Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

Only a third of America’s fifty million senior citizens are living independently, outside of nursing homes. If you’re concerned about being able to afford a nursing home and healthcare when you are 65 or older, you should know that modern financing options are out there. While saving for retirement is the best defense against financial problems during your golden years, there are innovative ways to find money, even if you haven’t saved enough.

Move to a Smaller Space

The median price of a South Carolina home is $157,600 according to Zillow. A home is typically the biggest expense that a person has and plenty of costs are involved with maintaining a property. When you choose to downsize, you’ll pay less per month for your mortgage and this will allow you to put more money away for the future. If you don’t want to move, consider upgrades which make your home less expensive to run, such as energy-efficient home improvements.

Get Rid of Debt

Debt means interest and these payments can really add up. For this reason, you should focus on eliminating debt. When you do, you’ll be primed to put money away for retirement, rather than giving it to lenders. One ultra-modern option is debt consolidation. By getting a debt consolidation loan, you’ll be able to make one monthly payment on your debt, for an interest rate that is likely lower than what you’re used to paying. The California Teacher’s Association asserts that it’s possible to save ten percent on interest when you consolidate.

Negotiate with Nursing Homes

If you’re advocating for a senior that you care about, you should be aware that it’s possible to negotiate with nursing homes.There is often room for negotiation for the long-term costs of care. For example, a nursing home will be willing to accept a private pay rate that’s lower than average, provided the rate remains higher than the rate from Medicaid.

Get an Affordable Loan

Big banks aren’t your only option when it comes to accessing funds for long-term care. These days, a lot of alternative lending solutions are available, from personal loans from third-party financiers to peer-to-peer lending and beyond. Finding a low interest rate is what it’s all about. Think outside of the box by exploring alternative lending solutions that don’t come from major financial institutions. Then, compare interest rates and loan terms to what the big banks are offering.

Start Planning for Retirement

Thinking about the cost of retirement can be stressful. Careful planning, well ahead of time, is the best way to take the pressure off. However, it’s never too late to start thinking about how to finance the cost of a nursing home, which may run as high as 7.500 USD per month. So, why not come up with a financial plan for retirement today?

Tracey Mitchell was fine with the notion of placing her father in the care of a nursing home when it became necessary, and while he was there everyone was happy with the quality of care in the facility. In the years before the lawsuit when Mitchell’s father was a resident, there was no discussion of fees or bills for her father’s stay.  But when Mitchell was served a lawsuit years into his stay, alleging she owed $49,000 for her father’s care, she was stunned.

When her father was admitted, Mitchell told the facility, Alaris Health at Cherry Hill, he didn’t have the means to pay, so she was told to file for Medicaid in his place and then to sign his admissions agreement.  Then she was just told one day, mere months before her father’s death, that she owed the facility a massive amount of money. It turned out the document she signed on her father’s behalf put her next in line to pay whatever costs her father or Medicaid couldn’t take on, though before this time she’d never received a bill.

Even more stunning, when Mitchell consulted her attorney about the matter, she found out the contract she signed was illegal. In the document she is named a “third party to guarantee payment,” meaning whatever costs weren’t payed by her father or Medicaid, she would cover. However, under federal law and New Jersey state law, it is illegal for a nursing home to hold a third party liable for those costs.

The case is now over, but plenty of people are vulnerable to the kind of experience this family had. According to Mitchell’s lawyer, “[His] theory is if they sue 10 people like this, they will find maybe one with an attorney who knows the law and nine will pay.” It’s incredibly easy for a nursing home to find that a resident’s bills haven’t been payed off by the patient themselves or Medicaid and find the solution in an unknowing family member. Experts say the best course of action is to work with an attorney or a Medicaid specialist before signing these kinds of contracts to avoid running into issues with them later.

Certified nursing assistants that bathe, dress and provide 95% of the care to residents at New Jersey nursing homes may get some help from Gov. Phil Murphy.  An identical bill cleared the state Legislature two years ago but was vetoed by former Gov. Chris Christie.

