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Depression and Dementia in Older Adults Increase Risk of Preventable Hospitalizations

HBNS STORY | November 20, 2014

Older adults with mental health conditions, such as depression or cognitive impairment, have a higher risk of readmission within 30 days after a hospital stay for pneumonia, heart attack or congestive heart failure, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Nearly Half of Older Americans Need Support With Daily Routines

HBNS STORY | October 23, 2014

About 18 million Americans age 65 and older require help with routine daily activities like bathing, handling medications or meals, finds a new study in Milbank Quarterly. The research shows a growing need for improved services and support for older Americans, their spouses, their children and other "informal caregivers."

Fecal Blood Test May Save More Lives Than Colonoscopy

HBNS STORY | October 21, 2014

Colorectal cancer, or CRC, is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. State public health programs could screen nearly eight times as many individuals and prevent nearly twice as many CRC cases by using fecal immunochemical testing, or FIT, instead of colonoscopies, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Shopping for a Medicare Advantage Plan — Once Again!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 15, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

I have just done something I said I would never do: shop for a Medicare Advantage plan to cover my gaps in Medicare. The usual flyers and brochures from sellers of Medicare Advantage plans began to arrive in the mail with their enticing sales pitches, and one nearly fooled me. Short of having a Medicare representative on the phone, you're stuck in an information swamp. No wonder studies show that beneficiaries are not eager to shop around even if they can get a new policy with a smaller monthly premium...

Home Health, Palliative Care, Hospice: What's the Difference and Who Needs Them?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 6, 2014 | Janet Bollig

I recently spoke with a gentleman with a significant illness whose main goal is to stay home. He decided to utilize our skilled home health services and home medical equipment. Over time, he transitioned into our palliative care program and currently is in our hospice program. Here is information on what these services are and who may benefit from them...

Another Strategy in the Health Care Reimbursement Game

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 17, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

American health care has become a gigantic game board with players of all sorts strategizing to win. Winning, of course, means getting more money from payers...

A Preventable Medical Error Hits Home

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 16, 2014 | Darla Dernovsek

My 77-year-old parents were recently impacted by a medical error. The good news is that the story ends happily. The bad news is that it could have been averted simply by checking the date on lab tests...

Elderly Who Have Had Serious Falls May Show Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress

HBNS STORY | September 11, 2014

Older adults who experience a serious fall may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the days following the event, finds a study published in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Seeing the Government's Star Ratings Is One Thing, Believing Them Is Another

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 9, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Just a few years ago it seemed that advocates for health care transparency had scored a big victory. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would rate nursing homes by awarding five stars to the best and fewer stars to lower-quality facilities. It turns out, though, that five-star nursing homes may not be delivering five-star quality...

Getting Bumped to First Class Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 4, 2014 | Lawrence LeMoal

I am writing this post while seated comfortably in a motorized leather recliner with a window view and lots of other perks. What a legacy we would leave Saskatchewan citizens if we could figure out how to extend this first-class patient care to all patients and their families wrestling with chronic disease...

Seniors Face Barriers to Critical Dental Care

HBNS STORY | August 26, 2014

Poor oral health can have a negative impact on seniors’ overall health and well-being, but for many, there are significant barriers to visiting a dentist, finds a new report in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

An Advantage for Medicare Patients or Just for Health Plans?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 20, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

That the government overpays sellers of Medicare Advantage plans is well known in Beltway circles, even if much of the public remains unaware…

Patient-Centered Medical Homes Reduce Costs

HBNS STORY | July 31, 2014

As the number of patient centered medical homes has increased, a new report in the journal Health Services Research finds the model offers a promising option to reduce health care costs and utilization of some health care services.

Little Progress Made in Reducing Health Disparities for People with Disabilities

HBNS STORY | June 26, 2014

Mental distress in people with disabilities is associated with increased prevalence of chronic illness and reduced access to health care and preventive care services, finds a new study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

What Would Mom Want?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 23, 2014 | Michael Wasserman

We've watched it many times on television or in a movie: The patient lies in the intensive care unit, gravely ill, with the family at the bedside. The doctor walks into the room and asks, "What do you want us to do?" and opens up a huge can of worms that is, in fact, ethically incorrect. The first priority that a physician has is to their patient...

Not So Easy to Stop Care When the Patient Is a Loved One

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 16, 2014 | Margaret Polaneczky

To those of us who have had a loved one succumb to cancer, who had to negotiate the frightening choice between the rock and the hard place, always holding out hope for another round of chemo...we know that reining in health care costs will mean more than just raising co-pays and lowering drug costs and funding more effective interventions. It will also mean quashing hope. And learning to tell ourselves the truth...

Don't Forget the Hefty Price We Pay to Engage in Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like lower fat/salt recommendations have become complicated as old truisms are overturned by new evidence. So I'm asking: To whom should I turn for meaningful guidance about modifying my risk for illness and boosting my health?

