New Funding Opportunities To Conduct Research on Exercise Interventions for People with Disabilities, and Health & Function for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Two new grant opportunities from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research(NIDILRR) at ACL have been announced: the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) on exercise interventions for people with disabilities, and the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on health & function for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The purpose of the DRRP program is to plan and conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related activities (including international activities) to develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities.

DRRP on Exercise Interventions for People with Disabilities — The purpose of this DRRP is to generate new knowledge about the effectiveness of exercise interventions for people with disabilities.

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Home Sharing: Growing Trend or Desperate Need?

You may remember the show “The Golden Girls,” which showcased four aging womenwho took a creative approach to senior living: shared housing. They were way ahead of their time. Is home sharing a viable option for older adults? It can be a desired lifestyle choice for many but equally a life necessity for others.

Many baby boomers have a real desire to age in their own home, provided they’re capable and it’s safe. But sometimes the economic realities of upkeep, the need for companionship and socialization and even help around the house makes you want to consider a more formal senior community. Home sharing provides an alternative to senior living, whose costs can range from $2,500 a month in an independent community to over $100,000 a year in a skilled nursing facility.

Full story at US Health News

New Technologies Help Seniors Age In Place — And Not Feel Alone

Nancy Delano, 80, of Denver has no plans to slow down anytime soon. She still drives to movies, plays and dinners out with friends. A retired elder care nurse who lives alone, she also knows that “when you reach a certain age, emergencies can happen fast.” So, when her son, Tom Rogers, talked to her about installing a remote monitoring system, she didn’t hesitate.

With motion sensors placed throughout the house, Rogers can see if his mom is moving around, if she’s sleeping (or not), if she forgot to lock the door and, based on a sophisticated algorithm that detects behavioral patterns, whether her activity level or eating habits have changed significantly, for instance.

“It gives both of us peace of mind, particularly as she ages and wants to live at home,” said Rogers, who lives near Washington, D.C., hundreds of miles away from her.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Frail, Old and Dying, but Their Only Way Out of Prison Is a Coffin

Kevin Zeich had three and a half years to go on his prison sentence, but his doctors told him he had less than half that long to live. Nearly blind, battling cancer and virtually unable to eat, he requested “compassionate release,” a special provision for inmates who are very sick or old.

His warden approved the request, but officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons turned him down, saying his “life expectancy is currently indeterminate.”

Congress created compassionate release as a way to free certain inmates, such as the terminally ill, when it becomes “inequitable” to keep them in prison any longer. Supporters view the program as a humanitarian measure and a sensible way to reduce health care costs for ailing, elderly inmates who pose little risk to public safety. But despite urging from lawmakers of both parties, numerous advocacy groups and even the Bureau of Prisons’ own watchdog, prison officials use it only sparingly.

Full story at The New York Times

Some Linn County health providers say Medicaid payment changes not sustainable long term

A change in a Medicaid waiver reimbursement system for the state’s special-needs population has left some health providers without enough funding to sustain their services.

Changes to the home- and community-based services waiver — which affects approximately 5,000 Iowans who have traumatic brain injuries, developmental or intellectual disabilities — moved the payment model from a fee-for-service model to a tiered rate system, effective Dec. 1, 2017.

While Iowa Department of Human Services officials say this change will create more stability to the reimbursement system, it leaves some such as Jean Sturtz, who care for those covered by the waiver, concerned for their loved ones’ future.

Full story at The Gazette

How Knowing When to Call in Professional Help is Key

Even though we would like to think we can, it’s impossible to handle all of life’s nuisances on our own. In fact, many of history’s most successful people attributed their successes to knowing when to seek the help of others. This goes for all areas of life whether it be business, education or dealing with a problem. For me, dealing with a major problem is where I finally learned this significant life lesson.

Trying to always handle things myself, I came to a road block when a huge problem arose within my family. After recently putting my grandmother in a nursing home, she made us aware that things really weren’t going so well. She was complaining to us that the food seemed to be making her sick. My family and I shrugged her complaints off for a while and just thought she was being dramatic and trying to get taken out of the home. However, as time went on, we realized that she was right. She looked worse than ever, seemed a lot thinner and didn’t have much energy. The staff started to give her more medications to help her stomach which ended up having a whole host of negative side effects.

Full story at the Huffington Post

For-profit medicine incentivizes overmedicating our elderly rather than caring for them

As the “gray wave” of aging baby boomers crowd into the country’s creaking long-term care system, many of them may unexpectedly end up in nursing home where anti-psychotic medication, rather than comprehensive social and mental health services, have become a standard way for some residential institutions to maintain order.

Yet, according to human rights investigators, anti-psychotic drugs are often administered to residents not with a doctor’s prescription, but the management’s. So-called “chemical restraints” have become a routine “fix” for behavioral problems, such as those who “resist” staff’s orders, or for dementia patients with a habit of wandering off. In reality, deliberately over-medicating elderly patients is not designed to help them as much as to help an overwhelmed workforce of clinicians struggling to care for too many patients with too little time and funding.

But the seemingly efficient solution comes at the expense of seniors’ human rights.

Full story at NBC News

Doctors Learn How To Talk To Patients About Dying

Lynn Black’s mother-in-law, who had lupus and lung cancer, was rushed into a hospital intensive care unit last summer with shortness of breath. As she lay in bed, intubated and unresponsive, a parade of doctors told the family “all good news.”

A cardiologist reported the patient’s heart was fine. An oncologist announced that the substance infiltrating her lungs was not cancer. An infectious-disease doctor assured the family, “We’ve got her on the right antibiotic.”

With each doctor’s report, Black recalled, most of her family “felt this tremendous sense of relief.”

But Black, a doctor herself, knew the physicians were avoiding the truth: “She’s 100 percent dying.”

Full story at The Washington Post

Arm exercise improves walking ability after stroke

A new study shows that arm exercises may improve walking ability months and even years after having a stroke. The study, the first to test the influence of arm training on post-stroke leg function, is published ahead of print in the Journal of Neurophysiology. It was chosen as an APS select article for February.

Researchers from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, worked with a group of older adults who had had a stroke between 7 months and 17 years prior to the study. The volunteers participated in three 30-minute, moderate-intensity arm cycling training sessions each week for five weeks. The research team measured the volunteers’ physical abilities before and after arm training using several standardized scales and tests of physical function, including:

  • Six Minute Walk, which measures how far a person can walk in six minutes;
  • Timed 10 Meter Walk, which measures how quickly a person can walk 10 meters; and the
  • Timed Up and Go, which measures the time it takes to stand up from a seated position, walk 10 feet, turn around, walk back and sit down again.

Full story at Science Daily

Human Rights Watch Finds Nursing Homes Overmedicate Dementia Patients

Nursing homes in the U.S. are administering antipsychotic drugs to tens of thousands of elderly residents each week who do not have the diagnoses for which the drugs are prescribed and who are not giving their “free and informed consent,” according to a new Human Rights Watch report.

In a report released Monday titled, “They Want Docile,” the group states that some 179,000 residents of long-term nursing homes across the country are given antipsychotic drugs each week that are not appropriate for their condition. The report says the drugs are used for their sedating side effects, which make patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease easier to manage.

“People with dementia are often sedated to make life easier for overworked nursing home staff, and the government does little to protect vulnerable residents from such abuse,” Hannah Flamm, a New York University law school fellow at Human Rights Watch told The Guardian.

Full story at US News