Be Prepared for a Power Outage or Emergency

Accidents are common in the home, and a power outage can increase the risk of an accident significantly.  Here are some tips for preparing for a power outage or other emergency to help seniors stay safe:

Keep flashlights in easily accessible places, such as your nightstand, on the kitchen counter or at the front of a kitchen drawer, or near your living room chair/sofa.

  • Make sure there are no trip hazards in the home, like worn carpeting or throw rugs with turned up corners, as these can be especially hazardous in the dark.  Keep floors free of clutter and debris, and make sure walkways and hallways are clear.
  • Keep battery-powered flameless candles around the house and within easy reach. Flameless candles are much safer than traditional wax candles, which can start fires.
  • Make sure you always have at least a week’s worth of medication on-hand in case of an emergency that keeps the power out for several days or longer.  Plan ahead for any medications that require refrigeration.
  • Keep a battery-operated radio in an easily accessible place. With no electricity, you won’t be able to access the TV, cable or Internet.
  • Maintain an ample supply of non-perishable food (cans with pull tops, packaged foods, etc.) and plenty of water.
  • Always keep plenty of spare batteries in all sizes on hand.  If the power is out for a significant period of time, batteries could be your only source of power during the outage.
  • Maintaining a conventional landline is a good idea, as cell phone batteries can quickly die. Make sure at least one corded landline phone in the house does not require electricity to charge.
  • Have an emergency plan in place before an emergency happens.  Develop a plan for family members or friends to reach you.

With these and other safety measures you can greatly reduce your chances of an accident in a power outage or other emergency.  An in-home care professional, like those at Always Best Care, can help you devise a plan and gather necessary supplies for a solid emergency preparedness plan.

 

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Medicare Fraud – How to Protect Yourself

Most doctors and health care providers are honest and bill Medicare accurately for services or supplies that they provide to seniors. However, some people who provide health care services and supplies attempt to defraud the Medicare system. Medicare.gov describes Medicare fraud as a person, group or company billing Medicare for services or goods that a senior never received.

These people or companies are able to bill counterfeit claims to Medicare because they have gained access to a senior’s Medicare data and social security numbers. The majority of seniors will not realize their Medicare information has been stolen or misused unless they pay particular attention to their Medicare statement and other related documents.

According to the website www.stopmedicarefraud.gov, fraud examples include:

  • A health care provider bills Medicare for services or supplies never received by the senior.
  • A company offers a senior a Medicare drug plan not approved by Medicare or misleads a senior with false information to join a Medicare plan.
  • A person uses a senior’s Medicare card to acquire medical care or equipment.
  • A person bills Medicare for home medical equipment after returning it.

The U.S. Department of Justice works closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to eliminate Medicare fraud by investigating claims that seniors and others report. Peter Budetti, deputy administrator and director of the center for program integrity at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says that sometimes seniors feel as if complaints have fallen on deaf ears, but in reality, the agency does its best to investigate all suspicious activity. He recommends that seniors need to be patient after filing a claim.

“In 2011, calls to our 800-number triggered 30,000 investigations,” he added. “Just because we don’t call you back doesn’t mean your complaint isn’t being investigated.”

Medicare fraud ends up costing the government and the health care consumer millions of dollars every year because health care costs rise as a result of Medicare fraud. Fortunately, consumers can help fight the deception and are actually on the front lines of the battle against fraud.

How to protect against fraud:

Seniors can safeguard themselves and reduce the risk of fraudulent activity by:

  • Guarding personal information – To commit Medicare fraud, a person must have access to Medicare and Social Security numbers. Seniors shouldn’t share this information with anyone who is offering free goods or services in exchange for a Medicare number. If your Medicare card is lost or stolen, immediately contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213
  • Closely examining important paperwork – Inspect the accuracy of medical bills, Medicare summaries and explanation of benefits documentation, and periodically review credit reports for unpaid medical bills. Report any suspicious activity immediately. To get a free credit report, call 1-877-322-8228
  • When reviewing your Medicare Summary Notice, www.medicare.gov offers these guidelines:
  • Being aware of any health care providers or equipment suppliers who:
      • If you have other insurance, check to see if it covers anything that Medicare didn’t.
      • Keep your receipts and bills, and compare them to your notice to be sure you got all the services, supplies or equipment listed.
      • If you paid a bill before you got your notice, compare your notice with the bill to make sure you paid the right amount for your services.
      • If an item or service is denied, call your doctor’s or other health care provider’s office to make sure they submitted the correct information. If not, the office may resubmit. If you disagree with any decision made, you can file an appeal with Medicare.

o    Offer free consultations services or equipment and ask for a Medicare number for any reason.

o    Call on the phone or come door-to-door and say they represent Medicare or the federal government.

o    Offer non-medical in-home services or transportation and say they are Medicare-approved.

o    Bill Medicare for medical equipment for a senior in a nursing home.

