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ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS OVER 50 ARE AFFECTED BY ISOLATION

As we age circumstances in our lives often change.  We retire from a job, friends move away or health issues convince us to eliminate or restrict driving.  When changes like these occur, we may not fully realize how they will affect our ability to stay connected and engaged and how much they can still impact our overall health and well-being.

We need social connections to thrive, no matter our age, but recent research shows the negative health consequences of chronic isolation and loneliness may be especially harmful for older adults.  The good news is that with greater awareness, we can take steps to maintain and strengthen our ties to family and friends, expand our social circles and become more involved in the community around us.

Having a social network that meets our needs means different things to everyone.  There are some actions to consider to help stay connected.

  • Nurture and strengthen existing relationships: invite people over for coffee or call them to suggest a trip to a museum or to see a movie.
  • Schedule a time each day to call a friend or visit someone.
  • Meet your neighbors young and old.
  • Don’t let being a non-driver stop you from staying active. Find out about your transportation options.
  • Use social media like Facebook to stay in touch with long-distance friends or write an old-fashioned letter.
  • Stay physically active and include group exercise in the mix, like joining a walking club.
  • Take a class to learn something new, at the same time, expand your circle of friends.
  • Revisit an old hobby you’ve set aside and connect with others who share our interests.
  • Volunteer to deepen your sense of purpose and help others.
  • Visit your local community wellness or senior center and become involved in a wide range of interesting programs.
  • Check out faith-based organizations for spiritual engagement, as well as to participate in activities and events.
  • Get involved in your community by taking on a cause, such as making your community more age-friendly.

Prolonged isolation can be as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day.  Stay engaged and remember the older adults in your lives and reach out to them this holiday season and throughout the year.

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Medicaid Cuts Could Hurt Seniors Most

Much of the country is focused on the debate around repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. However, what hasn’t received nearly as much attention is that the House also passed deep cuts to the federal-state Medicaid program as part of the ACA repeal bill, despite that having nothing to do with repealing or replacing the ACA.

Most people think Medicaid, our nation’s safety net health care program, only serves very low-income children and mothers, and increasingly low-income working adults. In reality, the majority of Medicaid spending provides services and supports to help people with disabilities and older adults simply live their lives.

For older adults and caregivers, Medicaid is the country’s only guaranteed provider of the critical long-term care services that most of us will need as we age. Nearly two-thirds of long-term care provided in nursing homes is paid for by Medicaid. With nursing homes averaging nearly $90,000 per year, without Medicaid, millions of older adults and families would be financially overwhelmed if these services were limited or no longer available.

Medicaid is also important to helping our country address the challenges of a rapidly aging nation. The population of older adults is growing at an historic pace, and over 90 percent of seniors say they would rather age at home and in their communities, where care is often less expensive and often more effective. While less expensive than nursing home care, in-home services are often cost prohibitive for families as well. In our community services such as home care, adult day services, emergency home response service and medical transportation are examples of services Medicaid helps to provide.  It is unfortunate the timing of this change in Medicaid is happening when Illinois has a budget that cannot sustain the current program. It is likely that the only choice for care in Illinois will be nursing homes.  Home and community based services are often a fraction of the cost of nursing home care.

It makes no sense to undermine the only long-term care option available to most Americans just as our country undergoes a transformational demographic shift to an aging nation. If we really want to save federal health care dollars, we should expand the most cost-effective care options instead of eliminating them. Not only do these Medicaid-funded programs preserve the dignity and independence of older adults in the Metro East and across the country, they also save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year in avoided nursing home costs.

Our seniors deserve better!

Joy Paeth

Chief Executive Officer

AgeSmart Community Resources

 

New Medicare cards are on the way

Have you ever notices that your Medicare card number is a social security number, usually your own? It is important to safeguard this number against identity theft and never give it to strangers over the phone. So why doesn’t Medicare just change the number. Well, Medicare is changing the number. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out new cards to beneficiaries with an 11-digit combination of letters and numbers that has nothing to do with your social security number. CMS will stagger these mailings, and by April 2019, all Medicare beneficiaries will have their new cards. You will not need to do anything to receive your new card. It will be sent via mail.

