Monday, May 1, 2017

Next Up For Senate Committee on Aging

I blogged a few days ago about an upcoming hearing for the Senate Committee on Aging.  That hearing,  on April 27, 2017, concerned the Mental and Physical Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness.   Testimonies from the hearing can be accessed here.

The April 27, 2017 hearing was the first of two parts looking into the issue. As noted in the first hearing

The risks of social isolation and loneliness compare with smoking and alcohol consumption and exceed those associated with physical inactivity and obesity. According to researchers, prolonged isolation is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Isolation and loneliness are associated with higher rates of heart disease; weakened immune system; depression and anxiety; dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease; and nursing home admissions.

The next hearing is set for May 10, 2017 and will focus on Aging With Community: Building Connections that Last a Lifetime.

May 1, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink

CMS Reversing Course? Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clauses

Late last week I learned that CMS may be reversing course on prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home admission contracts.  I couldn't decide if my response should be "say it isn't so" or "you have got to be kidding me". Nevertheless, Justice in Aging reported in their weekly newsletter, This Week in Health Care Defense  that:

CMS Backtracks on Nursing Home Arbitration Prohibition

As part of last year’s revision of nursing facility regulations, CMS prohibited federally-certified nursing facilities from obtaining arbitration agreements at the time of admission. CMS concluded that it was unfair to have residents and families waive legal rights during such a difficult and chaotic time. Now, however, CMS has reversed course and has filed language that would revise the regulation to allow facilities to obtain arbitration agreements at admission. For more on the revised regulations, see the series of issue briefs developed by Justice in Aging in partnership with the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care.

Serious bummer.

May 1, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare, Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Webinar: Elder Financial Abuse & Medicaid Denials

Justice in Aging has announced a free webinar for May 17th, 2017 from 2-3 edt on Elder Financial Abuse & Medicaid Denials.   Here is a description of the webinar

Financial exploitation can devastate low-income older adults, especially those who rely on Medicaid for their health and long-term care. For example, older adults who are victims of financial abuse may be denied eligibility for Medicaid because their abuser won’t turn over their bank records. Without Medicaid eligibility, the older adult may be threatened with eviction or involuntary discharge from a nursing home because of nonpayment. Legal services are critical to helping older victims of financial exploitation receive the medical care and services to which they are entitled. Join us for Elder Financial Abuse and Medicaid Denials to learn how to identify victims of elder financial abuse, what problems this exploitation can cause for Medicaid eligibility, and how legal services attorneys can help their older clients receive the benefits they need and prevent future problems accessing Medicaid.

To register for the webinar,https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5875005469626032643?source=SALSA.  Did I mention, it's free!

April 26, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Senate Committee on Aging Hearing April 27

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has a hearing scheduled for April 27, 2017 starting at 9:45 a.m. The topic of the hearing: Aging Without Community: The Consequences of Isolation and Loneliness.   Four witnesses are scheduled to testify, including two academics and the head of a Council on Aging from Pima County, Arizona. Video of testimony and resources will be posted to the committee's hearings website subsequently. Stay tuned.

 

April 25, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Living Life to the Fullest With Alzheimer's?

Last week Kaiser Health News (one of my favorite go-to sites) ran this story, How To Help Alzheimer’s Patients Enjoy Life, Not Just ‘Fade Away’. The article opens explaining that Alzheimer's is #1 on the list of diseases folks in the U.S. most fear.  The loss of self is a big part of that fear. However, "a sizable body of research suggests this Alzheimer’s narrative is mistaken. It finds that people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia retain a sense of self and have a positive quality of life, overall, until the illness’s final stages... They appreciate relationships. They’re energized by meaningful activities and value opportunities to express themselves. And they enjoy feeling at home in their surroundings."

Just how many folks with Alzheimer's have a good quality of life? According to Dr. Peter Rabins,      "[o]verall, about one-quarter of people with dementia report a negative quality of life, although that number is higher in people with severe disease.”  What are the implications of this? To make sure that folks with Alzheimer's have a quality of life, "[promote] well-being [which] is both possible and desirable in people with dementia, even as people struggle with memory loss, slower cognitive processing, distractibility and other symptoms."

Folks with severe or end-stage Alzheimer's present a different challenge. For others, the article suggests the following: emphasis social connections, maximize physical health, improve communications, respond to unmet needs, and give deference to individuality and autonomy.

