“Why Medicaid matters to you” – The Conversation

medicaid and seniors“As more and more seniors need care, their budgets will be strained. As a result, they may rely on Medicaid.”

“Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have been suspended for the time being, and many Americans are breathing a sigh of relief. But Obamacare is far from safe, and the same is true for one of the key programs – Medicaid – that the law used to expand health care coverage for millions of Americans.

“While many people may think of Medicaid as a government program that helps only the nation’s poor, that is not accurate. Medicaid helps pay for – and is indeed part of estate planning strategies for – nursing home care and other forms of long-term care. Since all Americans live in communities with elderly people, will grow old themselves or have aging parents, long-term care and how to pay for it is a matter that affects us all, even if we do not realize it.”

Medicaid and seniors

Enter Medicaid. While many may think Medicaid primarily covers poor people, about 28 percent of its overall budget is spent on long-term care.

That money is vital to seniors and to the nursing homes they live in. In 2014, Medicaid paid for 62 percent of nursing home residents. Increasingly, it covers assisted living and in-home care, which many elderly people prefer.

Continue reading this article at The Conversation, click here.

NOW AVAILABLE: The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation

promise of assistive technology

“The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that 56.7 million Americans had some type of disability in 2010, which represents 18.7 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population included in the 2010 Survey of Income and Program Participation. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. As of December 2015, approximately 11 million individuals were SSDI beneficiaries, and about 8 million were SSI beneficiaries.

“SSA currently considers assistive devices in the nonmedical and medical areas of its program guidelines. During determinations of substantial gainful activity and income eligibility for SSI benefits, the reasonable cost of items, devices, or services applicants need to enable them to work with their impairment is subtracted from eligible earnings, even if those items or services are used for activities of daily living in addition to work. In addition, SSA considers assistive devices in its medical disability determination process and assessment of work capacity.

“The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation provides an analysis of selected assistive products and technologies, including wheeled and seated mobility devices, upper-extremity prostheses, and products and technologies selected by the committee that pertain to hearing and to communication and speech in adults.

SOURCE: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Promise of Assistive Technology to Enhance Activity and Work Participation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24740.

“Alzheimer’s deaths are creeping up in number”

ALZHEIMERS DEATHS(hyacinth empinado / stat)

A news item from today’s STAT: Morning Rounds e-blast: “The death rate from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. is creeping up, according to new numbers out from the CDC this morning. There were just over 31 deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease per 100,000 people in the past year, up from 29 the year before. And while that might seem like a small difference, it’s worth noting — the increase translates to thousands more deaths from Alzheimer’s in the past year. CDC officials tell me that the increase might be due in part to increased awareness about the disease and, in turn, increased reporting of Alzheimer’s deaths. – STATNews

Quality Insights shares Practice Change Package | a resource for those who prescribe, dispense and monitor patients with chronic pain

opoid misuse

Quality Insights’ Special Innovation Opioid Project Team, in collaboration with the West Virginia University (WVU) Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and the WV Geriatric Education Center, has developed a Practice Change Package entitled Opioid Misuse and Diversion: The Big Picture; A Guide for Practice Change, to serve as resource to those who prescribe, dispense and monitor patients with chronic pain.

This guideline is:

  • designed to improve patient outcomes, such as pain reduction and improved function
  • based on emerging evidence, including observational studies and randomized clinical trials
  • voluntary- not a prescriptive standard
  • designed to improve communication between clinicians and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid therapy use when managing chronic pain


“Caregiving Is Hard Enough. Isolation Can Make It Unbearable.” – The New York Times

caregiving isolation.jpgMarcy Sherman-Lewis is the primary caregiver for her husband, Gene Lewis, who has Alzheimer’s.” Credit Christopher Smith for The New York Times

by Paula Spahn

“For years, Marcy Sherman-Lewis went to a beauty salon in St. Joseph, Mo., every few weeks for a haircut and highlights.

“It had become something of an ordeal to prepare her husband, Gene Lewis, for this outing; he has Alzheimer’s disease, at 79, and helping him shower and dress, insert hearing aids and climb into the car was a very slow process.

“But she could no longer leave him at home alone. And once at the salon, ‘he just sat, watched TV, slept — didn’t bother anybody,’ said Ms. Sherman-Lewis, 62. Her stylist kindly trimmed his hair, too.

“Then last month, the salon owner took Ms. Sherman-Lewis aside. ‘Marcy, he makes my other patrons awfully uncomfortable,’ she said.”

