Archives for posts with tag: home health services

With people living longer these days, it is expected that by 2050, approximately 70 million individuals will reach age 65 and older. (That is approximately double the current age/population.) Obviously, this expansion of the elderly population will require more healthcare resources and personnel to meet the demand. But it will also necessitate a more proactive approach to monitoring one’s health – including more thorough knowledge of insurance and Medicare coverage. Preventative health screenings, along with advances in medical technology, will enable early detection.

For women age 65 or older, the American Cancer Society recommends cancer screenings as follows:

— Breast Cancer Testing: It is important that women report any changes in the way their breasts look or feel to their caregiver and/or a healthcare provider right away. They should get a mammogram every 2 years, or can even choose to get one every year, if they fall in the risk category (breast cancer runs in their family or they’ve had breast tissue issues before). It is important to know if a senior has a higher than average risk for breast cancer.

— Cervical Cancer Testing: No cervical cancer testing is needed if the senior has had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years. However, senior women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis, and the testing is covered by Medicare.

— Colon Cancer Testing: Testing is recommended for colon cancer, and there are many testing options. Plan to consult your primary health care provider. Medicare covers colon cancer testing.

— Lung Cancer Testing: If the senior has a history of smoking, talk to your physician about whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit the senior if they are an active or former smoker who has quit within the past 15 years. It is important to discuss and learn the benefits, limitations, and risks of screening with a healthcare provider before testing is done. Medicare does cover lung cancer testing.
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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Timely re-post from the Social Security Administration as we approach Memorial Day…

“Traditionally, on Memorial Day we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

The unexpected loss of a service member is a difficult experience for the family. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.

It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty.

Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T). Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive benefits.

Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit.

Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare.”

You can learn more about Social Security survivors benefits at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

When elderly parents — or any of us — get a blood test for cholesterol, the laboratory takes measures on levels of High Cholesterol (HDL), and Low Cholesterol (LDL). The total combined number for HDL and LDL should, optimally, be below 200 milligrams per a defined unit of blood (deciliter, or dL of blood). Anything above that could indicate high cholesterol. At the same time, the specific numbers are important: having HDL below 40 milligrams/dL for men, and below 50 milligrams/dL for women, can actually increase the risk of heart disease. (Remember, HDL is “good” cholesterol.)

High cholesterol in the blood has no symptoms. People don’t generally experience any symptoms from high cholesterol in and of itself, therefore many people don’t even know their cholesterol is too high. For seniors, it’s particularly important to get screened for high cholesterol. Cholesterol levels rise as we age. Particularly, women’s LDL levels tend to increase after menopause.

Old age is one of many risk factors. People who smoke cigarettes, or have high blood pressure, or a family history of early heart disease can also affect LDL levels. For older adults with high cholesterol, it’s critically important to work with a physician to determine a goal for lower LDL and healthy lifestyle habits.

Lowering cholesterol has a huge effect on cardiovascular health. High levels of LDL (“bad”), combined with some of the above mentioned risk factors, can increase the likelihood of heart disease or heart attack. At the same time, appropriately high levels of good (HDL) cholesterol can help protect against heart attack, stroke and even dementia.

There are some prescribed medications which can help to lower cholesterol levels. But, with or without medications,a healthy lifestyle and regular screenings are key to maintaining desirable cholesterol levels.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

What is cholesterol? And why should we all pay attention?

We all carry cholesterol, which is a waxy, fat-like substance – made by the liver and found in some foods – that circulates in the bloodstream and is vital to the body’s healthy functioning.

A high level of cholesterol is unhealthy, but most of the time there are no symptoms. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 102 million American adults have cholesterol levels above the healthy range. This can be a silent killer for many.

Too much cholesterol in the blood can be dangerous to your heart and blood circulatory system. A diagnosis of high cholesterol levels may be a significant risk to our vascular health, and possibly put your body at risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. This waxy substance can build up in arteries and veins, and clog blood flow and circulation.

There are two kinds of cholesterol.

— High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is also called “good” cholesterol, and it actually helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries, as well as helping protect against heart attack and stroke.
— Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, is the main source of high cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol has two sources. The body produces about 75% of blood cholesterol, and the other 25% comes from food sources — primarily animal products. The cholesterol produced by the liver is enough to support bodily processes like digestion. However, some people inherit genes that cause their bodies to make too much cholesterol.

High cholesterol can be detected with a simple blood test, and it is generally a good practice to have this test done at your annual physical. Our elder population is a “high risk” segment for circulatory problems, and may be advised to test more frequently.

Efforts to reduce or lower cholesterol may require lifestyle changes, including:

— Regular physical activity
— Weight management
— Not smoking
— Heart-healthy diet
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

There are a variety of challenges facing elderly patients when discharged from a medical facility.

— Is your elderly parent really ready for discharge? Is he/she safe to be sent home?
— Medication changes: many times, prescription drugs will be changed or altered upon discharge from the hospital or rehab facility. This may mean disposing of all the meds at home.
— Medication errors: have your primary care physician review any prescription changes. Seniors may now be taking meds that should not be mixed.
— Is home care needed? Family, or a home health agency? Who will take care of this?
— How is this care service paid for? Medicare may cover a small portion for a short period of time. Do elderly parents have long term care insurance?

