Painkiller problems, dog lovers & heart attacks, nursing homes, and closeted caregivers

Taking that daily painkiller might do you long-term harm.  New studies cast doubt on the safety of these medications.

If you’re a dog-lover, you’re about nine times more likely to be alive a year after a heart attack.  That’s even more reason to visit your local shelter and find a new best friend!

More evidence that nursing homes are on the decline: States are trying to find new, less expensive, ways of caring for nursing home patients.  This means more time at home.

A recent article says that employees are afraid to let their coworkers know that they are a caregiver.  They worry that it might impact the way they are treated a work.

Help! My mom’s community is trying to kick her out!


Image courtesy of striatic on Flickr.

I recently got a call from a friend that went something like this:

My mom’s independent/assisted living community is trying to kick her out. She’s been in the community for a year or two, and she had to move into assisted living a while back.  Now management is telling us that she needs nursing care and has to move to another community.  The problem is this: she doesn’t need nursing care.  She needs continence assistance and some medication reminders, but that’s it!  Why are they trying to kick her out, and what can we do about it?

Well… That’s a tough one.  Here’s what I think happened:

It’s not uncommon for retirement communities to have too many residents in assisted living.  Imagine a community that has filled almost all of its rooms.  As residents who currently live in independent living age and move into assisted living, their independent living rooms are filled with new residents.  The new residents eventually encounter health problems and have to move into assisted living as well.  If the original resident has not already moved out of the community into a nursing home, then the community encounters a problem: It has too many residents who need assisted living care, but not enough rooms for them.  In other words, assisted living is full, but the community has more residents that need assisted living care.

When this happens, the community politely “kicks out” some of its residents and relocates them to nearby nursing homes or assisted living providers. 

Here’s how I would approach it:

  1. Read the resident contract again. There should be specific terms related to moving residents off the property into higher levels of care.  Most contracts that I have seen specify something like a minimum of 30 days’ notice and provide specifications for finding a new facility.  Make sure that the community is following the proper procedure, and look for a section detailing the patient rights in the event of being asked to leave.
  2. Negotiate on the fees. In my friend’s case, the resident was almost certainly not in need of nursing care; all she needed was medication reminders and continence care.  Why would the community want her to leave?  My bet is money.  The community would probably be losing money on her care as compared to the relatively less needy resident who was waiting for the bed.  If that is true, then negotiating pricing for levels of care might help sweeten the deal for the community and make it less likely for them to require new housing.
  3. Negotiate benefits related to the move-out process.  Assuming that the community is abiding by the contract, then it’s possible to request flexibility in the move-out process.  Do you need an extra two weeks to find a good nursing home?  Most communities will be willing to work with you to make this happen.  You might even be able to negotiate discounts on the last month’s rent due to your inconvenience during the relocation process.  But, don’t count on it, especially if the community is abiding by their end of the bargain.

Most communities are struggling for residents in this tough economy and would not dare to relocate a paying customer.  But, if you find yourself in this situation and the community is not upholding its end of the bargain, I suggest that you contact your state elderly ombudsman’s office.  Here are the websites for selected states:

STD’s & the elderly, calories & memory, government programs, and dieting

Are you a female who is back on the market after being married for a long time?  Take some time to ask your doctor about protecting yourself from STD’s.

Put the fork down.  A new study shows that excess caloric intake among the elderly can cause memory problems.

Could you qualify for more governmental assistance?  Check out  You can also talk to a professional by calling 800-677-1116.

Everything you need to know about dieting: good nutrition won’t make you skinny by next week, but crash diets will cause you to crash.

Having fun responsibly, bad nursing homes, CCRC discrimination, and paying for old age

Living in senior housing can be a party… just be safe as you’re having a good time.

Bad nursing homes are owned by a larger number of for-profit chains. 

Discrimination in CCRC’s?  Apparently there are communities out there who like limiting their residents to certain dining rooms based on their level of care.  If you’re an assisted living resident, you eat with the assisted living residents, regardless of the fact that you would rather eat with the independent living folks!

Can our nation afford old age?  Costs are going to skyrocket, and we might not have saved enough.

“Getting old”, a Japan nursing home (inside the evacuation zone!), funding for Alzheimer’s, and staying at home

“Getting old” isn’t the bummer that most people think it will be: 70% of assisted living residents drink, and 80% of people aged 50 to 90 are sexually active.

There’s a nursing home in Japan that is inside the nuclear evacuation zone and yet remains open.  Why? Because all of the residents have dementia and administrators don’t want to move them unnecessarily.

The Obama administration is increasing funding on Alzheimer’s research to over half a billion dollars in 2013.  The goal is to cure the disease by 2025.  (Bonus: There’s a promising new treatment called “deep brain stimulation” that is currently being investigated.)

Almost everyone aged 50 or older wants to stay in his or her home as long as possible.  Why aren’t more people remodeling before illness strikes?

Staying healthy, being an Alzheimer’s caregiver, robot nurses, and extinct nursing homes

There are five ways to stay healthy in old age: start today, take control of your health, know yourself, anticipate the future, and know that living longer can also mean living better.

There are millions of caregivers who are taking care of their spouses who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Here is one of their stories.

Robots might be trained to be nurses.  Researchers in New Zealand are trying to create robots that act as in-home caregivers.

Nursing homes might become extinct.  In the future, it might be just home-based care.

Heart attacks & sex, brain health, pets, and aging as a disease

Worried about having a heart attack during sex?  A new study shows that the risk isn’t very large, unless you’re having an affair.

There’s a new book out about keeping your brain healthy as you age. The main message is that things slow down as you age, and there are lifestyle choices (medication, addiction, and others) that can make it worse. (Bonus: Help your brain by playing Bingo!)

Taking care of your pet after you go: There are new ways to make sure that Fluffy doesn’t get kicked to the curb. (Bonus: Dogs and cats do dream!)

Is aging a disease?  If so, then we’re going to run into some problems trying to cure it.

Assisted living changes, snowball fights, hospital tips, and cheap medication

Assisted living is changing for the better.  Modern communities come with golf courses, fine dining, and pet spas.

An assisted living in New York is using the cold weather as a way of getting exercise: by organizing a snowball fight!!

Five things to do before leaving the hospital: know your medication, ask about red flags, know who to call if you have an emergency, do follow-up care, and keep a diary.

How to shop for cheap medication: download an iPhone app, of course!

Alzheimer’s drugs, pain management, coronary heart disease, and the healthiest cities in America

There’s a new Alzheimer’s drug that might help reverse the disease.

Clinicians are getting better at managing patient pain and suffering.

The most dangerous disease facing America right now is coronary heart disease.

The 20 healthiest cities in America. Among them are Denver, San Francisco, and Portland.

Health reform, retirement destinations, alcoholism & assisted living, best nursing homes in America

A new study shows that seniors are benefiting from health reform. The average Medicare enrollee will save about $4,100 on prescription drugs between 2011 and 2021.

What are the ten keys to finding the perfect retirement destination?  US News has the scoop!

Is it possible for assisted living residents to be alcoholics?  There’s no good data on it, but it appears possible.

Best nursing homes in America!