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Republicans Toying with Social Security Privatization Plan Which Could Be A Disaster For Seniors
Posted on 03 October 2010. Tags: alzheimer'sAromasbig surCaliforniacaregivercaregivingcarmelcarmel highlandscarmel valleyDementiaelderelder caregilroyhollisterHospiceking citylive-inmarinamemory walkmontereyMoss Landingpacific grovepebble beachprivate dutyprunedalesalinassand cityseasideseniorsenior care

The upcoming mid-term elections have both Republicans and Democrats targeting an important voter segment: senior citizens. I hope you all go to the polls! The Wall Street Journal ran an article 9/29 talked about the growing battle over a number of issues, including Health Care and Social Security. With inflation at a stand still causing the elderly to get by without cost of living increases necessary to cover rising health care and other day-to-day costs, these are hot issues.
According to the article, Republicans are focused on telling elderly voters that the Democratic health care overhaul will cripple Medicare by cutting $50 bil. from the program, while Democrats are telling older voters that the Republicans wan to gut Social Security, with some calling for a partial phase out of this money into private investment accounts.
This is a terrible idea in my opinion. At my last job I watched a man who was almost 70 and just getting ready to retire sitting at his computer crying as the market crash wiped out much of his 401K plan which he had planned to tap to have a peaceful and happy retirement. This was a few years ago but I just saw him last week–still sitting at his desk and unable to retire.

One problem these lawmakers may not have considered is the growing number of seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. My company, Family in Home Caregiving of Monterey, services these people with private duty caregivers which drive all over the peninsula to meet whatever needs they have. From Salinas to Gilroy to Monterey, our caregivers sometimes take the place of family, and we form a special bond with them.
A frequent problem is getting them to take their medications. Many are forgetful or just don’t care. We don’t delve into their financial situations, however, I have spoken to many other people in the industry and there are a lot of seniors slipping into dementia and Alzheimer’s which unfortunately haven’t prepared for this situation with a living trust or someone who can take over their affairs.
What would happen to these people if their social security were invested in the stock market and we had another prolonged economic downturn? It’s unlikely they would be able to make the proper financial decisions in order to protect their assets. My company motto is to allow seniors to remain independent and live in their own homes as long as possible. One sad story I recently witnessed was a caregiver looking for a job because the person she was caring for was being foreclosed on and they had to move in with a relative. I hope politicians don’t enable this to happen by throwing what should be a safe annuity payment, social security, into the volatile stock market. In the 2008 presidential election, voters 65 and older were 16% of the vote. 30% of voter were over 60 in the 2006 mid-term elections–I hope to see more seniors at the polls in these important elections.
Lost and Alone in a Nursing Home, and Without Proper Medications, Seniors Suffer
Posted on 03 October 2010. Tags: alzheimer'sAromasbig surCaliforniacaregivercaregivingcarmelcarmel highlandscarmel valleyDementiaelderelder caregilroyhollisterHospiceking citylive-inmarinamemory walkmontereyMoss Landingpacific grovepebble beachprivate dutyprunedalesalinassand cityseasideseniorsenior care

There was a disturbing story in the New York Times today about patients in nursing homes having to go out to pain clinics to get medication because of a policy many live-in facilities have which will not allow them to dispense certain medications without a written or faxed prescription from the Doctor on file.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is now scrutinizing this practice, which can result in seniors being in pain for days before the proper paperwork arrives. The practice is an unfortunate consequence of the DEA cracking down on abuse of prescription narcotics, which some people get filled and then sell on the black market. Some unscrupulous Doctors have even been involved in this practice.
The DEA has also examined some nursing homes which allegedly dispensed narcotics without a written order from a Doctor, resulting in the current situation where some of the elderly living in assisted living facilities are left to suffer in pain, particularly on weekends when it’s difficult to get in touch with their primary care physician. Even on a good day Doctors are busy–according to the medical directors association, a doctor at a nursing home typically writes 169 prescriptions per month for a controlled substance. And many assisted living facilities don’t have a Doctor on staff causing further delays.

I’ve written on my blog many times about the unintended negative consequences of the new health care reform laws, which is costing seniors time and money. And many of them simply don’t have an abundance of either. I founded my company, Family inHome Caregiving of Monterey to help seniors from of all walks of life stay in their own homes and remain independent. I have Clients all over the county from Pacific Grove to Castroville and Salinas, and up to Moss Landing and Aromas. They are thankful that there is someone to help.
For many of them, we stop by and make sure they take their meds, get a hot meal, and get out and about and socialize with others which improves their mental faculties. They are the lucky ones who have friends and family looking after them, or have had the foresight to put money away and establish a trust or buy long-term health care insurance so they can be taken care of properly.
Unfortunately, there are millions of others which are shut away in nursing home and have no one looking after their best interests. As the NYT article pointed out, this often results in pain and suffering. It’s bad enough being left on your own with no friends and family, I hope the DEA can resolve this issue quickly.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Oh What a Tangled Web the Brain Weaves
Posted on 03 October 2010. Tags: alzheimer'sAromasbig surCaliforniacaregivercaregivingcarmelcarmel highlandscarmel valleyDementiaelderelder caregilroyhollisterHospiceking citylive-inmarinamemory walkmontereyMoss Landingpacific grovepebble beachprivate dutyprunedalesalinassand cityseasideseniorsenior care

