News of the Week
Observations About Some Things That Caught My Eye
As Families Grieve, Grandparents Step Up
NYTImes - In December, a coalition called the Covid Collaborative estimated that about 167,000 American children had lost a parent or primary caregiver to the pandemic, with much higher rates among communities of color. More recently, researchers at Imperial College London put the number of children who have lost one or both parents at nearly 200,000. That adds to the nearly three million grandparents who are now caregivers to their grandchildren.
U.S. nursing home system ‘ineffective,’ ‘unsustainable,’ National Academies report says
National Academies - A long-awaited national report has found that the way the United States finances, delivers and regulates nursing home care is ineffective and unstable. Recommendations laid out under those goals included: federal health officials implementing requirements for higher 24/7 nurse staffing and a full-time social worker in all nursing homes and fund research on minimum and optimum staffing levels, and making facility-level data on finances, operations and ownership of all nursing homes publicly available. Immediate and short-term actions include enhancing minimum staffing requirements for nursing homes and competitive wages for workers, while long-term actions include constructing smaller facilities or smaller units within larger facilities.
GOAL 1: Deliver comprehensive, person-centered, equitable care that ensures residents’ health, quality of life, and safety; promotes autonomy; and manages risks
GOAL 2: Ensure a well-prepared, empowered, and appropriately compensated workforce
GOAL 3: Increase transparency and accountability of finances, operations, and ownership
GOAL 4: Create a more rational and robust financing system
GOAL 5: Design a more effective and responsive system of quality assurance
GOAL 6: Expand and enhance quality measurement and continuous quality improvement
GOAL 7: Adopt health information technology in all nursing homes
Observation: I find it interesting that providers were not represented on the committee. However, certain leaders were consulted, along with consumers, labor leaders and dozens of others, during the research phase. The comprehensiveness of the report, as noted by experts, is admirable as well as the goals and timing of the strategies. I doubt much will change.
Caregivers Need Support Too
Read my latest article in US News and World Report.
Speaking of Speaking
I recently keynoted the North Meck Women’s Club meetings on April 5-6. We covered the Meaning of Life in just 15 minutes. A great time had by all.
I’ll also be keynoting a client event for Remedi Senior Care next month. Speaking is picking up. Contact me to see how I can create a great experience for your customers.
Scientists find taking up piano lessons at older age could delay dementia onset
Classic FM - There is already proof that learning a musical instrument is associated with the brain’s ability to change and adapt, and that music can help protect our brains against cognitive decline with age.
Now, a new study has investigated how six months of piano training can affect the brain compared to simply listening to and learning about music, in healthy older adults who have had no formal musical training.
Observation - while yes, of course!
How Solar Can Help In-Home Medical Equipment Energy Costs
From Eco Watch - As someone who just purchased solar energy for our house, this article makes a compelling case for solar to power the ever-increasing costs of home medical equipment.
Association: CMS shortchanged Alzheimer’s patients with Aduhelm decision
McKnight’s - The Alzheimer’s Association slammed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for its decision last week to restrict coverage of Aduhelm, the Food and Drug Administration-approved drug to treat Alheimer’s disease.
CMS announced that Medicare will cover the controversial Aduhelm drug only for patients participating in clinical trials, despite the FDA approving it for approximately 1.5 million Americans.
CMS said it based its decision on 10,000 stakeholder comments and more than 250 peer-reviewed documents. It also said the decision was consistent with use outlined on the FDA label.
The FDA approved Aduhelm last year amid a flurry of controversy. Many physicians argued there was not enough persuasive evidence to support its approval.
Observation - as one of the 89 million Americans without Alzheimer’s (God willing forever), I find it prudent with what CMS did, mainly because this has been one of the most controversial drug approvals in years. This also adds costs for all Medicare recipients, which I am fine with once the drug is completely validated. Alz Assoc needs to stop whining. They have a win here and more drugs are in the pipeline.
