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Landmark Decision Boosts Medicare Coverage *

Earlier this year, a Federal court approved a major settlement of a nationwide class-action lawsuit that will expand Medicare coverage for long term disabilities such as stroke to tens of thousands of patients. The ruling is being heralded as a landmark for Medicare recipients who have been turned down for coverage of costly services like caregiver home stays and outpatient physical therapy.

Known as the “Jimmo settlement“, the ruling requires Medicare to abandon its long-standing practice of requiring beneficiaries to show a “likelihood of improvement” before paying for certain services. Instead, the agreement will change the Program’s rules to approve payment for services that “maintain the patient’s current condition …or slow further deterioration”.

Spearheading the case is the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA), a national nonprofit committed to helping seniors and people with disabilities obtain fair access to healthcare.

*Ref by Money Mag.

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Identifying obesity as a disease in older adults can prevent health complications

According to Dr. John Batsis, MD ( Assoc. Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) obesity is categorized as a chronic disease, recognized in 2013 by the American Medical Association, just like high blood pressure and diabetes.

The consequences of obesity are well known and include hypertention, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea and cancer; however, obesity also leads to high rates of falls, disability and nursing home placement, important indicators of not-so-successful aging.

Dr. Batsis suggests to his colleagues to move away from the “numbers” (weight) and focus on improvement outcomes such as blood pressure improvement, diabetes, physical function or quality of life, and evaluate the patient’s confidence in altering a health behavior (nutrition of physical activity). Referrals to community-based health promotion classes or interventions can be important adjuncts for patients.

The obesity epidemic in older adults will only become more noticeable. Those surviving premature death may become impaired in old age, preventing enjoyment of this stage of their life and nursing home placement. Older adults want to remain independent at home, and hence, focusing on function and healthy lifestyles can reduce the risks associated with this chronic disease.

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Preventing Senior Scams

The resource list below provides useful information on preventing scams that senior citizens may be vulnerable to.

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Alzheimer’s wisdom

The article below was first posted on Home Instead Senior Care. There is so much to learn and understand about Alzheimers and listening to those that live with it offers a unique perspective.

Earlier this week, our community had the opportunity to participate in a live chat with “E”, an international dementia advocate and connector, who has been living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease for over 10 years now.

E: shared insight with Home Instead Senior Care about receiving his diagnosis, sharing the news with his family, taking a driving simulator test at NIH, participating in clinical trials and many other details about his personal journey. It was a fascinating discussion!

On staying positive
E: I realized very early on that you can’t worry about things you cannot change…If you focus on the negativity of this disease and what you cannot do, it’s going to bring you down quickly. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. That’s how you have to run your life with this disease. You’re not going to change it. There’s nothing you can do to change it. The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be. Goes for the person with the disease and the caregiver.

On the daily frustrations
E: Some people will recognize they have this disease and some will not. Some people will recognize their limitations, and some will not. For me, one of the biggest problems I deal with is recognizing that a lot of the things I do, I’m doing incorrectly. And that becomes extremely, extremely frustrating to live with on a daily basis. It makes it hard for the people around you to figure out how they should help you.

Advice for family caregivers
E: You have to become a detective and be really good at reading your partner, and realize you don’t always need to help out with everything your partner is trying to do just because they’re running slow. Just because they’re not at the same processing speed you’re at, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t know how to do it, so you have to give them a chance to try. If you try to help them too frequently, they’re going to lose the capability of doing it themselves. But on the other hand, you don’t want them to struggle and get frustrated. So it’s a happy medium to figure out, and it’s not easy.

After 10 years with the disease…
E: Having a great attitude is probably what makes the biggest difference, as well as having something meaningful to do. I think that’s one of the key things when it comes to this disease. So many of us give up or write ourselves off as not able to do things. If you give up, you really give up a lot and can start to decline quickly because of that.

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  • The person you are caring for has limited or no family support
  • Your family has just become involved with helping the individual and needs direction about available services.
  • The person you are caring for has multiple medical or psychological issues.
  • The person cared for is unable to live safely in his/her current environment
  • Your family is either “burned out” or confused about care solutions
  • Your family has limited time and/or expertise in dealing with your loved ones’ chronic needs.
  • Your family is at odds regarding care decisions.
  • The person you are caring for is not pleased with current care providers and requires advocacy.
  • The person cared for is confused about his/her own financial and/or legal situation.
  • Your family needs education and/or direction in dealing with behaviors associated with dementia.
  • You live at a distance from your oved one.