Having your Social Security number removed from your Medicare card helps fight medical identity theft and protect your medical and financial information. But even with these changes, scammers will still look for ways to take what doesn’t belong to them. Here are some ways to avoid Medicare scams:

  • Is someone calling, claiming to be from Medicare, and asking for your Social Security number or bank information? Hang up. That’s a scam. First, Medicare won’t call you. Second, Medicare will never ask for your Social Security number or bank information.
  • Is someone asking you to pay for your new card? That’s a scam. Your new Medicare card is free.
  • Is someone threatening to cancel your benefits if you don’t give up information or money? Also a scam. New Medicare cards will be mailed out to you automatically. There won’t be any changes to your benefits.

For more information and to report suspected scams contact AgeSmart Community Resources at

1-800-326-3221.  AgeSmart Community Resources is your local Area Agency on Aging.

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Thank You to our Sponsors

 

AgeSmart Community Resources wishes to thank the following Organizations for supporting the 2017 Healthy Living Expo.

Thanks to your sponsorship, support and participation this year’s Healthy Living Expo will be exceptional.

 

 

                                                                

                                                          

 

                                                                                  

 

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

                                                                                                                                         

 

                                                                                                                   

 

                                                                                                                                         

 

 

                                                                                  

                                                                                

                                                                                                      State Representative Jay Hoffman

 

                     

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What does repealing the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare mean for you?

If you are receiving Medicare benefits you can expect to see changes if the Affordable Care Act(ACA)/Obamacare is repealed.  When the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare was first enacted it added enhancements to existing Medicare benefits.

  • The ACA significantly decreased the number of uninsured. A repeal of the ACA would once again increase the number of uninsured passing that cost on to hospitals, doctors, other providers and patients including people on Medicare.  Expect an increase in Medicare Part A and B deductibles and copayments.
  • The ACA added Preventive Services at no cost to you. If the ACA is repealed, expect to pay for your annual Well Visit, PSA Test, Mammogram and flu and pneumonia vaccines, among many others.
  • The ACA has been lowering the cost of the doughnut hole. If the ACA is repealed it means the return of the doughnut hole. For those in the doughnut hole they may have to again pay 100% of the cost of their prescriptions, as they did prior to the ACA.

For more information:

National Associations of Area Agencies on Aging:

http://www.n4a.org/files/ACA_PolicyBrief_Jan2017_final.pdf

Kaiser Family Foundation:

http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/what-are-the-implications-of-repealing-the-affordable-care-act-for-medicare-spending-and-beneficiaries/

 

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Shots for Safety- NIH

Shots and vaccinations aren’t just for children.
The following information is from the National Institute on Health and Aging

Shots for Safety

As you get older, your doctor may recommend vaccinations—shots—to help prevent certain illnesses and to keep you healthy.

Talk with your doctor about which of the following shots you need. And, make sure to protect yourself by keeping your vaccinations up to date.

 

Flu

Flu—short for influenza—is a virus that can cause fever, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, and muscle aches. Flu is very serious when it gets in your lungs.

The flu is easy to pass from person to person. The virus also changes over time, which means you can get it over and over again. That’s why most people (age 6 months and older) should get the flu shot each year.

Get your shot between September and November. Then, you may be protected when the winter flu season starts.

Pneumococcal Disease

Pneumococcal disease is a serious infection that spreads from person to person by air. It often causes pneumonia in the lungs, and it can affect other parts of the body.

Most people age 65 and older should get a pneumococcal shot to help prevent getting the disease. It’s generally safe and can be given at the same time as  the flu shot. Usually, people only need the shot once. But, if you were younger than age 65 when you had the shot, you may need a second one to stay protected.

 

Tetanus and Diphtheria

Tetanus (sometimes called lockjaw) is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust, and manure. It enters the body through cuts in the skin.

Diphtheria is also caused by bacteria.

It is a serious illness that can affect the tonsils, throat, nose, or skin. It can spread from person to person.

Both tetanus and diphtheria can lead to death.

Getting a shot is the best way to keep from getting tetanus and diphtheria. Most people get their first shots as children. For adults, a booster shot every 10 years will keep you protected. Ask your doctor

if and when you need a booster shot.