New theories and possible solutions to treating Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia appear in the press on a weekly basis. The latest report in the Monterey Herald this week called attention to a recently published study with a new theory by Alison Goate of Washington University in St. Louis, MO in the PLoS Genetics journal. For a full copy of the study, click on this link.
Much of the research on Alzheimerse revolves around beta-amyloid plaque, although success has been mixed–I wrote in my blog about Eli Lilly’s pulling a promising new drug (Semagacestat) from the market in August after finding that those on the drug fared worse than those given a placebo.
The more recent report focused on protein tangles that clog brain cells. This could determine how quickly a person develops symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. This, paired with a second protein called tau, might signal how aggressive the onset of the disease becomes. 

The research report found that patients with mild Alzheimer’s and high levels of tau harbored a genetic alteration that predicted that they would worsen faster. The race is on now to figure out how to lower tau levels in patients which could be developing Alzheimer’s Disease, because this could slow down its onset.
The new study posits that both proteins, tau and amyloid, play a role in how quickly people develop Alzheimer’s. Many harbor the disease for years, even decades, without showing symptoms. The study from Goate showed that there was up to a seven-fold difference in how quickly people deteriorated if they had a gene which caused them to produce abnormal tau. Genetic testing may one day be able to uncover signs that people are going to develop Alzheimer’s and many other terrible diseases.
Although the research is promising, unfortunately it’s just the first-step in what is likely to be a long research project to explore this line of thought. Goate told a reporter that tau is just likely to be one of many genetic markers to be discovered that impacts Alzheimer’s Disease.

For regular readers of my blog, you know that I own a company which provides private duty caregivers to people all over Monterey Country, from Carmel and Pebble Beach up and down to King City and up to SalinasMarina and Seaside. Unfortunately, many of them have dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and are hoping for new drugs to come on the market as there are scant few to treat the disease.
That’s one reason I am a major supporter of the Alzheimer Association’s annual Memory Walk, their largest fundraiser of the year. This great organization is the largest private funding group for Alzheimer’s Research and the Family inHome Caregiving team has raised over $20,000 for this noble cause. To track our progress or find out more about the event (10:00 a.m. at the Custom House in Monterey on Saturday, October 16) click on this link. As always, thanks for your support.
Physical Therapists in Monterey CA Offer Home Safety Tips To Avoid Falls
Posted on 30 September 2010. Tags: exercise programhealth care providersPatrice WinterSeptemberside

Physical Therapists Offer Home Safety Tips To Avoid Falls

As the nation observed the third annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, the American Physical Therapy Association urged older adults to take a moment to complete a room-by-room checklist to identify and repair possible fall hazards in their homes and begin an exercise plan to reduce chances of falling and risk of injury. 

"It’s critical that seniors remain active in and outside their homes to help reduce their risk of falling," says APTA spokesperson Patrice Winter, PT, MPT. 

"However, hazards in the home are one of the leading causes of falls in older adults. Removing throw rugs, rerouting electrical cords, and installing handrails are simple ways in which one can make a home safer. Furthermore, an older adult’s risk of falling can be decreased through an individualized exercise program, designed by a physical therapist, to improve his or her strength, mobility, and balance." 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults ages 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Falls are the leading cause of deaths due to injuries and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma for the aging population.

In addition to addressing home safety and exercise, older adults should ask all health care providers to review their medicines — both prescription and over-the counter — to reduce side effects and interactions. They should also have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.

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To learn how Family inHome Caregiving can help you care for an elderly loved one in the Monterey area, visit

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Pacific Grove, CA Trans Fat Food Labeling Often Misleading

by Richard Kuehn on 12/13/14

Consumers have done a good job trying to avoid trans fat after a number of research projects have linked them to higher risk of heart disease, strokes and other serious health problems.  However, researchers have found that labeling on a lot of commonly used products may be misleading.  A study which was published in the Journal Preventing Chronic Disease looked at 4,340 packaged foods and found that of the nearly 400 products that listed in the ingredients “partially hydrogenated oils,” the main dietary source of trans fat, only 15% reported that there was trans fat in the product on their labels.  The other 84% of products listed zero grams of trans fat on the label.  Current guidelines from the Food & Drug Administration allow food producers to list zero grams of trans fat on the label if the product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving.  Therefore, you need to be suspicious of any products that list partially hydrogenated oils on the label.

