Thursday, August 31, 2006

UK: Elderly women have highest suicide rate among all women

Women above the age of 75 have the highest suicide rates among the female population.

While men aged between 15 and 44 years old are the most likely among their gender to kill themselves, it is older women who are more at risk than their younger counterparts, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

In England, about seven per 100,000 women over 75 commit suicide each year, compared with about six per 100,000 in the 45-75 range and only five among those aged 15 to 44.


Read the rest in The Independent.

Ed:  In the US, The poverty rate among elderly women generally is more that 75% higher than that of elderly men.   Almost half of elderly African American and Hispanic elderly women live in poverty.  The above article concludes that "deprivation" is strongly correlated with higher suicide rates.

August 31, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

NAELA Academic and Diversity Task Force seeks members, input

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys seeks academics who are NAELA members to serve on its Academic and Diversity Task Force.  The Task Force will work towards increasing NAELA's connection to the academic community, involving students in elder law - related activities while they are still in law school, and increasing the diversity of the elder law bar.  If you're interested, contact one of the co-chairs,

Professor Katherine Pearson,

Professor Kim Dayton (yours truly),

or Bridget Jurich of NAELA,

August 30, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Murder charges filed in starvation case of elderly woman

A husband and wife accused of killing the woman's mother remained in jail Thursday, as elder-care authorities said the first-degree murder charge against the couple sends an important message to the community.

Kerstin Fenn, 50, and Toby Fenn, 47, appeared in court Thursday morning and were both ordered held in the Palm Beach County Jail without bond. A grand jury indicted them Tuesday for first-degree murder and aggravated elderly abuse in the death of Kerstin Fenn's mother, 89-year-old Elly Lorey.

Lorey lived with the Fenns, west of Boca Raton, and, investigators said, the couple secluded Lorey for one year in a filthy room, with feces on the walls and cardboard nailed over the air-conditioning vent to stop the smell from spreading through the house. She died Sept. 18 of malnutrition and dehydration, sheriff's detectives said.

Read the rest of this story in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

August 30, 2006 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Pension crisis is a global problem

Here's a sampling of public pension-related stories from around the world (courtesy Charlie Fisk of CAAR)

GREECE NEWS: "Pension system feels the strain," (_Kathimerini_
[Athens], August 30, 2006).

JAMAICA NEWS: "Government of Jamaica owes billions to pension funds,"
by Ashford W. Meikle (_Jamaica Gleaner_ [Kingston], August 30, 2006).

NEW ZEALAND NEWS: "Is KiwiSaver our saviour?" by Gill Smith (_New
Zealand Herald_ [Auckland], August 27, 2006).

JAPAN NEWS: "Wives toiling part-time get pension boost," (_Yomiuri
Shimbun_ [Tokyo], August 21, 2006).

August 30, 2006 in Retirement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Raleigh Observer on Long Term Care Issues

  The Raleigh News & Observer published a series of articles and opinion pieces about the issue of long-term care for the elderly.  Summaries appear below.

  • "Who Can Afford To Be Old and Sick?": A growing number of middle-income retirees with chronic illnesses or disabilities are struggling to pay for long-term care services such as nursing homes, assisted living and in-home aides, the News & Observer reports. Those affected earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private long-term care insurance or to pay for such care out of pocket (Goldsmith [1], Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

  • "When Long-Term Care Insurance Makes Sense":  According to the Administration on Aging, financial planners say long-term care insurance can be a good option for individuals with assets of $75,000 or more; retirement incomes of $25,000 to $35,000 per person or $35,000 to $50,000 per couple; and the ability to pay premiums without difficulty, even if they increase over time, the News & Observer reports. The "relatively new type of insurance" varies in coverage from in-home care for between one and two months to nursing home care for indefinite periods, according to the News & Observer. The cost of such plans range from less than $1,000 to as much as $9,000 per year depending on the services included and the age of the individual purchasing the policy (Goldsmith [2], Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

  • "Many Stopping Points Along a Continuum of Care": In recent decades, there has been a "continual evolution of services and care settings that fill every imaginable niche between home and the nursing home," Martha Grove Hipskind, an elder care consultant, writes in the News & Observer. Services such as senior centers, medication management, home-delivered meals, retirement communities, assisted living, respite care and hospice can be placed on a "continuum of care" to reflect the transition of an individual's aging needs, she says (Grove Hipskind, Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

  • "Majority Caught in the Middle": "We will need creative solutions that allow for a combination of private pay and public subsidy for people who don't fit the traditional 'low-income' criteria" to qualify for financial assistance in paying for long-term care, Liz Scott, director of Adult Economic Services in Wake County Human Services, writes in a News & Observer opinion piece. Scott says that the "reliance on programs designed to help only those technically below the poverty level will not serve our senior adults well in the years ahead" (Scott, Raleigh News & Observer, 8/27).

August 30, 2006 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NAELA Powley Award - Call for Nominations!

A call for nominations of the 2006 Powley Elder Law Award!!   

The Powley Elder Law Award is presented annually to a NAELA member who is recognized in his or her community as a leader in promoting a greater understanding of the rights and needs of elders and persons with special needs and of how elder law attorneys advocate for those rights.

The award is established in the memory of Wes and Helen Powley, grandparents of NAELA Member, Tim Takacs, CELA. Both Wes and Helen were active in civic affairs for all of their lives and Wes practiced dentistry well into his 80s. The award is funded by a grant from the Takacs Family Foundation.

The recipient of the Powley Elder Law Award will be announced at the 2006 NAELA Institute, to be held at The Grand America Hotel, Salt Lake City, UT, November 2  6, 2006. A $1000 cash grant will be made in the recipient's name to the non-profit organization of his or her choice.

Nominations may be submitted no later than October 2, 2006 to the NAELA office, 1604 N. Country Club Rd., Tucson, AZ 85716, attn: Bridget Jurich, or emailed to

August 30, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Not elder law: World's oldest person dies in Equador

Maria_b From the Zaman (Peru) Daily News on line:

Maria Esther de Capovilla, who according to the Guinness World Records was the oldest living person, died on Sunday.

Capovilla died in a hospital from pneumonia at the age of 116 in the coastal city of Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Born on September 14, 1889, she lived 116 years and 347 days.

De Capovilla never smoked or drank hard liquors.

When she became bedridden at 100, relatives began to prepare for her funeral, but she later recovered from her illness.

Capovilla, who left behind three children and 33 grandchildren, will be buried Tuesday.

Now Elizabeth Bolden from the U.S. city of Memphis has become the oldest known person following Capovilla’s death.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, 114-year-old Emiliano Mercado Del Toro from Puerto Rico retains the title as the world’s oldest man.

August 29, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Medicare Part D repayment instructions on $50 million foul-up

From the SF Chronicle:

   Elderly and disabled Americans who got erroneous refunds from the federal government last week will get a letter this week instructing them on how to repay the money.

    About 230,000 Medicare recipients got refunds totaling $50 million because of a computer glitch. The average reimbursement was for $215.

    The first and easiest step for beneficiaries to repay the money is to write VOID on the face of the check and mail it to the following address: Medicare-Drug Premiums, P.O. Box 9058, Pleasanton, CA 94566-9058.

    The same address can be used when seniors want to reimburse the money either through a personal check or money order. Officials say the check should be made payable to "Medicare." The check should also include a notation with the beneficiaries' account number. The account number will be cited in the letter that seniors get this week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    Also, on Tuesday, the federal government will establish a toll-free telephone line for seniors and the disabled to call between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. EDT. The number is 1-866-292-8080.

    Operators will be able to answer whether beneficiaries were affected by the glitch. They also can help people arrange to have the repayments withdrawn from their bank account and transferred electronically to the federal government, though this option will require that seniors provide personal banking information to the operator.

    Some seniors may have received more than $500. For those who need to pay that money back gradually, people can ask to make up to seven monthly payments. Lawmakers had called on CMS to give seniors plenty of time to give the money back. The same toll-free number should be used for beneficiaries wanting installment plans.

    To prevent fraud, CMS asked seniors not to give out any personal information to anybody calling offering help with the reimbursement. Medicare will not call anybody effected by the glitch.

    Lawmakers for both political parties have expressed frustration with the premium reimbursements, and they've asked CMS Administrator Mark McClellan for a detailed report on how the error occurred and how the agency will try not to let it happen again. Some lawmakers have called for congressional hearings on the problem.

    "We're adding some additional checks on the data before it goes over," McClellan said.

August 29, 2006 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Census releases new poverty and health insurance numbers

The Census Bureau has released new poverty and health insurance information.   Get the report here.

For the CBPP's take on the report:

August 29, 2006 in Statistics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Single payer health care in CA?

The Democratic-controlled Legislature is on the verge of sending Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill that would create a state-run universal health care system, testing him on an issue that voters rate as one of their top concerns in this election year.

On a largely party-line 43-30 vote, the Assembly approved a bill by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, that would eliminate private medical insurance plans and establish a statewide health insurance system that would provide coverage to all Californians. The state Senate has already approved the plan once and is expected this week to approve changes that the Assembly made to the bill.

Schwarzenegger has said he opposes a single-payer plan like the one Kuehl's bill would create, but the governor has not offered his own alternatives for fixing the state's health care system. As many as 7 million people are uninsured in the state, and spiraling costs have put pressure on business and consumers.

"We know the health care in place today is teetering on collapse," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles. "We need to do something to improve it, to reform it, and this is what we are bringing to the table."

Read more at SF

Ed:  what a concept!

August 29, 2006 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Not elder law: Farewell, Pluto

PlutoYou've no doubt read by now that Pluto has been booted from the planetary roster of our Sun.  This renders my early 19th century Map of the Solar System accurate for the first time in nearly 200 years, but it's a sad day for the Kansans among us who will ever remember that it was small town Kansas boy Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto back in 1930.  Pluto and its moon Charon, along with the asteroid Ceres, and newly discovered  2003 UB313 (aka Xena, as in Warrior Princess) will now be deemed "dwarf planets" due to their small size and the numerosity of similarly-sized objects within the solar system.  The Wall Street Journal notes that this decision could have a devastating effect on Scorpios, of which I am one, due to Pluto's close association with that sign.  Only 300 of 2500 astronomers in attendance at the IAU's meeting this week voted on whether to strip Pluto of its status, so the decision is hardly a mandate.  Nevertheless, as my young friend Jack said yesterday, "I'm going to miss Pluto."

August 25, 2006 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy seeks aging-related articles

The Editorial Board of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics &
Public Policy
invites you to submit an article, essay, or speech for
review and possible publication in our issue on “Aging America,” to be
published in Spring 2007. We seek to explore a wide variety of topics
related to this issue’'s theme, including social security, health care,
end of life concerns, employment discrimination, international
migration, and the influence and role of religion in elder care.  We
will consider submissions related to all legal, ethical, religious, and
policy-oriented aspects of this symposium topic.

     The Journal examines public policy questions within the framework
of the Judeo-Christian intellectual, religious, and moral tradition.
Past contributors include President George W. Bush, President Ronald
Reagan, Justice William Brennan, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Senator Orrin Hatch, Judge
John Noonan, Judge Richard Posner,
His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Governor Mario Cuomo, Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani, and Professor John Finnis, among others.

     The Journal devotes each issue to a single theme of public
concern, thus permitting a more comprehensive analysis. Recognized
across the nation, the Journal has been cited in nearly 2000 journal
articles and by almost thirty state and federal courts, including the
United States Supreme Court.

     If you are interested in submitting a piece for possible
publication in our Aging America” volume, please e-mail

Mary Komperda
Solicitation Editor
Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, & Public Policy

for more specific details regarding deadlines and
draft guidelines.

August 25, 2006 in Ethical Issues | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program seeks applications

The Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program is inviting applications from law school graduates and law students graduating in 2007 who have a strong interest in women's rights. Women's Law Fellows work for one year in Washington, D.C. with a non-profit, public interest organization or governmental agency on legal and policy issues affecting the status of women.

Applications must be postmarked by October 16, 2006, and early applications are encouraged. The Fellowships will begin in September 2007. Additional information, including the application form, can be found on our website at

August 25, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Yet another CMS screw-up on Part D

Don't cash that check. The federal government has erroneously reimbursed about 230,000 Medicare recipients for monthly premiums they paid this year for prescription drug coverage. For many, the checks -- totaling nearly $50 million -- have already arrived.

The refund will undoubtedly cause confusion, particularly because it comes with a letter that mistakenly instructs seniors that their monthly premiums will no longer be deducted from their Social Security check.

"It's very important for people to know their coverage is continuing," he said. "There's no disruption at all."

Read more in (an AP story).

August 23, 2006 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Not elder law: Japanese boomers are Born to be Wild

Motorcycles with large engines are becoming more popular, especially among middle-aged and older riders, prompting manufacturers to develop new models and services to meet demand.Cb1300

Last year, sales of Honda Motor Co.'s 1,300cc CB1300 series motorcycles jumped by more than 40 percent compared with the year before, topping its other models, whose sales have risen by just a few percent over the last several years.

Honda's new model is equipped with a windshield, a feature that has become more popular since April 2005, when a ban on riding on expressways with passengers was lifted, company officials said.

