Sunday, January 24, 2016

Natural Disasters Know No Season

It seems that no matter the season, there is some type of natural disaster that occurs (example-tornados the week before last in Florida, a major snow storm in the Northeast a few days ago).  We all need to be prepared for natural disasters, and it is important to realize that elders may be disproportionally affected in some cases.  The New York Times on January 8, 2016 ran an article on the importance of being prepared. "Natural disasters, which appear to be on the rise in part because of climate change, are especially hard for older adults. They are particularly vulnerable because many have chronic illnesses that are worsened during the heat of a fire or the high water of a flood. And many are understandably reluctant to leave homes that hold so much history."  The article references studies that reveal a disproportionate number of some natural disasters have been elders. 

One key to survival, as the article notes, is advance planning.  A number of resources, state specific or national, are available online to help prepare.  Every year in Florida, the media alerts us to the approach of hurricane season and we purchase our hurricane supplies and prepare.  Friends in California have told me about their earthquake kits.  The article notes that local governments may have registries for those with special needs or may need assistance in an evacuation.   Preparing in advance for shelter for pets in emergency evacuations is important, since not all emergency shelters take 4-footed family members. The article notes there is even an app for help when disaster strikes!

The article has some good ideas that are valuable to all of us. Here are just a few of my favorite websites for information.

Red Cross Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors.

Ready.gov  Seniors

CDC  Personal Preparedness for Older Adults and their Caregivers

FEMA  Elderly Special Needs Plans To Be Ready for Disaster

AoA  Keeping Older Americans and People with Disabilities Safe and Healthy During Emergencies

 

January 24, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Living Closer to Mom?

How close do you live to your mom? If you are within 20 minutes, then you are a typical American.  The New York Times ran a story on December 23, 2015 that discusses how many miles away adult  kids live from their moms. The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom explains that     "[t]he typical adult lives only 18 miles from his or her mother, according to an Upshot analysis of data from a comprehensive survey of older Americans. Over the last few decades, Americans have become less mobile, and most adults – especially those with less education or lower incomes — do not venture far from their hometowns."  The article discusses the importance of physical proximity of families when an elder needs caregiving. "Over all, the median distance Americans live from their mother is 18 miles, and only 20 percent live more than a couple hours’ drive from their parents. (Researchers often study the distance from mothers because they are more likely to be caregivers and to live longer than men.)"

The article discusses the factors that impact the distance the kids live from mom, including education, geographic location, marital status and culture. The article notes that caregiving goes both ways, with elders providing child care for their grandchildren.  The article also covers the challenges of caregiving, and the future needs for caregiving.

January 14, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Get Your ZZZZs

We all know how important it is to get the appropriate amount of sleep. But it may be more important than we realize.  According to an NPR story on January 4, 2016, Lack Of Deep Sleep May Set The Stage For Alzheimer's, we need that deep sleep to help us fend off Alzheimer's.  The story focuses on the work of the Oregon Health & Science University scientists. One of the scientists explains why this deep sleep is so important to us: "[t]he brain appears to clear out toxins linked to Alzheimer's during sleep, [the scientist] explains. And, at least among research animals that don't get enough solid shut-eye, those toxins can build up and damage the brain."  The story notes that there is definitely a link between sleep and Alzheimer's since many of those with Alzheimer's have some kind of sleep disorder. The OHSU scientists are about to start a study of "that should clarify the link between sleep problems and Alzheimer's disease in humans."  The study described is fascinating (let's just say it involves sleeping in an MRI) and will be so important.  Read more about the study here.  Now, take a nap!

January 12, 2016 in Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Beginning of the Semester

It's time for the new semester!!! Always such an exciting time for all of us.  I wanted to see if anyone is doing anything new or innovative in your classes that you wanted to share.   Are you assigning any movies or books (other than law school books) to your students? One of the books I'm considering suggesting is On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's.  I'm also thinking of an assignment where the students research various technologies that are designed to help an elder age in place or stay safe.  I'm happy to share results with those of you interested.  Let us know your ideas and suggestions!

January 11, 2016 in Books, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Film, Other, Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Our Aging Internal Clocks--Slowing Down?