If any of these situations exist, you should consult with an Aging Life Care Professional.

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Protect Seniors from Online Scams

Cybersecurity continues to be a major challenge with many and especially senior adults. The following preventive measures was shared by Home Instead Senior Care.

Two-Thirds of Seniors Have Been Scammed Online
Philadelphia Area Senior Care Experts Offer Senior Cybersecurity, Online Fraud Prevention Tips

Financial and online fraud against aging adults are now considered the “crimes of the century” by the National Council on Aging. Scammers often target seniors because of perceived accumulated wealth, and feel that seniors are less likely to report crimes due to fear of embarrassment.

In fact, a new survey by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care ® network of 1 franchised businesses that provide in-home care services to seniors, found that two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. seniors have been the victim or target of at least one common online scam or hack. In addition, more than a third (38 percent) report that someone has tried to scam them online, and 28 percent of surveyed seniors have mistakenly downloaded a computer virus.

Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, explains that encouraging seniors to protect themselves online can go a long way in protecting sensitive identity and financial information.”Cybersecurity is about risk reduction. It’s difficult to achieve perfect security. But you can help older adults work to make themselves a more difficult target,” Kaiser said.

To help seniors understand their risks online and take steps to protect themselves, the Home Instead Senior Care network collaborated with the National Cyber Security Alliance to launch a new public education program, Protect Seniors Online, available at www.ProtectSeniorsOnline.com. The new program offers free resources and tips to help seniors understand how scammers operate, familiarize themselves with the most common senior scams and provides proactive steps seniors and caregivers can take to protect sensitive information. The resources include the online “Can You Spot an Online Scam ?” quiz to test seniors’ cyber security knowledge.

Alliance, Stop Think and Connect and the Home Instead Senior Care network, to protect themselves online:

1. Create passwords and make them strong. Lock all internet-enabled devices, including computers, tablets and smartphones, with secure passwords – at least 12 characters long and a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

2. Secure access to accounts, with two-step verification. Many online services, including apps and websites, offer free options to help protect personal information. Learn more at LockDownYourLogin.com

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Taking Control of Your Care

Occasionally, I come across a good reference on Health Care Planning.  At this time. I refer our readers to a publication published in the past year.  I refer to:  “The Patient’s PlayBook: How to Save Your Life and the Lives of Those You Love” written by Leslie Michelson.

The focus of this guide book is a how-to manual on selecting a primary physician and how best to use he/she.  The book names three things one can do right now to be better prepared if a serious illness should strike.  These are:

  1. Document your family history
  2. Collect your own medical records
  3. Create a medical inventory and keep it with you:
  4. State who you are
  5. Name of your emergency contact
  6. Any diagnoses you have
  7. Medications & Allergies.

There is much more information in this worthwhile guide.

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Communicating with a loved one with dementia

I’m sure you’ve heard lots of advice for communicating with a loved one who’s living with dementia. But, sometimes that advice doesn’t address the importance of the nonverbal signals you may be sending. Saying the right things with the wrong body language, tone, or approach can sabotage your best efforts.

This short video reminds us that people with Alzheimer’s disease pick up on and react to our nonverbal cues. Take a look at their simple Dos and Don’ts for caregivers.

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Tips to Help Avoid Medication Mistakes

This article is through the courtesy of Home Instead Senior Care Franchise

Ninety-one-year-old Fred lives in an independent retirement community and is usually skilled at managing all of his many medications. After a bout with congestive heart failure, he was prescribed a diuretic to help eliminate fluid from his system. It worked and he got better. So he quit taking the medication. It was one less pill he had to remember to take. He viewed the prescription as a temporary medication when the doctor actually intended for him to keep taking the prescription. Soon the fluid began to build up again and Fred was back in the hospital.

Nearly 20 percent of seniors who are taking five or more prescription medications surveyed by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, reported challenges in managing their medication regimen including understanding directions for taking the medications.