7 best life transition points for introducing family and caregiver benefits
Benefits Pro - Benefits managers spend significant time researching and negotiating care benefits to create the best package for their employees. However, care benefits are often overlooked as they aren’t top of mind at that given moment and employees are more focused on decisions about health care, FSAs and insurance. As a result, valuable benefits go underutilized, negatively impacting both employee and employer.
By centering care benefits communications around an employee’s life transition points, employers can significantly bolster utilization to reduce absenteeism and attrition while increasing productivity and well-being.
Observation - excellent selling strategy. I tried to introduce this idea to my last contract employer to deaf ears.
Pole Dancer Goes Viral After Being Booked To Perform At A Senior Centre
From LADBible - A pole dancer has gone viral after she was booked to perform at a senior citizens centre and got all of the older folks involved. It’s fair to say that the activities co-ordinator at this centre earned their wage when they booked this event into the calendar.
Observation - best story of the week. Given the spelling of certain words, I’d say this is the UK hands down.
Having a sense of purpose in life can slash risk of developing dementia, study suggests
Daily Mail - Feeling a sense of purpose or meaning in life can lower the risk of developing dementia, a study shows.
Researchers reviewed evidence from eight previously published papers which included data from 62,250 older adults across three continents.
They found higher purpose or meaning in life was ‘significantly associated’ with a reduced risk of dementia and cognitive impairment. Notably, having a sense of purpose was linked with a 19 per cent reduced rate of clinically significant cognitive impairment.
Observation - this is the first point I make in my Meaning of Life keynote and I site several studies that support it. My guess is that this analysis included them.
Social Prescribing - Something We Need in U.S. Health System
Social prescribing in the U.K. allows practitioners to prescribe social interventions such as music listening, etc. to help alleviate physician burden and also improve patient outcomes. It is paid for by the government. Studies have shown:
Social prescribing can have an impact on a very wide range of outcomes, including decreases in loneliness, and improvements in mental health and wellbeing, in social connections and in overall wellbeing.
Increases in self-esteem and confidence, sense of control and empowerment
Improvements in psychological or mental wellbeing, and positive mood
Reduction in symptoms of anxiety and/or depression, and negative mood
Improvements in physical health and a healthier lifestyle
Increases in sociability, communication skills and making social connections
Reduction in social isolation and loneliness, support for hard-to-reach
Improvements in motivation and meaning in life, providing hope and
optimism about the future
Acquisition of learning, new interests and skills including artistic
Here is a great video featuring experts from around the UK engaging in social prescribing. For every pound spent on social prescribing, the UK health service saves 27 pounds! We cannot even get a handle on social determinants let alone moving to social prescribing!
Will You Have To Support Your Aging Parents Financially One Day?
Forbes - For most adult children with aging loved ones who were responsible investors, there is a sense of security. There is nothing to worry about. They have a seven-figure investment portfolio and they own their home outright. No one expects them to run out of money. But can they?
Observation - Interesting read and yes you can.
These personality traits may predict cognitive decline later in life
Changing America - People who are prone to mood swings and low emotional stability are more likely to experience cognitive decline later in life, a new study suggests.
Observation - I’ve left the description short so you can read the full article. Very interesting.
Cereal Fiber Tied to Lower Inflammation, CVD in Older Adults
Physicians Weekly - Cereal fiber intake is associated with lower levels of various inflammatory markers and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study in JAMA Network Open.
“Higher intakes of cereal fiber, but not vegetable or fruit fiber, were associated with lower levels of inflammation in older adults,” the authors write. “Cereal fiber may have a role in attempts to reduce systemic inflammation, and this finding will need to be studied further.”
Fall asleep faster with mental tricks that calm your racing mind
CNN - “Think of these relaxation exercises as tools in your tool kit for better sleep," said sleep specialist Rebecca Robbins, an instructor in the division of sleep medicine for Harvard Medical School. Here are five.