Tuesday, July 31, 2007
You are invited to attend the 7th Annual National Aging and Law Conference, October 10-13, 2007 at the Doubletree Crystal City, Arlington, Va:
Safety Net for Older Americans:
What Can Be Done to Protect it?
AARP Foundation's National Legal Training Project (NLTP) is proud to sponsor this event, together with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, National Senior Citizens Law Center, The Center for Social Gerontology,Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Consumer Law Center, and National Association of State Units on Aging. NALC participants represent Administration on Aging, Legal Services Corporation, and other publicly-funded legal services providers, the private bar, law school faculty, state and area agencies on aging, adult protective services and other social services providers, long-term care ombudsmen, trainers, and state and federal legislative staff.
Questions? Contact Marcy Gouge at firstname.lastname@example.org .
An artificial big toe attached to the foot of an ancient Egyptian mummy could prove to be the world's earliest functional prosthetic body part, say scientists. Research at the University of Manchester is hoping to prove that the wood and leather artefact in the Cairo Museum not only looked the part but also helped its owner walk 'like an Egyptian'.If true, the toe will predate what is currently considered to be the earliest known practical prosthesis - an artificial leg from 300BC - by several hundred years. Jacky Finch, who is carrying out the study at Manchester's KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, is recruiting volunteers whose right big toe has been lost in order to test an exact replica of the artificial toe.
Read more about this big toe story at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070727084801.htm
A transplant surgeon in the US has been charged with attempting to hasten the death of a disabled man in order to harvest his organs. San Francisco-based Dr Hootan Roozrokh, who could face up to eight years in jail if convicted, denies the charges. He is accused of ordering large amounts of narcotic painkillers and sedatives for a Ruben Navarro, 25, before he was officially declared dead. Mr Navarro's mother says her son was exploited and did not die with dignity. Dr Roozrokh is also charged with administering the antiseptic Betadine through a feeding tube into the patient's stomach. That procedure typically takes place once a donor has died. Prosecutors claim this occurred just after Mr Navarro, who was physically and mentally disabled, was taken off life support. He survived for another seven hours. The BBC's David Willis, in California, says that with nearly 100,000 people on the national waiting list for organs, the case has raised questions about the ethics of removing a patient from life support simply to retrieve their organs.
Source, more: BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6925289.stm
District attorney Craig Washington is asking Dallas County for a special prosecutor to go after people taking advantage of the elderly, saying curren prosecutors are already overloaded. “With the surge in these types of cases that we see developing within the county, I think it behooves us to have someone whose primary focus is these cases,” said Kevin Brooks, who is the Dallas County Felony Trial Bureau Chief. The district attorney is scheduled to go before the County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 31 to make his request for the special prosecutor.
Read more at MyFoxDallas.com, http://www.myfoxdfw.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=3924173&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.2.1
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Brian May is completing his doctorate in astrophysics, more than 30 years after he abandoned his studies to form the rock group Queen. The 60-year-old guitarist and songwriter said he plans to submit his thesis, "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud," to supervisors at Imperial College London within the next two weeks. May was an astrophysics student at Imperial College when Queen, which included Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor, was formed in 1970. He dropped his doctorate as the glam rock band became successful. Queen was one of Britain's biggest music groups in the 1970s, with hits including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You."
Source: Deseret News, http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,695195000,00.html
Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live. Oscar, a pet at Steere House nursing home in Providence, R.I., seem to be able to predict who will die. ''He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,'' said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. ''Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one,'' said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
Read more in the Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/news/nation/484570,CST-NWS-death26.article
Monday, July 23, 2007
The city government of Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, which compiled a list of people who may need assistance at the time of a natural disaster in March, failed to fully use the list during the latest quake, as it had not worked out specific ways to confirm the safety of those on the list or to help them evacuate, it was learned Wednesday. The list includes elderly people living alone and physically disabled people. Cities, wards, towns and villages across the country were told by the Cabinet Office in 2005 to compile a list of people who may need assistance in the event of a natural disaster. The city government staff have been trying to confirm the safety of elderly people living alone on the list by phoning them, but many of them have apparently moved to shelters. Of 2,687 people on the list, staff had only contacted 629 by Monday--about 20 percent. The list was compiled by the city's nursing care and elderly citizens section, based on the Basic Resident Register, and has their name, address, age, telephone number and details of any necessary nursing care.