"None of this is easy. But strategies for understanding what people with dementia experience and addressing their needs can be taught. This should become a priority, Rabins said, adding that 'improved quality of life should be a primary outcome of all dementia treatments.'"

April 24, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Homeward Bound: Modern Families, Elder Care, and Loss

I had mentioned a new book on Monday at the bottom of my post, congratulating the authors, Naomi Cahn and Amy Ziettlow.  The book, Homeward Bound: Modern Families, Elder Care, and Loss is published by Oxford University Press (April 2017) and runs 240 pages. The book is available to order from a number of book sellers.  Last week the authors wrote  on the Institute for Family Studies blog explaining the background of and catalyst for this book. Homeward Bound: Lessons on Modern Families and Elder Care

In 2010, we began the Homeward Bound project, hoping to study the intersection of modern families and elder care because we saw, all around us, how elder care is changing. Seven years later, it is exciting to see the results of the project in the form of a published book, Homeward Bound: Modern Families, Elder Care, and Loss, and to share some of what we learned in this post.

The catalyst for the project was a conversation with a dear friend of ours, Julie, whose Baby Boomer parents are divorced; each parent then remarried and divorced again. One of Julie’s ex-stepparents—her ex-stepmother Tina—was about to undergo critical surgery, and Julie didn’t know what to do. Tina had been married to Julie’s father for 15 years, starting when Julie was a toddler. While Julie was growing up, she spent holidays with her father and Tina. After the divorce, Julie no longer visited Tina, but they remained in regular contact by phone and email over the years. Julie fondly remembers how Tina mothered her during childhood illnesses and crises, and she felt some responsibility for Tina, especially since Tina had no children of her own. However, Julie felt overwhelmed as she thought of handling all of the medical, financial, and legal caretaking that her parents, stepparents, and ex-stepparents would need from her as they aged. Julie, who also has two young children, explained that she simply was not prepared financially or emotionally to care for all the people who might need her—and she felt alone in her worries, with few resources and little support.

So that explains the reasons and inspiration for the book.  As far as what the authors learned, they explain the 3 lessons:

  1. Families shape the quality of the elder care and grieving experience of grown children...
  2. Formal planning helps facilitate a positive experience.... and
  3. Families rely on medical, legal, and religious professionals to begin and guide the decision-making conversation in a way that is catered to their unique structure....

But, overall they learned there is room for hope but a need for action. "Many family members showed great resilience in finding ways to understand each other, to work together to each contribute something to the care process, and to decide that they would remain a family after the death of one of its members. In other families, the lack of shared norms and an absence of experienced professional support meant that caretaking and grief became a time of division, rather than unity. But, as we also learned, the time to plan is now."

Congratulations Naomi and Amy!

April 18, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Register Now: Webinar on Fundamentals of SNT Administration

Registration is now open for Stetson's annual Fundamentals of SNT Administration webinar.  This half-day webinar is scheduled for May 5, 2017 from 1-5 p.m.  The 4 speakers will cover topics on how to become a SNT administrator,  Tax issues when making distributions, services and products a SNT administrator can provide, and an update on the laws, regs and POMS.  The agenda is available here and registration is available here. (you can register online and fill out and submit a pdf). 

Full disclosure, I'm the conference chair. Hope to see you virtually at this webinar!

April 13, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Elders with Depression & who Self-Neglect

NAPSA and NCPEA have released a research to practice brief on Correlates of Depression in Self-Neglecting Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study Examining the Role of Alcohol Abuse & Pain in Increasing Vulnerability Here is the summary from this one page brief:

Older adults with confirmed self-neglect report high rates of depressive symptoms. It has been estimated that between 50-62% of older adults with confirmed self-neglect suffer from at least sub-clinical levels of depressive symptomatology. Depressive symptoms in this population have been linked to untreated medical conditions. Further study is needed to understand the association between elder self-neglect and depressive symptoms, including studies determining potential correlates of depression in this population. Identifying such correlates could inform clinical social work and other mental health approaches for reducing depressive symptoms and self-neglect behaviors in this population. The cur-rent cross-sectional study reviewed a host of self-reported cognitive, functional, demo-graphic and clinical measures and identified a positive history of alcohol abuse, low self-rated health and pain as significant correlates of depressive symptomatology in older adults with Adult Protective Services (APS) validated self-neglect. Those with a positive screen for prior alcohol abuse were approximately 3 times more likely to have at least sub-clinical depression (Geriatric Depression Scale-15 >4). Having lower self-rated health was associated with a 53% increase in the likelihood of reporting at least sub-clinical depression. Reporting pain was associated with a 37% increase in the likelihood of reporting at least sub-clinical depression. These findings did not allow for establishing a temporal direction between depression, history of alcohol abuse, low self-rated health or pain. Nevertheless, they do provide insight into possible targets for improving out-comes in elder self-neglect populations given their evidence-based associations with both depression and self-management activities including accessing healthcare and completing activities critical for safety and protection.

April 12, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 7, 2017

More Issue Briefs on the Revised Nursing Home Regs

Justice in Aging, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care have issued two more issue briefs on the revised nursing home regs CMS released last year.

The first brief is on visitation rights and is available here.  This is the executive summary for this brief: 

The revised nursing facility regulations affirm the rights of residents to receive visitors of their choosing at the time of their choosing, and require the facility to provide immediate access to the resident in accordance with the regulations. Access to spouses and domestic partners now specifically includes same-sex spouses and domestic partners.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services maintained the resident’s right to deny or withdraw consent for visitation of family members, other relatives, and other visitors at any time. The facility must ensure all visitors have full and equal visitation privileges (subject to resident preferences) and not discriminate against visitors based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.

The resident representative is added to the list of people and government representatives who have immediate and unrestricted access to the resident. However, visits from non-family visitors are now subject to "reasonable clinical and safety restrictions," which is a change from "reasonable restrictions."

The revised regulations require the facility to have a written visitation policy and inform residents of their visitation rights, the facility policy, any restrictions, the reasons for the restrictions, and to whom the restrictions apply.

The second issue brief is on rehabilitation services and is available here.  Here is the executive summary

The substantive requirements for specialized rehabilitative services are largely unchanged from the prior version of the regulations, with the exception of "respiratory therapy," which is added to the list of services that a facility must provide to its residents who need them. In responding to a question regarding whether respiratory therapy should include ventilator care, CMS emphasized that a nursing facility is obligated to meet residents’ needs.

Thanks to these 3 organizations for providing all of us with this very helpful information!

 

April 7, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Adult Kids & Their Parents in Senior Housing

We all know about housing for elders, whether a CCRC, independent living, age-restricted housing, active adult housing, whatever one calls it. I was interested in this article from Kaiser Health News that discusses older adult children moving into the same housing complex for elders as their parents. Boomerang Seniors: Aging Adults Move To Be Near Mom Or Dad covers how the aging adult kids, whether members of the Boomer or Silent generations, are caring for their elder parents, and doing so by living nearby in the same housing complex.

Caregiving for an older family member is not what it was when first studied and coined as the “sandwich generation,” those people squeezed between aging parents and young children, said Amy Horowitz, a professor of social work at Fordham University in New York City.

“Now it’s the children who are on the verge of retirement or who have retired and are still having responsibility of older parents,” she said. “In New York City, I know somebody whose almost-90-year-old mother is living in the same apartment building. It becomes, how do you balance your own life?”

These very old parent and elder child relationships seem to be increasing, according to the article. It makes sense, when you consider the fastest growing segment of the population is the 85+ group. So with all of us living longer, the reality is that the children are past retirement age and caring for a parent who is in that "old-old" age cohort.

The article profiles some folks who have made this move.  One couple profiled "are great-grandparents. Yet they’re among a growing group of seniors with a living parent, which means these 21st-century post-retirement years might well include parental caretaking. Expectations are altered amid the new reality of longer life expectancy and growing numbers of aged Americans."  One expert interviewed for the article describes this trend as "aging together". The highlights advantages to such arrangements such as the adult child not having to drive to visit mom.

April 5, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Drive to End Hunger

The AARP Foundation Drive to End Hunger with their ambassador, Jeff Gordon, "is committed to solving the hunger crisis among older Americans." The commercial is available on You Tube. If you haven't thought about the issue of hunger amongst older Americans, you will be shocked when you look at the data. For example, over ten million folks age 50 and older are in danger of being hungry. As well, the costs of health care resulting from food insecurity is in the billions (yes billions). The website offers the opportunity to volunteer, donate and resources.

