Three-Part Series on the Rigors of Aging Parent Caregiving

This week I discovered a great three-part series about aging parent caregiving, written by an adult child and published in the Redondo Beach Patch. I recommend taking a few minutes to read this set of short articles.

When Mom Gets Old by Vanessa Poster appeared on March 15 – 17, 2010, and describes Ms. Poster’s discoveries of her parents’ needs and how she went about assuming caregiving responsibilities. Of special interest is Poster’s persistence at questioning of her mother’s diagnosis, a dedication that resulted in a different diagnosis. Each of these columns is easily readable and chock-full of great information.

The other two parts are When Mom Gets Old: The Diagnosiss and When Mom Gets Old: Lessons Learned.

Medical Histories Support Aging Parents and Their Families

What is more important for the personal health of an individual –a family history taken by a physician or genetic testing?

According to an Associated Press article published in the Washington Post, while genetic testing has important uses, people should be aware that a thorough family history taken by a physician is what Cleveland Clinic geneticist, Charis Eng, MD, calls “the best kept secret in health care.” The article, Family Health History: Best Kept Secret in Health Care, by AP health reporter Lauran Needgaard, points out that knowing and understanding a family’s medical history contributes mightily to the health of family members. In fact, medical histories are still the gold standard, even thought all sorts of amazing scans and genetic tests are available.

At the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Washington, DC, four genetics

Page from the Surgeon General's Family Medical History Site Printable Version

researchers, including Dr. Eng, described how family histories help to assess an individual’s risk for disease. The four conference presenters also participated in a panel press briefing (links to conference abstracts are also available at this link), describing their experiences with genetics testing and medical histories.

Dr. Eng explained how she and her colleagues conducted research with 22 cancer patients using their 22 spouses as a control group. Researchers compared the information in 44 medical histories with results of personal genome scanning assessing the cancer risk for three common cancers — that of colon, breast and prostate. Her team found a low measurement of agreement between the medical histories and the genetic tests. Both identified risks but seldom agreed on what those risks were.

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Another Great MedicareBlogger Post

MedicareBlogger has another posted interesting post, this time focusing on a man who wants a cheaper Medicare Advantage plan when he really needs a Medicare Supplement plan.  Medicare Advantage Selling Season, a November 18, 2010 post, conveys a lot of information in a few short paragraphs.

Senior Parents and Long Term Insurance Changes

During the time we cared for my husband’s mother and even before that when we helped a bit with his father’s care, we were continually frustrated by their long-term care insurance policies. Despite several years of required care for his two senior parents, the long-term care policies, purchased in early 1991, covered only skilled nursing facilities after the first 100 days and never kicked in despite nearly 20 years of premium payments. Obviously things have changed, and policies today are less restricted, covering home care and even assisted living.

An eye-opening article, When a Safety Net is Yanked Away, appearing in the November 12, 2010, described how long-term insurance companies are requesting that the rates their policy holders pay be raised significantly. The New York Times article, by reporter Ron Leiber, explains how the long-term insurance business has changed, how policies are not paying for themselves because of low-interest rates, and why many companies have stopped selling policies altogether.

Senior Parents: Maintaining a Bit of Their Privacy in a Digital World

If the seniors who I have as friends on Facebook are any indication, they are giving away  too much personal information. However, it’s not just Facebook. Lots of things we do on our computers and cell phones require us to give away a bit of personal information.

To learn more about helping your parents put on the brakes read 10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online in the  October 22, 2010 edition of Newsweek. Written by Michael Fertik, the CEO of Reputation Defender, the article has ten really good and doable suggestions.

You can read all ten at Newsweek, but here are the three suggestions that I like the best.

  1. Don’t put your full birth date on your social-networking profiles.
  2. Max out your privacy settings on social networks.
  3. Close [delete] old online accounts.

Medicare Part D – It’s Time to Make Choices

It’s that time of year again. I’ve  just been chatting with my mother about her annual task of choosing a Medicare Part D option for herself and my dad. Each year she looks at charts, chats with friends, consults with her pharmacist, studies web sites, and finally, after a great deal of thought, makes the choices.

I’ve given my mom a single piece of advice about the process, telling her to turn off or mute the television every single time an insurance commercial or infomercial appears.

Adult children need to be aware of the dates (November 15 – December 31) and also be sure that their parents are on top of the process. These dates are critical, and more than once I’ve known people who have researched the plans and made decisions, but put off doing the paperwork until after Christmas, only to forget.

For some good links on Medicare Part D choices, go over to the Our Parents blog and check out the Medicare posting. Saul Friedman’s Medicare post over at As Time Goes By is a good summary of the entire program. But adult children should take time to familiarize themselves with the process, because mistakes can be made, especially if a parent is on the older side. I highlighted a problem several days ago, writing about an advertiser who convinced a woman to buy a second policy, when only one can be used — a result of an overzealous sales pitch.

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