GOOD MORNING

IT'S SUNDAY OCTOBER 25TH 2020

DAYS IN QUARANTINE - 223
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TODAY'S BLOG CONTINUES BELOW







How Compassion Will
 Help Us To Survive
6 minutes


Do people become more compassionate as they age? I like to think so. I know I have.
 
For some, compassion comes naturally. For others, compassion comes on like a freight train in a moment of emotion so strong that we cannot deny its implications. That’s what happened to me.
 
I was in a rehab facility trying to regain the use of my legs after having spent months on my back after surgery. My physical therapy had not been going well. I struggled just to stand up and hang on a bar against a wall. Despite my willingness and desire to walk again, my progress had reached a brick wall. I could feel my strength and my drive ebbing away. I was at a very low point, both in my recovery and my life. Then, one day, while waiting for my therapist to help me up from my 
wheelchair so I could hang my arms over the handles of a walker, I noticed a man, older than me, who had just walked using the rails of the parallel bars just across from where I was sitting. I never saw him before and did not know his name, but watching him struggling to get from one end of the bars to the other, noticing the pain in face and the determination in his eyes gave me a profound sense of sadness. Not just a feeling of kinship with that man, but an understanding of what he was going through and the pain he must be suffering. I felt that pain and began to cry. I hadn’t felt that much emotion since my brother passed away a few years earlier.
 
My therapist arrived, and it surprised her to see me weeping.
 

“What’s the matter?”, she asked.
 
“That man. I can feel his pain” I said pointing to the patient on the bars. “He’s so brave.”

I won’t go as far to say it was an epiphany, but from that time on, my therapy showed some results. I was getting up on my own and even took a few steps. I was far from where I wanted to be, but now, I believed I could do it. 
 
But something was different. I was not so much into myself as I had been. I looked at the other people on my floor and in the dining room with an understanding I never had before. I no longer saw just a group of disabled old people, but people who were courageous beyond anyone’s comprehension. Had I become more compassionate? I think so.
 
No longer can I look at another person and not understand they have the same, if not more, problems than me. I know their pain and I understand they do what they do not because they are mean or crotchety, but because they are suffering.
 
This empathy is why I do what I do here. It’s why I am often at odds with the administration of this facility, the governor of NY State and the DOH. Their lack of consideration for the current status of those of us who they have confined to a few square feet of space is something not seen since World War 2. And what is coming out of the White House is further proof we have lost our sense of compassion for our fellow Americans. This “All for me, and screw everyone else” attitude is why we are where we are. Squarely in the midst of the greatest threat to our Democracy we have ever encountered. And if we don’t get back to caring for one another, we may never wipe this stain from our Constitution and everything we thought we stand for.

I’m 75-years-old. I have more time on this planet behind me than I do ahead of me. I, like many of you, have seen what the power of unity and understanding can accomplish. We see it every time there is a disaster. People come together and help their neighbors. This virus has made all of us “neighbors.” And only the understanding that we are all in this together will put an end to this nightmare. There are those who want to unite us and those who will strive to divide us. Not only is the choice clear, it’s imperative……………………...

I'm off until Monday. I'd like to think I will spend the weekend meditating and reflecting. But I'll be watching TV like I have done for 220 days. 


 



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CMS Survey Data Illustrates Impact of COVID-19
on Medicare Beneficiaries’ Daily Life and Experiences


Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released data showing that 21% of Medicare beneficiaries report forgoing non-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) care due to the pandemic, and nearly all - 98% - of beneficiaries have taken preventative measures to keep themselves safe from the virus.

According to the survey, the most common type of forgone care because of the pandemic was dental care (43%), followed by regular check-up (36%), treatment for ongoing condition (36%), and diagnostic or medical screening test (32%).  The most common reason cited for forgoing care was not wanting to risk being at a medical facility (45%).

Regarding COVID-19 preventative health behaviors, nearly all beneficiaries cited at least one or more actions they have taken to protect themselves, with regular handwashing/hand sanitizer use topping the list (98%), followed by social distancing and wearing facemasks (each at 93%).


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Elderly, health care workers likely to receive vaccine first
By SUSAN HAIGH and MIKE MELIA


Residents who are elderly or medically at-risk, as well as health care workers and other essential workers, will likely receive the first doses of an anticipated COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut, according to a draft state distribution plan submitted Friday to the federal government.

The 77-page document, filed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlines three possible phases for vaccine distribution in the state, predicting there could be limited supplies of a vaccine available sometime this fall. But state officials stressed that Connecticut’s draft plan is subject to change, based on input from a newly formed advisory committee to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and changing federal advice.

“While we’ve put together this framework ... we’ve done this really with limited information about the actual vaccine itself and the requirements and populations,” said Dr. Deidre Gifford, the state’s acting public health director, during a meeting held Thursday evening with the governor’s advisory committee. “So we are doing our best to prepare but also knowing that we need to remain flexible and adapt as we get further information.”



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When senior citizens are the early adopters
By Nicole Wetsman


Steve Kasch’s mom, Julia, was always worried about losing her keys. “She wasn’t even driving, but she was checking her purse every ten minutes,” he says.

Kasch told me that his mom was fairly independent, but over the past few years, her memory started to go. She would forget if she ate a meal or, more troubling, forget if she took medication. “She might think she took her pill, and not take it for three days,” he says. “Or she might take six in one day.”

In December, Kasch and his wife realized she couldn’t keep living on her own, and they started shopping around for an assisted living facility. The Legacy at Town Square in Amarillo, Texas, stood out. It gave each resident a location-monitoring, emergency button-equipped wristband — which also swiped them into their rooms. “Now, there’s no keys,” Kasch says. 




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Sweden tells elderly to end isolation
even as new virus cases rise



STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish senior citizens no longer need to isolate themselves, the government said on Thursday, pointing to lower COVID infection rates than in spring and a growing toll on the mental health of its elderly as behind the new recommendation.


The move to ease the burden on the elderly comes as many countries across Europe are reimposing restrictions to get to grips with surging infections, but the Health Agency has said it does not see evidence of a second wave in Sweden.

Sweden has taken a different approach to most other European countries in fighting the pandemic, relying on voluntary measures to promote social distancing, though it did isolate nursing homes after high levels of deaths among residents.



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Election 2020:
3 Things Retirees Should Pay Attention To
By : Tony Drake, CFP®

When it comes to your money in retirement, here are three main issues that seniors should pay attention to before they cast their votes in the 2020 presidential election. Donald Trump or Joe Biden: Which candidate’s policies fare better for retirees?

The coronavirus is making this election year different from any other in history, and while we can’t predict how Wall Street will react to the presidential race, we can look back at history to gauge stock market performance in an election year. The stock market ebbs and flows with a four-year election cycle. Historically, market performance is worse in the first half of a president’s term compared to the second half. Some believe party affiliation matters when it comes to stock market performance. While history shows stocks have performed slightly better under Democratic administrations, performance hasn’t varied much when either party is in the White House.

No matter which candidate you plan to support, it’s important to be aware of how future policies could impact your finances now and in retirement.




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7 changes to Social Security in 2021


There isn't a social program in this country that bears more importance to the financial well-being of seniors than Social Security. Each month, nearly 65 million people receive a Social Security benefit, and more than 46 million of them are retired workers. Of these retirees, more than 3 in 5 rely on their monthly payouts to account for at least half their income.

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT RETIREMENT QUESTIONS

It's also a dynamic program. Despite laying a financial foundation for those who can no longer provide for themselves, the Social Security program undergoes a number of changes every year. It just so happens that these updates were unveiled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) this past week.

Here's a closer look at the seven biggest changes to Social Security in 2021....



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<30>



NEXT BLOG MONDAY, OCT. 26th 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments





10.22.20


Who Are Those Trump
Supporters Anyway? 
And Why Do They Love Him?
8 minutes

Election Day 2020 is less than 2 weeks away. And according to those in the know, most people have already made up their minds who they are going to vote for. Depending on who you ask, only 4 or 5% are still undecided. So, to me, it seems counterproductive for the candidates to spend so much time campaigning. But I suppose they believe they can flip some of those die-hards to their side. I doubt it. Especially if the people they are trying to flip is a Trump supporter. Their loyalty, as misguided as it may be, is something any candidate would be proud of. It’s something you can’t buy with cash or ideology. So what does Trump do to 40% of the population that makes them think he’s the best thing since sliced bread?

 
Tuesday evening, on CNN, they had a story where one of their correspondents attended a “Dune Buggy Rally For Trump.” It took place in Oregon and was attended by a group of hard-driving, flag waving Trump supporters. The question posed to the participants was simple. “Why are you voting for Trump?” The answer, though not surprising, was one I did not expect to be the number one reason. They believe Trump is more like them than Biden. And what does “More like them” mean? It appears they think of him as being an alpha male type. Just like many of them think they are. Go figure.

This entire business of “Machismo” seems to be one of the driving forces behind Trump’s appeal. But why should an overweight, heavily made-up blowhard possess (in their minds) the qualities of leadership they admire? Because, like many of them, he’s crude and rude and in-your-face. It doesn't matter that he has none of the skills needed to be a president like the ability to compromise or negotiate. Nor does he have the compassion or understanding to deal with the diversity America has always prided itself on. They love him. I’m sure experts could give you a million scholarly, carefully annotated and thoroughly researched reasons for this aberration, but I have my own ideas. He bases his entire campaign on being able to pick at a scab that has been covering a festering wound many people would deny having. Racism.
 
Maybe not the overt racism we saw in the 1960s from the likes of George Wallace, Strom Thurmond or Ross Barnett, but the racism that comes from watching people of a different color or religion or culture make good in a society that was supposed to be a paradise for white, male Christians. And adding fuel to that racism is the idea that many of those “minorities” have an education denied to many financially stressed lower-middle-class whites. This is why they don’t believe in science and deny the severity of the pandemic and changes to the environment like global warming. No educated person should support a man like Trump except (there’s always an exception) if you are among those who have amassed wealth, earned or stolen, and want to hold on to every dollar they are blessed with. Money, it turns out, is the great equalizer. 

Okay. Maybe you’re not buying the racism or retention of wealth issue. Then perhaps you could tell me why Trump supporters reject universal health care and free higher education. Why are programs like food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and even Social Security on the chopping block in Trump’s world? One of those men at that dune buggy rally put it this way. “I work very hard for my money, and I don’t want to have to give up some of it to people who don’t work.” I must admit, it’s a good argument even though they too could become one of those non-contributors and have to rely on social welfare programs to survive. Which brings up another anomaly attributed to Trumper’s. Why, when so many of his people are out-of-work, do they still deny the need for relief that would  extend unemployment or increasing Social Security benefits or any of the other programs proposed that would get us “over the hump” until such a time when we can return to normalcy? It all has to do with M.A.G.A.
 
“Make America Great Again” is more than just stitching on a red baseball cap. It’s an idea planted in the minds of those who think they were better off in some ambiguous time (usually the 50s or 60s) when a new car was $3000 and you could buy a house for 25 grand. It was a time
 when all the people on TV were white. Women stayed at home and wore dresses and boys played football, not soccer, and girls cheered on the sidelines. And we believed, although it rarely came true, that if we worked hard enough and kept our noses clean (i.e., don’t make waves), we too could rise in status just like those folks in the sit-coms. Trump is conning them into thinking (A), there really were “good times” and (B) they can go back to them.

It’s hard to crush a dream. Even one based on a fantasy. Trump supporters don’t want to believe those times, if they ever existed, will never come back. The world has changed, and they are frustrated because they can’t do anything about it except to support a man who preys on an ideal that probably never was and will never be again. Should we give up on those people? Those with no compassion would say yes. But I have faith in America. I believe that there are more of us than there are of them. And that the next president will strive to heal rather than divide.……………………. 

 
 



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An Early Look at 2021
 Medicare Advantage Benefits: Part I

Medicare Advantage (MA) is the rapidly growing private plan option in the Medicare program. More than one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries choose MA — more than 24 million people. The program has grown nearly 10% year over year, and enrollment is expected to top 30 million in the next few years.

While all MA plans must provide services covered by Medicare Part A and Part B, MA plans that can offer these services for less than original Medicare split the money with the government and then reinvest the remaining savings to purchase supplemental benefits for their members. A string of policy changes permitted MA plans, starting in Plan Year 2019, to offer a much more comprehensive range of supplemental benefits and tailor these benefits for specific health conditions. (You can learn more about the specifics of these policy changes here and here.)

Collectively, these policy changes and the resulting innovations in benefits and services are transitioning MA from a health insurance program into the nation’s first large-scale population health program. These new offerings also add significant marketing sizzle to MA’s annual campaign to win new members. Now that marketing for Plan Year 2021 is underway, this is an excellent time to check on 2021 MA supplemental benefits and compare them to supplemental benefits in 2018, 2019 and 2020.



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Nursing home, assisted-living officials
fear new wave of COVID-19


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately 5 million people each year, has released a report showing nursing homes in the U.S. could see a third spike of increasing new COVID cases due to the community spread among the general population.

Recent data released by Johns Hopkins and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services show that with the recent spike in new COVID cases in the general U.S. population, weekly nursing home cases rose in late September for the first time in seven weeks after new cases dropped significantly throughout August and early September. According to Johns Hopkins, COVID cases in the general U.S. population rose by 62,139 cases per week in late September, correlating with an uptick in nursing home cases during the week of Sept. 27.

As experts have repeatedly noted, COVID-19 cases in a surrounding community is a top factor in outbreaks in nursing homes. Dr. David Grabowski, professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School recently stated, “The strongest predictor of whether or not we’ll see cases in [a particular setting] is community spread.”


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COVID-19 vaccine program sign-up
begins today for senior living operators

Assisted living and other long-term care communities beginning today can opt in to a federal program through which residents and staff members will be vaccinated against COVID-19 free of charge to them when a vaccine becomes available.

Assisted living operators will be able to sign up for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program via an online survey that will be sent to them, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense. The two government entities on Friday announced agreements through which CVS Health and Walgreens will provide and administer the vaccines to “minimize the burden on [long-term care facility] sites and jurisdictional health departments of vaccine handling, administration and fulfilling reporting requirements.”

“This is very consistent with our overarching objective, which is to protect the most vulnerable Americans from COVID,” Paul Mango, the deputy chief of staff for policy at HHS, said during a Friday teleconference. “This relationship is principally about getting vaccines quickly and effectively into all of our nursing homes and assisted living facilities and senior care locations.”



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Coping With the Dread
Unleashed by COVID-19


I don’t think of myself as a fearful person. Yet, I’m coming to realize that I’ve been living with a sense of dread for some time now.

I can’t pinpoint when this particular fear first took hold. An obvious starting point would be the summer day in 2017 that my husband fell while biking and suffered a concussion. Certainly, the sight of Bob, then 68, sprawled on the ground, out cold, stirred a palpable fear that I could lose him.

But was that fear already slumbering inside me, on the lookout for any excuse to be aroused? Was it there the evening in 2010 that I sat in a Chinese restaurant, across the table from a stranger named Bob whom I’d recently met online, and sensed the potential for a new life not centered on the grief I’d been carrying since the death of my first husband, Joe?




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Investments and Politics:
A Dangerous Combination


Investors are frustrated. They love certainty, but we are living in one of the most uncertain times in history.

If COVID-19 wasn’t creating enough uncertainty, the upcoming elections sure are. Many investors are asking if they should alter their portfolios based on the election’s results. The common assumption is that presidents – and their policies regarding taxes and regulations – will directly affect stock market returns.

They’re wrong, and as a result, too many investors make the huge mistake every election season of letting the vote influence their investment strategy.

It’s a classic case of behavioral finance. When your candidate wins, you are happy and thus optimistic about the nation’s future (if only for the next four years) – and your emotional high may cause you to increase the amount of money you have in stocks and stock funds. The result: you could end up with too heavy an allocation to stocks, and therefore too much risk relative to your long-term personal financial goals.




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Reducing Electric and Gas Costs
Without Feeling the Burn

At home, the price of electricity feels like a given: You check your bill, you sigh, and you pay. But as a senior living community or provider, that price can be as negotiable as a professional athlete’s contract—and as complicated to negotiate.

Power prices depend on a complex combination of factors in a quickly changing market. The role of the consultant is to help the community determine the best match through analyzing its energy needs, its locations, its resources, and other factors such as risk and requirements.

APPI Energy is one of those negotiators of electric and gas costs and supply, with experience in procuring power under the best terms for health care and senior living clients. In a recent interview, APPI consultant Jamie Polend, EMP (a certified energy management professional), addresses several assumptions and myths around power costs.




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<30>



NEXT BLOG FRIDAY, OCT. 23RD 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments




10.21.20




5 minutes

I spent most of Tuesday sleeping. Well, at least what passes for sleep these days. It’s more like a series of two to three-hour naps interrupted by housekeeping, laundry pickup, or meal deliveries. The TV is on as background noise, which usually becomes part of what I dream during those naps. My dreams are a mixture of my own memories, the plot of “Wentworth” and a Gieco Insurance commercial.
 
And speaking of meals, they still suck. The kitchen here has apparently given up trying to cook anything from scratch and is relying almost 100% on pre-fabricated portions of institutional quality food, which they need only to warm up and slop into a Styrofoam container and serve to us at room temperature. Breakfast is the only tolerable meal. Somehow the hot cereal arrives hot, and the coffee isn’t bad. As for the rest. Let’s just say I’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches, which is the only thing they fabricate on premises. Fortunately, I have managed to supplement my diet with some things purchased via Instacart. Cheese, peanut butter, Cheerios, cream cheese, olives [1], and Clamato juice which I drink by the gallon. 

Meanwhile, on the quarantine/isolation situation, things have changed little. Except that they now permit limited visits, which has given some relief to both residents and family alike. Friends and family can meet residents for only an hour, and it must be out of doors. They have set up a tent on the lawn for that, which is okay. But what happens when the weather becomes too cold to sit in a tent? There are no plans for inside visits.
 
The same goes for lifting any of the current overly cautious measures mandated by our anal-retentive governor and the NY State Department of Health, which has kept assisted living residents virtually prisoners for over 219 days. There is still no plan or date scheduled when we can even think about a return to some normalcy. My guess is that they are waiting for a vaccine before anybody in authority will commit to any change. Sadly, we residents have become the pawns in a game where they are making the rules as it goes along. As long as we aren’t dropping like flies, it’s okay to treat us as inmates rather than American citizens.


The facility has been very good with maintaining our health despite what is happening in many other long-term care venues around the state. As of last week, we have had only one resident who reportedly contracted the virus. And that person was already in the hospital at the time. In addition, they have made flu shots available for those who want it. They are constantly monitoring us for any symptoms and they test our staff weekly. I have no problem with that part of the care. I just need to know what the future holds for us. My fear is we will be in this same situation a year from now. Sadly, many of us will not be around to see this end………………………………. .
 

[1] One of my favorite sandwiches is cream cheese and green olives. I save the toast from breakfast. For me, it’s a treat from my past.




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Improved mobility in frail and elderly adults
linked to common gene variant


Variations in a gene that regulates dopamine levels in the brain may influence the mobility of elderly and frail adults, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

These results, published today in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society, add to a growing body of evidence hinting that lower dopamine levels could contribute to the slower, often disabling walking patterns seen in some elderly populations.

"Most people think about dopamine's role in mobility in the context of Parkinson's disease, but not in normal aging," said senior author Caterina Rosano, M.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. "We were curious to see if a genetic predisposition to produce more or less dopamine was related to mobility in individuals who had some level of frailty, yet did not have dementia, parkinsonism or any other neurological condition."



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30 percent of COVID deaths in long-term care
have occurred in assisted living

Thirty percent of long-term care-related deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have occurred in assisted living communities and other care homes, whereas 70% have taken place in nursing homes, according to the findings of a newly released international study.

The International Long Term Care Policy Network’s “Mortality associated with COVID-19 in care homes: international evidence” contains data from 21 countries, showing that an average of 46% of all COVID-19 deaths were residents of non-acute residential and nursing facilities that house individuals with long-term needs. 

In the United States, 82,105 COVID-19 deaths were linked to long-term care facilities, accounting for 41% of all coronavirus deaths. The report uses data from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project for assisted living communities, adult care centers, nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities and other long-term care facilities.


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Senior living providers struggle to assist
residents with voting in 2020 elections

“It’s not as simple as it once was.”

That is how Pennsylvania Health Care Association President and CEO Zach Shamberg summed up voting in the 2020 November election during a virtual press conference on Thursday. Shamberg discussed how assisted living communities and nursing homes are preparing to support the state’s 50,000 registered older voters’ participation in the voting process and how state and federal governments will play a pivotal role.

With a series of changes to Pennsylvania’s voting processes this year, including some stemming from the pandemic, Shamberg said it is more important than ever that long-term care facilities are equipped to facilitate mail-in, absentee and in-person voting for their residents. 



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Cigarette smoking may increase risk
for Alzheimer’s disease


Cigarette smoking appeared linked to increased amounts of Alzheimer’s disease risk biomarkers, according to results of a case-control study published in JAMA Network Open.

“Evidence from epidemiological studies and meta-analyses have indicated that cigarette smoking is significantly associated with the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer disease and dementia,” Yanlong Liu, PhD, of the School of Mental Health at Wenzhou Medical University in China, and colleagues wrote. “It has been reported that heavy smoking is associated with a greater than 100% increase in risk [for] dementia and [Alzheimer’s disease] after 2 decades of exposure. With memory loss and cognitive deficit, [Alzheimer’s disease] is among the most devastating brain disorders for older individuals.”

Results of an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease suggested that cigarette smoking may exacerbate amyloid pathology. Other studies demonstrated that measuring amyloid-beta 42 levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may offer diagnostic specificity for Alzheimer’s disease, with results of human studies showing a strong association between high CSF amyloid-beta 42 levels and mild cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease. 



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Democrat or Republican:
Which Political Party
Has Grown the Economy More?

Democrats and Republicans have widely different views on the economy. But once in power, candidates' actions don't always coincide with their party's views. That makes it difficult to determine which party is better for the economy.

Key Takeaways

    Many factors influence how much impact Republican or Democratic presidents have on economic performance
    These factors include recessions, wars, and prior presidents' policies
    Some research shows that economic growth is better under Democrats

The Philosophy Behind Democratic Economic Policy

Democrats gear their economic policies to benefit low-income and middle-income families. They argue that reducing income inequality is the best way to foster economic growth. Low-income families are more likely to spend any extra money on necessities instead of ....



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10 countries where you can retire on just $100,000

Living out your golden years near beautiful beaches in warm sunshine doesn't have to devour all your savings. In fact, you can retire to some countries with well under $100,000 in the bank.

We've looked at a wide range of data to find the places with the most affordable food, health care, rents and more. You’ll pay far less for your living costs, while enjoying many of the same — or better — amenities that you'd get by retiring in the U.S.

Ranked in no particular order, here are our picks for places where you could retire on less than $100,000. You'll find reasonable costs, friendly people, comfortable lifestyles, and views that are often spectacular....




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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY, OCT. 22ND 2020


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10.20. 20




An Indigestible Subject


Before we get into today’s topic, let’s get this out of our system (pun intended).

One-liners while having a colonoscopy [1]

1. "Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where no man has gone before!

2. "Find Amelia Earhart yet?"

3. "Can you hear me NOW?"

4. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

5.. "Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?"

6.. "You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out..."

7. "Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!"

8.. "If your hand doesn't fit, you must quit!

9. "Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity."

10. "You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?"

And the best one of all...

11. "Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?"


Yes, they’re funny. And I wish my sense of humor would have been up to it when I had my first and only colonoscopy. But under the circumstances by which I was the recipient of the most invasive of all tests, I left any wit or jocularity back home. As I  lay on a very hard table in a darkened room of Forest Hills Hospital on that morning, wisecracking was the last thing I had on my mind. My gut was in bad shape and I knew it.
 
Arriving at a hospital in an ambulance and being put in a situation when a routine test becomes an emergency procedure should not be the reason to have a colonoscopy. But I had no choice. Circumstances took away any preferences had this been a scheduled visit.
 
Most middle-aged men, and any man that does not have a female presence to nag them, put off visits to a doctor for “checkups”, especially those that have anything to do with what’s south of the bellybutton, for as long as possible, if ever at all. And for me, a person who had never had stomach or bowel problems, having the dreaded ‘noscopy' was definitely not on the agenda. 

Had this been a scheduled “routine” colonoscopy, they would have given me the opportunity to be anesthetized and perhaps even a nice mild sedative to take away any of the anxiety. But because of the urgency to find out what exactly was wrong with me, any of those amenities went out the window.
 
For me, it went like this.
 
Nurse: “Take off your pants and underwear and hop up on this table. Lay on your side, please.”
Doctor: “This is the instrument I will use” (putting something that looked like a garden hose with a headlight attached to it in front of my face). You might feel some discomfort.”
 
There was a large TV monitor mounted on the wall in front of me so I could watch the procedure in High-Def. What I saw was not good. Even to the untrained eye, there were things in there I knew should not be. The doctor thought so too as he snipped off sample after sample of pathology, making remarks as he cut.
 
“Got that, "that’s interesting" and, "I’ve never seen anything like that,” were just some comments.
 
After the exam, as I was pulling my pants back up, I could not help having a feeling of impending doom. Feeling as sick as I did, and listening to the remarks made by the doctor, I honestly believed I had a brief time to live. Surely, one of those polyps, bumps or lesions had to be signs of an advanced cancer. I was more sad than frightened. I would die alone, I thought.

As it turned out, there was no cancer. However, there was the next best thing. Ulcerative Colitis. And a severe case at that. So bad that it resulted in me losing 8 feet of infected bowels and a change in lifestyle I never could have imagined.
 
I’ll not tell you that if I had gone for a routine colonoscopy a year or five years earlier, I would have been spared the pain and suffering. Nobody can say that. Even my GI doc and surgeon could not determine when or how long I had the disease. Or what caused it. But I am telling you that going for a colonoscopy on your own terms will help to ease some fear and apprehension associated with invasive tests like this. And, should they find a problem, the options for dealing with it are greater than if you were in a do or die situation.
 
No. It’s not pleasant. But it’s not painful either. You don’t have to look at a monitor or listen to any comments. The people who preside over these tests are professional and will treat you with the utmost respect. [2]
 
I can’t think of a better time to schedule a test now that many of us have some time on our hands. It’ll be over in less than an hour and you can keep your mask on. I would suggest you don’t get the anesthesia. There are fewer chances of complications and you’ll feel much better at the conclusion of the test. And you won’t need anybody to drive you home. ............... 


[1]https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/one-liners-while-having-a-colonoscopy-259182/
[2]Except if you wind up with the doctor that initially treated me. What a jerk.



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More on why we need Universal Health Care….

The health insurance mess: 
Worker costs jump anew, as kids’ coverage falls

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many Americans to reconsider their transportation options, what with fears of infection and the slashing of public transit systems’ routes and schedules. That has made used cars, motorcycles, and bicycles hot commodities.

Those who are working and considering how their finances might stretch may take little comfort in another reality of the U.S. health care system — the relentlessly increasing cost of employer-provided coverage. Who can afford a second car while also footing the rising bill for health coverage?

As the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said in its annual report on this issue:

“Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $21,342 this year, up 4% from last year, with workers on average paying $5,588 toward the cost of their coverage. The average deductible among covered workers in a plan with a general annual deductible is $1,644 for single coverage. Fifty-five percent of small firms and 99% of large firms offer health benefits to at least some of their workers, with an overall offer rate of 56%.”



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Older men need to hydrate
even when they are not thirsty


A new study confirms that older men may lack the bodily cues that help younger men remain hydrated.

Smart thermostats have nothing on our hypothalamus. This is the gland that helps us maintain a healthy body temperature.

When we get too hot, the hypothalamus causes our skin to produce sweat that cools us down as it evaporates. We then become thirsty, and we should drink to replace the water that we lost through sweating.

However, if we sweat too much or do not drink water to replenish our fluids, we can become dehydrated. 


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CMS Proposes Changes to Medicare’s Coverage Determination
Criteria and Expedites Approval of Breakthrough Devices

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued a proposed rule that would grant Medicare coverage to breakthrough medical devices immediately upon FDA approval. The rule also proposes to codify a new definition of “reasonable and necessary” for Medicare national coverage determinations that takes into account commercial insurance coverage of items and services. It is unclear how broadly this new "reasonable and necessary" definition will apply if the proposed rule is finalized.

New Devices Face a Lag in Medicare Coverage

Newly approved medical devices currently undergo a lengthy process to obtain Medicare coverage after FDA approval. CMS describes the gap between FDA approval and Medicare coverage as a “valley of death” for innovative products designed for Medicare beneficiaries. Hyperbole aside, the lag between approval and coverage can delay seniors' access to innovative products. It also requires device manufacturers to expend additional time and resources after FDA approval to begin generating Medicare revenue, which may dissuade some investment in innovative products.



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CVS, Walgreens To Help Distribute Coronavirus
Vaccines To Assisted Living Facilities


The federal government has made a deal with retail pharmacies CVS and Walgreens to help distribute coronavirus vaccine — once one or more gets authorized — to long-term care facilities like nursing homes, federal officials said Friday.

Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Health and Human Services Department, told reporters in a telephone briefing that the two drugstore chains are the best placed to send out mobile units to vaccinate seniors and other vulnerable people on site.

“This is a completely voluntary program on the part of every nursing home. This is an opt-in program,” Mango said.