The website www.stopmedicarefraud.gov is full of information about how to guard against Medicare fraud and report suspicious activity.

Reporting suspected Medicare fraud

If a person finds a charge that looks suspicious, contact the provider who billed for the services or goods and ask about the charge. The provider can explain the charge or may realize that it is a billing error.

If the provider does not have an explanation for the charge, the explanation doesn’t match the services or goods received, or the provider cannot be reached, immediately contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), call the inspector general at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (1-800-447-8477) or email HHSTips@hhs.gov.

As described by Bob LaMendola, a reporter for the Sun Sentinel, South Florida seniors called a special Medicare fraud hotline to give an account of more than 54,000 incidents of alleged Medicare fraud from 2007 through September of 2011. In February 2012, the U.S. government shared the results of the investigations from these calls:

  • $58.6 million in overpayments were recovered
  • $10.7 million in questionable bills not paid
  • $3 million seized from fraudulent firms
  • 103 companies kicked out of Medicare
  • 106 companies flagged for extra scrutiny in future claims
  • 835 fraud investigations started
  • 30 cases referred for prosecution

And that is just in South Florida! While seniors can be a target for Medicare fraud, they also have the power to combat Medicare fraud by paying closer attention to the details of their health care bills and taking action when necessary.

Reprinted by Always Best Care Senior Services with permission from

Senior Spirit,  a publication of the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. 

The Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) program provides the advanced knowledge and practical tools to serve seniors at the highest level possible while providing recipients a powerful credential that increases their competitive advantage over other professionals.  The CSA works closely with Always Best Care Senior Services

to help ABC business owners understand how to build effective relationships with seniors based on a broad-based knowledge of the health, social and financial issues that are important to seniors, and the dynamics of how these factors work together in seniors’ lives.  To be a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) means one willingly accepts and vigilantly upholds the standards in the CSA Code of Professional Responsibility. These standards define the behavior that we owe to seniors, to ourselves, and to our

fellow CSAs. The reputation built over the years by the hard work and high standards of CSAs flows to everyone who adds the designation to their name.  For more information, visit www.society-csa.com.

Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services (www.alwaysbestcare.com/) is based on the belief that having the right people for the right level of care means peace of mind for the client and family. Always Best Care Senior Services has assisted over 25,000 seniors, representing a wide range of illnesses and personal needs. This has established the company as one of the premier providers of in-home care, assisted living placement assistance, and skilled home health care in the United States.

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Link Between Passive Smoking And Dementia

An international study by scientists in China, the UK and USA has found a link
between passive smoking and syndromes of dementia.

The study of nearly 6,000
people in five provinces in China reveals that people exposed to passive smoking
have a significantly increased risk of severe dementia syndromes.

Passive smoking, also known as ‘second-hand’ smoke or environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS), is known to cause serious cardiovascular and respiratory
diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. However,
until now it has been uncertain whether ETS increases the risk of dementia,
mainly due to lack of research. Previous studies have shown an association
between ETS and cognitive impairment, but this is the first to find a
significant link with dementia syndromes.

The study, published in
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is a collaboration between scientists
at King’s College London and Anhui Medical University, China, along with
colleagues in the UK and USA.

According to the World Health Organization
(WHO), nearly 80 percent of the more than one billion smokers worldwide live in
low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness
and death is heaviest; but only 11 percent of the world’s population are
protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws.

China is the largest
consumer of tobacco in the world, with 350 million smokers. Since 2006, the
Chinese government has actively promoted the introduction of smoke-free
environments in hospitals, schools, on public transport and in other public
places, but implementation has not been widespread.

Recent data show
that the prevalence of passive smoking is still high, with over 50 percent of
people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke on a daily basis. China also has
the highest number of dementia sufferers in the world, with increasing rates of
new cases as the population ages.

