Monthly Archives: January, 2017

“Doctor considers the pitfalls of extending life and prolonging death” – NPR

prolongong-deathCaiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images

“Humans have had to face death and mortality since since the beginning of time, but our experience of the dying process has changed dramatically in recent history.

Haider Warraich, a fellow in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center, tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that death used to be sudden, unexpected and relatively swift — the result of a violent cause, or perhaps an infection. But, he says, modern medicines and medical technologies have lead to a “dramatic extension” of life — and a more prolonged dying processes.

“‘We’ve now … introduced a phase of our life, which can be considered as dying, in which patients have terminal diseases in which they are in and out of the hospital, they are dependent in nursing homes,’ Warraich says. ‘That is something that is a very, very recent development in our history as a species.'”

Read the article in its entirety at NPR.

Governor Wolf announces Plan to create Department of Health and Human Services | Seeks to improve services and benefits for seniors, people with Intellectual and physical disabilities, and those suffering from substance use Disorder

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Wolf announced his plan to create a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his 2017-2018 budget in order to promote more effective collaboration and service delivery, enhance program effectiveness, and eliminate duplicative processes.

“This new department will streamline government and allow the commonwealth to deliver more effective services to seniors, individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities, and those suffering from a substance use disorder as well as promote the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Over the past several months, I have worked closely with these four departments to break down silos and reimagine how we deliver critical services that will provide treatment to those suffering from substance use disorder, ensure children are receiving high quality services, and expand community-based opportunities for seniors. The creation of a new, unified Department of Health and Human Services will not result in any program cuts for Pennsylvanians, but will dramatically improve our ability to deliver services that will improve lives. “

The Departments of Aging (PDA), Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Health (DOH), and Continue reading →

“What Pennsylvania Physicians Need to Know about the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program” – Pennsylvania Medical Society

“Pennsylvania physicians who are licensed, registered, or otherwise lawfully authorized to prescribe controlled substances, other drugs or devices in the course of professional practice or research in this Commonwealth are required to register in the state’s new prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). The Department of Health’s (DOH) PDMP webpage contains more information, including a link to register.

“According to the law, once registered, prescribers shall query the system for each patient the first time the patient is prescribed a controlled substance by the prescriber for purposes of establishing a baseline and a thorough medical record.

“A prescriber shall also query the system if he or she believes or has reason to believe, using sound clinical judgment, that a patient may be abusing or diverting drugs.

“Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, prescribers will also be required to query the system each time a patient is prescribed an opioid drug product or benzodiazepine by the prescriber.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

“A Housing Crisis for Seniors” – The New York Times

senior-housing-crisisSally Deng

by Allison Arieff

“Last fall, I had to take the car keys away from an elderly relative who lives alone. This intervention should have happened much earlier, but when the day came it was one of the more emotionally wrenching things I’ve ever done. ‘Don’t take my car away,’ he pleaded. ‘Without my car I don’t have a life.’

“The fear he expressed is one shared by many older Americans, who, overwhelmingly, live in places where car travel is a necessity. And that number is skyrocketing: The population aged 65 and over is expected to grow to 79 million from 48 million in the next 20 years, and by 2035, one in three American households will be headed by someone 65 or older (and 9.3 million of those will be one-person households like my relative’s). A report just out from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, “Projects and Implications for a Growing Population: Older Households 2015-2035 Housing,” reveals that this demographic shift will increase the need for affordable, safe housing that is well connected to services way beyond what current supply can meet.

“My now-car-free relative is not the sort to sign up for one of those 55-plus communities promising sunshine, gardens and golf.”

Click here to continue reading this column at The New York Times.

“How to make a home much more friendly to seniors using wheelchairs or walkers” – California Healthline

Home caregiver comforting senior man in wheelchairThe housing industry has failed to accommodate an aging population, experts say. (iStock)

by Judith Graham

“When Dan Bawden teaches contractors and builders about aging-in-place, he has them get into a wheelchair. See what it’s like to try to do things from this perspective, he tells them.

“That’s when previously unappreciated obstacles snap into focus.

“Bathroom doorways are too narrow to get through. Hallways don’t allow enough room to turn around. Light switches are too high and electrical outlets too low to reach easily. Cabinets beneath a kitchen sink prevent someone from rolling up close and doing the dishes.

