Senior Drug Misuse and Abuse

Cincy Senior Corner

September 2017

Free Monthly Publication

Underestimated and under diagnosed, senior drug misuse and abuse means older adults don’t get the help they need.

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More than 80 percent of seniors age 57 to 85 use at least one daily medication, and more than half take at least five medications or supplements daily, reports The National Institutes of Health (NIH). These older adults are more likely to use long-term prescriptions, use medication improperly, or use another’s medication to save money. All increase the risk of bad drug interactions.

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Older adults are in danger of misusing and abusing drugs, particularly by accident. Their bodies have trouble metabolizing drugs. Some medicines they use don’t mix well with other prescribed medications, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies. And according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), highly addictive drugs for anxiety, pain and insomnia often are prescribed for them.

Senior Drug Misuse – Possible Causes, Likely Symptoms

Life changes can lead to dependency on drugs (and even alcohol):

  • Retirement, loss of income or financial strain
  • Death of a spouse, family member, close friend or pet
  • Loss of mobility, relocation or nursing home placement
  • Family conflict
  • Mental health decline such as depression, stress and memory loss
  • Physical health decline due to major surgeries and pain

Unfortunately, symptoms of dependency often mimic those of actual diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, dementia or depression, or aging itself, the FDA advises.

Senior Drug Misuse – Treatment and Prevention

Older adults don’t always realize the risks of drug interactions, may be reluctant to admit a problem or ask for help. If family and friends recognize what’s going on, they may not want to intervene – or believe seniors are less likely to benefit from treatment, or that it’s a waste of resources to try.

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A family member or friend may need to accompany a senior on doctor visits, organize the older adult’s prescriptions and monitor his or her daily regimen. Abuse may require detoxification, counseling to change unhealthy thinking patterns, and medications to counter the effects of other drugs or relieve withdrawal symptoms – not to mention ongoing support to recover fully.

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Prevention is key:

Manufacturers can develop safe, effective and non-addicting pain medications.

Doctors can spend more time with patients, look for symptoms, notice increases in amounts and frequency of refill requests, and watch for patients who change providers to get prescriptions they want.

Pharmacists can help patients understand instructions for medications and watch for prescription falsifications or alterations.

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With the help of family and friends, seniors can:

  • Inform doctors about all prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and dietary and herbal supplements.
  • Ask questions about potential interactions with other drugs and alcohol.
  • Follow pharmacist and label directions.
  • Store medications safely.
  • Get rid of unused or expired medications.

A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

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For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.    

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Pets Offer Health Benefits to Senior Owners

Cincy Senior Corner

July 2017

Free Monthly Publication

Not only does a pet supply its elderly owner with loyal companionship, it also offers a variety of health benefits.

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This virtual family member helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels to help an older adult avoid heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports it wards off loneliness, which can lead to depression.

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Seniors find a purpose when caring for a pet

Caring for a pet provides the senior citizen a purpose — and, sometimes saving the animal’s life through adoption from a shelter or rescue league. In return, the pet needs, loves and entertains its owner. It may even ease the owner’s loss of a spouse or loved one.

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An animal also can increase the older adult’s social interaction with relatives, neighbors and strangers and to an extent, depending on the pet, can increase the senior’s physical activity. In this way, AARP points out that a pet’s companionship can help keep the elderly person independent.

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While pets can enrich their lives, older adults must face the practical considerations of keeping a dog, cat, bird, fish, rabbit, guinea pig or other animal in their homes. They include:

  • the financial ability to feed and care for a pet.
  • the necessary space to keep the pet.
  • the energy to care for the type of pet owned or desired.
  • a back-up plan if the senior can’t care for the pet for a short time or over an extended period.

Our advice

Animal lovers and others can help seniors keep and enjoy a pet to remain independent, according to the pet-care company, Purina. For example, they can:

  • help with the animal’s maintenance, whether washing or grooming the pet, organizing supplies or cleaning a cage or litter box – or cleaning around the senior’s home.
  • pet sit to give the elderly person peace of mind during a hospital or rehab stay or a trip out of town.
  • arrange veterinarian visits or reminders for medications.
  • cover food or vet bills for an older adult on a fixed income.

A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.

  Trust Us! – Jim Kummer/President

 

Deals and Discounts Help Seniors Save

Cincy Senior Corner

April 2017

Free Monthly Publication

The internet may be a handy source of discounts and deals that a senior can rely on and can lead to savings. Beyond that, adults as young as 50 have nothing to lose by asking if a discount applies on products and services from virtually any kind of business.

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Small to significant price breaks or an incentive to shop on certain days of the week or month give seniors an advantage that saves money – especially when budgeting on a limited income.

Deals and Discounts Help Seniors Save

Membership in organizations representing the interests of older Americans (such as AARP) includes nationwide discounts on:

  • Health and wellness, including glasses and hearing aids
  • Groceries and coupons
  • Shopping for apparel, car and home
  • Dining and entertainment
  • Travel, from car rentals and hotels to cruises, flights, rail and tours

Deals for Seniors equal Savings

Restaurants. Bob Evans and other restaurants offer smaller portions and lower prices – both of which suit the elderly. Independent, local eateries cater to an older crowd as well. Even fast food may cost less. At McDonald’s, seniors get a discount on coffee; at Burger King, ages 65 and older get 10 percent off.

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Shopping. Shoppers age 55 and up enjoy 15 percent off purchases at Kohl’s. Walgreens offers 20 percent off monthly to customers age 55-plus with its Balance Reward card. Even Goodwill stores promote discounts to lure seniors.

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Entertainment. Moviegoers are treated to discounts weekly at Cinemark and AMC theaters. The Cincinnati Museum Center, Taft Museum of Art and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center encourage attendance with lower entrance fees. (The Cincinnati Art Museum is free for all.)

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Travel. Travelers 62 and older can stay at Holiday Inn for less. Amtrak offers 15 percent savings. For $10 (plus a $10 application fee), adults 62 and up can buy an America the Beautiful pass for lifetime access to national parks, wildlife refuges and federal recreation sites, plus a 50 percent discount on some fees such as camping.

While not limited to senior citizens, AAA, the car and travel service organization, offers member discounts of interest to the elderly. These include AAA Prescription Savings (35 percent savings on generic prescriptions and an average 24 percent savings on brand-name prescriptions); 30 percent off complete eye exams and complete eyeglasses (frames and lenses) at LensCrafters, and 30 percent off complete pair purchases and 15 percent off lenses and frames sold separately at Target Optical.

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Advice for Seniors – Look for Discounts

Encourage an older loved one to ask if a deal or discount is available. With limited resources, this simple question can result in increased enjoyment under budget.

A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.

    Trust Us! – Jim Kummer/President

 

Water Helps Seniors Avoid Health Problems

Cincy Senior Corner

March 2017

Free Monthly Publication

Water Helps Seniors Avoid Health Problems

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Water is important at any age – but seniors are risking dehydration when they don’t make drinking a priority. Seniors need water to avoid health problems.

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Water helps people of all ages digest food, absorb nutrients their bodies need and eliminate waste. Dehydration occurs when people take in less fluid than what they need.

Like Everyone, Seniors Need Water

  • Seniors jeopardize their health when they don’t drink enough water in certain situations, according to AARP. Sweating occurs when temperatures are high, with activity and exercise (even swimming), and with fever.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea cause loss of fluids. Some medications and health conditions increase urination and/or result in kidneys being less likely to save fluids.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, suggests a few reasons seniors don’t readily replenish these lost fluids.

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Many adults haven’t developed a lifetime habit of drinking water. They also tend to lose their sense of thirst as they get older. Frail seniors may find it difficult to get up to get water they need, And the elderly may rely on caregivers who don’t realize the importance of replacing lost fluids.

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Problems Caused by Dehydration

AARP forewarns of symptoms of mild dehydration (dry mouth, dry skin, sleepiness, less urination, constipation, dizziness and headache) and severe dehydration (excessive thirst, dark urine, sunken eyes, fever, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate and rapid breathing).