Shingles

Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. It could become active again and cause shingles.

Shingles affects the nerves. Common symptoms include burning, shooting pain, tingling, and/or itching, as well

as a rash and fluid-filled blisters. Even when the rash disappears, the pain can stay.

The shingles vaccine is a safe and easy shot that may keep you from getting the disease. Most people age 60 and older should get vaccinated, even if you already had shingles or don’t remember having chickenpox. Protection from the shingles vaccine lasts at least 5 years.

 

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella

Measles, mumps, and rubella  are viruses that cause several flu-like

symptoms, but may lead to much more serious, long-term health problems, especially in adults.

The vaccine given to children to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella has made these diseases rare. If you don’t know if you’ve had the diseases or the shot, you can still get the vaccine.

Side Effects of Shots

Common side effects for all these shots are mild and include pain, swelling, or redness where the shot was given.

Before getting any vaccine, make sure it’s safe for you. Talk with your doctor about your health history, including past illnesses and treatments, as well as any allergies.

It’s a good idea to keep your own shot record, listing the types and dates of your shots, along with any side effects or problems.

 

Shots for Travel

Check with your doctor or local health department about shots you will need if traveling to other countries.

Sometimes, a series of shots is needed. It’s best to get them at least 2 weeks before you travel. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov, or call the information line for international travelers at 1-800-232-4636.

 

For More Information about Shots and Vaccines

American Lung Association 1-800-548-8252 (toll-free) info@lung.org  (email) www.lung.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1-800-232-4636 (toll-free)

1-888-232-6438 (TTY/toll-free) cdcinfo@cdc.gov (email) www.cdc.gov

www.flu.gov

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

1-301-592-8573

nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov (email)

www.nhlbi.nih.gov

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

1-866-284-4107 (toll-free)

1-800-877-8339 (TTY/toll-free) ocpostoffice@niaid.nih.gov  (email) www.niaid.nih.gov

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

1-800-352-9424 (toll-free) braininfo@ninds.nih.gov (email) www.ninds.nih.gov

 

For more information on health and aging, including free brochures about shingles and flu, contact:

National Institute on Aging Information Center

P.O. Box 8057

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057

1-800-222-2225 (toll-free)

1-800-222-4225 (TTY/toll-free) niaic@nia.nih.gov  (email) www.nia.nih.gov www.nia.nih.gov/espanol

To order publications (in English or Spanish) or sign up for regular email alerts about new publications and other information from the NIA, go to www.nia.nih.gov/health.

Visit www.nihseniorhealth.gov, a senior- friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine. This website has health and wellness information for older adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you can click on a button to make the type larger.

 

 

National Institute on Aging

 

 

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®

 

 

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June 13 Illinois Aging Network Alert

  Illinois Aging Network Alert

 A weekly report on the impact of the state budget crisis on Illinois seniors and community programs on aging
From I4A – Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Week of June13, 2016
Contact: Joy Paeth 618-222-2561 or Jon Lavin 708-383-0258

 When Will Reason Prevail?

 This morning several Directors of Illinois area agencies on aging informed the Illinois Department on Aging that they have developed plans to close down their region’s community senior services network this summer. This information was provided during a phone call where the Department explained that federal funding would stop after reimbursements covering the month of June.  Unless there is a court order or an enacted state appropriation, no federal funds will be processed  for July, August or September. Not all area agencies on aging are in the same situation this summer (AgeOptions would not have federal funding for community based organizations, but will continue state funds for home delivered meals, about half of the meals, if the Court Order continues into July, August and September).  It is clear that many of Illinois’ 230 community senior service agencies will desist operations without federal support.

The biggest problem is that the federal dollars are in jeopardy that come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Administration for Community Living under the U.S. Older Americans Act. The federal appropriation is on a fiscal year that begins October 1, 2015, and concludes September 30, 2016. Under Illinois law, that funding will end on June 30. The Department stated that June reimbursement will come through in early July and then no additional funding is anticipated following that date unless there is a Court order or a state appropriation.