Pacific Grove, CA Eating More Fish Helps Prevent Hearing Loss

by Richard Kuehn on 12/13/14

We all know that fish is a healthy food to eat.  But a new study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that there is an additional benefit: it could help prevent hearing loss.  Researchers studied records from more than 65K female nurses over an 18 year period.  They found that, compared with women wo ate fish less than once per month, those eating fish at least twice per week had a 20 percent lower risk of hearing loss, even after accounting for the fact that women who eat more fish may have healthier diets and lifestyles.  All fish, even canned tuna and shellfish, helped the women have a lower risk of hearing loss.  Researchers believe that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish may improve blood flow within the ear, just like they do in other parts of the body.

Monterey, CA Caregivers For Hodgkin’s Disease, Lung Cancer & Kidney Cancer Patients Have Hope : A New Class Of Drugs Called PD-1 Inhibitors Show Promise

by Richard Kuehn on 12/13/14

A class of drugs called PD-1 inhibitors are showing extreme promise in fighting Hodgkin’s Disease, a debilitating condition that strikes almost 10,000 people per year.  The drugs free the body’s immune system to fight cancer and have shown that they shrink cancer in over half of the patients on the drugs, and these are people that have exhausted many other treatment options.  What’s exciting about this new class of drugs is that researchers believe they may also work on lung, kidney and some other types of cancers.  Although the trials thus far have been small, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, participants were excited about the potential for this class of drugs.  About 30% of those treated for Hodgkin’s disease either do not respond to current treatments or do initially but then relapse.

Monterey, CA Alzheimer’s Caregivers And Patients Will Have Access To Generic Namenda

by Richard Kuehn on 12/12/14

A Federal judge yesterday issued a ruling blocking drug company Actavis from halting sales of the old version of Alzheimer’s drug Namenda so that it could make more money from a new version of the drug which has a longer patent life.  It’s become common practice for companies to come out with a slightly tweaked version of a drug so that it can keep its name-brand drug on the market when new generic versions are allowed to be manufactured by competitors.  For instance, the owner of the patent on the popular sleeping pill Ambien came out with a time-released version (Ambien-CR) in order to create new life for the Ambien brand.  But Actavis took this strategy even one step further.  It introduced Namenda XR, which is taken once per day rather than the old version of Namenda which was taken twice per day.  By taking Namenda off the market and introducing Namenda XR before generic Namenda came to market, it would get patients switched to what was essentially a new drug which couldn’t be substituted for a generic by the pharmacist.  “Our lawsuit against Actavis sends a clear message: Drug companies cannot illegally prioritize profits over patients,” New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said.

Monterey, CA Social Security Penalizes Those With A Public And Private Benefit Under The So Called Windfall Elimination Provision Or WEP

by Richard Kuehn on 12/12/14

The latest issue of Kiplinger's Retirement Report brought up an important issue: Those with public pensions face reduced Social Security benefits.  The article interviewed Jim Knight, a 68 year old man who filed for benefits at age 66.  He started receiving payments of $1,000 per month.  However, a year later when he started getting his teacher’s pension check, his monthly Social Security check dropped to $600 per month.  “It’s unfair.  That money is mine,” he told a reporter.  Unfortunately, it is legal under the so-called “windfall elimination provision” or WEP which penalizes those who worked in the private and public sectors unless they have 30 years or more of substantial earnings or have a military pension.  Sadly, some people get hit twice.  If you are a public pensioner who applies for a spousal or survivor benefit, that too will be cut by two-thirds of the amount of the public pension.  

Monterey, CA Physicians Confused About POLSTs, DNRs And Living Trusts : Make Your Wishes Known To Your Loved Ones Before It Is Too Late

by Richard Kuehn on 12/12/14

There has been quite a bit of focus recently on improving awareness of planning for end-of-life care (often referred to as hospice) which includes things like signing a Physicians Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (also known as a POLST).   This form outlines how you want physicians to treat you should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes.  We also recommend that you meet with friends, family, and anyone you have given power-of-attorney to or made a potential trustee on a living trust.  Talk to them frankly about what you would want to happen if you were put on life support or were in another medical emergency.  Unfortunately, experts are saying that many people signing these forms don’t fully understand what they mean.  There is a lot of medical jargon such as a “DNR” or do not resuscitate order which people need to fully understand before signing such forms.  In contrast to a POLST form, which spells out your wishes in certain circumstances, a DNR directs medical providers not to try to revive you if you have no pulse or aren’t breathing, however it doesn’t address other things like withdrawing or withholding care.  A number of studies have shown that even doctors are confused about the meaning of instructions in living wills and DNR orders.  Some doctors even mistakenly thought a living trust was the same as a DNR while others believe a DNR means that they should not provide any treatment at all.   This is quite frightening.  “The risk is that you don’t receive the necessary and standard-of-care treatment for a critical illness such as a heart attack, which could lead to death or permanent disability, whereas the standard-of-care treatment could save your life,” Dr. Ferdinando Mirarchi, lead investigator of what are called the TRIAD studies which found all of this confusion among doctors.  The bottom line is that you should have a POLST and appoint someone as your medical representative, fully explaining to them exactly what your wishes are in various medical scenarios so that there is no confusion.