Life-Changing Events Can Lead to Less Physical Activity

HBNS STORY | June 5, 2014

Adults tend to engage in less leisure-time physical activity after changes in both lifestyle and physical status, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Pulling the Plug on DNR Orders

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 2, 2014 | Muriel Gillick

Recently, a friend commented that she was not sure whether or not to agree to a DNR order for her 90-year-old mother. Complicating her decision was the knowledge that her mother had chosen a DNR status when she was cognitively intact, but then reversed her decision at the time of acute illness, believing that DNR meant she would not receive vigorous medical treatment. This is incorrect, and physicians are confused as well...

Vitamin D with Calcium May Prevent Bone Fractures for High-Risk Seniors

HBNS STORY | May 29, 2014

For seniors over the age of 65, taking a daily supplement of vitamin D with calcium—but not vitamin D alone—can offer some protection against the risk of common bone fractures, according to an updated review from The Cochrane Library.

Social Support May Prevent PTSD in Heart Patients

HBNS STORY | May 20, 2014

Having a good social support system may help prevent the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients with heart disease, finds a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

A Doctor's Strategies Helped Mom Pay for Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2014 | Narine Wandrey

Bewildered, panicked and disheartened, I watched my mother's eyes dart back and forth as she read the pharmacy's prescription cash price list, knowing she could not possibly afford her monthly medicines. We drove home, not saying a word, but I knew she was deeply distraught. When we arrived, she began cutting each tiny elliptical or rounded tablet into halves and quarters...

Medication Cocktails: Not Every Mix Is Safe

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 5, 2014 | CFAH Staff

One in every five older Americans takes medications that work against each other. And some interactions between prescription drugs and supplements can pose dangerous health risks. So what must we do to make sure that we benefit from the drugs we take?

My Partner, My Memory

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 15, 2014 | Barbara Kivowitz

I don't know if it's growing older, or New England winters, or the meds I take, or watching Homeland and Downton Abbey in the same week – but my memory isn't as crisp as it used to be. My partner, Richard, has become part of my cerebral cortex...

On Each Other's Team: What We Can Learn by Listening to Older Adults

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 10, 2014 | Chris Langston

If there is a population in which we have the biggest opportunity to see improvements in both cost and quality of care outcomes, it is older Americans. The debate on how best to deliver effective primary care has gone on a long time, sometimes frustratingly so, but it has almost never included a crucial constituency: older adults. The John A. Hartford Foundation is pleased to help change that...

A Phone Call from a Pharmacist Can Reduce Some Hospital Admissions

HBNS STORY | April 10, 2014

Pharmacist-patient telephone consultations appear to reduce hospitalizations in patients who are least at risk, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Costs Complicated Dad's Cancer Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 31, 2014 | Laura Sander

"I walked in a person, and out a cancer patient," my dad said as we filed home. Crossing this threshold, we found ourselves on the other side of medicine – the side on the exam table or gurney, as opposed to the one standing over it. In time, it became clear we were running out of money...

When a Loved One Is Hospitalized

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 24, 2014 | Bonnie Friedman

My husband has been in the hospital 14 times over the past 24 years. What I've learned is that my role as advocate is just as important to his recovery as the roles of doctors and the nurses. You may not have a medical degree, but you have intelligence and instincts...

Is a Daily Dose of Many Pills in Your Future?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 17, 2014 | Andrew Schorr

I recently had breakfast with an aging cousin, Walter, who has become infirm in his senior years. I knew he had several doctors and took medicine. It wasn't until breakfast time, however, that I realized how many medicines Walter took – and I was bowled over...

Alzheimer's Stories That Matter

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 14, 2014 | Marie Marley

The stories told by people with Alzheimer's can teach us a lot about their lives. They also help us find important topics to discuss when we visit, which can make our visits far more pleasant and meaningful to the person we're seeing...

Hospitalization Increases Risk of Depression and Dementia for Seniors

HBNS STORY | February 27, 2014

People over age 65 who have been hospitalized are at significantly greater risk for dementia or depression, finds a new study in General Hospital Psychiatry.

'Me' Versus 'We' in Obamacare

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 25, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

The Obama administration and Affordable Care Act supporters have not bothered to explain how the law includes cross-subsidization, missing an opportunity to talk about the "we" aspects of the law. As one 58-year-old woman put it: "The chances of me having a child at this age is zero. Why do I have to pay an additional $5,000 a year for coverage that I will never, ever need?" Here's how it works...

Backlash Against Narrow Provider Networks Begins

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 18, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Seniors are starting to realize that fewer doctors and hospitals may be available to them if they select a Medicare Advantage plan. Restricting these choices – in theory – is a way to control the price of health care. There's just one problem: Consumers still want to choose their doctors or stick with the ones they've got...

Why Low-Income Seniors Fail to Get Help Paying for Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 11, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A couple weeks ago, the Medicare Rights Center, a well-known New York-based advocacy group, released a report card showing that seniors on Medicare are struggling to pay for their health care. This finding brings up an important question: Why aren't seniors using the variety of state and federal programs that have been set up to help people in this situation?