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Pandemic Drives Working Americans
to Seek Further Education


The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a shift in how working Americans view continuing education, according to a new survey commissioned by Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions® (NYSE: BFAM). The survey revealed the 85% of full and part-time employed Americans feel employers need to rethink their benefits offerings in light of the pandemic.

What are employees looking for in this current climate? Education opportunities. 78% of working Americans believe the pandemic has increased the need for companies to support their employees with education benefits, including tuition reimbursement for degree and non-degree programs and student loan repayment programs.

What’s more, education benefits are not only driving employee motivation, but they may be a key factor in promoting workplace equality. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds of American workers (65 percent) think that providing education benefits to all employees helps promote racial and gender equality in the workplace. 




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President Trump's Position on Social Security
Is at Odds With What the Majority of Americans Want

Social Security is one of the most popular government programs of all time, and it's one that enjoys broad support among large swathes of the American public.
Not only do people like Social Security, but most are willing to pay for it. President Trump, however, wants to make a big change to the funding mechanism of the program. His position puts him at odds with most Americans. In fact, one recent survey shows that while the president wants to cut the taxes that currently pay for Social Security, there's instead majority support for expanding them.
Trump wants to cut the payroll tax, which most Americans want to apply more broadly



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How to Make Smart Medicare
Open Enrollment Choices in 2020


The 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment season runs from October 15 through December 7 and it’ll be even trickier than normal for new and existing beneficiaries. That’s due to a combination of COVID-19, changes in Medicare rules and new types of coverage offered by private Medicare Advantage plans.

So, Next Avenue talked to Medicare experts for their best advice and cautions to help people 65 and older make smart Open Enrollment decisions this year.

The Medicare Open Enrollment period is when you can do any of these for the following year:




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NEXT BLOG WEDNESDAY, OCT. 21ST 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments





10.19.20



We Need Free Healthcare.
Why Don’t We Want To Pay For It?
8 minutes

It’s one thing to be poor. It’s another when you first realize it.
 
Like most Americans who considered themselves to be “Middle Class” I have never had so much money that I didn’t have to worry about it. Although I never lived paycheck to paycheck, I always knew that if they suddenly cut off my income, it would only take a few months to get to a point where I would be in serious financial trouble. Fortunately for me, it never came to that. Until 2007, that is. That was the year I gave up being a contributing member of society and entered the world of the permanent unemployable. I was 62 years old, and nobody would hire me. At least not for any job that would pay me enough to keep a roof over my head and food in the fridge. And, most important of all, pay for my health insurance. Not being old enough for Medicare, it would be another three years before I would qualify, I was up against the wall.


My unemployment insurance and severance pay had long run out, and I dug into my savings to keep up with day-to-day expenses. Even after spending conservatively, cooking meals myself, using public transportation and buying only what I needed, I still had to cash in some of my CDs and 401k. I had never been in this position before, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. The bottom line; I didn’t know how to be poor. I had become so complacent and dependent on a steady income I was unprepared to live otherwise. I thought about finding a minimum wage job, but after doing the math including all the deductions, the cost of commuting and other expenses associated with work (meals, work clothes etc.) And, since none of them included benefits like health coverage, the few dollars I would make wasn’t worth the effort. My only option was to turn to the one place I didn’t want to go. The Social Security Office.

The next month, my first check came in the mail. I have to tell you, it felt good going to the bank and make a deposit for a change. That money, about $900, paid my rent with few bucks left over for utilities. I was still spending more than I received, but at least I had some breathing room. I knew I could control my spending except for one item. The ever present cloud that hangs over much of under 65 America. Health insurance.

There I was. A 62-year-old man, whose only income was from Social Security, paying over $300 a month for a health insurance plan that would only pay for hospitalization. No doctor well-visits. No meds. No Dental. The only way I would collect would be if I got very sick. Which, in 2009 I did.
 
I was fortunate. I had the means to pay for health insurance. But what about those Americans who are living on the edge, with a family and little or no income, who can’t afford even a minimal form of health care? People who would be wiped out by even a minor illness. This is why we need universal health care. The Affordable Care Act (Obama-care) helps, but it’s not free. For many, even $100 is a hardship. In many cases, the money one has to pay for health care can be the difference between going hungry and homeless or dead. We need something better. So why don’t we?
 
People opposed to free health insurance say, “It costs too much,”, and “They’ll raise our taxes to pay for it.”
 
Yes, it will cost a lot. And yes, they probably will have to raise taxes. But using our taxes is the way we pay for everything we have. Police, Fire, Sanitation, EMT. And on the Federal level, our armed forces, FBI, NASA, to name just a few. Taxing people according to their income will mean that they will tax poorer people less, and richer people more. It’s only fair, right? Why Are people so afraid of a national healthcare system? Because people, many of them old people, cannot get the term “Socialized Medicine” out of their heads. Probably the same people who want to “Make America Great Again.”

They have a fear of government interference in their lives more than concern over their own health and the health of millions of their fellow citizens. They cringe at the possibility of having a few dollars raise in taxes, not realizing they are paying more out of their pocket because the cost of medicines and hospitalization has gone unchecked for a hundred years. And what’s even dumber is they want to protect a system that makes rich people even richer. People who couldn't care less whether you can afford to get sick because rich people CAN afford healthcare.
 
And it’s not like we don’t already have a taxpayer supported health care system. We call it Medicare. Something I thank my lucky stars for every month. Without Medicare and Medicaid, I don’t know where I would live or where my next meal would come from. That’s if I would still be alive at all. There is no way I could afford the medication, the peripherals, or the doctors that enable me to survive daily.
 
If we remain with the same administration with the same “Better Dead Than Red.” attitude we will never get out from under the yoke of big-pharma and over-paid supporters of a system inherently designed to oppress and segregate the masses.
 
Why do we as senior citizens, want for others what we already have? Because we have children and grandchildren. And we have friends and neighbors who are struggling and we, as the caring people we are supposed to be, want nothing but the best for them. Or don’t we? It’s 16 days until Election day. You know what you have to do…………….. .
 





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House lawmakers to propose emergency
3% Social Security cost-of-living adjustment
By Lorie Konish


The Social Security Administration announced this week that the cost-of-living adjustment for benefits in 2021 will be 1.3%.

For the average retirement benefit, that amounts to just a $20 increase per month.

Now, two Congressional Democrats — Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and John Larson, D-Conn. — plan to propose a bill to raise that to a 3% emergency increase next year.



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Many Older Americans With
Heart Failure Take 10 or More Meds
By Cara Roberts Murez


When older people hospitalized for heart failure are sent home, they are often given a whopping 10 medications to take for a variety of conditions. But is this "polypharmacy" practice necessary, or does it just place a bigger burden on already frail patients?

It's not a question so much of the quantity of the medications, but whether the medications patients are taking are the right ones for them, said senior study author Dr. Parag Goyal, a geriatric cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City.

"It's not just that we're not starting the right medications, there may be situations where we're not stopping the wrong medications as well," Goyal said. "I think we need to look at the medication that older adults with heart failure take in a more holistic fashion."


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COVID-19 and the Future of Aging:
Vaccines and Treatments


Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging: As we await vaccines and treatments, where are we in the process, and what critical steps are ahead?

Nanette Cocero: Over the last few months, biopharmaceutical companies, along with others in academia and the broader scientific community, have achieved what usually takes years — driven by a shared mission to find a solution to this pandemic. We are all acutely aware of the responsibility that rests on our shoulders and the lives that are at stake.

Around the globe, there are more than 1,500 clinical trials underway of treatments and vaccines to fight COVID-19. This is a stunning number, as is the number of vaccine candidates currently in clinical evaluation (more than 40).




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Medical cannabis doesn't cause
cognitive decline in seniors, study finds
By IDAN ZONSHINE

"Although the cannabis patients have been using it consistently for at least a year, we have not found that their cognitive function is lower than of people similar to them in age and background."


A new study conducted at Haifa University's School of Public Health has found no evidence of cognitive decline in senior citizens who regularly smoke medical cannabis to treat chronic pain. 

Chronic pain affects 19%-37% of the adult population worldwide and medical cannabis has, in recent years, been raised by patients and researchers alike as a "highly effective" possible treatment.




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It’s time to end presidential debates — forever
By Dylan Matthews

Last Friday, the Commission on Presidential Debates officially canceled the second presidential debate of the 2020 general election, originally scheduled for Thursday, October 15. The cancellation was caused by President Trump’s refusal to debate remotely (despite his positive test for Covid-19). According to Newton Minow, a member of the debate commission and one of the negotiators behind the first televised debates in 1960, the cancellation’s real victim was American democracy.

“In seven decades of televised presidential debates, this is the first debate to be canceled,” he told the New York Times. “The loser is the American voter.”

Minow is being a bit cute here. In 1964, 1968, and 1972, debates were not canceled — because they were not held at all. And while there is little doubt that the 1960 debates he helped negotiate for John F. Kennedy were a watershed moment for television as a medium and for popular democracy more generally, they happened 60 years ago. Telecommunications has changed dramatically, and so has politics.


--♦ ♦ ♦ ♦-- 

Trump Makes Last-Ditch Play to Reclaim Seniors
By Jose S Vanhorne 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP pleaded with senior citizens Friday to stick with him, promising free vaccines and therapeutics to help them fight the coronavirus and painting an apocalyptic picture of a Biden administration that would strip them of Medicare and Social Security benefits in a last-ditch pitch to reclaim an important voting bloc that’s increasingly supporting his challenger.

“I will protect you, I will defend you, I will fight for you with every ounce of energy and conviction that I have,” the president said Friday afternoon in Fort Myers. “You devoted your life to this country and I am devoting my life to you.”

The pledge comes as polls show Trump shedding support at an alarming rate from seniors – a demographic he handily won in 2016 by 7 points.

The most recent national polls, including one from CNN/SSRS and another from The Wall Street Journal/NBC News, found the former vice president with more than a 20-point lead over Trump among voters 65 and older.



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Benefits Planner: 
Retirement Benefits For Your Family


If you’re getting Social Security retirement benefits, some members of your family may also qualify to receive benefits on your record. If they qualify, your ex-spouse, spouse, or child may receive a monthly payment of up to one-half of your retirement benefit amount. These Social Security payments to family members will not decrease the amount of your retirement benefit.

Maximum Family Benefits

There is a limit to the amount we can pay your family. The total varies, depending on your benefit amount and the number of qualifying family members on your record. Generally, the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your full retirement benefit.

If you have a divorced spouse who qualifies for benefits, it will not affect the amount of benefits you or your family may receive.





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<30>



NEXT BLOG TUESDAY, OCT. 20TH 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments




10.16.20

This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s
Election Year
6-7 minutes

For the first time in my long history of voting for U.S. Presidents, I’m worried. Truthfully, I’m not just worried, I’m scared. I’m scared because I fear my instincts may be right.
 
In 2016, although I hoped and prayed Hillary Clinton would win, somewhere, deep inside my gut, gnawing at what remained of my bowels, was the feeling that the American people had been lulled into a false sense of security and that Trump would inconceivably be the next President of the United States. The feeling was so strong that I made a small wager with a few of the residents here at the A.L. F. to that affect. Imagine my surprise (and dismay) when I was proved right. I may have won the bet (a large pepperoni pizza which we all shared) but lost my belief that Americans could always see through the phony and corrupt and do the right thing. Obviously, I was wrong. And now, I’m having a similar feeling. The feeling that we, once again, will have misread the true nature of mainstream America and reward that misogynist racist S.O.B. with another four years of his lies and corruption.


Perhaps I’ve just become too cynical and the events of 2020 have further scarred my already addled brain. Maybe I have been bombarded with so much negativity (COVID, riots, the economy and misinformation) that it’s impossible to properly process everything in its correct order and what I’m feeling is the exact opposite of reality. Maybe I’m just imagining all of those non-mask-wearing people I see at Trump rallies and on the streets of some neighborhoods in Brooklyn. But even if that is true, you would have to admit, this is like no presidential election you have ever seen. While we have had contentious elections before, never have we had one where a candidate’s sanity became a concern.

Personality has always been a consideration when selecting a leader. Ideally, we want someone who exhibits strength, decisiveness, fairness, empathy and compassion with a penchant for change and innovation. Essentially, a reflection of what we Americans believe we are. So how did we elect a man who displays none of those?
 
Trump thinks bullying is a sign of strength. Fairness is finding “good people” in Neo-Nazis and showing empathy and compassion is making fun of a physically challenged journalist. And, for innovation, Trump wants to take us back to a time when, in his mind, “America was great.” A time when segregation was the law and equality meant a married woman could not get credit on her own. And, sadly, enough Americans have found kinship with that line of thinking enough to make me think this election will not be a runaway for the Democrats.

It’s not like we haven’t had close elections in the past.
 
In 1960, Kennedy won the popular vote by less than 120,000 votes out of 68.8 million votes cast and received 303 electoral college votes to Nixon’s 219. And more recently, in 2000, just days before the election, pollsters said it was too close to call. Inconsistencies marred vote tallying, particularly in Florida, where Al Gore demanded a recount. Legal challenges eventually brought the race before the U.S. Supreme Court, where calls for a recount were rejected, handing the election to George W. Bush. Bush won the electoral college with 271 votes to Gore’s 266, but lost the popular vote by some 500,000.
 
Knowing that, and having that “feeling” again, has reinforced my fear that this election will be the most contentious in 20 years and that Trump will once again benefit from the absurdity of the Electoral College and emerge victorious despite Biden’s overwhelming popular vote. And even should Biden win, the Margin to end the divisiveness and reverse the damage done, will be too small to make any difference to the way we treat one another now and for the future.
 
While there are many unknowns, the one thing I know is that this will be the most important contest we have had since Lincoln. Never have we had so much to worry about, mainly because our lives are at stake.
 
We seniors have a target on our backs. Despite both candidates being old men, only one has his finger on the trigger and there is no doubt in my mind that, should Trump win, he will perceive that as approval by the masses to continue on his genocidal trip to end Social Security, cut Medicare and reduce so many social programs that only the rich and powerful will survive.
 
I am praying I am reading this all wrong and that I’m just feeling the apprehension most of us are experiencing as election day draws near. We’ll know for sure in less than 20 days.
 
As usual, I’m taking the next two days off to relax before the home stretch. Have a great weekend and we’ll be back on Monday. …………………………… .
 





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The Best Exercise for Seniors is
High-Intensity Interval Training

A twice-a-week routine of high-intensity interval training shows a marked effect on fitness and overall wellbeing in people over 70, according to a new study.

Regular cardio sessions centered around short bursts of intense workouts, broken up by brief rest periods, can help us stay healthier for longer, according to researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

When the 5 year study began in 2012, researchers called it Generation 100, and randomly divided healthy participants into three different training groups.


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Cataracts Linked to Depressive Symptoms in Elderly


Cataracts, whether present or previously removed, were associated with increased risk of depressive symptoms in the elderly, in a 3-year prospective study in which there was no similar association with age related macular degeneration (AMD) or glaucoma.

Ellen Freeman, PhD, School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, and colleagues pointed out that vision loss due to uncorrected refractive error and age-related eye disease like cataract, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy is common in old age, but the relation to development of depressive symptoms is unclear.

"Some older adults are able to adapt well to vision loss, adopting a resilient attitude and positive coping skills," Freeman and colleagues observed. "However, other older adults struggle to accept and adapt to their vision loss and are at risk of depression."


___________________________________________________________________

Extreme confusion most common Covid-19
symptom in frail older adults, new research discovers
By Ciara O'Loughlin


Extreme confusion or 'delirium' is more common than any other Covid-19 symptom in frail older adults, a new study has revealed.

research team at Kings College London, which includes Dubliner Dr Mary Ní Lochlainn, has discovered that new-onset confusion or delirium is an important symptom of Covid-19, especially in those who are frail.

Out of the hospital patients they studied almost one-fifth had confusion as the only presenting feature of the disease. 



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AI Fall Detection Sensor Elderly Senior
Care System Service Announced


 A Vancouver-based startup specializing in artificial intelligence (AI) has introduced a smart fall alert system designed to monitor seniors and report emergencies instantly to their family or caregiver.

AltumView's Cypress Smart Home Care Alert System is a fall prevention sensor that can monitor the movements and activities of a senior and detect emergencies like falls, waving for help, and wanderings, which are common among patients with dementia. The system reports these incidents in real time using an app that can be accessed anywhere using a mobile.

It is capable of fall risk assessment by providing a visual heat map of an area where falls have frequently occurred. This allows the caregiver to take measures, such as removing certain obstacles or blocking access to that location, to prevent similar accidents from happening again.


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Older Americans Socio-Political Concerns
By Joy Intriago

It seems there are polls out every day regarding the socio-political climate 2016 voters are being faced with. Next Avenue is a public media service tailored to Americans over the age of 50. They have recently compiled data from an interest group concerned about the big picture of our country: the interest group of people age 50 and older. Combined with information from a Gallup Poll, this survey helps showcase what older Americans have to say about issues of greatest socio-political concern and Baby Boomers' political clout.

How Socio-Political Concerns Measured up

Participants in Next Avenue's survey on 2016 election issues were asked to rank in order the issues that were most important to them. A noteworthy trend was found that overwhelmingly placed more than half of the respondents, 67% of them to be exact, as ranking issues related to aging as very important to them and as weighing heavily in how they cast their vote in November.




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7 Ways to Manage Arthritis Pain and Stiffness


Eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like salmon may help with arthritis pain relief.


Pain from arthritis can be unpleasant to say the least, but there are a number of natural and over-the-counter home remedies you can try in order to get relief and make everyday activities more manageable.
Video of the Day


More than 23 percent of adults in the U.S. have arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And while symptoms vary across the different types of arthritis (there are over 100), the most common markers of the condition include pain, redness, stiffness and swelling in the joints.




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NEXT BLOG MONDAY, OCT. 19TH 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments









8 minutes


If you did not hear the news, here’s the breakdown… 

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will be 1.3% in 2021 [1]
 
Social Security beneficiaries will see a 1.3% increase to their monthly checks in 2021.
The amount was announced on Tuesday by the Social Security Administration, and was in line with previous estimates.

The 1.3% raise applies to about 70 million Americans, including those who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits.

Last month, The Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan advocacy group for older Americans, projected a 1.3% boost, based on available consumer price index data.

The 1.3% rise is not necessarily good news for retirees and other beneficiaries, many of whom may have had a tougher time stretching their benefit checks in 2020, thanks to Covid-19.

In 2021, retirees’ estimated average monthly benefit will increase by $20 per month, to $1,543 from $1,523 after the 1.3% rise.

Disabled workers’ average monthly benefit is estimated to go up by $16 per month, to $1,277 from $1,261.

The maximum amount of wages taxed for Social Security will be $142,800 in 2021, up from $137,700 in 2020.

Medicare Part B premiums for 2021 have yet to be announced. Those premium payments are often deducted directly from Social Security benefit checks. Congressional legislation has put a cap on how much Medicare Part B premiums can go up this year.

The 1.3% Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is smaller than the 1.6% bump to benefits retirees and other beneficiaries saw in 2020. In 2019, they received a 2.8% boost to their monthly checks.
 
FYI: Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is an increase in benefits or salaries to counteract inflation. Inflation for the Social Security COLA is calculated annually using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
 
How many of you are “Wage Earners?” We think something is wrong here. And so do some legislators…
 
“Legislation has been reintroduced in Congress to change the formula used to determine the cost of living adjustment (COLA) paid under Social Security.

The Fair COLA for Seniors Act (H.R. 1553) would change the Social Security COLA computation to be based on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). The bill’s sponsor, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), says that it is unfair to use the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), the index on which the COLA is currently based.

“Our seniors and disabled citizens rely on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their income, and it’s about time for Social Security benefits to reflect their lifestyles,” said Garamendi. “Using a COLA that actually reflects how retirees spend their money – especially in health care – is a no-brainer that will increase benefits and make Social Security work better for the people it serves.”

Using the CPI-E would likely increase COLAs paid out under Social Security which is the fairness to which Garamendi refers. The CPI-E only takes into account the spending habits of households with individuals 62 and older, an age group more likely to utilize Social Security. The premise is that this index better represents the spending habits of seniors because it takes into account spending in other areas, such as higher medical costs, that the CPI-W does not.

According to Garamendi, from 1982 to 2011, the CPI-E rose at an annual average rate of 3.1% vs. 2.9% for the CPI-W.” [2]
 
To be truthful, there is a downside to using the CPI-E to calculate the COLA.
 
According to experts, using that method is not fair to all the under 62 people who receive Social Security and SSI benefits. You can read more on this here...

But what remains is that we Older Americans are getting screwed by the government again, as they have been for years.
 
1.3%, for the average Social Security beneficiary translates to about $20 more a month. Most of which will get wiped out by Covid-related expenditures.
 
Because of the changes dictated by the dangers associated with COVID-19 (avoiding crowds, public transportation, social distancing) many seniors have turned to online shopping. While it’s convenient and safe, it is also expensive. Delivery charges can add 20% to 30% to a grocery bill. Not to mention that most shopping services charge extra for each item shopped. Plus, we are buying things we never would have bought otherwise. New computers, smart-phones and tablets and home-office equipment like desks and chairs. Not to mention all the PPE stuff we are buying. All of which, for those of us on a fixed income, takes a sizeable chunk out of an already measly benefit payment.  And for me and my fellow residents, it’s worse. 

Since part of my room and board here at the A.L.F. is paid for with my Social Security benefits, the facility, by law, may take about half of any increase as a rent increase. [3] That will leave me with only about ten extra dollars each month. Maybe I’ll use it to buy half a pizza pie.
 
Let’s not beat about the bush. The government, especially this government, has always considered Social Security (and other benefits) to be welfare. Something they give to some poor soles as a magnanimous gesture by “caring” rulers. Never giving mind to the fact they have been “borrowing” from the money we paid in to the system for years. And, until we can find a way for the government to admit their wrongdoings and repay that money, we will never get back all we deserve.

 Unfortunately, there is little interest in doing that by our legislators. Many of whom are complicit in that theft.
 
For myself, I figure I will need at least an extra $75 each month just to make up for all the extra money I have spent because they have locked me up here for over 200 days. And even with that I would not even come close to breaking even.
 
Nobody is looking to get rich off of Social Security. They never made it for that purpose. It was initiated so retired people could have something to help with expenses in good times and bad. I think the government owes us at least that. ……. 
 

[1] source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/13/social-security-cost-of-living-adjustment-will-be-1point3percent-in-2021.html
[2] Source: https://www.fedsmith.com/2019/03/08/trying-change-social-securitys-cola-formula/
[3] I actually don’t have a problem with this. The facility has had legitimate expenses and had no other way to recoup them other than to raise our rent. 



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This Medicare open enrollment season
more seniors are expected to seek online help.
Insurers say they're ready
By Bertha Coombs


Open enrollment season for Medicare enrollees can sometimes be overwhelming because of the wide variety of choices.

The average senior will have 47 different health plans to choose from for 2021, according to the Trump administration, up 20% from last year. 

In most years, the majority of seniors turn to independent brokers and insurance agents for help trying to figure out which plan will work best for them. 

“In our focus groups, people said it’s kind of nice to have an agent who can walk you through the options and steer you toward a certain plan,” said Tricia Neuman, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation program on Medicare policy. But, she adds, “it’s much harder this year just because people are mostly home.”


____________________________________________________________________

Ripple Effects of Pandemic Hit Senior Living
Providers As Resident Wellness Deteriorates

The senior living industry has done much to prevent residents and staff from contracting Covid-19 over the past seven months — but even necessary safety measures have a cost. Now, providers are dealing with the ripple effects of Covid-19, as deteriorating resident wellness leads to worse health outcomes and possible drags on occupancy.

After months cooped up in their rooms, some residents are feeling more socially isolated, depressed and anxious. This is perhaps leading to an uptick in prescriptions for mood-stabilizing medications for some, which can in turn increase their risk of falls, heart attacks or strokes. Many residents are also at risk of worse health outcomes related to months of reduced physical activity.


______________________________________________________________

One in Four Older Adults Report Anxiety or
Depression Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Older adults have been especially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, as they are at higher risk of serious illness if infected and account for 80 percent of all COVID-related deaths. Current public health guidelines recommend older adults limit in-person social interactions as much as possible. While this is effective in limiting exposure to disease, it contributes to social isolation and loneliness.

Not surprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn have taken a toll on the mental health of adults of all ages in the U.S. In July, a majority of U.S. adults 18 and older (53%) said that worry and stress related to coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health, up from 39% in May, according to a recent KFF tracking poll. Similarly, among older adults (ages 65 and older), close to half (46%) in July said that worry and stress related to coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health, up from 31% in May.




* * * *





Daily aspirin may up growth,
spread of cancers in older adults

A daily, low dose of aspirin may increase the risk for progression and metastasis as well as mortality related to later-stage disease in adults aged 65 years and older who develop cancer, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

John J. McNeil, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues studied the daily use of 100 mg of aspirin in 16,703 Australians (aged 70 years and older) and 2,411 U.S. participants (aged 65 years and older) for a median of 4.7 years in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. All participants were free of physical disabilities, dementia, or cardiovascular disease. Cancer incidence and mortality were assessed.




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The Most Powerful People in American Politics Are Over 65
By Katie Glueck and Sabrina Tavernise


LAS VEGAS — Joseph R. Biden Jr. wasn’t accustomed to overflow audiences.

It was a Tuesday evening in February and Mr. Biden had limped into Las Vegas, bruised from his disappointing showings in the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests. But at Harbor Palace Seafood Restaurant, a dim sum spot here, a crowd of retirees had packed in to see the 77-year-old former vice president, forming a line that snaked out the door.

“I don’t like Warren and I don’t like Bernie because they want ‘Medicare for all,’” said Alan Davis, 80, dismissing the single-payer health care system promoted by Senator Bernie Sanders, 78. “I’m totally against it. I have a good health plan.”

Mr. Biden is “really human. He can feel how an ordinary person feels,” said Minerva Honkala, a retired teacher who identified herself as “65-plus.”



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What to do when someone steals your identity
by Traci Armani

Did someone use your personal information to open up a new mobile account or credit card? Or maybe buy stuff with one of your existing accounts? Or did they file for unemployment or taxes in your name? That’s identity theft.

If any of this happened to you, the FTC wants to help you stop the damage and start recovering. Learn more by watching this video:

Not sure whether someone has stolen your identity? Check out these clues that someone is using your information. If your information has been compromised, find the next steps to take. But all roads lead to IdentityTheft.gov, so start there to get your recovery plan.



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<30>



NEXT BLOG FRIDAY, OCT. 16TH 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments





10.14.20






7 minutes


If I ever had any privacy, it went out the window many years ago. The truth is, none of us really has any privacy and never did. Think about it.
 
From the minute you are born, the world already knows who your parents are, where and when you were born, the doctor who assisted in your birth and where you live. And that’s all before you are old enough to attend school, which brings with it a host of privacy-shattering events that lay bare all of your faults and foibles. [1] Schools put all of your vulnerabilities on display for anybody to see. High school is the time when one’s social status becomes public knowledge and may stay with you the rest of your life. But what really put me in the cross-hairs was when I turned 18 and had to register for the draft.
 
It was 1963, and the U.S. was engaged in another conflict we had no business being in. And, like all 18-year-old males, by law, they required me to go down to my local draft board and register so I could be part of the cannon fodder for the military-industrial complex. Fortunately, the war ended before my number came up and they spared me the fate that 50,000 of my contemporaries fell to. However, that did not keep me from having to show up at my local Army Induction Center for a physical. Spend a day walking around in your underwear and any modesty you may have had goes right out the window. But all of that is minor compared to the amazing amount of information that’s available to anyone who wants it. And much of it is free. 

From the time I bought my first PC in 1963 and went online for the first time, my personal information became accessible. I was new to the internet and naïve. Little did I know that unscrupulous people were mining the worldwide web for anything of value like my name and address, where I worked, my telephone number and, if I was trusting enough to list it, my Social Security number. That’s all a crook would need to become me with the capability of stealing every dollar I have. I am amazed that after having an online presence for nearly 60 years; I have been lucky enough to have avoided the phishers and hackers. Actually, it might not be luck at all. Perhaps my value as a target is so poor that nobody wants anything I have.
 
What amazes me is that many of the people I knew from the “old days” have no online identity at all.
 
I’m speaking mainly of people I went to high school or college with. Friends and relatives and acquaintances I haven’t heard from for years. How they have kept under the radar, I don’t know. I tried looking up someone I went to college with and had lost track of. It surprised me he had no social media account, no profile, and not even a mention anywhere online. I finally had to resort to paying for one of those “We’ll find anybody” services to track him down. And even then, all they could tell me was was what city he was living in and that he had never married or been in jail. They had an address, but no phone listed. I tried writing him, but he never wrote back. If you are one of those people, my hats off to you. You are a genius or a hermit.

As many of you know, even if you are very careful about what information you give out you can still be a target of low-life’s who prey on Seniors. Just open and respond to the wrong email and you’ll find out how much trouble you can get into.
 
Every day of every week someone sends me an email warning that if I don’t sign in to my bank account (using the link they were so nice to supply) they would suspend my bank account. Sometimes, the email is from a bank I use, and sometimes not. It’s those I like to have fun with.
 
If my email’s firewall permits, I go to the link provided and answer the questions using made-up info.
 
NAME:  Gotcha Good
Address: Phishville, Ohio.
Social Security number: 01-02-3344
Bank Password: whatdoyouthinkiam-anidiot?
 
