Health Law Requires Medicare To Cover Dementia Evaluation

For those persons over 65, who are covered by Medicare, health law now requires Medicare to cover a screening for cognitive impairment during an annual wellness visit. Usually, this is done with a 30 question test called the mini-mental.  the test takes about ten minutes to complete. The experts can still not agree as to the value of the test being routinely administered to the general population. According to an article recently published by the Kasier Health News, ” The risk of dementia increases with age: its prevalence is 5 percent in people aged 71 to 79, rising to 37 percent of those older than 90. Mild cognitive impairment has many definitions, but the term generally refers to people whose impairment isn’t severe enough to hamper their ability to manage their daily lives. By some estimates up to 42 percent of people older than 65 have it. Mild cognitive impairment is a warning sign, but it may not progress to Alzheimer’s disease, says Dean Hartley, director of science initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association. ”

To read the full article, go to:

Health Law Requires Medicare To Cover Dementia Evaluation – Kaiser Health News.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Five Signs Your Parents May Need Help

It’s easy to know what to do when a parent has a medical crisis: Go to the ER. But without the red flags of an emergency, it can be hard to know if there’s a health problem that needs attention.

Often, there are subtle signs of trouble brewing. The following is a list of five signs that may indicate that an Elder needs help. These signs were published by Hospice of the Valley.

  1. Have your parents lost weight? Unplanned weight loss may indicate a medical condition, such as depression or cancer. Vision problems that make cooking difficult. Dental problems that make chewing painful.
  1. How is their appearance? Are their clothes clean? What about bathing and grooming? Unkempt appearance may signal depression or dementia.
  2. Do they seem safe in their home? Are there signs of falls, such as dents in the walls? Is there a system for making sure pills are taken? Scorched pans in the kitchen? Spoiled food in the refrigerator?
  3. Have they lost interest in their usual activities? Are they withdrawing from friends or dropping hobbies? These could signal pain, depression, or another health issue.
  4. How well are they getting around? Are they steady on their feet? Able to walk without problems? Any difficulty climbing stairs or getting out of a chair?

What you should do if you have concerns:

  • talk with your parents. Tell them what you’ve noticed and why you are concerned. Ask them how you can help, and then LISTEN.
  • get the doctor involved. If your parents refuse a doctor’s exam, send a note to the doctor outlining what you have observed. That way, the doctor can follow up at the next regular appointment.
  • solve problems together. Explore your parent’s preferences for handling the situation. Consider a family meeting so everyone can share in the discussion. You might also consult a geriatric care manager for help identifying possible solutions.
  • be patient. If you encounter resistance, take a step back. People often need time to think about what has been discussed. Rushing can just build resentment.

If you have attempted all of the steps above to assist your parent(s) to no avail, it may be time to seek legal counsel on the possibility of a Conservatorship. You can read more about Conservatorship here.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Updates Recommendations for 65+ DPT Vaccinations

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently updated their recommendation for DPT vaccinations.  Since 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended a tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine booster dose for  those adults aged 19-64 years who have not yet received a dose .

In October 2010, despite the lack of an approved Tdap vaccine for adults aged 65 years and older, ACIP recommended that unvaccinated adults aged 65 years and older be vaccinated with Tdap if in close contact with an infant, and that other adults aged 65 years and older may receive Tdap.

In July 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved expanding the age indication for Boostrix (GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, Rixensart, Belgium) to aged 65 years and older.

In February 2012, ACIP recommended Tdap for all adults aged 65 years and older. This recommendation supersedes previous Tdap recommendations regarding adults aged 65 years and older.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Alzheimer’s Networking for Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia type illness is extremely demanding on the caregivers. We are always concerned about the stress on the caregivers and want to make sure they do not burn out or become ill themselves as they provide the care to their loved one.

Support groups for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients offer help to those caregivers who otherwise feel so isolated.  However, often the caregivers are unable to attend the group meetings as a result of not having any other respite caregivers available.  If you find yourself in this situation, consider the use of social media outlets to provide needed support.

The Alzheimer’s association has developed its own social media site called ALZconnected.  This site allows caregivers who are otherwise unable to attend group meetings to connect with other caregivers who know exactly what they are facing.  You may also post questions as well as helpful tips on the site which may be useful to other caregivers, on their solutions page.  For anyone facing the care of an Alzheimer’s patient this site provides good information, contact with others and an opportunity to know that they are not alone.  Message boards focusing on various topics are included on the site, with specific boards for caregivers, family members and even for the patient themselves.

Given the isolation of caring for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, it is comforting that there are resources that can be accessed without leaving your home.  Consider the use of social media to help the caregiver feel supported while they attend to the very difficult job of caring for their loved one.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Knowing Where to go to for Help . . . Priceless!

Being an elder law attorney, I spend my days advising clients on various aspects of elder law.   However, when the tables are turned and I found myself in the position that many clients find themselves in, it is nice to experience firsthand what resources are available and the help that can be provided.

I recently had a family crisis issue when a family member, who is the primary caretaker for another family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s, was herself admitted to the hospital with Pneumonia.  Her absence triggered all sorts of caregiver related concerns and family realizations as to the care level required.  I was able to utilize our care coordinator here in our office to provide resources to my family relating to specific issues for the care of Alzheimer’s patients, particularly information relating to eating issues and the progression of the disease.  It was so comforting to have a knowledgeable resource specialist who could provide calm advice in the middle of a serious issue for my family.

We were prepared, or so we thought, as the house had been sold, parents were living at a stepped up living facility, care givers were available, and yet when the crisis hit, there was still so much to arrange and worry about.  I was so glad that our care coordinator and resource specialist was here to assist me and realize her services are invaluable not only to help all of us prepare for long term care issues, but also to help us in our moments of crisis.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.