you retire.  Outline your investments, and your plan for healthy living accordingly.  And remember, if you were to run out of money completely and need support for long-term care, the U.S. does offer Medicaid as a benefit for very low-income seniors.  Medicaid does provide for long-term care in a nursing home and in the home, too, in a handful of states.

 

 

 

 

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Longevity: Study Shows it Runs in Familes

A new study indicates that if your parents lived to be 100, chances are, you will too.  The November issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society reports the study results showing senior centenarian offspring retain important cardiovascular advantages from their parents compared to a similarly-aged group.

The findings show that the children of centenarian seniors have a 78 percent lower risk for heart attacks, 83 percent lower likelihood of stroke and an 86 percent lower risk of developing diabetes mellitus.

Additionally, the study found that children of centenarians who were followed in the study were 81 percent less likely to die than the reference group of similarly-aged patients during the follow-up period.

The survival rate is evidence that longevity runs in families, and the results reinforce the notion that there may be physiological and genetic reasons that longevity runs in families.  The authors claim the study is the first to assess the health of centenarian offspring over time and could be important for future research, as the subjects may be used as a model of healthy aging.

Aging well should be the goal for all who will live a long life.  Reserach shows that proper diet, exercise and socializaton are the keys to healthy aging, and ,according to this study, good genes are a plus!  Off to the gym.....(My Grandmothers lived to be 100 and 101 and Mom and Dad are still going strong).

 

The Slowing Economy Impacts Assisted Living

Many seniors who were planning on selling their homes or condos to move to an Assisted Living Community are now finding they must stay at home a little longer.  As home sales have slowed dramatically, these seniors are unalbe to sell their homes.  Yesterday's New York Times story interviews a few different seniors who have received a refund of their down payment back from a retirement community as their homes simply are not selling.

The slowing economy is impacting all of us but for seniors who may need more care, selling their home to move is much more a need than a want.

Alternatives to moving include hiring a Senior Home Care Agency to assist with care part-time.  And, if a senior is a veteran, they may qualify for the Veteran's Aid and Attendance benefit which will pay for a caregiver to assist the senior in the home part-time.  We provide information on qualifying for this benefit along with the Veteran's Aid and Attendance application on Caregiverlist.

The good news is, with occupancy down at many Assisted Living Communities, they are more willing to negotiate pricing - just remember to ask.  You may also want to track the stock of some of the Assisted Living Communities to learn more about the corporations and their financial health.

Some of the Assisted Living Corporations and their stock symbols are:

Sunrise Assisted Living SRZ

Assisted Living Concepts ALC

Brookdale Senior Living BKD

Emeritus Corporation ESC

 

 

Senior Care Planning: Geriatric Care Manager?

Planning ahead for senior care allows both the senior and the family to be able to focus on care issues instead of major family decisions when the time arrives for senior care.

As you visit your family during the upcoming holidays, remember one solution to senior care planning is a Geriatric Care Manager.  Geriatric Care Managers provide professional guidance to family members and the senior.  They can be a valuable liason between siblings and professional senior care services.  And, if you are living in a different city than your parents or grandparents, the geriatric care manager will be able to keep the senior care on track and make sure the proper resources are used.  In addition, a geriatric care manager usually will be very familiar with geriatric medical doctors, senior home care agencies and nursing homes in the area.  This can save a famil much time in making a quality choice.

Separately, a geriatric care manager will ask the right questions to make sure advance directives have been established and all end-of-life planning has been made.

 

 

Mini-Mental Exam Can Detect Memory Loss

In only ten minutes time, a mini-mental exam screens seniors for signs of dementia.  Referred to in the medical community simply as a "mini-mental", the official name is the Mini-mental State Exam and it is copyrighted by Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR).  Geriatric care doctors will give this exam to their senior clients to keep ahead of any signs of memory loss.

The mini-mental test asks questions about the time and place of the test, and incorporates math and language skills to test cognitive and memory abilities.  It asks questions like how many nickels are in $1.25 and if you can spell a certain word backwards.

Many times memory loss in seniors can be connected with an illness or with medications.  If properly addressed, senior memory loss can be slowed or reversed. Because of age-related diseases, seniors are more at risk for memory loss and should be sure their medical doctor is conducting a mini-mental at their annual check-ups.

If you are a caregiver for a senior, you can also find a variety of memory exercises at the Alzheimer's Store.

One of my Aunts suffered a stroke a few years ago and after being air-lifted to a metropolitan hospital,  she received excellent care and made nearly a full recovery.  Now she enjoys telling how in the days following the stroke, the doctor would check on her each day and ask her if she knew who the president of the United States was.  Each day, she would answer "George Bush".  Finally, she told him he needed to ask her something new.  He then asked her if she knew what the Gettysburg Address was, and............she began reciting it.  She had memorized it in grade school.  He told her she indeed knew it better than he did!

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Finding Quality Senior Care Products

When searching for information on senior care, it is also important, as Grandma would say, to consider the source.

The internet offers a senior care website that is written by folks who launched a baby website and another one by folks who recruited attorneys for a living previously  - they are both good enough websites but often miss the boat about the specifics of senior care issues because they just have never really had to swim in these waters for a living.  It makes a big difference.  This is a reminder of how important it is to make sure you understand the source of information you are reviewing.

Caregiverlist.com was created by professionals with years of experience in the caregiving industry and we provide information on quality senior care options and provide answers to the questions we are constantly asked while working in the senior care industry.

Another great resource, paid for by your tax dollars, which will help you find quality information, is the FTC's website called "Who Cares".   The FTC has created this website to help you find reliable sources of information on health topics important to you, whether you’re an older consumer or a family member, caregiver, or friend.

You will learn about quality senior care products and be able to avoid products reported as scams and frauds.

 

Caregiving Tools for Alzheimer's Disease

If you are caring for a senior with Alzheimer's Disease, check out this website which provides some really clever products to assist you with caregiving for those with memory loss at all stages.

My family has always turned to humor to assist with dealing with the difficult issues, especially when my Grandfather suffered from memory loss.  He more than once offered his own coat to someone who was leaving, thinking it was their coat.  And we would all just laugh.  Definitely in the beginning stages, one must find a way to laugh at the actions, because they really are funny sometimes.

So, if you were wondering where you could find a fake bookcase poster to tape to the sliding glass door or windows, or a confounding door lock or some memory stimulators, this is the place.  They really do have everything you could want for Alzheimer's care:   www.alzstore.com

 

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