Tattoos used to be edgy and rebellious. Now they are so commonplace as to be trite. Sported by half of reality TV “stars,” house moms, and over fifteen percent of American adults, there’s nothing badass or shocking about ink anymore. Yet there are a set of Americans whose tats still speak of edge and rebellion: the senior citizen crowd; folks whose upbringing made body art taboo. Now they are showing off their inner – and outer – badass.
According to the CDC, 95-98% of those born in the US before 1957 are immune to the measles. This is due to the number of outbreaks they have lived through, meaning the disease was likely contracted and antibodies formed, giving lifelong protection. However, anyone with any doubt about having contracted the disease should consider these 4 reasons to have a serious discussion with a doctor about a booster shot.
You were vaccinated as a child. Today’s recommendation is for two doses of the revised vaccine. Seniors who only had one dose as a child may have been protected from contracting the disease when they were young, but protection can wear off, leaving them vulnerable now. Additionally, the older version of the vaccine is less effective than today’s, leaving recipients without a booster at risk.
You spend time around children. This one is important for the protection of unvaccinated children as well as seniors themselves. According to the CDC schedule, children should get the measles vaccine between 12 and 15 months of age. If you are visiting your new grandbaby, you want to be very sure you are not carrying the disease when you pick up that vulnerable little bundle of joy (remember, it is highly contagious, and a sick person is most contagious before symptoms begin to show). Also, given the current movement to refuse vaccinations, combined with the weakness of senior immune systems, those over 65 are more vulnerable to catching the disease and suffering dangerous complications.
You have friends who are not immune. If you have friends over 65 who have never had measles, they could be putting you at risk. The exact same reasons listed above apply. Measles is highly contagious; spending time with someone in a high risk group increases your risk, too. Likewise, if your friends cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons (or have chosen not to) they are at risk of catching it from you.
Measles is life threatening for seniors. It is a sad fact of aging that the immune system becomes weaker. Children and seniors are more vulnerable than others should they catch the measles. Pneumonia and encephalitis are the most common complications, both of which are life threatening for seniors.
Not everyone needs the vaccine, but if you have reason to be concerned about your immunity, a discussion with your doctor is warranted. There are also blood tests that can be done to test your immunity, for your own peace of mind. Your friends’ and family’s health is worth at least that much.
Remember a time when Tonight Show host Jack Paar was censored, and subsequently walked off the show, for telling a joke about a bathroom? It wasn’t all that long ago – just 55 years. If the censors of the 1960s were brought here today, what on Earth would they say about the content airing on television now? Take, for example, the music video for Anaconda, Nicki Minaj’s latest hit. It is overtly sexual and explicit, though to be honest I didn’t catch any toilet references.
Jack Paar himself said he was “…opposed to purposely plotted risqué material,” which is a pretty accurate description of Minaj’s video. How would your grandparents react? Can you imagine sitting down with them to watch it? The seniors of YouTube’s React channel did, and here’s what they thought:
You know we’re not referring to a snake!
I don’t know how they get away with this stuff nowadays.
This kind of stuff…you went to Tijuana to find.
We’re becoming much more relaxed about what we tolerate.
People were hysterical when Marilyn Monroe’s skirt went up!
You can watch their reactions here, but one participant has the solution all figured out already. How do we fix this situation?
Give them a pair of trousers!
Doctors are not legally required to tell patients what their diagnosis is. A recent study reported that 55% of people who have a medical diagnosis for Alzheimer’s don’t even know it. Since this relied largely on patient reported data, and dementia patients might not be the most reliable source, caregivers were surveyed as well. The number improved somewhat, but 47% were still unaware of the diagnosis. This is unconscionable, but entirely allowable under the current law. If you really want to know what your doctor thinks, check the insurance claims and look up the codes they use. While they can mislead the patient, it would be fraud if they didn’t disclose everything to the insurance company.
By withholding a diagnosis, doctors are cheating patients of early care that could help their disease. While there is nothing yet fully approved to treat or even slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s, clinical trials are often running and typically look for early onset patients. There are also treatments that could temporarily ease symptoms, if the patient is made aware of them. Aside from medical interventions, patients need to plan for their long term care before they become too incapacitated to make such decisions for themselves. These doctors are cheating people of their ability to cope with a devastating illness, and for what reason?
Well, according to the doctors…it’s hard. They cite reasons like lack of time during an office visit, lack of treatment options, and fear of an emotional reaction. All of that comes down to a person avoiding a difficult conversation. While it may be understandable that they would want to avoid such a conversation, it is unethical to do so. Fifty years ago, it was cancer – a scary diagnosis with little hope for recovery. Doctors then didn’t tell patients when they had it, either. In both cases, patients get sent away with no way to plan for the difficult road ahead and no chance to find help. Not to mention, a patient who presented with symptoms that were concerning enough to seek help, now has no answer for the problems that plague them.
Being a doctor means doing the hard and uncomfortable things to give patients options for a healthy life. Sometimes that means planning for the worst outcome, and having the difficult conversations that will improve the quality of life for a dying patient. Prostate exams are uncomfortable, too. Maybe we should stop expecting doctors to do them so they will feel a little better about their jobs.
