Retired military & CCRCs, nursing home cost, art & Alzheimer’s, and overcharging Medicare


If you’re retired from the military, you might look into options for military CCRCs.

The average annual private nursing home charge is $90,000 per year.

Art as a cure for Alzheimer’s?  Why not?

Most interesting news item of the week: Nursing homes overcharged Medicare by about $1.5 billion in 2009.  It’s not exactly pocket change.

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Army on Flickr.


Top challenges for home safety

Note: This post originally appeared at If you’re interested in providing articles for, please see our submission guidelines.

accessible logo

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the safety challenges in our own homes.  While most people happily pay insurance premiums for their car, home and even healthcare, the biggest potential benefits to our safety often are within the walls of our own homes. The home is where most slip and fall accidents are most likely to occur.

Below are some helpful tips that can prevent accidents and possibly even save your life!

Challenge: Home walkways have steps, making it difficult to enter with wheelchair or walker

Remedy: A portable suitcase ramp ranging from 2 to 10 feet in length can be an option. Other custom ramps with handrails can be permanently installed in wood, concrete or aluminum. A porchlift is an option when a ramp would be too steep or a second story is on the house.

Challenge: Doorways are too narrow to enter with walker and wheelchair

Remedy: Offset Hinges are both inexpensive and easy to install on any door. You can gain two full inches of doorway width to allow wheelchairs and walkers to move safely through without scraping walls or knuckles!

Challenge: Difficulty getting up from a seated position from a couch or chair

Remedy: Furniture Risers can lift the back of a couch up 2 to 4 inches and helps a person to get up easier. Recliner Lift Chairs can move a person from a reclining position to an almost standing position with the touch of a button.   Finally, a Hydraulic Seat Assist can be used anywhere, and it’s portable!

Challenge: Getting out of bed is harder than you thought

Remedy: Bed Caddie attaches easily between the mattress and box spring of any bed making it effortless to pull up on the stretchy ladder. A Bed Cane Bed Rail that pivots out to become a cane can aide a person to get out of bed and transfer to a walker or wheelchair with ease.

Challenge: Bathing in the tub has become too difficult and dangerous

Remedy: A simple bathtub bar can be clamped onto the tub, and is completely portable if you travel or decide to remove the bar.  If you need more help, an electric Bath Lift can be an option for anyone who is non-ambulatory and makes easy transfers to and from a wheelchair.

Challenge: Stepping into the shower becomes too dangerous

Remedy: Floating up the floor of a shower with a durable plastic platform and plastic entry ramp can solve this challenge and give you peace of mind (and body).  Placing two grab bars horizontally and vertically in the shower can provide good leverage and prevent a slip and fall accident.

Challenge: Toilet is too low and there is difficulty in getting up and/or transferring

Remedy: A simple Toilevator toilet spacer installed at the base of the toilet can elevate the entire toilet a full 3 inches making it even with a wheelchair for an easier transfer. A diagonal grab bar or pull-down grab bar can be installed on the side wall near the toilet for additional leverage.

Challenge: Climbing stairs is nearly impossible

Remedy: Stair climbers can be easily installed and can make the second story a breeze to get to.

Accessible Design & Consulting is California’s leading Barrier-Free Specialist; they provide legant residential and commercial barrier-free designs and accessories for seniors and people with disabilities. Contact Accessible for more information about your next renovation: (866) 902-9800 (Toll Free) or (310) 215-3332 (Local).

Finding caregivers, negotiating assisted living fees, CCRC bankruptcies, starting your own business


There’s a new website designed to help you find the perfect caregiver: TenderTree.

Assisted living fees are sometimes negotiable.

Another bankrupt CCRC has been purchased.  All of the residents contract have been assumed (in other words, residents didn’t lose any money).

Not quite ready to retire but not willing to continue with the grind?  Consider starting your own home care business.

Photo courtesy of Ella’s Dad on Flickr.

“Doctor Alexis” answers your questions about Medicare Open Enrollment

Note: This post originally appeared at If you’re interested in providing articles for, please see our submission guidelines.

Alexis Abramson, PhD


The open enrollment deadline for Medicare is December 7th so I thought I would answer a few of the questions I’m most often asked by adult children and caregivers who don’t know what to do if their loved one isn’t able to update their own Medicare preferences…

Q.  What are the different options to consider when signing up for Medicare or changing your benefits?

Medicare consists of four major programs: Part A covers hospital stays, Part B covers physician fees, Part C permits Medicare beneficiaries to receive their medical care from among a number of delivery options and Part D covers prescription medications.

Q.  What is the open enrollment period for Medicare and when does it begin and end?

Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period allows people who are currently enrolled in Medicare to make certain changes to their plan benefits. The Open Enrollment Period starts on Oct.15 and runs through Dec. 7.

Changes that are made during this period become effective Jan. 1, 2013. This period of time was formerly called the Annual Enrollment Period. Below is a list of changes that can be made during the Open Enrollment Period:

  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Medicare Part A and B
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
  • Switch from Medicare Parts A and B to a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C – see below for more information about Medicare Advantage plans).
  • Make changes in your Medicare Prescription drug plan (i.e. start a drug plan, drop coverage or move from one drug plan to another).

Q.  What are some of the new Medicare services being offered in 2013?

The new preventive services available next year include:

  • Alcohol misuse counseling
  • Cardiovascular disease counseling
  • Depression screening
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Sexually transmitted infections screening and counseling

Another important area for change in 2013 is if you reach the ‘donut hole’ in your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you only have to pay 47.5% for covered brand-name drugs and 79% of the costs for generic drugs until you reach the end of the coverage gap.

Q.  What are the Medicare Advantage Plans and what cutbacks are expected in these plans for 2013 and beyond?

Medicare offers consumers a choice of two insurance plans. One plan is called Original Medicare Part A for hospital insurance and Medicare Part B for medical insurance (mainly for doctor services.) The word “original” is here to explain Parts A and B have been in place since Medicare was started in 1965. The later alternative plan is called Medicare Plan C plan (also know as Medicare Advantage or MA plans). These plans are issued and managed by private insurance companies. They offer largely the same coverage of services under Medicare Plans A and B. These plans must also follow Medicare rules.

Q.  What is Medicare Part D? 

Medicare Part D is a federal program created to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries in the United States.  It is a government supported health insurance plan that helps cover prescription drug costs for qualified individuals who are entitled to Medicare Part A and/or B.  This Medicare drug benefit is insurance provided by private companies and available to everyone on Medicare (for a fee). Prescription drug coverage is available as a stand-alone plan (PDP) or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan (MA-PD).

Q.  Can you give us a few resources to email (or call) if our parents and/or aging loved one’s are unable to update their own Medicare preferences?

Absolutely!  Below are few online resources (as well as 800 #’s) you can access for additional help in terms of Medicare – and in particular Medicare Part D…. – 1-800-633-4227  – 1-800-899-0542 – 1-800-772-1213

ALEXIS ABRAMSON, Ph.D. is cited as America’s leading, impassioned champion for the dignity and independence of those over 50. Abramson is the author of two
highly acclaimed books — The Caregivers 
Survival Handbook and Home Safety for Seniors.  For more information go to