Here's some background about the initiative

Since 2011, AARP Foundation’s Drive to End Hunger campaign has been raising awareness about the problem of food insecurity among older adults, meeting the immediate daily food needs of hungry seniors, and working to establish permanent solutions to end senior hunger once and for all. Through a collaboration with NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick of Hendrick Motorsports, four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne, and both public and private sector organizations, Drive to End Hunger has donated more than 37 million meals to help feed hungry seniors across the country.

March 30, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Book from the National Academies on the Workforce Supporting Elders

The National Academies Press has released a new book, Strengthening the Workforce to Support Community Living and Participation for Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities: Proceedings of a Workshop.  The book can be downloaded for free as a pdf or purchased as a hard copy .It can also be read online.  Here is the description of the publication:

As the demographics of the United States shift toward a population that is made up of an increasing percentage of older adults and people with disabilities, the workforce that supports and enables these individuals is also shifting to meet the demands of this population. For many older adults and people with disabilities, their priorities include maximizing their independence, living in their own homes, and participating in their communities. In order to meet this population’s demands, the workforce is adapting by modifying its training, by determining how to coordinate among the range of different professionals who might play a role in supporting any one older adult or individual with disabilities, and by identifying the ways in which technology might be helpful.

To better understand how the increasing demand for supports and services will affect the nation’s workforce, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a public workshop in June 2016, in Washington, DC. Participants aimed to identify how the health care workforce can be strengthened to support both community living and community participation for adults with disabilities and older adults. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

March 29, 2017 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pre-Hospice Helps Keep People Home

I'd previously blogged about special EMTs that can help avoid trips to the ER for certain folks near the end of life.  Kaiser Health News recently ran a story about "pre-hospice":  ‘Pre-Hospice’ Saves Money By Keeping People At Home Near The End Of Life. The article explains the problem and one company's solution:

Most aging people would choose to stay home in their last years of life. But for many, it doesn’t work out: They go in and out of hospitals, getting treated for flare-ups of various chronic illnesses. It’s a massive problem that costs the health care system billions of dollars and has galvanized health providers, hospital administrators and policymakers to search for solutions.

Sharp HealthCare, the San Diego health system where [one individual] receives care, has devised a way to fulfill [the patient's] wishes and reduce costs at the same time. It’s a pre-hospice program called Transitions, designed to give elderly patients the care they want at home and keep them out of the hospital.

How does this pre-hospice work? The article explains it. "Social workers and nurses from Sharp regularly visit patients in their homes to explain what they can expect in their final years, help them make end-of-life plans and teach them how to better manage their diseases. Physicians track their health and scrap unnecessary medications. Unlike hospice care, patients don’t need to have a prognosis of six months or less, and they can continue getting curative treatment for their illnesses, not just for symptoms."

The article suggests that the need for pre-hospice programs will only grow in the near future as the Boomers keep growing older and older. But there are obstacles and one in particular is huge. If you guessed money, you'd be right. "[A] huge barrier stands in the way of pre-hospice programs: There is no clear way to pay for them. Health providers typically get paid for office visits and procedures, and hospitals still get reimbursed for patients in their beds. The services provided by home-based palliative care don’t fit that model."

The article discusses the need for and importance of palliative care, other innovations and the catalyst for the pre-hospice program.  Delving into the advantages of the pre-hospice program and how it works for patients.  The article notes that not only will there be an increased need for programs to keep folks at home, in addition to the payment hurdle, there are "not enough trained providers are available. And some doctors are unfamiliar with the approach, and patients may be reluctant, especially those who haven’t clearly been told they have a terminal diagnosis." And, of course, what will Congress do about health insurance, including Medicare.

Stay tuned.

March 28, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Planning for End of Life: the 4 Ws and the Conversation Project

Amos Goodall sent me a link to an article he recently wrote, How to plan for end-of-life wishes.  Referencing the Conversation Project,  Amos writes about how important it is for a client to let others know what the client wants.

These questions boil down to the four Ws:

▪ Who should speak for you when you can’t?

▪ What should they be saying?

▪ When do you want these issues raised? 

▪ Where do you want to spend your final time — at home or in a hospital?

Essentially, you need to let folks know how you want to live your life at its end.

After discussing the law, Amos turns back to the Conversation Project and references the toolkit that is available and notes that his firm has adapted some resources for their clients which anyone can access via his firm's website.