Now, with this virus and stimulus checks and election season, the number of these phishing scams has increased and are more sophisticated.
 
I know I don’t have to tell YOU not to reply to anything from your bank, the IRS or Social Security via email. Never use a link or a phone number provided in an email. Call your bank directly if you suspect foul play. But just as a precaution, please pass this knowledge on to your friends who may be new to using smart-phones or tablets or computers to communicate. For thieves it’s a veritable smorgasbord out there and old folks are the hors d’oeuvres. ………………………. 

[1] The foibles of all the boys in my high school gym class were literally bare once a week when our physical education moved from the gym to the pool. For some reason, not understood to this day, boys, unlike the girls, were required to swim naked. 






* * * *





Care needed when transitioning from
independent living to senior community
By Becky Raspe

Choosing to move into a senior community is only half the battle. After a family has discussed their options, the next challenge lies in getting acclimated to a completely new lifestyle after being living independently for decades.

According to Schonda Grays, executive director at Rose Senior Living in Beachwood; Chanin McElroy, corporate vice president of marketing at Danbury Assisted Living in North Canton; and Melinda Smith, senior living specialist at The Fountains Assisted Living in Lyndhurst, families should approach that transition with care and consideration.

“As the need or interest occurs, it is important to understand what is most important to your loved one in deciding to move into a senior living community,” McElroy said. “We encourage detailed communication on knowing what your wants and needs are. As a family member, your thoughts on what is important may be different than your loved one. So, asking what is important is the first step.”



__________________________________________________________________


4 Ways Covid-19 is Shaping the
Senior Living Industry of the Future
By Tim Mullaney


“We won’t go back to the way we were. The new normal will not be the old normal.”

These words were spoken last week by Beth Mace, chief economist at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC). But, it was a sentiment that many people have been expressing over the past month, as the industry has engaged in a conference season that has gone virtual.

While there are more virtual conferences to come, certain themes and messages have already started to crystallize during the recent events held by NIC, industry association Argentum and specialty investment bank Ziegler.


Specifically, senior living leaders have started to identify and explain some of the large-scale and lasting changes that the pandemic likely will cause, including the four below.



________________________________________________________________________

Is sitting always bad for older adults?
A new study says maybe not

It's generally accepted health advice that adults of all ages should sit less, move more, and engage in regular exercise to feel better and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. However, when it comes to the brain and cognition, a new study of older adults from Colorado State University suggests that some sedentariness isn't all bad, so long as basic physical activity benchmarks are being met.

The research, from Assistant Professor Aga Burzynska in the CSU Department of Human Development and Family Studies, examined the association between sensor-measured physical activity and cognitive performance in a sample of 228 healthy older adults, aged 60 to 80.

Published in Psychology and Aging, the results showed that, as expected, adults who engaged in more moderate-to-vigorous activity had better speed, memory, and reasoning abilities. However, the data also revealed that adults who spent more time sedentary performed better on vocabulary and reasoning tasks.




* * * *


How Technology Is Improving Access
And Empowering Older Adults To Embrace Telehealth
By Loryll DeNamur

COVID-19 has greatly changed how we care for ourselves and has resulted in a massive change to how we connect with our doctors. Providers are seeing 50-175 times the number of patients via telehealth visits than they did before the pandemic, and Forrester predicts that virtual care visits will soar to more than 1 billion by the end of 2020, including 900 million visits related to the coronavirus.


Telehealth has great potential to increase healthcare access for everyone during the pandemic, and this is especially important for older adults and other populations at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. But, virtual visits can also be stressful for those with an aversion to using technology to speak with their doctor.

As patients who might’ve shied away from technology in the past now need to use it to connect with their doctors, it’s important for healthcare providers to ensure their telemedicine platforms are inclusive for users of all ages and levels of digital literacy. 



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What Joe Can Learn From Ike
By Ted Widmer


Typically, presidential campaigns are all about noise and change, but Eisenhower instinctively understood how deeply Americans wanted to calm down and get back to normal.

Many Americans remember the 1950s as a banal time of sock hops and drive-ins, but the decade began badly, with a nasty war in Korea, constant friction with China and Russia, and bitter sniping between Republicans and Democrats, who were no longer interested in the consensus that had led America to victory in World War II. In the final two years of Harry Truman’s presidency, the nation’s capital turned angry and dysfunctional. Congress and the White House were at odds; financial scandals plagued the administration; and an ugly new politics of bullying, perfected by Repulican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, was rising quickly.

McCarthy’s favorite target was the State Department, where he claimed to know of more than 50 “card-carrying Communists.” As the Red Scare deepened, McCarthy and his allies also pursued an aggressive “Lavender Scare,” concentrating on public servants who were gay in a time that was deeply closeted. Hundreds resigned or were fired.



* * * *



How Can Senior Drivers Get 
Cheaper Car Insurance Rates


Age is a very influential factor when determining insurance costs. Seniors, like teen drivers, are considered high-risk drivers. But the reasons are different. However, the elderly can still find ways to lower insurance premiums. Follow the next tips:

    Take a driving class. Graduating a defensive driving course will help to secure a discount. These classes are don't cost much and can be offered in-person in a classroom, or you can stream them online. In these driving courses, senior citizens will find out how aging and medication affect their ability to drive and how to deal with certain age-related conditions.

    Install anti-theft devices. On the market, there are multiple types of devices that will make your vehicle safer against the thieves. Electronic alarms, ignition kill switches, GPS tracking systems, steering wheel locks, electronic immobilizers, and many other safety devices will help drivers acquire a discount.



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<30>



NEXT BLOG THURSDAY, OCT. 15TH 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments










8 minutes


We all would like to look into a crystal ball and see what is in our future. But, while we know that’s impossible, we can at least, guess at what the future for Older Americans, the poor, the sick and the disenfranchised will be like if the man who infests the White House and his cronies in the Republican party hold power for the next four years and beyond.

 
It’s no secret the present administration, no matter what they say, has had it in for Seniors for a long time. They hate the fact that there are American citizens that take money from the government without the government getting something in return. It makes no difference the money is ours to begin with, which we gave to the government to hold for us until such a time that we needed it. And, despite that the money was never really theirs, the government had no problem using those funds to do whatever they wanted. And now, if the present administration has its way, they want to reduce payroll taxes, the only way we have to replenish the Social Security fund for us and future generations.

Republicans are not bad people. They just have bad ideas out of step with today’s society. We are not the same people we were at the end of WW2. And if we want to have a safe, prosperous nation inclusive of all, we have to change our ways. Unfortunately, the direction we are heading under the present regime will see little progress in that direction.
 
We have to stop thinking locally and think globally. We need to restore many of the trade deals canceled by a man whose idea of compromise is to bully his opponents into submission. Maybe that worked in the boardroom, but it doesn’t work on the world stage. And it certainly doesn’t play well with those who have been the victims of strong-arm diplomacy all their lives.
 
 
How long did they expect those that have experienced the inequities of our society first hand to remain silent? Under this administration we have seen the worse rioting since the 1960s. Not because of the brutal tactics used by some police on members of a minority, but because we have a leader that failed to condemn those who are responsible. And if things continue this way, the future will see more and more civil unrest.
 
 
At one time, if a person had a job and lived within their means, they could reap the benefits of all that America offered. A working person having to live on the street was unheard of. If you made $100 dollars a week, you could afford a decent place to live. Rent wasn’t 50% to 60% of your wages. Cars didn’t cost as much as a house, and health insurance (if you even needed it) didn’t put you in debt for years. Now, we work just to afford to see a doctor once in a while. And heaven forbid we need serious surgery or a lengthy hospital stay. Medicine has priced itself out of the range of most Americans and any government that does not understand that and cannot do something about it is not one I can support. Why are they so afraid of what most of the civilized world already has? Could support of a multi-billion dollar healthcare industry which includes big Pharma and CEOs who make 1000 times more than the rest of us have anything to do with it?

And finally, and maybe most important of all is our environment which has been at risk since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
 
I know we cannot correct all the ills associated with our climate quickly, but the current occupiers won’t even acknowledge the problem. “Windmills cause cancer” and more leaf raking in our forests are the Republicans answer whenever someone mentions reduction of fossil fuel or support of alternative energy. They say we will lose jobs. That’s nonsense. We will still need energy and someone to run and maintain how we make it. The only thing that we’ll lose are the off the wall profits made by the oil companies and the men who run them.
 
The direction in which we are heading today cannot continue. It isn’t working in this changing world.
 
The only way for us to survive and prosper is to adapt to those changes. Not by opposing, but incorporating ideas that have had proven results elsewhere. And we don’t have to lose our American identity or values to do it. We have always been able to take what others have done and do it better. And there is no reason we can’t do it again. We just need leadership that will allow us the freedom to do it.……………………………….. 
 
 
 
※  ※  ※  ※  ※

Editor’s Extra

As celebrity endorsements of Biden/Harris pile up, where
Are the Country-Western stars?

Not that celebrity endorsements of politicians mean much in the grand scheme of things, but by omission, they say a lot about an individual. The one thing that has stood out as more and more of our top movie, TV and recording stars fall inline for Joe Biden, the one group of musicians that have remarkably been absent are those that just might be the most influential. And those are our remarkable country and Western musicians. My research has shown that only a handful of the more well known performers have said anything about anybody. This brings up the question, “Are they afraid they will be criticized by their fellow mainstream performers because they support Trump, or are they silent because they support Biden but don’t want to offend their primary audience, most of whom are likely Trump people?

The only confirmed Biden/Harris endorsers among the C&W crowd that I could find are…
Kenny Chesney, The Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Willy Nelson, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert. Zac Brown Band, Eric Church and Kacey Musgraves. 

I wonder what the rest are thinking?



* * * *






‘I’m very lonely and depressed’
many nursing home residents say
they feel like they are in prison
By Liz Seegert


The cost of isolating frail elders in nursing homes — many of which have been on a literal lockdown for months — is taking an even steeper toll than aging advocates feared. A new survey of 365 nursing home residents in 36 states, conducted in July and August, by the nonprofit Altarum Institute shows that pandemic restrictions have affected nearly every part of their lives, especially their mental health.

Altarum executives said this is the first known poll of its kind to directly ask nursing home residents about their personal experiences during COVID-19. The survey was distributed nationally as an online, public link. Altarum reached out to nursing home residents through their friends, colleagues, aging associations, ombudsmen and long term care associations.

“ “Being restricted for six months is a very big percentage of their remaining lifetime and very obviously devastating.” ” 


_____________________________________________________________________


Fact check: Claim misstates average US wages,
number of congressional millionaires


Money and politics is always a heady brew for political commentary, especially when it involves the Congress.

A Facebook post by Friends of the Original Constitution says, "The average income in America is $42,000 congress has 382 millionaires. they keep giving themselves tax cuts and raises — while passing more laws that infringe on our liberties ... they don't represent us ... let's fire all of them!"

The meme was originally published in May 2019, but it had since gone viral again, with over 183,000 shares in total.



________________________________________________________________________


Amid a pandemic, seniors are exercising
more than ever, study finds
By Madeleine Kelly


A new study from the Journal of Medical Internet Research has found that while the exercise habits of young to middle-aged people are on the decline, seniors are ramping up their activity during the pandemic. The study looked at the habits of more than 5,300 exercise tracking app users who had been using the app since before the pandemic began, so they could determine whether there was a change in activity. Among those users, there were some surprising differences.


The study found that 63 per cent of people reduced their physical activity during the first week of the pandemic.
 
The 40-and-under crowd has seen the biggest change

The group that saw the biggest downward swing was the under-40 crowd, with younger people also responsible for the most activity of anyone ahead of the pandemic, and the least as lockdown restrictions eased. People aged 24-35 saw the biggest rise and fall between January 22 and June 17, with many users in this age bracket removing exercise from their schedule completely. 




* * * *




President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created 
Social Security in 1935.
Today, his grandson is fighting to save it
By Lorie Konish


Many people think of Social Security as the program their parents and grandparents rely on for financial support in retirement.

For James Roosevelt, Jr., it has a special significance.  His grandfather created it.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935. The measure helped to create the program as we know it today, by establishing income for workers age 65 and over after they stopped working.



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Here's who would pay more under Joe Biden's tax plan
By Alicia Adamczyk

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says that if elected, he will raise taxes only on the wealthiest Americans. And indeed, analyses of his tax plan find that fewer than 2% of earners would pay more.

That’s because the nominee pegs “wealthy” at an adjusted gross income of at least $400,000 per year. Biden is proposing a marginal income tax rate increase, meaning that while it kicks in at $400,000, the more money a worker makes over that threshold, the more they’ll pay in taxes.

The plan primarily increases taxes for those earning more than $1 million a year, according to an analysis from the Tax Policy Center.



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Most older Americans take multiple prescriptions but
haven't received medication review,
 unaware Medicare covers it.
By Katie Adams


Most older Americans take two or more prescription drugs, but only a small percentage have had a pharmacist review the potential interactions of their medication combinations, according to survey results released Oct. 7 by Michigan Medicine.

The findings come from the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based health system's National Poll on Healthy Aging, for which it gathered responses from 2,048 Americans ages 50 to 80. The research team found that two-thirds of older Americans depend on two or more prescription drugs and about 20 percent of older Americans take five or more.

Medication reviews are covered for Medicare Part D patients who meet the criteria. These reviews are meant to check for potential negative interactions between multiple drugs or supplements, as well as inform patients about lower-cost alternatives. 




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<30>



NEXT BLOG WEDNESDAY, OCT. 14TH 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments





10.12.20




7 minutes




We are over 6 months into this insanity that has had the nation, and the world, in its vise-like grip. By this time we should have seen the staggering statistics head south. Instead, we are experiencing a resurgence of the virus in places we believed we had it under control. Apparently, despite all the publicity, all the warnings and all precautions, we have learned nothing. And what’s worse. Many of us no longer care. And, not only don’t they care, they act defiant when we remind them to do the right thing. Suddenly, people who never gave a damn about our “rights” have become Constitutional scholars quoting this amendment and that. Why is this? Why are we going in the wrong direction?

Are we just stupid? I can only speak for myself. And I am not stupid. But I am weary of the 200 plus days of isolation and what this has done to my life. A life that in recent years was not copacetic to begin with. Ten years ago everything for me became permanently disrupted, which makes this disruption to the disruption even more intense. And, adding to all of what’s going on, is the question of “When will this all end?” Six months ago I may have offered an answer to that.

At the very start of the infestation here in America, people were looking at New Year’s as a more than likely time when they would see a definite reversal in the rate of infection. Perhaps so much so, we could return to many, if not all, of our normal activities. No one here at the A.L.F. could have imagined on March 15th, as we gathered in the auditorium to hear the bad news about the quarantine, we would still be where we are 200 days later. Every day that goes by, instead of coming closer to a solution, we see any progress slipping farther and farther away. And now, with winter, and the flu season upon us, the chances of a timely resolution seem less and less probable. Experts are now looking at next spring or summer (and only if we have a viable vaccine by that time) before we can say we have turned the corner. What that forecast means for residents of long-term care facilities is at least another 6 months of virtual incarceration. I could have held up a liquor store and done less time.

We have only ourselves to blame.

If we are not stupid, or bored, the only other explanation for avoiding the only genuine way to end the spread of the COVID-19 virus (wearing a mask and social distancing) has to be the message our leaders are sending to people who are looking for a painless solution to a complex problem. It’s easy just to go about our business as usual and hope it all disappears. Why put ourselves out and let this virus spoil our fun. And isn’t it only the old people who get sick and die?
 
This weekend, while flipping through the channels looking for something to watch that wasn’t political, I could not help but notice the number of college football games being played. But unlike their professional counterparts, these games had hundreds of fans in the stands. Enough to make me wonder how they are getting away with this. And not only were most of the lower-level seats filled, but none of the fans were wearing masks or sitting socially distant from each other. Nor was anybody on the sidelines wearing a mask. It was business as usual.
 
And let us not forget all of our church-temple-mosque-going friends who find it impossible to worship God without wallowing together in a sea of infectious humanity defiant of state and local ordinance. Do they think God will protect them? They have only to look at how that’s worked out so far.

As the weeks and months wear on, the only hope we have for a conclusion to this downward spiral is for us to act as one people. Something, because of all the divisiveness by the current leadership, has made us a nation of individual cult-like groups, each with its own agenda, contrary to what has made America what it was. Exactly when was it we changed from being “One nation, indivisible” to “every man for himself?”………………………………………
 

 

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How does Donald Trump’s Covid care
compare to the average 74-year-old’s?
By Amanda Holpuch


From getting a helicopter ride to a military hospital with a specialized suite to receiving experimental drugs made available to fewer than 10 people, Donald Trump’s experience with Covid-19 has been very different from that of your average 74-year-old American with a serious illness.

The president ignored these disparities after returning to the hospital on Monday night and in a video from the White House Trump said of Covid-19: “Don’t be afraid of it.”

Here’s a look at how different the experience of catching Covid-19 is for the most powerful 74-year-old in the US compared with most of his fellow citizens:


________________________________________________________________

The Older Americans Getting Left Behind
in The Longevity Economy

America recently passed a grim milestone of over 200,000 COVID-19 deaths, with little hope the pandemic will come under control soon. (President Donald Trump and the First Lady revealed on Oct. 2 that they, too, have contracted the disease.) While the coronavirus has been devastating to those who’ve lost loved ones, it has also exacted a vicious toll on a particular group of older Americans: lower-wage workers, minorities and women who have labored for decades in jobs with unstable incomes and without employee benefits.

We hear a lot about The Longevity Economy — what a notable 2019 AARP report described as people age 50+ continuing “to contribute to society and help to drive economic growth, innovation, and new value creation.” But the sad truth is that some older Americans are getting left behind in The Longevity Economy, due to ways the pandemic’s recession has exacerbated the nation’s other ills.

______________________________________________________________________

I miss my weekly poker game


I joined my friends’ Monday night game on the Upper East Side of Manhattan 25 years ago, in 1995. In the past quarter-century, girlfriends have inevitably come and gone. So have employers. But the game has always been there for me and the guys.

My God! This is my longest relationship!

The poker game is similar to the one that formed the foundation of Neil Simon’s wonderful play, “The Odd Couple,” which, in turn, spawned a celebrated movie, starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, as well as a beloved television situation comedy, with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.




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These Americans Are Determined to
Cast a Last Ballot Before Dying
By Katie Hafner


Old and ailing, they see exercising their fundamental right to vote as a way to have a say in a future they will probably never see.

Annamarie Eggert has voted in every presidential election since 1948, when she cast her ballot for Harry S. Truman. Now she is 94 and ailing, but she is determined to vote in this one, too.

Mrs. Eggert, a Biden supporter in York, Maine, has expressive aphasia, a condition that has made it difficult for her to talk. “We — need — to get Trump out of there,” she said, each word painstakingly coaxed from her lips. “Come hell — or high water, I will — vote.”

In this most contentious of elections, in which the very act of voting has come under fierce national debate, the determination of many very old, ill and infirm Americans to cast what could be their last vote is profound.




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Election 2020: Why Older Voters
Will Not Vote As a Bloc

If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that absolutely nothing should be taken for granted. The coronavirus pandemic has upended our daily lives. We’re not going to baseball games or movies. We’re visiting friends and family online instead of in person. And, looking ahead to this year’s election, we’re carefully planning how to vote safely.
This is particularly true for older Americans, who are among the most at risk for negative outcomes from COVID-19. But, make no mistake, the ages 50 and older populace will vote in force, as they always do. In election after election, older adults cast the majority of ballots — 56% in 2016 and 60% in 2018 — because they turn out at much higher rates than younger Americans.
Two years ago, for the 2018 midterm elections, close to seven in 10 voters ages 65 and older and more than six in 10 voters ages 50 to 64 went to the polls or submitted absentee ballots.


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10 Essential Edits to Help
 You get your Life Back


Life has a way of taking over. We start running on auto-pilot especially when we are overwhelmed, in over our heads, or simply worn out from all that life is throwing our way. And this year, life is throwing more than ever our way.

After a while of trying to keep all the balls in the air, we stop paying attention and simply start reacting. Amidst all the chaos, we know something has to change, but we don’t know what or how.

Author Elaine St. James has said, “One of the reasons we keep our lives so complicated is so we won’t have to listen to our inner voice telling us what we need to do to make our lives work better.”



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NEXT BLOG TUESDAY OCT. 13TH 2020


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10.11.20


What’s the first thing you do when you visit your doctor? When the nurse says. “This way, please?” You get weighed, right?

 

And I’ll bet the same thing happens to you as it does to me when you see that very efficient and very accurate-looking balance scale (the ones they use only in doctor’s offices and truck weigh stations). You shudder slightly because you know what the result will be. The nurse will move the little weight more and more to the right on the 100 plus bar until it drops. She keeps moving the weight more and more to the right until the bar finally and mercifully balances. Then she reveals your weight in a voice that’s more like the ring announcer at Madison Square Garden….


 

“AND IN THIS CORNER.

WEIGHING IN AT 292 POUNDS

UP 9 POUNDS FROM LAST MONTH.

FROM YONKERS NEW YORK……”

 

After which, you slink back to the little chair and wait for the doctor to come and tell you you need to lose weight. Like you didn’t already know that.

While my attempt at levity concerning a touchy topic may be feeble, the fact remains. Since the start of this pandemic, many of us have rapidly piled on a significant number of extra pounds. So many of us in fact that they have given the problem a name. “THE COVID 15.” The “15” being the average amount of observable weight gain attributed to the quarantine and isolation. 

Researching this phenomenon, I came across more articles than I could have imagined. These are just a few…

Quarantine 15? What to Do About Weight Gain During the Pandemic    https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/quarantine-15-weight-gain-pandemic/


Quarantine Weight Gain Not A Joking Matter   

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200521/quarantine-weight-gain-not-a-joking-matter


Packing on pounds during COVID-19 and how to turn it around  https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/packing-on-pounds-during-covid-19-and-how-to-turn-it-around/


Battling the 'Quarantine 15': Experts fear COVID-19 weight gain

 could lead to health complications, weak immune systems   

 https://abcnews.go.com/Health/battling-quarantine-15-experts-fear-covid-19-weight/story?id=72572592


The Covid 15: Lockdowns Are Lifting, and Our Clothes Don’t Fit   

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-covid-15-lockdowns-are-lifting-and-our-clothes-dont-fit-11593095525


That last one really hits home. Just yesterday, I sadly had to send a favorite pair of pants that I can no longer button to the back of the closet where it joins several recently “retired” garments. I’ll probably have to go to “ClothesForFatGuys.com” and look for a replacement. Do they make mu-mu’s for men?

It’s more than just having to buy bigger clothes that I’m concerned about. The actual damage this is doing to my health has given me food for thought. [1] This is the heaviest I have ever been, and I know if I don’t do something about it, it will cause problems down the line. So what’s the reason for all the avoirdupois? [2] 

It’s probably different for each of us. But for me, it all boils down to this. It’s not that I’m eating too much. It’s that I’m eating the wrong things. Mostly comfort food. Which, as it turns out, is anything but comfortable. How can one whose diet consists mainly of pasta, french fries, mystery meat sandwiches, ice cream and Lifesavers live and not gain weight?

The food they are serving us here, lots of carb-laden entrées, is only part of the problem. Add to that the lack of exercise because there is little to do but watch TV, and we have the perfect formula for obesity. For me, it’s a problem of mind over matter. I’ve lost weight and kept it off before. Granted, there were fewer obstacles in my way. Being able to cook for oneself, a privileged denied me, is a big part of any weight loss regimen.

I know there is no quick fix or “trick” to loosing weight. It takes time, determination and motivation. The time and motivation I have. Determination I have yet to find…………………………… 


Editor's note: We are off again this weekend. Maybe I'll sit outside and watch the leaves change color.

 [1].Yes, it is a pun. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

[2].Look it up

 

 


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Lifetime Experiences Help Older Adults

Build Resilience to Pandemic Trauma

By Judith Graham

Older adults are especially vulnerable physically during the coronavirus pandemic. But they’re also notably resilient psychologically, calling upon a lifetime of experience and perspective to help them through difficult times.

 New research calls attention to this little-remarked-upon resilience as well as significant challenges for older adults as the pandemic stretches on. It shows that many seniors have changed behaviors — reaching out to family and friends, pursuing hobbies, exercising, participating in faith communities — as they strive to stay safe from the coronavirus.

“There are some older adults who are doing quite well during the pandemic and have actually expanded their social networks and activities,” said Brian Carpenter, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. “But you don’t hear about them because the pandemic narrative reinforces stereotypes of older adults as frail, disabled and dependent.”

Continue reading  >>  https://khn.org/news/seniors-resilience-pandemic-trauma-wellness-wisdom-experience/

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Federal Assisted Living Regulation May Now Be Inevitable,

Could Bring Industry Benefits

By Tim Mullaney


The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the integration of senior living communities within the broader U.S. health care system, which has opened new business opportunities but also increases the likelihood of federal regulations for assisted living.

“I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to start to see a regulatory framework at the federal level,” Anne Tumlinson, founder and CEO of ATI Advisory, said Wednesday at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) virtual fall conference.

Avalere Health Founder and CEO Dan Mendelson emphasized that assisted living providers could ultimately benefit from federal regulations — but only if the industry mobilizes now and plays an active role in shaping the framework. Tumlinson concurred that being complacent now and then reactive after regulations materialize will lead to industry pain.

Continue reading  >>  https://seniorhousingnews.com/2020/10/07/federal-assisted-living-regulation-may-now-be-inevitable-could-bring-industry-benefits/?_hsmi=96944940

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Older adults urged to stay

up to date on immunizations


The state Department of Aging encourages older adults to stay up to date on immunizations, especially the flu vaccine with the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

“Vaccination is one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures available and is essential throughout an individual’s entire life,” said Secretary Robert Torres in a news release.

“Older adults need to keep their vaccinations up to date because immunity from the vaccines can wear off as they age, making them vulnerable to sickness and disease. It is especially important for seniors with chronic health conditions, like diabetes, asthma or heart disease to stay up to date on their vaccinations and learn which inoculations are covered by their health care insurance.”

Continue reading  >>  https://www.timesonline.com/story/news/2020/10/02/take-shot-older-adults-urged-get-vaccinated/5881567002/


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Charlie Brown Is 70? Good Grief!

There is much that currently divides the country, but one thing will unite us this week: the love for the humorous humanity of the comic strip, “Peanuts.”

October 2 marks 70 years since Charles M. Schulz first debuted his United Features Syndicate “Li’l Folks” (as he originally titled the strip) and it has been 20 years since he penned his farewell comic strip.

Yet Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the “Peanuts” gang remain a beloved, timeless pop culture reminder of life in the second half of the 20th century.

Continue reading >>  https://www.nextavenue.org/charlie-brown-is-70-peanuts/?hide_newsletter=true&mc_cid=152d4bc


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Trump’s bleeding baby boomer support —

and it could ‘bring the whole Republican power structure down’

By Matthew Chapman

On Wednesday, Axios broke down the scale of President Donald Trump’s collapse among voters 65 and older — and suggested that it could “bring the whole Republican power structure down.”

“In what has been a 50-50ish nation, it’s stunning to see polling gaps this wide,” wrote Jim VandenHei and Jonathan Swan. “In a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out Sunday, Joe Biden led Trump by 27 points among seniors (62% to 35%). In a CNN/SSRS poll out yesterday, similar story — 21 points (60% to 39%).”

One factor is the president’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, which disproportionately poses a danger to senior citizens — one White House adviser told Axios, “if you don’t take something that is killing old people seriously, you will lose seniors.” But that is not the whole story. Polls from before the virus began spreading in the United States also showed Trump hemorrhaging the older vote; other factors include the president’s low ratings on health care issues, and the collapse of his support with women in general.

Read more  >>  https://www.rawstory.com/2020/10/trumps-bleeding-baby-boomer-support-and-it-could-bring-the-whole-republican-power-structure-down-report/


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7 Mistakes of Retirement Planning

Retirement planning can be an exciting time, as you can see the life you’ve worked so hard to create begin to come into existence. It can also be fraught with anxiety about unforeseen pitfalls or insufficient preparations.

Since the consequences for even the smallest mistake could end up feeling dire when it comes to how you can spend and access your retirement income, we want to alleviate your anxiety as much as possible. To better foresee hard-to-spot problems and better understand how to avoid or adapt to problems that do arise, here are seven of the most common mistakes people make while planning their retirement.

Read more  >>  https://www.nextavenue.org/7-mistakes-of-retirement-planning/?hide_newsletter=true&mc_cid=152d4bc358


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10.08.20



How’s Your Head?

5 minutes

If there is anything positive to come out of this pandemic, it’s the realization that not only is our physical well-being at risk, but our mental health too. Who among us is not experiencing some anxiety and stress? Whether it’s worries about your finances, your home or your job, we all could use a little reassurance that we will come out of this nightmare and resume our lives where we left off. And for us, here at the A.L.F. that can mean something as elementary as having a meal with our fellow residents to unrestricted visits with our loved ones. Two simple requests that have been, in my opinion, denied us by clueless politicians who did not consider the impact of such action on the mental health of thousands of seniors ‘imprisoned’ in long-term care facilities.


You don’t have to be a psychologist or psychiatrist to understand how fragile the emotional health of older Americans is under normal circumstances. Isolation and loneliness existed among the elderly long before anyone even heard of COVID-19. Seniors are in a league of their own with seclusion and withdrawal. Demographically, we are  considered to be non-entities by advertisers and manufacturers who rarely include us in their marketing plans. And even our government puts seniors at the top of the list to have their benefits cut or eliminated. The current administration has had us in their cross-hairs from the very beginning. Fortunately, current events have put many plans to deny us what we deserve on the back burner. Should the majority party remain in power for another 4 years, back to the top we go.

