Elderly Healthcare Budgeting Issues

There have been plans to reduce adult day healthcare center funding in California, by eliminating MediCal’s input.  But just before this happened, a bunch of lawyers got to work.  Representing around 3,500 seniors who fall in the low-income bracket or have certain disabilities, a legal settlement was announced to maintain these services to ensure that these individuals will not be forced into nursing homes.  A class action suit was filed on the premise that these individuals would literally have nowhere to go and would thus be pushed into inappropriate care such as hospitals, etc.

Community-Based Adult Services

In its stead, the Community-Based Adult Services program was created for these individuals to receive similar services.  In terms of the adult day healthcare program closure, a clause postpones this until the end of February 2012.  According to an attorney for Disability Rights California, Elissa Gershon, “we are pleased that we were able to work with the state to maintain critical benefits for some of California’s most vulnerable citizens.”

Report on Home Healthcare Equipment

The Home Healthcare Equipment Market to 2017 seeks to provide vital information and analysis on what is available for homecare.  Five key areas are covered in the report:  hearing aid devices for the home; diabetes help at home; patient monitoring home services; respiratory devices and drug delivery devices.  Each category is reviewed and analyzed with their products.

In addition, reviews are recorded of various deals that have gone through in the home healthcare equipment market over the last four years.  Data collected for the report was through various existing databases, research, and analysis conducted by GBI Research.

A Big Business

Clearly, the healthcare market for home equipment is financially huge, having been valued last year at a staggering $32.6b with predictions of this figure increasing to $47.9b in the next six years.  The idea is that America’s healthcare system – already way over-burdened – will be able to spend less on the elderly through its healthcare institutions as equipment at home (which is cheaper) will be more readily available and of improved quality. The more healthcare that is conducted at home, the cheaper and better it is for the state. As well, most people prefer to be treated in the comfort of their own home, rather than having to be in a hospital bed.


NorthEast Florida Lacks Adequate Geriatric Care

It’s a sorry situation when a fifth of the town is elderly, yet there are no geriatric doctors to take care of them.  But that is exactly what is happening in Putnam County, Florida.  And it’s not just Florida that’s suffering either; apparently this phenomenon is affecting the whole of the country and is only going to get worse as the baby boomers become seniors over the next few decades. 

This is not good and it is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, when there are even more seniors requiring specialized eldercare.  Indeed, according to statistics from the American Geriatrics Society, there is approximately one geriatrician available for every 2,600 75+ year-olds!  That is a staggering inadequacy and if this continues, then by 2030 the rate will be 1 to 3,800.  Currently, the rate for pediatricians to kids is 1 for every 1,300.

America has to start realizing just how undervalued geriatricians are as well.  They seem to be paid less but end up listening more to their patients and understand the seniors’ bodies extremely well.  Seniors are definitely better off seeing a geriatrician than a regular family doctor due to their specific training in illnesses and lifestyle issues more common with the elderly population and how to help their families in times of difficulty, again more common in the senior sector.

It seems though that it is not such an attractive prospect for medics to go into. Many are leaving the profession that is already understaffed.  Perhaps it is not so surprising since they are paid very little – especially when compared to other medical doctors.  According to the Medical Group Management Association, the average salary in 2010 was $183,523.  Other specialists get at least double or triple of this.

Clearly, if America is to care for its citizens’ general health, it needs to invest more in encouraging doctors to want to train and stay as geriatric doctors.  As the baby boomers age, our population gets older and thus more of these doctors are needed throughout the nation.

Senior Center Entertainment

Barrington Senior Center

Last week, seniors in Barrington assembled for their 17th annual meeting organized by the Friends of the Barrington Senior Center.  At the meeting, they were given more information about the healthcare policy implemented at the center.  This talk was given by Deborah T. Faulkner, principal and owner of Faulkner Consulting Group.  Following that, director Louise House, discussed the different types of programs the Senior Center offers as well as how to navigate My Senior Center, a computerized data-management system comprising information on between three to four hundred users.

Senior Center Finances

The financial report was also discussed at the meeting.  Currently there is close to $20,000 in the center’s account even though it spent almost half of that this year on various office necessities. What’s particularly special about this Senior Center, is that it is probably the only one in the entire state of Rhode Island that offers all its programs without charge.  This is also probably why so many more people are continuing to flock there and more space is needed.  For example, around 25 to 30 seniors use the exercise facilities (which has grown from around 6 to 8 people).  As well, blood pressure can be taken there, and a cheap lunch – costing just $3 – is served every day.

Obama on Military Veterans Mental Health

November: For Military and Caregivers

At the beginning of this month, Barack Obama dedicated November to two important segments in society: Military Family Month and National Family Caregivers Month.  In his declaration speech as recorded in a government news article, the President said, “with every step we take on American soil, we tread on ground made safer for us through the invaluable sacrifices of our service members and their families.”   

