Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The National Association of Legal Services Developers (NALSD) announced the creation of an Elder Rights Advocacy Hall of Fame. The announcement came during an association meeting on October 12, 2007, during the National Aging and Law Conference held in Arlington, Virginia.
Bill Graham (LSD-NY) announced the creation of the Hall of Fame on behalf of NALSD. He said the Hall was created using funds donated to NALSD to recognize the advocacy efforts of the late Richard Ingham (LSD-OK). Creating an Elder Rights Advocacy Hall of Fame is a fitting way to recognize those efforts.
“Richard said he wanted to be known as someone who understood advocacy,” explained Graham who was speaking on behalf of NALSD. “He supported the advocacy efforts of others, especially where the rights of Older Americans were concerned. Advocacy was ‘first nature’ to Richard. When he believed his cause was right, he simply would not take "No" for an answer or an excuse.”
The 2007 Class of Inductees, listed below, were recognized for their lifetime achievements:
Richard Ingham (LSD-OK) for his commitment to championing the rights of Older Oklahomans.
Natalie Thomas (LSD-GA) for her significant contributions to justice for older persons in Georgia.
Eleanor Crosby Lanier (AARP) for advancing elder rights at the state and national level.
Deanna Clingan-Fischer (LSD-IA) for creating a strong legal services delivery system in Iowa.
Penelope Hommel & James Bergman (TCSG) for their support and assistance in advancing the creation of legal services delivery systems in all states through The Center for Social Gerontology, Inc.
Deanna Clingan-Fischer was also the recipient of the National Aging & Law Award presented during the National Aging and Law Conference.
NALSD will soon be calling for nominations for the 2008 Class of Inductees. Details will be provided at a future date but Nominees will not be limited to Legal Services Developers or Legal Services Providers.
Nominations also will not be limited only to lifetime advocates. A nomination may be based on a single significant event or series of events.
For more information on the NALSD Elder Rights Advocacy Hall of Fame, or to contribute to the Richard Ingham Fund, please contact Bill Graham
(LSD-NY) at 518-474-0609 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, October 29, 2007
AARP Foundation Litigation announces the second annual AARP
Foundation Litigation Herbert Semmel Elder Law Fellowship for law
students interested in issues affecting older persons. This Fellowship
honors the late Herb Semmel, a nationally-known civil rights and
social justice advocate who worked with the National Senior Citizens
Law Center, the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and the
Center for Law and Social Policy, and was a law professor at the
University of Illinois, University of Texas, University of California Los
Angeles, Cardozo School of Law, Antioch School of Law, The Catholic
University of America, and University of Maryland.
The first Semmel Fellowship was awarded in 2007 to Sarah Weston
from Harvard Law School, who is pursuing a joint degree in law in
public health and is studying health policy issues.
AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL), located in Washington, DC,
defends and expands the rights of older Americans. It addresses
legal issues that affect the daily lives of older persons, such as
health and long term care; housing; consumer protection including
predatory mortgage lending; age and disability discrimination in
employment; and pensions and other retiree benefits. It protects
and preserves the rights of older persons by representing them in
important court cases and by writing amicus briefs, which allow
AARP to share research, facts, and policy analysis, helping courts
make good decisions in precedent-setting cases.
Download the Semmel Fellowship application at http://www.neln.org/semmel08.pdf
The American College of Legal Medicine (ACLM) 2008 Student Writing Competition Is again offering 4 legal medicine writing competitions for students. The deadline for submission to all competitions is January 15, 2008.
1. The Letourneau Award - for law students
2. The Hirsh Award - for Dentistry, Podiatry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Science, Health Care Administration, or Public Health Student
3. The Schwartz Award - for medical students
4. The Hoffman Bioethics Award -for students currently enrolled in an accredited law, medical, podiatric, nursing, dental, health science or health care administration program in the United States or Canada
Complete competition details are available at http://www.aclm.org/resources/swc/default.aspx
Friday, October 26, 2007
Dean Stevenson, who lives on a $910 a month medical pension from the military, rented a Biloxi apartment before Hurricane Katrina for $380 a month. Today the 60-year-old lives in a FEMA trailer with no prospect for an apartment he can afford at post-Katrina rates. Coast advocates for the elderly and disabled held a news conference Thursday to shed light on the plight of those on fixed incomes, thousands of whom are stuck in FEMA trailers with no hope in sight. "Housing continues to be an issue and will continue to be because there is nothing available now," said Talatha Denison of the nonprofit Mississippi Protection and Advocacy Program. The groups say only 25 percent of $5.4 billion the federal government allotted for recovery in Mississippi is being spent on low-income residents. The number of rental units planned for residents on limited incomes falls woefully short of the 13,800 FEMA estimates were destroyed by Katrina.