Dr Ruoling Chen, senior lecturer in
public health from King’s College London, and colleagues interviewed 5,921
people aged over 60 in the rural and urban communities of Anhui, Guangdong,
Heilongjiang, Shanghai and Shanxi to characterise their levels of ETS exposure,
smoking habits and assess levels of dementia syndromes.

They found that
10 percent of the group had severe dementia syndromes. This was significantly
related to exposure level and duration of passive smoking. The associations with
severe syndromes were found in people who had never smoked and in former and
current smokers.

The data from the Anhui cohort, which were collected at
baseline in 2001-03 for dementia syndromes and in the follow up in 2007-08 for
ETS exposure and dementia, further excluded the possibility that dementia
syndromes caused people to be more exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.

Dr Ruoling Chen, also a visiting professor at Anhui Medical University
said: ‘Passive smoking should be considered an important risk factor for severe
dementia syndromes, as this study in China shows. Avoiding exposure to ETS may
reduce the risk of severe dementia syndromes.

‘China, along with many
other countries, now has a significantly ageing population, so dementia has a
significant impact not only on the patients but on their families and carers.
It’s a huge burden on society.’

The findings from this study, together
with a second recent study by Chen and colleagues published in Alzheimer’s &
Dementia on the links between passive smoking and Alzheimer’s disease, strengthen the case for
public health measures to protect people from exposure to environmental tobacco
smoke.

‘At present, we know that about 90 percent of the world’s
population live in countries without smoke-free public areas. More campaigns
against tobacco exposure in the general population will help decrease the risk
of severe dementia syndromes and reduce the dementia epidemic worldwide.’

He added: ‘The increased risk of severe dementia syndromes in those
exposed to passive smoking is similar to increased risk of coronary heart
disease – suggesting that urgent preventive measures should be taken, not just
in China but many other countries.’

 

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Could Alcohol Be Bad for Your Brain?

VANCOUVER, July 18, 2012 – Light to moderate alcohol consumption has generally been considered to have some health benefits, including possibly reducing risk of cognitive decline. However, two studies reported today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2012 (AAIC® 2012) in Vancouver suggest that moderate alcohol use in late-life, heavier use earlier in life, and “binge” drinking in late-life increase risk of cognitive decline.

“The many dangers of misuse of alcohol, and some of its possible benefits, have been widely reported, and there needs to be further clarification by the scientific community,” said William Thies, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association® chief medical and scientific officer. “Certainly no one should start drinking in order to reduce Alzheimer’s risk, as these two new reports attest.”

“We need to know more about what factors actually raise and lower risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. To do that, we need longer term studies in larger and more diverse populations, and we need more research funding to make that happen. We have learned incredible amounts about heart disease and stroke risk from long-term research like the Framingham Study – we have solidly proven lifestyle risk factors that people can act on every day. Alzheimer’s now needs its version of that research,” Thies added.

“In 2050, care for people with Alzheimer’s will cost the U.S. more than $1 trillion, creating an enormous strain on the healthcare system, families, and federal and state budgets. Recognizing this growing crisis, the first-ever U.S. National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s was unveiled in May. Now this plan must be swiftly and effectively implemented. We need Congress to support this implementation with an additional $100 million for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach and community support,” Thies said.

20-year alcohol consumption patterns and cognitive impairment in older women

Whether moderate alcohol consumption has an impact on cognitive impairment in late-life is unsettled with some studies suggesting a protective effect. To date, few studies have examined patterns of alcohol consumption over time in relation to cognitive status, especially in very late-life.

Tina Hoang, MSPH, of NCIRE/The Veterans Health Research Institute, San Francisco and the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues followed more than 1,300 women aged 65 and older for 20 years. They measured frequency of current and past alcohol use at the beginning, midpoint (years 6 and 8) and late phases (years 10 and 16) of the study. The researchers assessed participants at the end of the study for mild cognitive impairment and dementia. At baseline, 40.6% were nondrinkers, 50.4% were light drinkers (0 to 7 drinks/week), and 9.0% were moderate drinkers (7 to 14 drinks/week). Heavy drinkers (14 drinks/week) were excluded.

The scientists found that:

  • Women who reported drinking more in the past than at the beginning of the study were at 30% increased risk of developing cognitive impairment.
  • Moderate drinkers at baseline or at midpoint had similar risk of cognitive impairment to non-drinkers; however, moderate drinkers in the late phase of the study were roughly 60% more likely to develop cognitive impairment.
  • Women who changed from nondrinking to drinking over the course of the study had a 200% increased risk of cognitive impairment.