Ask questions of discharge staff, and/or social services. Speak with your primary care physician. Know the appropriate level of care required for your elderly parents.

Being discharged from a medical facility requires care continuation.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

In the mind of a senior, many times they feel they are “better”, or “cured” upon discharge from a hospital or rehabilitation facility. Especially when they arrive back home, where the surroundings are familiar and they can return to their normal routines.

However, this can be very deceiving. When your elderly parent(s) leave an acute care hospital, nursing and rehabilitation center or a long-term acute care hospital, recovery has not been completed. In many ways, it is just beginning – whether you are going to another care setting or home.

Many studies have shown that the period after hospital discharge, or the transition between acute care and a less intense level of care, represents one of the times when the senior is most vulnerable.

Take the time to learn and listen to the medical professionals dealing with your elderly parent. You do not necessarily need to agree with their opinions. As a matter of fact, you may have a better understanding of your elderly family than the social services staff. But you need to listen to their observations and evaluations – given they have had your parents under their care umbrella for multiple days and sessions – because their objectivity may reveal new information and professional advice on next steps in care.

Virtually all facilities offer discharge planning resources or a dedicated staff member to aid patients with planning. Take advantage of these resources, ask the right questions, listen to medical feedback, and voice your own concerns as to care planning.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

There are changes being implemented in the Medicare program.

Medicare beneficiaries at higher income levels will feel the brunt of the cost change. For example, individuals with incomes above $85,000 (or more than $170,000 for married couples) will see the Part B premium increase dramatically. In addition to paying the $121.80 monthly base amount, a monthly surcharge ranging from $48.70 to $268 will apply — depending on your income level. (It is important to note that the income thresholds for 2016 are based on the income you earned in 2014.)

The good news for individuals who already collect Social Security with annual incomes below $85,000 (and couples below $170,000), is that a so-called “hold harmless” provision will kick in. It essentially says your Medicare increase cannot be greater than the Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA). There are no increases to COLA this year.

In 2016, Social Security recipients below those income thresholds will continue to pay $104.90 in monthly premiums for Medicare Part B. Those enrolled in Medicare who do not yet collect Social Security and remain under the same income thresholds will now pay $121.80.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

November is National Family Caregivers Month. It is a time set aside to acknowledge, honor and support over 65 million Americans who currently provide care for elderly and disabled loved ones.

These are people who are taking care of, and providing attention and support, for our nation’s elderly. This is not an easy commitment. Elderly care providers may often place their own family’s well-being – physically, emotionally, and financially – as secondary to the well-being of their seniors. They may cut back on their hours at work or leave their job entirely. They are at higher risk of depression and other stress-related conditions due to their commitment to the elderly. In many cases, this is an “volunteer” position.

The well-being of family caregivers is important. The “job” can become overwhelming. As a senior’s care needs change and increase, the primary caregiver can suffer burn-out and related stress in juggling care.

Communication and support are also very important. Take the time to extend words of appreciation to caregivers. They may be feeling isolated, ignored, and undervalued. Check in regularly and ask how the caregiver is doing. If possible, provide some additional support or resources. If you live nearby, offer to take a regular shift with your loved one.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

This is a re-post from the Social Security Administration…please note open enrollment deadline for health coverage is December 15th….
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Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act started on November 1st.

In 2010, just before the Affordable Care Act took effect, 49.95 million individuals had no health insurance. In fact, since the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act became law, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained coverage, but we have a long way to go to cover millions more.

Millions of Americans count on HealthCare.gov for quality and affordable health coverage. Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage runs from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016. To start the new year with coverage, individuals must sign up by December 15, 2015.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has identified segments of the populations who remain uninsured, but are eligible to receive coverage through the marketplace. Social Security is teaming up with HHS to conduct outreach events across the country to reach these uninsured populations and educate them about Social Security benefits and how to get covered through HealthCare.gov. Providing affordable health care and preventative healthcare services decreases the likelihood of long term disability and the need for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income.

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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

Location: Hingham Council on Aging, 224 Central St., Hingham, MA 02043

Date: 11am – 2pm, Friday, November 6th, 2015.

Event: “4th Annual…Informed Aging & Your Future” seminar will feature a panel of 8 elder specialists representing industries that cater to and provide professional services for the elderly and their families. Panelists from health care, legal, financial, domestic, and life-care planning arenas will be on hand to present information on the “industry of aging”, and shed light on the myriad of decisions confronted by seniors as they age in place. Topics include: estate planning, financial resources for home assistance, legal, assisted living options, medical care/end of life, and more.

No cost for entry. Event is free and all are welcome, regardless of whether they reside in Hingham or not. Lunch will be provided free of charge.

To register, please call:
Hingham Council on Aging
224 Central St
Hingham, MA 02043-2745
(781) 741-1458