Source/more: Gulfport Sun-Herald, http://www.sunherald.com/201/story/172933.html
Jerry Alonzy figured he'd be working into his 70s at least. As an independent handyman at the mercy of weather patterns near Hartford, Conn., he'd always made a decent income that rarely grew. Then he found Google, and his life changed. Alonzy, 57, now makes $120,000 a year from the ads Google places on his Natural Handyman website, and he couldn't be more thrilled. I put in two, maybe three hours a day on the site, and the checks pour in," he says. "What's not to like?" In return for placing its ads on websites and blogs, Google pays Web publishers every time one of its ads are clicked. Those clicks help keep Alonzy and his wife living comfortably and talking about moving to Hawaii. "All I need is a laptop and a high-speed Internet connection, and I can live anywhere." The Internet may be a young person's medium, but the retired and those nearing retirement such as Alonzy have found that they can work the Web just as well. Sometimes, such "Gray Googlers" can live a richer, more financially rewarding life than when they were supposedly working. "Google isn't just for kids anymore," says Google executive Kim Scott, who runs the company's AdSense program, the ad platform that provides the income for Web publishers such as Alonzy and others.
Source/more: USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/money/20071026/greygoogle.art.htm
This event examines advocacy for older Americans by the National Senior Citizens Law Center the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Panelists discuss continuing challenges facing older Americans.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Source/more: USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2007-10-24-caregivers-work-discrimination_N.htm
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
When Colleen Anagick was putting together a health care decision-making workshop, she enlisted her mother, Eva Merrifield, to talk about and prepare a living will and durable power of attorney. It was hard to talk about such complex issues with a loved one, she told an audience of elders at the opening day of the Alaska Federation of Natives Elders and Youth Conference Monday in Fairbanks. Anagick’s mother, who is healthy and active, wasn’t interested in conversation about terminal or end-of-life issues. “It was emotional,” said Anagick, a social worker at the Alaska Native Medical Center, but necessary for her mother to make her own health care wishes known in advance for her family’s sake. “There are six kids in my family, and it would be a miracle if we all agreed on one thing at one time,” Anagick said. Before Monday’s 90-minute workshop ended, the audience heard other personal stories that could have been less stressful if some health care decisions had been made beforehand. Elders learned how to go about letting their family, friends and health care providers know how they would like to be cared for in the event of a serious illness or injury via a living will. They also were given information on how to choose health care proxies to make decisions for them if they were unable to do so themselves via a durable power of attorney.
After 1After four years of helping people track down "lost" pensions, the Midwest Pension Rights Project is in danger of shutting down. The project, housed in the Women's Support and Community Services building on Hampton Avenue in St. Louis, serves people in five states, including Missouri and Illinois. Since October 1993, it has helped find pensions worth $12.5 million for more than 2,600 people, recovering $11.94 for every $1 in federal money it has received since October 1993. But late last month, the project received word that its federal grant wasn't being renewed. The grant provided three-fourths of the budget for offices here and in Chicago, said Suzanne Lagomarcino, the project's manager and executive director of OWL, the Voice of Midlife and Older Women. Lagomarcino said the project hasn't received a good explanation of why the $157,000 grant request was turned down, although she had been told in August that the U.S. Administration on Aging would approve just five of six projects that had applied for funds. The pension project also receives small grants from private foundations, and its office is provided by Women's Support. Lagomarcino is looking for alternate funding sources that can keep the project going through early next year.
Source/more: St Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/0/7A878521571D5CAC8625737E004E665E?OpenDocument
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
As every sleep researcher knows, the surest way to hear complaints about sleep is to ask the elderly.
“Older people complain more about their sleep; they just do,” said Dr. Michael Vitiello, a sleep researcher who is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. And for years, sleep scientists thought they knew what was going on: sleep starts to deteriorate in late middle age and steadily erodes from then on. It seemed so obvious that few thought to question the prevailing wisdom. Now, though, new research is leading many to change their minds. To researchers’ great surprise, it turns out that sleep does not change much from age 60 on. And poor sleep, it turns out, is not because of aging itself, but mostly because of illnesses or the medications used to treat them. “The more disorders older adults have, the worse they sleep,” said Sonia Ancoli-Israel, a professor of psychiatry and a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Diego. “If you look at older adults who are very healthy, they rarely have sleep problems.”
More, in the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/health/23age.html
Then check out this cool resource--the Times Guide to Sleep Disorders in the Elderly,
Monday, October 22, 2007
The presidential candidates vary greatly in the extent to which they have discussed health care issues to date. Some have issued detailed proposals or have indicated that proposals are forthcoming. Others have articulated positions on specific health care issues or critiqued the positions and plans of other candidates in response to questions but have not offered their own proposals. This side-by-side comparison of the candidates' positions on health care was prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation with the assistance of Health Policy Alternatives, Inc. and is based on information appearing on the candidates' websites as supplemented by information from candidate speeches, the campaign debates and news reports. The sources of information are identified for each candidate's summary (with links to the Internet). The comparison highlights information on the candidates' positions related to access to health care coverage, cost containment, improving the quality of care and financing. Information will be updated regularly as the campaign unfolds.
The market for long-term care insurance is declining, the
Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said, possibly as policies
are becoming more expensive due to people living longer.
Long-term care insurance can cover people to help meet the cost of either being cared for in their own home or in a residential care home and it usually comes into effect when a person fails to accomplish two or three everyday activities, such as feeding or dressing themselves.
Jonathan French, a spokesperson for the ABI, said that consumers might expect the long-term care insurance market to be growing in tandem with the ageing population in Britain; but with policies becoming more expensive as providers add on the cost of people needing longer periods of care, the market is in fact in decline."As with any age-related insurance policy, the older you are the more expensive it will be," Mr French said. "If people did want to look at buying this kind of product, as with a pension, it's best to start as early as possible. If you wait until you have retired to look into this policy, the likelihood is that your premiums are going to be very high."He added: "The insurance industry is looking at this issue very closely. It's our view that if things go on as they are, both in terms of the public sector and the private sector involved in long-term care, it will become an unsustainable problem."Long-term care already costs the state and individuals huge amounts of money. Quite often people have to sell their properties in order to pay for long-term care, and doubtless these were properties which in many cases doubtless the owners wanted to bequeath to their relatives. We are working with the government and other organisations in this field to work out how we can move towards solving this problem."
More: Craegmoor Healthcare, http://www.craegmoor.co.uk/news/industry/18323893/long-term_care_insurance_less_popular.aspx
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) Initiative is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations committed to ensuring that all adults with decision-making capacity in the United States have the infomation and opportunity to communicate and document their healthcare decisions. For more information, visit http://www.nationalhealthcaredecisionsday.org/
The following organizations have already signed on to the April 16 event:
- Administration on Aging
- Aging with Dignity
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
- American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
- American Healthcare Association
- American Health Decisions
- American Health Lawyers Association
- American Hospital Association
- American Medical Directors Association
- American Nurses Association
- Association of Professional Chaplains
- American Society of Directors of Volunteer Services
- Catholic Health Association of the United States
- Center for Elder Justice and Policy at William Mitchell College of Law
- Center for Medicare Advocacy
- Center for Practical Bioethics
- Center for Social Gerontology
- Central Virginia Palliative Care Initiative
- Compassionate Decisions
- Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life
- Federation of American Hospitals
- Financial Planning Association
- Friends of Hospice
- Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania
- Illinois Hospital Association
- Lakeland Regional Medical Center
- Martha Jefferson Hospital
- Montgomery County (MD) Coalition on End-of-Life Care
- McGuire Woods, LLP
- University of Missouri Center for Health Ethics
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- National Association of Social Workers
- National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
- National POLST Paradigm Initiative Task Force
- New York Citizens’ Committee on Health Care Decisions
- Oregon Health Decisions
- Palliative Care Partnership of the Roanoke Valley
- Supportive Care Coalition
- The Hastings Center
- The National Association of Catholic Chaplains
- UVA Health System
- Virginia Association for Hospices
- Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for the Aging
- Virginia Health Care Association
- Virginia Hospital and Health Care Association
April 15: Taking care of taxes April 16: Taking care of that other inevitable thing....
