Questions and Answers about Long Term Care

  1. What are some good resources to learn about the skilled nursing facilities in the area?  It seems as though you can get great care in some places and not in other places. 

 

  1. One of the best places you can find information about nursing homes is on Medicare’s website.  There you can compare reports on nursing homes within a zip code range, or look for information by name of facility.  Included in the report is information on how nursing homes have performed on health and fire safety inspections, how the nursing home is staffed with nurses and other healthcare providers, and how well the nursing home cares for their residents.  This information comes, primarily, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) health inspection database, a national database of resident clinical data known as the Minimum Data Set (MDS), and Medicare claims’ data.

Another great resource for information about nursing homes, and long term care options in general, is the Michigan Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.  This program is authorized in the Older Americans Act and the Older Michiganians Act and works to address the quality of care and quality of life for residents who live in licensed long term care facilities.  If you have questions about long term care options in general, or concerns about a specific facility, the local Long Term Care Ombudsman is a great resource and an advocate for nursing facility residents. Learn more about the program at  www.MLTCOP.org or by calling 866-485-9393.

My father was an aeronautical visionary. In WWII, when a small plane was needed to fly supplies into and wounded persons out of remote areas with hardly any landing space, a design competition was held. When engineering teams presented their creations to see which could land and take off in the shortest strip of runway, my father’s team landed the runway crossways. His Stinson L5, “the Flying Jeep”, hangs in the Smithsonian today. I didn’t inherit that gene.

Dereck Thompson, a writer for The Atlantic, recently wrote of interviews conducted within Google’s “Moonshot Industry”. This portion of the company is devoted to what they call radical creativity, exploring breakthrough technology to address huge societal problems.

A good friend of ours who lost her husband a few years ago told us, “Death itself is hard enough. But it’s the process of dying that is so difficult.”

She had had to assist him in most of the activities of daily living for years, including the negotiation of procedures through the medical community.

Another friend of ours suffered from a fast-spreading cancer. She had endured more than one extensive procedures, including radical surgery. But up until a few days before she died, a doctor told her family that just one more procedure would have her up and functioning normally.

My husband has decided we should go camping. We camped for many years when our kids were young, and have great memories of those times. We camped in tents, on the hard ground, and as the years went on we were able to borrow Grandpa’s trailer. Caught in a moment of sweet nostalgia, I thought it sounded fun, so I said, “yes!”

Now, I’m thinking it through. We’re renting a camper, so that’s on the pro side of the list. It has a bathroom in it, so I think that’s on the pro side as well. I don’t know how it works though, so it may end up on the other list. We used to just walk over to the campground bathroom with our flip-flops on. But now bathroom trips occur more often than they used to, and I feel a little different about using bathrooms in the woods where critters may surprise me.

Supposedly we can park the trailer at the campground, and in “five easy minutes” have it all set up. I wonder if that time frame is for 30-year-olds, or if it applies to 60-somethings? While we’re fairly fit, we have had a few new parts installed – three hips, a couple knee surgeries…you know, the usual. And so what if it takes us a half hour. That’s part of the adventure, right?

I expect we’ll take walks around the park. We did a lot of that in those early camping days. We may not go quite as far, but that’s okay. We’re also taking our dog with us, and she won’t let us just sit around. That’s a good thing.

And now I’m thinking about the dog. She’ll probably hear the move of every raccoon, squirrel and cricket, and will be forced to protect us with her ferocious bark. And I suppose there will be children around the grounds to annoy her as well. Do campers still play loud music at night? I do not want to be one of those grumpy seniors who complains about such things. Maybe we’ll go out and dance to their music until they retreat.

Jeff describes feeling like he walked into the doctor’s office one person and walked out someone entirely different. He says he went in a 56-year-old self-employed businessman, husband and father and he came out an Alzheimer’s patient.

“We sat in the car for almost an hour. We cried some, but mostly we just sat,” Jeff’s wife Cindy says. “It was like all our plans, our life, came to a crashing halt with that one word. Alzheimer’s.”

When Jeff first started exhibiting signs of memory impairment, Cindy says they shrugged it off to stress and an unwelcome but natural part of getting older.

While memory can change as you grow older, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are not a part of normal aging. Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer's, but diseases also include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Pick's disease and more.

Alzheimer's slowly destroys an individual's memory, judgment, cognition, learning, and eventually ability to function. Prevalence of the disease is on the rise. An estimated 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease according to a 2017 Alzheimer’s Association report.

Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared diagnosis among adults age 55 and older, second only to cancer, according to a MetLife Foundation study. In a similar study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, almost two-thirds (62%) of people surveyed felt a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia would mean their life was over.

Dementia Friends is a global initiative working to change people’s perceptions of dementia.

Developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom, Dementia Friends was launched to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding that often results in people with the condition experiencing unnecessary levels of loneliness and social exclusion. It’s an effort spreading around the world.

Dementia Friends America, co-chaired by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, was launched in early 2017 and is being spearheaded in Michigan through Region 8 Area Agency on Aging in Grand Rapids.

Dementia Friends America works to raise awareness about the disease and help people understand how they can take small steps to support people living with dementia.  The effort aims to reduce fear and avoidance, and ensure people living with dementia are included and supported. The program accomplishes this via an online training that involves watching a series of short videos and committing to take action.

The videos are short vignettes illustrating how you can be supportive of people with dementia you encounter throughout the community. Some examples include the grocery store, bank, restaurants, the library and pharmacy. There’s also information for first responders and other professionals. The videos provide quick takeaways that are easy to put into practice in your everyday life.

You can help people in our community who are living with dementia and their families by becoming a Dementia Friend. Visit dementiafriendsusa.org/become-friend to learn simple actions you can take to make your community one where people living with dementia are valued and supported in helpful ways. After watching at least three of the videos and committing to take action, you’ll receive a certificate indicating your commitment to being a “Dementia Friend”.

Jeff describes feeling like he walked into the doctor’s office one person and walked out someone entirely different. He says he went in a 56-year-old self-employed businessman, husband and father and he came out an Alzheimer’s patient.

“We sat in the car for almost an hour. We cried some, but mostly we just sat,” Jeff’s wife Cindy says. “It was like all our plans, our life, came to a crashing halt with that one word. Alzheimer’s.”

When Jeff first started exhibiting signs of memory impairment, Cindy says they shrugged it off to stress and an unwelcome but natural part of getting older.

While memory can change as you grow older, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are not a part of normal aging. Dementia is caused by a number of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer's, but diseases also include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Pick's disease and more.

Alzheimer's slowly destroys an individual's memory, judgment, cognition, learning, and eventually ability to function. Prevalence of the disease is on the rise. An estimated 5.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease according to a 2017 Alzheimer’s Association report.

Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared diagnosis among adults age 55 and older, second only to cancer, according to a MetLife Foundation study. In a similar study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, almost two-thirds (62%) of people surveyed felt a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia would mean their life was over.

Dementia Friends is a global initiative working to change people’s perceptions of dementia.

Developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom, Dementia Friends was launched to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding that often results in people with the condition experiencing unnecessary levels of loneliness and social exclusion. It’s an effort spreading around the world.

Dementia Friends America, co-chaired by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, was launched in early 2017 and is being spearheaded in Michigan through Region 8 Area Agency on Aging in Grand Rapids.

Dementia Friends America works to raise awareness about the disease and help people understand how they can take small steps to support people living with dementia.  The effort aims to reduce fear and avoidance, and ensure people living with dementia are included and supported. The program accomplishes this via an online training that involves watching a series of short videos and committing to take action.

The videos are short vignettes illustrating how you can be supportive of people with dementia you encounter throughout the community. Some examples include the grocery store, bank, restaurants, the library and pharmacy. There’s also information for first responders and other professionals. The videos provide quick takeaways that are easy to put into practice in your everyday life.

You can help people in our community who are living with dementia and their families by becoming a Dementia Friend. Visit dementiafriendsusa.org/become-friend to learn simple actions you can take to make your community one where people living with dementia are valued and supported in helpful ways. After watching at least three of the videos and committing to take action, you’ll receive a certificate indicating your commitment to being a “Dementia Friend”.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is Medicare giving everyone a new random number or just the people turning 65 after this year? 

 

  1. Yes, everyone who currently has Medicare will be getting a new number and card.  This is being done to remove people’s Social Security numbers from the cards to better protect against identity theft.  The randomly assigned numbers will be a combination of numerals and upper case letters.  The new cards will begin rolling out in April 2018 through April 2019.  It will take a while for so many cards to be distributed nationwide, so don’t be worried if your friend or relative gets their card before you do.  Your current Medicare card will remain your active card until your new one arrives. 

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