Do Patients Care How Much Money Their Doctors Make?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 28, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

I am all for transparency when it comes to health care. So when Medicare announced a few weeks ago that it would begin to tell the public how much doctors are paid to treat Medicare patients, my first thought was "hooray." Still, I keep returning to the question: What will the data do for the average person?...

Sedentary Lifestyles Up Mortality Risks for Older Women

HBNS STORY | January 21, 2014

Older women who spend a majority of their day sitting or lying down are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, cancer and death, finds a new study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

More Chronically Ill People Use Online Health Resources – but They're Not So Social, Pew Finds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 13, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

Getting and being sick changes everything in your life, and that includes how you manage your health. For people focused on so-called patient engagement, health empowerment, and social networking in health, the elephant in the room is that most people simply don't self-track health via digital means...

Hospitals Serving Elderly Poor More Likely to Be Penalized for Readmissions

HBNS STORY | January 7, 2014

Hospitals that treat more poor seniors who are on both Medicaid and Medicare tend to have higher rates of readmissions, triggering costly penalties, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 8): Who's Who In Your Doctor's Office

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 2, 2014 | Be a Prepared Patient

In the eighth and final part of our series, we explain who the various people are in your doctor's office, from nurse practitioners to lab technicians. Knowing their different roles can make your visit go more smoothly...

Who’s Who in Your Doctor’s Office

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Communicate With Your Doctors

Medical offices have a lot of staff but one common goal—helping you, the patient. Here are some of the people you may meet during your doctor’s appointment.

What I Expect From the Medicare Program

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 16, 2013 | Jeff Goldsmith

After half a lifetime of following the Medicare program, on October 1, 2013, I became a Medicare beneficiary. I'm part of the leading edge of baby boomers joining the program, ten thousand a day. Here are some reflections upon joining...

Massachusetts Residents Healthier After Health Care Reform

HBNS STORY | December 12, 2013

Residents of Massachusetts saw small gains in health status following the enactment of a state-wide health insurance mandate in 2006, finds a new study in the Milbank Quarterly.

Immigration Status Impacts Health, Especially for the Young

HBNS STORY | December 10, 2013

Age at immigration and citizenship status may have health implications for immigrants, finds a new study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

A Better Health System for Frail and Disabled Elders

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 9, 2013 | Ken Covinsky

Let's stop telling the public that exercising and eating blueberries are guarantees for avoiding frailty and disability. Let's start talking about how to maintain our quality of life as we age and inevitably encounter health problems.

Seven Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier About Cancer Survivorship

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 4, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

It is challenging, in the years following a cancer diagnosis, to assemble health care that protects us from the lingering effects of the disease and its treatment and that alerts us to a recurrence or new cancer. I hope these reflections will help those who've been diagnosed with cancer live as long and as well as they can...

Many Patients Have Trouble ID’ing Their Medications

HBNS STORY | December 3, 2013

People who identified their medication by shape, size or color instead of name had poorer adherence and an increased risk of hospitalization, finds a recent study in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives.

Healthy Eating...Help!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 27, 2013 | CFAH Staff

It isn't breaking news that exercising and eating a healthy diet can help improve your overall health and fitness, but that doesn't make it any easier for most of us to follow suit. These resources from CFAH's 'Be a Prepared Patient' can help...

Fixing the Technological Fix

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 25, 2013 | Daniel Callahan

Perhaps like many of my age, I am not captivated by a number of much-touted technological innovations, increasing choices I don’t desire and fulfilling needs I didn’t realize I had. My nervous reaction to Personal Health System Technology is that of the distancing of patients from doctors, adding still another barrier between doctors and patients, and in the seductive name of their medical welfare.

Reducing Obesity: It Takes a Village

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 20, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

During my recent visit to Canada, I had a chance to meet obesity expert and medical director of Canada's Bariatric Medicine Institute, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. What he had to say was somewhat surprising...

How to Help a Young Caregiver

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 4, 2013 | Tarah Knaresboro

I know a young woman who serves as the primary caregiver for her mother. Watching her put everything on hold to take the helm is both inspiring and heartbreaking. With her stamp of approval, here are ten tips for anyone out there trying to support a caregiver.

We Can Do Better

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 22, 2013 | James Appleby

It's a scene that plays out daily in exam rooms across the country. The aging patient, accompanied by a caregiver, is seeing his or her physician and a discussion starts regarding the patient's memory.

Going Online for Caregiving Help

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

"You don't get a manual when you become a family caregiver," says Constance Adampoulos. CFAH's latest feature offers advice, practical tips and links to expert online resources to help people manage caregiving's challenges...

Getting Health Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

Don’t have health insurance? Here’s advice on how to find the right insurance for your needs.

What Are Medicare and Medicaid?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

Learn more about the U.S. government’s health insurance programs for older adults and people with low-incomes and resources.