Federal Older Americans Act resources require state match. That match is combined with federal funds to process payments under the Beeks Consent Decree for meals.  Home Delivered Meal funding alone is problematic since it may not be used for administrative purposes.  Area agencies administer the court ordered dollars with their federal dollars and state match under Planning and Service Area Grants to Area Agencies on Aging. Not a penny of Planning and Service Area Grants has been provided this year.

Without the federal and state funding, there will not be a viable Aging Network. Federal law requires that the Illinois Department on Aging send the federal and state matching resources to the 13 designated area agencies on aging for distribution to community service provider agencies. It may not be proper under federal guidelines for the Department on Aging to send the court-ordered Home Delivered Meal funding directly to community agencies. Those agencies have contracts with area agencies on aging, and no contract with the Department. This is a legal, moral, practical, administrative and human mess! When will reason prevail and Illinois act responsibly to pass an agreed budget with adequate resources to meet its legal obligations under the Illinois Constitution?

If no federal dollars are released and no state administrative support to area agencies on aging is provided, the high stakes game of chicken being played out by elected leaders will result in the loss of independence, health and lives of older persons. It is time for politics to be put aside and for leadership and governance to prevail.

 

Distributed for I4A by:

Jonathan Lavin

Let’s Add Chicken Soup Back to Medicine

“Traditional” and “non-traditional” medicines are often at odds with one another, and have been ever since the scientific method took hold in the Renaissance. In general, that has served humanity well. Science has slowly and steadily teased out the true causes of disease and their treatments, and pushed aside the myths and fabrications of pre-evidence-based health care.

But now, I believe, it is time for reconciliation. Rather than butting heads, “establishment” practitioners and technologies need to collaborate with so-called alternative or allied health providers. Doing so will deepen the care narrative and improve patient experiences.

Traditional medicine is based on scientific discovery. Where once, the ill and infirm would pay good money for Dr. Smith’s Magic Elixir only because Dr. Smith said it work, science helped determine if Dr. Smith’s cure-all really did cure all – or if the alcohol in the magic elixir just made you not care.

However, it is dangerous to think that science itself is a magic elixir. Scientific discovery is still fraught with bias and poor study design. And alternative medicine may not be alternative at all, just based on older teachings that, though not scientifically proven (usually because there is no money to be made by studying them), may be just as valid.
As we all know, patients have been returning to some of those teachings in droves over the past few decades. Take chicken soup. Grandmothers have been touting the healing properties of chicken soup for generations, and a recent study proved your grandmother was right. It really is a time for both the old and the new.

We also need to look at how we got to modern medicine. What was left behind may have been due to political or religious pressure rather than science. The use of silver in medicine is a good example. Once a common remedy in the physician’s black bag, it became too expensive with the advent of photography. Maybe we might come back to it?

In all things there needs to be a balance. Healing cannot occur without a compassionate understanding of the power of the mind. We cannot underestimate that power. I am disappointed that traditional medicine has called this “the placebo effect.” That demeans and diminishes this important healing power rather than really using the mind’s ability and desire to cure the body to its fullest advantage. After all, “science” has proved that 30% of people will have a beneficial effect from a treatment if they believe that it will help. Having healthcare that is in alignment with our belief system is important for that reason.

That’s why I believe we need to add allied health to our practices. We also need to do it right. I am not advocating moneymaking “medi-spas.” I am advocating for the use of real healing massage, real counseling about optimizing diet and exercise, real skin and body care that checks for moles along with providing facials. We need healing foods, healing music, healing movement.

I also believe that we need healing therapies that are specific to our individual heritages. Before humanity was so mobile, it was fine for local and traditional medicine to address those local or regional illnesses. But today, our culture is no longer local. It is multiethnic, multicultural and global. We should have – in fact, we need – care that reflects that diversity of needs and beliefs. We need care that is specific, not one-size-fits-all.

This is not to say that we should embrace all allied health practitioners out of hand. I think we should work with those who have proven their worth over time, culture and, yes, scientific inquiry. There is still a lot of bad, incorrect and downright dangerous information out there, and patients have access to it in unprecedented ways. Doctor Google has been wonderful because it allows patients to feel they have more control, to get a variety of opinions and multiple sources of data. It allows them to ask smart questions, to learn the language, to be involved and to process. However, in the Internet age of the three minute YouTube video or 140-character Tweet, they don’t get the whole story. There is no filter, no expert to confirm to them if that bump on their nose really is –according to whatever source they stumble upon – a spider bite, a pimple or cancer. That is why we must work with allied, alternative practitioners, not against them.