According to the project's website, the purpose of the Conversation Project is "to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care." The project offers a 12 page starter kit (available in 8 languages) as well as a 16 page toolkit on choosing and being a health care proxy. There's a 20 page starter kit for those who have a family member or significant other with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and an 11 page kit for talking to the patient's doctor. There's also one when the patient is your child.

 

 

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Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/living/article139165628.html#storylink=cpy

 

March 27, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nursing Home Regs: Admission

Justice in Aging has released a new brief on the revised nursing home regulations this one focusing on admissions,  A Closer Look at the Revised Nursing Facility Regulations Admission. Here's the executive summary:

The revised regulations broadly prohibit facilities from using admission agreements or other documents that waive a resident’s rights. A resident cannot waive the protections of federal nursing facility law, or protections derived from any state or local nursing facility law. A resident also cannot waive his or her right to Medicare or Medicaid coverage, or any responsibility that the facility may have for the resident’s personal property. A facility cannot obligate a family member or friend to become liable for the nursing facility bill, although the facility can require the resident’s agent to agree to pay the resident’s money for the nursing facility expenses. The revised regulations prohibit pre-dispute arbitration agreements, but this consumer protection currently is blocked by a court order. Prior to admission, a facility must give notice of any special characteristics or service limitations.

The brief concludes with 4 suggestions for advocates and residents: careful review of the contract, sign the contract after residency in the SNF has begun, contest contract paragraphs that are improper and get a lawyer.

March 22, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Health Care Bill & Impact on Elders

It's not final, it's not been passed, and changes are likely, but the current health care bill, known as the American Health Care Act, has a significant impact on elders.  Last week's CBO report engendered a lot of discussion about the impact of this new health care proposal. The New York Times ran an article last week discussing it, No Magic in How G.O.P. Plan Lowers Premiums: It Pushes Out Older People.  The article explains that lower premiums are on the way for some under this proposal. But, the way the lower premiums are achieved? "[T]he way the bill achieves those lower average premiums has little to do with increased choice and competition. It depends, rather, on penalizing older patients and rewarding younger ones. According to the C.B.O. report, the bill would make health insurance so unaffordable for many older Americans that they would simply leave the market and join the ranks of the uninsured."

We know that insurers want to have a broad pool to spread the risk. Typically, "older customers cost substantially more to cover than younger ones because they have more health needs and use their insurance more. By discouraging older people from buying insurance, the plan will lower the average sticker price of care."  Ready for some sticker shock?  Under the proposal, according to the story, the plan "increases the amount that insurers can charge older customers, and it awards flat subsidies by age, up to an income of $75,000. ... On premiums alone, prices would rise by more than 20 percent for the oldest group of customers. By 2026, the budget office projected, 'premiums in the nongroup market would be 20 percent to 25 percent lower for a 21-year-old and 8 percent to 10 percent lower for a 40-year-old — but 20 percent to 25 percent higher for a 64-year-old.'"

The story explains that it's not just the premiums that give the whole picture. Tax credits factor into this as well.  Here is where the real sticker shock comes in. "[T]he change in tax credits matters more. The combined difference in how much extra the older customer would have to pay for health insurance is enormous. The C.B.O. estimates that the price an average 64-year-old earning $26,500 would need to pay after using a subsidy would increase from $1,700 under Obamacare to $14,600 under the Republican plan."  Did you see that-an increase from $1,700 to $14,600...

The article also discusses out of pocket costs and more.  The CBO report in pdf is available here.

The semester is quickly drawing to a close, but the bill could be a basis for an interesting class discussion on social policy, if you have time.

 

March 21, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink

Monday, March 20, 2017

The New Health Care Bill

Wonder what is in the new health care bill?  New Health Plan Broken Down appears in the Centre Daily Times on March 12, 2017. The article is written by Amos Goodall, a prominent elder law attorney (and graduate of Stetson's LL.M. in Elder Law). The article explains changes to the individual mandate (penalty repealed and replaced), preexisting conditions protection (none), age-based premiums (5:1 ratio & will be up to states which ration), cost-sharing subsidies (will be eliminated), over the counter drugs (adding reimbursement from HSA, FSA or Archer MSA), Medicaid expansion (changes financing) and per capita caps.

To read more about these and other proposed changes, click here.

Thanks to Amos for sending me the link to the story.