NPR ran an interesting story on December 22, 2015 on how our internal clocks may begin to lose time, but we have backup clocks ready to start ticking!  As Aging Brain's Internal Clock Fades, A New Timekeeper May Kick In notes that

We all have a set of so-called clock genes that keep us on a 24-hour cycle. In the morning they wind us up, and at night they help us wind down. A study out Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that those genes might beat to a different rhythm in older folks.

One of the authors of the study refers to the genes as the conductors of a person's orchestra and somehow for elders, "[t]heir orchestras seem to go off the beat, but it isn't known why." Before worrying about being "out of tune", take heart that the study found that elders have a back-up clock that starts keeping time when the main internal clock begins to get out of tune.  The researchers are particularly interested in how this affects individuals who sundown because of dementia.  The NPR story includes an audio version of the story in addition to the print version.

The abstract of the study is available here.  The full article requires a subscription. Click here for more information.

January 7, 2016 in Cognitive Impairment, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

SSA releases ABLE POMS

SI 01130.740 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts was released December 18, 2015. The POMS has six sections, including an explanation of ABLE accounts, definitions, what is excluded, what is countable, and verification/documentation of the account balances and of the distributions. Check it out! Oh and by the way, it's a good time to explain the POMS to your students. Check out SSA's explanation of the POMS on the POMS home page here.

January 6, 2016 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Microaggressions and Elders

I was reading recently about microaggressions and was interested in this article in Huffington Post/ Post 50 on microaggressions as it pertains to elders.  10 Microaggressions Older People Will Recognize Immediately explains that microaggressions are "the small everyday slights (intended or otherwise) that harbor an underlying attitude of racism, sexism or homophobia -- have been making the rounds of college campuses and workplaces."  The article explains that microaggressions also occur against elders and need to be included in the national discussion.  The article provides 10 examples of microaggressions, including tone of voice, unflattering language and commercials, jokes about elders' lack of technology skills, and professionals talking to the child instead of the elder.

Having students list examples of such microaggressions could be an interesting exercise for a discussion about ageism.

December 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Discrimination, Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nursing Home Residents-Privacy Violations

An article in the Washington Post shortly before Christmas had me shaking my head at the cluelessness of some employees of nursing homes regarding resident privacy.  Nursing home workers have been posting abusive photos of elderly on social media gave me one of those "you have got to be kidding me moments."  Maybe it's an age-gap thing, but I just can't fathom why it would be appropriate to post intimate photos of individuals with whose care one is entrusted.  The article indicates that this is not a geographically isolated problem:

Nursing home workers across the country are posting embarrassing and dehumanizing photos of elderly residents on social media networks such as Snapchat, violating their privacy, dignity and, sometimes, the law.

ProPublica has identified 35 instances since 2012 in which workers at nursing homes and assisted-living centers have surreptitiously shared photos or videos of residents, some of whom were partially or completely naked. At least 16 cases involved Snapchat, a social media service in which photos appear for a few seconds and then disappear with no lasting record.

The article offers some illustrations of these photos and the remedies available against the perpetrators.  The article also notes that not only are those photos invading resident privacy, they serve as evidence of the violations.

The incidents illustrate the emerging threat that social media poses to patient privacy and, at the same time, its powerful potential for capturing transgressions that previously might have gone unrecorded. Abusive treatment is not new at nursing homes. Workers have been accused of sexually assaulting residents, sedating them with antipsychotic drugs and failing to change urine-soaked bedsheets. But the posting of explicit photos is a new type of mistreatment — one that sometimes leaves its own digital trail.

How often is this violation of resident privacy occurring? The article notes that "ProPublica identified incidents by searching government inspection reports, court cases and media reports. [A district attorney in Massachusetts] said she suspects such incidents are underreported, in part because many of the victims have dementia and do not realize what has happened."  So far HHS' Office of Civil Rights hasn't sanctioned any nursing homes "for violations involving social media or issued any recommendations to health providers on the topic." The article notes that CMS, in the process of revising the regs dealing with nursing homes, plans to deal with the issue when revising the definitions of various types of elder abuse. Even one of the social media sites referenced in the article expressed concern about the actions of  those nursing home employees.

The article summarizes some cases where charges have been filed.  Read the story and assign it to your students. 

 

December 29, 2015 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Did you see this ad?

It's about an elder whose family can't make it home for Christmas and what he does to gather his family.  You can watch it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6-0kYhqoRo

The Washington Post ran a story about it.  This heartbreaking holiday ad is a powerful reminder of old people’s loneliness.

What do you think of the ad?

December 28, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Film, Other, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Eve Mystery -- Who Wrote that Poem?

My father grew up on a mining stake in the middle of an Arizona desert, called the Silver Bell, even though his father, a bit of a dreamer, was scratching for gold.  It was a tough life.  My father and his brother, the only children for miles, received their education from a series of young,  live-in teachers, who would be dropped off to spend a few months on the stake, before each fled, never to return.  My dad often commented that there were entire subjects he never heard of as a boy, because the young teachers simply did not have sufficient experience to teach them.  On the other hand, he was introduced to poetry early in life. 

While today, at age 90, my dad might forget my name, with a little prompting he still smiles as he recites stanzas from Charge of the Light Brigade" or "In Flanders Fields."  He introduced me to poems early on as well, and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (or "A Visit from St. Nicholas")  was one of the first I learned. 

I was digging around for my childhood copy of the poem this year, and I came across a bit of a mystery.  It seems it isn't completely resolved who wrote the poem, first published as the work of an "anonymous" author by a New York newspaper on December 23, 1823.  My dog-eared copy of an illustrated version shows Clement Moore as the author.  But in 2000, researchers questioned this attribution, pointing to Major Henry Livingston, Jr., as the more likely author.  That in turn sparked counter-evidence.

Either way, both my father and I, despite (or perhaps because of) growing up in arid lands, have special affection for the poem's line, "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday to objects below."  Wishing you that peaceful scene as well.... 

December 24, 2015 in Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Three Days Til Christmas. Still Looking for That Perfect Gift for an Elder?

Robert Fleming of Fleming and Curti in Tucson, Az. (Robert is a nationally known elder law and special needs attorney, co-author of the Elder Law Answer Book, an adjunct at Stetson Law, and (in the interest of full disclosure a dear friend)) writes a weekly Legal Issues Newsletter.  The December 7th, 2015 newsletter focused on Holiday Gifts for Older Family Members and Friends. The suggestions run from clothing and other items to help an elder stay warm to various cool technologies and gadgets used in the kitchen or in the home, or even the car.  I liked the stocking stuffer suggestions as well as the phone that comes with captioning.  Robert provides helpful links to the various items suggested in the newsletter.  Check it out!

December 21, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Consumer Spending: Does Age Play a Role?

JP Morgan Chase & Co. Institute released a December 2015 report, Profiles of Local Consumer Commerce, Insights from 12 Billion Transactions in 15 U.S. Metro Areas. The report reviews "how the growth of local consumer commerce is shaped by the age and income of the consumer, the products sold by the business and its size, and the residence of the consumer relative to the business."  Age is addressed in Finding One.  The executive summary explains Finding One:           "[m]iddle- and high-income consumers, and consumers ages 65 and older, were responsible for most of the slowdown in growth, while low-income consumers and those under 35 maintained relatively stable spending growth."

The report expands on the findings, explaining with Finding One 

We first explore the simultaneous impact of consumer age and income on local consumer commercial spending. Spending is largely driven by income, which for many consumers is strongly related to their age. We define five age and income segments that best explain this pattern (see Data and Methodology for details of this segmentation). Based on these segments, our analyses show that middle-income and high-income consumers ages 35 to 64, and consumers 65 and older, were responsible for most of the slowdown in growth, while low-income consumers 35 to 64 and those under 35 maintained relatively stable spending growth.

 

 

 

Pages 10 - 11 of the report discuss Finding One, along with graphs and charts that accompany the discussion. This 32 page report is heavily data driven and provides good visual aids to accompany each finding.

December 15, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 14, 2015

America's Love of the Automobile: A Trend the Boomers Keep on Driving

Ok, that title was supposed to be somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is some reality to it as well.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal on December 8, 2015,  The Fastest-Growing Group of Licensed Drivers: Americans Age 85 and Up,  "[n]ew data from the Federal Highway Administration shows people age 60 and above represented almost 26% of all driver’s license holders in 2014, up from 20.6% in 2004. Those younger than 30, on the other hand, make up about 21% of drivers, down slightly from 22% in 2004." Discussing the trend that younger generations are moving away from driving, the article notes

[S]ince 2000, people of every age cohort under 60 have been slowly letting their driver’s licenses lapse or have not been getting them in the first place.

