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The Link Between Diet, Exercise and Alzheimer’s

The Link Between Diet, Exercise & Alzheimer’s

Concerns about your memory or that of a loved one should never be ignored.  There are many resources available through a simple internet search, and professional associations that provide education and guidance through a maze of questions you may have regarding how to approach someone you suspect may be experiencing memory loss, or how to ask for help if that someone is you.  There is even a free online memory test you can take in the privacy of your own home.But, did you also know that through many years of research, there is a link between diet, exercise and Alzheimer’s disease?  It is never too late to start making proactive changes to your diet and lifestyle now to help lessen the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.  Even if you have been given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, a study published in late October by Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, noted that it is possible to improve cognition with modifications to diet, exercise, and sleep.   

This study, summarized by the Wall Street Journal, acknowledged that the methods tested would not prevent Alzheimer’s, but through their findings, healthy individuals, as well as those with mild cognitive impairment who followed personalized recommendations over the 18 months of the study, did show improvement in cognition.The study included 157 participants who varied in age from 25 to 86 and who all had a family history of Alzheimer’s.A small group in the study had mild cognitive impairment and were asked, after going through certain measurements and many tests, such as blood, genetic and cognitive function, to adhere to a little over 20 recommendations of food selection, daily vitamins and personalized exercise plans.  Those who followed at least 60% of the recommendations showed significant improvement from their baseline in cognitive testing.  Participants who followed less than sixty percent of the recommendations experienced cognitive decline similar to the control groups.  Cognitive decline is a precursor to memory problems.

The larger group of participants studied were healthy individuals who had no memory loss though some in this group had less than ideal cognitive testing.  After 18 months of following recommendations, all participants showed improvement in cognitive testing compared to their baselines and the control group, even if all the recommendations were not followed.  Results showed that younger participants did better in general than those who were over 60 years old.  Some of the measurements that went into developing a personalized plan included body fat and muscle mass, since the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, is known to shrink as belly fat increases.   Because cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure are linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, these values were monitored throughout the study.  

In reviewing sites such as the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, a free memory test was found that will test how quickly and accurately you recognize repeated images during a timed test.  On the Alzheimer’s Association website, one can find many recommendations for diet and lifestyle modification to follow, which are also listed in the Wall Street Journal article.   Some examples of diet modification include limiting red meat, adding foods to your diet that are high in omega 3’s, such as a certain type of fish, and foods high in antioxidants, such as strawberries and blueberries.  A mix of aerobic exercise and resistance training/weight lifting was recommended for good brain and heart health.   Hours of sleep and quality of sleep were other factors that can affect mood and memory.It is generally recommended that a person try to get at least 7.5 hours of sleep each night and reduce caffeine consumption and ‘screen time’ well before bedtime to improve the quality of sleep.As for general brain health, meditation for stress reduction and learning a new skill, such as a foreign language were recommendations to keep you mentally sharp. There are many other ways to start now to improve or maintain your brain health with numerous online resources to help.  If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, don’t let another day go by worrying about what may happen.   Educate yourself and take steps now that could minimize your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources:  https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/diet-and-exercise

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at https://www.Alzfdn.org

Alzheimer’s Association at https://www.alz.org

Autism Cares Act Signed into Law

Autism Cares Act Signed into Law

Much attention over the last ten years has been given to the research for causes and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, also known as ASD. The Combating Autism Act became a law in 2006, was reauthorized in 2011, then again reauthorized and renamed to Autism CARES Act in 2014 (Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act) which provided federal funding for research and monitoring the prevalence of autism and for training providers in detecting and diagnosing autism.  Even still, there is no one single test for autism, no definitive cause for autism in general, and no cure yet.  To be able to continue valuable research, education, social programs, and services to support the autism community, the law needed to be updated so certain parts of it would not expire by the end of September 2019.   With bi-partisan backing and passage through the U.S. Senate, President Trump signed the Autism CARES Act of 2019 into law on September 30, 2019. The 1.8 billion afforded by this law will allow the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to continue their work on autism.

Autism is a developmental disability that creates social/communication barriers and behavioral changes for a child diagnosed with autism and provides many social and economic challenges for the child’s family as the child grows into adulthood.   Being a spectrum disorder means that autism has many different forms and affects people in many different ways without a consistent degree of severity.   Three conditions that were formerly diagnosed separately are now all called Autism Spectrum Disorder.  These conditions are autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome.  Research has found that many forms of ASD stem from genetics, as well as environmental and biologic factors, and has been proven not to be caused by childhood immunizations.

Because autism spectrum disorder has several serious co-morbid conditions, there is a higher rate of premature death for an autistic person compared to the general population.   As communication issues prevent some patients from being able to describe or even alert parents to symptoms of common conditions that accompany this disability, appropriate treatment for medical conditions could be delayed.  Epilepsy, gastrointestinal conditions such as constipation, sleep difficulties, marked and unexplained irritability or aggressiveness, eating and feeding challenges, obesity, anxiety, and depression are some of the health issues patients and families face and can be costly to treat, both emotionally and financially.

Economically, the cost of caring for an autistic child is estimated to be around $60,000 a year, and more than $26,000 for community support, employment support and possibly daycare if not able to be employed and stay home alone safely.  Once the child reaches adulthood, an autism patient is less likely to pursue higher education and job opportunities are few.  Per the “Autism Speaks-2017” special report, of young adults who are 25 years old at the time of a study, more than half never held a paying job. Once they have aged out of care provided by a pediatrician, fewer adult patients get the specialized help they need to manage their autism-associated health conditions, and of those adults who are able to work, the income of many remain at or below the poverty level.    The CDC considers autism spectrum disorder a public health concern and continues to monitor developmental disabilities with the desire to find out more about risk factors that make a person more likely to develop ASD.  With the help of continued federal funding the Autism Cares Act of 2019 provides, the CDC and other agencies will be able to continue to pursue answers to causes of, new treatments and hopefully a cure for autism.

If you have questions or would like to discuss you or a loved one’s planning needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

Sources:

https://whnt.com/2019/10/01/president-trump-signs-autism-cares-act-sets-stage-for-research-into-the-disorder/

https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-cares-act

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/research.html

Startup companies designing user-friendly technologies for seniors

Startup companies designing user-friendly technologies for seniors

It is projected by the US Census Bureau that in the year 2050 there will be 458 million Americans of which 92.1 million will be 65 or older. Senior Americans will constitute slightly over 20 percent of the population as a whole if these projections are accurate. By the year 2030, all of the baby boomers will have moved into the population aged 65 years or more and will also represent 1 in 5 Americans. 

The application of technologies for everyday use in senior care will become more prevalent to meet the growing needs of elderly health care. Digital health startup companies receive billions in US funding to specifically design user-friendly interfaces for Americans aged 65 and older. This includes taking into consideration the changes and limitations of fine motor skills and vision as well as memory and cognitive issues. Smart pillboxes, fall detection systems, remote patient monitoring and applications that can provide individualized medical alerts to health care professionals are part of the health care side technologies. The many seniors choosing to age in place are now better protected by technologies that address motion detecting lights, smart thermostats, smart doorbells with video cameras, keyless entry locks to homes and cars, smart home security systems and personal emergency response systems are all being customized to meet the needs of a rapidly aging baby boomer population. The good news is that many seniors currently engage in the world of technology and reap some of its benefits. 

10startups.pnghttps://gerontology.usc.edu/resources/infographics/designing-technology-for-the-aging-population/

The other good news is that corporations are spending billions to customize technologies specifically for the benefit of seniors that are cost-effective and of high quality whether the senior is aging in place, in assisted living or a nursing home. Some of the most notable startups include:

Steadiwear is known for its product “Steadiglove” which is a device that reduces hand tremors in aging patients who in particular have Parkinson’s disease and “essential tremor”, a nervous system disorder that causes rhythmic shaking.

Cake allows elderly patients to communicate via a mobile application to vent their feelings about death. It is a general forum that provides simple answers to complex questions about death and mortality. It also encourages the senior to organize their personal life before their passing. This pay for service is a good start to explore general directions that a senior can then talk over with their elder legal counsel.

Sway is a digital startup responsible for the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) testing system that determines through a motion analysis algorithm if an individual’s stability is compromised and the subsequent probability of an unintended fall. Mobile and cloud-based technology ensure patient data collection from any iOS Athletic Profile data are both reliable and secure. 

Hometeam uses mobile technology that empowers a senior to track their medical status by using an iPad. The company is designed for a home care approach an currently provides medical monitoring and care for more than 12 million senior Americans who are unable to afford to be a resident in a nursing home. 

