Sunday, September 12, 2021
The next public hearing of Florida's Guardianship Improvement Task Force is scheduled for September 14, 2021 (tomorrow) at noon eastern. According to the emailed announcement, "[a] live stream of the meeting can be accessed here beginning at 12:00 p.m., EDT, on September 14. The meeting agenda is being finalized and will be available on the Task Force website once completed." More info about tomorrow's meeting should be available here.
Video of the five prior meetings, as well as supporting materials, are available on the website as well.
According to the website,
The Guardianship Improvement Task Force was formed with the mission of studying the current status of Guardianships in Florida, with the goal of making recommendations to improve the protection of wards throughout the state.
To accomplish this goal, the Task Force will hear from many stakeholders and study current vulnerabilities. After careful consideration, recommendations will be made to improve the protection and best interests of wards. Some recommendations may be directed for action by the various stakeholders, but the anticipation is that most will be offered as positive legislative recommendations.
The Task Force is being sponsored and staffed by the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers association.
Friday, June 18, 2021
Last week Kaiser Health News ran a story about elders in SNFs using their digital skills tor each out to their legislators, Zooming Into the Statehouse: Nursing Home Residents Use New Digital Skills to Push for Changes.
Nursing home residents who have been using digital technology to reach out to family and friends — after the covid pandemic led officials to end visitation last year — could also use it to connect with elected officials once the legislature moved to remote hearings....
The combination of a virtual legislature and nursing home residents equipped with internet access has created an opportunity most nursing home residents rarely have — to participate in their government up close and in real time.
* * *
So far this year, nursing home residents have testified in support of legislation to improve staffing levels, create a designated “essential support person” with special visitation privileges, and allow “technology of their choice” in their rooms to communicate with whomever they wish, among other proposals. The latter passed unanimously in both chambers, said [Connecticut AARP’s advocacy director] “and we expect the governor to sign it into law.”
One legislator has introduced a bill to permanently allow virtual advocacy there.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
AARP recently released this report, 2021 Tech Trends and The 50-PLUS: Top Ten Biggest Trends.
Here are the ten:
In 2020, a year when a global pandemic significantly limited social interaction, technology became more important than ever — for everyone.
Video-chat is here to stay.
The dependency on tech has created new social behaviors, although it’s too soon to tell what will stick around.
Older adults are doing more with their smartphones, by development over time or necessity, and using them more frequently.
2020 is the year older adults adopted, updated, and modernized their tech, and many spent big bucks to do so.
Smart TV’s were the second-most popular tech purchase.
2020 brought a dramatic shift in how adults 50-plus consume entertainment. Growth in streaming was huge, but cable tv is still important (for now).
Some barriers to technology adoption and use still exist for older adults.
Privacy is an important but misunderstood issue for many.
Disparities related to access have a significant impact on technology adoption and use among older adults.
Take a look at the findings for #10. This is pretty darn important:
• Sixty percent of adults 50-plus say the cost of high-speed internet is a problem for them personally.
• On average older adults spend $269 a month (16% of their budget) on tech expenses such as internet, cellphone, cable, and streaming
services (average estimated monthly costs: internet, $68; cellphone, $103; cable, $78; and streaming services, $20).
• A quarter (23%) of rural customers acknowledge that access to high-speed internet is a major problem for their community.
• And while older, urban customers have ample access to high-speed internet such as cable and fiber, they, like rural customers, indicate
that cost is a major problem (23% and 26%, respectively).
• Fifteen percent do not have any type of internet or are not sure if they have it.
Monday, April 19, 2021
The National Consumer Coalition for Quality Long Term Care announced the release of a podcast, The Care For Individuals With Dementia. Here's a description of the podcase.
When the needs of residents living with dementia are met, incidences of resident stress are significantly reduced. Practicing person-centered approaches and interventions increase the likelihood that the message being communicated by the resident will be heard and addressed, leading to better outcomes and more satisfaction for the individual. In this episode of the Pursuing Quality Long-Term Care podcast, Dr. Jonathan Evans and Lori Smetanka of Consumer Voice talk about caring for human beings with dementia.
The podcast can be accessed here.
Monday, April 12, 2021
If you haven't seen this yet, check out the new website, Alzheimers.gov. This site compiles a significant amount of great info. As the website explains
Alzheimers.gov is the federal government portal to information and resources on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, including Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal disorders, and vascular dementia. Alzheimers.gov is managed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is the U.S. government’s principal agency for enhancing the health and well-being of all Americans.
. . .