Read more in The Daily Yomiuri online, http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070720TDY02005.htm
In what is being termed as
an "historic moment" by industry and business leaders, Shraga Brosh,
president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, and Ofer Eini,
chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, signed an agreement on
Thursday guaranteeing that beginning next year all of the country's
workers will have pension plans. "An agreement like this has never before been signed in the
history of the country," said Brosh. "At the end of the day, employers
will have to pay more to the employees, but they will do so trusting
that this is the best way to support all of the country's workers and
to allow them to live properly even after retiring." According to the agreement, beginning in January 2008 employees
who have been working at the same company for at least nine months will
be immediately eligible to start receiving payments into their pension
plans, beginning with allocations of 2.5 percent of their monthly
salary, with this number increasing to 5% in 2009, 7.5% in 2010, 10% in
2011, 12.5% in 2012 and 15% in 2013. The agreement additionally stipulated that workers will be able
to place the money either into a straight pension fund, a trust fund or
a patient fund.
In what is being termed as an "historic moment" by industry and business leaders, Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, and Ofer Eini, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, signed an agreement on Thursday guaranteeing that beginning next year all of the country's workers will have pension plans. "An agreement like this has never before been signed in the history of the country," said Brosh. "At the end of the day, employers will have to pay more to the employees, but they will do so trusting that this is the best way to support all of the country's workers and to allow them to live properly even after retiring." According to the agreement, beginning in January 2008 employees who have been working at the same company for at least nine months will be immediately eligible to start receiving payments into their pension plans, beginning with allocations of 2.5 percent of their monthly salary, with this number increasing to 5% in 2009, 7.5% in 2010, 10% in 2011, 12.5% in 2012 and 15% in 2013. The agreement additionally stipulated that workers will be able to place the money either into a straight pension fund, a trust fund or a patient fund.Full story: Jerusalem Post, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1184766016845&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
Tougher licence restrictions for elderly drivers have been proposed in a NSW Roads and Traffic Authority discussion paper. About 88,000 licensed drivers in NSW are over the age of 80, with the number expected to grow over the next 30 years, the RTA says. The authority's paper says dementia and vision problems are likely to be the most significant health issues affecting older drivers. The current system requires annual medical tests for all NSW drivers once they turn 80 and annual driving tests for car and rider licence holders from age 85. Annual driving tests for heavy vehicle drivers kick in at age 80.
Meanwhile, a RAND Corp. study of US traffic accidents showed that the elderly are much safter drivers than those in the 15-24 age group, see http://www.rand.org/news/press.07/07.18.html
Friday, July 20, 2007
Richard Kaplan's article Retirement Planning's Greatest Gap: Funding Long-Term Care, Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 407, 2007, U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE07-019, has just been posted on SSRN, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=993179
The man rocks. What else can I say?
Did you know--AARP Prime Time Radio website features podcasts on topics of interest to seniors and their advocates--recent podcasts include:
Aging with Dignity
July 17, 2007 – As its name implies, the organization “Aging with Dignity” works to help older people better navigate the later years of life. One of their current projects is called “Five Wishes” and is designed to help people define their end-of-life wishes and help their families carry them out. Aging with Dignity President Paul Malley and Patient/Family Advocate Ruth Sullivan join host Mike Cuthbert to discuss the Five Wishes program and more.
Reconciling Family Differences
July 17, 2007 – Author, Iris Krasnow wrote a fascinating memoir of her dysfunctional relationship with her mother. I Am My Mother’s Daughter explores the difficulties that kept them apart…distance, her mother’s mentality as a Holocaust survivor, and increasing dementia. Krasnow discusses her unique mother-daughter relationship and how she came to terms with it.
