Posted on 03 October 2010. Tags: alzheimer's, Aromas, big sur, California, caregiver, caregiving, carmel, carmel highlands, carmel valley, Dementia, elder, elder care, gilroy, hollister, Hospice, king city, live-in, marina, memory walk, monterey, Moss Landing, pacific grove, pebble beach, private duty, prunedale, salinas, sand city, seaside, senior, senior 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. Posted on 03 October 2010. Tags: alzheimer's, Aromas, big sur, California, caregiver, caregiving, carmel, carmel highlands, carmel valley, Dementia, elder, elder care, gilroy, hollister, Hospice, king city, live-in, marina, memory walk, monterey, Moss Landing, pacific grove, pebble beach, private duty, prunedale, salinas, sand city, seaside, senior, senior 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.
Posted on 03 October 2010. Tags: alzheimer's, Aromas, big sur, California, caregiver, caregiving, carmel, carmel highlands, carmel valley, Dementia, elder, elder care, gilroy, hollister, Hospice, king city, live-in, marina, memory walk, monterey, Moss Landing, pacific grove, pebble beach, private duty, prunedale, salinas, sand city, seaside, senior, senior 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. 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 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.
Family inHome Caregiving Blog
by Richard Kuehn on 01/22/16
People with Down’s syndrome develop Alzheimer’s
a much more rapid clip than the general population. The Alzheimer’s Association is teaming up
with the National Institutes of Health and others to try and use this as an
opportunity to study these victims and, hopefully, come up with a cure or at
least something which will delay early onset.
A hefty 75% of senior citizens with Downs Syndrome have Alzheimer’s
disease, about 6x the number of those in this demographic in the overall
population, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The NIHS has earmarked $37 million to identify
biomarkers to identify those with Down syndrome who are at risk of getting
Alzheimer’s disease. Others are funding
efforts to develop a blood test which can detect those that are at high risk of
getting Alzheimer’s disease. Regular
readers of my blog know that both my grandmother and my father had this
terrible disease when they passed away, and I have been working diligently with
the Monterey Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association to raise money to
find a cure. In addition to being the
largest private funder of Alzheimer's research in the United States, they have
support groups and a 24-hour hotline (800-272-3900) where a dedicated staff member
can help you if you are struggling with caring for a loved one with the
by Richard Kuehn on 01/21/16
Many were hopeful that a new drug to treat Duchenne
Muscular Dystrophy would be developed—28 trials or studies or potential
therapies are currently under way.
However, the Food & Drug Administration, which had agreed to do an
expedited review on two experimental drugs (one from BioMarin Pharmaceutical
and one from Sarepta Therapeutics) have rejected one (drisapersen) and today
FDA scientists questioned the methodology of the research of another drug which
could provide treatment. Many families
of those suffering with a member who has MD were sharply critical of the FDA
pointing out that there are no treatments for the fatal illness.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/21/16
The number of Centenarians
continues to grow, and they are living longer lives. Those who were born during the Woodrow Wilson
Administration (or earlier) are up by 44% since 2000, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Back in 1980, they numbered 15,000 but have since grown to more than
72,000. Death rates declined for all
demographic groups in the six years ending in 2014, according to the CDC. Women, who typically live longer than men,
account for more than 80% of centenarians.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/19/16
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula,
CHOMP, is holding a class weight-loss surgery and what you can eat afterwards
which will be held on January 21 from 3:0 to 4:30 p.m. at the Ryan Ranch
Outpatient Campus in Suite 0200. There
is a $75 charge for this class which will teach you what you can eat after
gastric bypass or lap-band surgery.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/19/16
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula,
CHOMP, is holding a number of interesting classes during January and February including
one on T’ai Chi which will start on January 22 and run on Fridays from 1:00 to
2:30 p.m. through March 25. Held in the
It’s My Life studio, this class will teach you how Tai chi’s gentle, slow
movements can strengthen arms, legs, and improve balance and flexibility. It can also help prevent falls and help
manage stress. To register for this
class (there is a $60 fee), call 625-4996.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/16/16
It has long been known that being sedentary can cause a number
of serious health problems. A new study
from the Mayo Clinic found that the time spent sitting is associated with an
increased risk of diabetes and a shorter life span, regardless of the physical
activity level. They found that
nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) such as walking, standing and even
fidgeting improved the levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and insulin in the
blood. They recommend that we all
increase our NEAT activities which can range from reading a book while standing
up to going out and raking the yard.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/16/16
In a huge setback for the medical research community, it was announced yesterday that five men participating in a clinical drug trail for treating degenerative disease like Parkinson’s as well as anxiety, were rushed to the hospital and one has died. The trial involved 90 people in total, with four suffering neurological disorders, one dying and another hospitalized and under observation. The trial was being conducted in France and the French Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that there were no documented cases of this type of tragedy ever happening before in any clinical trial. “We have never seen any trace of a similar accident,” Ms. Tourain told The Wall Street Journal. The drug had been administered on chimpanzees and other animals but this was a first trial using humans. News of the tragedy reverberated around the world and is likely to cause researchers to use extreme caution in future clinical trials.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/15/16
Many physicians believe that older Americans
are too resistant to change and when diagnosing them with Diabetes and other
diseases which can be controlled with diet and exercise, they just prescribe
drugs instead of referring them to educational and exercise programs. This is sad but I think much of it has to do
with new Medicare rules designed to cut costs and make the medical system more
efficient. But it’s rather impersonal
and doctors just don’t often take the time that they used to discussing a
medical problem in depth with their patients.
Developing access for seniors to intense exercise and education will
require provider-community collaboration.
YMCAs in many cities are beginning to offer such programs.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/15/16
Research which was published in the Annals of
Internal Medicine analyzed 105 obese adults (mostly men) who were assigned to
either a low-carb diet or a low-fat diet, while studying another 102 who were
allowed to choose between the two. After
48 weeks, those who weren’t given a choice lost 15 pounds compared to 12.5
pounds the group where the diet was chosen for them. Researchers believe part of this might be
that people do better on diets when told what to do. In addition, if you choose your own diet, you
are likely to pick the one which has more of the foods that you like rather
than the best diet for your body composition.
by Richard Kuehn on 01/12/16
In 1982 doctors told Jackie Smith’s parents to
take their 3-year old daughter home, she likely wouldn’t live until she was 16
due to a rare muscle disease passed on via a mutation in her DNA. Now 35 years old, she has proven her doctors
wrong and is still alive and kicking and Claritas Genomics at last gave her the
answer that she was looking for. The
company allows a person to have their DNA sequenced for about $1,000. About 25 million Americans have at least one of
what is called a Mendelian disorder—one of 7,000 ailments brought on by a
defect in a single gene. Analytics
company WuXi NextCode has created a database of hundreds of thousands of
people’s DNA which companies like Claritas Genomics are able to sift through
and match your DNA against. In Smith’s
case, it was found that she had centronucleary myopathy, a milder version of
the disease she was diagnosed with when she was three years old. Although there’s no cure, at least she knows
what she has. Millions of Americans will
someday benefit from this leap forward in health care technology.