Monday, July 23, 2012

What's the One Thing You Never Want To Forget?

Samantha Kennedy has left the following new comment on my post "Why All the Fuss about Medicare Advantage?"

 "Every 69 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. Please share this video and one thing that you never want to forget to help end Alzheimer’s. "

So here's my "one thing": One thing I never want to forget is the tight, loving, extended family I enjoyed as a child and young man. The people may mostly be gone now, but not their memories.

What's yours?

Robert Tell, Author
Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why All the Fuss about Medicare Advantage?

 Are you caring for someone that gets his or her medical benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan? Or perhaps you are in one yourself.  Or are you just confused by all the competing political rhetoric in the media about this? Why all the fuss?

Lately, the political landscape has been inundated with partisan headlines stating that the  government will soon be taking Medicare away from our seniors. Nonsense!

Ads, press releases, and news quotes from certain politicians are designed to create fear and an emotional reaction…and if they were telling the truth, that would be OK. But the messages are full of distortions and innuendo and are not to be taken seriously.

First of all, the public needs to understand that Medicare Advantage was created as a back door approach to privatizing Medicare. It should be known as the “Private Option.” Its long-range purpose is to destroy traditional Medicare, something special interests have been trying to do since Medicare was established in 1965.

Traditional Medicare is one of the most successful government programs ever created. It has had decades of proven success in protecting the elderly from poverty caused by hefty medical expenses. One must think twice (maybe three times) before tampering with such a program.

Yet this is what Medicare Advantage does. It replaces traditional Medicare with a variety of private insurance products. It is a remake of a previous such attempt known as Medicare + Choice, a program that failed when the private insurers involved decided it wasn’t profitable enough and dumped thousands of aging enrollees into the marketplace. This could happen again.

Yet, on the surface, Medicare Advantage looks like a better deal to many seniors. It is designed to do so by offering more benefits for a lower premium. What can possibly be wrong with that? Well, let’s look more closely. There are no free lunches. Never have been and never will be.

How can beneficiaries get more by spending less? Here’s how! Government is subsidizing the premiums. Oh! So where is the money coming from to do this? Simple! It comes from the higher premiums people on regular Medicare have to pay so Advantage customers can enjoy these benefits. Not cool!

It gets worse. We also know that for every dollar of additional premium that insurance companies get through Uncle Sam, only about 14 cents goes to benefits and 86 cents goes to additional insurance company profits.  Medicare Advantage is a boondoggle to the insurance companies!

You don’t believe me? Then take a look at this Washington Post article:    Is Medicare Advantage Worth It?

So the screams you hear about the pain of ending some Medicare Advantage programs is coming from protectors of insurance company profits disguised as concern for elderly patients. Crocodile tears if ever there were any.

Yes, it’s true that some Medicare Advantage beneficiaries might have to switch to traditional Medicare. The result: they’ll have to pay a bit more to get a little less. But the rest of the Medicare community, the majority of older adults, would see their premiums come down.

Remember all of this when next you hear the scream machine trying to get you worked up about this issue. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Finally - a book to help with Caregiver Burnout

I've been told many times by reader's of my book, "Dementia-Diary, A Caregiver's Journal" that this blog doesn't make clear enough the way for interested folks to buy a copy. If you will forgive a bit of "shameless promotion" I'd like to correct that problem now.

You may be wondering why my readers have gone to the trouble of contacting me about this. They say it's because Dementia Diary has helped them to deal with the emotional realities of caregiving and they think it should be read by all people dealing with this issue—especially by anyone facing "Caregiver Burnout," a dreadful condition that is ultimately experienced by most caregivers.

So here's how to get the book — Click on any of the links in the new column on the right:

I  only ask one thing. If you do read the book, please let me know in a comment on this blog whether you like it enough to recommend it to others caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or another dementia. 

Many thanks and best wishes,

Robert Tell, Author

Friday, June 8, 2012

Can Dementia Patients Enjoy Art Museums?

Art museums all over the Country are starting programs for people with Alzheimer's and other dementia's. Why would they do that? Can someone with dementia appreciate art as displayed in large public museums. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

One such program was recently introduced at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It is called "Meet Me at the DIA." Here are some quotes from it's website:

 "People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are often isolated and have few opportunities to interact socially or remain involved in the community,” said Jennifer Czajkowski, executive director of the DIA’s Learning and Interpretation department. “This program provides a safe, inspiring environment for social engagement and intellectual stimulation, where participants will feel welcome and comfortable. All participants, including caregivers, are encouraged to contribute to the discussions, which are based on the observations and connections made by the group. Each person will receive a small print of a DIA artwork so conversations can be continued after leaving the museum."

 “Meet Me at the DIA,” is modeled after a successful program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is intended to enhance Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life through mental stimulation, communication, personal growth and social engagement. Similar programs have been shown to increase the mood and self-esteem of dementia patients and their caregivers immediately following their visit and for days afterward."

A quick search reveals the following partial list of art appreciation programs for people with dementia:

Detroit Institute of Art
Museum of Modern Art
Frye Art Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Michigan State University Kresge Art Museum
Carnegie Museum
Rubin Museum of Art
Milwaukee Public Museum
Minneapolis Institute of Art

If your community is not listed, I recommend checking with the art museum in your town. If a program does not yet exist in your community, feel free to quote this post in persuading decision makers to establish this worthwhile experience for people with dementia.

 Bob Tell, Author
Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal