Friday, October 10, 2014

Substance Abuse-No Age Limits

Although some think substance abuse is a problem for the young, a recent story in the New York Times dispels that thought. More Older Adults Are Struggling With Substance Abuse ran October 3, 2014  looks at the number of elders who are substance abusers-whether drugs or alcohol. The numbers are surprising:

An estimated 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and this number is expected to reach 5.7 million by 2020, according to a study in the journal “Addiction.” In 2008, 231,200 people over 50 sought treatment for substance abuse, up from 102,700 in 1992, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency.

Although alcohol abuse seems to rank first,  the "rate of illicit drug use among adults 50 to 64 increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 6.0 percent in 2013" according to the story. The article mentions several studies, not only looking at the extent of the abuse, but the reasons behind these addictions. Although for some, retirement may be a catalyst, many times it is not the sole reason, "'with the conditions leading to retirement, and the economic and social nature of the retirement itself, having a far greater impact on substance use than simple retirement itself..."'  Some of the "firsts" experienced in later life, such as deaths of spouses and friends, may be a contributing factor that requires "coping skills" these folks haven't had to yet possess.

The article also touches on the potential lack of doctor training on dealing with elder patients with substance abuse issues, and notes some symptoms associated with dementia may have similar symptoms to those of addictions.

October 10, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Food and Drink, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Update on the Dispute about Elders "Overstaying" Their Welcome at McDonald's in Queens

Last week I wrote about a dispute involving a gathering spot for elderly Koreans at a McDonald's restaurant in Flushing, New York.  The owners were trying to eject the seniors, arguing that they weren't ordering food and had turned the seating into a defacto senior center that wasn't pleasing to other patrons.  In response, supporters of the seniors were calling for a boycott. 

On Sunday, communities leaders announced a settlement of the dispute, with the owner agreeing the seniors can stay as long they want, except from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Stacy Torres, a PhD student at NYU, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on the controversy, arguing we should encourage public-private partnerships that benefit older adults and businesses.  She concludes: "Battles over public spaces are as old as the city itself, but we have an opportunity to reimagine overlooked resources like McDonald's as new generations of older people find themselves needing places to hang out."

January 22, 2014 in Ethical Issues, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 17, 2014

NORC + Mickey D's = Problem?

Recently I blogged about NORCs (for Naturally Recurring Retirement Communities) and Villages, two community-based models for aging in place that are popping up around the country, often in larger cities.  Apparently the label "NORC" could also be applied to a not-so "natural" retirement setting -- your local McDonald's restaurant. 

According to the New York Times, that's what's been happening in Flushing, New York, where a group of elderly Korean men and women have been gathering to socialize, starting as early as 5 a.m. and staying on well into the evening hours.   The restaurant owners were not happy, especially as the size of the group increased and members weren't placing orders. Management eventually called the police, seeking removal of those who seemingly ignored posted time limits, requests to vacate or stronger language.  Now politicians and television cameras are involved:

"Whether the Koreans, many in their 70s and 80s, were right or wrong to spend their days at the restaurant, arriving as early as 5 a.m. and paying as little as $1.09 for a cup of coffee during their daylong stays, seemed not to matter much to the small but vocal group protesting against McDonald’s before an assortment of television cameras and photographers. What seemed to nettle the Korean community most was the perception that in asking police officers to remove the group, the business had been rude."

The New York Times coverage of the on-going dispute seems to suggest that heritage and cultural traditions play a part in the "imbroglio," interviewing "Officer Hee-Jin Park-Dance from the Community Affairs Bureau of the Police Department [who] works out of Flushing. She said: “In Korea or any other Asian cultures, the elder is treated like gold. When you see an elder you get up, you give a seat right away. It’s a sign of respect.”

January 17, 2014 in Ethical Issues, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PTSD may hit some vets late in life

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.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

November 13, 2013 in Food and Drink, Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Memory Cafes: Hanging Out in a Judgment Free Zone -- with Good Coffee

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.  

October 22, 2013 in Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Food and Drink, Games, Music | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Waiting Game: Food Insecurity for Older Adults

In the October 14 issue of The Nation, writer Trudy Lieberman's article on "The Real Hunger Games" describes the struggle of a 64 year-old widow for food:

"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.

September 30, 2013 in Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Food and Drink, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Arizona Tops 50-State Ranking Of Disability Services

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. 

 

June 6, 2012 in Discrimination, Food and Drink, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NCOA webinar to discuss SNAP food program and seniors, 3/20 and 3/22

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.

Presenters:

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.

Register here: http://www.ncoa.org/enhance-economic-security/center-for-benefits/webinars.html

March 14, 2012 in Food and Drink | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Food security remains critical issue for seniors

The recently released report, "Household Food Security in the United States, 2008" from the United States Department of Agriculture reinforces a recent report issued by the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) at a Congressional briefing on November 19, 2009 entitled "Senior Hunger in the United States: Differences across State and Rural Urban Areas", which indicated that the total number of food insecure older adults increased in 2008 as well. In fact, since 1990, the overall percentage of food insecure older adults has increased, and there are thousands more food insecure older adults that range from those who worry about whether they will have enough money to buy food to those who cut down on the variety and kinds of food they eat to those who skip meals altogether. The full report can be downloaded at http://www.mowaa.org/hungerbystate

January 11, 2010 in Food and Drink | Permalink | TrackBack (0)