Category Archives: Aging

“Updated Long-Term Services and Supports Fact Sheet Published”

ltss article

The AARP Public Policy Institute has released a new fact sheet about long-term services and supports. The sheet provides updated information from a similar LTSS publication in 2017. The 2019 edition examines LTSS and covers topics including:

  • What LTSS encompass;
  • Who needs LTSS;
  • Who provides LTSS; and
  • Where people with LTSS reside.
Click here to visit the Genworth “Cost of Care Survey 2018” Webpage.

“For Older Patients, an ‘Afterworld’ of Hospital Care” – The New York Times

“Long-term care hospitals tend to the sickest of patients, often near the end of their lives. Many will never return home.”

never home againCredit: Monica Jorge for The New York Times)

by Paula Spahn

“The Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, Conn., had 10 patients in its close observation unit on a recent afternoon. Visitors could hear the steady ping of pulse monitors and the hum of ventilators.

“The hospital carefully designed these curtained cubicles to include windows, so that patients can distinguish day from night. It also placed soothing artwork — ocean scenes and landscapes — on the ceilings for those who can’t turn over and look outside.

“All these patients had undergone a tracheostomy — a surgical opening in the windpipe to accommodate a breathing tube attached to a ventilator — when they arrived from a standard acute-care hospital. Some had since been weaned from the ventilators, at least for part of the day.”

Read this New York Times column in its entirety, click here.

Loneliness and social isolation – focus is there, solutions are emerging

fighting social isolation

Aging in Place Technology Watch and GreatCall have published a new white paper about initiatives to fight social isolation — a few of the points are excerpted here:

What has changed in the past two years?  First, the research.  Once the correlation between social isolation and poorer health outcomes was made, the volume of research spiked. From its pre-correlation measurement in the 1996 UCLA Loneliness Scale, a number of other surveys have been released that include correlation with health care costs, economic status, and lifestyle preferences. In late 2017, research from AARP’s Public Policy Institute concluded that socially isolated older adults cost the U.S. health system an additional $6.7 billion in health-related spending. Newer research from the National Institute on Aging is focusing on the connections between loneliness, long viewed as a predictor of cognitive decline, and other health risks, including:  high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

Social isolation – is this a worsening 21st century phenomenon? Is social isolation more of a problem today than in the past. And, what is the prognosis for the future? The recent AARP report zeroed in on the key predictors of loneliness, sometimes referred to as “perceived social isolation.” Living situations and marital status may provide a clue to societal changes that result in social isolation and loneliness. In 2018, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) released its survey profile of older Americans (age 65+). It showed that while only 14 percent of the 65+ population lives alone, almost half (45 percent) of women aged 75+ live by themselves. According to Pew Research, among those 65 and older, the divorce rate has tripled since 1990.

A top predictor of loneliness is size and quality of one’s social network.  To assess these elements and their connection to loneliness, the AARP respondents were asked for both the number of people in their lives who have been supportive in the past year and the number with whom they can discuss matters of personal importance. From the study: “As expected, as one’s social network increases, loneliness decreases. Also as expected, as physical isolation decreases (the factor which included items such as disability status, number of hours spent alone and household size), so does loneliness.”

Health limitations can exacerbate social isolation. While loneliness and social isolation are emerging as public health issues, less has been published about the health issues that may lead to social isolation: mobility limitations, depression, cognitive impairment and hearing loss.  In another study, older adults with mobility impairments were more likely to report being isolated from friends. These surveys underscore the fact that elderly people are the most likely to experience social isolation and its related health effects. According to a UK study, those who provide care — including family caregivers such as children or spouses — are also known to experience loneliness in their roles and would benefit from greater societal appreciation and possible interventions such as respite care.

Untreated hearing loss contributes to social isolation.  According to government statistics, among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than 30% have ever used them. Denial and unreimbursed cost ($2400/ear) are factors, and delay in acquiring them can worsen the isolation.  Hearing aids today also offer features that include fall detection, smartphone integration, and AI capabilities.  Moving forward, Medicare Advantage plans are beginning to contribute to a portion of the cost. Audiologists play a role in managing user expectations and training an individual to adjust to the change from little or no sound to the noisy environment of stores, restaurants, office buildings and streets.

Click here to read the full white paper.

