Why Married Persons Might Have Lower Risk of Dementia

Photo Credit: Express News

Dementia is a loss of memory and intellectual capacity that generally occurs in older individuals. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide, 47.5 million people suffer from dementia. Alzheimer’s accounts for 70% of those cases and is the sixth leading cause of death in America. Symptoms and progression vary from person to person. However, your relationship status may be associated with your risk of developing dementia, according to a new study.

The study looked at 812,047 people in European countries, Asia, United States, and Brazil. After analyzing the studies, the researchers found that people who had been single all their lives and those who were widowed were more likely to develop dementia compared with those who were married at the time of the studies, despite their age and sex. Results of the study suggest that people who have been single all their lives have a 42% higher risk of developing dementia later in life than those who are married. Those who are widowed could have a 20% higher risk. The researchers found no evidence that dementia risk in divorced people differed from those who were married, and they could not examine whether the duration of being widowed or divorced had any influence on the findings.

However, the relationship between marriage and dementia risk is not actually due to wearing a wedding ring or not. Rather, the research suggests that there are certain lifestyle factors associated with marriage that result in a lower risk of dementia. For example, married persons tend to live generally healthier lives and have more social stimulation due to living with a spouse or partner.

Interestingly, the study revealed that a single person born during the early 1900s had a 40% higher risk than a married person whereas a single person born late 1900s only had a 24% higher risk. This finding may suggest that as being unmarried becomes more and more common, the social and lifestyle differences between married and single persons lessens.

While the research reveals a link between marriage and dementia, it cannot definitively say that marriage reduces the risk of dementia. There are, however, certain lifestyle factors that can reduce your risk of dementia, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, not smoking, and pursuing mentally stimulating activities. These habits can help to reduce a person’s risk of dementia, although dementia is not currently preventable.

Source: CNN News “How marriage might be linked to lower dementia risk

Reaching Out: Using Technology to Reconnect with Your Family

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

When trying to connect your aging parents with the digital world, sometimes it can be very difficult to teach them about all of the advances in technology. Things become more complicated if you live far apart from them and they are afflicted with illnesses such as dementia, limited mobility, or Alzheimer’s. Here are three tips to help reconnect with your long-distance loved ones using technology.

  1. Video calling applications. Applications like Skype or Facetime are perfect ways to connect with your parents from afar. In order to make video calling simple for your older parents, the first rule is to be sure that they have a reliable internet connection and phone or computer where the app will be easy to find. Before initial use, make sure that someone familiar with the application is there to help them. It’s most important to be patient and let them practice so they’re confident enough to call you themselves as well as accept it when you call.

According to the Lotsa Helping Hands website, video chatting is also a great way to spot anything that might be causing trouble with your parents, medically or otherwise. It can help you spot weight loss, hair loss, or any other changes to their appearance that may cause alarm. Video chatting has many uses, but it’s particularly helpful in letting your loved ones see your face, especially for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s who may find it easier to recognize you if they can see your face rather than simply listening to your voice on the phone.

  1. Send them a special meal once or twice a week. For parents in assisted living homes, the food may start to feel similar day in and day out, especially if they are unable to leave the premises. With applications like Postmates, UberEATS, and Bitesquad, you can send your parents a special treat once or twice a week from their favorite restaurants. This is a wonderful way to show your parents that you care about their health and happiness while also being sure that they’re eating well. Senioradvisor.com also recommends other helpful ways that you can deliver food to your parents, such as grocery delivery or meal kit delivery.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reconnect with parents who you’ve had a falling out with or with whom you’ve become estranged, particularly if it’s related to past substance abuse. Unfortunately, for seniors living at home alone, prescription abuse is a very real possibility. If your parents’ substance abuse has affected your relationship in the past but you’d like to reach out, sending them food or care packages are great ways to show them that you haven’t forgotten about them and you’d like to reconcile. Consider sending them things from their favorite places to make them feel special and loved. Try to make in-person visits when you can to drive home the message that you’d like to reconnect.

  1. Monitoring Devices. If you have a parent with health issues living alone, you may find yourself worrying about them all day long, making it hard to focus on your own life. Devices such as the Lively Monitoring System can help you keep an eye on your parents on a regular basis. According to an article on Mercury News, this system is great for making sure your parents are eating properly, and taking their medication, plus, it even lets you know when they leave their homes. The device may appear to threaten your parent’s privacy, but it simply notifies you of their regular habits so you can be sure they’re taking care of themselves. Users of Lively consider them a relief to have.

