Most Americans Incorrectly Believe Health Insurance or Medicare Pays For Long Term Care

More than half of Americans, 55%, incorrectly believe health insurance or Medicare will pay for long term care, the assistance with daily living that some people need because of illness or injury.

People who are sick or injured may need help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, preparing food, and so forth that they would normally do for themselves.

A recent online survey asked adults how they would pay for assistance with activities of daily living if they are unable to take care of themselves for an extended period of time. More than half, 55%, said they would use Medicare or health insurance. But Medicare and health insurance, although they cover some of the medical costs, do not pay for long term assistance with daily living. See “Who Pays for Care”

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Medicare covers these costs for a maximum of 100 days (or until you stop improving). Medicaid will pay for these costs only when the individual’s assets are down to around $2,000 or $3,000 – depending on the state of residence – and Medicaid will recover the costs from the estate after death. This is often done with a lien on the Medicaid recipient’s primary residence.  How long will your savings/investments last if paying $75,000 a year per person for care?

The survey involved 2,065 U.S. adults age 18 and older. People over age 55 were more likely to say they would pay for long term care needs with health insurance and/or Medicare. People ages 18-54 were more likely to say they would borrow money from family and friends or use a credit card or loan. Long term care costs are estimated to be $70,000 a year or more, most of which will not be covered by health insurance or Medicare.

The U.S. Government Accounting Office and The Wall St. Journal report that 72% of Americans will need long term care at some time, either part-time assistance at home or full-time care in a facility. But people need to be educated about the costs of care and how to pay for it. Long term care insurance will relieve some of the burden. Many states now have available a Partnership insurance policy that protects assets by exempting the policyowner from Medicaid spend-down. Read more about The Partnership.

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Urgent Need for Alzheimer’s Disease Study Volunteers

Many researchers are working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But they have run into an obstacle recently: a shortage of volunteers for clinical trials.

There are more than 100 research studies needing around 50,000 volunteers to help. Many studies have been funded, but there are not enough participants.

177851075The trials do not necessarily require people who are elderly or who suffer from dementia, and are not all drug trials. Some studies require participants to do cognitive tests on home computers. Some record data on lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, or genetic risk factors.

There are studies where the volunteers try out wearable technology. All these tests collect information that can help scientists find ways to help people with Alzheimer’s.

Study subjects can benefit from participating. For example, some people who have Alzheimer’s disease may find a treatment that works. Some people may discover they have a genetic risk of dementia or already are in the early stages, and get prevention or treatment when it is most effective. Many volunteers in these studies will receive medical care for free. Also, some of the drug trials pay participants.

For people with dementia who are isolated, taking part in a study may help them socially. They can make friends with people running the studies and be part of a team. They can also feel good about helping to advance science and benefit others.

Some of the problems scientists have in recruiting study participants: In some studies both the dementia patient and a care partner must be involved. It’s harder to enroll two people. Some drug trials exclude people with certain medical conditions from participating.

Many drug studies require subjects in the early stages of dementia; at this stage there are few, or no, symptoms, so the disease hasn’t yet been identified, making it hard to find subjects.

There are sometimes legal obstacles if a dementia patient is not considered competent enough to give consent. And there are risks with experimental therapies, even though animal studies and FDA reviews are done before human trials.

For information on upcoming trials and on volunteering, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website, they have TrialMatch, a free database where you can find studies that may be right for you.

 

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The rate of dementia among seniors is going down

The rate of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia among seniors has declined significantly over the last ten years, according to a new study.

The Einstein Aging Study followed 1400 men and women age 70 and older from 1993 through 2015. When they entered the study they did not have dementia. Carol Derby, research professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, analyzed the data. The report was published in JAMA Neurology.

Of 369 people born before 1920, 73 ended up with dementia. Of 285 born 1920-24, 43 developed dementia. Of 344 born 1925-29, 31 developed dementia. Of 350 born after 1929, only 3 got dementia. Similar declining rates have been found in Europe.

Researchers say the reasons for the decline in dementia cases are not known, but there is also a declining rate of stroke and heart attack from one generation to another (though diabetes is increasing).

Efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease in recent decades may be paying off; the incidence of stroke has declined. Since dementia risk is correlated with the health of blood vessels in the brain, it makes sense that the rate of dementia is falling alongside the rate of strokes. A recent study found that healthy lifestyles, including exercise, good diet, no smoking, and proper treatment of chronic medical conditions could prevent 35% of dementia cases.

Although the rate of dementia is going down, the actual number of people with dementia is increasing dramatically as the baby boomer generation ages, inflating the percentage of elderly people in the U.S. population.

Around the world, more than 47 million people suffer from dementia, and 7 million new cases develop each year. The number of cases of dementia is projected to double every 20 years. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 106 million by 2050.

Dementia is one of the most expensive health conditions, costing patients and families in medical fees and caregiving time. Long term care insurance can help pay for the costs. You must insure before the diagnosis! For more information see the Guide To Long Term Care – Alzheimer’s.

 

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Want to live longer? Take care of someone

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Seniors who take care of others live longer than those who do not.

This observation comes from an international research project in which scientists analyzed data from the Berlin Aging Study that followed 500 adults over the age of 69 from 1990 to 2009. About half of the subjects took care of friends, children, or grandchildren; these caregivers were still alive 10 years after their first interview in 1990.

For those who took care of non-family members, half were still alive seven years after the first interview. For those seniors who did not take care of anyone, 50 percent had died within four years of the first interview.

However, moderation in caregiving is essential. Other studies have shown that too much caregiving responsibility is stressful and can endanger one’s health.

Long term care insurance can help pay for needed care at home or in an institution. Some companies offer a cash benefit that can be used to pay a friend or family member for care. Get more information here: GuideToLongTermCare.com

 

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Dancing Benefits The Aging Brain

Doctors have long recommended physical exercise to reduce or delay the onset of dementia as people age. But a new study indicates that dancing may give even greater benefits than other forms of exercise.

Dr. Kathrin Rehfeld compared the effects of different kinds of exercise on volunteers with an average age of 68. Over 18 months, participants took part in either traditional fitness training with repetitive exercises like cycling or Nordic walking, or dance lessons which featured something new each week.

The study measured changes in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is connected with learning, memory, and balance, and is affected by Alzheimer’s and similar diseases. In both groups, the hippocampus region of the brain increased. The dancers had a noticeable improvement in balance.

The dance routines varied and included jazz, square dance, line dance, and Latin. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Other studies have found similar benefits to dancing:

A study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that brain-stimulating activities such as reading, writing, and doing puzzles lowered the risk of dementia by 47 percent. This study did not find that regular bicycling, swimming, or team sports lowered the risk of dementia significantly. But ballroom dancing reduced the risk of developing dementia by 67 percent!

A study from Korea found that seniors who learned to dance the Cha Cha improved their memory and cognitive function over six months when compared to controls. A study from Canada found that seniors who danced the tango twice a week improved their cognitive scores.

The challenge of constantly learning a variety of new things may be one of the keys to the success of dance in improving mental ability. Dance requires a combination of mental and physical activity – dancers must remember the steps and executive them in rhythm. Also, dance is usually accompanied by music, and music has also been found to benefit people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Music stimulates memories and positive emotions, and body response to rhythms; music can also have the effect of making people more outgoing and sociable.

For more information on Alzheimer’s and dementia, see the Alzheimer’s Section of Guide To Long Term Care.

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Eye Scan for Alzheimer’s

Scanning the eyes is a new way to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California say Alzheimer’s affects the retina, in the back of the eye, in a similar way to how it affects the brain. A high-definition eye scan can show the buildup of toxic proteins that indicate Alzheimer’s.

The plaque showing in the retina matches the plaque in a corresponding part of the brain. Through repeated scans of the retina over time, doctors will be able monitor the progression of the disease.

At one time, the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s was by examining the brain after a person died. Now doctors can use brain scans to diagnose the disease in living patients, but these scans are expensive and invasive. The non-invasive eye scans will help doctors to detect the disease earlier, making it possible to intervene with medications and lifestyle changes before more symptoms appear.

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If you do not plan for your long term care who will? See the Guide To Long Term Care for more information on Alzheimer’s and how to prepare for long term care needs.

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Everyone should do some estate planning.

Everyone—regardless of how small their wealth—should do at least some estate planning. 

Some things to consider include:

• A will: This is the most basic of estate-planning documents, yet a Caring.com survey this year showed that more than half of Americans don’t have a will. That’s surprising and troubling all at the same time. A will can provide certainty and clarity and eliminate  the grey areas when property is moving from one generation to the next. Don’t just assume everything will end up with the people you want it to if you fail to leave specific instructions.

• A trust: Not everyone needs a trust, but it often makes sense. Basically, a trust allows you to control your assets from the grave. You can set certain restrictions, which is especially helpful if your kids are young or they don’t really manage money well. That way you may be able to keep them from blowing their inheritance all at once. For example, a restriction might be that they don’t receive the money until they earn a college degree.

• Power of attorney: It’s important to assign someone power of attorney so that if you become incapacitated that person can speak on your behalf and sign important documents. You can also have a living will to outline your wishes, which could help your family make tough decisions about your healthcare.

If you don’t plan for your long term care who will?

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