Healthy Diet For MS Patients Lowers Risk

canstockphoto2521088 150x150 Healthy Diet For MS Patients Lowers RiskI first learned about Dr. Terry Wahls this morning on my favorite radio station, Kink.fm.  The morning host had just finished her book and was remarking about this woman who had cured her multiple sclerosis (MS), discarded her wheelchair, and had done it all with food, not drugs.  In addition, she went on to say that a new study has been released that directly links the amount of  fruits and vegetables in a person’s diet to lifespan.

Eating at least seven portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day was linked to a 42% lower risk of death from all causes.  This strongly suggests the importance of the healthy diet for MS patients.

Yes, you read that right- seven portions, not the usual five we have heard about for the last several years.  As a self-proclaimed food-nut myself, I was very interested to read about Dr. Wahls and her health transformation from changing how and what she ate.

You can read about the Seven Fruits and Vegetables Study here.  Another interesting note from the study is that canned fruits and vegetables seemed to increase the risk of death by 17%!  Yikes!  Not surprisingly, the amount of sugar, especially in canned fruits seems to be to blame.

It may seem unrealistic (and can be expensive) to increase fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, but our takeaway is that some is better than none, at any age.  If you are getting  three servings,  try increasing it to four, then, five, and eventually up to seven.  I find that making a smoothie first thing in the morning helps me knock 2-3 servings out.  Here are some great recipe ideas for smoothies that I found helpful when I was just getting started.

Have you found easy ways to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption?  We want to hear about it!  Comment below!

November is National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and this caregiving stuff is hard work!  And it’s usually not funny… Until Jeff Foxworthy and caregiver  Peter Rosenberger teamed up with AARP to provide some comic relief on the subject.

Across the country 42 million people, primarily women, between the ages 40 – 60 are faced with the challenge of providing care to their older family members and friends each and every day.

These are the unsung heros of today.  These caregivers support the people we all love.  Caregivers take on a variety of roles as providing this care can come in all forms.   From taking mom to the doctor’s office, to managing medications, to total care of a loved one.  New research from AARP suggests that caregiver’s personal health and overall well-being can be greatly affected by the physical and emotional strain of caregiving, but many caregivers are reluctant to ask for help.  The Ad Council has released a series of new Public Service Advertisements (PSAs) that explore the many roles caregivers take on and provide resources to help them cope with their daily responsibilities.

Here are some resources to share to help recognize caregivers everywhere for the important work they do:

  • The new website, ThanksProject.org, where you can share a message of thanks with a caregiver you know and post it publicly alongside other messages from people across the country to illustrate the number of caregivers nationwide.
  • A new online quiz to help identify if you are a caregiver: click here for online quiz
  • If you or a caregiver you know needs support, a caregiver support group is imperative for the health and wellbeing of the caregiver.

If you are a caregiver, or you know someone who is, please be a part of this important campaign. Visit aarp.org/caregiving for more tools and resources.  And hug a caregiver today.

Long Term Care Insurance Advice: Video

Last year Suze Orman reported that she was paying around $30,000 per month for 2 full time in-home care nurses.  She’s doing this for her (then 96 year old) mother because she loves her very much, AND because she can afford it.  In this brief video, Suze offers advice on Long Term Care Insurance, and recommends that you get involved with your older parents money before it’s too late.

 “If you have older parents, and they’re not talking to you about what they’re doing… I’m asking you to get involved with they’re money!” — Suzy Orman

What is Long Term Care Insurance?

Wikipedia has a tight and concise definition that I like: “Long-term care insurance (LTC or LTCI), an insurance product sold in the United States and United Kingdom, helps provide for the cost of long-term care beyond a predetermined period. Long-term care insurance covers care generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.”

“Long-term care insurance generally covers home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer’s facilities. If home care coverage is purchased, long-term care insurance can pay for home care, often from the first day it is needed. It will pay for a visiting or live-in caregiver, companion, housekeeper, therapist or private duty nurse up to seven days a week, 24 hours a day (up to the policy benefit maximum).” — Wikipedia on the benefits of LTC Insurance

Long Term Care Statistics

According to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance:

  • 8.1 Million Americans are protected with long-term care insurance.
  • 322,000 new Americans obtain LTC insurance coverage in 2012.
  • $6.6 Billion in LTC insurance claims paid (2012).
  • Over 264,000 individuals received LTC insurance benefits (2012).

Five More Senior Care Experts You Should Follow On Twitter

In June we wrote a piece called “5 Aging Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter“.  It was a popular post and features some of our favorite eldercare advocates that you should be following on Twitter (if you’re into tweeting).   Today we thought we’d give you 5 more senior care experts that you should add to your list.  Drum-roll please…

#1) Dr. Kathy Johnson is the Founder and CEO of Home Care Assistance. She is a certified care manager, psychologist and caregiver, and tweets about a multitude of aging issues (and solutions).

#2) Lynn Wilson founded The Care Giver Partnership, which provides advice, services, resources and products to Caregivers and their loved ones.

#3)  Nanette Davis, Ph.D.  is a writer, speaker, advocate and life coach for caregivers.  She’s also a community educator who’s written several books including; “The ABCs of Caregiving: Words to Inspire You” and “Caregiving Our Loved Ones: Stories and Strategies That Will Change Your Life”.

#4) Beverly Parsons is a licensed clinical social worker who has 12 years of geriatric care management experience working with aging families.  Beverly is also a family mediator who helps families navigate troubled waters.

#5)  Dementia Journeys – John Belchamber founded Dementia Journeys with great inspiration from his mother Anne.  He found comfort sharing his feelings through writing AND sharing with others.  A very nice dementia resource.

 

We hope you enjoy the above senior care experts on Twitter.  Click here to find The Senior List on Twitter, we look forward to interacting with you on Twitter soon!

Also, make sure you follow us on Facebook today or just click the big “f” and then click LIKE.

  facebook2 app Five More Senior Care Experts You Should Follow On Twitter

Philips GoSafe Medical Alert Systems Delayed

Philips GoSafe 300x210 Philips GoSafe Medical Alert Systems DelayedBack in June we wrote about the delayed launch of Philips new flagship medical alert system called GoSafe.  We wrote:

“The new Philips GoSafe product is the latest in a line of newer mobile medical alert systems which uses the same cellular signal as your cell phone.  Instead of being tethered to a home phone-line, the consumer can take these new devices with them wherever they go (out to work in the yard, to the mall, or to a doctor’s appointment).  This new mobility feature is what separates the new mobile devices from their traditional (tethered) cousins.” — The Senior List.com

Earlier this year, Philip’s representatives told The Senior List to expect a commercial launch of Philips GoSafe Medical Alert System around fall of 2013.  Now Philips tells us GoSafe will launch sometime around December of this year.  We aren’t sure what the delay is, but these things occur all the time in the medical device industry.  Frankly, you’re better off getting it right (before getting out of the gate) when you have a product launch of this magnitude.  You only get one chance at a national (or global) launch.  All Philips has to do is look at Big Red (Verizon Wireless) to see how to screw-up the national launch of a much anticipated new medical alert system (we’re talking about you SureResponse).  Someone once said “better to be safe than sorry”… We’re guessing Philips is taking this to heart, and wants to get it right the first time.

In advance of the launch, Philips has been putting together some marketing resources including this video (below).  We’re actually excited for this entry into the mobile medical alert system market.  The GoSafe has all the makings of brand-leader if Philips executes on their marketing strategy, AND focuses on customer satisfaction.

We’ll keep an eye on this sector as it continues to evolve.  We’re guessing the best is yet to come when it comes to safety for seniors outside the home.  The GoSafe might just be the best of the bunch, but we’ll have to wait and see.

NPR Scott Simon Tweets From Mother’s Bedside

In a stunning series of poetic tweets, NPR’s Scott Simon is tweeting from his mother’s bedside. It’s not very often we get a real-time glimpse into the late stages of caregiving. For Mr. Simon to let us take this journey with him is incredibly generous (and a great learning experience). It seems Patricia may not have much longer, but a son’s love for his mother undeniable, and you can feel it with every tweet. | NPR Scott Simon tweets |


I love holding my mother’s hand. Haven’t held it like this since I was 9. Why did I stop? I thought it unmanly? What crap. – Scott Simon

5 Aging Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter

1. Keith Maderer is a financial and estate advisor who has some great posts about aging and estate issues. He’s also an accomplished author and speaker. Keith is from Western NY and has over 30,000 followers!

 

2. Barbara McVicker is a caregiving expert focusing on financial, emotional & physical stress of caregiving, (as well as elder care benefits & the work-life balance). She’s also a public speaker on the subject matter. Barbara is from Columbus, Ohio and has over 4,600 followers.

 

3. Denise Brown is a caregiving author, speaker and caregiving coach. She also founded CareGiving.com a website dedicated to assisting families with caregiver stories and solutions. Denise has over 12,000 twitter followers.

 

4. Carol Bradley Bursack is a columnist, author, consultant and speaker. She wrote the book “Minding Our Elders” (hey that would make a good twitter handle…) and has appeared as a resident caregiving expert in her many media appearances. Carol has over 2,900 followers.

 

5. Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose life’s work explores the terrain of human aging. Dr. Thomas founded a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people. Our favorite quote pulled from his website ““What we need is a radical reinterpretation of longevity that makes elders (and their needs) central to our collective pursuit of happiness and well-being.” If that by itself doesn’t implore you to follow him… nothing will. Dr. Bill has over 3,000 followers.

Policy Changes to Medicare Will Keep You In Therapy Longer

sign for help 150x150 Policy Changes to Medicare Will Keep You In Therapy Longer My first job as a social worker was in skilled nursing facilities, aka nursing homes.  While I loved many aspects of my job, I dreaded the weekly meeting that was held to determine which Medicare patients were making progress from our therapy services (and which were not).  Those who were deemed to be plateauing and no longer benefiting from physical, occupational, speech, respiratory, or skilled nursing therapy services were given a 72 hour written notice from our team.  This notified families that Medicare would no longer be covering their stay in our rehabilitation facility.

