Monday, December 27, 2010

Milk, Cheese May Cut Diabetes Risk

Harvard scientists have identified a natural substance in dairy fat that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

According to the researchers, the compound, trans-palmitoleic (TP) acid, is a fatty acid found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. It is not produced by the body and so only comes from the diet. Diabetes is an increasingly common condition that can result in disability for older individuals according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine explains that TP acid may underlie epidemiological evidence in recent years that diets rich in dairy foods are linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic abnormalities. Health experts generally advise reducing full-fat dairy products, but TP acid is found in dairy fat.

The researchers examined nearly 4,000 participants and followed them for 20 years in an observational study to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in older adults. Metabolic risk factors such as blood glucose and insulin levels, and also levels of circulating blood fatty acids, including trans-palmitoleic acid, were measured using stored blood samples in 1992, and participants were followed for development of type 2 diabetes.

At baseline, higher circulating levels of TP acid were associated with healthier levels of blood cholesterol, inflammatory markers, insulin levels, and insulin sensitivity, after adjustment for other risk factors.

During follow-up exams, individuals with higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had a much lower risk of developing diabetes, with about a 60% lower risk among participants in the highest quintile (fifth) of TP acid levels, compared to individuals in the lowest quintile.

Support for the study was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spousal Refusal Will Change Medicaid Law

The following is from an excellent story in the New York Times (link below). The inability of taxpayer-paid programs (Medicaid specifically) to pay mounting bills for long-term care will mandate changes in the current system.

For that reason, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance urges education and advocates planning. If you are age 50-to-60, and middle class this is especially vital. If Medicaid (taxpayers) are strapped today … you can only imagine what it will be in 20 or 30 years.

Here’s the blurb from the NY Times and the link to the full article.

Last year, more than 1,200 people in New York City officially turned their backs on their husbands and wives to qualify for Medicaid, triple the number of people five years ago. The practice, known as “spousal refusal,” is becoming more common as the population ages and the cost of nursing care rises — and it is coming under increasing attack by government officials looking to curb ballooning Medicaid expenses.

In a recent report, Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch warned that spousal refusal could be abused as “an entitlement for the less needy” and urged state officials to rethink it, noting that long-term care accounts for nearly half the state’s Medicaid spending.

Lawyers for the elderly argue the tactic of spousal refusal is legal nationwide, and it is most commonly used in New York and Florida, where 136 people refused to support a sick spouse last year.

Without the option of spousal refusal, lawyers say, American health care is like a ghoulish lottery. Those who need doctors’ care for illnesses like cancer or heart disease are covered by Medicare, the insurance program for the elderly, while those who need more custodial care for Alzheimer’s or stroke must pay for it themselves or dispose of their assets to qualify for Medicaid.

The federal government allows a healthy spouse to keep a house, a car, up to about $2,700 a month in income and up to about $110,000 in other resources. Anything above that must be spent on nursing care before Medicaid kicks in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aspirin May Now Prevent Cancer

Taking low doses of aspirin can reduce the risk of many kinds of cancer.

A report by scientists reveals that the evidence is strong enough to suggest people over 40 should take aspirin daily as protection.

In a study of eight trials involving 25,570 patients, researchers found that cancer deaths among those who took aspirin in doses as low as 75 milligrams a day were 21 percent lower during the studies and 34 percent lower after five years.

Aspirin protected people against gastrointestinal cancers the most, the study found, with rates of death from these cancers around 54 percent lower after five years among those who took aspirin compared to those who did not.

Researchers at Oxford University noted that while taking aspirin carries a small risk of stomach bleeding, that risk was beginning to be “drowned out” by its benefits in reducing the risk of cancer and the risk of heart attacks.

Previous studies have found taking aspirin can cut the risk of developing colon or bowel cancer and suggested it does so by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2 which promotes inflammation and cell division and is found in high levels in tumors.

In the latest study, published in The Lancet, researchers found the 20-year risk of death was reduced by about 10 percent for prostate cancer, 30 percent for lung cancer, 40 percent for colorectal or bowel cancer and 60 percent for oesophageal cancer in those taking aspirin.

Posted by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks relevant health news stories

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vision Of Elderly Can Improve

According to a study from the University of California, Riverside and Boston University elderly adults can improve their vision with perceptual training. This has positive implications for the health and mobility of senior citizens.

UCR researchers and Boston University psychology professors conducted a series of experiments to determine whether repeated performance of certain visual tasks that are at the limits that one can see can improve the vision of adults older than 65.

The researchers found that with just two days of training, in one-hour sessions, with difficult stimuli resulted in older subjects seeing as well as younger college-age subjects. The improvement was maintained for up to three months and the results were dependent on the location in the visual field where the stimuli were located – suggesting that the brain changed in early levels of visual cortex.

Age-related changes in vision – such as contrast sensitivity, dark adaptation, visual acuity, spatial vision, orientation, depth perception and motion perception – have been substantiated in numerous previous studies. This is the first study that demonstrates that perceptual training can be used to improve vision among the elderly in the earliest levels of visual processing.

The researchers used a texture discrimination test in which the participants were presented with stimuli consisting of a letter embedded in the center of a field of horizontally oriented lines. In addition to the letter, an array of peripherally located lines was oriented diagonally and formed either a vertical or horizontal object, always presented in the same quadrant. That was followed quickly with the display of a masking pattern. The task was to identify the central letter and the peripheral object.

After age 60 there is a steady increase in the incidence of falls and automobile crashes that are associated with changes in visual processing reports the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks health related issues impacting aging Americans.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Free Guide Outlines Ways To Reduce Cost Of Long-Term Care Insurance

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month and even the U.S. Congress has urged “the people of the United States to recognize (this) as an opportunity to learn more about the potential risks and costs … and the options available.”

Some 10 million Americans currently require long-term care according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) with annual expenditures exceeding $200 billion.

“We’re proud to support this important educational campaign,” says Lisa Wendt, president and CEO of LifeSecure Insurance Company. Experts expect the number of aging adults needing care will grow significantly in the next decade as the 76 million baby boomers begin to turn 65.

To inform individuals about the importance of long-term care planning and simple ways to make insurance protection more affordable, AALTCI is making available a free online informational consumer guide.

“Few people are aware of the available discounts and planning techniques that can make long-term care insurance quite affordable,” explains Jesse Slome, the organization’s executive director. “It is possible to reduce the cost by between 20-and-50 percent yearly.”

For example, significant discounts are available when applicants meet certain health qualifications that can vary from one insurer to another. “Non-smokers may qualify for savings and couples or partners who apply for protection may be eligible for savings,” Slome adds. “Savings can apply even when only one spouse obtains insurance coverage.”

The “2 Minute Guide: Reducing The Cost” can be accessed online. No sign-in or personal information is required. To access the free guide, visit

Monday, November 22, 2010

Discovery Could Treat Diabetes Heart Disease

Researchers have found a new cellular pathway that could help in developing therapeutic treatments for obesity-related disorders, like diabetes and heart disease.

The medical scientists found that action by the enzyme histone deacetylase 9 (HDAC9) could be targets for potential treatment options in obesity-related diseases.

Researchers were really interested in the tie between increased HDAC9 levels in fat tissue of mice and the caloric overload. Fat tissues from these obese mice showed dysfunction, with increased expression of pro-inflammatory agents and decreased expression of hormones responsible for maintaining whole body lipid and glucose stability.

HDAC9 level in fat cells is the underlying molecular culprit for dysfunctional fat tissue during obesity.

The researchers are currently examining HDAC9 knockout mice subjected to chronic high-fat feeding and think that HDAC9 gene removal will protect mice from obesity-linked adipose tissue dysfunction and associated metabolic disorders.

The team is pursuing studies to understand how diet regulates HDAC9 levels in fat tissue and how HDAC9 up-regulation can be prevented during diet-induced obesity through pharmacological means. Their findings may help lead researchers to targeted therapies that may prevent the development of obesity-related disorders in humans reports the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks scientific research impacting the long-term health of Americans.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Medicare Home Health Benefits Likely Cut

Home health care providers face likely Medicare payment cuts next year according to experts.

According to a report published today, two companies, Gentiva Health Services and Amedisys are among the providers of at-home health care to receive lower Medicare payments next year under U.S. government changes to the program.