Those 60 and above, meanwhile, are now more likely than before to have a valid driver’s license in their wallet.

People age 85 and up represent the fastest-growing group of licensed drivers, the FHWA said.

The article explains this trend is slow moving and offers reasons for its occurrence, especially costs.  The article concludes with a comment that this changing demographic is also changing the highways: "[t]o help older drivers navigate the roads, the agency said it is working on new laminates to make highway signs brighter from further away."

Information about the Federal Highway Administration report is available here.  The Administration's Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population is available here. The 2014 Highway Statistics Report is available here.

December 14, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fighting Robocalls

Ever received a robocall? Of course you have. Even if you are on the do-not-call list, you still get robocalls. Want to do something about robocalls?  Then read the following 

Consumers Union issued a report, Dialing Back: How Phone Companies Can End Unwanted Robocalls.  Here is an excerpt from the executive summary:

The Do Not Call list, federal law enforcement efforts, and actions by the states have not been enough to protect Americans from the flood of unwanted robocalls that have become rampant in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people complain each month to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about unwanted calls, and it’s estimated consumers lose $350 million a year to phone scams. Thanks to rapid advances in Internet technology, robocallers can make thousands of auto-dialed calls per minute for a relatively low cost. Robocall scammers easily escape detection and punishment by operating overseas or using software to disguise—or spoof—their name and number. The problem is so bad that federal agencies and Congress have been exploring solutions to the unwanted robocall problem.

Technological solutions are necessary to address this problem. A number of leading experts agree that phone companies have the power right now to implement technologies to dramatically reduce robocalls.

Consumers Union surveyed a variety of experts and innovators and found there are at least four proposed and existing robocall filtering technologies that phone companies could pursue to help protect their customers from unwanted robocalls. One solution, the Primus Telemarketing Guard, has been successfully implemented for traditional and broadband phone lines in Canada, which calls into question why similar technologies have not been offered in the United States.

The executive summary reviews call-blocking technologies that phone companies may provide and then offers the following recommendations:

Phone companies should immediately offer free robocall-filtering services to all of their customers based on latest available technology.

● Phone companies should immediately develop "Do Not Originate" techniques to reduce spoofing by fraudulent callers.

● Phone companies should continue to pursue call authentication strategies as a long-term solution to the spoofing problem

 

 (citations omitted).

To read more about Consumers Union's efforts to fight robocalls, click here.

November 30, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

They're Out...CMS releases 2016 premium and co-pay amounts

CMS has released the 2016 amounts for deductibles, premiums, and co-pays for Medicare A and B.  The Inpatient Hospital Deductible and Hospital and Extended Care Services Coinsurance Amounts  are available in the Federal Register here. (The inpatient deductible is $1,288 for 2016). The Part B amounts are available here.  Remember because there is no COLA this year, the hold harmless provision keeps the Part B premium the same as last year for many Medicare Beneficiaries.  For those not protected by the hold harmless provision, their Part B premiums will be $121.80+ $3.  Don't forget that higher income beneficiaries will pay a higher premium, referred to as the income-related monthly adjustment.  The higher premium amounts can be found here as well.

November 19, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wearable Technology-Personal "airbags"

One of my regular "must reads" is Aging In Place Technology Watch. I love reading about all the new cool tech and how companies are innovating to make lives better for us as we age.  So catching up on reading emails, I was reading the post on the LeadingAge2015 Annual meeting.  The technologies reported in this post were fascinating, but the one that really caught my attention was HipHope.   Looking at the website, the best way I can describe the technology is wearable air bags.  

The website describes the device. "Hip-Hope™ is a revolutionary active hip protector device, providing unprecedented fall impact absorption effectiveness, combined with highly reliable real-time fall detection capability.  Hip-Hope™ unique achievements are a result of “out-of-the-box” design concepts and technological innovations."

According to the website, the device deploys in the blink of the eye, and it looks compact and easily wearable.  Check out the video demonstrating it.