“In this group of older women, moderate alcohol consumption was not protective,” Hoang said. “We found that heavier use earlier in life, moderate use in late-life, and transitioning to drinking in late-life were associated with an increased risk of developing cognitive impairment. These findings suggest that alcohol use in late-life may not be beneficial for cognitive function in older women.”

“It may be that the brains of oldest old adults are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol, but it is also possible that factors associated with changing alcohol use related to coping or loss could be involved. Clinicians should carefully assess their older patients for both how much they drink and any changes in patterns of alcohol use,” Hoang added.

Binge drinking increases risk of cognitive decline in older adults

Little is known about the cognitive effects of heavy episodic (or “binge”) drinking in older people. Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption in which someone who is not otherwise a heavy drinker consumes several drinks on one occasion.

“We know that binge drinking can be harmful,” said Dr. Iain Lang of Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Exeter, UK. “For example, it can increase the risk of harm to the cardiovascular system, including the chance of developing heart disease, and it is related to increased risk of both intentional and unintentional injuries.”

According to Lang, it is not clear whether binge drinking in older adults has a damaging effect on cognitive health and whether it increases the risk a person will develop dementia.

Lang and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of data from 5,075 participants aged 65 and older in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a biennial, longitudinal, nationally representative survey of U.S. adults age 50 and older, to assess the effects of binge drinking in older people on cognition and mood. Baseline data were collected in 2002 and participants were followed for eight years. Consumption of four or more drinks on one occasion was considered binge drinking. Cognitive function and memory were assessed using the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status.

Binge drinking once a month or more was reported by 8.3% of men and 1.5% of women; binge drinking twice a month or more was reported by 4.3% of men and 0.5% of women.

The researchers found that:

  • Participants who reported heavy episodic drinking once per month were 62% more likely to be in the group experiencing the highest decline in cognitive function, and were 27% more likely to be in the group experiencing the highest amount of memory decline.
  • Participants reporting heavy episodic drinking twice per month or more were 147% more likely to be in the group experiencing the highest decline in cognitive function, and were 149% more likely to be in the group experiencing the highest amount of decline in memory.

Outcomes were similar in men and women when analyzed separately.

“In our group of community-dwelling older adults, binge drinking is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline,” Lang said. “Those who reported binge drinking at least twice a month were more than twice as likely to have the greatest decline in both cognitive function and memory. These differences were present even when we took into account other factors known to be related to cognitive decline such as age and level of education.”

“This research has a number of implications. First, older people – and their physicians should be aware that binge drinking may increase their risk of experiencing cognitive decline and encouraged to change their drinking behaviors accordingly. Second, policymakers and public health specialists should know that binge drinking is not just a problem among adolescents and younger adults; we have to start thinking about older people when we are planning interventions to reduce binge drinking,” Lang added.

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Source: By Dr. Edgerly, research expert www.alzheimersblog.org/

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Finding In Home Care

In-home care includes a wide range of services provided in the home, rather than in a hospital or care facility. It can allow a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia to stay in his or her own home. It also can be of great assistance to caregivers.

In-Home CareNot all in-home services are the same. Some in-home services provide non-medical help, such as assistance with daily living. Other in-home services involve medical care given by a licensed health professional, such as a nurse or physical therapist. Common types of in-home services include:

  • Companion services: Help with supervision, recreational activities or visiting.
  • Personal care services: Help with bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, exercising or other personal care.
  • Homemaker services: Help with housekeeping, shopping or meal preparation.

Skilled care: Help with wound care, injections, physical therapy and other medical needs by a licensed health professional. Often times, a home health care agency coordinates these types of skilled care services once they have been ordered by a physician.

Determining who will provide home care is an important decision. For some, using a home health agency is the best choice. And for others, an individual care provider is a better fit.

The following steps can be helpful when trying to find the right care:

  • Create a list of care needs and your expectations for how they will be met.
  • Call home care providers and find out what help they offer and if it meets your needs.
  • Meet with a prospective provider in your home for an interview; prepare questions beforehand.
  • Check references; some agencies may conduct criminal background checks. Ask if these have been conducted.