“Opioid crackdown forces pain patients to taper off drugs they say they need” – The Washington Post

pain“Hank Skinner and his wife, Carol, are no strangers to pain, having collectively experienced multiple illnesses and surgeries. Hank relies on a fentanyl patch but is now being forced to lower his dosage.” (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

by Joel Achenbach and Lenny Bernstein

Carol and Hank Skinner of Alexandria, Va., can talk about pain all day long.

“Carol, 77, once had so much pain in her right hip and so little satisfaction with medical treatment she vowed to stay in bed until she died.

“Hank, 79, has had seven shoulder surgeries, lung cancer, open-heart surgery, a blown-out knee and lifelong complications from a clubfoot. He has a fentanyl patch on his belly to treat his chronic shoulder pain. He replaces the patch every three days, supplementing the slow-release fentanyl with pills containing hydrocodone.

“But to the Skinners’ dismay, Hank is now going through what is known as a forced taper.”

OPINION: “The Trick to Life Is to Keep Moving | What my friendship with a woman 51 years my senior taught me about growing up.” – The New York Times

“Cora taught me that there are worse things than dying — that getting older is a process of losing your children to distance and coping with incontinence and memory loss, yes, but also of becoming more unapologetically yourself.”

keep moving

by 

“For many people, roommates and romances are the most important relationships of their late teens and early 20s. For me it was Cora Brooks, a poet and activist 51 years my senior. She taught me how to make bread without measuring the flour or water or yeast, to not fear improvising. Through Cora I learned slowness and grace.

“Cora taught me that there are worse things than dying — that getting older is a process of losing your children to distance and coping with incontinence and memory loss, yes, but also of becoming more unapologetically yourself. She got angry at the government, at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, at her body’s failings, at her family. Her secret to recovering from multiple strokes? Turn on the radio and teach herself to dance, step by wobbly step. ‘The trick is to keep moving,’ she told me.”

Read this opinion column in its entirety at The New York Times.

 

“Opioid / scam awareness” FREE Link training affords exceptional opportunity for everyone

Berks Lancaster lebanon

“The face of the nation’s opioid epidemic increasingly is gray and wrinkled. But that face often is overlooked in a crisis that frequently focuses on the young.”

And this is the singular reason the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources | Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Service Area asked Special Agent Alan McGill to come to our counties for the above presentations in each county.

McGill is a Special Agent with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office and those who attended the presentations in Lebanon and Lancaster all agreed: THIS WAS AN EXCEPTIONALLY WELL DONE SESSION THAT IS SO IMPORTANT. (The Berks County presentation is today at the McGlinn Conference Center in Reading.)

Following the “Opioids & Dangerous Drugs” presentation, Jerry Mitchell, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office education & outreach | scam awareness subject matter expert facilitated a dynamic brief mini-presentation about scams and fraud.

“The heroin and opioid epidemic is the number one public health and public safety challenge facing Pennsylvania.  In 2016, 4,642 Pennsylvanians died from overdoses – a 37 percent increase from the year before. An average of 14 Pennsylvanians die every day from overdose, and based on available data from 2017 the death toll will only continue to rise.

“Opioids come in many different forms with many different names, including OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine and Heroin

“Health effects of prolonged opioid use:

  • Depression
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Hepatitis C (through shared needles)
  • HIV/AIDS (through shared needles)
  • Brain damage
  • Death (by overdose)

“Opioids are often stolen from someone with a legitimate prescription. Seventy percent of people that illegally use prescription drugs admit getting them from family and friends. The number one source of drugs for teenagers is home medicine cabinets.

“Opioids can also be obtained when a person is legally prescribed a drug and then abuses it, prescriptions are forged and altered, or the medications are purchased from a dealer illegally selling prescription drugs.” – SOURCE: Office of the Attorney General Website

There is so much evidence that opioid and other substances are being sought and used by older persons. “Older adults are among the groups affected by this problem because Continue reading →

“‘Disconnected from other folks,’ seniors grapple with a loneliness epidemic” – The Boston Globe

lonely seniorsSarah Cammarata, 100, has become a regular at bingo at the Callahan Center in Framingham. Social interaction helps combat depression, senior advocates say. (PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF)”

by Robert Weisman

WOBURN — Scanning recent police reports from the Massachusetts communities under her jurisdiction, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan was alarmed to spot what she called a “tragic spike” in suicides.

“Fifty-two county residents had taken their lives in the first half of this year, a toll up almost two-thirds from last year. She knew that plenty of young people battle anxiety but was surprised to learn the residents’ average age was 46. A quarter were over 60.

“’The numbers are dramatically higher than we’ve seen in the past,’ Ryan said. Although it’s impossible to pinpoint one cause, ‘loneliness is definitely a factor,’ she said. ‘Many older people are feeling disconnected from other folks in their communities.’”

Read this Boston Globe article in its entirety here.

 

Come to a special presentation about “OPIOIDS & DANGEROUS DRUGS” | Controlling the opioid epidemic in our aging and disabled population.

OPIOID TRAININGS

LEBANON COUNTY SPECIAL PRESENTATION – AUGUST 27

LANCASTER COUNTY SPECIAL PRESENTATION – AUGUST 28

BERKS COUNTY SPECIAL PRESENTATION – AUGUST 29


“AMERICANS OVER 50 are using narcotic pain pills in surprisingly high numbers, and many are becoming addicted. While media attention has focused on younger people buying illegal opioids on the black market, dependence can also start with a legitimate prescription from a doctor: A well-meant treatment for knee surgery or chronic back troubles is often the path to a deadly outcome.”

Click here to read this AARP article about “America’s Addiction to Pain Pills.”


“A growing number of older Americans are becoming addicted to prescription opioid drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. While drug-related deaths have increased dramatically in all age groups, the greatest percentage increase has been among adults ages 55 to 64.” – Read more here.

Here’s an idea worth “sharing.”

share logo

This message from the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Secretary, Robert Torres, comes in the Inside Aging – August eblast. It’s an idea that many in our Service Area (Berks-Lancaster-Lebanon Counties) have talked about … shared housing.

“Many of us may have experienced placing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility—it’s a challenging process for both the family and the older adult. This can isolate the senior from regular time with family and friends and put them in a new setting to adjust to, as opposed to the comfort they have been used to in their own home or local community. The family having to rehome an older adult may worry about cost, quality of care, and a change in convenience of spending time with them.

“Aging in place is an option we know that most seniors prefer, and improving access to affordable and accessible housing is an objective of the department’s State Plan on Aging. An AARP study found that an overwhelming 90% of people age 65 and over would rather stay in their own home as they age.

“It’s important to know that there are alternatives for the seniors in our lives when it comes time to make such a difficult decision. Within the last two years, the Department of Aging has overseen the launch of two very exciting housing programs: the Shared Housing and Resource Exchange (SHARE) pilot program, and Pennsylvania’s very first Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity (ECHO) program.

“The SHARE housing program launched in 2017 in Pike, Wayne, and Monroe Counties in partnership with the Pike County Area Agency on Aging and the support of the counties’ commissioners. SHARE brings together homeowners with extra space in their home and individuals, referred to as home seekers, in need of affordable housing. SHARE counselors assist a matched set of homeowners and home seekers in making a plan where affordable housing is offered in exchange for rent, help around the house, or a combination of both.

“Last year, the department celebrated Pennsylvania’s first ECHO cottage in Clearfield County. Elder cottages are small, separate, manufactured residences that are temporarily placed on the side or rear yard of a host family for an older adult. This allows privacy for both the senior and host family, while at the same time assuring accessibility for both parties as necessary. Additionally, the cottages are far more cost-effective for both parties and give the older adult the option to avoid premature admission into a long-term care facility.

“SHARE and ECHO allow seniors to age in their communities, close to their family and friends, without concern of isolation. Programs like this can give families one peace of mind about their loved one’s wellbeing. If you are interested in exploring housing alternatives for an older adult, please reach out to Julie Seby, jseby@pa.gov, at the Department of Aging to learn more about these programs.”

“‘Disconnected from other folks,’ seniors grapple with a loneliness epidemic” – The Boston Globe

older dancer

by Robert Weisman

WOBURN — Scanning recent police reports from the Massachusetts communities under her jurisdiction, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan was alarmed to spot what she called a ‘tragic spike’ in suicides.

“Fifty-two county residents had taken their lives in the first half of this year, a toll up almost two-thirds from last year. She knew that plenty of young people battle anxiety but was surprised to learn the residents’ average age was 46. A quarter were over 60.

“‘The numbers are dramatically higher than we’ve seen in the past,’ Ryan said. Although it’s impossible to pinpoint one cause, ‘loneliness is definitely a factor,’ she said. ‘“Many older people are feeling disconnected from other folks in their communities.’”

Click here to continue reading this article at The Boston Globe.