How Much Will Your Health Care Cost?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

It can be hard to figure out how much your health care will cost ahead of time. Here are some tips for preparing for the cost of your procedures.

Survival Tips for Family Caregivers

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

If a family member or friend has a serious medical illness or procedure, you may be called on to provide care after your loved one leaves the hospital, emergency room or doctor’s office. Assisting with their health care needs frequently falls on untrained family members or friends.

What Is Palliative Care?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care

Palliative care provides therapies are designed to make patients more comfortable and ease the symptoms of serious illnesses or conditions. Learn more.

Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care

Learn about long-term care and whether you need long-term care insurance.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 30, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

This week in health news: For teens, fighting is bad for the brain | Skeptical elderly turn to home remedies | Bedwetting treatments offer help | Green light for eating and drinking during labor

Rural Seniors Prefer Self-Care Over Doctors

HBNS STORY | August 15, 2013

A survey of older rural adults found a high degree of medical skepticism, the belief that one knows and can control their own health better than a medical professional can, reports a recent study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

Why Everyone Deserves Palliative Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 16, 2013 | Richard Besdine

Life is full of surprises, but statisticians tell us that most Americans who make it to age 65 can expect to live to almost 85, and about 1 in 4 will live past 90. Unfortunately, because palliative care is a relatively new specialty, it is often misunderstood by patients, families and even some physicians.

Obesity Is a Major Obstacle for Disabled Americans

HBNS STORY | July 16, 2013

Obesity and its related health problems impacts far more people with a disability than previously reported, according to new research in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Patient-Centeredness Is the Intuitive Grasping of Health Care Quality

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 15, 2013 | Aanand Naik

The key to improving the health outcomes of our older patients (and the overall quality of our healthcare system) is through re-investment in dialogue between patients and clinicians and a strengthening of trust within the patient-clinician relationship.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 9, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

This week in health news: Using shame to promote weight loss doesn’t work | Black nursing homes face challenges | Hispanic and Black children not getting the right asthma meds | Electronic health records not widespread

Health Is Difficult When Solo: Will More e-Caregivers Help?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 26, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Last week, both my husband and I came away from a conversation with my doctor positive that we understood my new weight-gain plan. Funny thing: Each of us recalled a different plan.

Some Caregivers Find Hiring a Professional Advocate Helps

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 25, 2013 | Suzie Mitchell

Not long ago, I was chatting with a friend about my mom, whose life had revolved around work since my dad died 17 years ago. I was worried that my mother might be lonely, but worse, I didn't know how I would care for her at such a distance if she got sick.

Walking Leads to Better Health for Older Men

HBNS STORY | May 30, 2013

The more an older man walks, the better his physical and mental health and his quality of life are likely to be, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Is “Guaranteed Coverage for Life” in the Cards for Medicare Seniors?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 1, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

A few days ago, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield sent me one of those Medigap sales brochures that seniors usually expect during the fall open enrollment season.

Six Awkward Concerns in My OpenNotes

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 25, 2013 | Leslie Kernisan

I find myself relieved that I don’t have to figure out how to document (or not document?) concerns [in patient records]...Wondering what they are? Ok, I will tell you, but shhh...don’t tell my elderly patients that I may be considering these topics as I care for them.

Elderly Women in Rural Areas Less Likely to Recover from Depression

HBNS STORY | March 19, 2013

Being female and living in a rural area are among several factors that predicted whether an elderly person with depression recovered over the course of a year, finds a recent study in Depression Research and Treatment.

Caring For Loved Ones When Our Best Efforts Aren’t Enough

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 18, 2013 | Nora OBrien Suric

How many friends/family members/social workers does it take to change the mind of a frail person? Even if the frail person was/is one of the leading geriatric social workers in the country?

“Go-to-Guy for All Things Medical” Tested at Mom’s End-of-Life

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 4, 2013 | Charles Ornstein

My father, sister and I sat in the near-empty Chinese restaurant, picking at our plates, unable to avoid the question that we'd gathered to discuss: When was it time to let Mom die?

Does the U.S. Get Value for Its Health Care Dollars? – Part 2

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 13, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

It turns out Japan has much to teach us about improving health…In many ways, Japan scores much higher than the U.S. when it comes to the health of its population.

Palliative Care: Easier Said than Done

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 1, 2013 | Conversation Continues

If we want our end-of-life wishes to be properly carried out, we have to prepare in advance and our clinicians must also be prepared to help us realize them.

Half of At-Risk Older Adults Aren’t Getting Routine HIV Screening

HBNS STORY | January 29, 2013

Almost half of older adults visiting a public health clinic where HIV/AIDS was prevalent were not screened for the disease in the past 12 months, finds a study in The Gerontologist.

Choosing a Nursing Home

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care

Choosing a nursing home for a family member can be a challenging and exhausting process.

Making Plans for Your End-of-Life Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care

It’s important to make your wishes known to your family and doctors regarding treatment at the end-of-life. Here are resources to help you have this conversation.

