“Real Work for Real Wages”: New Resources Explain Employment First

“Nothing about us without us” is at the core of the disability rights movement, and active participation in policy making by people with disabilities is the driving force behind continued advances in inclusion, integration, and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

However, “policy speak” — including jargon, acronyms, and obscure legal references — can make it very difficult for people to understand information that affects their lives and effectively leave many people out of important policy discussions. This can disproportionately affect people with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and limited English proficiency.

Full story at Administration for Community Living

Phone Scammers And ‘Teledoctors’ Charged With Preying On Seniors In Fraud Case

Dean Ernest had been living in a nursing home about a year when his son, John, got a call last winter asking if his father was experiencing back pain and would like a free orthotic brace.

The caller said he was with Medicare. John Ernest didn’t believe him, said “no” to the brace and hung up. He didn’t give out his father’s Medicare number.

And yet, not just one, but 13 braces addressed to Dean arrived soon afterward at the younger Ernest’s house in central Pennsylvania — none of which Dean Ernest wanted or needed.

Full story at NPR

5 Signs It’s Time for Memory Care

YOUR AGING MOM WHO’S living with dementia has always been conscientious about opening her mail and paying her bills. You and other family members check on her regularly to see she’s OK. Yet over time, relatives notice she’s letting her mail accumulate unopened and forgetting to pay her bills.

These are potential signs that someone who’s living with dementia may need memory care, says Dr. Elaine Healy, a geriatrician and vice president of medical affairs and medical director of United Hebrew of New Rochelle in New York.

About 5.8 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Family members care for some people with dementia, and others live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Full story at US News

The Visitors’ Guide to Nursing Homes

IF YOU WANT TO BRIGHTEN a loved one’s day, visit him or her in a nursing home. “It’s one of the most wonderful things you can really do, to continue to be there,” says Anne Weisbrod, director of social services at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in New York. “It may not be the home you grew up in or the home you remember, but this is their home now.”

Tips for a Good Nursing Home Visit

To help you get the most enjoyment from your time together, long-term care experts and a family caregiver offer guidelines for successful nursing home visits. Here are some of their top take-home messages:

  • Shared activities help break the ice. Working on a puzzle or adding photos to an album together can stimulate conversation.

Full story at US News

New Data Profile: Users of National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) Services

ACL has released a data profile using data from the Caregiver Outcome Evaluation Study of the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). This data profile, “Users of National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) Services,” compares characteristics of caregivers that are NFCSP service users and area agencies on aging (AAA) clients, with caregivers who are AAA clients only, in addition to caregivers who are neither. This data profile examines characteristics of caregivers including age, relationship to care recipient, and level of caregiving intensity.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) conducted an outcome evaluation of the Older Americans Act Title III-E National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP).The NFCSP provides grants to states and territories to fund various supports that help family and informal caregivers care for older adults in their homes for as long as possible. The Caregiver Outcome Evaluation Study of the NFCSP was released in 2018.

Full story at Administration for Community Living

Beyond Bingo: Innovative Activities at Today’s Nursing Homes

Bingo, Bible study and birthday parties – at some nursing homes, that’s as good as it gets. Traditionally, long-term care facilities have come up short in the activities realm, relying on old standbys that aren’t meaningful or particularly enjoyable. But change and innovation have arrived, which means seniors could be belting karaoke tunes one night and watching comedy on YouTube the next.

“We’re past just trying to fill time,” says Natalie Davis, a Dallas-based consultant who specializes in gerontology and teaches courses on developing activities for long-term care residents. “We want to enrich their lives.” Here’s a sampling of some innovative nursing home activities:

Full story at US News

Request for Information: Treating Pain and Substance Use Disorders

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) required by the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) asking for public comment on ways to address the treatment  of acute and chronic pain, and the treatment of substance use disorders including opioid use disorder (OUD).

CMS is developing an Action Plan to include a review of Medicare and Medicaid payment and coverage policies for substance use disorders, and the treatment of acute and chronic pain, emphasizing treatment that minimizes the risk of opioid misuse and OUD. The RFI also requests comment on associated topics including data collection, special populations, and technologies and telehealth.

Full story at ACL

Journalists File Lawsuit To Force Feds To Release Medicare Advantage Audits

Kaiser Health News is suing the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to release dozens of audits that the agency says reveal hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges by Medicare Advantage health plans.

The lawsuit filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco under the Freedom of Information Act, seeks copies of 90 government audits of Medicare Advantage health plans conducted for 2011, 2012 and 2013 but never made public. CMS officials have said they expect to collect $650 million in overpayments from the audits. Although the agency has disclosed the names of the several dozen health plans under scrutiny, it has not released any other details.

“This action is about accountability for hundreds of millions of public dollars misspent,” says Elisabeth Rosenthal, KHN’s editor-in-chief. “The public deserves details about the overpayments, since many of these private companies are presumably still providing services to patients and we need to make sure it can’t happen again.”

Full story at NPR

ACL Elder Justice Grants to Strengthen Legal Assistance Programs, APS Systems

ACL is awarding a total of $1.25 million in funding to help six legal assistance organizations strengthen programs serving older adults. The first-ever Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) funding will focus on four key areas: outreach, partnerships, intake, and delivery. Grantees will address a diverse set of issues including the opioid epidemic, supporting grandparents raising grandchildren, utilizing technology to advance elder justice, Medical-Legal Partnerships, reaching under-served communities, and disaster recovery.

A recent Legal Services Corporation report found that elders seek legal assistance for less than 20% percent of their legal issues. Gaps in access to legal assistance are particularly pronounced among low-income elders, elders facing Isolation by virtue of geography or language, and elders living in rural, frontier, or tribal communities. Access to quality legal assistance can help improve health and wellness outcomes for older adults by promoting personal and economic independence, preserving access to appropriate services, and supporting the right to live free from (or recover from) the experience of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

Full story at ACL

Gum disease linked with higher risk of hypertension

People with gum disease (periodontitis) have a greater likelihood of high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a study published today in Cardiovascular Research, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Senior author Professor Francesco D’Aiuto of UCL Eastman Dental Institute, UK, said: “We observed a linear association — the more severe periodontitis is, the higher the probability of hypertension. The findings suggest that patients with gum disease should be informed of their risk and given advice on lifestyle changes to prevent high blood pressure such as exercise and a healthy diet.”

High blood pressure affects 30-45% of adults and is the leading global cause of premature death, while periodontitis affects more than 50% of the world’s population. Hypertension is the main preventable cause of cardiovascular disease, and periodontitis has been linked with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Full story at Science Daily