What Does Climate Change Have To Do With Our Seniors?

climateshutterstock_teaser

There are a lot of reasons to care about climate change. But unbeknownst to many people, one of those reasons should be the health of your grandma or mom. A recent report issued by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health makes the case that climate change is harming our health, and the Medical Society has a Report entitled just that. What is the connection? Our planet is experiencing more very hot days, along with more frequent stretches of these sizzlers accompanied by much greater humidity. And seniors, children, and pregnant women are the most vulnerable citizens affected by these temperature extremes. Seniors in particular are more affected because many suffer from chronic heart and lung conditions and their therapeutic medications tend to make them less able to regulate their body temperatures. If seniors do not have home air conditioning they are not able to get relief from these hot humid days, thereby subjecting them to sundry difficulties. As a result, health professionals, doctors and nurses see their patients affected by a variety of heat-related illnesses, including a worsening of chronic illnesses, injuries and deaths resulting directly from dangerous weather events, an increase in infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, along with illnesses from contaminated food and water. Additionally, a marked increase in climate related mental health problems are noted.
So what can we do to improve the lives of our families? There are many groups that are already making a difference. One such example is the Regional Greenhouse Case Initiative which is a consortium of 9 States which came together in 2007 to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power. Their efforts in reducing air pollution have already documented a positive effect in preventing:
• 300-830 early adult deaths
• 40,000 lost work days
• 35-390 non-fatal heart attacks
• 8,000 asthma flare-ups
• 200 hospital admissions
• 200 asthma ER visits

That is some real and significant health benefits from combating climate change! So if you don’t already have a reason to care about the health of our planet, I have just given you one– reducing climate change will keep your loved one healthier! And don’t forget this Saturday April 22, 2017 is Earth Day! Honor our Planet and Celebrate!

OHIO BUCKEYES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PILE

af98ab687b2904dd

It was disappointing and disturbing to see that Ohio’s nursing homes ranked as some of the lowest in the country. How could that be ? We are the land of buckeyes, the birthplace of eight  US Presidents and a great lake- so why our state’s nursing homes treat our seniors so poorly? The Cleveland Plain Dealer reporters have spent the last few months analyzing data and recent published a scathing report of Ohio nursing homes  According to the numbers set forth in the national nursing home rating system known as Nursing Home Compare.  See my April 2, 2015 blog post on this national rating system.  Let’s take a quick review of this government system here.The Center for Medicare and Medicaid who pay the greatest bulk of the bill for residents, set up a national rating system to grade nursing homes on a 1- 5 star rating system :1 star is a lowest rating and 5 star the highest or best rating. The rating system is based on 3 issues which are important to assessing good resident care :

1. Health inspections rating:
The health inspection ratings on the 3 most recent comprehensive (annual) inspections, and inspections due to complaints in the last 3 years. Though more emphasis on recent inspections.
2. Quality measures (QM) rating:

There are 16 QMs conditions that affect the residents in the facility; like how many residents have fallen recently, have pressure ulcers, have had a loss of mobility , have lost control over bowel and bladder function or have lost significant amount of weight . These condition are obtained from clinical data reported by the nursing home. These may indicators quality of care .
3. Staffing rating:

These rating are based on two factors a) Registered Nurse (RN) hours per resident per day; and 2) total staffing hours per resident per day which RNs; Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nurse Aids (CNAs). Once again these numbers are submitted by the nursing home and take into account the needs of the residents;

So this investigation looked at Ohio’s nursing homes and their ratings as compared with the nation and found that Ohio has 184 nursing homes that are rated with only one star. And nearly 200 Ohio nursing homes received a two star rating . So that tally stands at nearly 41% of Ohio’s nursing homes only earned a one or two star rating. Charlene Harrington , a distinguished Professor of Nursing and member of the Nursing Home Compare advisory committee said “ One-star nursing homes tend to have a lot of deficiencies and low staff.” Of course that makes sense, that if there is not enough nursing staff to care for the residents, the residents suffer” . Why would a nursing home not hire enough nurses and nurse aides? Yep you guessed it money – staffing is the major expense in a nursing home, so short on staffing and save some money and increase those profits. Shameful but often true.
I believe the rating system in Nursing Home Compare is an important tool for families when researching the right nursing home for their family member. One of the best ways to prevent nursing home negligence is picking a home with a high rating which usually means a well- trained nurses and enough nursing staff to care for all the residents.

Who Is Stealing From Grandma?

pursethiefWho is Stealing from Grandma?

Well, I was surprised to learn there is a lot of stealing going on! It is reported that nearly 1 in 5 of our seniors (65 years and older), are the victims of financial abuse. This is according to a recent report by Public Policy Polling.As a result, there is a renewed effort by many different groups such as doctors, nurses, family members, and financial advisors to alert and educate seniors and their families to this growing problem. When seniors lose money they may no longer be able to pay for much needed care, assistance, equipment or life-saving medications. You can easily imagine how a senior’s inability to afford care and assistance can lead directly to declining physical and emotional health. Moreover, aging people often become more dependent, both physically and financially, on family members so the effect of stealing trickles down to many more than just the elderly. So well recognized is this burgeoning concern that even the government is now prioritizing concerns to protect seniors by placing them at the top of their 2017 list. Similarly, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations plans to protect seniors by focusing on deals negotiated between investment firms and the seniors they represent. These firms will now be subject far more than previously to comprehensive reviews and audits. So while the SEC is monitoring financial advisors and their dealings with seniors, is there something we can do today to protect seniors? Yes. One of the most widespread and easiest means of ripping off the elderly comes in the form of the scam. Many seniors are victims of scammers who use the telephone to harass and steal. Remembering that sage advice that ‘forewarned is forearmed,’ here is a list of the top ten scams:
1. IRS impersonation scams
2. Sweepstakes scams
3. Robocall/Unwanted phone call scams
4. Computer tech support scheme scams
5. Identity theft scams
6. Grandparent scams
7. Elder financial abuse scams
8. Grant scams
9. Romance scams/Confidence fraud scams
10. Home improvement scams
This list was compiled by the Special Committee on Aging, and the details of these scams may be found by checking their website. Importantly, this Special Committee also has a fraud hotline (855-303-9470). This hotline is a wealth of great information and a terrific resource as they match victims with the appropriate authorities to investigate fraud cases. It is important to remember that we all have an important role to play in protecting our beloved seniors from financial fraud and abuse. They have worked all their lives for their savings, which is not only a source of pride and independence, but which may also make the life and death difference between getting the care and services they sorely need and going without. So be aware that abuse can also be financial. We are always ready to take action on elder abuse whether it is financial or physical.

Dog Bites: Are there “Bad” or “Dangerous Dog Breeds,” or is this just a Myth?

2015-fatal-dog-attack-breed-identification-photographs

Are there really specific breeds of dogs that are vicious by nature? There seems to be alot of information that indicates a certain breeds of dog (usually the “pit bull class of dogs”), is more likely to bite than other breeds.  However, is there really any truth to this?  The “pit bull class” includes American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and English Bull Terriers.  Some of the other breeds that are listed as “more aggressive” include, but are not limited to:  the American Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows, German Shepherds, Doberman Pincers or any mix of these breeds, or dogs who simply resemble these breeds.

What did nature intend? While it may be true that some breeds are known to be more aggressive, we need to be reminded that all dog breeds were once known to serve a specific function for us such as their guarding & protecting skills and/or hunting & gathering skills.  Although pets of these certain breeds most likely do not fulfill these original purposes, they do still carry the DNA from their ancestors that can predispose them to certain types of aggression.  So will targeting certain breeds and banning them from your community make you safer?

Some cities are passing “Breed-Specific” laws in an effort to make their cities safer. But does a town with less pit bulls mean less dog attacks or bites? There is no evidence that breed specific laws make neighborhoods safer, (see https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/dog-fighting/what-breed-specific-legislation).

Although these breed-specific restrictions are meant to make the communities safer, they can also cause negative consequences such as:

  •  Families could be forced to move
  •  Dog owners with a “dangerous breed”  may try to stay under the radar may not seek routine veterinary care, including avoiding spaying/neutering and important vaccinations
  • Less community resources for dog licensing laws, leash laws and other laws that encourage responsible dog ownership

What doesn’t seem to be a myth is to always be cautious and careful around any dog! If you find yourself bitten by a dog, regardless of breed, you may want to determine if the owner is legally responsible, and we can help with that analysis.

Do You Know the Early Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease? You Might Be Surprised!

 

alzheimers-confused-man-collage

Have you ever had the experience when visiting with a family member that their responses and behavior seems different and a little “off.”  Are they having a bad day or is there something more serious affecting their health? Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease which destroys memory and many other mental functions. This disease affects some 5 million people and is the sixth leading cause of death, though it actually is the third leading cause of death for the elderly. Though there are many types of and causes of Alzheimer’s there seems to be a some common features. Plagues and tangles in the brain are the main feature of this disease, along with the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain. (https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet)

But how can you tell if someone is affected by this serious disease? A leading Alzheimer’s expert, Dr. George Perry, the editor of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease recently discussed 7 signs of early Alzheimer’s disease and some might surprise you:
• Stealing or Significant Behavior Change
• Falling
• Forgetting the use of Objects
• Eating Strange items (such as paper or non-food items)
• Losing their Sense of Humor or Sarcasm (not being able to recognize sarcasm)
• Depression (new onset)
• Staring into Space
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-7-surprising-early-signs-of-alzheimers-disease_us_58404d0ae4b0c68e047f3f9d)

This is not an exact list. But what is important is identifying significant behavioral changes which may be indicative of brain changes consistent with Alzheimer’s. So if you notice these signs in a family member it is best to have them evaluated by a doctor.