It’s no secret that I have been on antidepressant medication for a while. But the decision to make that public information did not come easy. Sometimes, even talking to a mental health professional is stigmatized to the point where we may feel shame and embarrassment. But I disclosed my condition because I felt the benefits to others of such an admission would be immeasurable.
 
One of the “errors of omission” administrators and management of assisted living facilities are making is not including a mental health professional as part of the regular physician’s well-patient visits. While It’s great to have a doctor come to me and check my heart, take my blood pressure and listen to my lungs, it would be just as beneficial to have a shrink come and just listen to my worries and concerns. The truth is, I haven’t seen my psychiatrist since this began. I know, I have a lot to say.

There are many unknowns associated with this pandemic. Some of them pathological. We may not know what the long-term effects of contracting the virus are for many years. Symptoms may linger long after the contagion has left our bodies. Undoubtedly, there will continuing evidence of psychological trauma too. The anguish of losing a loved one can have immeasurable consequences for a family. Not to mention the disruption to one’s lifestyle because of loss of employment and wages. I know from personal experience, losing a job can make you feel worthless and your life meaningless.

I think the one thing we know is that things won’t be the same as they were pre-COVID. Most of us will deal with the disorder, while others will find it more difficult if not impossible to cope. We, as concerned human beings, must support those people by removing the negatives associated with seeking help for emotional disorders by letting them know they are not alone………………………………..
 







Study: Long-Term Cannabis Use Not Associated With
Cognitive Decline In Senior Patients | High Times
By Thomas Edward

If you are an older adult using cannabis to treat chronic pain, you may very well experience no more cognitive deficiencies than someone who doesn’t use it.

That is the takeaway from a study conducted by Israeli researchers that was published late last month in Drug & Alcohol Review. 

The study sought to assess “the relationship between long-term medical cannabis (MC) use and cognitive function in a sample of middle-aged and old chronic pain patients,” and researchers carried out the study by assessing 63 chronic pain patients aged 50 and older who have medical cannabis licenses and a comparison group of 62 who do not have such a license. 


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Seniors housing likely to see
several design changes post-pandemic

In the age of COVID-19, senior living designers have been hard at work to figure out what a “new normal” might look like within the industry. Although an array of ideas have been proposed, speakers at September’s Ziegler Finance + Strategy Virtual Conference agreed on three key elements that future developments, expansions and renovations are likely to include: a focus on outdoor spaces, a reimagining of ventilation systems and a return to greater compartmentalization.

What was once an area famous for cost-cutting, outdoor spaces are becoming as relevant, well-designed and used in the post-pandemic era as indoor ones, noted Alejandro Giraldo, associate principal and senior director at THW Design.

“Outdoor spaces are now a key component of developments,” Giraldo said.


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New program results in shorter hospital stays,
reduces post-surgery delirium in older adults


People age 65 years and older account for 40 percent of inpatient operations and one-third of outpatient procedures, and these older patients are more vulnerable to longer hospital stays and other complications after surgery than younger patients.

A beta test of a program for older adults who undergo major surgery has resulted in shorter hospital stays and lower rates of post-surgery delirium, among other improved outcomes, according to research presented at the virtual American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress 2020.

The Aging Veterans Surgical Wellness (AVSW) program at the Rocky Mountain Regional Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado, served as a beta testing site for the American College of Surgeons Geriatric Surgery Verification program (ACS GSV).



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Hotel Conversions to Assisted Living
in the Wake of COVID-19

How do you take a negative and turn it into a positive? COVID-19 has made answering this question very difficult, as the pandemic continues to have a negative and in some cases long lasting and devastating impact on people’s daily lives and the many businesses that help sustain daily living.  One area of business that has been hit particularly hard, as a result of the pandemic, has been the hospitality industry. According to a new national report completed by Trepp [1], the hotel industry is facing an unprecedented number of foreclosures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate small business hotel owners and its workforce. More specifically, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) conducted a survey of more than 600 hotel owner respondents and more than half of them stated that they are in danger of losing their property to foreclosure by commercial real estate lenders due to COVID-19.[2] As a result of these market conditions, some senior living developers and operators see a growing opportunity to capitalize on the hotel foreclosures by converting them to assisted living facilities.[3]  However, turning this negative into a positive won’t go without its challenges, and developers and owners should be mindful of some pitfalls when attempting to make this conversion a reality in Texas.


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Florida senior citizens could decide if
Trump or Biden win the state
By Robert Sherman

THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Known as a haven for retirees and “snowbirds,” Florida residents ages 65 and older make up nearly 21% of the Sunshine State’s population of about 21.5 million, according to 2019 census estimates. 

In a state perhaps as famous for it’s “oh-so-close” presidential races as it is for its beaches, Florida’s senior citizens are expected to play a big role in deciding the nation’s most coveted swing state this November.

Professor J. Edwin Benton with the University of South Florida contends that senior voters in Florida are key to both President Trump’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s paths to victory in the state.


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Falls Prevention Matters Now More Than Ever
By Dan Reiner

Approximately 25% of older adults in the United States fall each year. Despite being common, falls shouldn’t be seen as a normal part of aging. After all, most falls are preventable. Everyone is struggling to navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19, but older adults who want to maintain their independence and health should take time to understand and reduce their risk of falling. To assist with this effort, we’re proud to announce the release of a new, free way to help: the Falls Free CheckUp  

The checkup provides users with printable results and a simple score they can bring to their family, doctor, or pharmacist to discuss. (That’s right—even pharmacists are part of the team that can help prevent falls.) Having a simple point of reference to help start these conversations makes them easier and more effective. Both the English and Spanish versions of the checkup take a very short time to complete. 

Remember that preventing falls is about protecting the independence of older adults, not limiting their activity! Caregivers and family members should use our conversation guide for advice on how to make the well-being of a loved one the center of the discussion. Despite physical distancing guidelines, there’s still plenty that can be done to reduce falls. We have tips for older adults and caregivers, a list  of evidence-based falls prevention programs, and a Falls Free CheckUp Chat coming to our Facebook page on Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. ET. 




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10.08.20



I’m Still PO’d

7 minutes

To say I’m still saddened by Trump’s insane comments yesterday when he told America, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life” would put it mildly. I’m incensed. I could feel my blood pressure elevate every time they showed a news clip of his remarks. And then, when he made that Emperor-like triumphant appearance on the balcony, mask-less with a group of White House aids and employees dutifully waiting in a room just behind him, I had visions of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Missing only was a toga and a laurel wreathe. And, as if to add insult to injury, the man whose base comprises out-of-work blue-collar workers says he’s not going to even talk about any relief until after he’s elected. Can’t you just plotz?

 
But I have to admit. His irrational behavior made me think. Are his words the result of something else? Something that may have resulted from his course of treatment at Walter Reed? It brought back memories of what happened to me when they gave me a dose or three of some very potent steroids when I was a patient a few years ago. And it wasn’t pleasant.
 
Let me preface what I’m about to tell you by saying I am not a healthcare professional, nor have I ever been one. My experience with corticosteroids comes only from having been treated with them in a hospital. I should also note, I was very ill at the time and my recollection of the events may not be 100% accurate. But the research I did on the subject afterwards, and what I have subsequently heard from doctors and scientists that are experts on the subject, makes me believe my memory of the events are correct.

Ten years ago, the use of steroids to treat sepsis was still new. I certainly never heard of it. Fortunately, the doctors at Mt. Sinai had. And when an infection began to run rampant through my body, they pumped me full of some very potent forms of those drugs. Whether they kept me alive, or it was one of the many other medications they gave me, I can’t say. But what I can tell you is that, as a reaction of those steroids, I experienced some very vivid hallucinations and irrational behavior.
 
The hallucinations came in the form of me seeing things that were not there.
 
One memorable apparition occurred when I saw a swarm of butterflies come out of the TV on the wall opposite my bed. They were so real I could hear their wings flapping and could feel a breeze as they flew next to my head.
 
On another occasion, I asked a nurse who adjusted an IV to get a cat out of my room.
 
“Where, what cat?” she asked.
 
“The one hiding behind the plant in the corner near the door”, I answered.
 
“Sir”, she said. “There is no cat, no plant, and the only door is on the other side of the room.”
 
I’m sure they were looking to fit me for a straight jacket after that.

The “irrational” behavior, and the one that is completely not in my nature, came when I threw scissors and a water pitcher at an aid who came to ask what I wanted for lunch. I was angry at her and I didn’t know why. I’m surprised they didn’t put me in the psyche ward.
 
There were other, less dramatic incidents. Some of them more fanciful than real. But all very scary. It had me questioning my sanity. It was not until many months after my recovery that I inquired about the effects of steroids on the mind. I asked the resident shrink here at the ALF if she knew about steroids causing hallucinations and dangerous behaviour.
 
“Yes. It’s called steroid induced euphoria,” she answered.
 
“Steroid induced euphoria” is what I remembered when I heard they had treated the president with just such a drug.
 
Naturally, I went to the source of all information, GOOGLE, for more on the subject. This is some of what I found among the many articles on the subject…
 
“It is a clinical impression that some patients given oral corticosteroids [1] develop a sense of well-being that is ‘inappropriate’ to improvements in physical health. This has been termed steroid ‘euphoria’,” 
 
 Whether the president has fallen victim to this syndrome, no one can say. We don’t know what drugs they gave him or how much, or if he’s still receiving them. But it gives one food for thought. Because if it isn’t the steroids that made the man in the White House come out with those insane remarks, then we have to believe he has some ulterior, anti-social motive for his actions. And certainly, that could not be true. Right?…………………………. 

[1] Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1386585/#:~:text=1.,it%20has%20not%20been%20documented.


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Talk about irrational behavior...
This story broke after I published today's Blog




Trump reverses course on coronavirus relief talks,
 dangles new $1,200 stimulus checks
By Allan Smith and Dartunorro Clark


President Donald Trump reversed course Tuesday night and urged Congress to approve a series of coronavirus relief measures that he would sign, including a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.

Earlier in the day, he had halted talks between top Democrats and Republicans until "after I win" the election, which appeared to have killed the chances of a new package. Both moves by the president, who was released Monday from the hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19, were made on Twitter.

"If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?" Trump tweeted Tuesday night.


source:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-kills-stimulus-talks-tweets-no-deal-until-after-i-n1242312?cid=db_npd_nn_fb_fbbo







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Why Older Citizens are More Likely to Vote
By Emily Brandon

Elections are decided by the people who show up at the polls. In the United States, the oldest citizens are the most likely to cast their ballots, which gives them political clout beyond their numbers alone.


Some 64% of citizens age 65 and older voted in the November 2018 election, the best turnout of any age group. More than half of those ages 45 to 64 also cast a ballot. People under age 45 are much less likely to vote. Just 37% of 25- to 34-year-olds made it to the polls in November 2018. And not even a third of the youngest citizens – ages 18 to 24 – entered a voting booth in 2018.

The voter turnout by age in 2018 was:
    age 18 to 24: 30%
    age 25 to 34: 37%
    age 35 to 44: 44%
    age 45 to 64: 55%
    age 65+: 64%


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Pharma Manufacturer’s Proposed Copayment Assistance Program
‘Highly Suspect’ Under Federal Anti-Kickback Statute

On September 23, 2020, the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) publicly released Advisory Opinion 20-05 (AO 20-05), a significant, adverse opinion rejecting a proposal by a pharmaceutical manufacturer to provide copay assistance to Medicare Part D beneficiaries who were prescribed medications that the company manufactures. The OIG opined that the proposed program was “highly suspect” under the Federal Anti-Kickback Statute and was likely to induce patients to purchase the company’s products reimbursed under Part D.

In AO 20-05, an unusually lengthy opinion, the OIG sets forth in detail its concerns regarding the provision of financial assistance by pharmaceutical companies to Part D beneficiaries who cannot afford their out-of-pocket copay and other expenses. The key to the OIG’s legal analysis is its broad interpretation of the term “induce” as used in the Anti-Kickback Statute. The OIG appears to take the position that copay assistance “induces” a beneficiary to purchase a medication when the assistance removes a financial barrier, even if the medication is one that the beneficiary indisputably needs and would have purchased if he or she had the financial means to do so. The OIG’s interpretation of “induce” is likely to be tested in one or more pending cases in federal court.

Overview of Proposed Arrangement


_________________________________________________________________

Scientists Discover a Rare
Genetic Form of Dementia

A new, rare genetic form of dementia has been discovered by a team of Penn Medicine researchers. This discovery also sheds light on a new pathway that leads to protein build up in the brain -- which causes this newly discovered disease, as well as related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's Disease -- that could be targeted for new therapies. The study was published in Science.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by a buildup of proteins, called tau proteins, in certain parts of the brain. Following an examination of human brain tissue samples from a deceased donor with an unknown neurodegenerative disease, researchers discovered a novel mutation in the Valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene in the brain, a buildup of tau proteins in areas that were degenerating, and neurons with empty holes in them, called vacuoles. The team named the newly discovered disease Vacuolar Tauopathy (VT)--a neurodegenerative disease now characterized by the accumulation of neuronal vacuoles and tau protein aggregates.

"Within a cell, you have proteins coming together, and you need a process to also be able to pull them apart, because otherwise everything kind of gets gummed up and doesn't work. VCP is often involved in those cases where it finds proteins in an aggregate and pulls them apart," Edward Lee, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "We think that the mutation impairs the proteins' normal ability to break aggregates apart."





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The Profound Rewards of Staying Single


Over time, people who stay single may experience more happiness and growth.


When I first started researching and writing about single people decades ago, I used to talk about the growing numbers of people who were single. Now I’m focused on something even more dramatic, which was once quite rare: the growing numbers of people who stay single, at least until their late 40s, and sometimes for life.

The rise of people staying single has not deterred all the singlism, though. Single people are still stereotyped, stigmatized, marginalized, and targeted with discrimination, perhaps especially so if they have been single their whole lives.

What does that mean for how single life is actually experienced by those who never marry? In many important ways, single people defy stereotypes about their supposedly sad, lonely, and empty lives.


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In the midst of a crisis, Trump administration throws billions
at giveaways to favored political targets

Taxpayers and lawmakers have ensured that the federal Health and Human Services agency operates with roughly $2 trillion in discretionary and mandatory funding. This means the agency can employ about 80,000 staffers, many of them top experts in medical science, health care policy, and public health.

This concentration of expertise and experience, however, may mean less than ever.

That’s because just one man, and his hand-picked few, insist that they hold the absolute power to make life and death decisions for more than 330 million Americans, especially when it comes to health care and government spending on it.




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My parents enjoyed a comfortable retirement for 25+ years
by living by 5 money rules throughout their lives
By Donna Fenn

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. We may receive a small commission from our partners, like American Express, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

My parents retired in their early 60s and enjoyed a comfortable retirement for more than 25 years. They had multiple streams of retirement income, including a rental property and investment accounts. They never carried high-interest debt during their working years, and they invested in long-term care insurance to cover late-in-life expenses.

My parents both retired in their early 60s with enough money and sources of recurring income to live comfortably for 25+ years (my dad died eight years ago, but my mom is still alive at 86).




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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY OCT. 8TH 2020


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At A Loss For Words

I’m glad I waited until late in the afternoon to write today’s blog. Had I begun earlier, I would have missed what may be the most irresponsible, moronic, insensitive statement I have ever heard coming out of the mouth of a world leader.
 
Today, the man who pretends to care for the American people tweeted this after learning he would leave Walter Reed Medical Center, where they have been treating him for COVID-19 since Friday.
 
 
“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P. M, feeling really good!”
 
“Don’t be afraid of Covid, Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”
 
Gee, that’s just peachy keen Mr. Trump. Maybe you would like to explain that statement to the over 210, 000 Americans or the over 1 million people around the globe who are lying in their graves right now because they shouldn’t be afraid of COVID.
 
How, in any manner, shape or form could anybody be so out-of-touch, so blind to what is happening all around him as to make a statement like that? Not only should we remove him from public view immediately, but we should seal his big mouth until after the election. 
 
In my ignorance, I actually had some hope that he, after having been a victim of this most pernicious virus, would show at least a smattering of empathy for those who have suffered so badly. But no. Instead of humility, it has emboldened his already over-inflated ego further. Not only does he think he beat the virus, but he has the audacity to think he had a hand in developing the drugs that may have made his recovery possible.
 
There is little more I can say about this. I hope and pray nobody does anything foolish because of his remarks. But to believe that would make me the fool. I can see all of those lemming-like Trumpers tearing off their masks and running rampant through the streets of every Red State yelling “DON’T BE AFRAID. CARRY ON AS USUAL.’’

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Meanwhile, back here at the Asylum, I saw my doctor Friday and waiting for me was a double senior-dose of this year’s flu vaccine which I did not hesitate to take. Usually I shudder at the thought of anything foreign shot into my body. But recent events and the warnings of REAL doctors and scientists have lessened my aversions. By the way. It may be just my imagination, but the syringe they used to inject me with the vaccine appears to use a thinner needle. It was more like an insulin injection. Almost painless. 

My only regret is there is no vaccine for the poor state we find ourselves in. The precautions that the rest of the country finds annoying or restrictive has become a pariah for those of us who have been under forced isolation for over 200 days. Dr. Fauci’s statement that we won’t be back to anything approaching normal until way into 2021 does not bode well for us. The State, and the governor, who is reeling under charges that scores of elderly died because they allowed Covid positive patients into nursing homes, has become overly cautious when it comes to making decisions about our welfare. Unfortunately, I can see myself and my fellow residents in the same predicament for the foreseeable future and beyond……………...
  
 



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Dr. Fauci Predicts When Life
Will Be 'Normal' Again


How long will you have to wear a mask and socially distance from those who don't live in your home? According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's go-to infectious disease expert, it is going to be awhile. During a 30-minute discussion between Fauci and GBMC HealthCare System President and CEO John Chessare, the key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force revealed that masks and social distancing are going to be the norm for over a year at least. Read on to find out why, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

It Will Be Late 2021 Until We're Remotely Normal Again

While Fauci admitted that he isn't exactly sure how much of the population would need to be infected with COVID or vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, in a best case scenario—if the majority had immunity—it will still be over a year before any sort of normalcy exists.


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Our approach to the elderly is aging badly
By RYAN HEATH


Thursday marked the 30th International Day of Older Persons — likely the roughest one yet, especially for the 74-year-old U.S. President Donald Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus overnight, along with his wife Melania Trump and close aide Hope Hicks.

The majority of Covid-19 fatalities globally have been among people in the age group of Trump and his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden. Around 80 percent of American deaths and 94 percent of European deaths have been among those aged 60 or over. Given that America's most powerful and prominent national political leaders are all in their 70s, it would have been reasonable to expect more caution from some of those leaders — and more attention from all of them to the needs of their peers.

There is plenty of evidence the elderly are not being given their due in terms of attention and resources. As the world races towards delivering vaccines, an analysis published this week found older people have been excluded from half the human trials for Covid-19 vaccines, bringing into question their eventual efficacy on the people whose health is most affected. 


_____________________________________________________________________

Older People Really are Getting Younger, Study Says

'Our understanding of older age is old-fashioned,' researchers say.


Fifty really is the new 30. Or maybe 60 is the new 30. Or even 70.

The physical and cognitive ability of older people has improved significantly compared to people of the same age three decades ago, according to a new study from Finnish researchers.

The study compared the physical and cognitive performance of people today between the ages of 75 and 80 with the abilities of people of the same ages in the 1990s. Five hundred participants in one group were born between 1910 and 1914. The more recent group of 726 participants was born in 1938 or 1939 and 1942 or 1943.




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Netflix’s Dick Johnson Is Dead
will break your heart
By Karen Han

It’s a simple fact of life that everybody will eventually die. But that knowledge doesn’t make the passing of loved ones any easier to bear. In the new documentary Dick Johnson Is Dead, filmmaker Kirsten Johnson and her father, Dick Johnson, call her late mother’s decline due to Alzheimer’s “a long goodbye.” Over footage of Kirsten helping her mother get around the house and quizzing her on details, Kirsten expresses regret that she hadn’t filmed her mother before she started to lose her memory. (The point feels particularly resonant given the way Kirsten’s 2016 autobiographical film Cameraperson was stitched together from footage throughout her life — and included brief shots of her father.) Though the scene comes halfway through the movie, it serves as a succinct explanation for why Dick Johnson Is Dead exists, and why it’s such a powerhouse of a film.

Dick’s dementia is growing worse. Dick Johnson Is Dead is a way for Dick and Kirsten to prepare for his eventual death while he still has enough mental clarity to participate. The two stage and film multiple scenarios for Dick’s death, from being struck by a falling air conditioner to experiencing a sudden heart attack. These fantasy sequences of death, which also include Dick’s funeral and entrance into heaven, feel strangely life-affirming.



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Some Republicans Criticize Trump for
Failing to Denounce White Supremacy
By  Michael D. Shear, Luke Broadwater,
Michael Cooper and Emily Cochrane

Republicans distanced themselves Wednesday from President Trump over his failure to unambiguously condemn white supremacists during the presidential debate the night before, as Mr. Trump faced a torrent of criticism including a rare rebuke from the Senate’s top Republican.

The president scrambled to defend himself on Wednesday afternoon, falsely claiming that he had “always denounced any form” of white supremacy. And after saying at the debate that the Proud Boys, a far-right group that has endorsed violence, should “stand by,” Mr. Trump asserted on Wednesday that he didn’t even know who the group is.

The president’s continued efforts to sow doubts about the integrity of the vote, both at the debate and on Wednesday, alarmed election-monitoring experts who said that they feared that he was laying the groundwork to delegitimize the election results. And his raucous, interruption-filled debate performance led the Commission on Presidential Debates to say Wednesday that it would make changes to the format of this year’s remaining debates.



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Q&A With a Pharmacist:
Why You Should Know Your
Prescription Medication Options


If you need to fill a prescription, you may have more options than you think. There are different types of prescription medication options, including a lesser known option called Authorized Generics, that, like other generics, work in the same way as brand-name medications and are usually available at a lower price.

Learn more from Joel Zive, PharmD, affiliate clinical instructor in pharmaceutical outcomes and policies at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy about Authorized Generics and why you should know your options when it comes to prescription medications. 

In general, what is the most important thing to know about generic medications? 




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NEXT BLOG WEDNESDAY OCT. 7TH 2020


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10.05.20
A Sad State Of Affairs

7 minutes

To some Americans, news that the president had contracted the COVID-19 virus did not come as a surprise. The cavalier manner in which he and the people around him have handled the epidemic, from holding back vital information to refusal to wear a mask in public and holding large rallies with little or no regard to social distancing, has been nothing less than appalling. However, there were probably just as many people who, upon learning of Trump’s illness, thought it was all a hoax. A lie, like all his other lies, manufactured just to (A), get out of the next debate with Biden or (B), to distract the American people from his latest debacle, the income tax scandal. A tactic he has used many times before.
 
Post after social-media post was rife with theories about how he got it, from whom, and if he even had it at all. And, as of the writing of this post, we are still not 100% sure of the timeline. Did he have it at the debate? Why did he not take a COVID test before that debate like he said he would? And now, because his doctors have not been clear and forthright, we are not sure how sick he really is.
 
But confusion over the president’s condition is not what has me, and many other Americans worried. It’s the very fact that we have questions about the validity of every word that comes out of the Executive branch of government is of most concern.

 This is something we old-timers are not used to. We trusted and believed our leaders.
 
Even in our most difficult of times, when our nation was under direct attack by war, financial depression and civil unrest, for better or worse, we trusted the president and our government to be up front and candid. And, when a president was incapacitated, as when Eisenhower had his heart attack, or when they shot Reagan, we all, no matter what our political affiliation, prayed for their quick recovery. And when Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson sworn in almost immediately, nobody questioned the constitutionality of that action. Today, I’m not so sure the transition would go as smooth.
 
There is already talk of our current president not leaving the White House if he should lose the election. He has said himself not to trust the results. When in our history has a candidate said not to trust the outcome of a presidential election? For that alone, we should take pause.
 
Trump and his left-wing cohorts may have ruined that trust, if not forever, for now and perhaps for many years to come, no matter who is in power. There will be ceaseless fact-checking and interpretations of the truth. Press conferences, usually events where seasoned journalists received “direct from the top” answers to vital questions, will become little more than side-show events led by butt-licking circus hawkers keen on seeing just how many lies they can get away with.
 
I used to love the way America worked. I believed the way our founding fathers set up our democracy was the best system available. We had checks and balances designed so that one man, even the president, would not have so much power as to overrule the will of the people. There would always be cooler heads surrounding him that would tell him when things wouldn’t play well with the majority and suggest a better alternative. And a president that would, more often than not, take that advice.
 
We used to have a congress willing to compromise getting some of what one party wanted and giving in to what the opposition wanted so that the business of government could move forward. Now, because the leader of our nation (the one that lost the popular vote by over 2 million votes), takes nobody’s advice and couldn't care less what the majority wants. And he has taken a once amenable congress and turned it into an unmanageable partisan arena, one gladiator short of becoming the Roman Coliseum.

In the past, we always knew that if we made a mistake and elected a president who did not bring us together, we could get rid of him in four years without having left a permanent scar on our democracy. Now, we are not so sure that we still can do that. For perhaps the first time, the illusion that the president works for the people, all the people, has been shattered. We now know the president, because he is the leader of his party more than he is the leader of the people, will do anything to remain in that position for as long as possible.
 
The results of the upcoming election, less than a month away, will have more to say about who we are and where we are heading than at any other time. We can either be what we believed we were, a nation of compassionate human beings, or more like the pigs who control the government in the novel Animal Farm, by George Orwell who proclaimed, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” [1].……………………………. 
 
[1] The sentence is a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite.





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Study shows delirium as a possible
warning sign of COVID-19 in frail, older adults


A new analysis of data from researchers at King's College London using information from the COVID Symptom Study app and patients admitted to St Thomas' Hospital in London, has shown that delirium - a state of acute confusion associated with a higher risk of serious illness and death - is a key symptom of COVID-19 in frail, older people.

The findings, published in the journal Age and Ageing, highlight that doctors and carers should be aware of delirium as a possible early warning sign of COVID-19 in the elderly, even in the absence of more typical symptoms such as cough or fever.

Led by clinical fellow and geriatrician Dr Rose Penfold at King's College London, the researchers analyzed data from two groups of older people aged 65 or over from March through May. The first group included 322 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 who had tested positive for COVID-19, while the second comprised 535 users of the COVID Symptom Study app who reported having had a positive test result.


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With so many people living longer, advisors help to
make sure the fear of outliving money doesn’t become a reality
By Annie Nova


Alfred Abraham has had colon cancer, prostate cancer, open heart surgery and his left eye removed.

Yet at 100, he’s still alive and well. Every day, he and his partner Brian eat fruit and salad and go for walks. He and his family were planning a big party to celebrate his becoming a centenarian this past April, but the pandemic wouldn’t allow for it. 

“At the present time, I’m doing very nicely despite what’s going on,” said Abraham, a former CPA and bank executive who lives in New York. 


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Elderly and Homeless:
America’s Next Housing Crisis
By Fernanda Santos

Over the next decade, the number of elderly homeless Americans is projected to triple — and that was before Covid-19 hit. In Phoenix, the crisis has already arrived.


Miles Oliver’s troubles began in April, when he had to choose between making his monthly car payment and paying his rent. He chose the car, based on a logical calculation: Without a car, he couldn’t drive to work, meaning no money for rent regardless. Oliver came to Arizona from Chicago more than 30 years ago as an Army recruit at Fort Huachuca, the storied military post wedged into shrublands in the southeastern part of the state, just a 15-mile hike from the Mexico border. He grew to love Arizona — the dry air, the seemingly endless sunshine, the sense of possibility for someone looking for a new start. He moved to Phoenix and built a life for himself there. Now it was all falling apart.




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I Started Therapy in My 50s:
 How It's Helping Me

I was 50 years old when I finally decided to unpack some of the baggage I’d been carrying around since childhood.

Despite the weight, it wasn’t an easy decision. Those bags were familiar, and I’d packed away their contents in a neat, organized fashion decades earlier.

Imagine, if you will, oversized cases full of packing cubes labeled with things like abuse, anger, turmoil, inconsistency, guilt and responsibility. I knew unpacking them would be daunting.




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Are Florida’s seniors breaking up with Trump?

Florida is the single largest swing state in the 2020 presidential election. With 29 electoral votes, the next president of the United States will likely be won or lost in the Sunshine State.

Senior citizens – people over the age of 65 – make up about 31% of Florida voters and are a critical bloc. In 2016, Trump won this age group by 17%. But things might be changing during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of our Election 2020 coverage, CGTN’s Lisa Chiu talked to Villages residents to see whether their views are shifting. 




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Facts to Help Determine Your COBRA Eligibility

Managed by the U.S. Department of Labor, COBRA allows for healthcare benefits to temporarily continue for workers and families during times of transition, job loss, and more. The time period of this extended coverage varies and depends on the reason for the loss of healthcare coverage.