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Scientists exploring a deep ocean basin in search of species isolated for millions of years found marine life believed to be previously undiscovered, including a tentacled orange worm and an unusual black jellyfish. Project leader Dr. Larry Madin said Tuesday that U.S. and Philippine scientists collected about 100 different specimens in a search in the Celebes Sea south of the Philippines. Madin, of the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said the sea is at the heart of the "coral triangle" bordered by the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia _ a region recognized by scientists as having a high degree of biological diversity. The deepest part of the Celebes Sea is 16,500 feet. The team was able to explore to a depth of about 9,100 feet using a remotely operated camera.
Fifteen elder care, elder law, and senior advocacy groups announced today the formation of the Assisted Living Consumer Alliance. ALCA will be a national non-profit organization advocating for stronger consumer protections for assisted living residents. The ALCA website – www.assistedlivingconsumers.org – provides news and information for both consumers and professionals, including consumer advice and summaries of each state’s assisted living rules.
Unfortunately, most consumers know little about assisted living care. Assisted living standards vary greatly from state to state and usually give a great deal of discretion to individual facilities. Assisted living has received scant attention from the federal government.
Too frequently, assisted living rules and policies are based on the facility’s convenience rather than the residents’ needs and preferences. Assisted living residents are vulnerable to a host of serious problems, ranging from medication mismanagement to inadequate health care to financial or physical abuse. The absence of national standards, combined with uneven state standards, results in consumers often not having adequate recourse when problems occur, even when those problems result in injury or eviction.
Assisted living is the fastest growing type of senior housing. Currently, over one million Americans live in assisted living facilities. Assisted living increasingly is taking the place of nursing home care for many older Americans who no longer are able to live safely on their own due to increased frailty or dementia.
ALCA’s President, Eric Carlson, stated: “Consumer voices are vitally important in making sure that assisted living facilities provide adequate care to their vulnerable residents.” Vice-President Toby S. Edelman added, “Assisted living care is too frequently substandard. ALCA and its members are working for necessary reforms, including appropriate standards and meaningful oversight.”
The fifteen founding members of the Alliance are Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles, CA, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Citizens for Better Care, Coalition of Institutionalized Aged & Disabled, Long Term Care Community Coalition, Michigan Campaign for Quality Care, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Association of Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, National Association of State Ombudsman Programs, NCCNHR (formerly, National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform), National Senior Citizens Law Center, Ohio State Ombudsman Office, Resident Councils of Washington, and the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.
More info: http://www.assistedlivingconsumers.org/
THE FUTURE OF SUPPORT FOR LOW-INCOME OLDER ADULTS
October 19, 2007
Barbara Jordan Conference Center * Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington, DC
8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration
9:00 - 9:15 a.m. Welcome Michael Kelly & Judith Stein
National Senior Citizens Law Center & Center for Medicare Advocacy
9:15 - 10:45 a.m. Is the Social Safety Net for Low Income Older People in the U.S Unraveling, Or Likely to Come Unraveled for the Next Generation?
MODERATOR: Michael Kelly
This presentation assesses the current safety net for older Americans and provides a framework for estimating the extent to which it faces deterioration in the future. Our ability to predict the future of low-income elders in the coming decades has important implications for the future of Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. The decline or demise of the traditional defined-benefit pension and the relentless escalation in health care costs as a percent of personal budgets are two phenomena amongst, perhaps, many more that affect low-income people in particular. Do these two phenomena suggest that the low-income portion of the growing cohort of U.S. elderly will enlarge significantly, regardless of the uncertain fiscal and political futures of both Medicaid and Medicare?
Demographic Trends Among Low-Income Older Americans: Analysis And Implications
PRESENTERS: Tricia Neuman, Kaiser Family Foundation (15 minutes) Marilyn Moon, American Institutes for Research
COMMENTATORS: Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
10:45 - 11:00 a.m. BREAK
11:00 - 2:30 p.m. What Are The Appropriate And Most Efficient Roles For the Public and Private Sectors In Implementation Of Social Policy For Older People?
MODERATOR: Judith Stein
The second segment of the conference focuses on discussing the relative roles for public and private sectors in the implementation of social policy for older Americans. Participants have a rich set of experiences and knowledge with the issues in altering the financing of Social Security and in the lessons learned from government outsourcing to private Medicaid and Medicare private plans. What are the criteria, or the relative merits, or the appropriate conditions for deployment of private and public means of providing public benefits to low income people? Participants will review how best to understand the role and value of "choice" in relation to social policy for people of modest means.