Check it out at http://radioprimetime.org/
The N.C. Senate approved a bill yesterday that will ban smoking in state-licensed buildings that provide long-term-care services. The bill was prompted by a fatal fire at a Mocksville adult-care home that was caused by a resident smoking in her room. The N.C. House of Representatives approved a similar version of the bill two months ago. Yesterday, the bill’s chief sponsor in the House, Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said she disagrees with two changes to the bill made on the Senate side. The House and Senate will now have to reconcile those changes before the bill can become law. Assuming that happens, the bill will be the latest in a series of measures approved this year that will further restrict smoking in North Carolina. Previously in this legislative session, the General Assembly has voted to ban smoking in all state-government buildings and to make all public-school property tobacco-free.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Controlling Death: The False Promise of Advance Directives
Henry S. Perkins, MD
Advance directives promise patients a say in their future care but actually have had little effect. Many experts blame problems with completion and implementation, but the advance directive concept itself may be fundamentally flawed. Advance directives simply presuppose more control over future care than is realistic. Medical crises cannot be predicted in detail, making most prior instructions difficult to adapt, irrelevant, or even misleading. Furthermore, many proxies either do not know patients’ wishes or do not pursue those wishes effectively. Thus, unexpected problems arise often to defeat advance directives, as the case in this paper illustrates. Because advance directives offer only limited benefit, advance care planning should emphasize not the completion of directives but the emotional preparation of patients and families for future crises. The existentialist Albert Camus might suggest that physicians should warn patients and families that momentous, unforeseeable decisions lie ahead. Then, when the crisis hits, physicians should provide guidance; should help make decisions despite the inevitable uncertainties; should share responsibility for those decisions; and, above all, should courageously see patients and families through the fearsome experience of dying.
Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:51-57. www.annals.org
Canada's population is aging so quickly that in a decade, there could be more people leaving the work force than entering it, a factor which will pose major challenges for employers, Statistics Canada said on Tuesday. The central statistics agency, releasing the results of a 2006 census, said about one in seven Canadians was 65 or older, and the number of people reaching retirement was at a record high. Low fertility rates and increased life expectancy has pushed up the median age to 39.5 years from 37.6 in 2001, when the last census was held. "Population projections show that in about 10 years, Canada may have more people at the age where they can leave the labor force than at the age where they can begin working. This presents considerable challenges for Canadian employers and for society in general," Statscan said. The aging work force has caught the attention of Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge, who last month urged policymakers to knock down barriers to labor mobility and allow senior citizens to work longer. Dodge said Canada's potential rate of growth would decline as the baby boom generation retired, which means inflationary pressures could be triggered at a lower pace of growth.
Source: Reuters Canada, http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2007-07-17T160633Z_01_N17215147_RTRIDST_0_CANADA-AGING-COL.XML
A lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Washington State contends that the National Education Association breached its duty to members by accepting millions of dollars in payments from two financial firms whose high-cost investments it recommended to members in an association-sponsored retirement plan. The case was filed on behalf of two N.E.A. members who had invested in annuities sold by Nationwide Life Insurance Company and the Security Benefit Group. It contends that by actively endorsing these products, which carry high fees, the N.E.A., through its N.E.A. Member Benefits subsidiary, took on the role of a retirement plan sponsor, which must put its members’ interests ahead of its own. By taking fees from the two companies whose annuities N.E.A. Member Benefits recommended to its members, the N.E.A. breached its duty to them, the suit contends. The N.E.A. is the nation’s largest professional organization; its Web site says it serves 3.2 million workers in education, from preschool to university graduate programs. The suit reflects heightened concern among retirement plan participants that excessive fees are diminishing their savings and enriching financial services firms. Last November, the General Accountability Office published a study concluding that retirement plan participants, as well as the Labor Department, needed clearer information on fees in these investment vehicles.
Source: New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/17/business/17suit.html
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Representing Estate & Trust Beneficiaries & Fiduciaries: July 19-20 (Boston/Webcast) | Skills Training for Estate Planners: July 23-27 (New York) | Modern Real Estate Transactions: July 25-28 (San Francisco/Webcast) | International Trust & Estate Planning: Aug. 16-17 (Chicago/Webcast) | Basic Estate & Gift Taxation & Planning: Aug. 22-24 (Boston/Webcast)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
A physician from Haddam (CT) has been charged with multiple counts of illegally prescribing narcotics and other medications at the a Meriden medical practice where she worked until May of 2005. Dr. Karen Warner, 52, of 1212 Saybrook Road in Haddam was charged Monday with 10 counts each of: illegally prescribing/sale of narcotics, prescribing/sale of controlled substances and one count each of: failing to keep controlled substance records, first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community and reckless endangerment. She faces a possible sentence of 300 years in prison, 50 of which would be mandatory under state law, if convicted on all the felony counts. According to a state Division of Criminal Justice news release, information in the warrant for Warner's arrest describes how some had sold the drugs that were obtained with prescriptions written by Warner while she worked at the Pain & Headache Treatment Center LLC in Meriden. Warner is also accused of prescribing drugs to patients who had been receiving drug rehabilitation treatment for those same substances.
