New Study Illustrates Problems with Sedentary Lifestyle

If you’re over 60, the next time someone tells you to “take a hike” it might not be a bad idea.   

A new study shows how problematic a sedentary lifestyle can be.  The study found that adults over the age of 60 spend roughly 9 sedentary hours per day, and that “[e]very additional hour adults over age 60 spend sitting increases by 50% their risk of being disabled for activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking”.

Exercise generally is linked to better health, both physically and mentally.  Turn off the TV and take a walk instead.  You’re far better off. 

To read the full article describing the study, please click here

Sleep Shown to Help Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia

In many ways, what we do when we’re younger affects our health in the future.  Women must get enough Calcium when young in order to prevent osteoporosis in the future.  For men, keeping a healthy weight as a younger man reduces cancer risk and other complications as an elderly person. 

A recent Forbes article recounts a new study, which shows that adequate sleep may assist in the prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  The study explains that during sleep, the brain actually flushes toxins out of the brain – toxins that can contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia.  You can read the article here.

So, if you’re considering watching your fourth episode in a row of Breaking Bad, at 2 AM on a work night, perhaps going to bed may be a better decision.

New Study Shows Postponing Retirement Decreases Risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia

People may spend quite a bit of energy planning and saving for retirement.  However, a new study from France reported in the Washington Post suggests you may want to hold off.  Research done by INSERM, the French government’s health agency, has concluded that people who delayed retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent,” said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM.

To read the article, click here.

The theory is that working keeps one mentally sharp – i.e. use it or lose it.  Work can also keep people physically active, another tool for preventing mental decline.  It’s important to follow the advice we give our kids to stop watching TV and get out of the house.  If planning retirement or if retired, it is important to continue to exercise the brain.  Learning new skills, reading, taking a class, and frequent social interaction can contribute to a mentally healthy old age.  

New Study Shows That Keeping Your Brain Active Slows Cognitive Decline

A recent article from the BBC reports a new study published in Neurology, which shows that exercising the brain slows down cognitive decline.  The study found that mental activity may provide a “mental reserve” that helps resist brain damage from diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  To read the article, click here

Prescription of Megace to Nursing Home Residents Linked to Fraud and Horrific Corporate Irresponsibility

In one of the worst examples we have seen involving the abuse of the elderly, a company whose product was only approved to promote weight gain for HIV patients started to aggressively promote Megace to frail and elderly nursing home residents when the HIV population began to dwindle.  Knowing the dangerous side effects of this supplement (ie death), this represents a tragic example of profits over people.  To read more, click here.

Residents Deserve Better Staffing

Though we’ve always known that poor staffing leads to falls and pressure ulcers, new research shows that Norovirus is also causally linked to poorly staffed nursing homes.  The Journal for the American Medical Association recently published these findings and they are summarized in an article by Dr. Jeffry Levine. 

UCLA Study Finds Direct Correlation between Pressure Ulcers and Mortality

Experience shows many seniors that develop pressure ulcers begin a downward spiral in their health.  Without proper care, a pressure ulcer can develop into a mortal condition.  The wounds are painful and require surgery when large and infected.  Once the skin is compromised, it never regains its original integrity.  Broken skin presents a significant opportunity for infection, especially when a senior is using adult diapers.  
 
A recent article from UCLA Newsroom discusses the findings of a UCLA study of 51,000 randomly selected hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries.  The study basically confirms what most already know – that seniors who develop pressure ulcers “were more likely to die during their hospital stay, to have longer stays in the hospital, and to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their discharge.”
 
It is paramount that when a person is immobile or sitting in a wheelchair all day that there is adequate staff to turn and reposition residents, and that the skin is kept clean and dry. 
 

Consumer Group Questions Risks of High Dosage of Popular Alzheimer's Drug

A recent article details a lawsuit by Public Citizen, a consumer rights and protection group, against the FDA to stop the sales of the popular Alzheimer’s drug Aricept in its highest dosage.  The group says that the FDAs testing shows that the drug benefits at that dosage are outweighed by the dangers posed.  

You can read the article here.

New Program Seeks to Reduce Anti-Psychotic Overuse in the Elderly with Dementia

A recent article details a new program launched by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) called the “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes” in order to address the problem of over medication of the elderly suffering from dementia in long term care.
 
The program seeks to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs for nursing home residents by 15% by the end of this year.  A laudable goal given that a CMS study conducted in 2010 found that 17% of nursing home residents received daily anti-psychotic drugs exceeding recommended levels.
  
You can read the article here.
 

Obama Administration Launches New Alzheimer's Plan

One of the most common mental conditions we see with nursing home residents is Alzheimer’s disease.  It can be very difficult for a family to watch a family member slowly slipping away mentally.  This condition can also increase someone’s risk for falls and other injuries.

The government today announced that a new plan is being launched with “the goal of finding effective ways to prevent and treat the devastating effects of dementia by 2025.”  New studies are being conducted to learn to treat and prevent the illness, as well as optimizing care quality and expand support to families.

You can read the entire article online here.
 

New Study States That Antidepressants Increase the Risk of Falls in Nursing Home Patients with Dementia

A new study confirms that a large percentage of nursing home residents are prescribed anti-depressants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While in most cases, anti-depressants are beneficial to the well being of the residents, in patients suffering from dementia, they can significantly increase the risk of falls - leading to serious injuries, and even death.

Researchers from the Netherlands recently reported that a study, which included 248 nursing homes, shows that anti-depressants were used on over 13,000 patients of which more than 650 sustained injuries. These falls occurred in 152 out of the 248 nursing homes included in the study. Additionally, 38 residents fell once during the time of the study, while 114 had multiple falls. Of those 650 falls, 220 resulted in serious injury, or even death.

It is imperative that these facilities conduct interdisciplinary care meetings to ensure that the proper protocols are followed, in order to reduce the risk of life-threatening accidents.

Simple Tools to Prevent Bed Sores Found to be Cost Effective

While nursing homes should always look to prevent bed sores – a painful and sometimes deadly condition – a recent study conducted revealed that the prevention of bed sores is also cost effective.

Foam mattresses which reduce pressure were found to be cost-effective 82% of the time as opposed to using standard mattresses. This simple change could save on average $115 per resident. Additionally, foam cleansers for incontinence were found to be cost-effective 94% of the time, as opposed to traditional soap and water, which results in an average savings of $179 per resident.

On average, roughly 10% of residents in long-term care facilities have a pressure ulcer. And for those residents, treatments are critical early on in order to prevent a serious, and even life-threatening condition. A better solution to this problem is prevention. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can, and should, prevent these problems from happening rather than treating them after the fact. Most importantly, not only are these prevention techniques the right thing to do, but they also save money for the facility!

Suspicious Elder Deaths Rarely Investigated

I have had cases where a person suffers from a bed sore that is so large the spinal column is visible, and yet the cause of death listed on the death certificate states, “natural causes”, or “dementia”, or “Alzheimer’s”.  While we may still pursue a claim to hold those responsible for the large and painful wound accountable, it is frustrating to the family that the bed sore is not listed on the death certificate. 

We are currently prosecuting cases where had a resident not been taken to the hospital and died in the nursing home, the true cause of death would have never been discovered. 

Unfortunately, this situation is far from unusual. As reported in ProPublica, suspicious elder deaths are rarely investigated.  According to the article, autopsies performed on seniors are increasingly rare even though the United States population aged 65 and older has grown. From 1972-2007, the number of autopsies performed on seniors dropped from 37% to just 17% percent. Additionally, of the 1.8 million seniors who died in 2008, autopsies were performed on only 2%, and only performed on 1% for those elderly who passed away in nursing homes or care facilities.

Certain Bed Rails Dangerous to the Elderly Public Citizen Tells FDA

After an analysis of FDA records, the non-profit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen sent a petition to the FDA requesting that they recall two models of bed rails produced by Bed Handles, Inc.  Public Citizen claims that evidence shows that if a weak or frail elderly person – assumingly those whom would purchase the bed rails in the first place – falls in-between the bed rails and the mattress, they can suffocate to death. 

“Contrary to the manufacturer’s claim that the Bedside Assistant bed handles make any bed a safer bed, data previously provided to the FDA demonstrate that these devices can turn a bed into a death trap for patients who are physically weak or have physical or mental impairments,” said Dr. Michael Carome, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

Public Citizen says documents show that this has happened, and believes that it has happened more than the document report because people don’t know to the bed rails are governed by the FDA and should be reported when there is a death.

The Public Citizen petition requested the ban on Bedside Assistant model numbers BA10W and BA10W-6.  The rails are not designed for hospital use, but

You can read the full Public Citizen’s findings and petition online here.

Elderly Abuse in Nursing Homes: Physical and Financial

By now, most of us have heard of the tearful testimony of the great Mickey Rooney in Congress, on abuse and victimization of the elderly.  Here is yet another story on how abuse of nursing home residents is not only physical, but often financial. In this case, Tanya Fredrick, the business office manager at Golden Living Center, was fired after police revealed that she had been stealing thousands of dollars from the center and residents.

Mickey Rooney's testimony before Congress on Elder Abuse and Medical Malpractice Bill HR 5

With painfully shocking testimony, American Icon, Mickey Rooney, told a gripping story about how even he was the victim of elder abuse. It has become quite clear that the degree of this form of elder abuse is much more widespread than previously thought. We all need to be on the lookout for this abuse in our loved ones.
 
We have blogged before on the dangers of proposed HR 5 legislation, which in large part is designed to eliminate elder abuse claims.  Should this bill pass, our ability to prosecute such cases, uncover these horrors and protect the elderly will be severely limited.
 
Here is a link to the video of Mr. Rooney's testimony.  It is worth watching.
 

Independent Living Resident Dies After Unanswered Call for Help

The Milwuakee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported this disturbing story.  A woman died after bleeding to death when her emergency pull cord located in her “independent living” apartment went unanswered for four hours.  Apparently the nurse aide who was working at the time shut off the sound alarm, disregarded a phone call from another resident who heard the alarm, and went back to watching television while the woman was bleeding to death.

What is also remarkable about this story is that the woman lived in what was deemed an “independent living” building.  The same facility also included assisted living units and a nursing home.  The state Department of Health Services was asked if they were getting involved in the case.  Unfortunately, that agency does not oversee “independent living” apartments.  Since the District Attorney did not find any crime they could prosecute, it appears that the only one who can punish this facility is the family suing.

Six Employees Arrested for Elderly Abuse at California Nursing Home

While resident abuse is shocking and disgraceful, there are times where behavior is simply unbelievable. Six employees were recently arrested at a facility where residents with dementia were covered from head to toe in ointment cream to make them slippery for the next shift as a practical joke.

It should be noted that when the elderly are dropped they can suffer fractured hips.  A fractured hip leads to disability and severe pain, and has a high mortality rate. The mortality rate is especially high in the first months after a fractured hip, and remains high for the first year. 

You can read more on this story online here.

Texas Speeds Up Investigations of Nursing Home Complaints

Nursing home care is proving to be a growing priority.  After being faced with alarming delays in investigating nursing home complaints, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services avows to speed up scrutiny to ensure safety and avoid resident harm. Read more on this story online here.


 

What You Can Do When You Feel Your Loved One Is Not Being Properly Cared For

The decision to trust a nursing home to care for a loved one can be a difficult one, even when a family does not have the time or resources to properly care for a elderly family member at home.  Conflict between family members and nursing home staff is very common, especially when a family feels their loved one is not being taken care of properly.  In this article, there is some great advice on what you can do when you feel your loved one is not being properly cared for. 

Profits of people and bedsores

Nursing home employees in New Jersey have launched a campaign informing the public about the rate of bed sores in patients residing at Omni nursing homes. The campaign includes TV ads, radio ads, Google ads, a mobile billboard and a website dedicated solely to informing people of the poor care provided at these homes.

In recent years, Omni nursing homes have been reported to have the worst bed sore rate in New Jersey, and one home in particular, 45% of short-stay residents had bed sores. Due to the severity and possibly deadly side effects of bed sores, this rate is simply unacceptable. Though the care provided is lacking, supplies are limited and homes are often times understaffed, the profits are not. In the past four years alone, Omni executive Avery Eisenreich has earned a personal fortune of roughly $33 million.

You can visit the website online here.

Falls in nursing homes: A deadly killer of the elderly

Here is an interesting article which addresses the fact that more than 100 Minnesotans die each year after suffering falls in nursing homes. The article questions why so few of these deaths are fully investigated by the state, and how serious penalties for violations are rarely enforced.

Preventing Crippling Contractures in Nursing Homes

I found an interesting article online which addresses the recent epidemic of contractures in nursing homes.Contractures are injuries, usually sustained by the elderly in nursing homes, which limit their mobility and range of motion. When residents enter nursing homes with preexisting medical conditions they often times do not receive the proper amount of physical exercise. This decrease in regular movement leads to degeneration and increased stiffness in the joints, and ultimately leads to contractures. The article discusses three common ways nursing home residents can prevent contractures from developing.

You can read the full article online here.
 

Pressure Ulcers in Hospitals

Here is a recent article I came across on pressure ulcers in hospitals. Undoubtedly, nursing homes are seeing the same rise. If you are concerned that a loved one may run the risk of developing a pressure ulcer, be vigilant about the care they receive. Make certain your loved one in being turned and repositioned regularly; being cleaning thoroughly and routinely; and being nourished properly. Almost all pressure sores are preventable with proper care.
 

Pressure ulcer hospitalizations skyrocket
December 05 2008


Hospitalization rates as a result of pressure ulcers have risen dramatically over the last 15 years, according to a report from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Hospital admissions for which pressure ulcers were either a primary or secondary diagnosis rose 80% between 1993 and 2006, according to the report. Primary diagnosis hospitalizations reached nearly 45,000 in 2006, compared with 35,800 in 1993, and secondary diagnosis hospitalizations jumped from 245,600 in 1993 to 457,800 in 2006.  Those with a secondary diagnosis of bedsores were typically being treated primarily for pneumonia or other infections.

The death rate among secondary diagnosis cases was one in eight. Primary diagnosis patients fared better, with a one in 25 death rate, according to the report. Pressure ulcer hospitalizations also typically lasted more than twice as long and cost between $6,000 and $10,000 more per visit than most other hospitalizations, according to the report.
 

Call your state's Ombudsman's office if your loved one has been abused in a nursing home or assisted living facility

One of the greatest obstacles to helping victims of abuse and neglect is the failure of nursing homes to self police. More often than not, we see a complete lack of investigation - even in light of serious allegations against staff. One way for families to overcome this is to immediately call the Ombudsman's office for their state.


The work doesn't end there, though. Families should remain in constant communication with the investigator. DO NOT ALLOW THE INVESTIGATION TO BE LIMITED TO THE NURSING HOME OR ASSISTED LIVING'S SIDE OF THE STORY. MAKE SURE THAT THE INVESTIGATOR GETS BOTH SIDES.


Our office has had great success over the years in utilizing these investigations to both improve the quality of care and help our clients achieve justice.


Here is a link to a helpful site which provides phone numbers for the Ombudsman's office for each state. And here is a direct link to New Jersey's Ombudsman's home page.

Nursing Home abuse and whistle blowers in New York state

Here is an article I recently read, which outlines not only allegations of abuse, but also retaliation against a whistle blower who reported the abuse. The article contains helpful links for families looking to research nursing homes.

Prevention of Inhumane Care

I took a deposition of a nurse yesterday who was charged with the care of my client toward the end of her life.  My client was fitted with a leg brace that was significantly too tight.  She complained of pain.  Her leg was bleeding.  No one responded.

To make matters worse, no pain medication was given.  This is not humane and it is not acceptable.
Thankfully,  many good people are working hard to make the final days of terminally ill patients more comfortable.


I recently found a website which offers tips on how to prevent this sort of inhumane treatment from occurring again.

Oldest resident in Massachusetts dies at age 111

I recently found an inspiring story about the recent passing of the world's 22nd oldest person and the oldest resident in Massachusetts, Mary Marques.  She died peacefully in her nursing home, Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, at the age of 111. She was believed to be the world's 22d-oldest person, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates birthdates of those over 110, who are known as supercentenarians

Much of the credit for her longevity was given to unprocessed foods for the first 40 years of her life, an active lifestyle and red wine. You can read more on Mary Marques and her remarkable life here.

Laurel Crest to go under microscope

Serving as an example of how regulators can effectuate change, the Altoona, Pennsylvania nursing home, Laurel Crest, is not only undergoing tremendous scrutiny for surveyors to ensure quality, but outside consultants are being brought into the facility to make sure that the right changes are made.

These changes could have a huge effect on the level of care to be provided to its residents. You can read more about these changes here.

Granny Farming

By Ben Whitford

Posted Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007, at 3:31 AM ET

The New York Times leads with a report on profiteering at nursing homes; thousands of institutions have been bought up by private investment companies, often to the detriment of care standards. The Washington Post leads with news that the Bush administration's $150 million campaign to tackle human trafficking has produced remarkably few arrests, suggesting that the extent of the problem—at least in the United States—may have been significantly overestimated. The Los Angeles Times leads local, with a look at the financial troubles plaguing many L.A.-area hospitals.

In recent years, Wall Street investors have snapped up thousands of nursing homes across the United States, cutting costs and slashing staffing levels in the hope of reselling at a hefty markup. That's led to plummeting standards, according to government data, with elderly residents receiving less care than they need and increasingly suffering from bedsores and preventable infections. Worse still, the companies' Byzantine corporate structures make it hard for disgruntled residents to sue—or for regulators to impose meaningful fines.

At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing

After being bought out by private investors in 2002, along with 48 other nursing homes in Tampa, Florida, Habana Health Care Center began to suffer, and so did it's residents. Within the first few months the number of clinical nurses at the facility had been cut by half in an effort to cut costs by the facility's new management.  And, according to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, budget cuts were made for nursing supplies, resident activities and other services.

Meanwhile, the investors and operators of the 49 homes throughout the state were making millions. As if that wasn't bad enough, over the three years of budget cuts, 15 Habana residents died from what their families feel was negligent care and since have filed suits in state court. In addition to a severely understaffed team of caregivers, reports found malfunctioning fire doors, unhygienic kitchens and a resident using a leg brace that was broken.

Due to the ever-increasing number of Americans needing elder care, nursing home facilities across the country are being bought out by large investors, who can only see dollar signs as our baby-boomers enter through their doors. The more people admitted to each facility should mean increased support and resources for the home. However, more and more this is not the case.

The severely neglected residents of these homes need more attention and care than ever. Federal and state regulators also said in interviews that budget cuts help explain why serious quality-of-care deficiencies — like moldy food and the restraining of residents for long periods or the administration of wrong medications — rose at every large nursing home chain after it was acquired by a private investment group from 2000 to 2006, even as citations declined at many other homes and chains.

While the suit is still in the beginning stages for the 15 families at Habana Health Care Center, similar cases continue to arise across the country. You can read more on the Habana and other facilities' stories in the New York Times article, At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing.