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Severe diarrhea, blood in the stool, inability to keep fluids down and/or disorientation signal a medical emergency, according to AARP. And, if not treated, dehydration can lead to heatstroke, seizures from loss of electrolytes (the minerals the body uses to control muscles and organ processes such as kidneys), low blood volume and even coma – all of which can require hospitalization.

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Tips to Increase Water Intake

The NIA recommends water:

      • (or juice or milk) between bites during meals.
      • whether healthy or ill, based on a doctor’s recommendation.
      • when prescribed with medications – not just a sip, but a full glass.
      • before and during activity or exercise.
      • when it’s hot, along with wearing lightweight clothing and staying cool.

AARP also urges avoiding soft drinks, sweet drinks or caffeine, each of which can be dehydrating in itself.

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A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.

    Trust Us! – Jim Kummer/President

Navigating Medicare and Supplemental Plans

Cincy Senior Corner

February 2017

Free Monthly Publication

While many retirees count on Medicare to provide health care coverage when they need it most, it’s important to remember the federal program leaves gaps in coverage that can erode seniors’ precious personal savings.

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Medicare provides hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B) for Americans age 65 and older. Parts A and B are called Original Medicare. The government later allowed private insurance companies to offer Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C), and then offered an optional prescription drug benefit (Part D). Medicare now covers the disabled and people with end-stage renal disease.

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Medicare has protected millions of Americans since its inception, yet it doesn’t cover all costs. Its coverage has limits. That’s where supplemental insurance comes in. Without it, seniors would have to pay even more out of pocket.

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Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)

States license private companies of all sizes to sell Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap policies. This coverage helps with copayments, coinsurance and deductibles required of Original Medicare (Parts A and B) enrollees. These policies also may cover services that Medicare does not.

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For example, according to AARP:

  • Original Medicare (Part A) covers hospital costs up to a limited number of days. A Medigap plan can reduce costs of a longer stay.
  • Original Medicare (Part B) covers a portion of physician services. A Medigap plan can cover the remainder of the doctor’s services.
  • Original Medicare does not cover health care services received outside the U.S. A Medicap plan can provide some emergency care while traveling.

Medicare and Supplemental PlansLike Medicare, Medigap policies generally do not cover long-term care, private-duty nursing, hearing aids, dental care, and vision care including eyeglasses.

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Standard Medigap plans are available across the country. Each plan covers just one person, so spouses have to buy separate policies to meet their personal needs. Benefits can vary, as can premiums based on the enrollee’s gender, age, tobacco use and medical claims.

Our Advice

Medicare enrollees can receive free, objective information and counseling from Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) at 1-800-686-1578 or oshiipmail@insurance.ohio.gov Medicare.gov contains a wealth of information that’s easy to read, plus phone numbers for help.

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A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.

Flu Dangers Cincinnati Seniors: Serious Illness Even Death

Cincy Senior Corner

January 2017

Free Monthly Publication

Flu Dangers for Cincinnati Seniors can cause serious illness even death. Among all deaths due to influenza, or the flu, up to 85 percent are adults age 65 and over. And among related hospitalizations, up to 70 percent are seniors. These startling statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate just how seriously senior citizens should take the flu.

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In Cincinnati, flu season happens every fall and continues to spring. The flu is a serious illness, although healthy people are better in about a week.

Prevention of Seasonal Flu Dangers Cincinnati Seniors

Everyone should get flu shots to alleviate Flu Dangers for Seniors in Cincinnati

Seniors are among high-risk groups prone to complications during Flu Season in Cincinnati. Those who suffer chronic conditions, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, are at increased risk. 

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The CDC, American Lung Association and other health care organizations consider an annual flu vaccine as “a safe, effective and cost-efficient way” to prevent hospitalization and death. Flu vaccines are continually updated because viruses continue to change. Scientists identify virus strains that they anticipate will cause the most illness, and a new vaccine is made based on those recommendations.

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Viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, so the recipient cannot get the flu from the vaccine. But exposure to the inactivated virus helps the body produce antibodies to fight it, according to the American Lung Association. 