A primary goal of Alzheimers.gov is to connect people to the many federal resources available to educate and support people whose lives are touched by these devastating diseases in their various roles. Whether you are living with dementia, a family member or friend, health care provider or other health care professional, researcher, or advocate, Alzheimers.gov is designed for you.
. . .
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Pew's recent FactTank released this, 7% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they? Want to take a guess who are in this 7%? "Internet non-adoption is linked to a number of demographic variables, but is strongly connected to age – with older Americans continuing to be one of the least likely groups to use the internet. Today, 25% of adults ages 65 and older report never going online, compared with much smaller shares of adults under the age of 65." There is also a correlation between education and the income of a household with being online. There has been some movement. "For example, 86% of adults ages 65 and older did not go online in 2000; today that figure has fallen to just a quarter." Think about this info and recall how important technology use became during COVID.
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
DOJ's Elder Justice Initiative is offering this webinar, Tackling Transnational Robocall Scams: The Importance of State and Federal Partnerships on April 13 at 2 eastern time. Here's info about the webinar
Consumers report losing approximately $500 million per year to phone scams. Phone scammers often impersonate government officials, such as officials with the Social Security Administration, FBI, IRS, and local law enforcement entities. This webinar will discuss what the scams are and how they work. It will delve into local and state law enforcement’s vital role in the fight against these scams. It will also describe investigative techniques that state and local law enforcement can use in the fight against transnational scammers. Finally, it will touch upon public education tools that can help community members protect themselves from scammers.
Jolee Porter, Assistant US Attorney, Northern District of Georgia, currently detailed to the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force at the US DOJ Consumer Protection Branch
Senior Special Agent Jon Heslep, Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration
Detective Margaret Moore, Aiken Department of Public Safety, South Carolina
To register, click here.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Remember those cool tools on Medicare.gov that allowed you to compare nursing homes, doctors, hospitals and more? They are being retired as of the end of the year, and replaced with Medicare's Care Compare. All the info about the various services are there-but located on one page. It's easier since you can go to any of the 8 compare services from one landing page, rather than hunting for each one from the Medicare.gov website. Here's what CMS has to say about this new website:
We’ve combined our 8 original provider compare sites, giving you one place to start finding any type of care you need. New features include updated maps, new filters that help you identify the providers right for you, and a clean, consistent design that makes it easier to compare providers and find the information that’s most important to you.
. . .
What can this tool do for me?
For people with Medicare or their caregivers who want to choose a Medicare provider (like physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, and others), this tool provides a single source search and compare experience, that lets you:
- Find information about providers and facilities based on your individual needs
- Get helpful resources to choose your health care providers
- Make more informed decisions about where you get your health care
The information here should be used with other information you gather about providers and facilities in your area. In addition to reviewing the information here, you should talk to your doctor, social worker, or other health care providers when choosing a provider.
. . .
Although the tool was created for people with Medicare in mind, many of the measures shown here apply to people who may not have Medicare.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
There have been lots of discussions about the impact of isolation necessitated by COVID, especially on elders. We have previously written about robot pets, and now the New York Times has examined the role of these robots in lessening the impact of isolation during the pandemic: In Isolating Times, Can Robo-Pets Provide Comfort?
Such devices first appeared in American nursing homes and residences for seniors several years ago. A Japanese company began distributing an animatronic baby seal called PARO in 2009, and Hasbro started marketing robotic cats in 2015.
But the isolation caused by the coronavirus, not only in facilities but also among seniors living alone in their homes, has intensified interest in these products and increased sales, company executives said. It has also led to more public money being used to purchase them.
The article discusses the adoption of the robots by various facilities, and then the interest individuals have shown in having the robots as their companions.
Of particular interest is the Joy for All brand sold by Ageless Innovation, a spinoff of Hasbro, and available from retailers like Walmart and Best Buy for about $120.
One of the largest studies, underwritten by United HealthCare and AARP, distributed free Joy for All robots to 271 seniors living independently.
All the seniors suffered from loneliness, according to a screening questionnaire. At 30 and 60 days, “there was improvement in their mental well-being, in sense of purpose and optimism,” said [the] chief medical officer of AARP’s business subsidiary and a study co-author. The study also found “a reduction in loneliness,” ... although the questionnaires showed that participants remained lonely.
Armed with such findings, Ageless Innovation has been offering discounted robots to state agencies working with seniors. (Both Joy for All and PARO robots can be sanitized to prevent viral transmission, the companies said.)
One Medicare Advantage plan covers them and Ageless Innovation is working to get other MA plans to also cover them. The article also discusses the views of fans and critics of the use of these robot pets. Of course, nothing beats human interaction! What do you think?
Sunday, June 7, 2020
The increasing use and sophistication of various new technical products and remote platforms for monitoring patients and family members is profiled in this article from the New York Times. I can remember when my very rudimentary way of checking daily on my Mom was watching her yahoo email account to see whether there was a green oval to indicate she was typing! Somewhere along the way, the ethical implications of monitoring other's online activity eliminated that option, and that makes sense.
And speaking of technology, tomorrow is my first participation in an online memorial. A Zoom send-off. A another step in the brave new world of finding new ways to be together alone.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Mind Your Loved Ones, known as MYLO, is a mobile app that gives individuals the ability to store their own and their loved one’s critical medical information, health care directives, and other related data on their Apple or Android phones, iPads® or tablets. Users can send this information directly to health care providers (e.g. their doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, etc.), to their family members or trusted friends by email, fax, text, or print.
Whether away at college, in a retirement community or nursing home, traveling for work or leisure, MYLO has your information and documents, and those of your loved ones, accessible 24/7 with just a click. That’s the power of MYLO–the perfect "just-in-case" app.
Here's some additional info about the app's capabilities:
With this app individuals can store on their smartphones their health care advance directives along with other key medical information-- such as medications, physician contacts, insurance information, medical notes, and any other material important to them. Loved ones whom the individual chooses can carry the same information on their phones. They don’t have to hunt for the information in their files or sign on to a web page to get it. There is no limit to the number of profiles that can be stored. Individuals and their loved ones will have immediate access to all the information if an event occurs when that information is needed, so that they can view it, email it, or fax it to whomever or wherever it is needed.
In the midst of this pandemic, having this info so easily accessible is definitely a plus.
Stay safe everyone!
Monday, April 20, 2020
APS Technical Assistance Resource Center (APS-TARC) has unveiled a new web page on APS and COVID-19. Here's the explanation for the website: "The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for adult protective services professionals. Visits to clients' homes have been curtailed or eliminated in many areas and community services may be unavailable or reduced. This page details information about the effects of the pandemic on APS programs and additional information that may be helpful to APS professionals." The site includes resources and state responses, as well as other information on intake, investigations, post-investigations and quality assurance. Check it out.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Another article from Professor Naomi Cahn provides Five Tips To Decrease Social Isolation For Older People During COVID-19. First, recognize "that approximately one-third of those 65 and older may have never used the internet and may not have internet access at home; among those who do use the internet, almost half need someone's help when it comes to setting up or using a new device. And substantial differences in the adoption of technology adoption exist based on factors such as income and educational level."
First, most older adults do own a smartphone or have a desktop or tablet. That means that, even if they have not yet found youtube or figured out how to attend a Zoom’ed yoga class or even used Skype or Facetime, they have a digital device that will enable them to do so once they know what’s available on the web and once they have the appropriate hardware....
Second, using that device to stay connected then becomes a matter of finding the appropriate programs to do so. ....
Third, while much of going online may seem intuitive for many of us, that was not true at the beginning. As someone who has been both patiently walked through learning how to use Google hangouts, and as someone who has taught a family member how to use iMessage, I appreciate the importance of practice and of the patience of those teaching me. ...
Fourth, as older people go online, there is the risk of scams and fake information. ....
Finally, for those who don’t have a smartphone or tablet, a landline remains a good way to stay connected. Family members can set up a schedule of who will call, and maybe, during those calls, even talk about connecting through the internet.
Monday, March 2, 2020
One of my colleagues sent me this interesting article about teaching elders how to verify a story. With An Election On The Horizon, Older Adults Get Help Spotting Fake News ran last week on NPR. It's a very cool idea. "At the Schweinhaut Senior Center in suburban Maryland, about a dozen seniors gather around iPads and laptops, investigating a suspicious meme ... The seniors are participating in a workshop sponsored by the nonprofit Senior Planet called "How to Spot Fake News." As instructed, they pull up a reputable fact-checking site like Snopes or FactCheck.org and, within a few minutes, identify the meme is peddling fake news."
Consider this from the article, which underscores why workshops such as these are so important: "[a] recent study suggests these classes could be increasingly important. Researchers at Princeton and New York universities found that Facebook users 65 and over posted seven times as many articles from fake news websites, compared with adults under 29."