Legislation is progressing that will increase of staffing levels of these unlicensed caregivers.  Under the proposed law, nursing homes would have staffing ratios to meet: Facilities would be required at a minimum to having one certified nursing assistant on staff for every eight residents on a morning shift, no more than 10 per aide in the afternoon and no more than 16 per aide overnight.  This is great news for the residents and caregivers in New Jersey.

By the way, South Carolina only requires ratios of at least 1 CNA to 9 residents on first shift; 1 CNA to 13 residents on second shift; and 1 CNA to 22 residents on third shift.  This were established in the mid-1980s and are now considered insufficient and unsafe.  That is why the regulations include the following language:  “Additional staff members shall be provided if the minimum staff requirements are inadequate to provide appropriate care and services to the residents of a facility.”

The legislation would send a message to nursing home operators “that they need to staff adequately in their facilities,” given that the Garden State ranks among the bottom in the nation for average nursing aide staffing-hours per patient.

Several states have passed similar staffing ratio laws but they need to pay a living wage so the jobs are attractive to qualified and compassionate caregivers.  “Despite how difficult it is, it’s a very low paying job — with many (nursing assistants) only making $12 or $13 per hour,” CNA Lloyd-Bollard said. “It’s not right that caregivers have to do two or three jobs to make ends meet. These are the people responsible for caring for our state’s most vulnerable people; we should support them.”

Jeanitha Louigene, a certified nursing assistant of 27 years, is certain it’s having an effect on the quality of care provided by nursing facilities. “I really feel sorry for the residents,” she said. “With the amount of residents we have at once, we really don’t have time for them — they may want to talk, but we can’t do that. We have one person taking care of sometimes 15 or more residents, who are needing the bathroom, water or are in pain. We have multiple people calling for us. But we can only be in one place at one time.”

We’ve published several blogs about pet ownership over the years. Pets have earned a place in our hearts as loyal companions, and dogs specifically have earned the place of man’s best friend. Most people have or have had a pet, and most people (95%) see their pets as family.

Having someone or something to care for can be very beneficial to people, elderly included. That’s in addition to the biological reactions we have to pets (interaction with dogs has been shown to increase feel-good responses in your brain such as endorphins and dopamine, for example).

For more in-depth research into why dogs are good for our mental health, check out this article from dogOwner.

Freelance Contribution by Karen Weeks

Having a conversation with a loved one about their end-of-life arrangements can be overwhelming and can lead to anxiety, depression, and stress for everyone involved. Whether it’s due to a long terminal illness or advanced age, it can be extremely difficult to think about the next phase for your loved one, and it’s never easy to figure out how to begin.

One thing to keep in mind is that this topic should be approached with compassion and care. Remember, too, that there may be many people affected by these arrangements, so it’s important to take them into consideration as well. Think of the best ways to gently broach the subject so that you can help your loved one as much as possible during this difficult time, and remember to include your siblings or other close family members in the conversation when the time is right. If you’re unsure about timing, read this helpful guide.

 

Some ways to get started include:

 

Looking for an opening

You may feel at a loss for how to bring up making arrangements, so think about what your loved one’s needs might be. If they’re ill, ask them if there’s anything they want to talk about, or whether there is anything they need help with. Often, this will open up the path for a frank discussion about the next steps. If your loved one is of an advanced age, it might be helpful to ask whether there is anything they want to take care of or anything you can help them accomplish.

 

Finding comfort

If your loved one finds comfort in the church, talk to the pastor or priest in charge and ask about any ideas they may have about beginning the conversation. They may know of a sermon, song, prayer, or Bible passage that will help your loved one during this difficult time, or they may be able to make a home visit to give your family comfort.

 

Talk…and listen

For individuals who are facing the end of life, there are many conflicting emotions, and some can be overwhelming. They may be worried about how their family members will fare without them, or they may have a long list of things they wanted to accomplish. They may be in pain, either physical or emotional, and not know how to talk about it. Having a conversation with your loved one about their feelings is a great way to help them come to grips with the reality of their situation, but it’s important to listen to them as well. Let them vent, and refrain from using statements that are made purely for comfort, such as “You’re going to be around for a long time.” Doing so will only create false hope and diminish your loved one’s feelings.

 

Consider asking for help

For many people who are living with a terminal illness, hospice care is a wonderful choice. It allows for a measure of dignity while assisting with arrangements and end-of-life care. Do some research into local hospices alongside your loved one and find out about payment options and exactly what they offer.

 

Wills and advance directives

Ask your loved one if they have a will or advance directive in the event of their hospitalization. Having a plan may help them feel that loose ends are tied up and allow them to face the end without stress or anxiety. You can find more information on advance healthcare directives here.

Remember that your loved one may have a hard time talking and thinking about their end-of-life arrangements, so let them guide the conversation after you begin. If it’s too overwhelming for them, allow them to rest before you bring it up again, or try a different approach.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walters

After deciding to move your loved one into a nursing home or other assisted living facility, it’s tough for family members not to worry about how the adjustment is going. Even if you have selected a top-rated nursing home in South Carolina, it can still be a difficult process for families to make sure that their loved one has everything he or she needs. Fortunately, there are many simple changes that can be made to a senior citizen’s residents to make life a little easier.

While not all seniors will need to make changes to their new residence, seniors with limited mobility may find that the standard rooms in a nursing home are not easy to navigate and live in. Since mobility is the most common disability in people age 65 and older, with nearly 40% having difficulty walking or climbing, it is imperative that seniors’ spaces in nursing homes are adjusted to being mobility-friendly. When designing an accessible space for seniors, there are certain changes that family members or nursing homes can do to be successful.

Making Updates for Easy Storage 

Seniors with limited mobility essentially have challenges completing the tasks that allow them to get through the day, such as walking across a room or getting out of bed. As a consequence of chronic diseases like arthritis or diabetes, limited mobility can lead to impaired strength and little to no balance. This means that it may be difficult for seniors to do things as simple as reaching things in storage or putting needed items away.

Since getting things out of storage and putting things away requires mobility, it is beneficial to adjust a senior citizen’s room in a nursing home to include easy storage. Some improvements that can be made include:

o   Hanging shelves, coat or towel hooks, and towel racks lower on the walls

o   Put most-used cookware on the easy-to-reach shelves (often the lower shelves)

o   Make emergency items (flashlights, first aid kits, fire extinguishers) easy to access

o   Install shelves that can be pulled out, instead of having to reach far inside cabinets

There are also many new technological innovations that can ease daily tasks and pains from arthritis, like reach-extenders (claw-like grabbers) and easy can openers or lid-turning gadgets. By researching tools for the home that are designed to ease aches and pains, you can replace all of the items you use on a daily basis with an easier, senior-friendly version. While making these adjustments may not seem like a huge undertaking, it will greatly improve a senior’s independence, giving them the chance to complete small tasks throughout the day more easily.

Installing Additional Modifications to Bathroom

Another area of focus that can be improved for the sake of seniors with limited mobility is the bathroom. While most nursing homes will incorporate easily accessible bathrooms, complete with grab bars along the bathtubs and lowered toilets, there are still other modifications that can be installed to make a senior’s life even easier.

For one, if seniors with limited mobility have the option of renovating their bathroom, it might make sense to install a walk-in shower instead of having a bathtub. This will eliminate the barrier that requires seniors to step over the edge of the tub, which can lead to falls. Depending on the parameters of your renovation, you can also install a bench or seat in the shower so that the senior does not have to stand while bathing. Adding non-slip appliqué to the floor is another great idea for increased safety.

Additionally, one of the most impressive bathroom innovations that has been developed to make seniors lives easier is aging-in-place toilets. Though some models can be quite costly, these toilets are designed to automatically raise and lower the lid, washing areas within the bowl that are hard to reach, and even heat the seat. These toilets are growing in popularity and can improve a senior’s safety when bending down or reaching over to use the toilet. 

Upon moving into a nursing home or assisted living facility, there are certain updates that you can make to simplify day-to-day tasks that might be otherwise be difficult for seniors with limited mobility.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

 

Medicaid is the poor man’s insurance in the US and if Medicaid cuts will be implemented, seniors are part of vulnerable groups that will be hit the hardest. South Carolina has been identified as the state that will experience tough times. The recent Kaiser Analysis revealed that the state, along with 10 others will be in trouble should a $834 funding be slashed in the next decade. Most of the resources of Medicaid is spent on elderly care and people with disabilities.  At present, seniors 65 years and above comprise 16.7% of the state’s population.

