Resources for Family Caregiver

The Secret to Living to 100 and Other Health Tips

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Which memories are most easily forgotten?

Email newsletter service helps you stay current on the latest health developments.

Email newsletter service helps you stay current on the latest health developments.

Could that leg pain be peripheral artery disease?

What may be to blame for 40 percent of unexplained strokes?

Why does feeling younger mean living longer?

For answers to these questions and many more, sign up for Harvard Health Publications HEALTHbeat weekly email service, published by Harvard Medical School.

These weekly emails will help you stay up-to-date on the latest health news, offer tips for healthy living, feature advice from experts, and answer readers’ questions. In addition, you can download the free report: Living to 100: What’s the Secret?

 


Good News for Home Health Care Consumers

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The cost of home care services continues to grow more slowly than the cost of assisted living and nursing home care, according to newly released findings from insurance company Genworth.

Email newsletter service helps you stay current on the latest health developments.

Email newsletter service helps you stay current on the latest health developments.

“This gradual increase in cost for home care is good news for many consumers,” the 2015 Cost of Care Survey report states, noting that most people prefer to age in their own homes. The report was released Thursday and is the 12th annual edition. Last year’s also found that home care costs are rising more slowly than costs for facility-based care.

The five-year annual growth rate for home health aide costs is 1.03%, according to the latest report. This compares with a 2.48% growth rate for assisted living and a 4.17% rate for private nursing home rooms.

Currently, the national median hourly rate for a home health aide is $20. This is a 1.27% increase over the 2014 rate, the latest report states.


Some Dementia Can Be Treated, But My Mother Waited 10 Years for a Diagnosis

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Pauline Rabin with granddaughters Emma and Aviva Rabin-Court near the C&O Canal in Great Falls, Md. (Photo courtesy of Roni Rabin).

Pauline Rabin with granddaughters Emma and Aviva Rabin-Court near the C&O Canal in Great Falls, Md. (Photo courtesy of Roni Rabin).

By Roni Caryn Rabin March 3, 2015/Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit national health policy news service. 

When my mother, Pauline, was 70, she lost her sense of balance. She started walking with an odd shuffling gait, taking short steps and barely lifting her feet off the ground. She often took my hand, holding it and squeezing my fingers.

When my mother, Pauline, was 70, she lost her sense of balance. She started walking with an odd shuffling gait, taking short steps and barely lifting her feet off the ground. She often took my hand, holding it and squeezing my fingers.

Her decline was precipitous. She fell repeatedly. She stopped driving and she could no longer ride her bike in a straight line along the C& O Canal. The woman who taught me the sidestroke couldn’t even stand in the shallow end of the pool. “I feel like I’m drowning,” she’d say.

A retired psychiatrist, my mother had numerous advantages — education, resources and insurance — but still, getting the right diagnosis took nearly 10 years. Each expert saw the problem through the narrow prism of their own specialty. Surgeons recommended surgery. Neurologists screened for common incurable conditions.

The answer was under their noses, in my mother’s hunches and her family history. But it took a long time before someone connected the dots. My mother was using a walker by the time she was told she had a rare

Pauline Rabin surrounded by her grandchildren at her 80th birthday after her operation (Rabin Family Photo).

Pauline Rabin surrounded by her grandchildren at her 80th birthday after her operation (Rabin Family Photo).

condition that causes gait problems and cognitive loss, and is one of the few treatable forms of dementia.

“This should be one of the first things physicians look for in an older person,” my mother said recently. “You can actually do something about it.”

‘Did Mom Tell You? She Fell Again.’

The falls started in 2004. My mother fell in the bedroom of her Bethesda home. She fell in the airport while returning from a trip to see my sister. Sometimes she told me, and sometimes a sibling would call or e-mail. “Did Mom tell you? She fell again.”

Millions of older adults fall every year, but it was my mother’s uneven gait that tripped her up. She was unsteady on her feet; the slightest incline threw her off stride. Sometimes she quickened her pace involuntarily. Sometimes she bent over before straightening back up.

She went to doctor after doctor. “I want a diagnosis,” she would say before the next appointment with a neurologist, geriatrician, urologist or orthopedist. “I’m convinced this is something organic — that it has an underlying biological cause.” Read more