“It’s an ‘aha moment’ for most of his students, who’ve never actually experienced these kinds of limitations or realized so keenly how home design can interfere with — or promote — an individual’s functioning.

“About 2 million older adults in the U.S. use wheelchairs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; another 7 million use canes, crutches or walkers.

“That number is set to swell with the aging population … ”

Continue reading this article at California Healthline, click here.

Infographic: Medicaid in Pennsylvania – Kaiser Family Foundation

“Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide health and long-term care coverage to more than 70 million low-income children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities in the United States. Medicaid is a major source of funding for hospitals, community health centers, physicians, and nursing homes. Federal policy proposals to restructure Medicaid could fundamentally change the scope and financing of the program. The two-page fact sheets provide a snapshot with key data for Medicaid in every state related to current coverage, access and financing.”


medicaid-2Download these infographics as a .pdf by clicking here or on either of the graphics above.

“In Pa. budget crunch, Wolf wants to merge four departments” –

“Facing deepening budget woes, Gov. Wolf is seeking to merge four state agencies that oversee Pennsylvania’s massive health and public welfare programs into a single department, according to an email that circulated Friday to state employees who would be affected by the proposal.

“Wolf wants to consolidate the Departments of Aging, Health, Human Services, and Drug and Alcohol Programs, according to the email, sent by the secretaries who oversee those departments. An official announcement is scheduled for Monday, according to the message.

“It provided no details on how much the merger would save the state or how it would affect state employee jobs. Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said he could not comment, deferring to Monday’s announcement.

“Abbott also said the proposed merger would require legislative approval.”

Continue reading this artcle here.

Friday Wrap-Up, January 27 | a message from the Secretary of Aging

This week, the Secretary talks about a video shared with her and says, “Yet, regardless of age, this Germany film-school project produced by a 26 year-old student enlists emotion and creates opportunity for every one of us, regardless of age or nationality, to think about and engage in a conversation about aging.” Click here or on the graphic to watch an inspired minute and a half video. You’ll be inspired, too.


friday wrap-up 03-11-16Each week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.

Click here to download the January 27 newsletter.

Tips for Caregiver Health and Well-Being

Workers who provide supports and services to older adults and people with disabilities know that teaming up with and supporting clients’ family caregivers frequently comes with the job. A new resource from the National Institute on Aging (NIH) is now available to encourage caregivers to attend to their own well-being as an important step in taking care of another.

Here is a concise and appealing infographic that presents simple actions for better health and well-being.

Some 15 million family members and others currently provide unpaid care to an older adult. Caregivers who provide substantial care are more likely than non-caregivers to experience behavioral and physical health problems, the NIA reports. Small steps that keep caregivers healthy make a positive difference for everyone.


Department of Aging Bolsters Efforts to Improve Aging Services for LGBT Older Adults

Harrisburg, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) leadership team, along with leaders from the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL), and board members of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging (P4A) participated in a training session to improve cultural competency inside aging services for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. The training was provided by Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders (SAGE).

“During the crafting of the 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging, we repeatedly heard calls for increased cultural competency and our need to better serve and support diverse communities,” Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne said. “Through that effort, we made positive connections with SAGE and others who are willing to partner with us, so leaders of aging services in Pennsylvania can achieve the cultural competence necessary to better respond to the needs of LGBT older adults and seniors living with HIV/AIDS.”

The fourth goal of the 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging is empower the workforce. The session served as a catalyst for this effort as it brought aging services leaders together to focus on the culture, needs, and concerns of LGBT older adults. It also highlighted best practices for ensuring that LGBT older adults and seniors living with HIV/AIDS are welcomed and included in the spectrum of aging services.

“The Wolf Administration is committed to developing strategies to ensure that every aspect of our long-term services and supports system are accessible, inclusive, welcoming and culturally sensitive to matters of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Secretary Osborne. “This training is an important step that is intended to serve as a springboard for connecting vulnerable LGBT seniors with the resources and services needed to age in place with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

During 2017, the Department of Aging will continue its efforts to collaborate with multiple LGBT stakeholder groups in order to ensure that Pennsylvania’s LGBT seniors and older adults living with HIV/AIDS are well represented. These efforts will include the department’s on-going participation on the Governor’s LGBT Workgroup and evaluating ways to address data collection on gender identity.

For more information on the Department of Aging and services for older adults, visit For more information on SAGE, visit

SOURCE: news release