Questions to Ask Potential In-Home Providers:

  • Are you trained in first aid and CPR?
  • Do you have experience working with someone with dementia?
  • Are you trained in dementia care?
  • Are you with an agency? (If important to you)
  • Are you bonded (protects clients from potential losses caused by the employee)?
  • Are you able to provide references?
  • Are you available at the times needed?
  • Are you able to provide back-up, if sick?
  • Are you able to manage our specific health and behavioral care needs?

Costs for home care services vary depending on many factors, including what services are being provided, where you live, and whether the expenses qualify for Medicare or private insurance coverage.

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Resource from alzheimersblog.org

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How to Respond to “I want to go home”

“I want to go home.”  Many caregivers hear this from their loved one even when their loved one is sitting in the living room of the home they have lived in for many years. It also happens when there’s a change in environment or routine.

It’s upsetting to think your loved one no longer recognizes the environment around them, but this is part of the disease. The person may not believe they are in their home because they truly don’t recognize it. Or that person is likely not speaking literally but searching for the feeling of home – a sense of familiarity, security or comfort. So, what do you do in this situation?

As you so often do, you want to connect to the emotions behind the words instead of reorienting them to their place. In other words, “connect, don’t correct.” Validate their emotions and try to meet the emotional need. A hug or hand holding can soothe. Ask them to tell you about home and they may be able to tell you about the feeling of home.

If it’s not upsetting, you can reminisce about home, possibly using photographs in a photo album.  If this upsets the person, distract them with a pleasurable activity – a walk, a favorite snack, or listening to music. You might need to make up an excuse as to why they can’t go home – “the house is being painted; we’ll go later” and distract with an activity.

Reassurance and comfort go a long way; let your loved one know they are safe, taken care of and loved.

 

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Source: http://www.alzheimersblog.org/

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Aging and the Attitude of Health Care Providers

In many cultures in the world, elderly people are revered and their advice is sought and respected. In our culture, the wisdom, the knowledge and the social skills of the elderly are often overlooked and instead we focus on the mental and physical deficits of our older generation.

 

Because of this prevailing attitude, older people are generally regarded as less valuable than younger people. The younger person has responsibilities of raising a family, maintaining a career and supporting the economy. The older person generally has no responsibilities and in addition is a drag on the economy since a great part of the tax base must go towards the support of older Americans.

 

It is inevitable that medical care providers will often have this same attitude towards their older patients. As a result, if an older person has a medical complaint and the cause is not readily apparent, a medical practitioner is more likely to accept the condition as a consequence of old age and treat the symptoms with medication as opposed to aggressively trying to identify the problem. In younger people, if the medical complaint is interfering with normal daily function, typically a more concerted effort will be made to identify and correct the problem.

 

Many in the health care profession consider old age to be a disease itself. Any medical problems are inappropriately attributed to old age as if it were a medical condition. And since there is no cure for old age, appropriate tests and treatment are never performed. Thus, medical problems that may not be related to age and may just as frequently occur in younger people are often not treated.

 

Consider the following real-life case as an example of this attitude.

 

A 71 year old woman has surgery on her shoulder for a bone spur that is causing her considerable pain. The surgery is successful and she goes through several months of physical therapy to help her recover. But she is not recovering as expected. She continues to experience pain that radiates through her entire back. Her physical therapist does not know how to help her and attributes her failure to recover to old age.

 

She visits her family care doctor at least twice over the next six months complaining of extreme tiredness and lack of energy. Her skin color is gray and she does not look healthy. Her doctor tells her that older people don’t recover from surgery as quickly and what should she expect at her age.

 

Finally, in frustration, she visits her doctor and insists he check her for some problem since she is not recovering from the surgery and she feels awful.

 

After her insistence, he does a CBC blood lab and discovers she is severely anemic. He puts her in outpatient care and gives her four units of red blood cells and puts her on iron supplementation. Within two weeks the pain has disappeared and within a month she has recovered fully from the surgery. Numerous tests are done but there is no explanation for the anemia. Six months later she is healthy and active and her cheeks are ruddy.

 

When she asks her doctor why he did not suspect anemia, he tells her that she has never had anemia and based on her history he would never expect her to develop it. (He has no training in geriatric care.) He then tells her, in an obvious contradiction of his previous position, that older people sometimes fail to absorb iron. Ironically, she defends the action of her doctor and does not feel he acted inappropriately. 

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