 

Over 50 Million Americans Rely on Medicaid

 

Millions of Americans rely on Medicaid as an accessible form of health insurance. It covers low-income groups as well as vulnerable groups such as handicapped people, the elderly, children and pregnant women. Funded jointly by the federal states and the government, the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage differs from state to state according to factors such as income levels. Its eligibility is determined by using the supplemental security income (SSI) for individuals 65 years and older, or who have a disability or blindness. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans are covered by Medicaid. It covers 2/3 of the nation’s nursing homes. As such, it is the biggest expense to Medicaid.

 

Dental coverage can be included in Medicaid but each state is governed by different rules.  15 states will cover dental insurance when it is an emergency dental service and necessary dental procedures. It is up to the state to determine what is necessary and an emergency.  Dental benefits for SC residents were available on December 1, 2014 to pay for cleaning, fillings and extractions with a $750 per annum cap and $3.4 co-pay. This move benefited seniors with disabilities or who are on low incomes.

 

Impact of Repealing the Affordable Care Act

 

President Trump and Congress are trying to scrap the Affordable Care Act. After the elections, efforts were directed at cutting funding to Medicaid by a fifth. The Trump administration also mandated states to impose work requirements as a condition for eligibility to receive Medicaid assistance. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has already approved work requirements in Indiana and Kentucky and 8 states are going to follow. Proponents of the work requirements as conditions for Medicaid assistance say that this move will only target those who are not working, actively seeking work or unable to work because of an illness/disability. With work requirements, access to healthcare by low-income families and disadvantaged groups is reduced.

 

Medicaid cuts to South Carolina will affect its beneficiaries including seniors since it has the fourth highest federal match rate. That means for every $1 the state spends, the federal government gives $2.5. Budget cuts will affect everyone because there is no money to spare. It will limit access to healthcare and reduce further the number of people who can see doctors. The elderly will find it difficult to maintain mental, physical and emotional health. Overall wellbeing will diminish.

Managing the health care systems properly is important to provide access to services for the poor and senior groups. Without Medicaid, there are very little options available for mature adults especially those who need long term care or for those with no families to take care of them. Even towards the end of life, this means that the elderly are denied a dignified life without medical and health care.

Freelance Contribution by Karen Weeks

Losing weight tends to be a universal goal, but did you know that your age plays a factor in how you go about it? Our bodies tend to age a lot faster than our mind, so seniors looking to lose weight and get their health on track need to follow some safety precautions to ensure they are doing so in a healthy manner. If you are trying to slim down and lead a healthier lifestyle, check out these tips before diving in.

 

How Much Do You Need?

 

Recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that each week seniors should strive for either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, paired with at least two days of targeted muscle strengthening. By meeting the requirements, you can fight back against some of the most common aging ailments such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Furthermore, you can get a mental health boost, too.

 

According to Qunomedical, the incidences of depression are at their highest in seniors and is often the result of the loss of mental and physical abilities, independence, family members and friends. Regular exercise not only maintains and improves physical abilities, but the accompanying release of feel-good neurotransmitters gives you surge of energy and a mood boost.

 

Adjust Your Mindset

 

If you are under the impression that weight gain is a normal part of aging, then it’s time for you to change your mindset. Why? Well, it simply isn’t true, and by thinking this you could be preventing yourself from meeting your weight-loss goals. Come up with a positive mantra and say it to yourself daily. You might find it helps to join together with other seniors looking to improve their health, giving you a source of support as well as someone to hold you accountable. With patience and dedication, losing weight is possible at any age, you just might have to take things down a notch.

 

Perhaps you have to walk instead of run on the treadmill, or lift half the weight you did when you were younger, but that’s OK. Pushing yourself too far, too fast can lead to injury, putting a serious hiccup in your weight-loss journey.

 

Maintain/Build Muscle Mass

 

Muscle mass is crucial for seniors to be able to maintain their physical independence and prevent disability. In order to lose weight while still maintaining or building up muscle mass, resistance training is highly recommended in order to achieve the right balance. According to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University, seniors who dieted, along with weight lifting (resistance training) and walking lost more fat.