Benefits.gov offers information on different Healthcare and Medical Assistance programs, including COBRA. Consider the following facts to help decide if COBRA coverage is right for you:



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NEXT BLOG TUESDAY OCT. 6TH 2020


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10.04.20




All In The Family. And Friends
5 minutes

Laying in a hospital bed ten years ago, my only view of the outside world being what I could see from a window, I vowed that if I ever was well enough, I would get in a car and travel around the country and visit as many of my friends and relatives as I could. Serious illnesses make you think about a lot of things you never did. It also makes you think about your own longevity and how much time you have left on this earth. And the thought of never again seeing the people I love gave me pause. Unfortunately, because of continuing health problems, I cannot fulfill my vow. But that does not stop me from thinking about my family and friends.

Besides suffering the usual aches and pains associated with one’s advancing years, we have to endure the anguish of loss. By the time we are ready to retire, and by all rights a time when we should enjoy life, death rears its ugly head and snatches what’s left of our time here on Earth away from us and our loved one’s. Now, even if I had the wherewithal to do so, there are not too many people left that I could visit.
 
Many of my friends have passed on, and almost all of my immediate and extended family. And the rest are scattered all over the country. So far from each other, and me, that if I wanted to visit them I’d be dead before I could complete the task.
 
From Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, to Virginia, Florida, Texas, Missouri and Montana, practically everybody I know lives far away.
 
At one time I had a plan to get all of them together in one central, easy to reach location like Chicago, for one last get-together. I don’t know how many would have come, but it was a dream I had that sustained me through some very rough times when my own life expectancy was at risk. I pictured myself greeting each one in my hotel suite where we could feast on some great food and drink and reminisce about the good old days and the people who are no longer with us. There would, I imagined, be love, laughter and tears. [1]

Not everything works out as planned. My convalescence did not go well and my finances took a bigger hit than I would ever had imagined. So, there’s no reunion, no Chicago, and sadly, no hugs and kisses.
 
Now, my family and friends get-together is confined to the virtual “reality” of Facebo
ok and emails. For which, I am eternally grateful. The times spent online only reinforces my feelings and made me realize how important our human connections, especially with those we love, are.
 
When I hear of friends, who once were inseparable, no longer talking with each other, or parents or siblings who are estranged from one another, I feel sad. With so few of us remaining, disengaging from any of them seems like a terrible waste of love. And who could not use a little more of that today?

Please don’t let that happen. Stay connected.
 
The weekend is here and, as usual, I will back away from the keyboard and try to clear my head, which is spinning from all the bad Karma around us. The virus, the election, the debate and the wildfires in California have taken their toll on my psyche. If I had a bathtub, I would soak in it until Monday……………………………… .
 

[1] I got this idea as I was being wheeled in to an operating room for what I hoped would be life-saving surgery. I don’t know if it was my Adrenalin at work or the the pre-op Valium they gave me, but for one brief moment I could hear and feel everyone I loved assuring me everything was going to be alright. I took that feeling with me into the O.R.






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Older adults may be excluded
from many COVID-19 trials


More than half of all clinical trials evaluating vaccines and potential treatments for COVID-19 are "at high risk for excluding older adults," according to an analysis published Monday by JAMA Internal Medicine.

In addition, roughly one in four of the 847 trials reviewed by the researchers included an age "cutoff" that would exclude adults age 65 to 80, the data showed.

Older adults are generally considered to be at higher risk for severe COVID-19 and health complications related to the disease, research suggests.

"Based on our study, older adults, particularly those in their 70s and 80s, may be systematically excluded from the clinical trials necessary to develop and test [COVID-19 vaccines and treatments]," study co-author Dr. Sharon Inouye told UPI. 


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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine appears safe,
shows signs of working in older adults
By Julie Steenhuysen

Results from an early safety study of Moderna Inc's MRNA.O coronavirus vaccine candidate in older adults showed that it produced virus-neutralizing antibodies at levels similar to those seen in younger adults, with side effects roughly on par with high-dose flu shots, researchers said on Tuesday.


The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, offers a more complete picture of the vaccine’s safety in older adults, a group at increased risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

The findings are reassuring because immunity tends to weaken with age, Dr. Evan Anderson, one of the study’s lead researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, said in a phone interview.


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Sleep test may help diagnose and
predict dementia in older adults


Measurements of brain activity during sleep reveal signs of accelerated brain aging

Dementia is a growing problem for people as they age, but it often goes undiagnosed. Now investigators at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have discovered and validated a marker of dementia that may help clinicians identify patients who have the condition or are at risk of developing it. The findings are published in JAMA Network Open.

The team recently created the Brain Age Index (BAI), a model that relies on artificial intelligence and a large set of sleep data to estimate the difference between a person’s chronological age and the biological age of their brain when computed through electrical measurements (with an electroencephalogram, or EEG) during sleep. A higher BAI signifies deviation from normal brain aging, which could reflect the presence and severity of dementia.





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Live Like You're Dying (You Are)

I’m dying. I realized it last week when the seat of my jeans gave way in the freezer section of the supermarket.

I was browsing the frozen meals, deciding between a gluten-free cauliflower crust pizza or family-size Stouffer’s mac and cheese, when I suddenly felt a draft across my lower butt. I poked around the underside of my 15-year-old favorite pair of jeans and discovered the seat had virtually disintegrated to the point that no further patchwork or desperate stitching would hold them together.

When I got home, I had to break down and order a new pair of designer slim-fit boyfriend-cut button-fly jeans. When the new ones arrived, it occurred to me: if this pair manages to last for another 15 years, I will be nearly 75 years old when this seat disintegrates. Meaning this could very well be the final pair of jeans I will purchase in my lifetime.



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Trump's Health Care Executive Order
Short on Details, Experts Say

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday targeting a number of health care issues important to American voters that so far have played to the advantage of his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in the polls.

Trump’s “America First” health care plan “delivers better care, more choice and lower costs for all Americans,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Trump’s executive order, which does not have the force of law, targets three major issues: preventing unexpected medical bills, reducing prescription drug prices and protecting patients with preexisting medical conditions.



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How to Avoid Foggy Eyeglasses
When Wearing a Face Mask
By Peter Urban


As more Americans don face masks to venture outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those who wear glasses are finding that their lenses fog up. It's a problem that bespectacled surgeons, as well as goggle-wearing skiers, have long experienced.

Why does it happen? In a 1996 article in Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics, Tom Margrain, a professor at Cardiff University's School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, explained that in general “when a spectacle wearer enters a warm environment after having been in a cooler one, his/her spectacles may ‘mist up’ due to the formation of condensation on the lens surface.” He went on to say that polycarbonate lenses demisted more rapidly than those made of glass.

With that in mind, if your eyeglasses are fogging when you put on a face mask, it's because warm, moist air you exhale is being directed up to your glasses. To stop the fogging, you need to block your breath from reaching the surfaces of your lenses. (See instructions on how to make your own cloth face mask at home.)




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10.01.20



7 minutes

Who among us has not dreamed and wondered what they meant.
 
We know some of what we dream comes from recent events, while others bring up subjects from years, if not decades back. While still others appear to have no relation to reality at all.
 
A recent change in the “plot” of my dreams has caused me to wonder if, as we get older, do our dreams change?
 
For the answer I consulted my dream expert, Google, and found only two articles about “Elderly dreams” and if older people have different dreams from younger people.
 
Amazingly, both articles came to almost the same conclusion. No, we (seniors) do not necessarily dream differently from younger people. However, we have a more difficult time in our ability to remember (recall) what we dreamed. [1]. This, as scientists believe, has to do with the length and depth of sleep among the elderly and not so much by age itself. In other words, because seniors sleep less and lighter, we forget what we dreamt about more often.
 
While this is interesting, it didn’t answer my particular question. Why, suddenly, has the storyline of many of my dreams changed. Let me elaborate.

For the last few years I have had one reoccurring dream. Not every night, but often enough for me to make a note of. It’s also a dream one does not have to be a professional to interpret. While the details change slightly, the theme does not.
 
The dream begins with a younger me borrowing my brother’s car. I know the brakes are bad and have told my brother to get them fixed. Naturally, I drive down a steep hill, unable to stop or even steer the car. The only way to slow down is to bounce the car off of the curb or other objects. I always wake up before I crash, except for one time where I fell out of bed and onto the floor. Any psychoanalyst (or well-informed waiter) could tell me the dream means my life is out-of-control and I cannot do anything about it. I’ll agree with that. But as of late, the scenario of my dream has changed.

In the new dream I am no longer in a car or any other vehicle. I am not young. I am exactly as I appear now. With all of my dependencies and mobility problems. And, unlike in my previous dream, I recognize the surroundings. I am back at my old workplace. The last place I worked before my “forced” retirement. I recognize the building, but the interior has changed. There are more people and more workstations. Some people I recognize, some I don’t. One of those I don’t know tells me to stand on a line where I am given a bunch of forms to fill out. Evidently, I’m here for a job. Here’s where the dream changes slightly each time.
 
Sometimes I am back at my old job, while other times I am told to do something I have no training in. The job is so obscure; I don’t even know what it is. I wind up running out of the building. And, for some reason, I’m not wearing pants or much of anything else. Naturally, it was back to Google for an answer.
 
Asking, “What do naked dreams mean”, they came up with this answer…
 
“Usual meanings: You feel exposed, vulnerable or awkward, or you may fear that you may have revealed too much of yourself in a waking situation. Rarely you may feel free and unencumbered. Many dreams about being inappropriately dressed occur when the person is involved in a wedding ceremony in waking life.”


Analyzing the analysis, I would agree with the “exposed, vulnerable or awkward” part. My status as an inmate in a place where my basic freedoms have been compromised would certainly qualify me as vulnerable. And, with the constant possibility of contracting COVID-19, there is no question of being exposed. Also, by writing this blog, and not withholding much of my personal life, I am guilty of “revealing too much of myself.” As far as the wedding ceremony part is concerned, that was over 40 years ago and I’m sure I was wearing pants at the time. 
 
Dreams, as long as they don’t become nightmares, are okay, I guess. I am very surprised I can remember them with such clarity. As I said, older folks usually have difficulty recalling dreams. Maybe it’s a sign my mind can still rationally process thoughts. I can remember a time, when I was sick and being given some very potent drugs including steroids, when all of my dreams were more like hallucinations. They were wild, dissociated and frightening, and often left me drenched in sweat. I’ll take running around without pants over that any day……………………………. 

※ ※ ※ ※

A few words about Tuesday’s “Debate.”


There’s no use telling you what you already know. The presidential debate was a shambles and, a little scary. 

It was more like a WWF wrestling match than a exchange of opinions. We learned very little new things about both candidates and what we did hear only reinforced our our need to make sure we vote. I am looking forward to the VP debate next Wednesday. ……Bruce.
 

[1] source:  ]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5768288/






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When Conservatorship Goes Terribly Wrong


When people ask me about the circumstances surrounding the painful story of my mother’s probate conservatorship — where the man appointed by a judge to manage my mother’s finances and daily life inflicted financial and mental abuse on her — there’s one question I always encounter: How did this happen to your family?

A simple answer: it can happen to anyone.

Roughly 1.5 million Americans are under guardianship or conservatorship, most of them over 65. Although many conservators and guardians do excellent work, some are notorious. One AARP article said: “Activists charge that in some cases, unscrupulous professional guardians have turned legally sanctioned exploitation into a cottage industry, abetted by greedy attorneys and pliable judges.”


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Elderly and Homeless:
America’s Next Housing Crisis
By Fernanda Santos


Miles Oliver’s troubles began in April, when he had to choose between making his monthly car payment and paying his rent. He chose the car, based on a logical calculation: Without a car, he couldn’t drive to work, meaning no money for rent regardless. Oliver came to Arizona from Chicago more than 30 years ago as an Army recruit at Fort Huachuca, the storied military post wedged into shrublands in the southeastern part of the state, just a 15-mile hike from the Mexico border. He grew to love Arizona — the dry air, the seemingly endless sunshine, the sense of possibility for someone looking for a new start. He moved to Phoenix and built a life for himself there. Now it was all falling apart.

His car, a navy blue 2007 Ford Fusion for which he paid $230 a month, was his lifeline. It took him to whatever day jobs he cobbled together each week, most of them in construction, and allowed him to bring in extra cash on weekends delivering pizza for Papa John’s. February was slow, and March was slower, so when his $830 April rent came due, Oliver was short. The apartment complex’s office had closed because of the pandemic, and he had no idea how to reach the manager to ask for extra time. What he received, by mail, was an ultimatum: Pay up or go to court.

As he watched the city shut down around him, Oliver worried that he might not be able to find a new place to live or enough work to keep on going. But when he stood up in front of a county court justice in April, he learned that the pandemic did have a silver lining: Gov. Doug Ducey, the judge explained, had declared a moratorium on evictions for renters who met certain qualifications.....


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The Disadvantages of Aging in Place

Surveys show that most people would prefer to grow older, and even die, in their own home. This desire isn’t hard to understand.

While you may have already downsized to a more manageable home or condo, you won’t have to move again, which is emotionally straining, physically taxing and can be financially cumbersome. Aging in place also lets you remain in your familiar surroundings, close to friends and possibly family. And there are other advantages.

But there’s a flip side to aging in place that needs to be weighed:




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Will Eating Tuna Make Shingles Worse?
By Terry Graedon


Shingles is a nasty condition in which the chickenpox virus triggers a painful rash many years later. The varicella zoster virus (part of the herpes virus family) can lie dormant for years after a young person recovers from chickenpox. Then, a middle-aged or older person may suddenly develop pain and tenderness. The rash that follows can be itchy as well as agonizing. Doctors can prescribe antiviral medications (acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir) to ease the pain. Of course, people have found these work best when taken early in the course of the disease. Are there things that can make shingles worse? You’d want to avoid those.
Does Tuna Make Shingles Worse?

Q. I have a friend who is suffering from shingles. She’s been told that canned tuna makes it worse, because canned tuna is rich in arginine that helps the shingles virus replicate. Is there any substance to such a contention?




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Senate Democrats rip White House and
GOP for inaction on nursing homes

The White House and Senate Republicans have failed to protect more than 1.3 million Americans in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, with persistent inaction contributing to the rising toll of Covid-19 deaths and infections among the institutionalized — months after the crisis in long-term care exploded into the public consciousness.

Those are the new findings of Bob Casey and Ron Wyden, two ranking Democratic U.S. senators serving on the Aging and Finance committees, respectively. They issued their harsh criticisms and a minority staff report they requested and based on information from the Trump Administration. The Washington Post quoted Casey:

“This report lays bare the devastating cost that American families have paid as a result of the Trump administration’s incompetency and Republican inaction. The crisis in our nursing homes, which residents and workers and their families are experiencing every day, demands immediate action.”


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The documents you need for end-of-life decisions

End-of-life decisions for medical, legal and financial matters in case of incapacity need to be stated in properly signed legal documents.  Advance directives are documents we sign while we are able to appoint people who will makes decisions for us in case we are not able. This is disability planning.

Studies show that more than half of us have not signed advance directives that protect us from chaos and government intrusion in case of incapacity. 

Without signing advance directives you are at risk of a guardianship proceeding, where a judge determines incapacity and appoints a legal guardian as needed. Guardianships are costly, time consuming and an example of the government taking over your affairs.



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NEXT BLOG FRIDAY OCT. 2ND 2020


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09.30.20


Off The Road Again
5-6 minutes

I haven’t been behind the wheel of a car since 2009. May 19th 2009 to be exact. And I miss it.
 
That’s the date I parked my car on the street near my apartment in Queens, NY, never to drive it again. A medical emergency and many months of hospitalization and rehab put an end to my days of driving.
 
At first I gave it little mind. I was almost glad to be free of the “burden” of car ownership. The insurance, the gas, the maintenance, parking and traffic all took a toll on my retirement income and my lessening abilities, both physical and emotional.
 
Driving makes demands on all of one’s senses. And mine were compromised. As far as I believed.

 
While I was sure I could pass the DMV’s eye exam, and having lost the ability to hear out of one ear would not disqualify me, I felt not being at or close to having 100% of my faculties intact would affect my ability to safely operate a vehicle. And then there was my state of mind. I had no way of knowing whether I could handle the speed, the traffic and other drivers. Simply, I was afraid to drive.

I haven’t driven for over ten years (in fact I no longer have a valid driver’s license). However, I have been a passenger in the front seat of cabs, cars and vans. And I don’t like what I see.
 
Maybe it’s just me, but people appear to drive faster. And have they made the lettering on the exit signs smaller? And the off-ramps narrower? Why is everybody cutting in and out of the lane so much? Since when did they allow twelve-year-old’s to drive? It was all too much.

 When I allowed my driver’s license to expire I had been driving for nearly 50 years. During that time I received only 2 moving violations and involved in only one minor fender-bender. I’ve seen all the advances made to cars from automatic transmissions, air conditioning, power steering and brakes and computerized engine systems. Some were good, like mandatory use of seat belts. And some were bad. Being allowed to talk on the phone and drive, even hand’s free, is just plain dangerous. But that does not mean I would not like to drive again. Now, more than ever, I can appreciate what I liked about driving since I was a teenager. The freedom of mobility and the ability to “get away from it all.”
 
The quarantine/lockdown has ended at least one of my liberties. The right to go anywhere, anytime I like.The virus will end one day, but I will still be in my own little incarceration. A car could end all that.
 
It’s Fall now. And I live in the best place in all of America to enjoy what the season has to give. I miss maneuvering a well-handling car around a winding country road lined with trees whose leaves have turned to red and gold. Or to park on a highway overlook and gaze out across the vivid, multicolored landscape below.
 
I miss stopping at a country inn for lunch or buying fresh Fall produce from a farmer’s market.
 
But most of all, I miss my friends and family. Many of whom I know I might never see in person again.
 
It used to be so easy. Just jump in the car and go. Now, it’s just a memory.

 I know I can’t drive anymore, even if I could renew my license and somehow get a car. It just isn’t safe and heaven forbid I should cause someone being maimed, injured or worse. A point missed by many of my peers who think it’s their god-given right to operate a 3000 lb. weapon while under the influence of senescence. But I sure would like to…… .
 



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Flu season returns:
What it means for older adults
By Margarita Vinogradov



More than ever, doctors are encouraging people to get their flu shot this year. With coronavirus being an additional health concern in the upcoming months, local pharmacists explained that older adults, a high-risk group which can require a special high dose vaccine, may not be able to get vaccinated right away.

“We’re almost out of it before we get our next shipment. At this point we’re like yeah, we have it, yeah, we don’t have it, we may have it…just check with us before you come in,” said Forward Pharmacy owner and pharmacist Matthew Mabie.

Pharmacists explained that while they order their vaccines in February, larger chains tend to receive shipments faster than small independent locations.


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This is where the pandemic
might really hurt senior living 

I have a friend who insists problems that can be fixed with money are not really problems at all.

I guess that is an easier view to hold when one’s net worth is approaching $100 million. But he does have a point. A big check does seem to have the magical ability to make many headaches disappear. Still, there are some things that no amount of money can remedy. Just ask Steve Jobs.

What does this have to do with senior living? As it turns out, quite a bit.



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The missing grandparents:
families mourn elder generation lost to COVID-19
By Makini Brice, Lauren Young, Maria Caspani, Andrew Hay

Mel Solomon loved to sing.


He knew the lyrics to entire Broadway musicals and shared them with his granddaughters Zoe and Madeline during their annual summer visits from Brooklyn, New York, to Kansas City, where he was a renowned architect.

Even after Alzheimer’s Disease stole most of his memory, Mel sang to his newborn grandson Joshua, who was born in 2019, his daughter Laura Solomon recalled. “My father couldn’t really articulate himself well any more, but the music never disappeared,” she said.





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Video games show potential in improving
key aspects of memory in older adults


Being exposed to an environment filled with novel stimuli can benefit cognition, including memory. Studies have shown that rodents placed in enriched environments, compared to sparse environments, experience increased generation of nerve cells in brain regions that are critical for memory encoding and retrieval. Humans may also experience similar neurological benefits from novel environments. However, this exposure can be hindered by those who remain indoors, potentially due to viral pandemics or mobility impairments.

Older couple sitting on a couch in a living room, holding video game controllers, smiling, and playing a video game.The good news is that novel environments can be delivered, virtually, to the homebound, according to NIA-supported researchers who recently discovered that video games may be used to enhance cognitive health in older adults. These findings were recently published in Behavioural Brain Research. For this study, individuals 60 to 80 years of age were recruited. The researchers hypothesized that the novel and three-dimensional environment of Super Mario™ would confer more cognitive benefits upon individuals than those conferred by a familiar two-dimensional game (i.e., Solitaire). Despite being two-dimensional in nature, Angry Birds™ gameplay was also poised to confer cognitive benefits due to its novelty for this older population. Study participants in each of these three video game conditions played 30 to 45 minutes per day for four weeks. During this time, and four weeks after daily gameplay ended, researchers conducted a series of memory tests.



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Trump makes fresh health care push,
saying he’ll protect sick Americans
By John F. Harris

President Donald Trump on Thursday moved to shore up one of his biggest campaign weaknesses with a symbolic pledge to protect people with preexisting conditions even if the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare.

Trump also promised to send seniors $200 drug discount cards before the election to help cover prescription drug co-pays. And he said he would ban the practice of "surprise" medical billing if Congress doesn't enact a fix by year's end.

The moves formed the core of an “America First Health Plan” Trump outlined in a North Carolina speech with polls showing him badly trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on health care.



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It's Not Too Late to Travel Solo After Retirement —
but Don't Make These 14 Mistakes
By Skye Sherman

Embarking on a solo trip as a senior comes with its own set of challenges — and perks. Travel + Leisure turned to senior solo travel expert Janice Waugh of Solo Traveler World for insight into what not to do as a senior traveling solo.

Thinking You’re Younger Than You Are

Don’t overestimate your abilities — or underestimate your age. “It’s pretty common,” Waugh laughs. “When you hit about 40 or 50, you really think you’re about 10, 20 years younger than you actually are. It’s really important that you take an assessment and know your physical abilities so that you don’t get yourself into an awkward situation. Know how far you can walk, how far you can ride, how far you can hike, what stairs are like for you, what it’s like on uneven surfaces — just take account of this, because it can really affect your enjoyment of the trip once you go.”

Choosing the Wrong Destination for Your Situation 



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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY OCT. 1ST 2020


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09.29.20


7 minutes


We Baby Boomers have been taking on the chin lately. They blame us for everything from ruining the environment to Donald Trump.
 
They have chastised us for our greed and gluttony and forgetting our accomplishments in science and industry.
 
Detractors, and those who are just plain ignorant, like to lump all Boomers into one pile. They categorize us as being archaic and not in tune with the times. While we may have been born in the post WW2 era, we are children of the most contentious and social-changing time in American history. The 1960s to 70s.


Youngsters today, see us only as burdens on society, eating up the wealth and their future, by having the audacity to live long enough to collect on the money we willingly gave to the system so we could have something to live on when we got old. But they forget that the reason they are here and able to enjoy the freedoms and liberties they do is because we held demonstrations in the streets, had sit-in’s in colleges, endured beatings by police and the taunts of “Dirty Hippies” by hard-hatted construction workers in front of city hall’s and government buildings while we demanded equal right for all people. But what hurts most of all, is that they look upon us a irrelevant.


Nothing could be farther from reality. At least with voting.
 
According to “governing.com”…
 
“Given how thoroughly scrutinized, analyzed, dissected and judged the baby boom has been since 3.4 million of its members were born in 1946 — compared to the 2.8 million babies of 1945 — one would think it would be easy to predict how they’ll behave politically as they age. But it’s never been an easy generation to pigeonhole. Its leading edge started coming of political age around the time of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and its tail around Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. In the 1960s and ’70s, as the Pew Research Center noted last year in a report profiling the politics of different generations, boomers as a whole wanted little to do with the Republican Party, but by the 1980s that changed significantly. To make things even more complicated, there is a political difference between the first half of the baby boom and the second. “Older boomers, who cast their first ballots in the Nixon elections of 1968 and 1972, have voted more Democratic than have younger boomers who came of age under Ford, Carter and Reagan,” the report commented.” [1]
 
I am very proud to say, “I am one of those Older Boomers, and as far as I’m concerned, the current Republican party represents nothing of what I stand for.
 
My parents were products of the great depression. They knew what it meant to have leadership in government that had compassion for its citizenry and the strength and support by both parties to get us out of a mess that saw millions out of work.
 
Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the benchmark of what a president should be.
 
When, in 1933, when he formed the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the CCC, (Civilian Conservation Core) and signed into law the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and later the Social Security Bill on August 14, 1935, no one accused him of being a Socialist or somebody that wanted to nationalize American business. Instead, they viewed him as a forceful leader with compassion who saw a need and gathered support from all factions to enact legislation for, as he put it, “A safeguard against the hazards and vicissitudes of life.”

Can you think of a period in our lifetime that has seen as much “hazards and vicissitudes” as we have now? And conversely, have you ever seen a leader with as little skills to protect us as the man who infests the White House?

It’s not too late to make things better.

When that mail-in or absentee ballot arrives, fill it out and send it in promptly. Or, if you can, get to your polling place and do the right thing.

Now, more than ever before, we Boomers can turn it around. While we can’t undo everything of what he has done to us (i.e., Supreme Court appointments and the deaths of thousands of Americans) we can at least set us back on track and once again claim our position as a country that is truly great again……………………….. 
 

 [1] https://www.governing.com/topics/politics/gov-baby-boomer-impact-on-elections.html





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A pandemic upshot: Seniors are having
second thoughts about where to live

Where do we want to live in the years ahead?

Older adults are asking this question anew in light of the ongoing toll of the coronavirus pandemic — disrupted lives, social isolation, mounting deaths. Many are changing their minds.

Some people who planned to move to senior housing are now choosing to live independently rather than communally. Others wonder whether transferring to a setting where they can get more assistance might be the right call.

These decisions, hard enough during ordinary times, are now fraught with uncertainty as the economy falters and COVID-19 deaths climb, including tens of thousands in nursing homes and assisted living centers.



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Home sharing a modern-day housing solution,
alternative to assisted living
By Mary Shinn

The high cost of housing in Colorado Springs helped to bring roommates Kimberly Bolding, Ardene Hagadorn and Louis John Vastine together in what they like to think of as a modern, more mature version of "Three’s Company," the 1977-1984 television sitcom about two women and a man who share — platonically — an apartment.

The shared housing is a creative alternative to formal senior housing that they believe could work for others.

The three seniors faced serious medical and financial challenges before finding each other. They hope to establish a new family of sorts to support one another, rather than turning to assisted living, where they fear they would be socially and physically isolated.


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A Deadly Lack of Medical Expertise
 in Senior Care Homes


Assisted living facilities have been severely affected by the coronavirus, as they bring together both senior citizens and an essential workforce. Yet only about half, nationally, have a registered nurse on staff, while on-site doctors and facility medical directors are less common. 

For that reason, VOSD contributor Jared Whitlock reports, it’s more likely that a resident’s change in condition will go undetected. One elder law attorney put it this way: a nonexistent medical staff is often ill-equipped to deal with resident falls, let alone a pandemic that requires strict infection control.

The industry has distinguished itself in its marketing efforts for its home-like feel. There are nearly 600 assisted living facilities, some of which cater to residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.



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Drug prices: Why prescription medicines
are unaffordable for many people
By Kerry Dooley Young

There may be few issues that unite Americans ahead of the 2020 election as do their concerns about the cost of prescription drugs.

A clear majority — 75% — of respondents to a July survey said the cost of prescription medicines would be among the factors likely to influence their votes this year, according to a report from Gallup and the nonprofit West Health. Gallup reported on results from 1,007 interviews conducted with adults between July 1 and July 24.

In fact, 5% of this group surveyed cited the cost of prescription medicines as the most important factor, with another 30% saying the cost of medicine was among the most important issues influencing their votes. Another 40% report described the cost of medicine as an issue of “mid-range” importance. Only 24% classified this as being among the least or among the least important issues likely to affect their votes.




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What is socialism? And what do 
socialists really want in 2020?
By Leslie Gornstein

Socialism: It's a buzzword in the 2020 election season, having sprung up dozens of times during campaign, particularly during the Republication National Convention. Conservative leaders depict the idea as a democracy-killing bogeyman. 

Some Democrats — including Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib — have embraced the label with gusto.

The political philosophy has history going back centuries. Directly or otherwise, it has influenced government policies around the world, including in America. 

But what exactly does socialism mean? What do socialists want right now? And is the Republican warning — that socialism is threatening to destroy the American way of life — a real concern? There are some facts about socialism that are beyond dispute.




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Who Qualifies for Government Grants and Loans?


Are you curious about government grants and loans? It is important to know the difference and who qualifies to apply for them.


Grants fund projects that help improve the economy or the public. They support recovery projects, research, and many other programs. Organizations that receive grants are not required to pay back the money. To search for or apply for federal grants, visit Grants.gov.

Loans are different because people have to repay them with interest. Government loans help pay for education, housing, or emergencies. Head to GovLoans.gov for more.





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Grants to Provide Career and
Training Services to Low-Income Older Adults
by Karla James

The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of approximately $156 million in grants through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) to provide career services and training services to low-income older individuals who are seeking to enter or re-enter the workforce.

SCSEP aims to move participants of the program into unsubsidized employment in both the public and private sectors, promote part-time work experiences in community service assignments for unemployed low-income individuals who are 55 years of age or older, and foster self-sufficiency.

 Successful grant applicants presented clear service delivery models that will enable eligible individuals to successfully participate in the program and achieve these program goals.





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NEXT BLOG WEDNESDAY SEPT. 30TH 2020


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09.28.20



5 minutes

Fall used to be my favorite season. It’s one of the few times of the year, the Northeastern part of our country becomes the place where nature is at her finest.
 