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The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine by the end of October, but as late as March. The shot may result in a swollen, red and tender area at its site, and will take about two weeks to take effect.

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People of all ages can avoid the flu by washing their hands often and stay away from others who are sick. They also can cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue so they do not spread germs.

Treatment for Flu Dangers Cincinnati Seniors

Flu symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. It’s common to have a cough, a sore throat, or a runny or stuffy nose. It’s possible to have vomiting and diarrhea.

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As members of a high-risk group, seniors should call their doctor if they suspect the flu. Within two or three days, a doctor’s test can confirm the flu or a complication of the flu, such as pneumonia. The American Lung Association advises pneumonia – lung inflammation caused by an infection – is the most common, serious complication of influenza.

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A doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to fight the flu virus. These drugs are more effective within a few days of getting sick, can shorten illness by a day or two, and can help prevent pneumonia.

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A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our Services

call 513-574-4148.

Movies for Seniors in Cincinnati Can Result in Pick-Me-Up

Cincy Senior Corner

December 2016

Free Monthly Publication

Movies for Seniors in Cincinnati can be hilarious, heartbreaking, inspirational and poignant; movies for seniors in Cincinnati run the gamut as well. So much of American culture revolves around youth. However, comedies, dramas and documentaries about seniors show different aspects of aging, and how women and men face their challenges head-on.

To Make Sure a Movie for Seniors Strikes the Desired Tone

AARP’s website includes a “Movies for Grownups” section that features today’s film reviews.Movies for Seniors in Cincinnati Can Result in Pick-Me-Up

Seniors may need a seasonal pick-me-up or would love a sentimental tear jerker, and learning about a film first will help achieve the desired result.

Familiar award-winners and older standbys (for sale at stores or on the internet, for borrowing from the public library or for viewing through an online subscription service) can provide new insights, while revealing Cincinnati Seniors as the multifaceted people they are.

Here are 10 Movies for Seniors in Cincinnati that Can Result in a Pick-Me-Up

  • Showing spunk. “Calendar Girls” decide to raise funds for a hospital waiting room by posing nude for a calendar. The calendar is a hit, but with unintended consequences.
  • Still competing. “Freezer Geezers” follows an 83-year old coach and his American team as they compete in a Senior World Hockey Tournament for men 75 and older. The documentary is considered funny, sentimental and inspiring.
  • Reconciling with family. A retired professor and his wife stay at their summer cottage in “On Golden Pond.” Their wayward daughter feels obligated to visit and she sees her stepson develop a relationship with her father – a relationship she always wanted.
  • Developing friendship. An elderly Jewish woman can no longer drive, so her son insists she hire a driver. In the South in the 1950s, she and her African-American driver develop an unlikely bond over a 20-year period in “Driving Miss Daisy.”
  • Staying faithful.  In “Iris,” a husband looks back over 40 years he and his wife are together as they both struggle with her Alzheimer’s disease. The film is based on a true story.
  • Moving on following loss. “Is Anybody There?” is about a 10-year-old boy who lives at a retirement home and records elderly residents to learn what happens when they die. He befriends a retired magician still grieving over the loss of his wife, and who refuses to age gracefully. 
  • Fulfilling a dream. In Houston in the 1940s, a woman’s son and daughter-in-law complain about her health and lack of money to send her on a bus trip to her hometown. Then she manages to escape in “The Trip to Bountiful.”
  • Imparting wisdom. A self-centered, career-minded journalist learns a professor he admired is dying of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, also know as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in “Tuesdays with Morrie.” He feels compelled to visit weekly, and learns to value life.
  • Finding romance. Seven elderly men and women travel to India in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Each has a different reason to go, but their hotel, their young host and their stay are not what any of them expected.
  • Discovering joy. Two terminally ill patients – strangers – leave the hospital to do everything they’ve always wanted to do in “The Bucket List.” Together, they find the joy in life.

A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

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For more information about this topic or our services,

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Arthritis is Disabling Cincinnati Seniors

Cincy Senior Corner

November 2016

Free Monthly Publication

Arthritis is the most disabling disease for Cincinnati Seniors. “Arthritis” includes osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, gout and more than 100 other rheumatic diseases and conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Doctors have diagnosed about one-fifth of U.S. adults with some form of arthritis.