Silvernest strives to match the elderly patient population in nursing and retirement homes with younger and livelier roommates as a way to reduce isolation for the more senior “roomie.” Proprietary, extensive background checks can find a mutually beneficial roommate match. 

Honor is a shared mobile technology platform that offers high-quality care to its patient base as well as provides a mobile platform that allows loved ones and friends the ability to track their senior’s medical status. It provides tools to assess their medical progress and determine the rate of health improvement. 

Rendever is a virtual reality technology company that offers elderly patients the opportunity to experience the outside world using virtual reality (VR) display goggles. Even if the senior is confined to a nursing home or assisted living facility, this VR experience allows the resident the chance to travel the world through the use of virtual reality technology.  

Pixiescientific has designed an application to detect any symptoms and signs of a urinary tract infection; diagnosing the problem before it becomes severe. Sensor technology detects abnormalities within the urinary tract of the patient and monitoring provides assessment diagnoses of dehydration and infection which are common among seniors.

Zansors uses sensor technology to monitor an individual’s sleep pattern by data collection of movement while in bed and respiration rates while sleeping. This individualized and accurate biofeedback allows the user to determine how much quality sleep they require to avoid physical fatigue and exhaustion. It is particularly useful for patients who have insomnia.   

Myseismic has developed an undergarment “suit” that aids senior muscle strength through tiny motors that act as “electrical muscles” that are integrated into the fabric around the joints of the body via proprietary grips that function like tendons in the human body. Computer sensors track the wearer’s body movement, and software alerts the electrical muscles in the clothing when to activate. This is ideal for seniors who are experiencing an overall decline in energy and muscularization but still want to be able to move and travel freely. 

More startups companies and technological advancements are in development. Meta data feedback allows for the continually refinement of existing technology systems. The engine of change for senior health care is digital as it can provide seniors with their best options for successful aging. 

If you have questions about what you have read or would like to discuss your own situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

The physical challenges of aging in place

The Physical Challenges of Aging in Place

According to AARP aging in place is a goal for 3 out of 4 Americans aged 50 or more. These seniors and near seniors are willing to employ alternative solutions to facilitate this. The alternatives include home sharing (32%), building an additional or accessory dwelling unit (31%) and locating into villages that provide services which enable aging in place (56%). These communities become a source of support and engagement for residents and give a sense of grounding through memories of a long time home environment.

Seniors who want to reside in a community (aka, age in place) rather than seek residential institutions or nursing homes are mostly dependent on unpaid caregivers and family members for assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). These activities include laundry, self-care actions like bathing and dressing, meal preparation, and transportation. Medicare provides some long-term care services and supports (LTSS); however, the LTSS program falls far short of the need. While the aging population in America is rapidly increasing, lawmakers are slow to respond to the insufficient funding to increase the availability of LTSS for seniors choosing to age in place. The goal of LTSS is not to replace but to supplement the contribution of unpaid family and caregivers. The addition of a Medicare benefit to support family caregivers as they help their loved ones would enable more aging adults to successfully remain in their homes. 

Technology has provided some solutions for caregivers, allowing caregivers to monitor their loved one remotely while they stay engaged at work. Smart environmental controls and personal assistants have lightened the load of constant oversight but cannot replace the helping human touch. Nearly 60 percent of seniors who have seriously compromised mobility report being house or apartment bound, while 25 percent of those seniors say they often remain in bed and do not dress daily. 

Low tech devices like canes, walkers, ramps, grab bars, shower seats and raised toilets to increase the level of accessibility and safety for aging in place seniors, however, transferring in and out of bed and moving around their homes still provides notable difficulty for many. The senior who wants to age in place is typically independent-minded and therefore have trouble foreseeing a time when help is not a want but a need. Aging adults and their families need to plan to address changing physical capacities before an adverse health event such as an unintended fall or dementia challenges change everything. While aging in place is a great goal for many seniors it requires planning just as if they were planning on moving into an assisted living facility. 

Johns Hopkins researchers report 42 percent of older adults who have problems performing ADLs or are living with probable dementia receive no assistance at all from family, friends or paid caregivers. That is a staggering number of unaided seniors. Additionally, twenty-one percent of seniors with a minimum of three chronic conditions and high needs received no assistance at all. LTSS through Medicare will have to make changes to meet the ever-increasing demand for human caregiving.