The weather is perfect. Usually mild, with cool evenings and mild days accented by clear, blue skies and fresh breezes. And, color. The magic show Mother Earth treats us to every year as one by one, the trees change color ending in a torrent of falling leaves as the air chills. It’s a great time for a hike in the woods or a stroll down city streets. It used to be, that is.

 
Yes, the trees will still change color. Nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop that. And the temperatures will still go from warm to cool as the weeks wear on. I also know the leaves will drop, as they have done since time immemorial. But this Fall will not see me hiking through Bear Mountain State Park or even around the corner. There will be no Fall photo expeditions in the Pocono’s and no brisk walks down the streets of my hometown. New York. For me, and for many of my fellow residents here at the ALF, they have taken those days from us. And now, because of this damn virus and the rules and regulations hoisted upon us by clueless administrators and bureaucrats, we may not leave the facility to see the colors, enjoy a picnic, or visit the grandkids. And, because they will most likely keep us under quarantine for the foreseeable future, our Halloween and Thanksgiving will be gone too.


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Not only was this the first weekend of Fall 2020. It was also the first weekend they permitted our residents to receive visitors after over 195 days of almost total isolation. And while I did not expect to see throngs of teary-eyed loved ones roaming the parking lot looking for a space, I thought there would be a better turnout than what we got. Only a smattering of visitors took advantage
 of the easing of the rules.

The low attendance surprised me because, two month’s ago, when the facility held a “drive-by” visit, there were dozens of cars loaded with friends and relatives and all expressed their desire to have face-to-face visits. Where were they this weekend? It wasn’t the weather, and they gave everybody plenty of notification.
 
Maybe they didn’t enjoy having to meet outdoors. Or that everybody had to wear a mask and observe social distancing. Or maybe our residents just didn’t invite anybody. We’ll see what happens next week. Hearts and minds change over time.

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While the rules governing visitation may have improved, I wish I could say the same for the food. Instead of getting better, it may just have become worse.
 
With the new season, I half expected to see a change in the menu. Instead, they have served me my 4th (or maybe my 5th) chicken dinner of the week. I could have had Quiche or a salami sandwich, but I had those last week. Breakfasts are as dismal as ever, but now  I'm getting double portions. 2xBad is still bad. Perhaps what we really need here is not visitors but somebody who knows what to cook and how to cook it. Nothing is more depressing than having to endure the same food over and over.

But despite all the gloom and doom, there is something to look forward to this week. The first presidential debate will take place on Tuesday. If you’re a fan of the WWF, you are going to love this. Let’s have a watch party...............……. 




 


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Assisted Living Communities With These Characteristics
Tend to Have More Covid-19 Cases
By Tim Mullaney


Assisted living communities tend to have more Covid-19 cases if they serve older residents, people with certain diagnoses, or a larger proportion of people from minority demographic groups.

These are among the findings from researchers out of the University of Rochester, who analyzed seven states’ publicly available data on Covid-19 infections in assisted living. The findings are being published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The analytical sample for the study consisted of 3,994 assisted living communities in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina. These communities logged 2,542 Covid-19 cases and 675 deaths.


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Study shows 8-week training program helps
promote healthy lifestyle for seniors


When University of Missouri Orthopaedic Surgery Fellow Breanne Baker stopped working with athletes and started treating seniors, she wasn’t quite sure what to think. She was worried that the work might be less exciting, and she thought she would miss the competitive aspect of assisting athletes. However, she quickly discovered working with seniors is both challenging and rewarding.

    “If you even have a tiny sliver of a soul in your heart, you’re going to fall in love with these people,” Baker said. “They tell you about their kids and their grandkids, and they’ve got great stories to tell if you’re willing to listen. I would definitely like to keep working with seniors throughout the rest of my career.”

However, for many older adults, it can be difficult to find safe and effective workouts. According to the CDC, only 9.7% of Americans older than 65 meet their recommendations for strength training at least two days a week. That’s where Baker and the MU Extension Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program can help. The 8-week program for older adults provides safe, structured and effective strength training to help reduce frailty, osteoporosis and the risk of falls.


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How to Spend Less in Retirement:
Fewer Lattes or The Big Cut?


Friends Talk Money podcast logoA huge concern for people as they approach retirement and when they’re in retirement is: How can I ensure I don’t outlive my money? One way to try to avoid that unsettling prospect is to figure out ways to spend less in retirement so the money you do have lasts longer.

Doing so can be a big help. As William Gale, director of the Retirement Security Project at the Brookings Institution, recently said in a Brookings webinar, many of us will spend one-quarter to one-third of our lives in retirement.

The new episode of the “Friends Talk Money” podcast for people 50+ that I co-host with Terry Savage and Pam Krueger offered suggestions, with help from Steve Vernon, a research scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity and author of the excellent new book, “Don’t Go Broke in Retirement.” (You can hear the podcast wherever you get podcasts or listen to it at the end of this article.)




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Life and death reasons we need to find
 a way to connect with others

The U.S. Government says the science shows, 43% of seniors feel lonely, and there’s a 45% increased risk of mortality from feeling lonely.

Plus, the real shocker? Loneliness is more dangerous than obesity and has the same effect on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

"Social isolation has a lot of medical comorbidities that come along with it," said Dr. Tracey Doering, who specializes in geriatrics.

"Depression and anxiety are big ones and then just over time your general disease can accelerate."





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No joy in the White House
By Elayne Griffin Baker

There’s no literature or poetry in the White House. No music. No Kennedy Center award celebrations. There are no pets in this White House. No loyal man’s best friend. No Socks the family cat. No kids’ science fairs. No times when this president takes off his blue suit-red tie uniform and becomes human, except when he puts on his white shirt-khaki pants uniform and hides from Americans to play golf. There are no images of the first family enjoying themselves together in a moment of relaxation. No Obamas on the beach in Hawaii moments, or Bushes fishing in Kennebunkport, no Reagans on horseback, no Kennedys playing touch football on the Cape.

I was thinking the other day of the summer when George H couldn’t catch a fish and all the grandkids made signs and counted the fish-less days. And somehow, even if you didn’t even like GHB, you got caught up in the joy of a family that loved each other and had fun. Where did that country go? Where did all of the fun and joy and expressions of love and happiness go?

We used to be a country that did the ice bucket challenge and raised millions for charity. We used to have a president that calmed and soothed the nation instead dividing it. And a First Lady that planted a garden instead of ripping one out. We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost the cultural aspects of society that make America great. We have lost our mojo, our fun, our happiness. The cheering on of others. Gone. The shared experiences of humanity that makes it all worth it. Gone. The challenges AND the triumphs that we shared and celebrated. The unique can-do spirit Americans have always been known for. Gone. We have lost so much in so short a time.




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Learn the warning signs of sepsis
by Sarah Darmanjian


The New York State Office for the Aging is urging caregivers and older New Yorkers to learn the early warning signs of sepsis.

According to NYSOFA, caregivers and elderly individuals, especially those with chronic health conditions or an impaired immune system, should be aware of the symptoms, get immediate treatment and learn how to prevent infections that could lead to sepsis.

Sepsis is a very serious illness for people of all ages. It can be particularly devastating, even deadly, for older adults. The risk is even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic.




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NEXT BLOG TUESDAY SEPT. 29TH 2020


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09.27.20




What’s Up Doc?

I used to like my body. It treated me well for many years. And, in turn, I think I did well by it.
 
With the help of my mother, I fed my body only the best food. Mom was a stickler for fresh. Whenever available, she would always choose fresh over canned or frozen every time. From veggies to poultry, the fresher it was, the better. I can remember only one time a frozen TV dinner ever crossed the threshold of our house.
 
I certainly gave my body plenty of exercise. Like most pre-TV, pre-Video, pre-social media kids, I played outside. From morning to when my dad got home from work, we played and we played hard.
 

Drugs, except the ones prescribed by a doctor, were a non-entity in my house. If we were in pain, we took aspirin. If we were congested, mom rubbed on the Vick’s. And the only supplements I took were One-A-Day vitamins, and the horrid cod liver oil.
 
They allowed me to get all the childhood diseases. Mumps, Measles (German and regular) and Chicken pox. We stayed in bed for a week, building up our natural immunity. And all that, while going to the doctor and dentist for regular check-ups. Then, I became a teenager. And everything changed. 

I feel for teens. Really, I do. We expect so much of them when they are emotionally not equipped to deal with it. We want them to act like adults, when, just a few weeks before, they were still kids. There is no transition period. We throw teens into adulthood unprepared to deal with the consequences. And, unfortunately, they act accordingly. They experiment and do dopey things. And I was no exception. One of those being smoking.
 
I was 17 when I bought my first pack of cigarettes. It was a pack of Kent filters and it cost 25 cents. There were no age restrictions back then, and the drugstore on 8th street in Greenwich Village was more than happy to sell them to me.
 
While that pack probably lasted a week, it set me on a path I followed for the next 22 years feeding a two-pack-a-day habit until I quit in 1984 and haven’t had a smoke since. But smoking made me feel like an adult, with all the consequences.
 
I stopped my regular doctor’s visits. And only occasionally saw a dentist.
 
Pressures at school and my changing body, combined with a lack of exercise and the discovery of junk food, were not helping my health.
 
I went to work immediately after graduating High School, waiting a year before I went to night school to earn a degree. That grueling schedule which included all-nighters, missing meals and stress took its toll on my body. I gained weight and my ability to fight off illness lessened. But I still had avoided anything serious until my body decided it would not take it anymore and threw me a curve that landed me in a hospital and all but ruined my life.

Like many of us, especially men, we learn our lessens too late. I avoided doctors like the plague. I missed all of those “coming-of-age” tests they tell us to get. The colonoscopy, the blood pressure, the cholesterol and the EKG, not to mention the dreaded prostate exam. I ignored all of them. But not anymore. It may have taken 65 years, but now I see a doctor three times a year. I have regular blood pressure, EKGs and urinalysis tests. I’m taking medication for some minor issues and seeing a specialist for one that’s not so minor. And to what do I owe this sudden change of mind? The one thing I never expected to happen to me and the thing I blog about every day. The assisted living facility.
 

At an A.L.F. there is no getting around not seeing a doctor even if I wanted to. I need a regular evaluation to qualify for many of my benefits. The facility also requires regular exams so they can design a personalized care-plan.
 
And, though I hate to admit it, because the facility took the steps to insure our contracting the virus is kept to a minimum, they probably saved my life. I don’t know what would have become of me if I were alone and on my own.
 
Call it fate, but we must all live with the hand they deal us. Some of us, unfortunately, never read the cards and fold too early. While others play a cautious game and miss out on the fun. The trick is to win some and lose less, enjoy the company and cash-out when you’ve had enough.


We are taking the weekend off and will return on Monday with more.………. 
 
 




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New Ideas to Make Long-Term Care
Insurance Cheaper and Better

What is the largest uninsured financial risk older Americans confront? The potentially crippling cost of long-term care.

Approximately half of Americans turning 65 on the day you read this column will need some kind of long-term care and support services sometime. You might think that most of them would buy long-term care insurance, since insurance pools resources to protect against an unpredictable, potentially devastating expense.

Yet only 11% of people 60 and over have a private long-term care (LTC) insurance policy. Sales have shriveled since the early 2000s; just 57,000 policies were sold in 2018, a fraction of the 754,000 in 2002. Only about a dozen companies even sell long-term care insurance, down markedly from over 100 about 20 years ago.



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5 secret identity theft scams targeting senior citizens

Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. Some of the products written about in this article are offered in affiliation with Yahoo Life's parent company, Verizon Media.

Imagine finally paying your mortgage off at age 65, only to find out that another loan was recently acquired in your name—and now creditors are demanding payment from you. Or logging into your bank account at age 70 to discover that your entire retirement savings has been depleted overnight.


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Understanding the magnitude of
the U.S. coronavirus death toll
By William Brangham:

The slow beat of bells at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, 200 tolls as the nation approached 200,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus.

It's a daunting number, one that's hard to fully grasp. It's nearly twice as many Americans who've been killed in every major conflict since the Korean War combined.

So, as the country marks this solemn occasion, we felt it important to take a moment to lay out what the numbers tell us so far. It's been 242 days since the first reported case of this novel coronavirus in the United States. Since then, there have been nearly seven million more reported across all 50 states.




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Structural Racism Worsens the Pandemic
For Black and Latinx Elders

Being an “essential worker.” Living in a crowded nursing home. Having an underlying health condition. These are all factors that put people at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Circumstances like these are reality for many, but they impact an unequal number of older people of color because of a lifetime experiencing structural racism, says a new research essay called “The Color of COVID-19.”

Exposure to racism over a lifetime undermines health and accelerates biological aging.

On top of the risk of contracting the virus, research shows adults 65 and older are more than seven times as likely as younger adults to die from COVID-19. And among all older adults, older Latinx people have death rates approximately two times higher than older white people, and for older Black people the rate is approximately three times higher.



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Are GOP politicians ready to
 sacrifice senior citizens?
By Alan Marder

I am retired, 73 years old and living in fear for my wife’s and my life every day. If many of you are like me, you have been scratching your heads and attempting to figure out how our COVID-19 response could possibly be so different and deadlier than other countries around the world. As seniors we have looked to our President and the administration for answers but it is all so confusing. So many seniors have become infected and so many have died with what we thought was through total abandonment and mismanagement.

It seems there has been a plan and it has been treated by Trump, the administration, Republican governors and senators as a double secret-secret. It is directly targeted at us seniors. This plan leaked in the early days but we didn’t put the pieces together. Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin first let it slip when he said on May 15:

“I’m not denying what a nasty disease COVID-19 can be, and how it’s obviously devastating to somewhere between 1 and 3.4 percent of the population,” he said. Later he said “… getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population (and) I think probably far less.”



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What are signs, symptoms, best treatments for
Alzheimer’s disease? Expert weighs in
By Keith Dunlap


With Monday being World Alzheimer’s Day, it’s a good reminder that this is a disease that is still an issue for the short term and will be for the long term, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and deaths from it increased 146% between 2000 and 2018, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In 2020, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost the United States $305 billion. By 2050, that figure is expected to reach $1.1 trillion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In light of that, many understandably wonder what the signs of Alzheimer’s disease are, what behaviors usually plague some with the disease and what is the best way to treat and socialize with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.



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NEXT BLOG MONDAY SEPT. 28TH 2020


Though not required, please feel free to add your email or website to your comments




09.24.20




How I Went Without The Internet…
For 9 Hours.
(Oh, The Horror)
5 minutes

Last night had to be one of the worst nights of recent times. Sometime around 1am, I found myself staring at an almost blank TV screen.
 
I began my usual nightly routine by settling comfortably in my recliner. Next to me I had an ice cold bottle of water and a ham and cheese sandwich salvaged from the previous day's lunch. It was late for me. Almost 9pm.

 
I clicked the remote which took me to the Netflix channel where I watched the last episode of “Ratched”, a series I highly recommend. That over, I searched for something else settling on “Humans”. It’s about robots that try to become human. I fell asleep half-way through.

 I awakened shortly after 1 o’clock and tried to resume the program but I was confronted with an error message that warned “I was not connected to the WiFi.” After trying to reconnect with no luck and considering the lateness of the hour, I waited until morning to straighten it out. Unfortunately, the fix was not in my control.

The first thing I do upon getting out of bed is to stumble over to the computer, boot it up and hit the “POST” button which sends this blog on its way to the thousands… okay dozens… of readers. But alas. The little icon which tells me I have a connection to the facility’s WiFi network was not on. My heart sank with the realization that, not only would I not be able to post my blog, but  without the internet WHAT THE HECK WOULD I HAVE TO KEEP ME BUSY ALL MORNING?
 
I immediately began a search for other routers near me. Sometimes the houses just outside of our fence don’t secure their networks, which allows anyone in reach to log on. Unfortunately, this was not one of those days. A cold sweat formed on the back of my neck as panic set in. We had never been down for more than a few minutes. Seven hours had now gone by. Questions formed in my mind.
 
“Was anybody out there?” “Were they aware of the malfunction?” “Could they fix it?” “Should I call 911?”

 When communication with other humans is put to the test, the ability to converse with friends and relatives, even virtually, is very important. And for us, here in one of the most isolated places in the state, having such a means of communicating with one another is more crucial than ever. Happily, they restored the network by about 10am and I could get my internet fix before it did any permanent damage to my psyche. But having no access to what is our primary mode of gathering the news and information about what is happening in this very crazy world of ours  made me nervous.
 
Am I addicted? Yes. But it’s not all my fault.
 
I’ve been using computers since the late 1980s and the internet since 1991. How could anyone, sitting in front of a computer screen for 8 to 10 hours a day, not be hooked? We have become as dependent on it as any opioid ever invented. But if you think the internet is something we don’t need, just remember. They said the same thing about TV and look where that got us.…………………………. 









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CMS Proposes Medicare Coverage of Certain New Medical Devices,
Clarification of “Reasonable and Necessary” Definition

On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that, if finalized, would establish a Medicare coverage pathway to provide Medicare beneficiaries with faster access to new, innovative medical devices designated as “breakthrough” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This proposed rule follows the October 3, 2019 Executive Order that requested CMS clarify coverage standards and consider adopting market-based policies. If/when the proposed rule is finalized, the Medicare Coverage of Innovative Technology (MCIT) pathway would begin national Medicare coverage on the date of FDA market authorization and would continue for four years. The MCIT proposal would also clarify the “reasonable and necessary” standard that CMS uses to determine whether Medicare should cover a drug, device, or biologic.

National Medicare Coverage of Breakthrough Devices

Currently, FDA authorization of a device is followed by an often lengthy and costly process to determine Medicare coverage for that device. Under the proposed rule, Medicare would provide national coverage immediately upon the date of FDA market authorization (i.e., the date the medical device receives Premarket Approval (PMA), 510(k) clearance, or the granting of a De Novo classification request) for a breakthrough device, for a period of four years. In order to qualify as a breakthrough device, the product “must provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of a life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating human disease or condition” and must also be considered a “breakthrough technology” or provide “a treatment option when no other cleared or approved alternatives exist.” After the four-year period, CMS could reevaluate the device based on clinical and real-world evidence of improvement in health outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries.


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Older adults are younger than
they were 30 years ago
By Nancy Clanton

Men and women ages 75-80 right now have better muscle strength, walking speed, reaction speed, verbal fluency, reasoning and working memory than people of the same age 30 years ago, a new study finds.

“Performance-based measurements describe how older people manage in their daily life, and at the same time, the measurements reflect one’s functional age,” said professor Taina Rantanen, principal investigator of the study.
ExploreAging in Atlanta: A series dedicated to serving the 55+ community in the metro Atlanta area

The study, conducted at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, compared the physical and cognitive performance of people nowadays between the ages of 75 and 80 with that of the same-age people in the 1990s.


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How to Adjust to the Ongoing
Stress of the Pandemic

“I don’t know.”

As a practicing psychotherapist, an “I don’t know” response typically inspires deeper investigation. I am prone to ask, “What don’t you know? You don’t know that you want to think about it? You don’t know that you want to talk about it?”

Today that therapeutic exchange would be moot, as we live in such a complex and critically demanding time: A pandemic rages on, social unrest is activated by unveiled racism not seen since the 60s, political distrust is tribal and fragmented through polarized beliefs and we are globally diminished by the unmooring of reliable anchors to the greater good.

“I don’t know” has become a legitimate way of describing our personal experience.




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Middle-Aged Americans Report
More Pain Than Seniors
By Amy Norton


Middle-aged Americans are living with more physical pain than older adults are -- and the problem is concentrated among the less-educated, a new study finds.

The pattern may seem counterintuitive, since older age generally means more chronic health conditions and wear-and-tear on the body. And the middle-age pain peak is not seen in other wealthy countries, researchers said.

But as in other areas of health, there seems to be a dividing line among Americans, the study found. It's relatively less-educated people who are reporting more pain in middle age -- and it's because they are suffering more pain throughout life than older generations did.




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Biden's six best bets in 2016 Trump states

The good news for Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate Trump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' MORE is that he is tied or leading in the top six battleground states that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE won in 2016. The bad news is he doesn’t have an insurmountable lead in any of them.

These six states stretch across the Frost Belt and Sun Belt states. In the Midwest, the swing states stretch from the Great Lakes to the bellowing steel mills of Western Pennsylvania, across the industrial Midwest, to the auto factories of Michigan and Wisconsin. The competition is also hot and heavy in the sunny climes of North Carolina and Florida in the Southeast and Arizona in the Southwest.

These six states represent 101 electoral votes and Biden has a shot at them all. If he holds all the states that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Poll: 51 percent of voters want to abolish the electoral college MORE won in 2016, he only needs to win 43 of the votes in these six states for an Electoral College majority.




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How older workers can prepare for job loss
By Chris Farrell

For many experienced workers with retirement savings and a home to call their own, the biggest financial risk they face currently is losing their jobs. Retirement portfolios have gained in value and home prices have gone up during the pandemic recession.

The job market is another story, as we well know. By the end of the second quarter 2.9 million workers ages 55 to 70 had left the labor force, according to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School. The layoffs have hit women and minorities particularly hard.

Employers may be reluctant to hire older applicants over concerns about their susceptibility to COVID-19. When older workers do find a job it often pays less than their previous employment.





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NEXT BLOG FRIDAY SEPT. 25TH 2020


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09.23.20



At The A.L.F.:
It’s The Worst Of Times,
And Getting Worse.
5 minutes

I thought, I’ve handled this whole virus-lockdown-quarantine-virtual imprisonment thing fairly well. Maybe it results from having been in a situation like this before [1], or because I have this blog to keep me busy, or because I’m on anti-depression medication or all three. But now, after six months of this crap, I think it’s finally getting to me.
 
It could be just the miserable routine I’ve settled into or just the change in seasons. Or should I say the lack of seasons? Maybe it’s because this assault to the mind and body began before Spring and now, as if in a flash, it’s Fall and we have nothing but a long, cold, bleak Winter to look forward to that’s causing me to feel ill.

 I know part of what I am feeling has to do with allergies. The ragweed count has gone up here in Westchester, and sometimes it feels that every one of those 24 grains per cubic meter of air is going up my nose. Maybe they’re meeting some Covid germs in there and are duking it out for supremacy of my nasal passages. All this congestion, sneezing and coughing is not helping much. It also 
makes me think I may be more vulnerable to the virus. But it’s more than just the symptoms of seasonal transition that are making me feel lousy. In addition, I’m feeling tired and listless and sometimes just the thought of having to do anything puts me into a state of despair. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I’m exhibiting all the signs of depression. While I could ask my shrink to increase my meds, there may be something else that has triggered this malaise. The realization that I’m getting old and I’m not dealing with it very well.  

Until this year, age was just a number on a form or a license. It didn’t matter how old I was chronologically, what mattered was how well I could carry on my usual activities given my body’s obvious deterioration. I know I’m not the same as I was 20 years ago. For instance, 19 years ago I could walk the nearly 10 miles I did on 9-11 2001 just to get home with ease. Now, I can barely walk the distance to the patio some 100 steps away from my door. And then, when I get there, I plop myself down in a chair, tired and winded as if I had just run a marathon. Maybe it is more psychological than I think. Maybe having reached that milestone number of 75 and, during a massive epidemic no less, has made my position in the scheme of things more pronounced.
 
As of now, I’m feeling protected. They have subjected me to the most stringent anti-infection control procedures available. From isolation to masks, vitamins, weekly health checks, testing, hand washing, surface cleaning, and social distancing, I am probably in one of the safest places in the entire County. And yet, I’m afraid. Not about the virus, but more about how the loss of all this valuable living-time will affect how I view the world and life. It seems to me, nobody knows what they are doing and couldn’t care less. Especially about me. Sometimes it’s tough to feel as if you’re feeling forgotten………


[1]We were quarantined for about 3 weeks once a few years ago due to a Norovirus outbreak.







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How the Pandemic Has
Increased Suicidal Thoughts

For most of us, the pandemic is the first time we’ve experienced long-term physical separation from others. Even the most introverted among us needs that in-person connection, even if it’s just to say hello to a cashier at the grocery store.

Not only has loneliness increased during COVID-19, but along with it has come an increase in depression and suicidal thoughts, according to research published in the August 2020 issue of Psychiatry Research.

A chilling statistic: In a June 2020 survey by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), 10.7% of respondents said they had seriously considered suicide in the 30 days prior to completing the survey. Compare this to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, where 4.3% of adults had considered suicide.


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Poor health linked to disparities in
internet use among older adults

Increasingly, everyday activities and services are shifting online, making the ability to use the internet an essential skill. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digital connectivity, especially for older and vulnerable adults, for their continued contact with family and friends. Digital Ambassadors, a Singapore Government initiative to ensure all Singaporeans have access to the fundamental digital tools, helps older adults learn how to use technological tools.

Analyzing data from almost 4,000 older Singaporeans who took part in a national survey conducted by Duke-NUS' Centre for Ageing Research & Education (CARE) in 2016-2017, the team found that one in 15 respondents had difficulties using the internet because of poor health. And 57 per cent did not use the internet because of other reasons.

Our findings suggest that health-related difficulties are relevant in understanding the digital divide between the young and the old. Concurrent with optimizing the health of older persons, policymakers should consider supporting research and development into assistive technology and design aimed at helping older internet users overcome health-related difficulty in internet use."



________________________________________________________________

Some assisted living facilities start to allow
visitation as morale of residents drops
By Austin Kemker


While the state has slowly been able to open up and get back to lives that have some semblance of normalcy, parents, and grandparents living in nursing homes and retirement communities are still largely isolated and cut off from loved ones.

Many were hopeful visitation would resume in Phase 3 but Governor Edwards squashed those hopes when he announced only parishes with less than a five percent positivity rate for COVID would be eligible to have homes open up to outside guests.

Some facilities have found that isolation has taken a toll that’s nearly as bad COVID-19 for some residents. One of the owners of Lake Sherwood Retirement Community, Neil Juneau, says the morale of residents became so bad, they had to start opening up. They were only able to do so though because it’s a privately-owned facility and isn’t bound by the state’s restrictions because it isn’t licensed.




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A Pandemic Upshot: Seniors Are Having
Second Thoughts About Where to Live
By Judith Graham

Where do we want to live in the years ahead?

Older adults are asking this question anew in light of the ongoing toll of the coronavirus pandemic — disrupted lives, social isolation, mounting deaths. Many are changing their minds.

Some people who planned to move to senior housing are now choosing to live independently rather than communally. Others wonder whether transferring to a setting where they can get more assistance might be the right call.

These decisions, hard enough during ordinary times, are now fraught with uncertainty as the economy falters and COVID-19 deaths climb, including tens of thousands in nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Continue reading  >> 




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Social Security and Medicare are
on the ballot this November

Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's son, Rep. James Roosevelt, Sr., founded our organization to protect Social Security and Medicare in 1982, we have not endorsed presidential candidates, focusing instead on congressional races. Until now. For the first time in 38 years, we are throwing our weight behind Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally Special counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report MORE for President of the United States. As an organization rooted in the social insurance policies of FDR's New Deal — and after observing relentless attacks on lifeline programs like Social Security and Medicare — we could not in good conscience remain neutral this year. 

For us, the straw that broke the camel's back was the president's reckless payroll tax cut, which he unilaterally imposed in an executive order last month. Without hesitation, he interfered with the funding stream for Social Security, going so far as to pledge to "terminate" payroll taxes altogether in his second term. Social Security's chief actuary estimates that if payroll taxes were to be terminated (without replacing the lost revenue), the program's trust fund would run dry by 2023. A president who promises to cut off the revenue for one of our most cherished and successful social insurance programs should not be re-elected. 




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Levels of Care and Costs in Assisted Living
By Elaine K. Howley

For most people, as we age, we start to need a little extra help with everyday tasks. Typically, the human body slows down, gets creaky and often, health issues crop up in the latter years of life. Eventually, some people may need ongoing assistance, and that’s where assisted living communities come in.

This long-term care option can be a huge benefit to seniors who need some help with the activities of daily living but who don’t need as much medical care as you’d find in a nursing home.

These activities include:

    Personal hygiene including bathing, grooming and dressing.
    Eating.
    Toileting.
    Moving and getting around.
    Shopping and meal prep.
    Housework.
    Life and household management.

But living in an assisted living community isn’t just about having help with these activities. “It’s also about belonging to a community ....




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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY SEPT. 24TH 2020


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09.22.20




LOOKING AT A SENIOR LIVING ARTICLE
FROM A RESIDENT'S VIEW
(NOT EVERY “EXPERT” IS AN EXPERT)
10-11 minutes

Editor's note: This is something I have never done, at least not in so many words. And that is to analyze, and possibly pick-apart, some of the suggestions made by panels of so called “experts” who think they know what’s best for people who actually live in long-term senior living residences. 





You can read the article in its entirety here: 


- OR -

You can read an edited version below…


                                   Seven urgent changes needed to fix senior living


The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) brought together 154 senior living industry leaders and analysts to form a task force and spent three months knocking out the new report: Creating a Path Toward the ‘Next Normal’ in Senior Living.

Here are the six key ways the ICAA report said senior living needs to change with my comments on each…

1. Design, redesign and/or renovate exteriors and interiors of buildings

This is about ways to minimize COVID-19 exposure, enhancing safety and providing outdoor space for programs, social connections and individual pursuits.