At times technology can feel like a hindrance that keeps families from communicating with each other in person, but when connecting in person isn’t an option, technology can truly be a saving grace. With these three tips, you’ll be well on your way to reconnecting with a senior parent despite the long distance between you.


America’s Seniors Have More Health Problems When Compared Globally


A recent international survey found that adults age 65 and older in the Untied States are sicker than the senior citizens in ten other high-income nations. The survey also revealed that American seniors face greater financial challenges regarding their health care, despite the coverage Medicare provides.

The survey, conducted by The Commonwealth Fund, found that American seniors are sicker than seniors in other countries:

  • America: Thirty-six percent (36%) of older Americans report having three or more chronic conditions
  • Canada: Close to one in four Canadian seniors, the next sickest nation, report having three or more chronic conditions
  • New Zealand: The healthiest nation only had 13% report having three or more chronic conditions

The survey also addressed financial challenges to health care and found that American seniors face greater financial challenges than seniors in other countries:

  • America: Twenty-three percent (23%) of seniors report that because of the cost, they did not visit a doctor when sick, skipped a recommended test or treatment, did not fill a prescription, or skipped medication doses
  • France, Norway, Sweden, and UK: Five percent (5%) or fewer seniors reported these cost barriers as being an inhibitor to meeting their health needs
  • America: Twenty-two percent (22%) of American seniors report spending $2,000 or more for medical care in the past year
  • All other countries (except Switzerland): Fewer than ten percent (10%) of seniors spent as much as $2,000

There may be several reasons why American seniors are sicker and face greater financial challenges. One reason is Americans have much higher rates of obesity compared to other nations due to lack of exercise and eating too much unhealthy food. The Stanford Center on Longevity Sightlines Project reports that only one in four Americans eats the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Sixty-three percent (63%) of Americans aged 65 to 74 do not exercise the recommended 150+ minutes each week and thirty-seven percent (37%) of that age group are obese. As to the financial burdens, Medicare has much higher deductibles and co-payments than the health insurance plans in other nations. American seniors pay more for prescription drugs than seniors in other nations, partially due to Medicare’s restriction on negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies.

This survey reveals the importance of taking care of your health and being prepared financially as you get older. It is important to eat a balanced diet, exercise a proper amount, maintain a healthy weight, get enough sleep, and stop smoking. These factors can improve your health now and especially as you get older. It is also good to remember that while Medicare provides a base level of health care, you may want to consider supplemental health coverage. If you or a loved one is already facing, or will soon be facing, the financial burdens of senior health care, please contact one of our experienced elder care attorneys to help you protect your assets and plan for the future.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/american-seniors-are-sicker-than-global-peers/

Risk Factors of Elderly Bruising

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As humans age, our bodies undergo natural changes that can make bruising more common. Our skin begins to thin and retains less moisture so that it becomes dry, scaly, and wrinkled. The skin’s ability to heal itself diminishes so wounds are slower to heal. Blood vessels become more fragile, making it more common for the elderly to bruise. Besides these natural factors, there are three other main risk factors that could be causing the bruises on your elderly loved one.

Medical Conditions

In some cases, significant bruising can reveal underlying health issues. For example, leukemia and other diseases that affect the blood and platelets can cause severe bruising. Diseases of the liver can result in easy bruising as well since the liver plays a key role in the production of blood clotting factors. Because aging increases the body’s natural ability to clot, the elderly are at a higher risk for blood clots and related conditions, such as atrial fibrillation. In addition, deep vein thrombosis can be caused by prolonged sitting or bed rest, which can appear as severe bruising in the lower legs and thighs. If you notice any unusual or significant bruising on your elderly loved one, you should have them examined by a physician.


There are several medications that can contribute to elderly bruising. For example, anticoagulants help prevent clotting by thinning the blood but can cause possible bruising. Seniors who take Plavix® for heart disease and stroke may also increase their risk of bruising. Even common over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, antidepressants, asthma medicine, and cortisone medicine can increase the chance of bruising.