Arthritis Can Be Disabling For Cincinnati SeniorsRheumatoid diseases and conditions cause inflammation – redness, heat, swelling, pain and stiffness – and the loss of function of one or more connecting or supporting structures of the body.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health, arthritis and similar diseases and conditions affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Some forms, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can cause additional symptoms and strike multiple organs.

Although children and other adults can have arthritis, the likelihood of developing some form increases with age. One-third of those diagnosed with arthritis are age 65 and older. Arthritis generally is more common among women than men. African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and other minorities have lower rates of arthritis compared to Caucasians, but they experience greater severity of pain and more activity limitations. The CDC anticipates the number of American adults with arthritis will grow to 67 million by 2030.

The Problem with Arthritis in Cincinnati Seniors

Adults with arthritis have trouble getting enough physical activity to improve their health, reports the Arthritis Foundation. Many fear exercise will cause pain or damage joints. They are challenged to stand, bend, walk and climb stairs. Still, lack of exercise and movement is bad for arthritis.

And the Arthritis Foundation has found almost half of adults with arthritis are afflicted with other serious diseases or conditions. These include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

Many also deal with anxiety or depression.

The CDC warns that the combination of arthritis and a chronic disease or condition makes management difficult and can reduce the adult’s quality of life.

Some Causes of Arthritis – Cincinnati Seniors

Heredity can play a role. NIAMS found many genes and combinations of genes make people susceptible to rheumatic diseases. For example:

  • An inherited cartilage weakness leads to osteoarthritis.
  • Male and female differences (including hormones) may account for fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma in women, and spondyloarthropathies and gout among men.
  • Race is connected to lupus. It is more severe in African-Americans and Hispanics compared to Caucasians.

With some forms, the immune system goes on the attack. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of joints in hand and feet. Systemic lupus erythematosus occurs when healthy cells and tissues are attacked, leading to inflammation of and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and even brain.

Gout results from deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints, causing episodic inflammation, swelling, and pain. And bacteria and virus can cause infectious arthritis.

Life with Arthritis in Cincinnati Seniors

Even seniors can manage their arthritis. NIAMS advises:

  • Research shows physical activity reduces joint pain and stiffness, increases flexibility, strengthens muscles, builds endurance and delays disability. Adults should strive for 150 minutes a week, such as 30 minutes, 5 days a week, or in 10-minute increments. If possible, walk, bicycle or swim.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet can help lower weight to reduce symptoms.
  • Medications will not cure arthritis, but generally limit symptoms. Oral and topical analgesics relieve pain, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) diminish pain and inflammation.
  • Heat therapy increases blood flow, pain tolerance and flexibility. Cold therapy numbs nerves and relieves inflammation and muscle spasms. Relaxation therapy relieves muscle tension.
  • Splints and braces support weakened joints or allow them to rest. Using assistive devices can help. A cane reduces some weight on a knee or hip; a shoe insert (orthotic) eases foot or knee pain.
  • Surgery repairs damage or restores function to a joint after injury or relieves pain.

A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.

‘Gray Divorce’ Trend Impacting Seniors

Cincy Senior Corner

October 2016

Free Monthly Publication

The surprising truth: Although divorce is down slightly, it has doubled for seniors.

About 50 years ago, less than 3 percent of Americans older than 50 were divorced, according to The New York Times. By 2000, nearly 12 percent were. Just a few years ago, 15.4 percent were divorced and another 2.1 percent were separated. Nearly half of those breakups were in first marriages. By comparison, 13.5 percent were widowed.

Two sociology professors from Bowling Green State University call this trend “gray divorce.”

Reasons for Increase in ‘Gray Divorce’

There are several reasons for the increase:

More common, less stigma. Overall, divorce is more common than it once was. It has become a societal norm.

Fewer worries about children. Husband and wife may overlook marital flaws to stay together when their children are young. But as those children grow into adulthood and leave the nest, they realize they have less in common.

