The latest YouTube video series interview is posted; this video interview is with APPRISE coordinators.

The Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources Service Area 13 partners’ network video interview series continues with this just-added interview with APPRISE coordinators from Berks County and Lebanon Counties. Lancaster County’s APPRISE coordinator was unavailable for this interview.

apprise logo

APPRISE Coordinators Rosa Velez from the Berks County program and Teresa Hilderbrandt, Coordinator for Lebanon County discuss the benefits of working with a certified APPRISE representative to discuss the most appropriate health insurance Medicare supplement program for your needs. In Lancaster County, the Coordinator is Kim Skinner. All three counties offer in-person and over the phone appointments addressing key elements to determine the plan best for your needs such as your yearly income, chronic diseases you may have and the prescription medications you are currently taking.


This interview series features Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources | Service Area 13 partners relaying information about partner agency’s / organization’s services and programs that are available for:

  • persons age 60 and over
  • persons with a disability
  • veterans
  • family members and
  • caregivers

located in either Berks, Lancaster or Lebanon Counties.


To contact the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources,

call 1-800-753-8827


Service Area partner agencies / organizations / entities with the Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources wishing to be included in this interview series may contact the Link coordinator for more information. Call/text: 717.380.9714 or email blllink@mail.com

“Watchdog: Nursing home deaths up 32% in 2020 amid pandemic” – Associated Press

nursing home covid deaths

“FILE – In this April 17, 2020, file photo, a patient is loaded into an ambulance by emergency medical workers outside Cobble Hill Health Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by more than 30% last year, with two devastating surges eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most complete assessment yet of the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)”

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, with two devastating spikes eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most comprehensive look yet at the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims.

“The report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found that about 4 in 10 Medicare recipients in nursing homes had or likely had COVID-19 in 2020, and that deaths overall jumped by 169,291 from the previous year, before the coronavirus appeared.

“’We knew this was going to be bad, but I don’t think even those of us who work in this area thought it was going to be this bad,’ said Harvard health policy professor David Grabowski, a nationally recognized expert on long-term care, who reviewed the report for The Associated Press.

“’This was not individuals who were going to die anyway,’ Grabowski added. ‘We are talking about a really big number of excess deaths.’

“Investigators used a generally accepted method of estimating ‘excess’ deaths in a group of people after a calamitous event. It did not involve examining individual death certificates of Medicare patients but comparing overall deaths among those in nursing homes to levels recorded the previous year. The technique was used to estimate deaths in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and in New York City after the first coronavirus surge last spring. It does not attribute a cause of death but is seen as a barometer of impact.

“Death rates were higher in every month last year when compared with 2019.”

Click here to continue reading this Associated Press article.

“The Secrets of ‘Cognitive Super-Agers’” – The New York Times

“By studying centenarians, researchers hope to develop strategies to ward off Alzheimer’s disease and slow brain aging for all of us.”

super agers

Gracia Lam

by Jane E. Brody

One of my greatest pleasures during the Covid-19 shutdowns was having the time to indulge in hourlong phone conversations with friends and family whom I could not see in person. Especially uplifting were my biweekly talks with Margaret Shryer, a twice-widowed 94-year-old Minneapolitan.

“I met Margaret in Minneapolis in 1963, six months after her first husband was killed by a drunken driver. With four small children to support, this young widow wasted no time getting qualified to teach German to high school students. Margaret and I are kindred spirits who bonded instantlyand despite living half a country apart since 1965, we’ve remained devoted friends now for 58 years.

“My conversations with Margaret are substantive and illuminating, covering topics that include politics, poetry, plays and philosophy as well as family pleasures and problems. I relish her wisdom and sage advice. I especially delight in the fact that she seems not to have lost an iota of her youthful brain power. She’s as sharp now as she was when we first met decades ago.

“Recent findings about the trajectories of human cognition suggest that if no physical insult, like a stroke, intervenes in the next six years, Margaret is destined to be a cognitively sharp centenarian.”

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

“Medicare Advantage in 2021: Enrollment Update and Key Trends” –

MA 2021 Enrollment Slide for alert (002)

“Medicare Advantage enrollment has steadily increased both nationally and within most states since 2005, with more than 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2021. The share of Medicare Advantage enrollees varies across the country: in 26 states and Puerto Rico, at least 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2021, and at least 50 percent in Florida, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. In a growing number of counties, more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries are in a Medicare Advantage plan, in lieu of traditional Medicare. Enrollment continues to be highly concentrated among a handful of firms, both nationally and in local markets, with UnitedHealthcare and Humana together accounting for 45 percent of enrollment in 2021.”


“The private plans known as Medicare Advantage now cover more than 4 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries, reflecting a more than doubling of enrollment over the past decade even as the plans remain a far larger presence in some states than others, according to a new KFF analysis.

“More than 26 million of the nation’s nearly 63 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2021. The share varies considerably by state, ranging from less than 20 percent in Vermont, Maryland, Alaska, and Wyoming, to more than 50 percent in Minnesota, Florida, and Puerto Rico, the analysis finds.

“Enrollment rates also vary widely across counties, within states. In Florida, for example, it ranges from 16 percent in Monroe County (Key West) to 73 percent in Miami-Dade County. Nationally, 29 percent of Medicare beneficiaries live in a county where more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

‘The new analysis is one of three released by KFF today that examine various aspects of Medicare Advantage, a type of Medicare coverage that the Congressional Budget Office has projected will cover 51 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries by 2030.

“One brief provides current information about Medicare Advantage enrollment, including the types of plans in which Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled, and how enrollment varies across geographic areas. A second analysis describes Medicare Advantage premiums, out-of-pocket limits, cost sharing, extra benefits offered, and prior authorization requirements. A third compares Medicare Advantage plans’ star ratings and federal spending under the quality bonus program.
“Among other key findings: Continue reading →

“To Keep Your Brain Young, Take Some Tips From Our Earliest Ancestors” – NPR

“Without a cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, prevention is paramount. Habits that helped early humans thrive still make sense; a varied diet, exercise and an engaging social life.”

human evolution and alzheimers

“Reconstructions from the Daynès Studio in Paris depict a male Neanderthal (right) face to face with a human, Homo sapiens.” – Science Source

by Brett Stretka

“It’s something that many of us reckon with: the sense that we’re not quite as sharp as we once were.

“I recently turned 42. Having lost my grandfather to Alzheimer’s, and with my mom suffering from a similar neurodegenerative disease, I’m very aware of what pathologies might lurk beneath my cranium.

“In the absence of a cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the most important interventions for upholding brain function are preventive — those that help maintain our most marvelous, mysterious organ.

“Based on the science, I take fish oil and broil salmon. I exercise. I try to challenge my cortex to the unfamiliar.

“As I wrote my recent book, A History of the Human Brain, which recounts the evolutionary tale of how our brain got here, I began to realize that so many of the same influences that shaped our brain evolution in the first place reflect the very measures we use to preserve our cognitive function today.

“Being social, and highly communicative. ”

Continue reading this column at NPR; click here.

“Two Team Photos, One Difference: The Cheerleader With Down Syndrome” – The New York Times

“A junior high cheerleading team took nearly identical photos with and without Morgyn Arnold. The school called the publication of the photo without her a mistake that is under investigation.”

cheerleader 3

by Amanda Morris

“Morgyn Arnold is a natural cheerleader. She grew up supporting her six older siblings at sporting events in Utah and followed in her father’s and sister’s footsteps by becoming a cheerleader herself.

“For Morgyn, who has Down syndrome, being on the Shoreline Junior High School cheer squad gave her a chance to make friends and feel included after transferring to the school last summer.

“But when the school yearbook came out a few weeks ago, Morgyn, 14, was not in the team’s photo or listed as part of the squad. The school has since apologized for what it called an ‘error,’ but Morgyn’s sister Jordyn Poll said she believed that the exclusion was intentional.’

Read this article in its entirety at The New York Times, click here.

 

“Unpaid Caregivers Were Already Struggling. It’s Only Gotten Worse During The Pandemic” – NPR

caregivers during covid

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for unpaid caregivers, with many reporting symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.” – Portra Images via Getty Images

by Rhitu ChatterJee

“The pandemic has taken a massive toll on people’s mental health. But a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many of us are seeing and feeling in our own lives: The impact has been particularly devastating for parents and unpaid caregivers of adults.

“Two-thirds of survey respondents who identified as unpaid caregivers said they experienced mental health challenges during the pandemic, such as symptoms of anxiety or depression, or suicidal thoughts.

“Only one-third of people with no caregiving responsibilities reported the same symptoms.

“Of the more than 10,000 survey respondents, more than 40% identified as being unpaid caregivers.

“‘What is striking here is just how widespread unpaid caregiving responsibilities are in the population and how much of a burden and a toll these responsibilities’ are having, says Shantha Rajaratnam, a co-author of the study and a psychologist at the Turner Institute of Brain and Mental Health at Monash University in Australia.”

Click here to read this article at NPR in its entirety.

Device Makers Have Funneled Billions to Orthopedic Surgeons Who Use Their Products – Kaiser Health News

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin was little more than a decade out of Harvard Medical School when sales of his spine surgical implants took off.

Chin has patented more than 40 pieces of such hardware, including doughnut-shaped plastic cages, titanium screws and other products used to repair spines — generating $100 million for his company SpineFrontier, according to government officials.

Yet SpineFrontier’s success arose not from the quality of its goods, these officials say, but because it paid kickbacks to surgeons who agreed to implant the highly profitable devices in hundreds of patients.

In March 2020, the Department of Justice accused Chin and SpineFrontier of illegally funneling more than $8 million to nearly three dozen spine surgeons through “sham consulting fees” that paid them handsomely for doing little or no work. Chin had no comment on the civil suit, one of more than a dozen he has faced as a spine surgeon and businessman. Chin and SpineFrontier have yet to file a response in court.

Medical industry payments to orthopedists and neurosurgeons who operate on the spine have risen sharply, despite government accusations that some of these transactions may violate federal anti-kickback laws, drive up health care spending and put patients at risk of serious harm, a KHN investigation has found. These payments come in various forms, from royalties for helping to design implants to speakers’ fees for promoting devices at medical meetings to stock holdings in exchange for consulting work, according to government data.

Health policy experts and regulators have focused for decades on pharmaceutical companies’ payments to doctors — which research has shown can influence which drugs they prescribe. But far less is known about the impact of similar payments from device companies to surgeons. A drug can readily be stopped if deemed harmful, while surgical devices are permanently implanted in the body and often replace native bone that has been removed. Continue reading →

“Aging While Black: The Crisis Among Black Americans as They Grow Old” – The Crisis

aging black

by Rodney A. Brooks

“After a lifetime of racial and health inequities, Black seniors are at risk of spending their last years with declining health, little income and virtually no savings.

“Numerous studies have noted that Black Americans have worse health than their white counterparts, including chronic diseases and disabilities leading to shorter and sicker lives than white Americans. A recent 2016 CIGNA Health Disparities report found:

  • Four in 10 Black men aged 20 or older have high blood pressure, a rate 30 percent higher than that of white men. Black men’s risk of a stroke is twice that of white men. For Black women, 45 percent of those aged 20 and older have high blood pressure, a rate 60 percent higher than white women.
  • Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.
  • Black men have a 40 percent higher cancer death rate than white men.
  • Black Americans are 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than whites, and nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized.
  • Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to suffer from Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia.

“Black women, said Tyson Brown, associate professor of sociology at Duke University, suffer from some of the highest levels of diabetes, hypertension, and other disabilities. Their health problems limit their ability to continue working. But many Black women have to continue working because of declining income as they age.

“’And so, it’s sort of a Catch-22,’ said Brown. ‘They’re often sort of put in a bind there.’”

Continue reading this article at The Crisis, click here.

SAMHSA Awards Vibrant Emotional Health the Grant to Administer 988 Dialing Code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

988 Available to All Americans in July 2022

988

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today announced Vibrant Emotional Health (Vibrant) will be the administrators of the new 988 dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline). A pair of the agency’s grants, totaling $48 million and including $32 million in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 funding, will fund the effort to better harness technology to help Americans in mental health crisis and save more lives. Vibrant, in partnership with SAMHSA, has administered the Lifeline since its creation in 2005. This funding also supports the national Disaster Distress Helpline, a subnetwork of the Lifeline.

“The need for quick, easy and reliable access to emotional support and crisis counselling has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the stressors faced by Americans; too often, such stressors result in suicidal and mental health crises,” said Tom Coderre, Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the interim head of SAMHSA. “These grants will work to expand the nation’s call centers’ capacity and technological readiness as the Lifeline’s shift to 988 becomes operational next summer. Until that launch, we ask anyone who needs help or who has a loved one at risk of suicide to call or chat with Lifeline operators at 1-800-273-8255.”

“This national three-digit phone number, 988, will be a step Continue reading →