Elder abuse is knowingly or intentionally harming an elderly adult. If you notice frequent bruising or bruises like deep finger print marks (from rough handling), your elder may be experiencing abuse by a caregiver or another person. Sometimes, the elderly person may not remember or realize that they are being abused so it is important that you be observant to the signs of elder abuse and talk openly with your elderly loved one. If severe or extensive bruising occurs with no known cause, you may want to contact a physician for an evaluation.

Typically, medical treatment is not necessary for bruising because bruises tend to fade after a few days or weeks. However, you can speed up the healing process by applying a cold compress (20 minutes at a time) and elevating the bruised area above the senior’s heart within the first 24 hours of the injury. This will keep inflammation and swelling down, which in turn will reduce the size of the bruise by slowing the amount of blood leaking into the tissue. After the first 24 hours, you can apply a warm compress to the area to increase circulation and rest the bruised area to reduce pressure.

You can also take steps to prevent bruising as much as possible for your elder loved one. You can remove furniture or other obstacles to create a clear path for the senior so they can avoid bumps and falls. Help elderly loved ones sit and stand if they are likely to fall. If your elder is unstable while walking, discuss the possibility of a cane or walker with their doctor. You can also install handrails where possible for additional support. Taking such practical measures can help prevent needless bruising to your elder loved one.

Source: https://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/elderly-bruising

Holidays for Alzheimer’s Families


The holidays can be enjoyable and happy occasions. For families living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, the holidays may have extra challenges. These tips from the Alzheimer’s Association can help such families to still enjoy their holidays:

  • Communicate with your loved one who has dementia. For some with dementia, they withdraw and are uncomfortable socializing whereas others enjoy socializing just as much as before. The key is to communicate with your loved one to find out what they are comfortable with. Plan the holiday together by choosing activities that bring happiness and letting go of those that are overwhelming and stressful.
  • Communicate with your other family members. Let your guests know what to expect before they arrive. If your loved one’s Alzheimer’s is in late progression, there may be significant changes to his behavior and memories since the last time an out-of-town relative or friend has visited. These changes can be difficult to accept. You may find it helpful to share these changes with your guests before they arrive. Remind them that your loved one may have trouble remembering or thinking clearly and his behavior may be erratic. Reassure your guests that even if the individual does not remember or recognize them, he is happy to have them there. With these mental preparations, it can pave the way for a smooth holiday.
  • Be reasonable and adjust expectations. The stress of caregiving might make it difficult to uphold your normal holiday traditions. Be reasonable with yourself and only do what you can reasonably manage. If you normally host the holidays, consider asking someone else to host or asking others to contribute to the meal and planning. By letting others help you, you can alleviate some of the pressures of holiday planning. You should also be honest with your family and friends about what you can and cannot do. No one should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event.
  • Involve the person with dementia. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia, such as singing old holiday songs, looking through photo albums, or watching favorite holiday movies. As his abilities allow, involve the person with dementia in the preparation of the celebration – wrapping gifts, cooking food, or decorating the home. Try to keep a somewhat normal routine so that the holidays are not disruptive or confusing. Plan for breaks and rest.
  • Adapt gift-giving. As a person’s mental capacities diminish with dementia, some gifts may not be usable or safe. If someone asks for gift ideas for your loved one with dementia, you might suggest comfortable clothing, favorite foods, or photo albums.

These tips can help ensure that everyone in the family can have a memorable and happy holiday celebration.

Source: https://alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-holidays.asp?WT.mc_id=enews2017_12_07&utm_source=enews-aff-67&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews-2017-12-07

Lack of REM Sleep Could Increase Risk of Dementia

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People with dementia often have trouble sleeping, but research has been unable to reveal whether the cognitive decline comes first or the trouble sleeping. Some research has tied insomnia and sleep apnea to an increased risk of dementia. A recent study suggests that those who spend less time in deep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep may be more likely to develop dementia than those who get quality deep sleep. 

In the study, 321 adults age 60 or older who did not have dementia participated in overnight sleep studies. After an average follow-up of 12 years, 32 people developed dementia. The data shows that for each percentage reduction in the time people spent in REM was linked to a 9% increase in the risk of dementia. The study participants spent an average 20% of their sleep time in REM sleep, but the 32 people who developed dementia spent only 17% of their sleep time in REM sleep.