Monterey, CA Retirement Outlook For Baby Boomers

by Richard Kuehn on 12/11/14

Many baby boomers have grand plans for retirement while others have no idea how they will spend their time after they stop working.  A new study which was published in the Journal of Financial Planning might give you some ideas.  The survey of middle to high income seniors (at least 50, retired and having a household income of $60,000 or more) found many enjoyed eating out more, preparing meals, reading and gardening.  Full-time workers spend only 13 minutes per week reading for personal pleasure versus 48 minutes for retirees.

Top Weekday Activities*

Sleeping                                                521

TV & Movies                                          223

Eating and drinking                                   89

Reading for personal interest                     48

Washing, dressing and grooming               39

Socializing and communicating                  34

Food and drink preparation                        34

Lawn, garden and houseplant care             30

Interior cleaning                                        24

Shopping, except groceries, food & gas      23

*In average minutes per day for retirees surveyed.  Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics data via "How Retirees Spend Their Time: Helping Clients Set Realistic Income Goals," Charlene M. Kalemkoski and Eakamon Oumtrakool

Most activities are fairly inexpensive.  "I don’t want to tell people not to worry," Charlene Kalenkoski, co-author of the study, told The Wall Street Journal.  However, she said that if the research holds true, retirement "isn't going to be as expensive as people might think," she said.  

Monterey, CA Walgreens Developing App To Connect Consumers With Physicians

by Richard Kuehn on 12/11/14

Walgreens has partnered with Telehealth to develop a web site and mobile App called MDLive which it claims will transform retail digital healthcare delivery.  The App will provide access to doctors 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Walgreens already offers access to its pharmacists 24/7.  The Virtual Medical Office platform will allow patients, healthcare professionals and insurance companies to collaborate via secure voice, video, email and mobile devices.  You could, for instance, consult with your physician who could then immediately email a prescription to Walgreens.  CVS is testing tele-health in 28 locations while Rite Aid is partnering with a company called HealthSpot to test private in-store kiosks which connect customers to physicians.  Other drug store chains will likely jump on the bandwagon.

Monterey, CA Baby Boomers Need Careful Planning For Retirement

by Richard Kuehn on 12/11/14

With the recent volatility in the stock market, many seniors are wondering if they should pull all of their money out of the market and go completely into cash.  Although investment advisers stress the fact that you need to invest more conservatively as you get older, you might be surprised that many still advise some stock exposure even for an 80-year old.  Many use the age-in-bonds formula which reduces your equity exposure by one percentage point per year.  A 25 year old would hold 25% in bonds and 75% in stocks while an 80 year old should have 20% in stocks and 80% in bonds.  One important thing to keep in mind is that you need to create a portfolio where you won't run out of money and you will still have enough available for living expenses.  One way to get a steady stream of income is to buy an inflation-adjusted annuity with payouts that match projected spending.  Another is creating a so-called TIPS ladder, which is a collection of Treasury inflation-protected maturities to provide a steady stream of principal and income to support spending during your retirement.  The latter, however, is tough in this low-interest rate environment so consult a financial adviser to analyze your investment portfolio and tell you how likely it is to hold up during your retirement.

Monterey, CA Baby Boomer Myths About A Depressing Retirement Dispelled By Recent Research

by Richard Kuehn on 12/10/14

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a great article entitled, “Why Everything You Know About Aging Is Probably Wrong.”  A lot of the article was positive, stating that as people get older friendships, creativity and satisfaction with life all can flourish.  Many people, however, are extremely anxious about retirement.  Among those surveyed that are 18-64, 57% expect memory loss although it impacts only 25% of those over 65.  About 14% of seniors aren’t able to drive and yet about 45% of those 18-64 believe they won’t be able to.  The list goes on and on.  While most of the articles we read about seniors tend to focus on the negative, this one was great, aiming to dispel common myths such as depression being prevalent with the elderly.  Research actually indicates that emotional well-being continues to improve until the 70’s, at which point it levels off.  Even centenarians report overall high levels of well-being according to a 2014 study done by a number of researchers including Laura Cartensen, the director of Stanford University’s Center on Longevity.  It’s a long article but I would encourage you to give it a read, it synthesizes a lot of recent research which has been done on the elderly.  

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