November 15, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Arbitration Clauses-They're Everywhere

If you haven't read this yet, this is a must-read. The New York Times did an in-depth series on the use of mandatory arbitration clauses. On October 31, 2015, the Times ran the first in the series: Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice. On November 1, 2015, the next story in the series ran:  In Arbitration, a 'Privatization of the Justice System'. 

I recommend you read them in order.  What you learn may be surprising.  We have all heard about arbitration clauses in long-term care agreements. You may be surprised to learn the breadth of use of arbitration clauses.

Read the series.  And assign it to your students.

November 2, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Call in Program Today with Ken Dychtwald

Today Ken Dychtwald (AgeWave) will appear on  NPR/KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny. The call-in program is set from 10-11 pdt. According to the email announcement I received from AgeWave, the program host and Mr. Dychtwald "will be candidly discussing Ken’s thoughts and personal feelings about what it means to be an aging expert who just turned 65.  For the first time, Ken will publicly reflect on how he is both distressed and motivated by his own aging process and how his books, such as Age Wave, may or may not jibe with what he is now experiencing personally." Listen to the interview here: http://www.kqed.org/radio/listen/

Can't make the live program? This is the link to where the interview will be archived:
http://www.kqed.org/radio/programs/audio-archives.jsp

August 24, 2015 in Current Affairs, Other, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aging America-County by County

The Pew Research Center released a map showing the aging of America by county.  Where do the oldest Americans live? provides a map of the U.S. that shows the percentage of a county's population 65 and older. As the website explains, due to the aging of the Boomers and increased longevity, 

more counties across America are graying. A new Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2014 population estimates finds that 97% of counties saw an increase in their 65-and-older population since 2010.

On average, a U.S. county’s 65-and-older population grew by 12.4% from 2010 to 2014. (Our analysis of population change over time included only counties or county equivalents with a population of 1,000 or more adults ages 65 and older in 2014.)

And yes, Florida is still one of the "grayest" states, with 3 Florida counties ranking in the top 4 of the grayest counties.  The report notes as well that some states are getting "younger" with

 a tiny share of counties (3%) saw a drop in the 65-and-older demographic since 2010. Oklahoma’s small Alfalfa County, on the Kansas border, had the highest rate of decrease in the 65-and-older population, at 9.5%...  North Dakota ...  had two counties, Williams and Wells, rank among the top five for rate of decrease of adults 65 and older. Three counties experienced no change since 2010... Alaska is the “youngest” state based on its share that is 65 and older (9.4%). Fully 26 of 29 Alaska counties have percentages of people 65 and older that fall below the U.S. average.

August 12, 2015 in Current Affairs, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tech Innovations Announced in Conjunction With the White House Conference on Aging

I was reading a blog post from Aging in Place Technology Watch which offered a roundup of tech announcements coming out of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. I was intrigued by the UberAssist project which according to the announcement on Uber's website

Today, Uber will participate in the White House Conference on Aging and discuss Uber’s efforts to engage the senior community. At the event, we will announce the launch of a pilot program for community-based senior outreach. In cities across the country, Uber will offer free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers. Alongside public and private sector representatives, we hope to further the conversation about the way technology adoption can improve older adults’ day-to-day lives.

Uber has some projects going in Florida, for example, in Gainesville, Uber 

is working with the City ...  to offer on-demand transportation for residents of two senior centers as part of a six month program. Anytime a resident at a participating senior center needs a ride, he or she can request one at an even more affordable rate because of support from the city. Free technology tutorials will be available throughout, so residents of the participating centers can feel comfortable and at ease using Uber. Uber is also piloting a similar senior ride program in partnership with the Town of Miami Lakes.

I also was interested to learn about the announcement from Phillips about the AgingWell Hub which is

a unique new collaborative research and development initiative for open innovation that will  examine and share solutions for aging well. The initiative will identify new  technologies, products and services, as well as provide thought leadership in  collaboration with older adults, caregivers, healthcare systems, payers, policy  makers, corporate innovators, entrepreneurs and academia.  The AWH will also  seek solutions to improve technology adoption among older adults and make aging  well a reality for more people, by enabling them to better connect with their  communities and healthcare providers. 

You can read all of the WHCOA partner press releases and announcements here.

August 5, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)