A 4.89 percent reduction in home health spending for the elderly is among annual modifications in Medicare affecting hospitals, doctors and providers in the United States. Most rates take effect in January, though payments for doctors start to drop Dec. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement this week.

“Cuts are consistent with a need to reduce expenditures at the Federal level,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “The recent election showed that the populace doesn’t want the government borrowing and spending money it doesn’t have. It’s very likely more cuts will be coming.”

A panel that advised Congress on Medicare issues found in 2008 that home health agencies were making 17 percent profits on their Medicare business.

“If you are in your 50s and counting on Medicare to look the same when you qualify for benefits, you are likely to be surprised,” concludes Slome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Speak Two Languages To Delay Alzheimer’s Onset

Speaking two languages can help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by as much as five years.

The study conducted by Canadian scientists found more dramatic evidence that those who have spoken two or more languages consistently over many years experienced a delay in the onset of their symptoms by as much as five years.

“We are not claiming that bilingualism in any way prevents Alzheimer’s or other dementias, but it may contribute to cognitive reserve in the brain which appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms for quite some time,” said Dr. Craik, lead investigator and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Memory.

The brains of people who speak two languages still show deterioration from Alzheimer’s pathology; however, their special ability with two languages seems to equip them with compensatory skills to hold back the tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss, confusion, and difficulties with problem-solving and planning.

Observations were made on patients diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s from 2007 to 2009. The patients’ date of diagnosis and age of onset of cognitive impairment were recorded along with information on occupational history, education and language history (i.e. fluency in English and any other languages).

The researchers found that bilingual patients had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 4.3 years later and had reported the onset of symptoms five years later than the monolingual patients. The groups were equivalent on measures of cognitive and occupational level, there was no apparent effect of immigration status, and there were no gender differences.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the current study adds to mounting scientific evidence that lifestyle factors – such as regular cardiovascular exercise, a healthy diet, and speaking more than one language – can play a central role in how the brain copes with age-related cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hospitalized Sepsis Seniors More Likely To Get Alzheimer’s

Older patients hospitalized for severe sepsis are at higher risk for long-term cognitive impairment and physical limitations than those hospitalized for other reasons.

The conclusion was reported following a study by ached by the Department of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University Medical Center and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sepsis is a condition in which the immune system goes into overdrive releasing chemicals into the blood to combat infection. Sepsis occurs in 1 percent to 2 percent of all hospitalizations in the United States. Sepsis often results after common problems such as pneumonia and urinary tract infections.

Approximately 40 percent of those with severe sepsis die from the condition. Among surviving patients the researchers found that the odds of acquiring moderate to severe cognitive impairment were 3.3 times higher following an episode of sepsis than for other hospitalizations.

Overall, the study also showed that 60 percent of hospitalizations for severe sepsis were associated with worsened cognitive and physical function among surviving older adults. Severe sepsis also was associated with greater risk for the development of new functional limitations following hospitalization.

Among patients who had no limitations before sepsis, more than 40 percent developed trouble with walking. Nearly 1 in 5 developed new problems with shopping or preparing a meal. Patients often developed new problems with such basic things as bathing and toileting themselves both conditions that result in the need for long-term health care services according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) a national trade group.

Patients in the study had a mean age of nearly 76.9 years. The cohort involved 1,194 individuals with 1,520 hospitalizations for severe sepsis drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of U.S. residents from 1998 to 2006, which collects information on the health, economic, and social factors influencing the health and well-being of Americans over age 50.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Women Will Be Increasingly Burdened By Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease will place an increasing burden on women according to new reports.

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month and even the U.S. Congress has urged “the people of the United States to recognize (this) as an opportunity to learn more about the potential risks and costs … and the options available.” Alzheimer’s is a leading cause of need for long-term care.

Over 10 million American females either have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or look after a patient with the disease, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Two thirds (65%) of all Alzheimer’s patients are female (3 million in America) and 6.7 million women care for somebody with the disease, says The Shriver Report, a collaboration between California’s First Lady Maria Shriver and The Alzheimer’s Association.

By the year 2050 approximately 8 million women will have AD in the US.

Here are some of the highlights of the report:

a) Over 10 million American females either have AD or look after a patient with the disease

b) 65% of Alzheimer’s patients are female

c) 60% of caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients are female

d) 40% of caregivers who are female say they have no choice

e) One third of all female caregivers are caring for somebody with AD around the clock, seven days a week

f) The impact of AD on business, families and government is estimated to be $300 billion annually

g) Nearly two-thirds of caregivers who also have a job say they have no choice but to get to work late, clock off early and sometimes take time off to care for somebody with AD.

The current $300 billion impact of AD is set to triple within a few decades, the authors write. 78 million baby boomers are rapidly reaching the age of Alzheimer’s onset, Shriver points out; this will soon push up the economic and social costs for America as a whole.

Despite hundreds of clinical trials and millions spent on research, Alzheimer’s disease is still incurable. Researchers and experts continue to hope, and say we are making progress. Even so, there is a feeling among most Americans that scientific progress is too slow. When compared to innovative breakthroughs that have occurred in diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease, Americans rank Alzheimer’s at the bottom of the list.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Munching Celery Reduces Memory Decline

Diets rich in the plant compound luteolin reduces age-related inflammation in the brain and related memory deficits.

Luteolin is found in many plants, including carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile. The compound inhibits the release of inflammatory molecules in the brain.

According to researchers who examined the effects of dietary luteolin in a mouse model of aging and reported their findings in the Journal of Nutrition.

The researchers focused on specialized immune cells that reside in the brain and spinal cord. Inflammation in the brain also appears to be a key contributor to age-related memory problems, said the University of Illinois animal sciences professor who led the new study.

Scientists found previously that during normal aging, microglial cells become dysregulated and begin producing excessive levels of inflammatory cytokines. The researcher has spent nearly a decade studying the anti-inflammatory properties of nutrients and various bioactive plant compounds, including luteolin.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks aging research and issues, this is the first study to suggest, however, that luteolin improves cognitive health by acting directly on the microglial cells to reduce their production of inflammatory cytokines in the brain.

The researchers showed that microglial cells that were exposed to a bacterial toxin produced inflammatory cytokines that could kill neurons. When the microglia were exposed to luteolin before they encountered the toxin, however, the neurons lived.

The researchers next turned their attention to the effects of luteolin on the brains and behavior of adult (3- to 6-month-old) and aged (2-year-old) mice. The mice were fed a control diet or a luteolin-supplemented diet for four weeks. The researchers assessed their spatial memory and measured levels of inflammatory markers in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important to memory and spatial awareness.

Normally, aged mice have higher levels of inflammatory molecules in the hippocampus and are more impaired on memory tests than younger adult mice. Aged mice on the luteolin-supplemented diet, however, did better on the learning and memory task than their peers, and the levels of inflammatory cytokines in their brains were more like those of the younger adult mice.

The data suggests that consuming a healthy diet has the potential to reduce age-associated inflammation in the brain, which can result in better cognitive health.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Record Poor Will Impact Long Term Care Services

A record number of Americans signed up for Medicaid last year and experts warn it will impact those needing long term care.

According to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation enrollment in Medicaid, medical insurance program for the poor, increased to more than 48 million – a record 15.7 percent share of the U.S. population. ”There will be two classes of Americans, those who will have to accept whatever care the government programs can afford, and those who have assets or insurance to pay,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “People in their 50s today are in for a real shock unless they expect things to get much better.”

With the economy barely improving, states are forecasting a 6 percent increase in the rolls next year, meaning another strain on their cash-depleted budgets. The Medicaid numbers are the latest piece to emerge in a grim statistical picture of the recession’s toll.

The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s last year, according to a recent Census report. Nearly 12 million households received food stamps, a record.

The $814 billion federal economic stimulus plan passed last year provided extra funding for states for Medicaid, in the hope of covering the costs of the increased number of enrollees and of freeing up state budgets for spending in other areas.

The plan helped states drop their spending on Medicaid, which can take up a third of their budgets, by 7.1 percent in fiscal 2010 and by 10.9 percent in fiscal 2009, Kaiser found. But even with the U.S. government shouldering a greater share of the burden, states were forced to make cuts. In fiscal 2010 48 of the 50 states made cuts to some part of their Medicaid programs, according to the report. In fiscal 2011, 46 states intend to cut back on Medicaid spending.

Altogether, 20 states restricted the types of benefits enrollees could use in fiscal 2010, the largest number since records began in 2001.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Exercise And Fall Prevention For Seniors

Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reports that improvements in gait strength and balance can aid in fall prevention for elderly women who are at high risk of hip fractures and costly hip replacement procedures.

According to the study, one hundred sixty women were broken into two study groups: 84to an exercise group, and 76 in a control percentage. For a six month period, once a week from October through March years 1998 through 2001, the women in the exercise group took classes pertaining to balance, leg strength and impact training.

After the exercise period was complete, 17 women in the exercise group were hospital-treated for fractures, and 23 in the control contracted fractures.

Five serious hip fractures were recorded in the control, non-training group compared to absolutely zero in the portion that worked on balance and stamina over the four year period. Hip fractures are a major cause of injury that can result in the need for costly long-term care according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the Los Angeles-based educational group.

The researchers conducted follow-up research of 160 women who participated in a randomized trial aimed at reducing risk factors for fractures in elderly women with osteopenia (a reduction in bone mass, or low levels of bone calcium).

They noted that Thirty months of supervised, mainly home-based exercises followed by voluntary home training had a positive long-term effect on balance and gait in high-risk elderly women. Life-long physical activity was associated with reduced risk of fractures.

Furthermore, mortality was significantly lower in the exercise group than in the control group during the extended follow-up period. Regular daily physical activity should be recommended to elderly women with osteopenia.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Guide Offers Tips On Living With Dementia

A free informational guide Living with Dementia is available for free download from Homewatch CareGivers.

According to the World Alzheimer’s Report and the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) reports, over 35 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Without a significant medical breakthrough related to dementia care that number could double every 20 years, and by 2050 could affect over 115 million people, explains Jesse Slome, executive director of AALTCI.

“Based on our 30 years of caregiving experience we know that when someone receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia that it suddenly involves more than just the patient,” said Leann Reynolds, president of Homewatch CareGivers. The Guide to Dementia was prepared to arm families and caregivers with free information and resources, which might not otherwise be provided, that can educate them and provide a roadmap for the difficult journey they face.

The guide covers the following:

- Definitions of dementia and what those definitions mean both clinically and personally
- In-depth tips for communicating with loved ones experiencing dementia
- Communication issues to watch out for as the symptoms of dementia progress
- In-depth tips for helping family members with dementia around the house
- Practical tips for understanding and dealing with behavior issues related to dementia
- Self-help and wellness tips for family caregivers

“Our goal is to support families by providing information and resources,” Reynolds added. “We want this guide to be one of the resources that helps family members and caregivers deal with the numerous issues that arise from living with dementia.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

Study Examines Falls Among Seniors

The risk factors for indoor and outdoor falls for older adults are different, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, reported a fact that is often missed when the two are combined. Their findings may affect how falls prevention programs are structured.

The scientists noted that indoor and outdoor falls are both important. But they note that people at high risk for indoor falls are different in many ways from those at high risk of outdoor falls.

The findings which were published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that indoor falls are associated with an inactive lifestyle, disability, and poor health, while outdoor falls are associated with higher levels of activity and average or better-than-average health.

Older adults who fell outdoors were somewhat younger than those who fell indoors, more likely to be male and better educated, and had lifestyle characteristics indicative of better health. Those who fell indoors had more physical disabilities, took more medications, and had lower cognitive function than those who fell outdoors.

The study examined nearly 800 men and women, age 70 and older, from randomly sampled households in the Boston area. Study participants underwent a comprehensive baseline falls assessment, including a home visit and clinic examination. Falls were reported on monthly calendars submitted to the researchers. Over a nearly two-year period, 598 indoor falls and 524 outdoor falls were reported. When a participant reported a fall, a structured telephone interview was conducted to determine the circumstances.

A fall the scientists report is not necessarily a marker of poor health. In fact, almost half of all falls occurred outdoors, and people who fell outdoors had the same or better health than those who did not fall at all. Second, epidemiological studies of risk factors for falls in older people may be hampered when falls are combined, with important associations between risk factors and indoor and outdoor falls potentially being missed. Third, intervention programs need to be tailored differently for people more likely to fall outdoors than those who tend to fall indoors.

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, seniors who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. At least half of these falls occur outdoors. Falls are a leading cause for needing long-term care.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Live Longer: Give A Firm Handshake

If you have a firm handshake, you just live longer than your fellow human.

According to a new study, it’s also helpful if you can walk and chew gum at the same time, leap from your chair during a scary movie or always win the three legged race at the family reunion, then well,

New studies from the BMJ (British Medical Journal) formed by UK researchers have discovered the relation between basic physical tasks and mortality.

Screening how well persons perform basic functions can determine those individuals who may benefit from targeted strength training programs as interventions used to improve longevity.

Four measures of physical capability including gripping, walking, rising from a chair and balancing on one leg were evaluated Simply stated, persons who are unable to perform such tasks at a high level have a higher risk of death.

In 53,476 persons that had grip strength analyzed, death rate among the weakest people, taking into consideration age, sex and weight, was 1.67 times greater than among the persons with a stronger grip.

Slow walkers in a group of 14,692 participants had a 2.87 times great mortality rate than their more brisk counterparts.

Almost 50% increase in the rate of death was found in 28,036 people that rose out of their chairs slower than the other half of the group.

The association of grip strength with mortality was detected in younger populations although the studies covered an older population according to the research. The authors say that a steep decline in physical capability may be a better predictor of mortality than is the absolute level at a single point in time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rectal Cancer Rates Rise For Under 40

A new analysis has found that while colon cancer rates have remained steady over the past several decades among people under the age of 40, rectal cancer rates are increasing in this population across races and in both sexes.

Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that greater efforts are needed to diagnose rectal cancer in young individuals who show potential signs of the disease.

Rectal cancer is considered to be rare among young individuals in the United States. Because underestimating rectal cancer’s incidence may lead to missed or delayed diagnoses in younger people.

By conducting a retrospective study using data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) cancer registry, the investigators identified 7,661 colon and rectal cancer patients under age 40 years between 1973 and 2005.

The researchers then calculated the change in incidence over time for colon and rectal cancers.

Overall rates of colon and of rectal cancer were low during the years of the study (1.11 cases and 0.42 cases per 100,000, respectively). While colon cancer rates remained essentially flat in individuals under age 40 years in recent decades, rectal cancer rates have been increasing since 1984. Specifically, between 1984 and 2005, the rate of rectal cancer diagnosis rose 3.8% per year.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fear of Falling Leads To Risk

People who are afraid of falling down have a higher risk of experiencing subsequent falls, compared to individuals who do not have that fear, says a new report published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). The authors say that both actual and perceived fall risk should be included in fall risk assessment in order to help protect elderly people from falls.

A significant number of elderly individuals are afraid of falling down. Fear of falling is also linked to anxiety, depressions, poor balance, and having had previous falls. The investigators, from Belgium and Australia wanted to understand fear of falling better, as well as determining its impact on the risk of falls.

The study involved 500 individuals, aged between 70 and 90 years. They all lived in Sydney, Australia. The participants underwent an extensive medical and neuropsychological assessment. Recognized scoring scales were used to estimate actual and perceived fall risks. All study participants were followed up each month for a twelve-month period.

The study revealed that actual fall risk and perceived fall risk both contribute to an individual’s risk, independently.

The researchers went further by splitting the sample into four groups, based on the contrast between actual and perceived risk. The groups were called: The vigorous group – those with low actual and low perceived fall risk. They were deemed to be at low risk of future significant falls. The aware group – those with high actual and high perceived fall risk. They were considered at high risk of future significant falls. The anxious group – those that had a low actual but high perceived risk of falls, which was linked to depressive symptoms, neurotic personality traits, and some physical characteristics (poor body function).

They found that the majority of individuals had an accurate perception of their fall risk. Approximately 30% of elderly individuals either overestimated or underestimated their fall risk, the authors wrote.

The researchers found that high levels of perceived fall risk tended to result in a higher risk of future falls, irrespective of the actual risk. They also found that the disparity between actual and perceived risk contributed towards the risk, mainly through psychological pathways.

The authors say that their findings indicate that attempts to reduce fear of falling among the elderly does not usually lead to increased risk of falls because the patients became overly confident and bold.

The concluded that perceived fall risk, as well as actual fall risk measures should be included in fall risk assessments.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alzheimer’s: Achieving A Goal Helps

Achieving personal goals can help people in the early stages of dementia manage their condition.

Research published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry conducted by researchers at Bangor University, Wales found that people who received cognitive rehabilitation felt their performance of daily activities improved. Carers of those receiving the treatment also noted an improvement in their own quality of life.

Cognitive rehabilitation is a treatment where people with dementia work with health professionals to identify personal goals and develop strategies for achieving them.

Goals were tailored to the participants’ specific needs and included things such as remembering details of jobs to be done around the house, maintaining concentration when cooking, learning to use a mobile phone and remembering the names of people at an exercise class. The cognitive rehabilitation group said they saw an improvement in their ability to carry out all of the chosen activities.

The trial compared eight weekly individual sessions of cognitive rehabilitation with relaxation therapy and no treatment. As well as setting and working on goals the cognitive rehabilitation group also learnt and practised techniques for taking in new information, managing stress and maintaining attention and concentration.

The Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, says, ‘This research is the first trial of its kind to evaluate the effectiveness of the ‘cognitive rehabilitation’ technique. The findings provide a basis for a larger study of cognitive rehabilitation as a means of assisting people in the early stages of dementia and their families to better manage the condition.’

Millions will develop dementia in the next ten years according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. In order to enable people with dementia to live well with the condition we need more funding to further research in this area.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Low Calorie Diet Can Lead To Longer Life

Scientists have known that a restricted diet can extend lifespans. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. the new research shows that effects occur even if the restricted diet is adopted later in life.

“These findings could help scientists to better understand and ultimately prevent a range of age-related diseases in humans.” according to Jesse Slome, executive diirector of the organization. “When you live a long life however you are far more likely to need long term care.”

The research was conducted by scientists at the British Society for Research on Ageing at Newcastle University.

Working with the theory that cell senescence – the point at which a cell can no longer replicate – is a major cause of ageing the researchers set out to investigate what effect a restricted diet had on this process. By looking at mice fed a restricted diet the team found that they had a reduced accumulation of senescent cells in their livers and intestines. Both organs are known to accumulate large numbers of these cells as animals age.

Alongside this the CISBAN scientists also found that the telomeres of the chromosomes of the mice on restricted diets were better maintained despite their ageing. Telomeres are the protective ‘ends’ of chromosomes that prevent errors, and therefore diseases, occurring as DNA replicates throughout an organisms lifetime but they are known to become ‘eroded’ over time.

The adult mice were fed a restricted diet for a short period of time demonstrating that it may not be necessary to follow a very low calorie diet for a lifetime to gain the benefits the scientists found.

Researchers looked at parts of the body that easily show biological signs of ageing, suggests that a restricted diet can help to reduce the amount of cell senescence occurring and can reduce damage to protective telomeres. In turn this prevents the accumulation of damaging tissue oxidation which would normally lead to age-related disease.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Congressman Launches Effort To Stop The CLASS Act

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), CLASS will likely not be implemented until 2013. “If the plan is going to be changed now would be the time before employers have to evaluate the pros and cons and dollars are withheld from employee paychecks,” Slome notes.

The Congressman’s letter released reads as follows: Most Americans remain unaware of the CLASS program, a new government-run long-term care insurance program that was slipped into the health-care law.

Speaker Pelosi and her allies behaved recklessly when they used the CLASS program as a $70 billion budget gimmick to fund other portions of the new health-care law. Congress has a duty to stop the implementation of this new unfunded entitlement before a single premium dollar is collected from hard-working Americans.

Instead of setting money from CLASS premiums aside solely for promised benefits, Democrats used it to pay for other parts of the new health law and merely put an IOU in a government trust fund. Americans could be required to repay these IOUs in the form of higher taxes.

Actuaries and budget experts widely agree CLASS is fatally flawed. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad publicly called the program “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would be proud of.”

The Congressional Budget Office, the American Academy of Actuaries and CMS’s own actuary warn the program will disproportionately attract enrollees with the highest costs. Premiums will skyrocket and discourage young and healthy workers from enrolling. The program will enter what Medicare Chief Actuary Rick Foster called “an insurance death spiral.”

The Chief Actuary predicted that CLASS will begin to run deficits in 2025 and continue to run deficits thereafter. He also estimated that an initial average premium of about $240 per month would be required to adequately fund CLASS program costs. CBO said CLASS “…would add to budget deficits in the third decade – and in succeeding decades—by amounts on the order of tens of billions of dollars for each 10-year period.”

I urge you to cosponsor the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act (H.R. 5853). This bill would stop the Obama Administration from implementing a final CLASS plan without a vote of approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Study Finds Sitting Shortens Life Span

According to a new study of more than 120,000 American adults the effect remained even after researchers factored out obesity or the level of daily physical activity people were engaged in.

“If you want to live a long life, get up and walk,” says Jesse Slome, executive director for the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance the industry trade organization which helps match consumers with local professionals.

According to medical experts, if you’re in a job that does require sitting, that’s fine, but any time you can expend energy is good. That’s the key they note. The salutary effect of exercise on being overweight or obese, rates of which are at an all-time high, have been well documented. But according to background information in the study, which is published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the effects of sitting per se are less well-studied. Although several studies have found a link between sitting time and obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease risk, and unhealthy diets in children, few had examined sitting and “total mortality,” researchers noted.

The authors of the study analyzed responses from questionnaires filled out by 123,216people (53,440 men and 69,776 women) with no history of disease who were participating in the Cancer Prevention II study conducted by the American Cancer Society. Participants were followed for 14 years, from 1993 to 2006. In the study, people were more likely to die of heart disease than cancer. After adjusting for a number of risk factors, including body mass index (BMI) and smoking, women who spent six hours a day sitting had a 37 percent increased risk of dying versus those who spent less than three hours a day on their bottoms. For men the increased risk was 17percent.

Exercise, even a little per day, did tend to lower the mortality risk tied to sitting, the researchers noted. However, sitting’s influence on death risk remained significant even when activity was factored in. On the other hand, people who sat a lot and did not exercise or stay active had an even higher mortality risk: 94 percent for women and 48 percent for men.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Medicare Payment For Nursing Home Increases

This increase will result in an estimated $542 million increase in Medicare payments to nursing homes across the country during the 2011 fiscal year. Medicare pays nursing home costs typically for short stays notes Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. For longer periods of care individuals must pay from their savings or have long-term care insurance to cover costs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updates the payment rates annually, using a market basket index reflecting changes in the prices of goods and services used to furnish covered care in nursing homes. In addition, CMS makes a forecast error adjustment whenever the difference between the forecasted and actual change in the market basket exceeds a 0.5 percentage point threshold for the most recently available fiscal year for which there is final data. In initially establishing the forecast error adjustment, CMS noted that it would reflect both upward and downward adjustments, as appropriate. For FY 2009 (the most recently available fiscal year for which there is final data), the estimated increase in the market basket index was 3.4 percentage points, while the actual increase was 2.8 percentage points. This resulted in the actual increase being 0.6 percentage point lower than the estimated increase. Accordingly, as the difference between the estimated and actual amount of change exceeds the 0.5 percentage point threshold, the payment rates for FY 2011 include a negative 0.6 percentage point forecast error adjustment. This adjustment, when combined with the FY 2011 market basket increase factor of 2.3 percent, yields a net update of positive 1.7% for FY 2011.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Common Drugs Cause Cognitive Impairment

The findings reported in a study in the July 13, 2010 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers report that drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and are widely-used medical therapies. They are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Sominex, Tylenol PM, and Unisom. Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, are available only by prescription.

Older adults most commonly use drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids and to relieve bladder leakage problems.

Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began. In addition to monitoring cognition, the investigators tracked all over-the-counter and prescription medications taken by study participants.

The scientists found that taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. Taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tai Chi May Yield Significant Health Benefits

The findings which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, included 77 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on Qigong or Tai Chi interventions published in peer-reviewed journals between 1993 and 2007. Taken together, there were 6,410 participants in the studies.

According to the researcher, there is strong evidence base for bone health, cardio-respiratory fitness, physical function, balance, quality of life, fall prevention and psychological benefits all important for aging Americans notes Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Slome recently returned from a visit to China.

Qigong is a very general term to describe exercises that will enhance qi flow or balance. Tai Chi is much more specific, focusing on a series of 24 to 108 movements that have a long written history over 19 generations. The research showed that simplified routines that are more practical for RCTs are in fact quite effective in health enhancement. Of the studies analyzed 27 considered psychological symptoms, 23 looked at falls and related risk factors, 19 looked at cardiopulmonary effects and 17 evaluated quality of life. Other included studies looked at bone density, physical function and immune function. Participants’ average age was 55, and for studies that looked at balance, 80 was the average age.

The researchers found quite consistent evidence of several benefits from this particular category of exercise.

Tai Chi and Qigong have many health benefits and therefore should be considered a high priority when one is selecting an exercise to practice, they noted.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Key To Long Life May Be Eating Proteins

New research may help explain why ‘dietary restriction’ (also known as calorie restriction) while maintaining sufficient quantities of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients appears to have health benefits. These benefits include living longer. and evidence suggests that dietary restriction can have health benefits for humans, too, though it is unclear whether it can increase longevity.

To understand whether the health benefits of dietary restriction stem from a reduction in specific nutrients or in calorie intake in general, researchers at University College London measured the effects of manipulating the diet of female fruit flies. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature.

Adding methionine to a low calorie diet boosted fertility without reducing lifespan; likewise, reducing methionine content in a high calorie diet prolonged lifespan. Previous studies have also shown that reducing the intake of methionine in rodents can help extend lifespan. The findings indicate that it is possible to extend lifespan without wholesale dietary restriction.

Methionine is one of the most important amino acids essential to the formation of all proteins consumed when eating different food types, including meat and dairy products, soy-derived food such as tofu, and pulses. The relative abundance of methionine differs depending on the food type in question; it occurs in naturally high levels in foods such as sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, wheat germ, fish and meats.

Although the human genome has around four times the number of genes as the fruit fly genome, there is a close relationship between many of these genes. Since it is easy to create mutants and carry out experiments on fruit flies, the functions of many fly genes have been established and newly discovered human genes can often be matched against their fly counterparts. Therefore, even though the fruit fly does not on the surface resemble humans, many findings about its basic biology can be interpreted for human biology.

Research report prepared by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance the national trade organization committed to educating Americans about living long, healthy and protected lives.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Exercize Reduces Cellular Aging Among Older Women

The study published online in the open access journal PLoS ONE reports that telomere length is increasingly considered a biological marker of the accumulated wear and tear of living, integrating genetic influences, lifestyle behaviors, and stress.

Telomeres are protective strips of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes and stop them unravelling, not unlike the plastic sheaths on the ends of shoelaces. The researchers found that even a moderate amount of vigorous exercise appears to provide a critical amount of protection for the telomeres.

There is also growing evidence that short telomeres are linked to several health problems, including diabetes and coronary heart disease, as well as early death.

The researchers built on previous UCSF-led studies that found psychological stress causes overall wear and tear in the body at a deep level in cells by promoting cell aging through shortening telomere length.

According to the study as little as 42 minutes of vigorous exercise over a 3-day period, similar to levels recommended by federal health authorities in the US, seems to protect individuals from the effects of stress by reducing its effect on telomere length.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults undertake 75 minutes of vigorous, or 150 minutes of moderate activity, plus weight-bearing exercise, every week notes Jesse Slome, executive direxctor of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

The results confirmed earlier findings from research on premenopausal women that found psychological stress promoted immune cell aging through shortening of telomeres.

But when they analysed the results for the highly stressed women in terms of sedentary and inactive participants (the active participants included all those who met or exceeded the federally recommended 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week), they found only the sedentary high stress participants had shorter telomeres.

The active, high stress participants did not have shorter telomeres. In other words, it appears that high stress predicted shorter telomeres in the sedentary but not the active group.

The researchers suggested that for this group of older women, the CDC recommended level of vigorous exercise is enough to buffer the effect that psychological stress has on telomere length.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Aging Baby Boomers Will Need To Innovate Care Support

This is the conclusion of Jacques Légaré, professor at the Université de Montréal, who studies aging baby-boomers. The study notes that this is a generation for whom children are relatively rare and stable couples almost an exception.

In a paper presented at the 2010 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, held this week at Concordia University in Montreal, Mr. Légaré shows how the family circle available to the elderly will evolve from now until 2030.

It is usually the elderly person’s family circle that provides care. Mr. Légaré notes that about 70 per cent of the care provided for frail seniors comes from the informal network – essentially the spouse or the children. This is only possible because today’s elderly – baby-boomers’ parents – have more children to care for them and generally live in stable couples.

This situation will soon change. Divorce, common-law unions, blended families and relatively few children per couple are factors to consider. In addition to this, death rates have declined considerably, to the point where average life expectancy has grown considerably. Couples who have not split up will be living together longer.

Tomorrow’s elderly – today’s boomers – had far fewer children. Who will take care of them? “Millions of boomers have their head buried in the sand when it comes to long-term care planning,” states Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “That’s what forced the government to try a voluntary plan (the CLASS Act) with the hope that at least a small percentage will do some planning.” Without funds to pay for care, millions will find themselves in difficult circumstances and have to turn to the public system to pay their way.

According to professor Légaré, new programs must be developed to model these extended families and new support systems.

If informal services change, the public system must also adapt. “Boomers have done nothing like the others,” Mr. Légaré points out. “They stand out from the other cohorts, and we believe they will do so again.”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Long Sleep Linked To Increased Health Risks In Older Adults

Metabolic syndrome is a group of obesity-related risk factors that increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. A person with at least three of these five risk factors is considered to have metabolic syndrome: excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks health conditions impacting the aging American public.

According to a research abstract presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies participants who reported a habitual daily sleep duration of eight hours or more including naps were 15 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

This relationship remained unchanged after full adjustment for potential confounders such as demographics, lifestyle and sleep habits, and metabolic markers. Removing participants with potential ill health from the analysis slightly attenuated the observed association. Although participants who reported a short sleep duration of less than six hours were 14 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome in the initial analysis, this association disappeared after controlling for potential confounders.

Researchers noted that the most surprising aspect of the study was that long sleep – and not short sleep – was related to the presence of the metabolic syndrom.

The study involved over 29,000 adults, making it the largest study to assess the relationship between sleep duration and the presence of metabolic syndrome. Participants were 50 years of age or older. Total sleep duration was reported by questionnaire.

We can recommend that long sleepers reduce the amount of overall sleep they achieve, which may in turn have beneficial effects on their health one medical expert noted. Programs can be developed to modify sleep in an attempt to reduce the health burden on elderly populations, who are already at higher risk of disease.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Researchers Find Cause Of Cognitive Decline In Seniors

According to scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, these spines receive an important class of synapses that are involved with the process of learning. The discovery provides the medical community with a new therapeutic target to help prevent this loss of function.

“Millions of aging seniors suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. These conditions account for the longest and most costly causes for long term health care.

When a person ages they lose certain spines the researchers noted. We did not know which ones and how their loss impacted cognition. The new study shows which spines are lost and what their impact is on brain function, giving us a foundation to research treatment interventions to protect against age-related cognitive decline.

The research team studied six young adult and nine older rhesus monkeys as they participated in a delayed response test. The monkeys watched as food was baited and hidden, and then a screen was put in front of them so they could no longer see the location of the hidden reward.

At the beginning of the test, the screen was raised immediately and the monkeys were able to find the food reward right away. The subject’s memory was tested by increasing the time that the reward was blocked from view to test if the monkeys retained where the reward was placed over longer intervals of time. Aged monkeys performed significantly worse on the tests than young monkeys, especially as the time intervals increased.

The researchers determined that the older monkeys lacked the thin spines but retained the larger spines, indicating that the loss of the thin spines may be responsible for the monkeys’ inability to learn and retain information during the test. For the first time, the researchers determined that the large spines were stable, which provides a synaptic basis for the observation that expertise and skills learned early in life are often maintained into old age.

The study is published in the June 2 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blood Pressure And Heart Disease Drugs May Help Fend Off Dementia

Researchers report that angiotensin receptor blockers appear to offer greater protection against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than other high blood pressure and heart disease medication.

A growing number of people are threatened by dementia including Alzheimer’s disease as they get older explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the Americamn Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Individuals who suffer from either disease can spend long periods of time in nursing homes or requiring care from family members.

Mid-life diseases particularly like diabetes and high blood pressure seem to be associated with a higher chance of developing dementia. Researchers explain that this is the first large scale study to investigate whether angiotensin receptor blockers reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Boston University School of Medicine researchers investigated the incidence of dementia in over 800,000 individuals in the US from 2002 to 2006. They were mostly (98 percent) male subjects. The participants had cardiovascular disease and were 65 years of age or older.

Research subjects were divided in three groups: one using angiotensin receptor blockers, another the blood pressure lowering drug lisinopril and the third using other comparative drugs used for heart disease.

The findings indicate that the group on angiotensin receptor blockers was significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In addition, they reveal that angiotensin receptor blockers have an additive effect when used in combination with another type of high blood pressure drug (ACE inhibitors). In fact, individuals with existing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who took both medicines were less likely to die early or be admitted to nursing homes.

The study is the first to compare both risk of dementia and progression of dementia in users of angiotensin receptor blockers compared with users of a drug from the same class (lisinopril) or users of other drugs prescribed for cardiovascular disease.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Belly Fat Increases Dementia Risk

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), there are about 24 million people in the world living with dementia, with 4.6 million new cases coming forward every year.he study by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) published online in the journal Annals of Neurology, confirms the inverse association of increasing BMI with lower brain volumes in older adults and with younger, middle-aged adults.

Researchers noted that this was the first study to do so in a much larger sample: previous studies have used data on up to 300 participants. This study included over 700 individuals.

For the body measures they included: Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, waist to hip ratio, and measures of abdominal fat (called visceral adipose tissue or VAT) determined using computed tomography (CT) scans. They also took into account other physiology measures such as insulin resistance.

As well as confirming the link between increasing BMI and lower brain volume they found a statistically significant link between abdominal fat and lower total brain volume.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Small Business Owners Unaware of Long-Term Care Tax Deductions

The majority of small and mid-sized business owners are not familiar with the tax deductible benefits available when offering long-term care insurance plan to employees. According to one insurance company executive, tax-deductible long-term care insurance remains the best-kept secret and employers are missing out on billions of dollars of potential tax savings.

Federal and a growing number of states now offer tax deductions and tax credits for the purchase of long-term care insurance. The cost of coverage may be fully tax deductible to the business and a great deal of flexibility can be offered when initiating a plan. In addition, corporate pricing breaks of 5 percent to 10 percent, in addition to substantial spousal or couples discounts, are the norm.

According to the 2009 edition of A Business Owner’s Guide To Long-Term Care Insurance, any form of business ownership can enjoy deductions for a long-term care insurance premium. Benefits received are, as a rule, always tax-free. Premiums might be considered imputed income to an employee depending on how the company is held.

Insurers offer various forms of long-term care insurance plans designed specifically to meet the needs of either small or large employers. Policies can be personally owned but company-paid, thus staying with the insured after he or she leaves a company or retires.

Long-term care insurance offers great design flexibility for employers. For example, employers can pick and choose who participates in a plan. Properly done, there are no ERISA issues, unlike group health insurance, according to tax experts. These plans are often called “carve-outs” which allow employers to be “selective” when determining who would be covered under a long-term care insurance benefit.

Policy design provisions enable employers to pay premiums for fixed periods of time, at which point the policy is paid up for life. One of the significant benefits is that policy benefit amounts keep increasing under inflation protection options with no risk of future long-term care insurance rate hikes.

According to American Association for Long Term Care Insurance experts, policies available to employers may allow two spouses to share one benefit pool. This has the potential to double the benefit any single insured might have and eliminates much of the problem as it pertains to the benefit period chosen. At the death of one spouse, the other typically inherits the other remaining benefits free of charge.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ethnicity Affects Rate Of Falls Among Senior Men

Falls and fall prevention are a concern for the elderly and people with osteoporosis, according to data from trhe American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Osteoporosis is an increasingly common chronic disease that causes weak and fragile bones. People with osteoporosis are at increased risk of fracture, even after a minor fall from standing height. A study presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis 2010 reveals that among elderly men the risk of falling, and thereby breaking a bone, is influenced by age. Most significantly, it also suggests that ethnicity and environment play a role in the risk of falling. The survey study analyzed the epidemiology of falls among more than 11,000 elderly men in Sweden, the US and Hong Kong. The results showed that although the frequency of falls increased significantly with age in each country, the risk of frequent falls (men who fell two or more times over the course of one year) did not vary significantly across the different age groups. The proportion of fallers in most age groups was highest in the US, intermediate in Sweden and lowest in Hong Kong. The proportion of frequent fallers showed a different pattern, being highest in Sweden, intermediate in the US and lowest in Hong Kong. The fall epidemiology did not differ when comparing Asian men living in Hong Kong or the US.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Aging Motorcyclists At Risk Of Accidents

Doctors report finding that these aging road warriors are more likely to be injured or die as a result of a motorcycle mishap compared to their younger counterparts.

While the typical injured motorcyclist has long been thought of as a young, otherwise healthy victim of sudden injury, a study from the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests otherwise. Between 1996 and 2005, researchers found the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes increased from approximately 34 to 39 years, and the proportion of injured riders above the age of 40 increased from around 28 percent to close to 50 percent.

Of all injured riders included in the study, 50- to 59-year-olds represented the fastest growing group, while 20- to 29-year-olds were the most rapidly declining. Accidents are a leading reason people require long-term care according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “A small but significant porportion of claims are made by people in their 40s and 50s mostly as a result of accidents,” explains Jesse Slome, director.

For riders above the age of 40, injury severity, length of stay in the hospital or intensive care unit, and mortality were higher compared to riders below the age of 40. The risk of dying was one-and-a-half to two times more likely in riders over 40, based on the severity of the original injury. The study also found that older riders are more likely to die from less severe injuries than younger riders, to spend at least 24 hours in the intensive care unit, and to have more pre-existing co-morbidities and complications that contribute to longer hospital stays.

The increase in injury severity for older riders may be related to the reduced capacity to withstand injury as the body ages. Age-related changes, such as decreases in bone strength and brain size, may make older riders more susceptible to injury. Other factors associated with aging, such as impaired vision, delayed reaction time, and altered balance contribute to motorcycle crashes in this population, explaining in part the researchers’ finding that older riders crashed more often as a result of loss of control than younger riders.

Researchers using the National Trauma Databank reviewed the records of 61,689 motorcyclists aged 17 to 89 years involved in a motorcycle crash between 1996 and 2005. The average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes steadily increased over the study period, which is consistent with published statistics from the Motorcycle Industry Council which report that the average age of motorcycle ownership rose from 33 years in 1998 to 40 years in 2003.

Motorcycle crashes are a significant cause of injury and death on our nation’s roadways, despite the fact that motorcycles are responsible for only a small fraction of the total miles traveled annually in the United States. The authors say that the study provides justification for expanding the scope of motorcycle safety research, education and training initiatives to specifically target the older motorcyclist.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Half Of Households Receive Some Government Benefit

According to the findings, these benefits came from a variety of programs, but Social Security and Medicare are the giants among these programs.

The report claims that about 28.4 million households, or 24 percent of the U.S. total, received means-tested benefits – either cash or non cash – in an average month during the quarter.

Medicaid (21.1 million), free or reduced-price school meals (11.5 million) and food stamps (9.3 million) were the most widely received such benefits. (Means-tested programs are those that provide cash or services to people who meet a test of need based on income and assets.)

However, it was two non-means-tested programs, Social Security and Medicare, which affected the largest number of households. There were 33.6 million receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits and 30.8 million receiving benefits from Medicare.

The percentage of households receiving any type of means-tested benefit climbed from 23.2 percent to 24.7 percent between May and November of that year, with the percentage receiving food stamps increasing from 7.6 percent to 8.8 percent and the share of those receiving Medicaid climbed from 17.5 percent to 18.5 percent.

“As the nation embarks on a new government program providing long-term care benefits the percentage who rely on taxpayer supported programs will likely increase,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Medicaid pays the largest share of long-term care costs according to the Association. “The only alternative to a government program will be savings or private insurance,” Slome notes.

Among the 67 percent of the working-age population engaging in some labor force activity, median monthly household cash income was $5,500; for those without labor force activity, such as retired people, this income was $2,979.

On average, about 143 million of the 157 million people in the labor force had a job the entire month. Such individuals had an average median monthly household cash income of $5,751. For those with a job only part of the month, it was $4,001, while it was $2,510 for those without a job the entire month who were looking for work or who were laid off.

Non cash means-tested benefits went to 28.2 million households in an average month. The majority of these households (54 percent) participated in two or more programs. A prevalent form of multiple recipiency (at least 4.6 million households) was the combination of food stamps and Medicaid coverage.

Receiving means-tested government benefits was significantly more common among households with unemployed members or with no labor force participants than among those with job-holders only.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chronically Ill Older Adults Rely On Others For Care

According to a new report, a majority of those who are married have spouses with at least one chronic illness that can affect their ability to provide support. The findings the importance of health care professionals directly addressing the roles that family members play in the care of their aging parents or other relatives.

The study looked at U.S. residents who were age 51 or older with chronic health problems who participated in the 2006 Health and Retirement Study, a national longitudinal study conducted at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Researchers found that 93 percent of the chronically ill older adults had adult children, but for half of them, the children lived more than 10 miles away.

Roughly 19 million older chronically ill Americans have adult children living at a distance, explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “Even when a spouse is available, the vast majority struggle with their own chronic medical needs and functional limitations,” Slome adds.

University of Michigan staff are working to develop telephone monitoring systems that involve family members in a relative’s care through e-mail alerts or automated phone calls. The “CarePartners” program has been developed for patients with heart failure, diabetes, depression, and cancer chemotherapy.

The program is being studied as part of randomized trials and community demonstration programs throughout mission as well as internationally.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New, Low Cost Way to Predict Alzheimer’s Disease

According to scientists a low-cost behavioral assessment can clue someone in to Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stage. The experts report the ability to detect changes in the progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

MCI is a condition that affects language, memory, and related mental functions. It is distinct from the ordinary mental degradation associated with aging and is a likely precursor to the more serious Alzheimer’s disease. Both MCI and Alzheimer’s are linked to a steady decline in the volume of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for long term memory and spatial reasoning.

MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are a reliable and direct way to detect hippocampal atrophy and diagnose MCI. But for many, the procedure is unavailable or too expensive according to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Researchers created a much cheaper alternative, based on a memory test, that correlates with hippocampal degradation. From a computer model of an atrophying hippocampus, the researchers determined how to estimate capacity with a statistical measure of how quickly tasks are completed. Applying this analysis to a memory test for people with MCI, the researchers were able to gauge their hippocampal capacity and compare it to the progression of their ailment.

The researchers gave this test to five groups of participants: college students, healthy middle-aged adults, healthy elderly individuals, people with diagnosed cases of MCI, and a control group of age-matched individuals without MCI. The first three groups each had 100 members and the last two each had 50.

They analyzed the response times for the tasks and the number of items that were recalled, with and without additional cues. The MCI group showed the greatest sensitivity to added cues — the additional input either substantially helped or inhibited their performance. But like the computer model, estimates of capacity highlighted the greatest cognitive difference between the MCI group and the others.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Self Administered Tests Could Screen Early Dementia Risk

The handwritten self-assessment takes less than 15 minutes to complete and is a reliable tool for evaluating cognitive abilities. Findings confirming the validity of the tool are reported in the current issue of the journal Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders.

“This is great news for adults in their 50s and early 60s who can still qualify for long-term care insurance,” explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Dementia and alzheimer’s are the most costly conditions among aging seniors. “Once a cognitive condition is diagnosed, there’s no way an individual will qualify for insurance,” Slome notes.

Ohio State University Medical Center medical experts developed the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) to help identify individuals with mild thinking and memory impairments at an early stage. The research shows four out of five people (80 percent) with mild thinking and memory (cognitive) issues will be detected by this test, and 95% of people who are normal thinking will have normal SAGE scores.

Many of the assessment tools for cognitive disorders being used today, while accurate, have aspects that deter their use. Other diagnostic tests require the patient to use a computer, which can add heightened anxiety to some older adults who may be infrequent users of technology.

The SAGE self-assessment is a practical tool for a busy primary care office said the test developer who makes the tests available free of charge to healthcare personnel. It only takes a paper, pen and a few minutes to take the test and because it’s self-administered, it doesn’t necessarily take time away from the appointment. “They can take the test in the waiting room while waiting for the doctor,” said Scharre.

The study involved 254 study participants, 59 years of age or older, who took the SAGE self-assessment. Sixty-three (63) individuals were randomly selected to have a one-day clinical evaluation utilizing a battery of physical, neurological and cognitive tests.

SAGE scores compared favorably with the mini-mental state examination (MMSE), a brief questionnaire test that is commonly used in medicine to screen for cognitive impairments and dementia.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Small Business Owners Unaware of Long-Term Care Tax Deductions

The majority of small and mid-sized business owners are not familiar with the tax deductible benefits available when offering long-term care insurance plan to employees. According to one insurance company executive, tax-deductible long-term care insurance remains the best-kept secret and employers are missing out on billions of dollars of potential tax savings.

Federal and a growing number of states now offer tax deductions and tax credits for the purchase of long-term care insurance. The cost of coverage may be fully tax deductible to the business and a great deal of flexibility can be offered when initiating a plan. In addition, corporate pricing breaks of 5 percent to 10 percent, in addition to substantial spousal or couples discounts, are the norm.

According to the 2009 edition of A Business Owner’s Guide To Long-Term Care Insurance, any form of business ownership can enjoy deductions for a long-term care insurance premium. Benefits received are, as a rule, always tax-free. Premiums might be considered imputed income to an employee depending on how the company is held.

Insurers offer various forms of long-term care insurance plans designed specifically to meet the needs of either small or large employers. Policies can be personally owned but company-paid, thus staying with the insured after he or she leaves a company or retires.

Long-term care insurance offers great design flexibility for employers. For example, employers can pick and choose who participates in a plan. Properly done, there are no ERISA issues, unlike group health insurance, according to tax experts. These plans are often called “carve-outs” which allow employers to be “selective” when determining who would be covered under a long-term care insurance benefit.

Policy design provisions enable employers to pay premiums for fixed periods of time, at which point the policy is paid up for life. One of the significant benefits is that policy benefit amounts keep increasing under inflation protection options with no risk of future long-term care insurance rate hikes.

According to American Association for Long Term Care Insurance experts, policies available to employers may allow two spouses to share one benefit pool. This has the potential to double the benefit any single insured might have and eliminates much of the problem as it pertains to the benefit period chosen. At the death of one spouse, the other typically inherits the other remaining benefits free of charge.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why do consumers perceive long-term care insurance is expensive?

Simple: The media has told them so. Reporters love numbers for their articles and industry-focused entities have gladly shared "average" premiums which have historically been in the $2,000 range. Compounding the matter, couples perceive a joint cost of $4,000 -- "expensive". Overcoming perceptions isn't easy. But an effective way to show that costs can indeed be affordable - is to show the actual range that consumers at very specific ages are paying for coverage. Thankfully, the New York State Partnership program does an ongoing study of what consumers pay. The 2009 numbers will be contained in the 2010 Sourcebook (2008 ranges are in the 2009 Sourcebook, page 44).

Here is 2009 data for key age ranges:
Ages 50 - 54 $ 694 - $9,650 (Mean: $2,236)
Ages 55 - 59 $ 794 - $8,824 (Mean: $2,373)
Ages 60 - 64 $1,011 - $8,187 (Mean: $2,935)

It is the tremendous range that creates an average (or mean) amount that is misleading. Again, these are real numbers of what real people paid for coverage in the State of New York in 2009.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Have Read About Rate Increases ...Should I Be Concerned?

It's hard to give a complex answer in just a few words, but let me try. The policies you are reading about in some news stories typically were issued 10 to 15 years ago when Long-Term Care insurance was still relatively new and conditions and policy pricing was very different. Just one example of what's charged. Interest rates paid on investments used to be 10% in 1985 and about 7% in 1995. Long-Term Care insurance is very interest rate sensitive. So, declining interest rates are great when you are looking to refinance your mortgage but lousy for an LTC insurer with older policies. But that was then; and this is now. Policies issued today in most states are governed by new regulations issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and adapted by most states. These regulations mandate that policies are priced fairly and accurately based on everything that;s been learned. So, while no one can guarantee the future ... not even me ... there are many more safeguards in place today to protect you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Am 57 and Married, How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

What you pay is determined by your age, your health, and how much protection you select when you apply. But, you want a bottom line. A Price Index is done every year and someone age 55 who qualifies for preferred health and spousal discounts may pay $709 per year if they are married for what I would call a base plan of protection today. That about $115,000 in current benefits. With inflation protection coverage, that will grow to over $305,000 in 20 years. That's taking advantage of spousal and preferred health discounts.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How Do Long-Term Care Partnership Plans Differ From Other LTC Insurance Plans?

About 30 states have adopted Long-Term Care Insurance Partnership plans and others will undoubtedly do so. We will post a fuller explanation of the significant benefits these plans offer. But they are basically the same long-term care insurance policy ... just "New and Improved" with a very special added benefit: State-provided additional asset protection feature.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Age Is To Young for Long-Term Care Planning?

A survey of Long-Term Care insurers at the end of 2007 showed that the youngest policyholders receiving payemets were age 23 and 25. Yesterday's image of long term care is something that people need when they are old ... and old is subjective. It is true that most people will need long-term care as a result of getting older. But, younger people have accidents - skiing, riding motocycles all come to mind. Surgery will fix that busted knee - but you will need lomng-term care for months of recovery and your health insurance does not cover that. Younger people get illnesses in their 40's and 50's like MS and Parkinson's that can require the need for years of care. Just something to think about .....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do All Long-Term Care Insurance Policies Cost the Same?

Definitely not and that's one reason why it pays to speak with a knowledgeable long-term care insurance professional. For example, quotes for a "generous" plan of protection assuming equal conditions for a 55 yar old spouse. A policy from Genworth or John Hancock would cost about $1,400. The same coverage from New York Life would run $1,945 and from Northwestern Mutual $2,400. These are all great companies and rates vary for a variety of reasons. But, as you can see, it clearly pays to check around. The savings can be substantial.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What If I Pay For Long-term Care Insurance and Never Use It?

Paying for something you’re never intending to use would be wasteful. Who would do it? The truth is there’s only one instance when you make a decision to pay for something you’re hoping never to use ... insurance. If you think about it, you have car insurance but you avoid accidents. You insure your home but you’d rather never have a fire or a flood. Insurance is something we buy with the unspoken hope we’ll never really need it. But, it’s smart to have it. It’s also smart to have long-term care insurance because if you have an accident, suffer a stroke or have a debilitating illness like Alzheimer’s disease, the cost can be enormous. Who’ll pay? Will your loved ones be forced to care for you? Long-term care insurance protection is something you hope you’ll never need. But it’s smart to have it, because right now you, your family and loved ones are not protected from one of the largest risks you face. When you buy long-term care insurance, you are joining eight million Americans who already own protection. Some 400,000 individuals bought new coverage last year. Consider yourself lucky if you never need the coverage. But, consider that last year, the industry witnessed the first individual policyholder to be paid over $1 million from their long-term care insurance policy. Benefits paid to thousands totaled $3.5 Billion.

I belive in plain talk about long-yerm care planing. No-obligation answers to whatever questions you have. If you would like a no-obligation cost quote for long-term care insurance, please contact me by calling 239-280-3246 or eMail me by clicking here. I can help make this important protection more affordable than you might think. Living a long life is likely .... Planning for it is necessay .... Long-Term Care Insurance Pays.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LTCi Policyholders More Likely than Uninsured to Receive Care at Home

Individuals who mistakenly believe LTCi is nursing home insurance may see the light after they see new figures on home health care. Statistics from a recent study indicate people who own LTCi receive significantly more home care and can stay in their homes longer than those who are uninsured.

Read "New Study Reports Three Times More People Receiving Health Care Support at Home Rather Than in Nursing Homes or Assisted-Living Facilities" by clicking here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Long-Term Care Insurance Is Not Expensive

One of the great misperceptions about long-term care insurance is that it's expensive. One argument goes, "it's expensive because I could pay for something I never use."

Would you say the same thing about your homeowner's insurance? "It's a waste if my house never burns down." Or your car insurance? "I'd better total that car so I get my premiums back." Of course you wouldn't make either of these statements. That's because you know that every day many people have bad car accidents and every day house fires happen. You count yourself quite lucky when they don't happen to you.

The same is true for long-term care insurance. Every day many people submit a claim on their long-term care insurance policy. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance some 180,000 individuals are receiving benefits from their insurance coverage yearly. Some $8.5 billion is paid out annually.

Long-term care insurance is incredibly valuable protection to have should you need it. Consider yourself lucky if you live a long life and never need long-term care.

For those who are still not convinced, I'd like to share two real examples of individuals who purchased long-term care insurance. These are real people with the information provided to the Association by the nation's leading insurance companies at the beginning of 2009.

COMPANY A: Largest open claim: $1.2 million.
The individual (a woman) purchased long-term care insurance at age 43, paying an annual premium of $1,800. Three years later her claim began and has continued for almost 12 years ($1.2 million in benefits already paid).

COMPANY B: Largest open claim: $1.02 million.
The individual (also a woman) purchased long-term care insurance at age 72 paying an annual premium of $12,766. Three years later her claim began and has continued for almost 9 years ($1.02 million is benefits already paid) for her nursing home care.

Individuals between the ages of 55 and 59 paid between $700 and $6,950 for long-term care insurance according to a new report from the trade organization. People are taking advantage of readily available discounts to and policy design techniques to reduce the cost of coverage. You can too.

The cost for long-term care insurance coverage is based on a variety of factors. Some you have no control over such as your age and current health when you apply. Others are choices that can significantly impact what you pay. Understanding how to take advantage of applicable discounts and saving techniques can reduce the cost by 20-to-50 percent yearly.

Spouses as well as partners residing together can take advantage of the most significant discount available today when both parties purchase coverage. The discount can be as much as 40 percent applied to both policies. A number of insurers will even offer the discount when only one individual purchases coverage or can health qualify.

If you would like a no-obligation cost quote for long-term care insurance, please contact me by calling 239-280-3246 or E-mail me by clicking here. I can help make this important protection more affordable than you might think.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get The Best Quote For Long Term Care Insurance: Part 1

Once you have made a decision to look into a long-term care insurance plan, the next step is to identify the various insurance players in the market and compare their rates.

If you are offered long term health care coverage at your place of work, it could be wise to compare costs and coverage with plans available on the individual market. You could find better coverage for less cost. Or, you might find the employer plan is the smarter way to go. It's always a smart move to compare.

To compare costs and coverage you must request quotes from an insurance agent or broker. Insurance companies do not sell long-term care insurance directly. If your employer offers coverage, there generally will be an agent involved to explain the plan or you might be offered information via an online website.

Long-term care insurance does not have to be complicated. But there are many moving parts and options available. If you are not familiar with them, you may find yourself overwhelmed with trivial and unimportant features. Or, you may end up with a number of different cost quotes for long-term care insurance that you really don't understand. I can help.

Each year, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance ( conducts a national Price Index. I am a member of this industry organization and they report that prices from one insurer can be as much as 60 percent higher than another - for virtually identical coverage.

The least expensive might be excellent protection. Or, it might be missing a most important element that you won't realize until you eventually need care. Or, the insurance company may simply fail to offer a discount that could reduce your cost significantly.

Here are some three tips that could help save you time and energy, avoid frustration and ultimately help you get coverage you can afford and benefits that suit your need.

1. Compare Costs: There can be significant differences between what one insurance company charges as compared to another. For someone age 55, the cost differences could range from a few hundred dollars a year to almost one thousand dollars annually. Here's where it is important to determine if the insurance agent you are working with is shopping the marketplace to get you the best coverage for the lowest cost.

2. Shop Your Health: When it comes to long-term care insurance, your health is as important as your money. If you are in perfect health (the right weight, non-smoker, no medications) every insurance company will welcome you with open arms. If your health isn't perfect, some companies will offer you better rates than others. Again, that's where a knowledgeable LTC specialist comes in.

3. Start Low & Grow: Your cost for long-term care insurance will be based on various factors, your age, health and how much protection you buy. Start by pricing a plan that protects a set amount of assets; say $150,000 in today's dollars. Adding inflation protection option will enable your coverage to keep pace with growing costs. It will grow to $300,000 or more when you are likely to need it.

If you would like a no-obligation cost quote for long-term care insurance, please contact me by calling 239-280-3246 or E-mail me by clicking here.