Cold Sore Virus Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Last week, Science Daily reported that University of Manchester researchers have discovered the cold sore virus is a major cause of the insoluble protein plaques found in the brains of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

This discovery could lead to new medications and vaccinations for treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.  This is welcome news for seniors suffering from memory loss.

The researchers believe the herpes simplex virus is a significant factor in developing Alzheimer’s Disease and could be treated by antiviral agents such as acyclovir, which is already used to treat cold sores and other diseases caused by the herpes virus.

Alzheimer's disease causes progressive memory loss and severe cognitive impairment. It affects over 20 million seniors (average age of on-set is in the 50’s) world-wide, and these numbers rise with increasing longevity. 

The underlying causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are still unknown and current treatments only assist in slowing the progression of the disease.

The research found most people with Alzheimer’s Disease are infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 when they are younger and this virus remains in their peripheral nervous system.  The virus causes cold sores in 20 to 40% of those infected with it.  Evidence of a viral role in Alzheimer’s Disease would point to the use of antiviral agents to stop progression of the disease.

The team had discovered much earlier that the virus is present in brains of many elderly people and that in those people with a specific genetic factor, there is a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The findings of this research are published in the Journal of Pathology.  Professional and family caregivers assisting a senior with Alzheimer's Disease should discuss the findings of this new research with their medical doctor.

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Connect Seniors with DO NOT CALL LIST

You've heard the stories about financial scams targeting seniors through telemarketing.  A senior can be the perfect target, especially if they are lonely and suffer from memory loss.

One way you can protect your senior relatives and friends from telemarketing calls is to add their phone number to the national "Do Not Call" list.

Just have the senior call the "Do Not Call" number from their telephone:  888-382-1222.  Or, have their Caregiver make the call for them.

 

Longevity Secrets (or, How to Age Well)

Explorer and writer Dan Buettner has written a book called The Blue Zones which profiles the areas of the world where the most people have lived the longest - and lived those years with happiness and vitality.

More seniors have reached 100 years of age in these “blue zones”, which include towns in Italy, California and Costa Rica.  The book brings to light their lifestyles that seem to suggest why they are living longer.

The website also offers a Vitality Compass so you can find out how well you are doing with healthy aging right now.  This provides a great tool for both seniors and their caregivers.

Included in The Blue Zones top-10 list for healthy aging are growing a garden, eating nuts, drinking Sardinian wine (has the world’s highest levels of antioxidants), meditating and having a personal mission.

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Evaluating Nursing Homes

Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes are required to complete government inspections at least once every 15 months.  The government provides information on the results of these inspections on Medicare.gov.

The nursing home inspection information provides a nice starting point for evaluating a nursing home but they do not include information on many violations and incidents of abuse which may be reported.  You must visit a nursing home and question staff and family members of other residents to find out more information.

This week, the news media reported a group of teens working at a nursing home in Minnesota sexually abused and humiliated elderly residents with dementia.  This information will not be found on Medicare's website of inspection results for this nursing home, for example, yet it is valuable information to know if you are considering placement at this nursing facility.  Many caregivers who work for Senior Home Care Agencies have worked in nursing homes at some point in their career.  If you know a professional caregiver, ask them about the nursing homes in your area.  Caregivers also know other caregivers, expecially if they completed a nursing aide certificate, and can be a valuable resource for letting you know the inside scoop on the care at local nursing homes.

You may search the recent nursing home inspection reports on Caregiverlist's Nursing Home List.

 

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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

 

 

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