For many patients, this meant a scramble to find alternative care settings, or arranging services to be brought into their homes for the transition.  No one was happy to see me walk in the door with that letter.  It meant that Medicare had given up on them with that particular injury.  Some would appeal our decision, but it was rare that the ruling would be in their favor.  Luckily, policy changes to Medicare were on the horizon.

The saddest cases were those that had some form of dementia along with their diagnosis (broken hip, stroke, etc…).  These folks simply could not follow the instructions given to them in order to make progress with their injury.  Typically they were discharged just a week or two after admission… And they were the lucky ones.  They had straight Medicare, not an HMO or they would have been shown the door earlier. But that’s for another post.

So, it is with great pleasure to have learned about new policy changes to medicare that will have an immediate effect on this process.  A federal court settlement in Jimmo v. Sebelius has been approved.  New policy provisions will state that skilled nursing and therapy services necessary to maintain a person’s condition can be covered by Medicare.  This replaces the “improvement standard” that providers have subscribed to for years.  

According to Medicare Advocacy.org “CMS will undertake a comprehensive nationwide Educational Campaign to inform health care providers, Medicare contractors, and Medicare adjudicators  that they should not limit Medicare coverage only to beneficiaries who have the potential for improvement.  Instead, providers, contractors, and adjudicators must recognize “maintenance” coverage and make decisions based on whether a beneficiary needs skilled care that must be performed or supervised by a professional nurse or therapist.”

To break it down, Medicare recipients can’t be kicked off skilled services (therapy services such as PT, OT, etc…) simply because they aren’t making significant improvement.  In the case of the Medicare recipient with dementia and a fractured hip, he/she will now receive therapy services despite the dementia diagnosis until the hip is treated to maintain his/her current condition and to prevent further decline.

“Lawyers for the beneficiaries say the settlement could help people with chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, strokes, spinal cord injuries and brain trauma. Often the prospects for improvement are slim, but there are ways to slow a patient’s deterioration and help the patient to live long enough to take advantage of new treatments as they are developed.” New York Times

While substantial costs are expected to be added to the Medicare program because of these changes, there may also be savings realized if recipients can receive therapy services in their homes.  The increased therapy should also keep these patients out of more costly settings like hospitals and nursing facilities and keep readmission rates low.

To learn more about the settlement, or if you would like to appeal a past decision made by a Medicare provider, the article from the Center for Medical Advocacy has many helpful links and resources.

What to Watch for as Death Approaches

canstockphoto8285836 150x150 What to Watch for as Death ApproachesIt’s never easy when a loved one approaches the end of life. Because it’s an experience that most of us have seldom, if ever, gone through before — and a subject rarely talked about — it can be hard to tell what’s normal and why certain things are happening, and when the end is truly near.

Although most laypeople are unaware of the markers of the closing of life, hospice and palliative care workers know there are indicators that the natural process of dying is underway, and death is imminent. These symptoms have to do with dying itself and are independent of other symptoms the loved one may be experiencing because of a disease or other condition.

When I wrote 10 Signs Death is Near for Caring.com, they clearly struck a chord. Readers responded in some the highest numbers for any article on the site with their own stories and corroborations.

Knowing what happens at the very end of life can help families focus on providing comfort, experts say, rather than on reacting to “fixing” behaviors that can’t really be fixed. That eases stress for the dying person and for the grieving family members as well.

Obviously these changes don’t apply to a sudden death, and they may not be the exact experience of everyone at the end of life. Still, the following physical signals are quite common:

  • Changes in appetite: The person may show a marked disinterest in eating, or even drinking, beyond a gradual loss of appetite that may have led up to this change. Even favorite foods register little response.

  • Changes in sleep habits: As metabolism slows, sleepiness increases. Total hours of sleep go up, and the person becomes harder and harder to rouse.

  • Changes in breathing: Breaths become more ragged and irregular. You may hear a particular breathing pattern called Chene-Stokes — there’s a sharp intake of breath followed by a long pause that can last up to a minute before loud deep breathing resumes and then again fades.

  • Changes in urination: Because the person is consuming little, there’s little to excrete. The kidneys are also shutting down as blood pressure drops as part of the dying process. What little urine there is tends to be concentrated, and brownish, reddish, or tea-colored.

 

Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid Pants

navy safetybunns Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid PantsOne of our members at The Senior List on Facebook submitted an interesting article about her company called; Safety Bunns!  Obviously we had to inquire about them and found a really creative idea that offers seniors a safer seat at the table… This product offers safety grips on the back of the pant legs so a person doesn’t slip out of their wheelchair, dining room chair or any other slippery sitting surface.  This is a product that solves a very common problem… with a very simple solution!  Think of them as studded snow tires vs. snow tires.  Snow tires can do the job… but Studs give you a little bit more grippage, and a lot more confidence… icon smile Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid Pants  SafetyBunns2 150x150 Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid Pants

Barb Przybylowicz, (a nurse for over 33 years) developed Safety Bunns after caring for her ailing father.  Her many years of serving seniors (as well as her father) led her to identify a need, and she filled it.  Click thru to read more about Safety Bunns.

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