Four Stages of Bedsores

The following is a list of the four stages of pressure ulcers, otherwise known as decubitus ulcers or bed sores, with a general description of each stage:

Stage I - Non-blanchable redness of intact skin, the heralding lesion of skin ulceration. Discoloration of skin, warmth, edema, indurations or hardness may also be indicators.

Stage II - Partial thickness skin loss involving epidermis, dermis or both. The ulcer is superficial and presents clinically as an abrasion, blister or shallow crater.

Stage III - Full thickness skin loss involving damage to, or necrosis of, subcutaneous tissue that may extend down to, but not through, underlying fascia. The ulcer presents clinically as a deep crater with or without undermining of adjacent tissues.

Stage IV - Full thickness skin loss with extensive destruction, tissue necrosis, or damage to muscle, bone or supporting structures (e.g. tendon, joint capsule). Undermining and sinus tracts also may be associated with Stage IV pressure ulcers.

Identifying Resident's Risk Factors

A nursing home facility must identify each resident at risk of accidents and provide supervision and assistance devices to prevent accident. These include a thorough intake review of the resident’s pre-existing admission records. Those records are to be examined for the following existing risk factors:

(1) Previous falls;

(2) Cardiac arrhythmias;

(3) Stroke;

(4) Central nervous system disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and others;

(5) Problems with mobility and gait;

(6) Low blood pressure on standing up;

(7) Bowel or bladder incontinence;

(8) Dizziness;

(9) Dehydration;

(10) Visual impairment.

Medications Used for Alzheimer's Treatment Questionable

As the entire country bore witness with the decline of Ronald Reagan, Alzheimer’s disease is an insidious illness, which often is nearly as debilitating for the loved ones as it is for the patient. An extraordinarily high percentage and ALF residents suffer from Alzheimer’s and/or other dementia related illnesses, including vascular dementia. Sadly, a recent study involving the medications Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel questioned the ethicacy of these anti-psychotic drugs with most Alzheimer’s patients who suffer from delusions and aggression. The study questions whether the risks of these drugs outweigh their benefits. Three-quarters of the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease develop aggression, hallucinations or delusions, which can lead them to act out against caregivers or even harm themselves. This type of behavior typically leads families to place such individuals in a nursing home. The study involved 421 patients at 42 medical centers and was conducted for people living outside of the nursing home population. As reported in the October 12, 2006 New England Journal of Medicine, about 4 out of 5 patients stopped taking the pills early on average, generally within 5 to 8 weeks, because the medications were either ineffective or had side effects which rendered their continued use problematic. In the study, five deaths were reported among the patients on the medication versus two in the placebo group. Although symptoms improved in approximately 30% of the patients taking the drugs, 21% on the dummy pills also improved.

Preventing Falls in Nursing Homes

Resident falls often involve nursing home negligence. Falls are not entirely preventable, but measures can be taken to lessen their occurrence. The happening of a fall does not always indicate negligence. However, the nursing home has an obligation to properly assess all residents. These assessments are done in conjunction with the resident’s particular risk factors. The resident’s physical, mental, psychological and medical conditions are all relevant when properly assessing a resident’s risk for falling.

Pressure Ulcers and Bedsores

Pressure ulcers, otherwise known as bedsores or decubitus ulcers, can occur in residents who spend a good deal of their time in a bed or in a wheelchair. These sores can develop at the bony prominences of the body such as the sacral bones, the hip bones, shoulder blades and the heels. The primary causes of bedsores are immobility, malnutrition, dehydration, incontinence and failure of the nursing home staff to properly and timely reposition the nursing home resident. When the skin is subjected to prolonged and unrelieved periods of pressure in these bony prominence areas of the body, it can cause underlying tissue damage. The pressure ulcers range in severity. A Stage I pressure ulcer is least severe and presents itself as a small red wound about the size of a quarter. Stage IV bedsores are the most severe and can involve a gaping wound with complete skin tissue breakdown including necrotic tissue. Stage IV heel ulcers, in certain instances, result in amputation.

Little Gestures Mean a Lot

The Chester Observer Tribune reported that some very generous gardening enthusiasts make it a practice to send lovely flower arrangements to a local nursing home. Little touches like this greatly uplift the spirits of folks whose lives often can be very dismal. Local Boy Scout and Brownie Troops often visit nursing home residents, as do religious groups. All of these activities provide the spiritual shot in the arm that nursing home residents need.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Contrary to popular belief, Medicare does not cover cost of long-term care. Medicare only provides limited coverage for long-term care with many rules to qualify, such as requiring a pre-day hospital stay. Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, pays for almost 65% of the patient’s nursing facilities, yet offers only limited, if any, funding for assisted living services in many states. Long-term care insurance, depending on the policy, pays a daily rate and may cover a variety of long-term care settings, possibly including home care.

Identifying Alzheimer's

If you are concerned that a loved one may be suffering from Alzheimer’s, there are many warning signs you can look for. For instance, memory loss begins to affect daily activities like managing household finances. The individual may become confused, exercise poor judgment, and begin to experience a lack of zest for life, or become lost easily. Often a person’s memory troubles progressively increase and their attention span shortens. An individual suffering from Alzheimer’s may have difficulty recognizing friends and family, organizing thoughts and speaking logically. Other characteristics may include your loved one developing a level of suspicion. For instance, he or she may begin hiding their belongings. They also may become restless, especially in the late afternoons and evenings. This is commonly referred to as Sundown Syndrome. Eventually, people with Alzheimer’s cannot recognize family members or even their own reflection in the mirror. Even with good nutrition, weight loss will occur along with the loss of verbal communication and bowel or bladder control. Ultimately, Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease.

Hospice Care

Many concerned family members of elderly and decompensating loved ones must face the challenging decisions regarding the healthcare option known as “Hospice.” The task of addressing these issues must first be viewed in the context of what wishes may or may not be known by the resident, him or herself. The law firm of Stark & Stark always recommends that all adults who are capable to do so should prepare and execute both living wills and healthcare powers-of-attorney. Living wills allow people to have a say in their own future while their mental faculties still allow them to do so. Thus, when one has the benefit of a living will, issues about resuscitation and other needs of the resident have been made by them before their deterioration preventing them from making such a decision. When the end of one’s life is approaching, Hospice often represents the most appropriate and compassionate option. Sometimes the role of a Hospice nurse is simply to hold the hand of patient. Other times, physical comfort is the paramount need. An excellent resource to learn more about Hospice can be found on the National Hospice Palliative Care Organization homepage, .

Insomnia is a Prominent Health Issue

An interesting study recently revealed an exorbitant amount of money is being spent on an annual basis for insomnia. Specifically, it has been estimated that as a nation, we spend approximately fourteen billion dollars a year on the direct costs of insomnia. This includes treatment, healthcare services, hospital and nursing home care. Insomnia represents a significant problem in the long-term care industry, in that multiple health issues arise from the inadequate sleep patterns that many nursing home residents suffer from. It is imperative for family members to work closely with nursing home personnel to address this important health issue.

Immigrants Take on Role of Caregiver

Immigrants are quickly taking on greater and greater roles as caregivers in this country for weak and infirm seniors. Interestingly, as the demand for such care rapidly increases, the demands from naturalized U.S. citizens have greatly diminished. Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, have been making up the shortfall. In many circumstances, these undocumented workers form tremendous bonds with the families. These caregivers need to be strong and have the appropriate skills to care for people who often cannot provide for their own personal needs, such as grooming, bathing and eating. This always has been and always will be a very human endeavor, which technology simply cannot address. An often ignored side effect of the raging debate in this country on immigration is its impact on the needs of our most infirm citizens.