It's important for everyone to remember that this is not just about political stories. Think of all those scam emails you get (won a lottery recently?). So, the project at this senior center "coaches participants about the difference between propaganda, deep fakes and sponsored content. [The instructor] runs through a checklist for evaluating information online: Who wrote the information? What's the source of a claim? Does the author have an agenda?"
I can see this having application to various scams that are perpetrated online. This could be a good community service project for our students, too.
Clark says her program, Senior Planet, which sponsors all kinds of tech classes for older adults at several locations across the country, has been trying to get digital literacy in front of more seniors. But in many ways, it's more challenging than it might be for school districts.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Friend and colleague, Professor Naomi Cahn sent us this story. In the article, Incomplete and inadequate: Information lacking for seniors looking for assisted living, early on the authors explain the reasons for their research:
We and our colleagues track the ever-changing circumstances of long-term care in the U.S. As we study policies and practices, we have observed that the expansion of assisted living is clearly a game-changer, creating new challenges in the industry. Many states have increased assisted living regulation in recent years. Some consumer advocates have called for nursing-home style federal rules, though others oppose this, saying assisted living should remain flexible enough to serve residents with a range of needs, from personal care only to end-of-life comfort.
Now we know why they did the research, here's what they did: "Using criteria formulated from prior research, along with information provided by some states, we examined 39 key elements of each website. Those elements included the size of the facility, cost, license status, the insurance it accepts, and any special services offered, such as memory care. We also looked at each website’s usability – the ease in finding critical information."
The article reports they found gaps in provided info, websites that they thought were difficult to navigate although they found some websites that had better info and were easier to use. "True, the state websites are better than they were 15 years ago. But they are less than what they should be. Many of the elderly, the disabled, and the families who love them require more to make appropriate choices. When navigating the internet, the principle of “buyer beware” should not be the driver."
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
One of my students sent me the recent article about sneaker insoles with built-in GPS. I always talk to my students about the various technologies, including tracking devises, and ask them to think about autonomy, privacy, consent, and product reliability. Shoe with GPS insole lets you track loved ones with Alzheimer's or dementia explains how the device works, the info provided and the real-time data provided (in this case, the article notes the product updates the data every 5-10 minutes). One customer was quoted along the lines that the use of the product allows her mom to wander, but that the daughter can catch up to mom, before harm befalls mom. I was thinking about this.... it still allows mom to be mobile but I still would like to think more about privacy, data security, consent and more. This, of course, is not the only type of tracking device available to families who have elders who may wander. I've not had any experience with them, but on its face sounds like it may allow the elder to stay at home or have some freedom. (but what can happen before the location is updated or the family even checks for an updated location). Anyone have experiences with any tracking devices for elders who wander?
Thursday, December 12, 2019
I read last week about a technology problem with a diabetes monitor, A glitch in diabetes monitors serves as a cautionary tale for health tech. Although primarily about this particular device, the article observes that the reliability on this kind of health tech means it's too important for it to malfunction. Some of the things my students and I always discuss in the context of using technology for aging in place is the reliability of the technology, informed consent to its use, privacy of data collected and the cyber security of those companies that store the data. As this article illustrates, when we rely on technology to keep people safe, we need the technology to be reliable. It's early days yet as far as the use of technology to age in place and how well it will function over the long haul.
The Task Force on Research & Development for Technology to Support Aging Adults Committee on Technology of the National Science & Technology Council issued a report, Emerging Technologies to Support an Aging Population. Section VIII of the report, Cross-Cutting Themes. addresses these issues and others, including system dependability, privacy and security, times when the systems are unavailable, vulnerabilities, and more.
These are issues that lead to a robust class discussion, and even a few good topics for students' scholarly papers.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
I was in Missouri last week for a couple of days and had a chance to visit with some great people. First, I had the privilege to meet Dr. Erin Robinson and Dr. Clark Peters from the School of Social Work at Mizzou. The work they are doing in gerontological social work is quite interesting. At some point our conversation segued into the role of technology in caregiving for older adults, and Dr. Robinson shared with me the research and activities of the Mizzou Center for Eldercare & Rehabilitation Technology, whose "mission is to create technology for proactive healthcare that helps older adults and people of all ages and needs to lead healthier, more independent lives." We also talked about the University's foray into housing for elders, known as TigerPlace. which is a partnership between Americare and the Mizzou Sinclair School of Nursing.
On Friday, I attended day two of the winter symposium of the Missouri Chapter of NAELA (MoNAELA), The two day program had a robust agenda of general sessions and two tracks, advanced and basics. These folks are a great bunch of people who are quite knowledgeable and caring.