March 20, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alzheimer's and Marijuana-The Federal Block

I've blogged a couple of times recently about the fight against Alzheimer's disease.  Here's a recent story about research efforts stymied by federal law.  Big Alzheimer's research roadblock: Federal government was published by CNBC on March 9, 2017.   "Promising new research conducted last year at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that marijuana extracts may hold a key to treating Alzheimer's disease. The next step: To conduct tests on mice and, if the results are promising, move on to human trials. But Salk Institute researchers have run into a major hurdle, and not a scientific one: the federal government. The Salk Institute is based in La Jolla, California — a state that legalized marijuana last November — but it is a federally funded research institute."

The story reminds us that although marijuana use may be legal in several states, it's still not ok at the federal level-it's still a controlled substance. And when a research institute like Salk gets federal dollars for research, there's a problem.

So does this mean a dead end for marijuana/Alzheimer's research? Not necessarily. There is a path, but it won't be a quick or guaranteed one. "In order to acquire marijuana for further studies, the lab must first apply to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which carries out the application process jointly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Salk researchers sent in their application in December...."  It takes several months for such a request to be approved.  The article discusses the costs of Alzheimer's disease  (which we have written about in prior posts)

The cost to the economy of caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients was estimated to be about $236 billion in 2016. In 2015 a study funded by the National Institutes of Health estimated that the costs associated with late-stage dementia are greater than for any other disease.

During the last five years of a person with dementia's life, total health-care spending was more than a quarter of a million dollars per person ($287,038), about 57 percent greater than costs associated with death from other diseases, including cancer ($173,383) and heart disease ($175,136).

We all know how important it is to find an effective treatment (or even cure?) for Alzheimer's.  For now, the folks at Salk have to wait to hear if they can move forward.

BTW, those astute readers will notice the url for the story includes the phrase "major buzz kill." To  follow up, I'll close now with some my own pithy phrase,  "dude, serious bummer".  You insert your own pithy phrase here.....

March 17, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Call Congress Today on Medicaid and Medicare

Today is Call Congress About Medicaid day. Here is the information from the Medicare Rights Center:

Tell Congress to protect our care by joining today’s national call-in day. Urge your representative to vote “no” on the American Health Care Act... Call 866-426-2631 to contact your member of Congress.

The message is to vote no for changes to Medicaid and Medicare. The Medicare Rights Center also offers a one page issue brief on the proposed changes to Medicare, available here.

Regardless of your views, it is always important to make  your voice heard.

Thanks to Kim Dayton, the elderlawprof blog founder, for sending me a note on this.

 

March 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink

IBM Tech to Track Mom to Help Her Stay At Home

Last week Business Insider ran a story on IBM's plan to track elders. IBM wants to protect senior citizens by tracking nearly their every move explains that IBM has been spending a lot of time on a project to discover how to help boomers continue to be healthy and happy. "That research has zeroed in on outfitting boomers' living spaces with artificially-intelligent sensors that can measure things like air quality, sleep quality, movement patterns, falls, and changes in scent and sound."  The data derived, according to the article, can help the kids and doctors "provide people with better care when needed. Critically, the sensors could detect when people deviate from a baseline to offer person-specific alerts." 

IBM is ready for beta testing their projects and in fact, the article explains " IBM announced its partnership with Avamere, a senior health care services company. Over the next six months, IBM will use Avamere's assisted living facilities to perform research on prototype sensors... Across three different locations — nursing facilities, assisted living, and independent homes — the sensors will collect data on people's environment and behavior."  This is not all that IBM is developing. IBM is also working with Rice University on a robot, known as MERA (or "the IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (MERA), which the company has been testing at its "Aging in Place" lab in Austin, Texas....Sensors can detect when the stove's burners are on, or when a person has fallen down. Even in its prototype stage, MERA is equipped with cameras to read facial expressions, sensors to capture vital signs, and Watson-powered speech recognition to know when to call for help."

But what if mom doesn't want all this monitoring (is anyone besides me thinking about mom's privacy?)? IBM's response-the design will not be obvious and will be a gradual and "[I]f IBM's vision becomes reality, by the mid-21st century, millennials won't be guessing how their parents are faring. They'll have all the data they need, and seniors won't feel as if they're under anyone's care — even if the safety net is sitting right beneath them."

Hal, big brother really is watching!

Thanks to Tom Moran for sending me this article.

March 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink