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.