Medicare Cuts Payments To Nursing Homes Whose Patients Keep Ending Up In Hospital

The federal government has taken a new step to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions of nursing home patients by lowering a year’s worth of payments to nearly 11,000 nursing homes. It gave bonuses to nearly 4,000 others.

These financial incentives, determined by each home’s readmission rates, significantly expand Medicare’s effort to pay medical providers based on the quality of care instead of just the number or condition of their patients. Until now, Medicare limited these kinds of incentives mostly to hospitals, which have gotten used to facing financial repercussions if too many of their patients are readmitted, suffer infections or other injuries, or die.

“To some nursing homes, it could mean a significant amount of money,” said Thomas Martin, director of post-acute care analytics at CarePort Health, which works for both hospitals and nursing homes. “A lot are operating on very small margins.”

Full story at Kaiser Health News

National Family Caregivers Month 2018: Celebrating a Year of Accomplishment

We hear repeatedly that without family caregivers, our long-term services system would be stretched to the breaking point. Family caregivers make it possible for so many of our nation’s citizens to remain independent, living in the settings of their choice.

Supporting families and family caregivers in their efforts to assist their friends and loved ones is at the very core of the mission of the Administration for Community Living. That gives us a tremendous opportunity to advance how we think about supporting families that include older adults who need assistance in their later years, people with disabilities at every stage of their lives, or both. We also have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people, through programs that provide support to families and caregivers.

Every November, we stop to recognize and thank family caregivers for all they do on behalf of their loved ones.  This year, I think we have even more reason to be thankful, to celebrate family caregivers, and to be optimistic for the future of family caregiver support.

Full story at acl.gov

Regular exercise can keep the body decades younger

In a new study involving people over 70 who have exercised regularly for years, scientists discovered that the participants’ hearts, lungs, and muscles were in equivalent shape to those of people in their 40s.

Researchers from the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, IN recently assessed the physical condition of people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades.

The team compared the health measurements of these participants with those of their more sedentary peers and with the measurements of healthy people in their 20s.

Full story at Medical News Today

Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver

This is Zora.

It may not look like much — more cute toy than futuristic marvel — but this robot is at the center of an experiment in France to change care for elderly patients.

When Zora arrived at this nursing facility an hour outside Paris, a strange thing began happening: Many patients developed an emotional attachment, treating it like a baby, holding and cooing, giving it kisses on the head.

Zora, which can cost up to $18,000, offered companionship in a place where life can be lonely. Families can visit only so much, and staff members are stretched.

Patients at the hospital, called Jouarre, have dementia and other conditions that require round-the-clock care.

Full story at the New York Times

How Can I Make the Transition to an Assisted Living Facility Easier?

FOR MANY OLDER ADULTS, the first and best option for living out their golden years is to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. But for some, there comes a time when this strategy becomes unmanageable and it’s time to transition into an assisted living community. Moving is always difficult and it can be made especially more so by all the complex emotions and logistical challenges that often accompany a move made later in life. But there are some ways to make transitioning into an assisted living facility a little easier.

Dr. Susann Varano, a geriatrician at Maplewood Senior Living, a Westport, Connecticut–based senior living residence company, says one of the key components to making a smooth transition to an assisted living community is to start searching for the right place as early as possible. Ideally, you should be planning for and considering your options for months, even years, before you actually need to make the move. She likens the ideal transition to how we plan for college.

“Some people start a college fund when the child is born, and they start thinking about college when they’re in middle school – they consider which high school to go to that will lead to a good college and ultimately lead to a good law school or medical school.” She asks why Americans seem so reluctant to give the same sort of care and attention to what probably should be viewed as an equally important life transition. “These are the final years of your life. Why shouldn’t they be the quality you deserve? You worked hard for your money, and this is your money. Give it the respect that it deserves and don’t be so afraid that just because you’re looking (at moving) means you’re going to go.”

Full story at US News

Two New Research Funding Opportunities: Small Business Innovation Research and Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training

Two new funding opportunities from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL have been announced for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) ProgramPhase I and Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program–Health and Function.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program Phase I

The purpose of the SBIR program is to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, strengthen the role of small business in meeting federal research or research and development needs, and improve the return on investment from federally-funded research for economic and social benefits to the nation. The goal is to improve the lives of people with disabilities through research and development of products generated by small businesses, and to increase the commercial application of NIDILRR-supported research results and development products.

Full story at acl.gov

Better Training, Career Development Needed for America’s Direct-Care Workforce

By 2034, all of America’s baby boomers will be over the age of 70, many living with complex health care needs and multiple chronic conditions.

A well-trained direct-care workforce will be critical to keeping those baby boomers safely in their homes as they age. Without one, experts predict, public and private insurers will struggle in meeting the population’s needs.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that works to promote bipartisanship on key issues facing the United states, highlighted the need to support the country’s direct-care workforce in a report released on Thursday.

Full story at Home Healthcare News

Bacterial pneumonia far more dangerous to the heart than viral pneumonia

Heart complications in patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia are more serious than in patients diagnosed with viral pneumonia, according to new research from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

In the study of nearly 5,000 patients, researchers found that patients diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia had a 60 percent greater risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death than patients who had been diagnosed with viral pneumonia.

“We’ve always known pneumonia was a risk factor for a major adverse cardiac event, like a heart attack, within the first 90 days of being diagnosed,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiovascular researcher with the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center. “What we didn’t know was which type of pneumonia was more dangerous. The results of this study provided a clear answer, which will allow physicians to better monitor patients and focus on reducing their risk of a major adverse cardiac event.”

Full story at Science Daily

Could singing relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s?

According to a recent pilot study, singing therapy might reduce some of the difficult-to-treat motor and mood symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects more than 10 million people worldwide.

Because Parkinson’s predominantly affects older adults, as the population of the United States ages, its prevalence is increasing.

Symptoms include tremor and difficulty coordinating movements. Also, mood changes can occur, with anxiety and depression being relatively common.

Full story at Medical News Today

Language Barrier Means Millions Of Elderly Can’t Access Alzheimer’s Trials

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My grandmother, Bella, a former nurse in the Ukraine, moved to the United States to help raise me when I was 7 months old. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year.

There was nothing to do to prevent her inexorable loss of memory and independence, her Massachusetts General Hospital memory specialist told our family, except to take a drug called memantine that slightly improves cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, but does not treat the underlying disease.

Full story at NPR