Approximately 60 percent of at home seniors use at least one low tech device, most commonly for bathing, toileting or in-home movement, throughout their day but their needs multiple as they age. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover the expenses of most of these nonmedical devices and services. The resulting problem is seniors near, or at the bottom of the income ladder go without assistance, human or device, putting their daily lives in a very precarious position. Hardships for these seniors on the razor’s edge include the inability to pay medical bills or prescription costs, utilities or rent, and some resort to skipping meals to balance out their unaided lifestyle. At best this is heartbreaking, at worst it is inhumane.

The CHRONIC Care Act will allow Medicare Advantage plans to offer supplemental benefits for seniors to cover devices such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars, personal care, and transportation to chronically ill seniors however there are 21 million people who have needs to be met and how this will be paid for is unclear. Meanwhile, the 39 million people enrolled in traditional Medicare are entirely left out of any supplemental benefit. Affordability for at home care is a significant issue on a personal, family, and government level.

Caregivers and assistive low tech devices are an absolute necessity for seniors opting to age in place. The extent of the adjustments senior adults make as their needs become more profound are not well documented. As aging in place is a common strategy now, new solutions and programs must be explored to ensure successful aging.

If your strategy is to age in place, have a discussion early on with trusted counsel and family members to address some of the challenges you will eventually have to overcome. If we can assist you, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling us at 1.800.660.7564 or by emailing us at info@covertlaw.com.

Safer Shopping for Seniors

Safer Shopping for Seniors

When we think of shopping, there are certain risks that are always a possibility. Unfortunately, seniors are often more vulnerable to these risks. The holiday season often brings with it criminals who are targeting shoppers, both in stores and online. Below are some tips to help senior shoppers stay safe whether shopping with mobility issues, shopping in general, or shopping online.

 

General Shopping Safety Tips for Seniors

Shopping can often be overwhelming for all of us, including seniors. Seniors often are less mobile and may move more slowly than others in crowded stores, thus putting them at greater risk for criminal activity. Here are some tips to make shopping safe and successful for you or your elderly loved one.

 

  1. Shop early in the day, especially on weekdays, to avoid large crowds. Often this is a time when stores are less crowded and seniors can navigate the stores more easily. Another benefit to shopping on weekdays is that many stores offer senior discounts throughout the week. During weekends and evenings after work, many stores become overcrowded and more difficult to get around.
  2. Have a “shopping buddy.” Shopping with a friend gives added safety if you or your loved one has issues with mobility. There’s much to the saying, “safety in numbers.” Plus, shopping with a buddy makes shopping more enjoyable.
  3. Don’t wait until the last minute. Often stores are busy in the last few days before the holidays. Shoppers can become less careful and more irritable which can present problems for seniors.
  4. Always keep your car locked and store packages in the trunk or out of sight. This will help deter thieves from breaking into the vehicle.
  5. Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If it is necessary to shop at night, park as close as possible to the door and always in well-lit areas. The light often serves to deter predators.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings and personal belongings. This can go a long way in helping to protect seniors from those who may attempt to take advantage of them or who may try to steal personal belongings.

 

Online Shopping Safety Tips for Seniors

There are many unscrupulous people who attempt to scam online shoppers. Being aware of this fact and shopping with eyes wide open is key in keeping financial information safe while online shopping. Below are some tips for seniors to remember while online shopping.

  1. Many online sellers offer excellent deals, but it is important to remember that if a deal seems too good to be true it probably is. Check on unknown companies. A quick Google search can provide reviews or information about the legitimacy of online companies.
  2. Create strong and unique passwords. This makes it more difficult for hackers and those trying to steal personal information to get into the accounts. Unique passwords can be difficult to remember, so be sure to keep them written down and in a safe place.
  3. Shop with trusted and known retailers. Most of these websites provide built in security for their shoppers.
  4. Watch extra costs such as shipping. Companies will sometimes offer low prices, but then increase shipping prices to recoup some money.

 

For seniors, shopping can sometimes seem overwhelming no matter what method of shopping is chosen. It doesn’t have to be. It can be a fun and enjoyable experience just by following these safety tips. 

 

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact us at 1.800.660.7564 or email us at info@covertlaw.com.

 

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Covert | Law

Your Plan. Your Family. Their Future.

- - We Take Care of Families: Today - Tomorrow - Forever - -

NEIL R. COVERT, Attorney at Law

Clearwater - Sarasota - Fort Myers - Naples

1.800.660.7564

email: info@covertlaw.com

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