Monday, December 9, 2019
Last week Kaiser Health News reported on mistakes on the Medicare website, which may have causes probelms for beneficiaries chosing their plans during open enrollment. Website Errors Raise Calls For Medicare To Be Flexible With Seniors’ Enrollment explains the extent of the problem.
The overhauled Plan Finder debuted at the end of August, and 2020 plan information was added in October. Over the past three months, Plan Finder problems reported to CMS by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the National Association of Health Underwriters, and state and national consumer advocates included inaccurate details about prices, covered drugs and dosages, and difficulty sorting and saving search results, among other things.
CMS made almost daily corrections and fixes to the website, which is the only tool that can compare dozens of private drug and medical plans ― each with different pharmacy networks, covered drugs and drug prices. The website provides information for more than 60 million people with Medicare and their families, as well as state Medicare counselors and the representatives who answer the 800-MEDICARE help line.
Unsurprisingly, the article notes that some folks signed up before corrections were made, which may not become apparent to them until they use the plan in 2020. Which leads me to my next point.
Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on [the Senate Special Committee on Aging], also said Medicare needs to reach out so people know they can request a “special enrollment period” if they discover next year they made a wrong choice due to inaccurate Plan Finder information.
“People with Medicare must be aware that this reprieve exists and should not have to jump through hoops to qualify,” he said. The administration should “use all means necessary” to let beneficiaries know about their options for a special enrollment period.
Fifteen Senate Democrats, led by Casey, sent a letter Thursday to Medicare Administrator Seema Verma asking the agency to “widely publicize the existing SEP for people who were misled by information” in the Medicare Plan Finder and to make switching plans easy.
The Associated Press reported on that at the end of last week. Senators urge Medicare to allow seniors a drug plan do-over:
In its statement Friday, Medicare said it wants to ensure that seniors “are confident in their decisions and happy in the coverage they choose.”
Medicare said it’s always had the ability to grant do-overs, “but this year we’re doubling down on ensuring that choosing their Medicare coverage is a simple and painless experience for beneficiaries.”
Medicare officials told AP that if seniors had problems with the plan finder and were unhappy with the outcome, they could call 1-800-MEDICARE and request to make a switch.
Agency officials said beneficiaries don’t need to use any technical language, only explain what their issue is to the call center representative. No documentation or screen shots will be required.
Stay tuned. This may not be over.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Have you ever used the Medicare Plan Finder? The GAO released a report a few days ago about it. Medicare Plan Finder: Usability Problems and Incomplete Information Create Challenges for Beneficiaries Comparing Coverage Options explains that the website isn't too user-friendly, with a redesign coming soon.
Medicare beneficiaries have many decisions to make when selecting their health and prescription drug coverage. Their choices affect their out-of-pocket costs and which providers they can see. The Medicare Plan Finder website is a primary source for comparing options.
Many officials who assist beneficiaries in selecting coverage—about three-quarters of those we surveyed—told us beneficiaries struggle with the website. They and others said it is difficult to navigate, contains complex terms, and lacks information needed to compare coverage options.
Medicare’s administrator plans to launch a redesigned website in August.
Here are the highlights from the GAO report:
The Medicare Plan Finder (MPF) website—a primary resource for comparing Medicare coverage options—is difficult for beneficiaries to use and provides incomplete information, according to stakeholders and research studies. These sources and directors of State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) GAO surveyed—who assist beneficiaries with their Medicare coverage choices—reported that beneficiaries struggle with using MPF because it can be difficult to find information on the website and the information can be hard to understand. For example, MPF
requires navigation through multiple pages before displaying plan details,
lacks prominent instructions to help beneficiaries find information, and
contains complex terms that make it difficult for beneficiaries to understand information.
In response to GAO's survey, 73 percent of SHIP directors reported that beneficiaries experience difficulty finding information in MPF, while 18 percent reported that SHIP counselors experience difficulty.
Further, the results include "incomplete estimates of costs under original Medicare, making it difficult to compare original Medicare and Medicare Advantage (MA), the program's private heath plan alternative." Further, Medigap plan info isn't included in the results, with 75% "of the SHIP directors surveyed [reporting] that the lack of Medigap information in MPF limits the ability of beneficiaries to compare original Medicare to MA."
This is worrisome, given the emphasis on using the Medicare website for beneficiaries. So it will be important to examine the redesigned website to make sure it is more user-friendly, and contains complete and accurate info.
The full report is available here. Stay tuned.