Less tolerance of bad relationships. People are willing to end a bad or even unsatisfying partnership.

Women’s economic muscle. More women have careers — and can achieve financial stability on their own. They don’t rely on men as much as they once did.

Longer lives. Adults feel they can put their remaining, healthy years to better use.

Impact of Late Divorce

'Gray Divorce' Trend Impacting Seniors

The Bowling Green researchers noted that divorce contributes to financial strain on ex-spouses, results in poor health, and requires more of the couple’s children and government later in life.

Financially, the former couple has less time to rebuild assets split in a breakup, according to an AARP article on the subject. Savings of many Americans is already low, and women generally make less but live longer than men.

Single adults tend to depend more on public benefits. With an aging population, including Baby Boomers, American taxpayers will pay more to provide these benefits.

According to AARP, 22.3 percent of women and 12.5 percent of men age 50-plus live alone. Once, husband and wife could care for each other, with family members stepping in as needed. Now there are two singles who divide those family resources.  If paid care is needed, one caregiver for a couple obviously costs less than two caregivers for two singles.

What Family Law Experts Say about ‘Gray Divorce’

Family law experts shared their observations in U.S. News.

  • Alimony is more likely to be paid in cases of long-time unions. Assets including retirement funds are more likely to be divided evenly between ex-spouses. The one who gets the house typically gives up something else, such as alimony or pension payments. Financial support for adult children who are still in college or disabled may factor into a divorce agreement.
  • These experts suggest keeping conversations between divorcing husband and wife business-like, and being open to adult children who may react emotionally. To avoid isolation, ex-spouses should get involved in social activities – but not date too soon.
  • In case of remarriage, they also suggest a prenuptial agreement. Studies show 60% of divorced adults are more likely to divorce again.

.A Caring Choice, Inc.

2015 “Business of the Year” – Colerain Chamber

2014 “Business of the Year” – USA Cincinnati Chamber (16 – 75 emp.)

For more information about this topic or our services,

call 513-574-4148.

    Trust Us! – Jim Kummer/President

 

Medicare – Competitive Bidding

There is another round of competitive bidding going on for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) being implemented by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

According to a recent article:

Competitive bidding: Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) is an important step towards paying appropriately for medical items and services. The program will reduce out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries and save the Medicare program money while ensuring beneficiaries continue to receive quality products from accredited suppliers.

  • Creates incentives for suppliers to continue to provide quality products and services efficiently and at a reasonable cost.
  • Lowers the costs to beneficiaries and to taxpayers. Once fully implemented across the country, total savings are projected to be in the billions of dollars each year.
  • Requires that all suppliers in the program meet strict quality and financial standards and be accredited by a Medicare-deemed national accreditation organization.
  • Selects multiple winning contract suppliers, both small and large, to ensure beneficiaries have access to quality medical equipment and supplies with a choice of suppliers.

Proven Results

Competitive bidding for DMEPOS is proven to save money for taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries while maintaining access to quality DMEPOS items and services. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 required Medicare to test competitive bidding for DMEPOS items as a new way to set fees. Medicare implemented two demonstration projects in Polk County, Florida and San Antonio, Texas to determine if competitive bidding among suppliers would be successful in driving down costs to a fair market value while maintaining product quality. The demonstration projects showed that competition helps Medicare beneficiaries receive quality medical equipment and supplies at fair and reasonable prices. At the completion of the demonstration projects in 2002, Medicare found that:

  • 77 percent of winning bidders were small suppliers;
  • Beneficiaries saved 20 percent through the competitive model;
  • Access to quality equipment and supplies was maintained; and
  • Beneficiary satisfaction remained high.

I have talked to various DME suppliers and generally having one or two suppliers doesn’t make sense to them. “Service will be affected” I am told. According to the government test described above, this program will work. Medicare costs have to be reduced; the demand for Medicare will keep increasing as the boomers reach age 65. This will be interesting to follow.

Call A Caring Choice at (513) 574-4148 if your loved one needs help at home. Don’t wait; they deserve it. 

Submitted by Jim Kummer – President at A Caring Choice, Inc.