Nysha Recent News

Senior Care News

December 20, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

New York leads in family-member paid care

A lengthy Dec. 17 article by industry publication Modern Healthcare highlights the hard work and billions of dollars of unpaid hours put in by people caring for their own family members.

There are an estimated 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in the U.S., many caring for “high need” older adults with multiple chronic conditions, according to the article. 

The article describes various public and private efforts to provide training and resources to unpaid caregivers and otherwise integrate them into the medical care process. 

Among them is the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, legislation ratified in various versions by 35 states, most recently Ohio.  The CARE Act requires hospitals to record designated caregivers’ names on patients’ medical records, notify of discharges, and provide relevant medical task instruction.

Modern Healthcare also notes that some state Medicaid programs pay family members to be caregivers—a model in which New York’s Consumer Directed Personal Aide Service (CDPAS), provided by numerous partner non-profits like HamaspikCare, continues to lead the way.

Occupational therapy doesn’t slow Alzheimer’s

A study of seniors with possible or probable Alzheimer’s found that those getting occupational therapy (OT) did not fare any better than those who didn’t.  The study was designed to see if regular OT could slow the decline of Alzheimer’s patients.

The study, conducted by the Indiana University Center for Aging Research, randomly divided 180 seniors into two groups.  One received best practices primary care, and the other got best practices primary care plus 24 sessions of OT at their homes over two years.

Over the course of two years, standard Alzheimer’s test scores declined in both groups, and at the study’s end, no difference in these scores was evident between the groups.

The study was published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Psych drugs increase Alzheimer’s hip fractures

In a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, psychiatric drugs called benzodiazepines were found to increase risk of hip fracture in people with Alzheimer’s by 43 percent.

Popular benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin.

In a related study, published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, Stanford University researchers found that 75 percent of older adults would take a free and definitive test predictive of Alzheimer’s, if such a test existed.

Older Americans are Happier: Study

Good news for aging Americans (which, upon reflection, includes all of us, not just “seniors” or “aging” people): The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report, released this early December, finds that Americans are now getting happier as they get older.

The yearly survey, which interviews over 177,000 adults 18 and older (including some 90,000 age 55 and up) nationwide, found that older Americans reported higher happiness levels in 2015.

The survey asks participants to rate five “elements” of personal well-being—purpose, social, financial, community and physical—on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the best.

For starters, adults 55 and down averaged 60.6 out of 100.  Those over 55 scored 63.6.

Broken down further, the poll also found that 60 percent of Americans ages 18 to 54 reported no worries over money—and 75 percent of Americans ages 65 and up reported the same.  It also found that 55 percent of Americans ages 18 to 55 reported no stress, while 80 percent of those 65 and up reported no stress.

Well-being of State by State of Well-being

The above poll also provided detailed figures on older adults’ overall average well-being in all 50 states, with Hawaii topping the list at 67.0 and West Virginia bottoming out (again) at 59.9. 

While New York did rank only 39th in overall well-being at 63.0, the Empire State did score 17th out of 50 in the category of Physical well-being.

But in the Community ranking, New York’s Albany-Schenectady-Troy region scored the nation’s second-highest levels of health insurance coverage (96.4 percent) for 2015.  (The lowest was Texas’ McAllen-Edinburg-Mission region, at 62.1 percent).

Also within Community, New York, New York—perhaps not surprisingly—scored the nation’s highest rate of walking at 85.3, making Manhattan the 4th most active community for 2015.