Monday, May 30, 2011

Technology Aiding Alzheimer’s Patients

Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports on “high-tech but simple devices”

According to a new report by Kaiser Health news, simple devices are giving older people a better chance at independence later in life as pilot projects in homes and retirement communities see if these approaches can lead to improved at-home patient monitoring.

The goal of the efforts experts note is to help control problems before they escalate and cut back on the need for costly long-term care and hospital admissions. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of the need for costly long-term care according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease including about 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 the organization notes. Alzheimer’s generally creates the most cost of all long-term care insurance claims the Association notes.

A report notes that therapy with MP3 players such as iPods allows stroke victims or patients with Alzheimer’s to better interact with others. Caregivers have observed for decades that Alzheimer’s patients can still remember and sing songs long after they’ve stopped recognizing names and faces.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Insurance State Guaranty Directory

While most consumers are aware that bank deposits are protected and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) few understand that similar protections exist for insurance products.

“Each state and the District of Columbia maintains a State Guaranty Association that protects consumers in case an insurance company fails,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance “In fact most states have two entities, one that protects life and health insurance products and one for property and casualty lines of business since each is quite different.”

Consumers are protected at levels set by the State with levels generally ranging from $100,000 to as much as $500,000.

The insurance associations operate differently than the FDIC which assesses each bank a regular ongoing fee. “That cost of the FDIC fee is actually borne by bank depositors as a fee they don’t see but definitely pay for,” Slome explains. “The State Guaranty Associations do not collect regular fees but rather only assess a fee when an insurance company fails, which is a fairly rare occurrence.”

In the case of an insurance company failure, all remaining insurance companies that operate in the state are assessed the necessary fee to protect policyholders of the failed company. “They must pay the fee to protect the consumers,” Slome adds.

A new online directory which explains insurance company limits for each of the 51 State Guaranty Associations as well as website and phone contact numbers has been created by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. It can be accessed online at

“Consumers should be aware that these valuable protections exist,” Slome explains. “It is a question often asked by those looking into long-term care insurance planning.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Estrogen Use Before 65 Linked To Reduced Alzheimer’s Risk

A study which was part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study found women who used any form of estrogen hormone therapy before the age of 65 were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than women who did not use hormone therapy before age 65.

Medical researchers noted that the study was one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of postmenopausal women. The study looked at prior hormone use in 7,153 healthy women ages 65-79 before they enrolled in the WHI Memory Study.

Researchers followed the women’s cognitive health over an average of five years. In that time, 106 of the women developed Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Dementia is a general term referring to the progressive decline in a person’s cognitive function. Dementia can affect memory, attention, language and problem solving abilities. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia impacting older Americans.

Women who began estrogen-only therapy after the age of 65 had roughly a 50-percent increased risk of developing dementia. The risk jumped to nearly double for women using estrogen-plus-progestin hormone therapy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life Expectency In U.S. Hits New High

According to federal officials women born in 2007 can expect to live to 80.4 years on average and men to 75.3 years. The report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that while Americans can expect to live longer than their parents, life expectancy in the United States is still lower than in many other industrialized countries, including Canada and Japan.

Along with increased life expectancy, the report notes the death rate has dropped to an all-time low of 760.3 deaths per 100,000 people, continuing a long-term trend. “It is increasingly likely that Americans will live a long life into their 80s, 90s and even past 100,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “But few are prepared for the consequences of living that long.”

The death rate has been decreasing in the United States since the 1960s with fewer deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer are driving the trend, he said. The report is based on data from nearly 90 percent of U.S. death certificates.

According to the report, life expectancy in 2007 increased to 77.9 years (77 years and 11 months) up from 77.7 years in 2006. Since 2000, life expectancy has increased 1.4 years.

The five leading causes of death, accounting for 64 percent of all deaths, are heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidents.

Death rates in the United States vary by region and state, with the Southeast leading the nation. The researchers report that white women have the longest life expectancy (80.7 years) followed by black women (77 years). At age 65, life expectancy was 18.6 years in 2007, an increase of 6 percent since 2000.

Experts note that living longer will also have unforeseen effects on the country. “People living 20 years or more than their predecessors will have to rethink retirement planning,” Slome said. “The nation will see a significant drain on Social Security and Medicare benefits as these programs were designed to support people for only five to 10 years after retiring.”