Starting a new workout routine is hard for everyone, but it can be especially hard if you are overweight or obese. The best types of exercise for obese people aren't always available at your local gym or fitness studio. Read more...
Meals on Wheels might do more than deliver hot food to isolated seniors: New research suggests it can serve as an early warning system for declining health.
The study included Meals on Wheels drivers in Guernsey County in Ohio and San Diego County, who were trained to use a mobile app to alert care coordinators if the drivers had a concern or noticed a change in a senior's condition.
The care coordinators then followed up with seniors to provide support and connect them with health and community services.
Over the 12-month study period, the drivers submitted 429 alerts for 189 clients. The most frequent alerts were for changes in health (56%), self-care or personal safety (12%) and mobility (11%).
Follow-ups on the alerts led to 132 referrals, with most for self-care (33%), health (17%) and care management services (17%), according to the researchers at West Health Institute, Brown University in Rhode Island, and Meals on Wheels America.
The study was published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
West Health and Meals on Wheels America plan to expand the research program to as many as 30 Meals on Wheels sites across the United States, that include about 40,000 seniors.
"By collaborating with Meals on Wheels America, we've developed a safe, cost-effective and scalable program to preemptively identify and address concerns that too often result in deterioration of a senior's medical condition or pose a major safety risk," said Dr. Zia Agha, chief medical officer at West Health Institute.
"We're excited learnings from this research program are now being implemented across the country within Meals on Wheels America's expanded program that will positively impact as many seniors as possible," Agha added in an institute news release.
In a special editor's note, Dr. Michael Malone, section editor in models of geriatric care, quality of improvement and program dissemination with the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, wrote, "As health care systems struggle to address the social determinants of health, this innovative Meals on Wheels model may provide part of the solution."
The Story of Peter Pan Comes to Kentucky Nursing Homes
Nurse Nicole Gordon works with a performer in "Wendy's Neverland", at Sunrise Manor Nursing Home.
The dance is for Wendy’s Neverland, a play with characters and ideas from the story of Peter Pan nearly two years in the making.
Cast and crew call this number “the wheelchair ballet.” For Jeff, a Chicago-based artist, choreographing this was a no-brainer.
“Most of the residents are using a wheelchair at some point of the day — you know, even if they can walk — so let’s make that a dance,” he said.
TimeSlips' founder Anne Basting at the performance of "Wendy's Neverland" at Lee County Care and Rehabilitation Center in Beattyville.
Credit Elizabeth Kramer
There’s clamor daily when the staff members clear the dining room, and the music attracts onlookers. Sometimes the dance gains newcomers, according to Sonya Turner, Sunrise Manor’s quality of life director.
“One of our elders, she would come and watch, but yesterday she said I don't want to watch anymore. I want to be in the wheelchair ballet. I want to dance.”
Since early 2018, staff members and artists have led residents to create art and poetry that line the nursing home walls. They’ve led music sessions. There were no lines to memorize. The team worked with elders and staff to create their costumes.
Participants now include family members, and teen and adult musicians from Larue and Hardin counties and beyond.
This production mirrors others staged at homes in Beattyville and Morgantown. All were financed through a $700,000 grant from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services collected from penalties levied on nursing homes and similar facilities.
Signature Heathcare’s Quality of Life Director Angie McAllister brought this initiative to the company.
“A lot of people bring the arts to kids and they forget elders, and the need for their personal expression and how that need grows. And to help facilitate a gain for them is a powerful move,” McAllister said.
Neuroscience shows that 50-year-olds can have the brains of 25-year-olds if they sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes a day
A meditation class at Havas advertising agency in New York City
While most people see their cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of gray matter as those half their age.
Participants in the study averaged about 27 minutes of the habit a day, but other studies suggest that you can see significant positive changes in just 15 minutes a day.
Neuroscientist Sara Lazar, of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, started studying meditation by accident. She sustained running injuries training for the Boston Marathon, and her physical therapist told her to stretch. So Lazar took up yoga.
"The yoga teacher made all sorts of claims, that yoga would increase your compassion and open your heart," said Lazar. "And I'd think, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm here to stretch.' But I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and open hearted, and able to see things from others' points of view."