I also advocate for educating these allied health professionals in how to look for diagnostic clues, so that they can then alert the patient/client’s physician. Think about this: A massage therapist likely sees more of the patient than the primary care physician, and is thus more likely to notice darkening of the skin, loss of eyebrows, skin tags, varicosities, joint pain or other signs of disease.

So let’s make use of it. Let’s add chicken soup back to medicine.

AgeSmart Community Resources would like to thank Dr. Teresa L. Knight for this month’s article.  Dr. Knight is the CEO at Women’s Health Specialists of Saint Louis.

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Pneumonia Vaccines for Seniors- What you need to know

Pneumonia vaccines are designed to prevent disease caused by various serotypes or strains of the bacteria streptococcus pneumonia. The recommendations for use of these vaccines recently changed, and what to do can sometimes be confusing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised their recommendations for pneumonia vaccines in August of 2014. While I find discussing the vaccine very interesting, if you do not, just skip to the last paragraph of this blog, and you will have the basic facts you need to know!
First, let’s talk about pneumococcal disease, a serious infection that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections. Each year about 1 million adults in the USA get pneumococcal pneumonia, and 5-7 per cent of those die from it. The death rates are considerably higher for those over 65 years of age. The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can include high fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and disorientation. This type of pneumonia can progress to a serious infection very rapidly. While antibiotic treatment is often successful, the best treatment for this problem is to prevent it. There are about 90 serotypes of streptococcus pneumonia identified, but only a few of these cause the majority of serious pneumococcal disease.

There are currently 2 pneumonia vaccines recommended for adults over age 65. The first is pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), commonly known as Pneumovax. This vaccine has been around for years, and is recommended as a routine immunization for adults age 65 and over. It protects against 23 of the serotypes of pneumococcus bacteria, and is usually given just once. There are special circumstances where a physician might advise a second PPSV 23, but that is not usually the case. About half the people who get this vaccine have mild side effects such as redness or soreness at the injection site. Less than 1% develop fever, muscle aches, or more severe local reactions.

The second pneumonia vaccine now available is Prevnar-13 (PCV13). As of August, 2014, the CDC recommends that all adults age 65 and over receive 1 dose of this vaccine as well. PCV13 protects against 13 serotypes of pneumococcus, and is quite effective against the serotypes that cause half of the serious pneumococcal infections in adults. Its potential side effects are similar to those of PPSV23.

The CDC recommends that PCV13 be given first if a senior has never had either of these vaccines. If someone has already had the PPSV23, the PCV13 can successfully be given later. These 2 vaccines should not be given together. Until recently, Medicare Part B would pay for only one vaccine, but the good news is that both vaccine doses are now covered as of February 2, 2015. It is important to note that PCV13 and PPSV23 must be given at least 12 months apart in order to have them be both effective and covered by Medicare.

Influenza vaccine can be given at the same time as either of the pneumonia vaccines, but they should then be given in opposite arms. If a person has had a serious reaction to a vaccine in the past, they should discuss with their physician the decision of whether or not to take the pneumonia vaccine. Keep in mind that pneumonia vaccines prevent only the types of pneumonia caused by streptococcus pneumonia, not all kinds of pneumonia, and they are not substitutes for a yearly influenza vaccine. The PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines are available though many local health departments, immunizing pharmacies, and primary health care providers. If you have had 1 pneumonia vaccine, it is very important to know which one you had in order to know which one to get next.

Here is the bottom line. The pneumonia vaccines are quite safe, and they are very helpful in preventing potentially life threatening disease. They are recommended for virtually all adults age 65 and over. If you have never had a pneumonia vaccine, you should get the Prevnar-13 (PCV13) first, and then the Pneumovax (PPSV23) at least 12 months later. If you have already had the PPSV23, get the PCV13 at least 12 months later. Let’s work to prevent this disease rather than waiting to take our chances in treating it!

 

AgeSmart would like to thank Dr. Thomas Dawdy for this week’s blog.