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

“The bold new fight to eradicate suicide” – The Guardian

In this article there’s a familiar name. “Kevin Hines was 19 and suffering from severe bipolar disorder when he caught a bus, alone, towards the Golden Gate bridge in September 2000.” Hines has spoken locally at Kutztown University and in Lebanon County last year.


Steve Mallen thinks the signs first started to show when his son stopped playing the piano. Edward, then 18, was a gifted musician and had long since passed his grade-eight exams. Playing had been a passion for most of his life. But as adulthood beckoned, the boy had never been busier. He had won a place to read geography at the University of Cambridge and was revising hard for his A levels. At his school, Edward was head boy, and popular among pupils and teachers. His younger brother and sister idolised him.

“‘We didn’t attach any particular significance to it,’ said Steve of what he saw as merely a musical pause. ‘I think we just thought, “Well, the poor lad’s been at the piano for years and years. He’s so busy … ’ But these are the small things – the ripples in the fabric of normal life – that you don’t necessarily notice, but which, as I know now, can be very significant.”’

“Three months after Edward stopped playing, and just two weeks after he handed in an English essay that his teacher would later describe as among the best he had read, police knocked at the door of the family home in Meldreth, a village 10 miles south of Cambridge.”

Read this “long read” in its entirety at The Guardian.

“Alone and untrained, a mother becomes nurse for her daughter with disabilities” – The Boston Globe

“Noelia Ferreira wants her Abi, born with a rare genetic defect, to know comfort and joy and never an institution.”

Abi“At 6:30 in the morning, Noelia woke her daughter, changed her diaper, and gave her a sponge bath.” – Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

The yelp from the baby monitor startled Noelia Ferreira from a shallow sleep. It took five seconds, maybe, to bolt across the hallway to her daughter’s room, her movements in the dead of night fluid, automatic.

“Abi was lying on her side, her limbs outstretched and rigid in the clutch of another seizure. Noelia leaned in close so their faces were inches apart, her long hair falling around them like a curtain. She gripped Abi’s hands in hers.

“‘It’s OK,’ she promised, making her voice strong. ‘You’re OK now.’

“In sleep, Abi resembled any 15-year-old, with her unruly curls, smooth skin, and slender limbs. But a rare prenatal glitch — a missing piece of genetic code — had interfered with her development. Abi’s body didn’t work the way it should. She could not speak or walk. She was partly blind and deaf, and it was hard to know how much she understood. Her mother fed her through a tube.”

Click here to continue reading this Boston Globe article.


two (or more sides) to every story

A column in today’s LNP – Always Lancaster, “Within confusion in Washington, there are positive economic signs”, harshly states:

“Too many Americans, workforce dropouts, are sitting on the employment sidelines. The economic expansion we could achieve has the power of making employees out of these dropouts. This has the incredible additional benefit of reducing the number of Americans needing welfare-related supports such as Medicaid, SNAP and dozens of other poverty programs.”

and concludes, “Moving people from dependency to self-sustaining must be our achievable goal. Can there be an objection to this?

Simplistic, one-sided draconian commentary may be one side of the story. There are another side.

work requirementsThis article from The Conversation, “How welfare’s work requirements can deepen and prolong poverty: Rose’s story”, is another perspective. This side may represent the fate of a much larger population.



“A comprehensive guide to the new science of treating lower back pain” – Vox

“A review of 80-plus studies upends the conventional wisdom.”


Updated by

“Cathryn Jakobson Ramin’s back pain started when she was 16, on the day she flew off her horse and landed on her right hip.

“For the next four decades, Ramin says her back pain was like a small rodent nibbling at the base of her spine. The aching left her bedridden on some days and made it difficult to work, run a household, and raise her two boys.

“By 2007, she couldn’t so much as sit or walk for more than a few minutes without experiencing what felt like jolts of electricity shooting up and down her spine.

“In 2008, after Ramin had exhausted what seemed like all the options, her doctor recommended nerve decompression surgery. But the $8,000 operation didn’t fix her back, either. The same pain remained, along with new neck aches.”

Click here to read this Vox article in its entirety.

Friday Wrap-Up, August 4, 2017 | a message from the Secretary of Aging

Each 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.

In this week’s newsletter, the Secretary notes:

“What’s often overlooked is that many seniors also experience this problem. During the past several decades, physicians have increasingly prescribed their older patients medication to address chronic pain from arthritis, cancer, neurological diseases, and other illnesses that are often more common later in life. What we are beginning to see is that at times, those prescribed opioids hurt more than they help – while they decrease the pain at first, over time, the pills have less and less effect, and patients need to take more and more to manage the pain. In the past 20 years, the rate of hospitalization among seniors that is related to opioid overuse has quintupled.”

Click here to download the newsletter as a .pdf file.