11:00 - Noon Part I: Lessons Learned From Administering Public-Private Delivery Systems
PRESENTER: Bruce Vladeck, former Administrator of HCFA (CMS); now interim president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (30 minutes) AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Noon-1:00 p.m. LUNCH
1:00-2:30 p.m. Part II: Issues in Public and Private Sector Implementation of Health and Income Programs PRESENTER: Theodore Marmor, Yale University (30 minutes)
COMMENTATORS: Barbara Kennelly, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
Vicki Gottlich, Center for Medicare Advocacy; Kevin Prindiville, National Senior Citizens Law Center; Bruce Vladeck
2:30- 2:45 p.m. BREAK
2:45-4:15 p.m. What is the Role of the Courts and of Advocates in the Realization of Social Policy for Low-income Older People?
MODERATOR: Michael Kelly
The third segment of the conference is an effort to identify and highlight the critical role of advocates and the courts in working or weeding out legislative and administrative ambiguities and/or misinterpretations of social policy for the older people in the United States. The natural reluctance of people in and outside of government to deal with the legal and administrative complexities of social policy implementation has led analysts and policy makers to under-appreciate how significant a role courts play in the system. This segment will focus on the impact of advocacy on the implementation of safety net programs and the role of the courts and the way in which changing legal doctrines in the federal courts have come to affect the implementation of Medicaid, Medicare, and other social programs.
PRESENTER: Simon Lazarus, National Senior Citizens Law Center
COMMENTATORS: Tim Jost, Washington and Lee University Law School; Sally Hart & Gill Deford, Center for Medicare Advocacy; Gerald McIntyre, National Senior Citizens Law Center
4:15-5:00 p.m. Wrap-up and Next Steps
MODERATORS: Michael Kelly and Judith Stein
5:00-6:30 p.m. Reception
Come January, Social Security benefits for nearly 50 million Americans are going up 2.3 percent, the smallest increase in four years. It will mean an extra $24 per month in the average check, the government announced Wednesday. The cost of living adjustment means that the monthly benefit for the typical retired worker in 2008 will go from $1,055 currently to $1,079 next year. The adjustment, announced by the Social Security Administration, will go to more than 54 million Americans. Nearly 50 million receive Social Security benefits and the rest get Supplemental Security Income payments aimed at helping the poor.
Source/more: Minneapolis Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/484/story/1490199.html
Official announcement from the SSA: http://ssa.gov/pressoffice/pr/2008cola-pr.htm
2008 Social Security Fact Sheet: http://ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/colafacts2008.htm
New scientific research suggests that drinking tea may lower an individual's risk of developing dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. This and other new research that suggests drinking tea may improve and maintain brain health and function was presented at the recent Fourth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health in Washington. The body of research shows that tea probably directly impacts brain health by maintaining cell function and assisting in the repair of damaged cells, says Carol Greenwood, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. "Drinking tea may further help because it reduces the risk of developing other disorders which increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia," she says.
Despite potential tax and investment problems, more investors have been borrowing from their 401(k) plans or taking hardship withdrawals in recent months, some retirement plan providers say. Many in the field expect more borrowing in 2008, as consumers struggle with tighter credit and potentially higher mortgage payments. "I don't think it's a groundswell but it's enough to be noticed," said Rick Meigs, president of 401khelpcenter.com, which provides information on 401(k) plans. Increased borrowing on 401(k)s could be because of the credit crunch and slumping housing prices. To be sure, the indications are preliminary; it's too early to say why it's happening, according to the Hartford Financial Services Group. Borrowing against your retirement nest egg may seem tempting but it presents a host of problems. It could significantly reduce your savings at retirement and create an expensive tax bill if you can't repay the loan when it's due.
Source and more: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/yourmoney/chi-ym-borrowing-1014oct14,0,5181066.story
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri rejected criticism by the Israel Medical Association of the new members of the committee that will recommend new medications and medical technologies for the 2008 health services basket. The health funds must provide these drugs and technologies to members who need them, at state expense. IMA Chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar, a member of the new basket committee, attacked the choice of nominees and called the committee an "impotent" body chosen according to the Treasury's directives. "These are dark days for the health system," he said, adding that the IMA would consider whether to participate at all in the committee. Blachar said that seven of the 16 members were state employees who might have a conflict of interest. In the previous committee, only three of 21 received their salaries from the government. "There is no representative of patients' groups, no social economist, no expert for general ethics matters and no representation of many medical fields, such as family physicians. And there is no hospital director," he noted.