Hands to Help Seniors
Long Term Care or LTC Insurance is the only insurance policy which will cover the care of services provided by companies like Family inHome Caregiving, an in-home care company which I own. Many people come to Hands to Help Seniors looking for help in their senior years which isn't covered by the government. Unfortunately, LTC is very expensive and few people have it. A 2019 study funded by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care found that by 2029, more than half of the nation’s 14.4 million middle-income older adults won’t have the financial resources necessary to pay for senior housing or in-home care. The study concludes that both public and private funds need to come to the rescue. There is hope. The Well-Being Insurance for Seniors to be at Home (WISH) Act would create a federal LTC trust fund that would pay for catastrophic long-term care for those who need it, and it would also allow private insurance companies to offer affordable coverage plans for the initial years of disability. The plan would be fully paid for by a slight increase in the payroll tax (0.3% of income for both workers and employers), or roughly $300 per year for a median-income earner.
As part of a large budget bill making its way through Congress, there is a provision to provide dental and eye care for Medicare recipients for the first time in our nation’s history. Ironically, the bill is facing opposition from dentists, who fear that government reimbursement rates would be too low. Back in 1965, the American Dental Association fought to keep dental from being a paid service for Medicare recipients. Sadly, nearly half of all Americans over the age of 65 did not visit a dentist last year, and almost 20% have lost all of their teeth. I know about the problem firsthand. The vast majority of our donations go to providing dental care to low-income senior citizens, which is very expensive.
There was a heart breaking article in the Wall Street Journal recently. It featured Nick Clement, age 78, who has cared for his wife Lucy for the past decade. Lucy has Lewy body dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease. Nick wanted to take care of his wife, however, he quickly found out how difficult it is taking care of someone who is slipping rapidly into dementia. As her disease progressed, she was unable to brush her teeth or comb her hair, so Nick did that too. He said that some friends stopped calling, which can be heartbreaking. Eventually, after Lucy had dropped from https://www.homecaremag.com/june-2021/buzz-vibration-therapy125 pounds down to 90, it took its toll on Nick who was gaunt and depressed. He had to call in hospice which took over Lucy’s care. Hospice asked Nick if he had told Lucy it was OK for her to go. He had not, but went to her room and looked into her eyes and told her he would be alright, it was OK to go. Sadly, she died the next morning. Unfortunately, most of us will have to go through this with a family member. If you need help, CHOMP has a service called Hospice of the Central Coast, as does the Visiting Nurses Association (see links below). Please reach out for help if you need it, they both have compassionated caregivers.
Thanks to the Alliance on Aging for once again hosting a luncheon for senior citizens. The next one will be from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church Parking Lot at 72 East San Joaquin Street in Salinas. A box lunch consisting of a hero sandwich, Greek pasta salad, a bag of chips, bottled water and a homemade cookie will be served. We can also look forward to getting a bag of goodies from the Food Bank for Monterey County. Reservations are required. Please call 758-4011 or 655-1334 to reserve your spot.
There has been such slow progress on the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, I was pleased to see that some researchers are focusing on finding early clues as to who may be vulnerable to getting Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia. A recent article in The New York Times said that some scientists believe that pathologies underlying brain decline may begin many years before symptoms emerge. A spate of experiments is underway to see if little things like overlooking a couple of credit card payments or habitually braking while driving could be a sign that dementia is in your future. “Early detection is key for intervention, at the stage when that would be most effective,” said Saye Bayat, the lead author of a driving study funded by the National Institutes of Health and performed at Washington University. The study took 64 older adults with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease as determined by spinal taps and 75 who were deemed cognitively normal (results were not shared with the study participants). For a year, researchers measured both groups’ driving performance. The study found that driving behavior and age could predict preclinical Alzheimer’s 88% of the time. Those findings could spur recruitment for clinical trials and allow for interventions—like an alert when a car drifts—to help keep drivers safely on the road. Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician and co-director of the Penn Memory Center, called the study “provocative” and well designed. “The results suggest that monitoring a real-world, cognitively intense behavior can detect the earliest, subtle signs of emerging cognitive impairment,” he said. Another study analyzed medical records and consumer credit reports for more than 80,000 Medicare beneficiaries and found that those who eventually received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease were significantly more likely to have delinquent credit card payments (and sub-prime credit scores) than those with similar demographics who never received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I hope these studies bear fruit. Regular readers of my blog know that both my father and grandmother had this terrible disease when they passed away. There are wonderful people at our local chapter of Alzheimer’s Association in Ryan’s Ranch. It is always a struggle figuring out how to deal with a loved one, as the symptoms can seem to change from day to day. Drop by or give them a call if you need help. And when all else fails, don’t forget that the Alzheimer’s Association has a 24-hour hotline. If you need some additional support you can reach them at 800-272-3900.