 

In addition, the group who participated in resistance exercises kept more muscle mass, losing only 1.7 pounds compared with 3.5 and 2.2 pounds respectively in the groups who dieted/walked and dieted only. A great way to build up muscle includes lifting weights and using resistance bands, but less intense physical activity such as yoga or gardening work just as well. Check out these great strengthening exercises that are perfect for seniors and incorporate them into your routine.

 

Adjust Your Diet

 

When it comes to adjusting your diet, the importance of maintaining muscle and bone mass again comes into play. Be sure to eat foods with plenty of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. In addition, watch your portion sizes. The general consensus is that with each passing decade, you need 100 few calories to stay at your current weight. However, keep in mind that your body needs fuel, so cutting out too much will leave you feeling sluggish and can be detrimental to your health. If you are serious about switching up your diet, talk with your doctor or a nutritionist about the best way to do so to be sure that you are still getting the proper vitamins and nutrients based on your age. Make small changes such as eating grilled instead of fried or using a smaller plate.

 

It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s never too late to shed a few pounds and get your health in order. Following the recommended weekly exercise amounts, get in the right mindset, focus on maintaining mass and make small changes to your diet to maximize your weight loss. Just like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.

 

The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging (ABA Commission) is taking inventory of elder/adult abuse fatality review teams (EAFRTs) across the United States.

The ABA Commission has created a survey to seek information about multidisciplinary teams that review deaths that were or might have been related to elder abuse, domestic violence in later life, or abuse of adults with disabilities. The project focuses on learning about teams that are currently functioning, are no longer functioning, or are in development.  

If you have or know of an EAFRT, participate in this survey to accurately reflect the extent of elder abuse in this country.

Freelance Contribution by Jessica Walter

 

Up to 20% of all American adults aged 55 or older experience a mental health concern. Despite these statistics, most seniors in the USA do not receive the necessary mental health care, with less than 3% having seen a medical or mental health practitioner. Reasons for failing to seek professional assistance include a lack of funding, a denial of the problems at hand and the stigma surrounding mental illness.

As we grow older we are faced with an increasing number of health problems which affects both our physical and mental wellbeing. There are numerous mental health concerns that are prevalent amongst the elderly and that should be addressed with the utmost of compassion and care.  

Of these conditions, depression and dementia are the most common while others such as psychosis and schizophrenia also require regular intervention and treatment.  A closer look at some of these can provide both the elderly and their caretakers with valuable insight into these conditions, resulting in greater understanding and care.

Depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as many of 5% of the beloved elderly population in America is affected by depression. It is very unfortunate that many cases of depression remain untreated due to misdiagnosis that stem from the depression mimicking normal age-related problems. It is in our human nature to be reluctant to talk about our feelings, making a much-needed diagnosis even harder. For those seniors that live independently it becomes even harder to reach out due to their isolation. Depression manifests itself in various ways such as insomnia, a loss of energy and appetite, overwhelming feelings of guilt and even suicidal thoughts. While anti-depressants are commonly used to treat the condition and have a reasonable success rate, psychotherapy is also often prescribed. Love and support from family and friends can also be of significant help in treating depression in the elderly.

Dementia

Dementia is a very general term that refers to a decline in mental ability so severe that it interferes with the senior’s daily life. The most common type of dementia among seniors is Alzheimer’s which accounts for between 60% and 80% of all cases. Severe memory loss on a daily basis may be a sign of impending dementia although professional medical assistance is needed for an accurate diagnosis. As a caretaker to an elderly person it is important to look out for the often subtle signs that may point to the early stage of dementia. These signs include slight vocal and focus impairments as well as recurring episodes of apathy and listlessness.

Mental health issues are not always easy to discuss, especially for seniors who do not want to burden anyone with their problems, making it imperative for caretakers and family members to be alert to the various signs and symptoms pointing to a decline in mental health. As bitter a pill as it may be t swallow it is vitally important to remember that most conditions can be addressed fairly easily, ensuring a good quality life for the senior involved.