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.
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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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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.
Everyone has their own story of how they discovered a loved one was experiencing memory loss. One of my girlfriends tells the story of a family friend who picked her daughter up from school and said she thought the weather was cooling and it would be a perfect night to make chili for dinner. So they went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients and went home to enjoy a dinner of chili. The next night the Mom picked up her daughter from school and again said the weather was cooling and she thought it would be a good night to make chili for dinner. She forgot they had chili the previous night. When this happened a third time, the family began to compare notes and realized something was not right.
The Alzheimer's Association offers many wonderful educational programs to help seniors and family members understand how to best deal with this disease - knowledge is power, especially when you have the luxury of early diagnosis.
The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer's Disease, courtesy of the Alzheimer's Association:
1) Memory loss
2) Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3) Problems with language
4) Disorientation to time and place
5) Poor or decreased judgment
6) Problems with abstract thinking
7) Misplacing things
8) Changes in mood or behavior
9) Changes in personality
10) Loss of initiative
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Regardless of your political choice for president, you can share in the sadness of Barack Obama's Grandmother passing away just a day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham, 86, died peacefully in her Honolulu home on Sunday night, after battling cancer. She chose to stay at home with care provided by a caregiver.
Hospice training teaches that emotionally, it is easier to go through the process of grieving when you are able to plan for the death and say goodbye ahead of time. Barack learned this, he said, when he did not make it to his Mother's side before she passed away. As he did not want that to happen again, he took time off from his historic campaign to visit his Grandmother a couple of weeks ago.
Still, death of a loved one is never convenient or easy, even with knowing ahead of time. While visiting France one summer, I went to dinner at a small country restaurant. The owners were a married couple who made the rounds to all the tables to chat with their guests. Upon learning that I worked in senior care, they told me to be sure to visit the bathroom before I left. There was a mural painted on the bathroom wall that included the 17th Century Nun's Prayer. I later had my Mother write it in calligraphy and framed it for my Senior Care Agency's office wall. Many caregivers who passed through the doors asked about it and requested a copy and now it is included as a resource on Caregiverlist.
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