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. Posted on 26 September 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 Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) released their annual report on World Alzheimer’s Day (September 21) and noted that the cost of dementia worldwide are estimated to be about $604 bil. in 2010, approximately 1% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). It represents an even higher proportion of GDP in high income countries such as the U.S. About 70% of these costs occur in North America and Western Europe. The report defines costs as informal care (unpaid care provided by family and others), direct costs of social care (provided by community care professionals, and in residential home settings) and the direct costs of medical care (the costs of treating dementia and other conditions in primary and secondary care). The data showed that costs of informal care and the direct costs of social care generally contribute similar proportions of total costs (42% each), while the direct medical costs are much lower (16%). The staggering number statistics were released by the ADI, a non-profit organization which is an international federation of 73 national Alzheimer’s organizations, including the Alzheimer’s Association in the U.S., which my company, Family inHome Caregiving of Monterey, is a large supporter of. To date we have raised more than $21K to support their efforts, including finding a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. The recent report highlights a fact that simply can’t be ignored. With health costs already crippling the U.S. economy, something must be done to find a treatment for the growing number of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. The report estimates that the annual cost per person with dementia is over $60K per year in the U.S. “The figures are cause for great concern and we hope that this Report will act as a call to action for governments and policy makers across the world. It is vital that they recognize that the cost of dementia will continue to increase at an alarming rate and we must work to improve care and support services, treatment and research into dementia in all regions of the world,” wrote Daisy Acosta, Chairman of ADI and Marc Wortmann Executive Director of ADI. These words exemplify how critical it is that support for finding a cure for this terrible condition continues, and we hope you will support our local Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Walk which starts at Custom House Plaza in Monterey October 16 at 10:00 a.m.
This disease, unfortunately, is underfunded compared to many other illnesses. Recently published research from the U.K. suggest that a 15-fold increase is required to reach parity with research into heart disease, and a 30-fold increase to achieve parity with cancer research.
The ADI report noted that people with dementia, their families and friends are affected on personal, emotional, financial and social levels. Lack of awareness, however, is a global problem and the economic impact on families is insufficiently appreciated. This is obvious for anyone caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but it’s surprising how many people are unaware of the emotional and financial toll it takes. In the U.S. and other developed countries there is a growing awareness of the problem, although the report noted that medical help-seeking is relatively unusual in low and middle income countries, where dementia is often viewed as a normal part of ageing. This is a double sided coin: Although the cost of care in these lower income countries is small, as awareness rises and more families seek medical treatment, costs will undoubtedly increasee in these countries. The report projected that there will be an 85% increase in costs by 2030, based only on predicted increases in the number of people with dementia and said there is an urgent need to develop cost-effective packages of medical and social care that meet the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers across the course of the illness, and evidence-based prevention strategies. Please click here to read the full report from ADI. Posted on 28 September 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
A great actress passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 100. Gloria Stuart was a Hollywood star during the 1930′s then stopped acting for almost 30 years from 1946-1975 but came back with a fervor, earning a nomination for best supporting actress in “Titanic” where at the age of 87 she played the 100-year old Rose Calvert.
It was complications from lung cancer (respiratory failure) that took Gloria Stuart in the end, but she beat breast cancer twenty years prior and led a full life. She will go down in the history books for being the oldest actor nominated for an Academy Award. Her daughter, Sylvia Thompson, attributed her long life to a great attitude. “She did not believe in illness. She paid no attention to it, and it served her well. She had a great life. I’m not sad. I’m happy for her,” she told a reporter.
A story in the Monterey Herald outlined some of her great achievements prior to Titanic such as staring in two Shirley Temple Movies, “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” She will be remembered fondly by many. I own a caregiving service in Carmel, California and most of our Clients that we provide private duty care for are in their 90′s. Their health runs from stellar to just barely getting by. Although genes play a part in longevity for the elderly, I do believe diet, exercise and having a positive attitude also play strong roles. Those who remain home bound and don’t want to socially engage in a positive manner with the outside world can cause stress on themselves, which in-turn can cause all types of illnesses.
My grandmother’s sister just turned 100 years old and she owned a vitamin store in San Francisco for decades, which may be one of the reasons she is enjoying such a long life. She also has a healthy social life, giving lemons to all of her neighbors, and inviting people over for a cup of tea and some home made baked goods.
So to all of you seniors out there reading my blog that are in your 90′s, eat right, exercise, and don’t forget to keep engaged with your friends and neighbors, and it never hurts to go out and find some new ones.