Military veterans – as with many of the country’s elderly – are too often forgotten. Of course, in all cases this is sad, but with the military it seems even more outrageous and unacceptable.  These individuals who dedicated the best part of their lives to the country, need to be recognized for their hard work and cared for in their old age.  Thus November will be a special time to remember and recognize their “strength and sacrifice.”  Mr. Obama added, “just as our troops embody the courage and character that make America's military the finest in the world, their family members embody the resilience and generosity that make our communities strong.”

Being in the military is hard on everyone, not just the soldier. The wives have to carry on for many months at a time without their spouses; children have to live their lives without a parent and will often need to take on extra responsibilities that are not in the usual realm for a child that age and a lot of support is needed from grandparents as well.  As the president duly noted, “to these families, and to those whose service members who never come home, we bear a debt that can never be fully repaid.”  Thus November will be recognizing this effort – the effort made by all family caregivers.   

National Family Caregivers Association – History

It all began back in 1994.  During the last week of November – Thanksgiving week – family caregivers were celebrated.  Shortly after that first year, the week extended to the whole month.  It was President Clinton who, in 1997, signed the first presidential proclamation to “appreciate family caregivers.”  This tradition has continued each year with every single President.  And now, Obama has added the Military Family Month to November along with the proclamation recognizing the caregivers.

Why are caregivers so important? Every single day, over 65 million of them throughout America are making huge sacrifices while caring for their loved ones.  They rarely – if ever – get a break.  It is a huge and cumbersome task that they take on.  Thus their efforts are being duly recognized throughout the month of November.


US Health Systems Pressurizing Nursing Homes

Medicare and Medicaid Threatening Cincinnati Eldercare

Two nursing homes in the Cincinnati area are under threat of closure as Medicare and Medicaid could be set to force them out if they don’t shape up.  And it seems that the government-based health agencies are right this time.  Care just isn’t up to par.  This comes after the announcement from various federal officials that both the Blue Ash Nursing and Rehab Center and the Harrison Pavilion (Westwood) are providing extremely poor care and thus need a severe shake-up or risk getting booted out.  The studies showed that compared to national and statewide averages, these homes have significantly more deficiencies.

It is not just these homes that are in danger of closing.  The government has an official list which currently has 136 facilities on it that are just not providing good-enough care. So while on the one hand this is not good for the elderly, perhaps it is even worse if they are in facilities that are not looking after them properly and ultimately they do have to move.

Some Improvements

Obviously these care facilities are doing whatever they can to avoid being shut down.  While Harrison Pavilion has been sitting on the list for close to a year, it is now recorded as “improving.”  Should this trend continue it could very well be removed from the list.  The home – run by Savya Health Care – has been in operation for more than four decades.  As well, there was some good news for the Blue Ash Nursing and Rehab Center. It was at one point on the “not improving” part of the list but has now been relocated to the “improving” section.  It is run by Saber Healthcare since its opening back in 1969.

Some of the problems incurred in these homes are: providing too many drugs to not fully listening to residents’ issues with staff, etc.  The report is thus excellent in the fact that it keeps tabs on exactly what goes on toward some of society’s most vulnerable people.

Elderly Criminals: Where to Now?

Elderly Do Well in Zephyrhills

Due to a lack of financial resources, it seems that some elderly criminals currently housed at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, (on the edge of Tampa), Florida.  It has the capacity for about 700 prisoners, many of whom are seniors.  The problem however with the elderly population in general, is that they are way more expensive to care for than the average younger inmate, since they usually have many more health issues including diabetes and Alzheimers which require significant financial resources to manage effectively.

Plus, it seems like these individuals are more than happy to live out their days in the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution.  Gus Mazorra, a warden there, says the care received is excellent and it seems the inmates themselves would not disagree.  One criminal – put away for first degree murder – said the treatment he gets there is the best he’s ever received.  They have nurses on staff for monitoring and medication dispensation as well as a fair amount of preventative care in many cases.  In a recent CBS news article, a nurse, Mary Farr, LPN, said, “so we can keep an eye on them better before they get so sick that we catch them before they go to the hospital, which costs a lot of money. And most of the stuff hospitals so, we can do for them here, if we catch it early enough.”

Too Expensive

It seems though however, these criminals may be running out of luck.  The Department of Corrections is desperate to find ways to save money and the state of Florida is really struggling with the growing prison population. Thus legislators are currently trying to work out different ways of paying for all of this.  It has now been suggested that some of these costly elderly inmates be released early in an effort to reduce these costs.  This controversial proposal of course, has been met with much disdain amongst various individuals. But there are some who see it as a possible solution.  As Senator Chris Smith rightly pointed out, “right now the only people in Florida who have universal health care are these elderly, infirmed prisoners and we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these people just to keep them locked up.”  Thus Smith’s proposed bill would enable prisoners over 60 who have served more than two-and-a-half decades and are sick, to petition the Parole Commission for early release.