Health

Five Key Health Issues the Presidential Candidates Aren’t Talking About

In any presidential campaign – but especially this one – we seem to get more “heat” than “light” from the candidates. In the midst of a sea of rhetoric, some of it juvenile and much of it trivial, we sometimes long for substantive discussion of the problems we face as a society.

That’s one reason we were drawn to this very recent article on the website of Kaiser Health News. The title says it all: it’s called “Five Health Issues Presidential Candidates Aren’t Talking About – but Should Be.” No matter whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent, if health care is important to you (and we know it is), this article is a timely read.

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Budget Cuts, Strict Regulations Keep Many “Trapped” in Nursing Homes

A just-published investigation in the New York Times revealed a startling and disturbing fact. Of the estimated 1.4 million Americans living in nursing homes, many could thrive living elsewhere with some basic home help, but are unwillingly confined to the institutions where they live. In some cases this situation has persisted for decades.

We encourage you to click here for this eye-opening article. It profiles several nursing home residents of varying ages and health conditions who find themselves unable to move out, even though they could function well living at home or in a group home setting. This is in spite of a Supreme Court case from two decades ago that ruled that disabled people receiving public support were entitled to live in their communities instead of an institution unless greater independence were medically impossible. For example, the Times article spotlights one 53-year old patient named Marvin Dawkins who lived in a nursing home against his wishes for 11 years. “Because of budget cuts, inflexible rules, a patchwork of programs and a widespread failure to bolster alternative care, [patients] like Mr. Dawkins describe feeling stuck in deeply unsatisfying, sometimes miserable, settings.”

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Caring for Elders While Holding a Job: the Prescription for Stress

A recent report on the blog of the AARP reports on a problem that will sound familiar to a growing number of Americans. Nearly 24 million workers are holding down paying jobs while at the same serving as family caregivers – and that combination is a sure prescription for stress, fatigue and uncertainty.

You can read the article by clicking here.

At a time when serving as a caregiver to an adult relative (especially an aging parent) is growing more and more complex, research suggests that employed caregivers also feel increasing stress at work, with less and less job security. These studies also show that parents caring for children at home have far more workplace flexibility than workers caring for older family members. Some caregivers even suggest they have experienced workplace discrimination, which according to an AARP research report from 2012, is not prohibited by most federal and state employment laws.

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Alzheimer’s Toll is Emotional – and Financial, Caregivers Say

A few months ago the Alzheimer’s Association released a report that will probably come as no surprise to those caring for loved ones suffering with the disease – but it may be an eye-opener to the rest of us. We found this article describing the report on the website of National Public Radio.

The first line of the article tells the somber tale. “First, Alzheimer’s takes a person’s memory,” says the NPR article. “Then it takes their family’s money.”

According to the NPR article, the Alzheimer’s Association decided to study the financial burden borne by friends and family caring for Alzheimer’s sufferers when they began hearing more and more anecdotal stories from around the country. These stories hinted at the depth of the problem. The just-released study adds data to demonstrate just how severe the burden can be, and how ill-equipped many caregivers are to cope with the out-of-pocket financial costs of Alzheimer’s care.

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New Report: Artificial Skin Can Make Wrinkles Disappear

According to a recent report just published in the scientific journal Nature Materials, scientists may be on the verge of creating something many men and women could really get excited about. They may have discovered an artificial “second skin” that can make wrinkles disappear – at least temporarily.

We found the story of this anti-wrinkle breakthrough in this article on the website of the New York Times. It describes this experimental new product as “an invisible film that can be painted on your skin and give it the elasticity of youth.” Sound too good to be true? According to the article, it’s not. When test subjects use this film, “bags under the eyes vanish in seconds. Wrinkles disappear.”

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What’s the #1 Infectious Disease Killer in U.S.? A Surprising Answer

It’s a disease that is widespread, but treatable. Many who have the disease have lived with it for years without knowing it. It’s a virus that now kills more Americans than any other infectious disease.

What’s this mystery illness? It’s hepatitis C. In 2014 nearly 20,000 Americans died from this illness, a record high number. What’s worse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Those tragically high numbers aren’t necessary.”

Click here to read this just-published article from the website HealthDay.com.

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New York Times Article says Lack of Geriatricians is a “Crisis Brewing”

Here in the U.S., our population is aging – but the number of geriatric care specialists is declining. And that spells a brewing health care crisis among seniors, according to an article published a few months ago in the New York Times. You can access the article here.

We have repeatedly emphasized how important it is for seniors to have a proper medical team, including the expertise of a geriatric care physician, or geriatrician. The New York Times article provides a dramatic illustration. It describes the author’s aging father and how the care of a geriatrician saved him from empty, drab institutional living. For anyone who wants to avoid unplanned institutional care as they age – and that’s just about everyone – this article and other resources we’ve cited in our Resource archive (click here to access our archive) is both encouraging and sobering.

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What is Alzheimer’s Disease? NY Times Article Reviews Some Basics

Alzheimer’s disease can seem frightening, mysterious and daunting. There are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, which afflicts more than five million Americans.” That’s how a recent article we found on the New York Times website begins. We found this article very helpful because it answers some of the basic questions we hear frequently from our many clients.

If you’re worried about Alzheimer’s disease in yourself or someone you love, we suggest you click here and read this timely piece. You’ll also find links to some companion articles in the New York Times that tell the compelling story of a woman who received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, then allowed a reporter to come inside her life for a closer look. (You can access that article directly by clicking here.) We urge our clients to become more familiar with various forms of dementia, since a solid understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and how it progresses is extremely important in retirement planning, especially for those who want to avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones as they age.

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As Doctor’s Visits Get Shorter, there are Questions You Should Ask

We hear it over and over, from doctors and their patients: because of changes in our health care system, doctors have to see more and more patients in less and less time. This means, when you go to see your doctor, he or she may have precious few minutes to spend with you. For most patients, the days when your doctor would have a leisurely office conversation with you are long gone.

So how can you plan ahead to make the most of your doctor’s visit? What are some of the most important questions you need to ask during the brief time you’ll spend in his or her office?

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Surprise! Ten Services Medicare Part A and B Probably Won’t Cover

The popular financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com) always covers a wide range of stories in a clever, sometimes irreverent style. We like how the site tries to put things in down-to-earth terms, which is why we were drawn to a just published article about Medicare. Not only does the article briefly (and helpfully) describe each of Medicare’s four parts, it also lists ten common medical services that – generally speaking – original Medicare does not cover.

Clearly this is important information for retirees who may be operating under the wrong assumptions about their future medical insurance needs. Click here to access the Motley Fool article.

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