Government Healthcare

Government Health Agencies’ Webinar Series Focused on Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's and dementia research

A collaboration between the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health have resulted in a series of webinars about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The goal of these free sessions, geared for professionals in the public health and aging services sectors, is to inform, educate, and empower community members, people with dementia, and their family caregivers.

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Minnesota Ranks Top in Long-Term Care

Minnesota Ranks Top in Long-Term Care

As senior population numbers rapidly rise, the need for quality long-term care also drastically increases. This from the report “Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Disabilities, and Family Caregivers.” The study, which contains statistics from AARP, the SCAN Foundation and Commonwealth Fund, compares the states’ delivery of long-term services and supports (LTSS) to older adults, disabled adults and family caregivers. The state-by-state evaluation ranked Minnesota at the top.

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Medicare to Cover Rehab for Heart Failure Patients

Medicare to Cover Rehab for Cardiac Failure Patients

Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance benefit coverage is constantly changing. While healthcare industry trends often move at lightning speed, government health policies are notorious for not always keeping pace with patients’ needs. In a welcome move, Medicare recently decided to make a major change in its coverage policy for those individuals with chronic heart failure. Medicare will now cover cardiac rehab for some heart failure patients. While Medicare provides rehab benefits for other cardiac patients, such as those having heart by-pass surgery, people with cardiac failure have not been able to participate in rehab as a covered service.

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Projected Caregiver Shortage Cause for Concern

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Many reliable sources are predicting a caregiver shortage that will reach critical levels within the next decade. As the older adult population grows to its highest numbers historically, there will be a shortage of people working in the personal care professions. While unpaid (and paid) family members do make up a portion of senior caregivers, paid workers dominate the field in home health and facility care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which lists occupation growth projections from 2012 through 2022, personal care aide is the number one job at 580,800 new positions. At number four is home health aides (424,200), followed by nursing assistants (312,200) at number six.

That’s encouraging news for those working in the eldercare sector, but there is concern about filling those projected openings for several reasons. Many of the jobs providing direct care services for seniors are low-paying with long hours with very few, if any benefits, and high risk for injury from lifting and transporting patients. Due to these factors, there isn’t much stability in the work force, which will contribute to the shortage. According to other indicators, the unpredictable future of Medicare and Medicaid funding and payment structures will also heavily impact direct care service providers. Because most of the services being provided are paid by these government entities, it’s difficult to gauge how wages will be affected.

While families will continue to care for older adults for financial and personal reasons, the public direct care work sector will need to fill the gaps resulting from an aging population. This is an issue with a broad scope – affecting individuals, healthcare, government and the economy.   Experts, especially those in eldercare, are challenged with coming up with viable solutions for this pending shortage.

What are your ideas for addressing this shortage?

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Nursing Levels Impact Senior Hospital Readmissions

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Anyone who’s been hospitalized quickly learns the value of the skilled nursing staff. Because nurses have such frequent contact with patients in their care, they are essentially the main contact point and lifeline to quality healthcare while you’re in the hospital. For elderly patients, often struck with chronic, multiple, or high-risk health issues, nursing care is particularly critical. According to many studies, nursing is a predominant factor in how well patients recover and in determining if senior patients will be readmitted for further care after discharge.

One of the most important functions of hospital nurses is making sure a patient’s discharge goes smoothly. This includes explaining medications, required outpatient follow-up and other post-hospitalization plans. Because the nursing staff levels have been reduced in recent years with a resulting nurse shortage, there is ongoing concern about quality of care and high readmission numbers. Senior patients needing to be readmitted are often facing life-threatening complications and prolonged recovery times.

Penalties for Readmissions
Hospitals are often penalized by insurance companies when they have very high numbers of readmissions. Those penalties may be more severe under the new Affordable Care Act provisions. A recent study of Medicare patients admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and heart attacks looked at the relationship of readmission of the patients to levels of nursing staff. The research showed that hospitals with higher nurse-to-patient numbers showed a 25% lower rate of being penalized for readmissions.

This is very encouraging news for older adults requiring hospital care. With the incentive of better healthcare outcomes for seniors, combined with the threat of penalties for readmissions, hospitals will undoubtedly be closely watching their nursing staffing levels. Hopefully, more skilled, experienced nurses will be hired by hospitals to accommodate the new insurance guidelines and significantly improve those patient care outcomes.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Easier Access to Home Health Care on the Way

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As more and more seniors choose to age in place, meaning they opt to remain in their own home and bring in help and care as needed, the home health care business is getting more complex. As such, there’s some activity going on right now in the senate to possibly allow medical professionals that are not doctors to order home health services for seniors.

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ACOs May Change Healthcare for Seniors

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers whose goal is to provide better quality care to Medicare patients.  The focus is to reduce the numbers of re-hospitalization and lower the health care costs.

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Health Care Reform Affects Medicare & Seniors

Many seniors have waited to see what President Obama’s health care plan will do to Medicare and how it will affect the care they receive. Congress has been working towards a solution that will slow the rise of Medicare spending while at the same time meet doctors’ expectations. February 17, 2012 brought some temporary good news with the passage of the Medicare Physician Reimbursement Rates.

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Medicare & Medicaid Regulations

by Mahala Church

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 probably generated more press than any other item during 2011. A hot topic within many states, more than thirty lawsuits have been filed nationwide sending the healthcare debate to the Supreme Court.

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