Eventually, she looked up the scientific literature on mindfulness meditation (a category into which yoga can fall). She found the ever-increasing body of evidence that shows that meditation decreases stress, depression, and anxiety, reduces pain and insomnia, and increases quality of life.
So she started doing some neuroscience research of her own.
In her first study, she looked at long-term meditators (those with seven to nine years of experience) versus a control group. The results showed that those with a strong meditation background had increased gray matter in several areas of the brain, including the auditory and sensory cortex, as well as insula and sensory regions.
This makes sense, since mindfulness meditation has you slow down and become aware of the present moment, including physical sensations such as your breathing and the sounds around you.
However, the neuroscientists also found that the meditators had more gray matter in another brain region, this time linked to decision-making and working memory: the frontal cortex. In fact, while most people see their cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of gray matter as those half their age.
Lazar and her team wanted to make sure this wasn't because the long-term meditators had more gray matter to begin with, so they conducted a second study. In it, they put people with no experience with meditation into an eight-week mindfulness program.
The results? Even just eight weeks of meditation changed people's brains for the better. There was thickening in several regions of the brain, including the left hippocampus (involved in learning, memory, and emotional regulation); the TPJ (involved in empathy and the ability to take multiple perspectives); and a part of the brainstem called the pons (where regulatory neurotransmitters are generated).
Plus, the brains of the new meditators saw shrinkage of the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and aggression. This reduction in size of the amygdala correlated to reduced stress levels in those participants.
How long do you have to meditate to see such results? Well, in the study, participants were told to meditate for 40 minutes a day, but the average ended up being 27 minutes a day. Several other studies suggest that you can see significant positive changes in just 15 to 20 minutes a day.
As for Lazar's own meditation practice, she says it's "highly variable. Some days 40 minutes. Some days five minutes. Some days, not at all. It's a lot like exercise. Exercising three times a week is great. But if all you can do is just a little bit every day, that's a good thing, too."
Turns out meditating can give you the brain of a 25-year-old. Too bad it can't also give you the body of one.
How can reading aloud improve your life and also make you a better voice actor? When you read aloud, you’re employing a great number of your faculties, and more often than not, the very act of reading aloud is a revelation in itself.
Millions of Americans age of 65 or older will sign up for Medicare each year or shop around for new coverage.
As with all insurance policies, you should have a clear understanding of the terms -- because, as with other insurance, Medicare has quite a few restrictions on what it will pay for.
Avoid unpleasant surprises. Make sure you know about these 10 medical services that are not covered under standard Medicare.
In general Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, including most nursing home care and full-time or ongoing nursing care in your home.
Medicaid, the government's health insurance for lower-income Americans, does cover long-term care. However, if your income is too high, you must pay for long-term care out of your own pocket until your resources are depleted and you reach Medicaid eligibility.
This is called a spend-down.
Prescriptions are not included in basic Medicare coverage. Medicare parts A and B primarily cover hospital stays, doctor visits, ambulance services and medical equipment.
To receive prescription drug coverage in your senior years, you must enroll in either a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. Both programs are overseen by Medicare but are run by private insurance companies.
Medicare Part D comes with annual premiums averaging $34 per month. Medicare Advantage costs vary widely.
Dental checkups and dentures
Medicare pays for basic inpatient and outpatient medical care — which means dental care is not included. You do have a few options for getting dental coverage.
You may buy private secondary insurance that includes dental coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans also offer dental coverage and are usually cheaper than commercial secondary insurance, though there's usually an annual dollar limit on dental benefits.
So, some Medicare policyholders opt to use an existing, tax-advantaged health savings account to pay for dental expenses. But note that you cannot contribute to an HSA once you're on Medicare.
Eye exams and glasses
Unless a patient has diabetes or cataracts, standard Medicare does not cover routine eye care, including exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Some Medicare Advantage plans include vision coverage, but many seniors opt to purchase stand-alone vision insurance instead, because it can be cheaper.
If you don't wear glasses or your vision has been stable, paying out of pocket for an annual visit to the eye doctor may cost less than premiums. But don't skip your yearly exams, because those can pre-empt serious eye conditions or vision loss.
Hearing problems often present themselves later in life than vision problems. Unfortunately, basic Medicare does not cover hearing aids.
Some Medicare Advantage plans will pay for a hearing aid, or you might use money from a health saving account.
Again, Medicare doesn't allow its enrollees to put money into HSAs. So, many experts recommend investing in an HSA while you're still working, to fund hearing aids, dental care and other incidental medical costs after you retire.
Cosmetic surgery that isn’t intended to remedy a documented medical or mental health issue is rarely covered by any health insurance — and Medicare is no exception.
If you want Medicare to pay for your cosmetic procedure, you'll need to prove that the surgery is medically necessary.
But if it's just a matter of having your nose reshaped or your face contoured more to your liking, it's no different from getting a facial or a pedicure as far as Medicare is concerned. You'll have to pay for it yourself.
Medicare flatly will not cover acupuncture, which it views as an alternative medicine that's not medically necessary.
Note that a few private Medicare Advantage plans will pay for acupuncture. You'd need to check the terms of the policy.
Acupuncturists often set their prices lower or offer payment plans to make things easier for their older clients on fixed incomes.
Routine foot care
Medicare says it covers "medically necessary and reasonable foot care." In other words, it won't pay for a podiatrist visit unless the policyholder has diabetes or a diagnosed foot disorder, such as a bone problem.
The program also does not pay for orthopedic shoes, arch inserts or other foot-related medical supplies that are considered routine.
And, it won't cover callus removal or bunion surgery unless a doctor can establish that there's a medical need.
TV, phone or a private room in the hospital
Some hospitals have fees if you want a television or land telephone in your room. Medicare won't cover those charges.
Enrollees are free to choose those amenities, but you’ll be responsible for the costs.
Hospitals also charge more for private rooms. Medicare will cover the cost of a private room only if there is a documented medical reason to have one.
Medical care abroad
Like many private health insurance policies, Medicare is guaranteed to cover you only within the United States.
Medicare will pay for medical services abroad only in a few rare cases:
If you’re traveling through Canada between Alaska and an another state and you must receive urgent care on Canadian soil.
If you live in the U.S. but a foreign hospital is closer to your home than an American one.
Retirees traveling abroad are encouraged to purchase temporary travel medical insurance. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for medical services out of pocket while — often before you even see a doctor.
Exercise has countless benefits for those of all ages, including a healthier heart, stronger bones and improved flexibility. For seniors, there are additional benefits, like the fact that regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases, lowers the chance of injury and can even improve one’s mood.
The seniors most likely to need paid home care to maintain independent living are the least likely to be able to afford it long-term, a new study reports.
Only two out of five older adults with significant disabilities have the assets on hand to pay for at least a couple of years of extensive in-home care, researchers found.
Without some help, those elderly are much more likely to wind up in a nursing home, said lead researcher Richard Johnson. He is a senior fellow with the Urban Institute's Income and Benefits Policy Center, in Washington, D.C.
"We have this perception that the risk of becoming frail is evenly distributed across the population, but it's really not," Johnson said. "It is more concentrated among people with less education, lower lifetime earnings and less wealth."
Paid home care can significantly improve the lives of older adults with disabilities and their families, but recipients often incur substantial out-of-pocket spending. We simulated the financial burden of paid home care for a nationally representative sample of non-Medicaid community-dwelling adults ages sixty-five and older.
We found that 74 percent could fund at least two years of a moderate amount of paid home care if they liquidated all of their assets, and 58 percent could fund at least two years of an extensive amount of paid home care. Among older adults with significant disabilities, however, only 57 percent could fund at least two years of moderate paid home care by liquidating all of their assets, and 40 percent could fund at least two years of extensive paid home care. Paid home care could become less affordable if growing labor shortages raise future costs.
The new study appears in the June issue of the journal Health Affairs.
“What I discovered as I practiced was that the holistic approach of yoga benefited my body, but most importantly, my mind and spirit,” says Drisdell. ”Yoga practice somehow truly affects the rest of your life.”
falls in seniors are the third-leading cause of chronic disability, Liu-Ambrose and her team are now looking at whether the exercise program can result in reduced medical costs in this high-risk population. This study shows the importance of a home exercise program and how all adults can benefit from increased muscle strength and balance.
Age is such joy! It brings hard-earned wisdom, a wealth of experience, inspiration for new passions and the confidence to try something new; it brings appreciation for long friendships, a capacity for compassion and a curiosity about the world that youth doesn’t offer.
Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps might seem overwhelming.