The 1,300cc model is priced at about 1.2 million yen, and more than 40 percent of those who buy it are age 40 to 60. "There are many people who want to ride long distances together," said Honda spokesman Masayuki Takayama.

Read more in the Japan Times.

August 22, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Obesity contributes to high Medicare outlays

Obesity and certain chronic conditions were major factors driving virtually all Medicare spending growth for the past 15 years, according to a new analysis of Medicare cost and patient data.

The rate of obesity among Medicare patients doubled from 1987 to 2002, and spending on those individuals more than doubled, according to economists Kenneth Thorpe and David Howard.

Their study appeared Tuesday on the website of the journal Health Affairs.

"What this study tells us is that we need to aggressively put in place interventions to deal with obesity and chronic disease prevalence among the elderly to control spending," said Thorpe, chairman of the Department of Health Policy Management at Emory University.

In 1987, 11.7% of the Medicare population was considered obese. That number grew to 22.5% of Medicare enrollees by 2002.

Spending on medical care for obese Medicare patients was 9.4% of the federal government program's budget in 1987 but jumped to 24.8% by 2002, according to the analysis.

Physicians also are becoming more aggressive in treating patients who have a cluster of cardiovascular-related risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or low levels of "good" cholesterol, the study found.

Such treatment patterns are good news for seniors because it means many older men and women are living longer. But more elderly Americans living longer also increases the long-term costs of the Medicare program.

Read more in USA Today.  Or go whole-hog and get the Heath Affairs article.

Then, check out the US's obesity rate compared with that of other OECD nations

Obesity is a major problem in this country that threatens to threaten our health- and long-term care industries in the next three decades.  So get out there and get active!

August 22, 2006 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Beverley settles with DOJ over fraud issues

Nursing home operator Beverly Enterprises Inc. has agreed to pay $20 million to settle allegations that it defrauded federal and California healthcare programs, the Justice Department announced Friday.

The Fort Smith, Ark.-based company, once the nation's largest nursing home chain with 60 facilities in California, was accused of submitting false reimbursement claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal through a now-defunct subsidiary, MK Medical. Medicare is the federal health plan for seniors and disabled people. Medi-Cal is a federally funded, state-run health plan for the poor.

The company was never charged in court, and its attorney said Friday that the accusations stemmed from lack of proper paperwork, not fraud.

"Beverly raised the issue of proper documentation itself with the government," attorney Russell Hayman said. "It conducted an audit and has now repaid the moneys identified."

Read more in the LA Times.

August 21, 2006 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

WSJ on retirement planning

Today's Wall Street Journal contains a special section on retirment
planning and living (_Wall St. Journal_, August 21, 2006, Section R). Full Text of the Wall St. Journal is available, for a fee, at:

Some of the articles include:

"Is There a Doctor in the House?" by Kelly Greene.
"Strong Medicine," by Laurie McGinley.
"Making a Difference," by Scott R. Schmedel.
"Adding Value," by Karen Hube.

Full Text is also available (usually on a one day delay) via the ProQuest
Newspaper Library, for the Eastern Edition only. Do a "guided search" on article title words for
the date of the article.

Ed:  --courtesy Charlie Fiss

August 21, 2006 in Retirement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Not elder law: Ancient Domesday Book goes digital...

It has travelled with royalty, survived two world wars and the Great Fire of London, but the Domesday Book has taken a step into the future by going online.Discoverdomesday

William the Conqueror's great inventory of his new kingdom was commissioned in 1085 to find out what and how many military and financial resources he had at his disposal to fend off the threat of invasion from Denmark.

Last year the book was voted the nation's finest treasure and from this month, it can be accessed via the web.

Written in 11th century Latin, the 920-year-old manuscript can be directly translated into a readable document and you can even see PDF versions of the original Domesday Book pages, with faultless handwriting and decorative swirls, from the comfort of your living room.

Read more in the Guardian.

Then take a crack at Domesday here. 

August 17, 2006 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Center for Medicare Advocacy says CMS Part D "Tip Sheet" is Inaccurate or Misleading

The new Tip Sheet that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has distributed to its Partners on "How the Coverage Gap works for People with Medicare Prescription Drug Plans" (Aug. 2006) is not helpful.  It contains misleading and inaccurate slanting of information which will cause confusion for advocates who are trying to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate the complexities of Medicare Part D's coverage gap.

Find out more at the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

August 17, 2006 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)