“There’s always been an expectation that one of the attractions was community rooms where they dined together or watched TV or attended yoga classes,” he said. “That’s all got to be rethought. It may be that more has to occur in rooms, or in a custom-service fashion.”

Comment: The man who wrote this is clueless. The whole purpose of senior living is inclusion and companionship. Not isolation and seclusion. The idea that “more should occur in rooms” is exactly opposite of what is needed. Let him live a week confined to 10 x 12 room eating cold food and see how he likes it.


2. Develop purpose-driven, caring, passionate staff

This recommendation included evaluating the feasibility of “universal worker” staffing; replacing some part-timers with full-time people and providing equitable wages and benefits.

Universal staffing, Kramer said, means consistent, efficient staffing where employees “are able to do more than one thing; they can cook, clean and care, as well as be there as a friend.”

Comment: I agree with the authors take on this suggestion…’’Will senior living operators, many of whom are already feeling pinched, spend the money on higher wages and better benefits for staff? If they pass on the extra costs to residents, will those people have the money to pay for them?”

I’d like to add one thing. In New York State, all healthcare workers have to pass a drug and background check. No convicted felons are permitted to work in a long-term care facility. This limits the potential labor pool, especially for the janitorial and housekeeping staff. And BTW. Our workers already do multiple tasks.

3. Provide technology to increase connections, aid efficiency and optimize health

Among the task force’s suggestions: explore technology solutions to meet the needs of residents, family members and staff; provide high-speed internet; build telehealth into daily operations; provide tablets and computers to all residents; survey residents and staff about their tech knowledge and abilities; train some residents to be tech mentors; hire a tech support staffer; show residents how to use smartphones to track their health and expand telehealth practices to include mental health and rehabilitation practitioners.

“…providing the ability, and training, for residents to conduct telehealth appointments has become essential.

Comment: Every resident who can use a computer, smart phone, tablet etc. already has one. The rest will have nothing to do with them. And, they will refuse to accept training. This means transportation will still have to be provided to doctors and for treatment. Also, most older people want personal contact with their doctors. And let’s not forget the cost aspects of providing people with these devices.


4. Develop the culture of positive aging, framed by all the dimensions of wellness


The task force recommended, among other things: Elevating the wellness/lifestyles leader to the management team; developing a model of “whole-person wellness, purpose and meaning;” developing knowledge of individual residents’ interests, wellness goals, strengths and skills; considering offering rent discounts for those participating in wellness programs and re-examining ageist assumptions that underestimate the physical and cognitive abilities of older adults, preventing them from performing at their true potential.

The isolation many senior living residents have been feeling has been extremely rough on them.

Comment: I agree with most of what is said here. Because of pre-conceived notions, belief in stereotypes and out and out bigotry, many residents are under served.


5. Establish trust by being prepared to respond to emergencies and unexpected events


Among the task force’s recommendations: Relay information to families and referral sources through each property’s website, Facebook and social media messages and email; establish a staffed phone hotline to answer calls during a disaster or emergency; build pipelines to make sure there is an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) on site; upgrade staff training to insure competence in infection control.

Comment: While our facility was extremely quick to act (which resulted in a low number of Covid cases) the communication between administrators, residents and their friends and relatives was very poor. In fairness, that was due to the almost non-existant communication between the DOH and the facilities themselves.


6. Update perceptions to reinforce the new value proposition of each type of senior living


The task force recommended, among other things, commissioning a study comparing social isolation in senior living compared with those living elsewhere; contrasting life experience, infection and death rates among similar-aged groups in independent living, assisted living and memory care against others; possibly retiring the term “retirement community” and the words “senior” and “assisted living” and working to alter the public’s perceptions of aging.

“I think [senior living operators] are wildly unprepared for the next generation,” said Dychtwald. He’s talking about boomers in their late 50s and 60s.

Comment: The problem has always been the confusion between assisted living, independent living and nursing homes. A better PR job has to be done to make sure each segment of long-term care and senior living is clearly defined.


7.One more needed change: affordability

Finally, there’s the issue of affordability.

Three years in a private room in a nursing home costs more than a total of $300,000, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. That’s way more than what most people in their 50s and 60s have in retirement savings, notes the National Institute on Retirement Security.

These days, if you have enough money, you can afford to live in an active-adult community or an independent living development. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville-themed communities (which cost around $250,000 to $400,00 for a property, plus monthly maintenance fees) have been wildly popular. But not everyone has the scratch.

And if you’re very poor, you can generally get Medicaid to cover the cost of living in a nursing home.

But what about the people Kramer calls “the forgotten middle?” Those who are without much in retirement savings, but have too much income and assets for Medicaid.

Comment: Once again, the Middle Class takes it on the chin. The only way to make everyone will have an adequate place to live and provided with the care they need in their later years is through a partnership between private insures, pension plans and 401K-type plans, Medicare, Medicaid and seniors themselves.


People are living longer, but not necessarily better. The disparity between rich and poor seniors reflects the gap between all classes of our society. The field, at least for seniors, has to be evened. There is no reason why someone who has worked hard all of their lives and paid their taxes should have to face a future of homelessness, financial hardship and no one to care for them. It’s not Socialism. It’s compassion…………………………………..







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'I Feel Cheated' —
How Boomers Are Dealing With the COVID-19 Curveball

“These are supposed to be the best years of my life,” says Matt, 64, an account manager for a telecom company in the suburbs of Denver (he prefers not to include his last name for this story). “I’ve been working like a dog for decades, got the kids through college, then saw my marriage fizzle. Now here I am, almost ready to retire, buy the convertible and start dating with a vengeance, and it’s all going up in smoke. Thanks a lot, COVID!”

This ire is going around as some boomers see their anticipated next stage of life evaporate as the pandemic continues to have the globe in its grip.

Of course, those lucky enough to escape the virus are very grateful for their good health. But as the days, weeks, months and now seasons of being on “pause” unfurl, many of those at midlife and later have had it up to here — and then some. Feelings of frustration and even anger can be hard to overcome if your “prime time” gets twisted like a pretzel.


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About half of Americans say their lives will remain changed
in major ways when the pandemic is over


After roughly six months of living amid a pandemic, many Americans expect their lives to remain changed even after the COVID-19 outbreak is over, according to an August Pew Research Center survey of 13,200 Americans.

About half of U.S. adults (51%) say they expect their lives will remain changed in major ways after the pandemic is over, while about the same share (48%) expect a return to normalcy.

How we did this

Pew Research Center conducted this survey to understand how Americans’ lives are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this analysis, we surveyed 13,200 U.S. adults from Aug. 3 to Aug. 16, 2020. Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.


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One in 10 older dental patients
inappropriately prescribed opioids


A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a significant proportion of older patients receiving opioids at dental visits also use psychotropic medications -- a potentially harmful combination. Their findings are published in the journal Pharmacotherapy.

Rates of polypharmacy, or taking multiple medications, are high among older adults who are more likely to be managing more than one health issue at any given time. Psychotropic medications that act on the central nervous system, such as antianxiety or antidepressant medications, are especially dangerous if taken with opioids because they can interact with each other and have negative effects.

"Some of the most concerning negative outcomes of these combinations include overdosing on opioids or falling, which can necessitate a visit to the hospital, which in itself carries greater risk for older adults," said Gregory Calip, associate professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the UIC College of Pharmacy and corresponding author on the paper. 




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Hey Dudes, You Owe Ruth Bader Ginsburg Your Freedom, Too
I mean, she literally fought for a frat boy's right to drink beer.
By Liz Plank


After I heard the news about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, one of the world's most effective feminist trailblazers, tears streamed down my face. Then I started receiving texts from male friends telling me they'll be remembering everything she did for women. But the sentiment didn’t fill me with comfort—it filled me with anger. While I appreciate the intention, kind words are not going to restore democracy and help protect the decades of progress Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to cement.

But more importantly, RBG didn't just fight for women's rights. She fought for everyone's rights. She didn't just include men in her endeavors. She actively sought to defend and protect them from the same gender caste system that trapped women. She showed men just how much they had to lose, too.


Consider the 1975 landmark gender discrimination case, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, in which she helped a male widower earn access to his wife's social security benefits, reversing a law that gave women access to their husband’s benefits but not the other way around. The assumption was that women always made less than their male partners. RBG didn’t just want to prove that women shouldn’t be trapped by this outdated notion of their "dependent" status—she also wanted to liberate men from the expectation of being the sole provider.



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A huge deal for campaign disclosure:
Trump's tax records for Biden's medical records

When someone in politics doesn’t disclose information, the question is not whether they are hiding something, but what. Was there a rationale for President Nixon’s refusal to produce the tapes? Could there have been motivation for President Clinton’s denial under oath of his personal relationship with Monica Lewinsky? How about Clinton’s questioning the definition of “is” when confronted with what he later acknowledged was perjury? Did Gary Hart really mean it when he said, “follow me?” Then we have John Edwards’s mistress, Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra and many others. Abuse of power and sex scandals have reached the office of the presidency and candidates who want to occupy it, always preceded by frantic concealment efforts.

Presidential health also is fertile ground for smokescreens. A Washington Post article from the last campaign by Joel Achenbach and Lillian Cunningham describes many health evasions over the years. Woodrow Wilson’s stroke was not disclosed for months.  Grover Cleveland had cancer surgery on a yacht to hide it from the public. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE’s Addison’s Disease was completely covered up. Going the other way, Lyndon Johnson may have provided a bit too much disclosure when publicly revealing his gall bladder surgery scar.



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COVID-19 & Your Money:
What You Need to Know Now

Massive unemployment means extended periods of unemployment for those losing their jobs.

Since April, more than 52 million Americans have lost their jobs. Tens of millions more are working from home. If you’re in either situation, you’re spending less on gasoline and auto maintenance than you were before the crisis began. You’re probably also not dining out, going to movie theaters, sending clothes to the dry cleaners or traveling as much (or at all).

The reduction or cessation of these activities means you’re probably spending less money each month than you were last winter. Add in the threat that you might experience a sustained reduction of income, and you find yourself with an excellent opportunity and need to increase the amount of money you have in cash reserves.

How much should you keep in cash reserves? First, determine how much you spend each month. Consider only the costs you cannot avoid, such as rent/mortgage, utilities (including internet), food, medicine and insurance. (In a crisis everything else — like Netflix, sorry — is tossable.) Your reserves should enable you to pay for these expenses for up to two years.




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NEXT BLOG WEDNESDAY SEPT. 23RD 2020


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09.21.20




Six Months Late And A Lot Short
4 minutes

We received the following memo late Friday evening...




How Munificent Of Them

While I am thrilled this day has arrived, it comes after over 6 months of the New York State Department of Health and the Governor dragging their collective feet. They had no plan and no intention of devising one until residents and their friends and relatives put pressure on them to act. The late-to-the-game organizations that represent long-term care facilities in our state are equally complicit, as are many owners and administrators of the facilities.

Okay, we now have a half-assed plan for allowing very short, very restricted visits. Hooray! Now what about all of our other needs? When will we see our activities return? When will they allow us to interact with one another? When will communal dining resume? Will we have to wait another 6 months?
 
The DOH thinks, just because they have been so magnanimous in throwing us this very lean bone, they can go back to being their usual complacent selves content to let us wallow in this mire for as long as needed to clear their consciences of past wrongdoings. I know a big steaming pile of anal-retentive crap when I smell it.

We have no advocates.

By allowing visits, the state has essentially neutralized the only support we (residents) had. Nobody else will put themselves out to get us what we really need. As long as our friends and relatives got their 30 minutes of “guilt” visits and can see for themselves that mom hasn’t shriveled away to nothing and that dad isn’t walking around talking to himself than, as far as they are concerned, everything is just hunky dory. They either don’t know or don’t care that visitations may be the least of what we need. And because we will never make our needs known, they will continue to keep us in limbo, hovering in the twilight between safety and imprisonment.

The governor and his henchman, the NY State Health Commissioner, couldn't care less about our emotional condition. As along as the death toll doesn’t surge into the stratosphere like it did in March and April, it’s okay if we are locked-in and locked down with nothing to do and no place to go. They think old people don’t know the difference. And if they do, they won’t make waves. So they are content to allow the status to remain Quo until somebody says something or brings attention to the injustice they are imposing on the residents of over 500 [1] ALFs in the state.

I have tried, through posts on this blog, Facebook and other social media sites to tell the story of what we are facing here and how the prospects for a speedy change or modification of our present state are dim to none. There is nothing in the pipeline. No evidence that they are even thinking of allowing us the simple rights afforded to practically everyone else in this country. It appears, “With liberty and justice for all’’ extends only as far as the front door of our building……..........................

[1] That’s aprox. 80,000 to 100,000 people.


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A pandemic upshot:
Seniors are having second thoughts about where to live

By Judith Graham

Where do we want to live in the years ahead? Older adults are asking this question anew in light of the ongoing toll of the coronavirus pandemic — disrupted lives, social isolation, mounting deaths. Many are changing their minds.

Some people who planned to move to senior housing are now choosing to live independently rather than communally. Others wonder whether transferring to a setting where they can get more assistance might be the right call.

These decisions, hard enough during ordinary times, are now fraught with uncertainty as the economy falters and Covid-19 deaths climb, including tens of thousands in nursing homes and assisted living centers.

Teresa Ignacio Gonzalvo and her husband, Jaime, both 68, chose to build a house rather than move into a continuing care retirement community when they relocate from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Indianapolis later this year to be closer to their daughters.

Having heard about lockdowns around the country because of the coronavirus, Gonzalvo said, "We've realized we're not ready to lose our independence."


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3 ways the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination
plan involves assisted living


A new “playbook” for public health officials shares three ways that federal and other efforts related to the development and distribution of a vaccine against COVID-19 will affect senior living: implementation, prioritization and provision of vaccination services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday released a 57-page “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations” to help state and local public health programs plan and operationalize their vaccination responses to COVID-19. The document will be updated with new information as needed, CDC director Robert R. Redfield, M.D., said on a call with members of the media.

The playbook recommends that state and local governments establish implementation committees to “enhance development of plans, reach of activities, and risk/crisis response communication messaging and delivery.” Such groups, the document notes, should include representation from long-term care facilities such as assisted living communities and nursing homes.


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Baby boomers delaying retirement
because of COVID pandemic



The coronavirus pandemic has spared very few in its impact in 2020. One in four baby boomers say they are delaying retirement due to the uncertainty surrounding their investment portfolio.  Entering their final stage of life without a solid financial plan is unnerving for those nearing retirement. Independent financial planning advisor Mike Reeves of Strategic Wealth Designers says building a robust, safe financial plan is imperative to navigate the recession that investors are facing.

“Unfortunately, right now a lot of people are flying a plane without landing gear.  Their investments are a hodge-podge of assets accumulated of 20 or 30 years but their really isn’t a sound financial planning strategy in place,” Reeves says. “We see clients all the time who come in with a bunch of statements but they really don’t know if their investments are working together and what kind of safety nets are in place to protect against the huge crash like we saw in early March.”

For one in four baby boomers to feel like they must push off retirement, typically means they haven’t worked with a financial professional or the advice they have been given has not protected their assets in a manner that gives them a peace of mind to be able to retire. Many are concerned that not only are their investments volatile but having a full Social Security benefit will not be available to them either. Reeves says build a financial plan that makes Social Security an add-on bonus and not a significant need for everyday life.



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Health system clinicians perform better under
Medicare value-based reimbursement

By Jeff Lagasse

Clinicians who were affiliated with health systems had better performance scores and received fewer payment penalties and more payment bonuses under the Medicare merit-based incentive payment system than clinicians not affiliated with health systems, found a team led by Kenton Johnston, an associate professor of health management and policy at Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice.

The investigation of the association between health system affiliations of clinicians and their performance scores and payments under Medicare value-based reimbursement was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Outpatient physicians' payments from Medicare will be increasingly tied to their performance under MIPS, with the authors estimating that payment penalties and bonuses will hit 9% of total Medicare reimbursement by 2022. Maximizing success in MIPS, they found, will require the management, administration and technological infrastructure to report performance measures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.




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Old People Elected Trump.
 Will They Make Him a One-Term President?

By Jim Newell

The Trump campaign isn’t subtle. In an ad over the summer titled “Break In,” an older white woman is watching news coverage about activist demands to “defund the police” when she spots a burglar scouting her home’s perimeter and begins to dial 911. As the burglar attempts to force his way in, we hear Sean Hannity’s voice coming from the television, talking about how Joe Biden is “absolutely on board with defunding the police.” Before the woman can alert the authorities, the intruder crowbars his way into the home. He approaches her, and, following an implied assault, the phone falls to the ground.

“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” the screen reads.

The ad is a lurid rehash of Trump’s 2016 campaign strategy: using fear of American carnage to mobilize elderly white voters. The political problem that the Trump campaign now faces, though, is that those voters—older, white women, specifically—don’t feel safe in Donald Trump’s America.




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Can You Transfer Your Medicare and Medicaid Plans
When You Move to Another State?


If you plan to move states, can you take your Medicare or Medicaid plans with you? The answer depends on whether you have original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicaid.

Medicare...

If you have original Medicare (Plans A and B), you can move anywhere in the country and you should still be covered. Medicare is a federal program, run by the federal government, so it doesn’t matter what state you are in as long as your provider accepts Medicare. Your Medigap plan should also continue to cover you in the new state, but your premiums may change when you move. The exception is if you move to Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin because those states have their own specific Medigap plans.

Both Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medicare Advantage plans have defined service areas, which may or may not cover more than one state. If you have Part D or Medicare Advantage, you will need to determine if your new address falls within the plan’s service area. When you move to a new service area, you have a special enrollment period in which to change plans outside of the annual open enrollment period (which runs October 15th through December 7th). If you tell your current plan before you move, your special enrollment period begins the month before you move and continues for two full months after you move. If you tell your plan after you move, your chance to switch plans begins the month you tell your plan, plus two more full months.



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      Our director of case management has just informed us that, starting Monday, September 21, after 6 months, we will be permitted visitors on a limited basis. I will have more on this in the next blog.

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09.18.20



I Need To Cook Something
7 minutes


I wouldn’t have believed it. The one thing I really miss after moving to this assisted living facility is cooking.
 
As I have mentioned, because of “regulations” they don’t permit any “heat producing appliance” in our rooms and we must bring any food that needs re-heating to the one inconveniently located microwave oven they allow residents to use. This makes the possibility of ever having fresh-cooked food nearly impossible. Even if we receive a home-cooked meal from friends or relatives, there is no practical way to heat it up. The only food available that's not cooked here, in our kitchen, is takeout, which is expensive and limited to only a few choices.


I would never describe myself as a gourmet cook, or even an innovative one. However, I do have one particular talent. I can make a decent meal out of almost anything. It’s not a trick. It’s a matter of knowing what foods go well with others, how to cook it in a way that blends the flavors and textures together without winding up with soup, and how and with what to season it all to bring out the flavor. The skill comes more out of necessity than an actual desire to create a meal.
 
I had been “batching” it for many years [1] which usually means I ate out a lot, or ordered food delivered. This was fine when I had a well-paying job and could afford the luxury. But after being laid-off, and having no prospects of ever finding a job whose pay would allow me to even have a meal in a diner more than once-a-week, I realized the only way I would ever eat anything decent again was to make it myself. Fortunately, I had a mother that was not only a superb cook, but encouraged me to take part in the art of food preparation at an early age. They were mostly simple and basic skills but it made me appreciate the food I ate.
 
Though, at 6 or 7, I could not actually cook scrambled eggs, my mom showed me the proper way to beat an egg. I learned not to whip the heck out of it, but to stir it in such a way as to incorporate air into them, making for fluffy rather than dense scrambled eggs. Usually, just allowing a kid to break an egg was a big deal, let alone beat one. This continued over the years and by 11 or 12, I was making my breakfast and sandwiches and even the occasional burger or hot dog. Little did I realize the ability to cook for myself would come in handy some day. Not only as a way of saving money, but as a way to nurture my creative side. Something I find the need for more and more lately.

Any activities requiring the creative process are virtually non-existent. Because of the virus there are no arts and crafts and the access to materials is limited. Add that to the food being just so damn bad and you have a group of people who are quickly becoming sullen, disoriented and forlorn. The “art” of creating something, either from scratch or even from prepared ingredients, would mean so much to all of us.
 
I have never had the urge to flip a burger, grill a piece of salmon, make an omelet or stir-fry something more than I have at the present time. I need to feel my food again. I want to form a meatball, peel an eggplant and pound a chicken breast again.
 
I miss the smell of fresh food. The scent of fresh-brewed coffee in the morning. A warm slice of hot-buttered toast or a grilled cheese sandwich. Being able to enjoy an un-shriveled slice of bacon and two sunny side up fried eggs would be a godsend.
 
I know some of you are laughing at me. And, I suppose, describing cooking as being akin to creating a symphony or a painting may be a stretch. But the ability to eat, not just food that meets the minimum requirements of some government agency, but something that you actually enjoy, cannot be taken lightly.
 
We may never know who the first person to throw a piece of meat on a fire was. But I will bet you. Once he learned how to do it, he took pride in what he had created. And maybe even more satisfaction when he served some of what he made to the couple in the next cave. Meals are something we should share and enjoy with others. Something else they have denied us since the quarantine began.
 
There are some places that permit residents to microwave food in their rooms. If this is important to you, and thinking about moving to a long-term care or assisted living facility, make sure you understand the rules and regulations before you sign. While it may not be a big deal now, after you have eaten another soggy sandwich or room temperature spaghetti or chicken fingers for the umpteenth time you will beg for the chance to eat something you cooked.…………………………………. .
 


[1] After my divorce. Not that the ex was much of a cook, but she tried.





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New 'Three's Company'
a modern-day solution in Colorado Springs
By Mary Shinn

The high cost of housing in Colorado Springs helped to bring roommates Kimberly Bolding, Ardene Hagadorn and Louis John Vastine together in what they like to think of as a modern, more mature version of "Three’s Company," the late 1970s to early '80s television sitcom about two women and a man who share — platonically — a Santa Monica, Calif., apartment.

The shared housing is a creative alternative to formal senior housing that they believe could work for others.

The seniors faced serious medical and financial challenges before finding each other and hope to establish a new family of sorts to support one another, rather than turning to assisted living, where they fear they would be socially and physically isolated.


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Grandma Wants Digital Banking Too —
Don't Ignore Her Needs
By Jake Levant


Banks that speak about digitizing often focus on attracting Generation Z and millennials. While these groups are important, another crucial demographic is being left out of the conversation: senior citizens. 

All the reasons that banks want to shift other customers to digital banking — cost-effectiveness, efficiency, improved CX — apply to seniors as well. And considering that 83% of U.S. household wealth is held by people over 50, this is a group with considerable financial clout. It’s about time to start bringing grandma and grandpa on the digital banking bandwagon.

However, more work needs to be done to streamline online banking. Today’s digital banking offerings are characterized by broken journeys, insufficient human input and overly complex security measures. To capture the emerging senior interest in digital banking, customers need to address and adapt to their needs. 


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Should seniors take extra precautions
against COVID-19 this fall? Experts weigh in
By Kerry Breen

As the coronavirus pandemic continues and flu season begins, leading to concerns of a "twindemic" in the United States, health experts are urging those who are high-risk for either or both illnesses to limit their social bubbles to stay healthy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, said on Sept. 10 that people needed to prepare to "hunker down and get through this fall and winter."

“We've been through this before,” Fauci said. “Don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don't try and look at the rosy side of things."

Despite Fauci's "cautious optimism" that a coronavirus vaccine will be developed this year, experts say that for those who have underlying health conditions or are over the age of 60, it's extremely important to limit your social bubble during the next few months.




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From Nana to PopPop:
 How Grandparents Get Their Names

Bigi. Gigi. Babcia (pronounced bahp-cha). Dziadziu (pronounced JAH-Joo). Donk. Meema. Popeye (a boat was involved). Welcome to the interesting world of naming grandparents.


“They call me Mom Mom Cherry because when my two oldest granddaughters were little and I would visit, they would always go into my purse and put on my lipstick which was cherry flavored, and that’s how they knew me from the other grandmoms,” explained OHara of Millsboro, Del.

When it comes to grandparent names, you don’t always have a choice, as Lord Grantham of PBS’ “Downton Abbey“ realized. His granddaughter, Sibbie, addressed him as Donk. The nickname was a reference to a donkey, as in Pin the Tail on the Donkey.




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Biden Campaign Launches Legal Operation
 In Anticipation Of November Election Fights
By Matt Perez

Former vice president Joe Biden's campaign announced on Monday a new legal team in preparation over voting challenges surrounding the November presidential election, as President Trump continues to spread disinformation regarding the election and his campaign enters legal battles to restrict access to mail-in ballots amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, depart the Delaware State ... [+] Building after early voting in the state’s primary election. Biden has scheduled campaign stops in Florida, Pennsylvania and Minnesota later this week.

Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus and former White House counsel Bob Bauer will lead the operation, which will oversee state-level legal challenges, work to chip away at voter suppression efforts and mitigate the threat of foreign interference, according to the New York Times.




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Getting Rid of Your Stuff:
Tips From the 'Friends Talk Money' Podcast


Getting rid of stuff that’s taking up space in your home can be tough — even for money experts.

That was made painfully clear on the new episode of the “Friends Talk Money” podcast I co-host with Terry Savage (personal finance syndicated columnist and author of “The Savage Truth on Money”) and Pam Krueger (the “MoneyTrack” public television host and founder of the financial adviser vetting firm WealthRamp). You can listen to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts or at the end of this article.

Savage sheepishly confided that her home is cluttered with boxes of her tax returns going back to the 1970s. “I still have my son’s baby carriage in it and my rocking horse from when I was a little girl,” she said. “So do not ask me how to give things away.”

Do You Really Need to Pay For a Storage Unit?




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09.17.20



Politics As A Spectator Sport

8 minutes

Usually I wouldn’t care a flying fig about politics or politicians. I have always found the whole subject boring, and those involved in it some of the dullest people around. After all, aren’t most of them lawyers?
 
Not that I didn’t vote or care who runs the country. I’m not so dense to believe that it doesn’t matter whose hand is at the helm. I believed that, because of the marvelous system of checks and balances our founders built into our constitution I would be safe from any wild and woolly legislation or, legislator. And, I believed that, although the president has significant power, there would always be cooler, calmer heads around to temper any boiling pot.
 
Therefore, when election time rolled around, I would listen to what the candidates said, took each promise with a grain of salt and voted for the man (or woman) who would be best for our nation and for me. This is something I have done for every election since 1968, when I cast my ballot for Hubert H. Humphrey. I was on the verge of being drafted into a war I was not particularly inclined to fight, and I believed the Democrats had the best plan for ending it. Unfortunately, the rest of the nation didn’t see it my way and elected Nixon. Oh well, there were dopey people even back then.

That was then, and now… well… it’s different. Not only have I grown as a voter, but the nation has become more aware of who they vote for has consequences for their jobs, their finances and their lives.
 
I thought with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, America had finally reached adulthood. What a magnificent symbol for a nation. Older nations have always thought of as the new kids on the block. A country innovative on one hand and eager to pick a fight on the other, and always that hint of racism that kept us from becoming as truly great  nation. And, when we elected Obama for a second term, I was sure we had made significant changes . Unfortunately, we failed to believe in our slogans. The words “And crown thy good with brotherhood”, and “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” became just so much lip service. The 2016 election showed that, not only had we not grown up, we reverted to our very troubled childhood.

This election is, to paraphrase both candidates, like no election ever. We have learned, the hard way, that who we vote for is important and has a direct effect on almost every aspect of our lives. Personally, it has made me aware the system that I naively thought would protect us from incompetent mad-men and their misogyny isn’t fool-proof. Our forefathers goofed when they allowed the president to nominate Supreme Court justices and to appoint federal judges without additional approval. Thank heaven for the House of Representatives, who may be the only barrier we have left that can protect us from the right-wing wacko’s.
 

In less than 50 days we will go to the polls or the mailbox. [1] to vote, not on just who will lead this nation for another 4 years, but on the direction we will go for many years to come. As of now, we still have a chance to undo what the current administration has done. And to at least start on a plan by which we really can have universal healthcare, free or affordable higher education for all, and a justice system that actually is blind.
 
I forced myself to watch the president on ABC Tuesday night in what they billed as an open, no questions barred, give and take with real voters. While the questions may have been straight and to the point, the answer’s given by Mr. Trump were more like the campaign speeches he makes to those hoards of drooling MAGA hat wearing dinosaurs he likes to surround himself with. He distorted the truth and contradicted himself so many times my neck hurt. I thought I was watching a tennis match where one player (the president) had a giant racquet and the opponents left with only a ping-pong paddle. And, when he committed a foul, he completely ignored the judge and just kept on hitting the ball foul thinking the judges wouldn't notice. I had to restrain from throwing a shoe at the TV.

When I began this blog 6 years ago, I never wanted to get into politics believing my target audience, Older Americans, were more or less apolitical and wouldn’t be interested in the subject. Man, was I wrong. Seniors in this country are champing at the bit with a resolve I have never seen from this demographic. So much so, that the senior vote could sway the election in many states.
 
My political leanings are clear. I’m not necessarily anti-Republican. But I am fiercely anti-Trump. We cannot allow this man, and the people who follow him and his warped sense of what’s good for America to prevail. You know we need a healthcare system accessible to everybody. You know we need to keep Social Security funded and available beyond that 2030 deadline. You know we need better schools for our grandchildren and their children, and we need to set this country on a proper path to equality for all. We can do anything we want. We have shown this many times in the past. But we cannot do it if we have leaders who have a different and distorted agenda that excludes minorities, immigrants, the poor and yes, the old………………………………….. .