Such medication management uncertainty could put seniors at higher risk for a medical issue or emergency due to incorrect dosage or adverse medication interactions. And that can lead to potentially devastating consequences. Each year, there are nearly 100,000 emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events in U.S. adults aged 65 years or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Following, from Home Instead Senior Care and Dr. Jane Potter, geriatrician and director of the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, are suggested ways to help minimize the risk of medication mistakes.

Get a pill organization system or service

Approximately 50 percent of patients do not take their prescriptions as prescribed, according to the 2011 study, “Medication Adherence: WHO Cares?”. That’s why a pill organizer can be such an important tool.

Check out Simple Meds℠ to learn more about the benefits of an organized system for medication management. Simple Meds pharmacists dispense prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and vitamins in simple, multi-dose packets. The medications will be sorted and conveniently organized into single serving packets, labeled with the date and time they should be taken as prescribed by the senior’s doctor.

Make one doctor the gatekeeper to manage medications

It’s typical for an older adult to have multiple doctors, which is potentially dangerous. Dr. Potter suggests that your senior designate a primary doctor as the gatekeeper. Most people assume that doctors talk to one another, but you can’t assume that’s the case. They may not be aware of everyone involved in your older adult’s care. It’s best to keep a list of all providers and who is managing what, and update the list at least annually or whenever a change in medications is made.

“Bring into doctor appointments the actual medication bottles along with bottles of over the counter drugs your senior is taking so the doctor can cross check those each time,” Dr. Potter recommends. Medication tracker worksheets, where you can help your loved one record all the necessary information, can help as well.

Know why your loved one is taking the medication

What specific condition(s) or symptom(s) was the medication prescribed to help alleviate? Make sure your senior can read and understand the medication’s instructions. And verify with the pharmacist that the medication being given is what the doctor prescribed. Double check with the pharmacist to make sure the medication won’t interact with any other prescriptions being administered. Make sure you and your senior are aware of all potential side effects.

Call the doctor about any changes in how your senior is thinking, feeling or looking

Many people have a sense when they feel different, especially after a change in their medication. But your senior could also develop a reaction after years on the same medication. Be sure to bring these issues to the attention of a health care provider.

Keep regularly scheduled appointments and an open dialogue with your loved one’s health care provider

Encourage your senior loved one to keep a regularly scheduled appointments and maintain open communication with the doctor to help avert medication problems. Consider writing down questions in advance so you and your loved one remember everything you intended to discuss during an appointment.

If your senior is having trouble paying for medications, talk with the doctor

One of the biggest deterrents to medication adherence is cost. If an older adult is having trouble paying for a medication, discuss this with the doctor and pharmacist. Generic options can be cheaper and some pharmaceutical companies offer discounts.

Tell your senior loved one’s health care provider if you suspect he/she is depressed

Depression might make sticking to a medication regimen more difficult. Furthermore, some medications can contribute to depression. Be sure to let your doctor know if your senior loved one seems depressed.

Discuss any problems an older adult may have in taking a medication, such as the inability to swallow or difficulty opening a pill bottle

Solutions exist for some medication challenges. For instance, a liquid can be prescribed as an alternative to pills for some medicines. What’s more, pharmacists are required to provide easy-open bottles that can help individuals with arthritis. Discuss these options with your senior’s pharmacist.

Tell a health care provider if you suspect a loved one is forgetting to take a medication

It’s easy to become confused about the medications that have been prescribed, when they should be taken and how often. Confer with your senior’s health care provider about the appropriate level of medication assistance for your loved one.

Consider a caregiver

Help a senior assess the risk of medication mismanagement or side effects by going to the Let’s Talk About Rx℠ Solutions Guide. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to manage medications—or you’re a family caregiver worried about an older adult’s ability to manage medications—consider hiring a caregiver companion. Contact us to learn more.

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Preventing Falls

Home Instead Senior Care ( www.homeinstead.com) is the name of a Home Care Service that I have an interest in – in addition to Senior Care Planning Services (www.seniorcareplanningservice.net), our Geriatric Care Management service.

Home Instead Senior Care offers excellent resources that focus on senior citizens and their families. The following is an example of such, pertaining to preventing falls:

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