What Is Hospice?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care

Hospice care can provide extra support for people near the end-of-life and their families. Here’s what you need to know.

Do You Need a Yearly Checkup?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Get Preventive Health Care

Checkups are good for establishing a relationship with your primary care clinician and for screening tests. Here are resources with more on what tests you might need to stay healthy.

Organize Your Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Organize Your Health Care

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Joyce Dubow of AARP

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 19, 2012 | Joyce Dubow

We need to do better if we want people to have high-quality care that is provided in a way that is safe and makes the best use of scarce health care resources. CER that is relevant, timely and rigorous is fundamental to achieving these objectives.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Richard Birkel of the Center for Healthy Aging & NCOA

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 5, 2012 | Richard Birkel

We believe that CER can be a valuable strategy to improve health care'?¦We are concerned, however, that older adults have often been excluded from clinical trials of drugs, medical devices and procedures.

The Government Wants Seniors Out of Bad Medicare Plans

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 5, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

Even though open enrollment closes this week for some 47 million seniors who can change their Medicare coverage arrangements for next year, the federal government is extending the deadline for certain people. Who are the lucky ones?

Communicate With Your Doctors

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Communicate With Your Doctors

You and your doctor need accurate information from each other. Open communication with your doctor is one of the most important factors in getting and staying healthy.

Our Caregiver Reality Check

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 1, 2012 | Amy Berman

Who cares for our ill, our aged, our vulnerable? Is it physicians, nurses, social workers, aides? Or is it perhaps another member of the health care team? The largest portion of health care is delivered by families.

Shingles Vaccine Prevents Painful Disease in Older Adults

HBNS STORY | October 17, 2012

Older adults who get the shingles vaccine have a nearly 50 percent reduced risk of developing the often debilitating disease, finds a new evidence review from The Cochrane Library.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Gail Hunt of the National Alliance for Caregiving

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 26, 2012 | Gail Hunt

Gail Hunt is president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving and serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Center for Aging Service Technology, the Governing Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and the CFAH Board of Trustees. This is the third in a series of interviews between CFAH President and Founder Jessie Gruman and patient and consumer group leaders about their experiences with and attitudes toward comparative effectiveness research.

Topical NSAIDs Provide Relief from Arthritis Pain

HBNS STORY | September 18, 2012

For those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees or hands, applying topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) —in the form of creams, gels and patches —can bring weeks of pain relief, finds a new review by The Cochrane Library.

My Mother's End-of-Life Discussion That Changed How She Died

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 21, 2012 | Leana Wen

I am a physician. The hardest thing I've ever had to do was to end my mother's life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 47. After a seven-year battle that involved multiple surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy, she decided that she had fought long enough.

People with Few Assets Less Likely to Plan for End-of-Life Health Care

HBNS STORY | August 16, 2012

Socioeconomic status is a big predictor of how likely people are to have living wills, a power of attorney for health care decisions or to participate in informal discussions about treatment preferences with loved ones. People with few assets were half as likely as those of more means to plan for these end-of-life concerns, a new study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior finds.

Regular Physical Activity May Help Ward Off Dementia Years Later

HBNS STORY | July 17, 2012

Older adults who engage in vigorous physical activity three or more times a week are less likely to be diagnosed with dementia later compared to adults who don’t, according to a new longitudinal study in American Journal of Health Promotion.

Guest Blog: The App Gap: Why Baby Boomers Won't Use Most Smart Phone Apps

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 25, 2012 | Val Jones

Along with the invention of smart phones, an entire medical mobile application (app) industry has cropped up, promising patients enhanced connectivity, health data collection, and overall care quality at lower costs...For all the hype about robo-grannies, aging in place technologies, and how high tech solutions will reduce healthcare costs, the reality is that these hopes are unlikely to be achieved with the baby boomer generation.

A Physician's Perspective on Shifting to Palliative Care: Help Us Change our Pace

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 20, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

Last week's essay, Shifting to Palliative Care: Help Us Change our Pace, provoked the following commentary from my friend and colleague, James Cooper -- to which I responded.

Shifting to Palliative Care: Help Us Change our Pace

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 13, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

It is easy to understand why the medical machine the clinicians, the tests and assorted medical procedures is poised to provide constant often heroic interventions to save and prolong life.

Guest Blog: The End of Life Horror Show: We Can Do Better

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2012 | Chris Langston

Recently, New York Magazine published an agonizing first person cover story by Michael Wolff, 'A Life Worth Ending,' about the terrible choices and harsh reality of illness at the end of his mother's life. The summary slug for the piece says it all: 'The era of medical miracles has created a new phase of aging, as far from living as it is from dying. A son's plea to let his mother go.'

More Confusion about Those Insurance EOBs. This Time from Medicare

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 6, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

People have a right to receive in plain language a summary of what doctors bill, what insurers pay and how much they themselves must pay.

'Death Panels': Beliefs and Disbeliefs in Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 23, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

Virginia was particularly concerned that she would not get medical treatment after she turns 75. She had heard at that age, 'they send you a letter. They are going to start sending you literature on death.'