[1] If you are voting by mail-in or absentee ballot you better not wait for November 3rd to send it.
 






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New Pennsylvania Aging Department study:
Family often behind elder financial fraud

A new state report suggests that it’s not the anonymous IRS employee, lottery agent or Medicare representative on the other end of the phone that older Pennsylvania residents need to worry will take their money.

It’s the people who know them best: their children, grandchildren, friends and caregivers.

Elder abuse has been described as a burgeoning public health crisis in the U.S. In Pennsylvania. among the states with the largest senior populations, financial exploitation is the second largest source of elder abuse allegations after caregiver neglect. 

The crime is one that not only impacts the bank accounts of senior citizens, but taxpayers, according to a new study released by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. 


_______________________________________________________________________

Return of loneliness:
Faye and her life in an assisted living facility
H. Frances Reaves

One of my clients, Faye, has not seen anyone but staff since the middle of March. Our twice a week FaceTime calls are her only connection to people who don’t work for the Assisted Living Facility.

When I met Faye she was living in the home she and her husband had purchased over 50 years ago. It was falling down around her. She laid on a torn leather couch and watched a tiny TV.

I had been brought into the case because her excellent attorney (a Key Biscayne resident and colleague) did not know what to do as she was running out of money and had no family. She did have two caretakers, one of whom was her Power of Attorney and Health Surrogate.


____________________________________________________________________

A special week during an unusual time 

If ever there was a year that “Caring is Essential,” it is 2020. Indeed, the theme of this year’s National Assisted Living Week (with an emphasis on the AL in essential), which began Sunday, is very appropriate.

When announcing the theme back in June, the sponsoring organization, the National Center for Assisted Living, said the week “highlights the incredible care provided by essential caregivers in assisted living communities across the country.”


“With many friends and family still unable to enter the buildings due to COVID, caregivers in assisted living communities are playing an even more critical role to residents,” NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle said Sunday. “This National Assisted Living Week, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of heroes working in assisted living today, we must recognize the special relationships residents have with staff and how those bonds enrich everyone’s lives.”

NCAL began the observance in 1995, and every year, the start of the week coincides with Grandparents’ Day.




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COVID-19 SENTIMENT REPORT:
Survey of Independent Living Desirability and Safety

As we look to the future, there are many questions about how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is going to impact senior living communities.

How will this health crisis reshape consumer priorities and delivery of services to older adults?

Are social isolation requirements and community quarantines causing people to re-evaluate senior housing options?

How do staff members feel about the added pressures they are facing and how is the new normal impacting their ability to provide services?




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Some older Americans committed
 to voting in person despite COVID

Cleadel Waye, a New Jersey college professor and veteran educator, fought hard for civil rights in the '60s -- laying down in front of bulldozers in her teenage years to defy developers who refused to hire people of color.

Now, at age 71, she looks back at the battles she waged -- protesting at segregated lunch counters and rallying community voters -- and it all seems to be on the line amid fears that votes will be suppressed in the 2020 general election, either through restrictions such as ID laws or issues with voting by mail as the coronavirus pandemic rages.

"It really feels like a lot of it is coming back and there is a lot of evilness behind it. We have to realize that everybody does not want you to vote," Waye told ABC News. "So they're going to put up barriers, but that lets me know that we need to vote now even more than before.




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5 unanswered medical questions about coronavirus


Seven months into the pandemic, we continue to unravel the mystery that is COVID-19. There continue to be critical questions that remain unanswered.

Experts interviewed by ABC News shared five scientific mysteries that persist amid the race to end the pandemic.
When are we going to have a safe and effective vaccine?

This may be one of the biggest questions on the minds of many. Vaccines may be the most effective way to develop herd immunity, so that the virus can't spread effectively.


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NEXT BLOG FRIDAY SEPT. 18TH 2020


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09.16.20



Has Your Style Changed
Over The Years?
6- MINUTES


 The thing about living in a room that has a closet smaller than a refrigerator is you know where everything is, and by necessity, it limits your wardrobe. This means your decision on what to wear is made for you. Just choose something you didn’t wear yesterday. Not that it matters. At the ALF, fashion went out the window along with the closet space.
 
For men, the tight closet space and subsequent limited apparel choice is not that big of a deal. It doesn’t matter if we wore it yesterday or last year. If it’s clean, it’s good to go. For the ladies, it’s a completely other matter.

Most women come to the ALF with more clothes than they should. And, with no place to hang it all, they come up with a variety of ways to solve the problem.
 

The most common one is to use the shower curtain rod in the bathroom as a closet. Having to remove the clothes every time they take a shower does not concern them.
 
Others buy a pipe rack (like in the garment district) and use that. While still others go for a real wardrobe closet that takes up most of the already confined space.
 
Having never been able to understand why women wear what they do, I will keep my comments short. I’ll just say they have a sense most men will never have. They are most likely genetically programmed as a way of attracting the male of the species. Like feathers on a bird.

But I digress. I just wanted to say a few words about how, you as an older person, have changed your style to suite your needs or if you still wear the same kinds of clothes, you always have.
 
It’s easy for women. You can always distinguish the ladies whose fashion style has been the same for years. They dress conservatively, mostly in dark-colored clothes with timeless style. Their dress could be from 2019 or from 1999. Men, mostly, have learned to make do with whatever is available. If we can button it or zip it up, we’ll wear it. And, if it has a sport’s team logo or the name of a defunct rock band on it, so much the better. And the heck with color coordination. You like a green shirt with purple pants. No problemo. Men will always choose comfort over correctness any day.
 
While comfort is very important, the need to look like a clown does not appeal to me. I do not own a pair of sweatpants (yet) or anything with a team name or player on it. I even try to avoid garments with the designer’s name or logo on it. I had an Izod polo shirt once. Somehow, the alligator didn’t offend me. I would be happy to wear a shirt with Ralph Loren’s name on it if he agrees to wear a shirt with my name on it. I haven’t heard from him.

My wardrobe has remained the same over the years. Mostly solid colored loose-fitting oxford or polo shirts with jeans or chino pants. I have had to adapt my choice of style slightly due to a surgical appliance I have glued to my lower abdomen. So now, instead of pants with flat fronts, I wear ones with pleats which hide a multitude of sins. Other than that, and tennis shoes with Velcro closures, I dress as I did when I was in my twenties. For me, it’s always casual Friday.
 
Except for my Bar Mitzvah, I have never owned a suite. I have worn some very nice sports jackets and slacks and looked good in them. But I’m just not one of those guys that gets invited to functions that require me to dress-up. I wore a tux at my wedding. I was not comfortable, and I hated it. The whole bow tie and cummerbund thing is archaic and doesn’t reflect who I am. I’m just a button-down-Oxford-Dockers and tennis-shoe-wearing person. That’s what I want them to bury me in and have left instructions to that end. The tennis shoes are optional………………………… .
 
 

 




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2021 Social Security COLA Likely To Be About 1.3%
Says The Senior Citizens League


Social Security recipients are likely to get a 1.3 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2021, making it the second lowest ever paid, according to The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). “Our forecast is based on CPI data through August, and there is still one more month of consumer price data to come in before we get the official announcement in October," says Mary Johnson, Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League.

Based on historic trends, there’s only a 5 percent chance that the COLA could rise above 1.3 percent and a 15 percent chance that it could be lower. "Although the inflation rate during May through August suggests the COLA could go up to 1.4 percent, the more recent three - month rate from June through August, and a new downward trend in gasoline prices seem to indicate it will probably be 1.3 percent,” Johnson says.

Should the forecast prove to be correct, this would make the 5th time since 2010 that there will be an extremely low, or even no, annual inflation adjustment. “This is more evidence that our system to adjust benefits for inflation, is broken,” Johnson says.


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Senior living industry concerned as Nebraska
drops mask and distancing mandates

Beginning today, nearly all of Nebraska’s social distancing restrictions will end as Gov. Pete Ricketts moves the state into the fourth phase of its reopening plan.

Under Phase IV, indoor gatherings are limited to 75% capacity and gatherings of 500 people or more will need approval from local public health directors. But all other state-imposed mandates are dropped in favor of voluntary guidelines for masks and social distancing.

State officials indicated they made the decision based on the availability of hospital beds and ventilators.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Beneficiaries' lack of Medicare knowledge
could lead to dissatisfaction in plans
By Mallory Hackett

More than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries find their insurance confusing and difficult to understand, according to a recent survey by MedicareAdvantage.com, which also revealed that many don't grasp basic insurance terminology.

The study sample included 1,000 respondents enrolled in Medicare and took place from August 17 to 19. Participants were quizzed about topics ranging from Medicare enrollment and benefits to insurance terms and definitions.

Less than half of the respondents could correctly define deductible or coinsurance. Just over half (52%) could describe what a premium is.




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Study Shows How Medical Cannabis
Improved Quality Of Life In Seniors
By Johnny Green


The aging process for humans can really be a sad thing.

As time goes by the human body starts to break down and condition(s) develop.

Unfortunately, it’s a reality that cannot be overcome.

Getting older can be a tough thing to navigate for many people.

The aches and pains are a constant reminder that Father Time is undefeated.

Getting adequate sleep is particularly tough for many senior citizens for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is side effects from pharmaceutical prescriptions.

Anyone who has looked at a seniors’ medicine cabinet will be quick to point out that the number of prescriptions adds up with age....


Bonus article__________________________________________________________________________________________

More Senior Citizens Exploring Cannabis Use
By Sean Marsala

 As of 2020, 33 states have legalized at least one form of cannabis; its use is spreading across all age ranges of adults.  Several studies have shown surprisingly strong uptake by senior citizens across the country, increasing each year. As many as 1 in 20 senior citizens in America are exploring marijuana products. Let's take a look at how they’re using them and why.

Why Is Marijuana Use Increasing?

Cannabis, the plant from which marijuana is refined, may help ease symptoms of some conditions such as chronic pain and insomnia. Acceptance among the general public and some in the medical community has been growing in recent years. Even AARP, one of the most trusted resources for seniors, now supports medicinal use in states where it is legal.

Medical professionals consulted by AARP were optimistic. Peter Grinspoon, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor, explained, “It makes sense to try cannabis when you consider the track record of other medications a lot of older adults take, especially for pain, sleep and anxiety…. Cannabis can be as effective as anything.” Daniel Reingold, CEO of RiverSpring Health in Riverdale, NY, had high praise after a pilot program was completed at this Hebrew Home facility: “The benefits are nothing short of amazing and should be more widely available to residents of long-term care facilities."





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How Trump Could Win
By Benjamin Wallace-Wells


Among the categories of professionals that Donald Trump seems intent on obliterating, one is Republican political strategists. The figures who guided his political rise in 2016 have been much diminished, because of criminal indictment (Steve Bannon), criminal prosecution (Roger Stone), incompetence (Brad Parscale), or domestic ruptures (Kellyanne Conway). Trump’s campaign does not have many strategists, nor, it has often seemed, much strategy. At the Republican National Convention, the idea of a second Trump term remained so undefined that the Party did not even offer a formal platform. Asked by the Times’ Peter Baker what he meant to do with a second term, Trump said, “I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done.” The President has long succeeded by creating an environment of constant chaos; now his campaign seems to be drowning in it.

The professionals who remain at Trump re-election headquarters are, with fewer than sixty days until the election, faced with a challenging set of statistics. For months, Joe Biden has led in national polls by at least seven percentage points. In order to win the Electoral College, Trump would need to beat Biden in about half of six swing states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona. He trails Biden in all of them, though the margin in North Carolina and Florida is under two per cent. About forty-two per cent of Americans approve of the job he has done as President, a number that has remained fairly constant throughout his Presidency, but fifty-four per cent now disapprove, which puts him behind the ratings of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan at similar points in their reëlection campaigns—though well ahead of George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. In other words, Trump looks likely to be either the least popular incumbent to win reëlection in the modern polling era or the most popular one to lose it.


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 The Best Adaptive Clothing Guide for Seniors

Adaptive clothing is a type of garment that’s available for seniors, the disabled, and other people who are in need of a convenient, easy way to get dressed independently each day.


The purpose of adaptive clothing is to provide simple and straightforward style choices that are comfortable to wear and easy to put on and take off. Adaptive clothing is often made to address certain health-related issues such as for the prevention of pressure sores or clothing that’s not restrictive for Parkinson’s patients.


For seniors and the disabled, getting dressed can sometimes be challenging, and for certain individuals, it’s a task that requires assistance. Adaptive clothing options are designed to offer a clothing solution that makes it possible for seniors and the disabled to get dressed easily with little to no help from caretakers.

Adaptive clothing items are equipped with special features that make them particularly easy to wear. Plus, they’re made to be extremely comfortable! Here are some of the most important defining features of adaptive clothing:






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NEXT BLOG THURSDAY SEPT. 17TH 2020


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09.15.20



Oh No. Not More Chicken
And Other Observations
5 minutes


If we had a mascot here at the A.L.F. it would be a chicken. On a per capita basis, we probably consume more chicken than any other people on the face of the earth. We eat so much chicken that the very mention of the word sends shivers down the spines of our residents. Last week alone, we had something made from chicken 15 out of the 21 meals served here. And that’s not counting any eggs at breakfast.
 


There are several reasons for this.
 
Chicken is a significant source of protein.
 
It is comparatively cheap as compared to beef or fish.
 
And, unlike beef, it’s rarely ever tough to chew. A feature of some importance here at the Asylum.
 
Also, although you would never know it if you were a resident here, they can cook it a variety of ways.
 

However, none of that makes any difference when you are “forced” to eat it.
 
No, nobody stands there while they stuff chunks of chicken nuggets down your throat. But if you don’t want to go hungry, sometimes there’s little choice. Variety, in the time of Covid-19 leaves much to be desired.
 
And just to prove I am not exaggerating, guess what they served as a main course for dinner after having a similar dish for lunch….. That’s right, Chicken.
 
It’s life at the ALF folks.





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Meanwhile, on the Covid-19 front, it’s still more of the same old same old here at Virus Central.
 
The good news, if you consider it good news, is the one resident that tested positive for the virus almost a month ago, is out of quarantine. What this means is we can now begin the 2 week waiting period countdown. And if there are no additional positive cases, presumably, they may ease some infection control regulations we have lived under for over 180 days. One of which is to allow residents visits with their friends and loved ones. I say “presumably” because the state has flip-flopped and delayed their plans so many times it’s hard to recognize the truth. So, maybe, by the end of September, there will be some smiling faces behind the masks.

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The constant reminder of how this virus has not lessened its control over us is most evident here at the A.L.F. And it’s affecting all of us.
 
Temper’s have become short and the listlessness of once active residents is clear.
 
Many, especially some of our older folks, have not been out of their rooms since this began. While I know they are being cared for physically, I pray someone is paying attention to their mental well-being.
 
Most of you only truly come in contact with extreme infection control procedures when you leave your homes. And even then the rules and regulations may be loosely observed. But just imagine having to live with every known way to prevent the spread of a virus 365/24/7. It can weigh heavily on one’s psyche.
 
The warning signs hung on every corridor wall, the wearing of masks by everyone, the hand sanitizing stations dotted throughout the facility, the tape on the floors reminding us to keep our distance and the utter isolation from the outside world is a hardship none of us, let alone the elderly should have to contend with.
 
At some point, this will end. Perhaps too late for many of us. And when it does my hope is they will, at least, acknowledge they may have forgotten that old people have the same needs and feelings as the rest of the population and, instead of acting with compassion, they acted out of fear.
 
In any event, there will be much explaining to do……… .
 


 



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Death in the time of Covid:
Hospice care is tough to get right now


Difficult as the past six months have been on the living, and the terrible cost paid by those who have died, there’s another category of people for whom the coronavirus pandemic has shown little mercy — those seeking hospice care.

Whether they’re in the final stages of a long-term illness, or they’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer, or they’re suddenly stricken with COVID-19, dying people are facing a variety of pandemic-related hurdles to get a service designed to comfort the afflicted and ease the burden for their family members.

That service includes helping people handle fear.

Even when their health is in decline, many people with serious illnesses remain afraid to visit a doctor or go to a hospital because of the specter of coronavirus. As a result, they don’t get the assistance that could ease the final stage of life.


______________________________________________________________________

Sanitizer Science: What Works and What to Avoid

It wasn’t that long ago during the pandemic that finding hand sanitizer in stores was a similarly hopeless quest to searching for toilet paper. But as supply chains caught up with demand, sanitizer now seems to be everywhere. Cases of them are stacked near the entrances at home improvement warehouse stores. Even the neighborhood hardware store has an assortment right next to the cash register, as hand sanitizer has become one of those last-minute grab items.

But are all sanitizers created equal? Not quite.

    “Drying off” the sanitizer with a towel reduces its effectiveness.

The most common active ingredient is some form of alcohol: usually ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. There is a difference between the two.


______________________________________________________________________

When and how to vote in all 50 states
By Stef W. Kight,Naema Ahmed


Millions of Americans who normally vote in person on election day will turn to early voting or mail-in ballots this fall — but that only works if you understand your state's election rules, deadlines and how to ensure your vote is counted.

Driving the news: Axios is launching an interactive resource, built on research by RepresentUs, a nonpartisan election reform group, to help voters across the country to get the information they need.

    "This election year, voters need to take more time and effort to navigate the challenges of a pandemic," U.S. Elections Assistance Commissioner Donald Palmer tells Axios.

    It will be critical for voters to have updated information on their options "to make sure that this election is a true reflection of the will of the people," said Matt Strabone, senior counsel for RepresentUs.





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The 5 Biggest Technology Trends In 2021
 Everyone Must Get Ready For Now
By Bernard Marr

It might seem strange to be making predictions about 2021, when it’s far from certain how the remainder of 2020 is going to play out. No-one foresaw the world-changing events of this year, but one thing is clear: tech has been affected just as much as every other part of our lives.


Another thing that is clear is that today’s most important tech trends will play a big part in helping us cope with and adapt to the many challenges facing us. From the shift to working from home to new rules about how we meet and interact in public spaces, tech trends will be the driving force in managing the change.

In many ways, Covid-19 will act as a catalyst for a whole host of changes that were already on the cards anyway, thanks to our increasingly online and digital lives. Things will just happen more quickly now, with necessity (long acknowledged as the mother of invention) as the driving force. And should it be the case that – as certain US presidents have predicted – Covid-19 “magically disappears” – the changes it has brought about will not, as we will have learned to do a lot of things more efficiently and safely. 




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Donald Trump, Joe Biden tied in
 Florida poll as 2020 race tightens
By Steven Nelson


President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden are tied in a new NBC News/Marist poll of Florida voters in the latest sign of a tightening race.
For months, Trump has lagged behind Biden in national and swing-state polls, but recent surveys, especially in Midwest battlegrounds, show him gaining on Biden.
The Florida poll of likely voters found 48 percent support for both Trump and Biden. The Democratic candidate is one point down among registered voters.
The poll results, released as Trump travels to Florida on Tuesday, indicate that Trump gained significant support among Hispanic voters since 2016, but is at risk of losing his edge among retirees.



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MediaWise for Seniors

Older Americans are increasingly engaged online, with more than 40% of people over the age of 65 actively using social media platforms like Facebook. But as older Americans spend more time online, they’re exposed to more conspiracies, scams, hoaxes and false news stories. In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic and a presidential election, spotting misinformation online can be a matter of life, death and democracy. That’s where MediaWise for Seniors comes in.
mediawise-seniors-seminar

In this small class that meets online weekly, you will improve your media literacy and learn tools and techniques for fact-checking what you see on social media.


Our story

MediaWise has been teaching teens how to sort fact from fiction online since 2018. This year, MediaWise expanded to first-time voters and America’s 50+ population. The MediaWise for Seniors program focuses on identifying misinformation surrounding the presidential election and the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to support from Facebook, MediaWise for Seniors offers two engaging online classes, a social media awareness campaign and a series of Facebook Live videos with Poynter’s PolitiFact to teach media literacy (the first features Dr. Sanjay Gupta).




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NEXT BLOG WEDNESDAY SEPT. 16TH 2020


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09.14.20






7 - 8 minutes

My dislike of Donald Trump goes way back. Back before the 2016 election. Back before his reality TV show. Even back before his Marriage to Marla Maples. Remember her? You don’t? That’s okay. Neither does he. 

As a New Yorker, my disdain for the man began the first time I noticed that they emblazoned the name TRUMP on what 
seemed like every  newly constructed buildings in town. 

We know New York City for its ability to build tall, iconic buildings. But few have the name of the developer or owner on them. And believe me, they certainly could have. Take Jacob Raskob as an example. 

Oh, you never heard of Mr. Raskob? There’s no reason you should. And yet he built the world’s most famous skyscraper
 ever. The Empire State Building.

You’ll notice the name“Raskob” does not appear anywhere on the building. Nor does the name “Harry Helmsley” when he bought the building. [1]  But for some reason, Trump has to have his name on almost everything. Office buildings, hotels, failed casinos and luxury apartment houses all have TRUMP somewhere on the exterior.

Why does having one’s name on everything bother me so much? Because, like most New Yorker’s, I am neither a bully nor a show-off. If we do something magnanimous, we do it quietly and without fanfare. Michael Bloomberg, whose worth a whopping $55 billion, has donated more than $9.5 billion to a wide variety of causes and organizations. [2] And I don’t believe his name is on any of it. While Trump, too, has donated to causes, he prefers to make sure everybody knows about it. And the best way to do that is… (pregnant pause)… That’s right. So he can put his name on it. [3]

I could almost forgive Trump for his misogyny, his boasting and his incredible ego. He’s only human and, like many of us, he has his faults.

To be honest, in the long run (providing we don’t have to suffer another four more years of him) we could undo much of what he has screwed up. But the remarks he made to Bob Woodward goes far beyond audacity, arrogance or chutzpah. His declaration that he knew how dangerous the Covid-19 virus was weeks before the rest of us and failed to alert the American people (his base included) proves he is sadistic as well.

Bob Woodward, who broke the Watergate scandal and is one of the nation's most respected journalists, interviewed Trump 18 times from December to July…

Trump knew Covid-19 was deadlier than the flu before it hit the country but wanted to play down the crisis.

Trump is quoted as saying the virus was "deadly stuff" before the first US death was confirmed.

Trump indicated that he knew more about the severity of the illness than he had said publicly.

Later that month, Trump promised the virus was "very much under control", and that the case count would soon be close to zero. He also publicly implied the flu was more dangerous than Covid-19.

Nine days later, after the White House declared the pandemic a national emergency, the president told Woodward: "I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.

He said he had wanted to avoid causing public panic.

"We want to show confidence, we want to show strength." [4]

The statement “he had wanted to avoid causing public panic” not only shows he knows little about safety and security, and nothing about his fellow Americans or New Yorker’s.
 
Americans, when confronted with danger, don’t panic. Instead, we come together to face a foe head on, with determination and resolve.
 
Wasn’t he around on 9-11? In our darkest hour did he see any sign of panic?
 
The police and firefighters didn’t panic. Even the people fleeing ground zero by the thousands didn’t panic. Instead, they helped one another. America, as it has always done, became one.
 
Nobody ran screaming over the Williamsburg Bridge with me that morning. We walked, slowly and calmly, even stopping briefly to look back, not in despair but with courage and conviction.
 
And in the hours that followed, did we see President Bush panic or lie about the severity of what had transpired. And what did we do as soon as they cleared the last piece of debris from the “pile?” We rebuilt a building bigger and better because that’s what Americans do best.

 
That he wanted to “avoid a panic” is just another one of his distortions of the truth. He wasn’t worried about a panic as much as he was worried that anything negative this late in an election year would be another blemish on his already well-tarnished record.

Never breaking character, he continues to pervert the facts to cover his lies.
 
He tells us to wear a mask while he himself will not wear one.
 
He praises social distancing and yet holds rallies, making sure his equally clueless supporters stand shoulder to unmasked shoulder because he thinks it’s not manly to wear a mask.
 
And, just to make sure you know he takes no responsibility for nearly 200,000 dead Americans, he blames Bob Woodward for not exposing his comments earlier. What a P.O.S.
 
Fifty days from today we can put an end to the “Great American Mistake.” We will come together as one great, fearless nation, not to make America great again, but to make America what it always was.…………………………… 



PS. It appears the rest of the Republican party is as complicit as their boss…..

FROM TODAY'S HEADLINES

“RNC chairwoman says history will vindicate Trump's coronavirus handling
Ronna McDaniel defended Trump after revelations that he purposely downplayed the pandemic in the early weeks, saying that the president sought to keep Americans "calm."
In an interview with “Meet the Press,” McDaniel maintained that "20/20 vision is, in hindsight, perfect,” and insisted that Trump acted “calm and steady and methodical” as he handled the pandemic, pointing to early steps he took like cancelling travel from China and creating the coronavirus task force.”



[1]  Mr. Helnsley’s estate at the time of his death was estimated to be worth $5 to $8 Billion putting Donny’s 2,5 billion to shame.

[2] Bloomberg has donated more than $9.5 billion to a wide variety of causes and organizations, including $1.8 billion to allow Johns Hopkins to permanently accept and enroll students without regard to their ability to pay – the largest gift in the history of American higher education.

[3] Trump purchased the property for $2 million in the 1990s, and donated it in 2006[1][2] after he was unable to gain town approvals to develop a private golf course on the property.[3] At that time Trump claimed the parcel was worth $100 million. He used the donation as a tax write-off.. New York State announced the park's closure due to budget cuts in February 2010.[6] It was questioned whether the closure was necessary since the operating budget for the park was only $2,500 a year 

[4] Source https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54094559

[5] Source:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/rnc-chairwoman-says-history-will-vindicate-trump-s-coronavirus-handling-n1239977?cid=db_npd_nn_fb_fbbot








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New Technologies Are Ushering in the Biggest
Revolution in Senior Care in Over a Century
By Arick Wierson

COVID-19 has put a spotlight on a fragile senior care system, but a vibrant health-tech ecosystem is laying track for a technology revolution that is centered on the homes—just in time for the ‘Silver Tsunami’—of aging baby boomers.


From the explosive growth of telehealth to a renewed sense of the importance of epidemiology, COVID-19 has upended nearly every nook and cranny within the sprawling American health care juggernaut. But nowhere are the tectonic plate shifts ripping across the health sector more evident than in senior care, as crowded nursing homes and assisted living facilities have essentially become ground zero for the deadly virus.

A recent New York Times article summed up the catastrophe: “Of all the missteps by governments during the coronavirus pandemic, few have had such an immediate and devastating impact as the failure to protect nursing homes. Tens of thousands of older people died—casualties not only of the virus, but of more than a decade of ignored warnings that nursing homes were vulnerable.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly half of all coronavirus fatalities in Europe have been traced to nursing homes. In the U.S., where COVID-19 has spiraled out of control, more than 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths are linked to long-term care facilities.



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Seniors have the potential to transform
economy and the healthcare system
By Laura Lovett

The 2020s are seeing a silver surge as populations around the world continue to age. While Japan has the highest percentage of senior citizens in the world, other countries in Europe and North America are quickly catching up.

However, an ageing society could mean new potential for health and the economy, according panelist at the 'Silver Health & Economy: New Demographics, New Opportunities' session at HIMSS & Health 2.0 European Digital Event. Finland’s former prime minister, Esko Aho, even compared the promise of a new silver economy to climate reform.

“I believe personally that the ageing of a population is more of an opportunity than a problem for societies. I very much like the phrase 'Silver is the next green,' which means we have to have a similar comprehensive approach to understand this is fundamental systemic change.”


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Common Meds Tied to Faster
Mental Decline in Seniors
By Amy Norton


THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A group of widely used medications might speed up older adults' mental decline -- especially if they are at increased risk of dementia, a new study hints.

The medications in question are called anticholinergics, and they are used to treat a diverse range of conditions -- from allergies, motion sickness and overactive bladder to high blood pressure, depression and Parkinson's disease.

The drugs are known to have short-term side effects such as confusion and fuzzy memory.



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Coping with Pandemic Fatigue:
Nature, Music and Deep Breaths

Sometimes all it takes is a soothing cup of hot tea. A Next Avenue reader named Kim says that slowing down, putting the kettle on to boil and brewing a pot of good quality tea, served along with some tea biscuits, “creates a small spot of normalcy in the chaos and misery.”

Normalcy is something we are all seeking more of right now as the country (and the world) is approximately six months into living through the coronavirus pandemic, with the end not clearly in sight.

Across the population, sadly, many have died, while others have mourned the loss of loved ones or found themselves unemployed, and many are struggling to cope with missing their family and friends who are not safe to see for a variety of reasons. Daily routines have been thwarted and favorite local shops and restaurants might have closed. Social groups and classes may still be meeting, but now it’s over Zoom and not across a table.



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In battleground states, Trump has the upper hand on
one key issue that has Dems nervous
By Sahil Kapur


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump trails Joe Biden nationally and in most swing states. He trails on questions of character and most policy issues, like the coronavirus, health care and even crime.

Except one — and it's a big one: Americans in battleground states still trust Trump over Biden on the economy, which often tops the list of decisive issues for voters.

The president's edge on the economy has begun to worry some allies of Biden, who say he needs to do more to neutralize it or Trump could use it to nail down swing voters as Election Day nears. His lead persists even with 8.4 percent unemployment and during a recession that Democrats say has been fueled by Trump's mishandling of the pandemic.