Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Via the Chicago Tribune:
As Vietnam veterans age, many discover they have more time to contemplate their lives. The time for reflection — as well as retirement, reunions with war buddies and the deaths of loved ones — can stir memories from a long-ago war. An estimated 2.7 million men and women served in Vietnam; Their average age is 64, according to Vietnam Veterans of America. "Most are approaching retirement," said Tom Berger, director of the health council at Vietnam Veterans of America. "Once they retire, their spouse has passed and the kids have left home, without that structure, they begin to think about things." Anniversary dates and holidays such as Veterans Day may begin to bother people. But even when a veteran seeks treatment late in life, experts say, in many cases the post-traumatic stress disorder had been there all along.
That was likely the case for Steve Aoyagi, 63, of Des Plaines, who said that when he returned from war, he struggled with anger and anxiety. To deal with those feelings, he said, "I buried myself in my work. I worked 50 to 60 hours a week. A lot of overtime. Whatever time I didn't spend at work, I would occupy myself with my kids." When a neuromuscular disorder forced him to retire in 2002, he began thinking more about the war. "I started having nightmares about the time I spent in Vietnam. The bombs we dropped, the people who were left behind, my best friend getting killed, not being there for him." When his son deployed to Afghanistan, Aoyagi began to dream of the body bags that were once loaded onto his C-130 aircraft in Vietnam. In his dreams, he looked down at one of the bags and realized it carried the body of his son.
Now, he goes to group therapy three times a week at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. "The way that I'm dealing with my PTSD now — this is so true for the others — is by occupying my time," he said. "Keeping busy keeps me going."
Memories form a complex web of images and emotions. It's hard to know how one event might trigger recollections from decades before, experts say. At Lovell, more Vietnam veterans are reporting symptoms of late-onset PTSD. "I think that's due to the fact that Vietnam veterans are at an age when they're experiencing more loss and all the life changes that can be triggers," said Anthony Peterson, who runs the center's treatment programs for post-traumatic stress. The passing of a spouse can stoke feelings of survivor guilt. A serious illness can force a veteran to confront death in the same way he once did in Vietnam.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
On yesterday's ride over the Blue Mountains between my Law School's campus in Carlisle and the campus in State College, I caught a great public radio program, interviewing folks at a "Memory Cafe."
As anyone involved in care for a person with dementia knows, especially those who are "stuck" at home, it can be a challenge. Both the caregiver and the cared-for person could use a good break now and then.
That's where the concept of Memory Cafes come in -- a place where folks won't judge about how Alzheimer's or similar cognitive impairments might affect the ability to have a traditional conversation. Where canes and walkers are welcome. A place that is warm and friendly. Where people understand -- and can share a laugh, along with good coffee.
From Wisconsin Public Radio, here's a bit of history and a description of a cafe in Appleton, Wisconsin:
“'Memory Cafes' got their start in the Netherlands and are common now both there and in England. They are 'judgment-free zones' for people with mild dementia or memory loss.
About a dozen people gathered last week at a cafe session at a coffee shop in Appleton. John McFadden is a co-coordinator of the memory cafe and plays the ukulele to welcome participants. Betty Ann Nelson came with her husband, Duane. The Nelsons have been married 58 years and have attended several cafe sessions since they began earlier this year."
Some sessions might involve activities, such as a program called "Time Slips" where participants pass around amusing photos and are invited to tell the story. One photo showed nuns on bumper cars at an amusement park, leading a customer to describe them as "Holy Rollers."
For more on the concept, follow the links on Wisconsin Public Radio to listen to this radio account.
Monday, September 30, 2013
"Perdue tried to get help from Meals on Wheels Atlanta. In mid-April of 2012, she was twenty-seventh on a waiting list of 120. In November, she was still on the list, which had grown to 198. Her daughter finally found another program.
Such is the world of food rationing for the elderly—the hidden hunger few ever see. Tenille Johnson, one of two case managers at Meals on Wheels Atlanta, said there were others on the list who were even more in need than Perdue. In 2012, the program served 106,000 meals—up from 84,000 three years before—and it will serve about 114,000 this year. “We’ve been able to up our game and reduce the waiting list to between 145 and 160 seniors, but the need has outpaced us,” says executive director Jeffrey Smythe. “The numbers are going up more quickly than we projected. We have waiting lists all over the metro Atlanta area, even in suburban counties.”
The Nation writer first reported on underfunding for programs assisting home-bound elderly in 1998. "Little has changed in the last fifteen years," she reports. Except, as her article demonstrates in detail, the need is greater, on a nation-wide basis.
"The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging says nearly 60 percent of all Older Americans Act programs had waiting lists in 2010, but the ones for home-delivered meals are particularly urgent, since food is so basic to good health."
Remember the Older Americans Act (OAA), first enacted in 1965? Meals on Wheels was once a core component of OAA's programming, and administered to the states through Area Agencies on Aging. Charities, churches and other nonprofits have not been able to cover the gap in funding. As discussed earlier on this Blog, Congress still has not reauthorized the OAA,and as Lieberman's article demonstrates, there are very real consequences to Congressional gridlock and Congress's failure to address even uncontroversial programs while rehashing party-politics on the Affordable Care Act.
Hat tip to Kevin Schock, Penn State Law, for spotting this timely article.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Via United Cerebal Palsy:
Arizona’s Medicaid program provides the best services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a national ranking released Wednesday.
The annual list produced by United Cerebral Palsy compares services and quality of life for people with disabilities all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Arizona, Michigan, California, New Hampshire and Vermont came in at the top of the list this year. Meanwhile, for the sixth year in a row, Mississippi was dead last, with Illinois, Arkansas and Texas rounding out the low performers. (Find out where your state stands »)
The analysis looks at a number of factors including the way people with disabilities live and participate in their communities in each state, how satisfied people are with their lives and how easily they are able to access services and supports. The latest ranking is based primarily on data from 2010, the most recent available. Even though some states outperformed others in the ranking, those behind the report caution that all states have room for improvement. They point out that 268,000 Americans with disabilities are currently on waiting lists for Medicaid waivers which would allow them to receive home and community based services. On a positive note, however, the analysis found that in 36 states at least 80 percent of residents with developmental disabilities are now being served in the community.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Five million seniors will experience hunger this year, but only 1 out of every 3 eligible seniors receives SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).
In this webinar, we will discuss:
- The basics of the SNAP benefit.
- Why seniors don’t apply for SNAP and what aging network advocates can do about it.
- Opportunities to expand your resources to help older adults obtain this valuable benefit.
Nora Dowd Eisenhower, Vice President, Center for Benefits Access
Lura Barber, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Benefits Access
This Webinar will be offered twice:
Tuesday, March 20th at 3:00 PM eastern daylight time
Thursday, March 22nd at 10 AM eastern daylight time.
Monday, January 11, 2010