Too Many Drugs for Many Older Patients

HBNS STORY | May 16, 2012

A new Cochrane Library evidence review reveals that little is known about the best ways to avoid inappropriate prescribing of medications for seniors or how to maximize health benefits while minimizing prescriptions.

Self-Efficacy, part 2

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 7, 2012 | Connie Davis

Whenever I am in an interaction, I know these three ideas can help shape the encounter. How is the person doing with these three tasks? What can I do to help? Are they confident in these three tasks?

Personalized Interventions Work Best for People with Multiple, Chronic Illnesses

HBNS STORY | April 18, 2012

People with multiple chronic medical conditions are helped by medical interventions that target personal risk factors and/or their ability to perform daily activities. Interventions aimed at general case management or enhancing teamwork among a patient’s care providers are not as effective, finds a new review in The Cochrane Library.

Self-Efficacy, Part 1

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 12, 2012 | Connie Davis

Self-efficacy is a very important concept in health care. It is nearly the same thing as self-confidence, or a belief that you can do something, like monitor mood, change eating habits and start being more physically active. It turns out that self-efficacy is linked to hospital utilization (low confidence = increased ER visits and days in hospital), to blood sugar control (low confidence = worse blood sugar control) and to changes in behavior.

Four Perfect Questions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 9, 2012 | Elaine Waples

I remember when my father-in-law passed away nine years ago. A nervous young doctor had the uncomfortable task of telling him that nothing more could be done about his leukemia and it was perhaps time for hospice.

Medicare Games: When Is a Stay in the Hospital Really a Stay?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 21, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

If you or a family member is on Medicare, you would assume that if they are in the hospital their care would be covered under Medicare's Part A hospital benefit. Right? Well, not always.

What Consumers Don't Know About Their Health Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 7, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

On a chilly New York day, a sales agent for UnitedHealthcare stood on a noisy street corner in Spanish Harlem pushing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. He was engaging in table marketing a way to snag new customers, converts from other MA plans, he hoped.

When Will Grasp Catch Up with Reach? Older People Are Missing the Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Illness

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 7, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Did you know that every nursing home resident in the US must be asked every quarter whether she wants to go home, regardless of her health or mental status? And if she says yes, there is a local agency that must spring into action to make that happen.

Socially Active Older Adults Have Slower Rates of Health Declines

HBNS STORY | December 1, 2011

Older adults who maintain high levels of social engagement or ramp up their social life as they age may be protected from declines in physical and cognitive health, according to a study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

An Under-Recognized Danger for the Elderly: Delirium

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 22, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Delirium and dementia are not synonymous, though in elderly hospitalized patients, delirium is often overlooked or dismissed as such. Here, Nora O'Brien-Suric and Susan Seliger discuss their parents' hospital experiences with delirium, which new research shows, has dangerous implications.

The Costs of Long-Term Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 14, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Does long-term care insurance have a future? In this roundup, Nancy Folbre, Don Taylor, and Trudy Lieberman offer their forecasts and perspectives on its costs.

Cognitive Reframing Can Help Dementia Caregivers with Depression, Stress

HBNS STORY | November 9, 2011

A new evidence review from the Netherlands finds that a psychotherapy technique called cognitive reframing can help reduce caregivers’ stress when they are caring for loved ones with dementia.

Think Silver Not Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 1, 2011 | Amy Berman

Because cancer is primarily a disease of aging, we shouldn't be thinking pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month'we should be thinking silver.

Benefits of End-of-Life Planning

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Two new studies have found there are numerous benefits when people discuss their end-of-life preferences with their clinicians and caregivers.

Patients with Implanted Cardiac Devices Should Learn about End-of-Life Options

HBNS STORY | October 4, 2011

An implanted device meant to correct heart rhythm may generate repeated painful shocks during a patient’s final hours, at a time when the natural process of dying often affects the heart’s rhythm.

After an Emergency, Comprehensive Care Is Best for Older Patients

HBNS STORY | July 21, 2011

Older people rushed to the emergency room are more likely to be living at home up to a year later if they receive a comprehensive and age-appropriate evaluation during their hospital stay.

Turning 65: Medicare's Future and Me

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 14, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

I once thought that when I signed up for Medicare, I would never again have to worry about paying for health care. But I will. Medicare's future shape and substance is uncertain.

Turning 65: Making the Choice

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 21, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Even though I have written about Medicare for many years, it wasn't until I actually went through the process of selecting an option to cover Medicare's gaps that I realized seniors have an extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, task. You can't make a perfect decision because so much depends on your future medical needs and no one can predict those with certainty.

Guest Blog: Making Hard Decisions Easier

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 13, 2011 | Amy Berman

Shortly after I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer a scan showed a hot spot on my lower spine. Was it the spread of cancer? My oncologist scheduled a bone biopsy at my hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, in order for us to find out.

Turning 65: Finding a Medicare Advantage Plan

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 6, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Ah, those Medicare Advantage (MA) plans! The government can't seem to decide if it loves or hates them. On the one hand, when I tried to learn about my options, there was much more MA plan information available from the government than for traditional Medigap policies. So it seemed like I was being encouraged to select an MA plan.

Turning 65: Finding a Prescription Drug Plan

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 23, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

If I were to choose a Medigap policy to supplement my basic Medicare coverage, I would still have to buy a separate plan for prescription drugs, since Medigap sellers can't include drug benefits in those policies.

Medicare Spending Linked to Longer Life, Better Health in Elderly

HBNS STORY | May 23, 2011

Findings of a new study suggest that cutting Medicare spending across the board could result in poorer health outcomes for the elderly.

Turning 65: Finding a Medigap Policy

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 12, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

The first step after reading my collection of Medicare Advantage, prescription drug, and Medigap sales brochures was to find a way to fill in core Medicare coverage gaps'the deductibles for hospital stays and doctor care and the coinsurance for physician visits, lab tests, and hospital outpatient treatment that could really leave me with an unwelcome bill. I would have to pay 20 percent of those bills if I didn't have supplemental coverage.

Turning 65: The Sellers Were After Me

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 28, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Even before I officially signed up for Medicare, sellers of Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug benefits and Medigap policies began stuffing my mailbox with marketing brochures and lead cards'the kind that ask for your name and address and tell you that a salesperson will call if you return the card. Since the first of the year, I have received five lead cards asking for personal information, four solicitations for Medicare Advantage plans, two for stand-alone drug plans and three for Medigap insurance.

Turning 65: It Was Time for Medicare

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 11, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

This is the first in a series of posts that examine the process of signing up for Medicare, navigating its rules, choosing supplemental coverage and planning for health care in a program with a very uncertain future.

1st Person: At 98, Bob Stewart Would Rather Be Dancing

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 5, 2011 | First Person

Bob Stewart, who will turn 99 this May, began taking supplements in 2000, when he was in his late 80s. The retired podiatrist is also a strong believer in keeping active. He takes exercise classes at least three times a week and participates in numerous community activities, including a local men's chorus.

Few Studies Delve Into Hospice Care in Nursing Homes

HBNS STORY | March 17, 2011

A new evidence review finds scant high-quality research on the best ways for nursing homes hoping to ease the suffering of older patients through hospice care. Still, the studies suggest that strategies such as teams of specialists and partnerships between nursing homes and hospice care services are essential.

Seniors in Public Housing Suffer Worse Health Than Others in Community

HBNS STORY | March 16, 2011

In a study of more than 16,000 older adults, fatigue, cardiac conditions, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and psychiatric problems were more prevalent among those living in public housing.

Prepared Patient: Hospice Care: What Is It, Anyway?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 10, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

Three a.m. can be a lonely time for caregivers. But when Renata Rafferty's husband Jerome struggled to breathe late one night, she knew she wasn't completely alone. Though it was the middle of the night when Renata called, the on-call nurse at their hospice responded immediately: arranging medical equipment and a nurse to check on Jerome. Now, months after Jerome's death, Renata says hospice 'is not the place you go to die, it's the place you go to celebrate and finish your life, in an environment where that is the sole and only focus.'

1st Person: Hospice, My Husband and Me

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 10, 2011 | First Person

As Jerome Rafferty, diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia and an incurable, antibiotic-resistant infection, became more ill, his wife, Renata Rafferty, used hospice services at home initially to assist her in caring for him.

Can Good Care Produce Bad Health?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 15, 2011 | Amy Berman

For those of you who haven't yet heard, I have recently been diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer. This rare form of breast cancer is known for its rapid spread. True to form, it has metastasized to my spine. This means my time is limited. As a nurse, I knew it from the moment I saw a reddened spot on my breast and recognized it for what it was.

Listening to My Mother

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 9, 2011 | Corinne H. Rieder

I can't deny it I miss the mother I once had. Even at age 80, she was vibrant, loving, and independent. And she was strong. For nearly 20 years she provided care to my father, who before his death struggled with normal-pressure hydrocephalus and macular degeneration. What an incredible woman!

Selling Sickness

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 21, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Someone I know who is just over 65 received an unlikely solicitation'from The Scooter Store located in New Braunfels, Texas, on Independence Drive no less. The outside of the envelope promised a free personal mobility assessment. This person is totally mobile and hardly needs a scooter.

Memory Training Might Not Be Best for Reducing “Senior Moments”

HBNS STORY | January 18, 2011

A new evidence review suggests that memory drills and similar brain-boosting activities are not any better than simple conversations at improving memory in older adults.

Most Seniors Don’t Get Shingles Vaccination, CDC Finds

HBNS STORY | January 11, 2011

Less than 7 percent of U.S. seniors chose to receive the shingles vaccination as of 2008, finds a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prepared Patient: Advance Directives: Caring for You & Your Family

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 3, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

Heather Rubesch first remembers talking with her mom, Linda, about end-of-life care as a teenager. "When I was 14, I had an aunt who passed because she did not receive a kidney transplant. As a family, we had that conversation-if something happened to one of us, organ donation was what we wanted to do," said Rubesch, 37, a business and marketing writer from Kansas City, Mo. Decades later, when Heather got the call from the hospital, informing her of her mother's terminal condition, she was shocked to discover she was expected to make immediate decisions about her mother's end-of-life care.

Inside Health Care: Are Patients 'Priceless?'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 23, 2010 | CFAH Staff

An inside look at the cost of health care: a physician confused by the transparency of Medicare reimbursements and a patient in San Francisco unable to afford treatment for an enlarged prostate.

Assessing Risk: Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap vs. Drug Coverage Only

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 22, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

As Medicare's open enrollment season draws to a close, it's a good bet that seniors are still sifting through all those brochures and flyers that have come in the mail the last several weeks. My husband received 22. Here's a simple rule to make the sifting go a little faster.

Finding a Medigap Policy on the Web? Better Think Twice

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 10, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Oh, those clever insurance agents, always on the prowl for new customers. This time they are using the current period of open enrollment for Medicare to snag customers for other insurance products'products that consumers may not need or want.

Does Long-Term Care Insurance Have a Future?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 23, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

The decision by Metropolitan Life to stop selling long-term care (LTC) insurance once again calls into question the viability of that product as a way to pay for nursing home, assisted living and home care needed by the growing number of elders. MetLife was a solid company'big and reputable, with a knack for selling policies to workers whose employers offered the coverage as an extra benefit. It was a name that people trusted in an industry characterized by many small sellers, some of whom became insolvent.

The Medicare Sales Season Begins: As Always, Buyer Beware!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Emotional and Physical Wellness Might Be Linked to Longer Life

HBNS STORY | October 5, 2010

More Seniors Get Flu Shot After Personalized Reminders, Provider Urging

HBNS STORY | September 7, 2010

What Happens When an Insurance Company Misbehaves

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 12, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took the rare step this spring of kicking Fox Insurance out of the Medicare Part D drug benefit program, it pretty much went unnoticed. CMS went after Fox, admittedly small fry in the pool of insurers, and said they couldn't sell any more stand-alone prescription drug plans to seniors These plans are the kind that people buy to complement Medigap policies that don't offer any drug coverage.

Older Americans Watch More TV, But Enjoy It Less

HBNS STORY | June 29, 2010

Is Choosing a Health Plan Like Buying a Car or Canned Goods?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 21, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Do consumers buy health insurance like they buy canned peas? Or should they? That's the big question market place advocates have been trying to answer now for more than a decade. The government and others have thrown gobs of money at this vexing problem trying to figure out the best combination of stars, bars and other symbols that will catch the shopper's eye.

The Inconvenient Evidence on Alzheimer's

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 16, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Lifestyle May Not Prevent Alzheimer's trumpets a headline in Time magazine. The article goes on to describe a carefully conducted review of decades of evidence examining the hypothesis that exercise, social relationships, diet or vitamins can ward off Alzheimer's disease. The study concludes that there is not sufficient evidence to be able to recommend that the public take any of these actions to prevent or delay the disease.

Some Honesty about Medicare Advantage Plans, Please

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 11, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Obama administration officials and the president himself have been on the road selling the benefits of health reform.' The other day in Maryland the president was touting the $250 rebate sent this week to some three million Medicare beneficiaries whose prescription drug expenses have reached the infamous donut hole where there is no coverage.

Sorting Through the Promise of Alzheimer's Research

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 5, 2010 | Gail Hunt

Greetings from the National Alliance for Caregiving! Last week I participated in a very interesting panel on Preventing Alzheimer's and Cognitive Decline. It was a pleasure for me to meet and confer with expert academics and clinicians on' this emerging field of research.

About Death and Taxes

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 16, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress

Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)a day devoted to recognizing the importance of expressing your choices about your health care through advance directives, by creating a living will and designating a medical power of attorney.

A Faint Drumbeat in the Background

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 13, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress

Reading the Modern Love essay in the New York Times Style section has become a favorite Sunday pastime. A widely diverse set of stories explore the paths that love and relationships have taken over the years. Funny, sad, deeply personal and evocative. I find myself connecting with the writers and their subjects in unexpected ways. This week's essay, Sweetest at the End, shared the story of a beloved and accomplished husband's decline and then death from an atrophy of the frontal brain lobe.

Not just about Mom and Dad's Health Insurance...

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 6, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

In the past two weeks I have visited two college campuses---one in Brooklyn and one in Wisconsin.' Large numbers of students turned out to hear about the new reform law and wanted to know what it meant for them.'

Advance Directives: Caring for You & Your Family

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

Starting conversations about end-of-life care with family members can be uncomfortable, but are worth having. Putting your wishes about end-of-life care in writing—with documents known as advance directives—can make a big difference in serious health situations.