Source: Hartford (CT) Courant, http://www.courant.com/news/custom/topnews/hcu-doccharged-0716,0,1953735.story
Monday, July 16, 2007
A major earthquake in central Japan damaged a large nuclear plant, and water containing radioactive substances leaked into the sea, officials said, and a fire broke out at the plant in Kashiwazaki. At least seven people were killed and hundreds injured in the earthquake. Several hours later a second earthquake of magnitude 6.6 struck in the sea off Kyoto in western Japan. Tokyo Electric Power Company said the small amount of radioactive material that leaked into the sea posed no environmental risk. Reactors at the plant automatically shut during the magnitude 6.8 quake. The seven deaths occurred in the city of Kashiwazaki. Four women and three men - all in their 70s and 80s - died from injuries sustained in the earthquake, officials said. Several hundred homes and businesses in Niigata prefecture were destroyed, roads were cracked and several landslides buried roads.
Read more at the BBC online, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6901213.stm.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
This month's issue of The Complete Lawyer has several articles discussing lawyers and aging. One article of particular interest addresses how to know when memory issues are beginning to interfere with the ability to do one's job. It begins:
Judge Y, a distinguished federal judge, sought my advice about when he should resign from the court. Despite his lifetime appointment, he was concerned that his memory “wasn’t as good as it used to be.” Although he attributed this to advancing age, he was especially concerned because his father had developed Alzheimer’s disease in his late 70s.
On subsequent visits, I began to suspect that Judge Y was right. My office is located at the end of one of three corridors on the floor of my office building. In five visits, he never once found my corridor on the first try despite the fact that several signs indicated the way. Another clue was the fact that at each visit he presented me with a copy of his favorite ‘read’—a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. I now have five copies of that book.
Extensive tests revealed that his immediate memory was severely impaired. I suggested that he should consider resigning from the court. But after each visit he would leave my office and promptly forget our conversation—as well as my recommendation that he resign. After considerable discussion during which I insisted that I did not see how he could recall oral arguments, he allowed me to contact his chief judge. Interestingly, this judge was initially reluctant to do anything. Judge Y had been a political appointment and—given the existing political landscape he was faced with a dilemma: retaining a judge with no memory or having no judge at all to remember anything. Fortunately, he made the right decision.
Thanks to Stephanie West Allen for the tip.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) today is launching a campaign to promote electronic prescriptions by asking Congress to mandate that physicians adopt the technology if they want to treat Medicare patients. Though the gambit has provoked objections from the physician lobby, the PCMA is hoping that the promise of billions in savings to the federal government will appeal to lawmakers eager to find offsets for new healthcare spending. One of the biggest new healthcare expenditures facing Congress this year is a temporary fix to the Medicare payment formula for physicians themselves. Without action, Medicare will cut payments to doctors by 10 percent next year — but stopping that cut could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. According to a PCMA-commissioned study by the Gorman Health Group, the organization’s preferred policy would save $26.3 billion over 10 years. “Hitting doctors with an unfunded e-prescribing mandate at the same time the government plans to cut Medicare physician payments 10 percent next year is untenable,” American Medical Association (AMA) board member Joseph Heyman said in a written statement. The Congressional Budget Office “has not identified any savings to the Medicare program from e-prescribing,” Heyman added. The PCMA is trying to spur wider and more rapid adoption of the technology through Medicare because the program is so large it can practically dictate national standards. Wider adoption of electronic prescribing, or e-prescribing, also would provide the PCMA’s members with a much larger market for the mail-order pharmacy services they provide. The PCMA represents pharmacy benefit management companies, which administer prescription drug benefits for private insurers and Medicare Part D.
More in the Hill, http://thehill.com/business--lobby/citing-medicare-savings-group-says-doctors-should-have-to-e-prescribe-2007-07-12.html