Researchers also examined how long it takes one to fall asleep (called sleep latency) but did not find this to be related to the risk of developing dementia.

However, the study is not conclusive. “We observe an association between sleep and dementia but cannot determine whether reduced REM causes dementia. It is unclear whether increasing REM sleep reduces dementia risk,” said lead study author Matthew Pase. The study is small and would need to be confirmed with larger groups of people. “However, good quality sleep is clearly important for overall health and well-being and the emerging picture suggests that sleep and dementia may influence each other,” concludes Pase.

“REM sleep is considered the part of the sleep cycle where our brains get rejuvenated,” Dr. Eric Larson says. “It’s considered the best part of sleep from a perspective of gaining the rest that restores well-being.”

Whether or not a lack of REM sleep increases the risk for dementia, it is becoming clear that sleep health is strongly related to brain health. It is important to talk to your doctor about sleep issues and to practice good sleep habits to promote quality sleep.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-sleep-dementia/lack-of-rem-sleep-tied-to-increased-risk-of-dementia-idUSKCN1BA2C3?WT.mc_id=enews2017_09_07&utm_source=enews-aff-67&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enews-2017-09-07


Nursing Home Staffing 2017

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Sufficient staffing is an important indicator of the quality and safety of a nursing home. In previous years, staffing data published in facility listings on Nursing Home Compare relied on self-reporting. To provide for more accuracy in reporting, the 2010 Affordable Care Act now requires nursing home facilities to electronically submit direct care staffing information (including agency and contract staff) based on payroll and other auditable data. This requirement came into law in 2010 but was not implemented into federal rules until August 2015. The first mandatory reporting period began July 2016, and the first publication of this report to the general public began in the fall of 2017.

The Long Term Care Community Coalition has made this information more accessible by compiling the data into easy-to-use files for each state, as well as a single national file. The files include the name of the state, name of the nursing home, number of residents in the facility, RN hours, LPN hours, CNA hours, total direct care staff time, average staffing hours per resident per day, and average RN hours per resident per day.

This report can be helpful in choosing a prospective nursing home for yourself or a loved one. The data reveals whether the facility has many residents or few; how much time is being spent with each resident (on average); and whether there is enough staffing for the number of residents. The chart can help you understand the data better by making comparisons to different nursing homes in your area. If you or your loved one needs nursing home care now or in the future, our experienced attorneys can help you protect your assets and plan for long-term care.

Source: http://nursinghome411.org/nursing-home-staffing-2017q2/

New Stamp for Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is the only leading cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. It is also the most expensive disease in America. Today, there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and this number is projected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Despite the prevalence of this disease, many people are unaware of the effects of Alzheimer’s. A lack of awareness prevents many people from receiving the diagnosis and treatment they need.

To promote Alzheimer’s awareness and support research, Congress members Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings have requested that the U.S. Postal Service issue a new stamp for Alzheimer’s. Happily, the U.S. Postal Service has accepted this request and issued the Alzheimer’s Disease Semipostal Stamp. Their goal is to raise public awareness about the disease and aid the National Institute of Health (NIH) in its efforts to increase Alzheimer’s research funding with the goal of curing or effectively treating the disease by 2025. The proposed research funding for Alzheimer’s reached $1.4 billion in 2017 and an additional $414 million has been approved by the Senate (pending approval by Congress to pass this increase into law). This increase combined with the proceeds raised by the sale of the Alzheimer’s Disease Semipostal Stamp should go a long way to achieving the NIH goal of curing or treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.

Source: https://alzimpact.org/blog/post/id/99

Help Those With Dementia in a Disaster

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been hyperactive, featuring five major hurricanes so far. In late August, Hurricane Harvey became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005. In early September, Hurricane Irma became the first Category 5 hurricane to impact the northern Leeward Islands on record, as well as equaling the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in the Atlantic basin. While natural disasters can affect all of us in terrible ways, they can be especially problematic to elderly ones and those with dementia. For example, ten nursing home residents died from extreme heat in Florida after Hurricane Irma knocked out the power and A/C at the nursing home. In another case, nursing home residents were trapped in Texas when the nursing home became flooded for hours before authorities rescued them.

Nursing home residents trapped in waist-deep water in Texas were later saved by authorities

These disaster situations (including hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, forest fires, and blizzards) can be especially confusing and upsetting to elderly ones with dementia. However, there are steps that you can take to assist your elderly loved ones with dementia in case of a disaster.

Plan Ahead

Prepare mentally that disasters happen and you are potentially at risk. Learn about disasters that can happen in your area and make an emergency plan. Make sure your emergency plan accommodates your loved one’s specific needs, such as an oxygen tank or walker. If your elder loved one lives in a residential facility, learn about its disaster/evacuation plans. Find out who is responsible for evacuating the person in the event of an emergency. Have the contact information for your friends and relatives. If your elderly loved one receives routine health procedures at a clinic or with home health, learn who the back-up service providers are and obtain their contact information. Purchase extra medication to have a supply on hand. Download Medicare’s Getting Care and Drugs in a Disaster Area. It explains how Medicare beneficiaries have special rights to get out-of-network care if they live in an area where the President has declared a disaster. Consider enrolling your elder loved one in a safety program. The Alzheimer’s Association offers MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, designed to assist in the return of those who get separated from their caregivers. It’s important to have access to health records, especially in the case of an emergency. There are now many options for storing personal health records, including online services that make it possible to access records from anywhere in the world. Regardless of how you choose to store personal health information, make sure there are people other than the primary caregiver who have access to or copies of the person with dementia’s medical history, medications, physician information and family contacts.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Put together an emergency kit in a watertight container, and store it in an easily accessible location. Power, water, phone, and transportation services can fail. If you own a car, try to keep the fuel tank at least half full, and always have food, water, and emergency supplies in your home.​ These are the types of supplies you may want to have:

  • Copies of important papers such as legal papers, list of medication and dosages, insurance information, Social Security cards, and copies of prescriptions
  • Several sets of extra clothing
  • Supplies of medication
  • Incontinence products
  • Identification items
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Recent picture of the person with dementia
  • Physician’s name, address, and phone number
  • Bottled water
  • Flashlight and radio with extra batteries
  • Favorite foods or items
  • Blankets
  • Sturdy shoes
  • First-aid kit

During an Evacuation

For a person with Alzheimer’s, changes in routine, traveling, and new environments can increase the risk for wandering and agitation. Stay alert to unexpected reactions that may result from these changes. When appropriate, share the diagnosis with others, such as hotel or shelter staff, family members, or airline attendants, so they can better assist you. Try to stay together. Do not leave the person with dementia alone. Do your best to remain calm, as this can engender a positive tone.

Following these tips and being prepared can help you and your loved ones deal with an emergency situation in the best way possible.

Source: https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-disaster-preparedness.asp#help; https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/awake-no5-2017-october/disaster-steps-that-can-save-lives/

Long-Term Care Costs Rising


Long-term care costs are rising and don’t show any signs of slowing down. Private nursing home care (the most expensive option) currently costs more than $97,000 annually. It may soon exceed $100,000 per year.

Unfortunately, many people do not plan for or understand these types of expenses until they are faced with them. People avoid thinking and talking about long-term care, which results in little planning or saving for the future. A 2016 survey by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs reveals that a third of Americans 40 and older have done no planning for their long-term care needs.

Long-term care costs are huge financial burdens on individuals and families. Private health insurance and Medicare offer only limited help. People who do not have private long term care coverage must pay for nursing home care out-of-pocket.  Without proper planning, this can lead to a depletion of assets. 

The cost of care, including adult day care and assisted living communities, has risen an average of 4.5% this year, according to a recent survey by Genworth Financial. This is the second highest increase since Genworth began these surveys in 2004. The cost of home health aide services rose the most, up 6% from last year. Coverage costs are rising as well and initial premiums for long-term care can cost well over $2,000 annually, depending on the customer’s age, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The Genworth Financial survey concludes that these rising costs may be due in part to growing labor expenses and sicker patients. Care providers had to raise pay to comply with state requirements for minimum wages. Also, many have started providing health insurance to their employees to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Genworth researchers say costs are rising and will continue rising because patients today have more complex medical needs yet live longer than they did ten years ago.

Although long-term care costs are rising, much of the financial burden can be alleviated by planning and thinking ahead. Careful planning can protect much of your assets. Call our office to discuss asset protection and Medicaid planning with one of our experienced attorneys.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/long-term-care-costs-surging-50099785