Check out the smoking centerfolds in this nearly nude calendar!
Residents at the Pleasant Pointe Assisted Living community in Ohio recently posed for a rather risqué photo shoot to help raise money for children in need of shoes. The resulting calendar is playful and entertaining, and the 85 to 98 year old models had a blast doing it. From sipping champagne in a bubbly bath to a nude Thanksgiving feast, these 85 to 97 year old residents really show that you don’t have to be young to show off what you’re made of!
Residing in an assisted living community tends to focus things around being elderly and near the end of life. It is too easy to fall into a routine without taking time out for the fun side of life. The residents here found that doing this calendar made them feel young and invigorated again. “This just made me feel, oh here I am young, having a good time and I don’t care about anything else,” said one participant.
In the end, they did something fun for a good cause, and who can blame them for enjoying it?
Ever been denied insurance coverage (or had your rates hiked up) for a preexisting condition? Or because certain illnesses run in your family? Well now you can be rejected for a condition that wasn’t even on your radar.
Over 700,000 Americans have already had genetic testing done to determine if they are at risk for certain diseases, like Alzheimer’s or some cancers. Naturally, once given the news that they are genetically predisposed to get a disease, people are much more likely to purchase insurance against future care needs. Insurance companies don’t like this. They make money on the uncertainty of the future: people who want protection against the possibility of becoming very ill, without yet knowing if they will be healthy or not. But when applicants know they have a higher chance of getting a disease, it stacks the deck against insurance companies. It’s not good for business.
Fortunately for insurers – and unfortunately for most everyone else – there is nothing stopping providers from seeing those test results for themselves. While federal law does prohibit genetic discrimination when purchasing health insurance, there’s no such protection when buying for long term care, disability, or life insurance. Even scarier, in some cases companies will require applicants to get tested before they even consider them for coverage. This eliminates much of their risk; anyone with the gene for Alzheimer’s, for example, can be flat out denied or offered rates so high as to be largely unaffordable. Since these are almost exactly the people who will use the coverage, there is a much lower risk of payout for the insurer. However, it leaves individuals with looming care expenses in a desperate situation.
A few states have protections in place for consumers, and Vermont has completely outlawed the practice. However, this is the exception to the rule. There are those that would have genetic discrimination banned nationwide, which could be very bad for everyone. If genetic testing results are for the consumers’ eyes only, insurance companies will inflate their rates against the higher risk they are taking. If you think insurance is unaffordable now, just wait.
While having a specific gene is not a guarantee of illness, nor is lacking the gene a guarantee of health, the insurance market will become woefully unbalanced and unstable. The urge to stick large companies with the bill is popular, but if there is no money to be made, insurers will stop writing policies. That leaves the common man with one less protection against the overwhelming reality of getting very sick later in life. With genetic testing on the cusp of a giant boom, the business of insuring people against their worst nightmares is more of a daydream than a reality.
If you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme with low risk, Medicare fraud is the way to go. There’s big pot of money out there and the system is ill-equipped to notice incorrect charges, especially before payments are made. With nearly 5 million claims daily and only 30 days to process each one, Medicare pays quickly and easily. It is estimated that Medicare spends $58 billion a year on improper payments. Here’s how to get your piece of that overflowing bounty.
Set up a medical office: A pharmacy, doctor’s office, or medical supply store will work. You’ll never need to open the doors or move in, you just need the address to bill from. South Florida is a great area to set up your business; there’s around one provider for every 500 Medicare patients, as opposed to one in 3000 for the rest of the country, so their offices are overextended with claims. It will also reduce your risk if you find someone else to put his name on the paperwork; there’s a wealth of recent immigrants in southern Florida you might convince your operation is perfectly legal.
File with Medicare as a provider: Close to 45,000 providers apply every month; they do not have the resources to check into your credentials.
Get legitimate IDs: You’ll need lists of patients’ Social Security numbers and doctors’ billing ID numbers. They are readily available on the black market. It’s important to get a current list, as billing for deceased patients and retired doctors has gotten some of your competitors in hot water.
Start billing: The trick is to know your billing practices. While it’s unlikely that anyone will check in when you set up shop, incorrect billing procedures will get Medicare’s attention – attention you don’t want. And don’t get too greedy; even Medicare will notice if you bill millions of dollars in a month.
Collect your checks. Remember, Medicare is required to send out payments within 30 days of a claim. It won’t take long for your paychecks to come in. If an investigator does start poking around, it’s easy enough to walk away and set up shop somewhere else.
Medicare spending is a hot topic in Congress. Presidents keep proposing cuts (and some even go through), but this really won’t affect your bottom line. Medicare’s fraud prevention budget is about 0.2% of their total spending, while expenditure on improper claims is estimated at 10% of their budget (and it’s likely a lot more). Some argue that increasing the fraud prevention budget would decrease such spending, but it hasn’t been a popular idea in Congress. It’s easier to cut the entire budget than it is to overhaul the system and stop improper payments.
Credit card companies’ fraud loss rating is right around 1%. Anti-fraud practices have made it difficult to steal from these companies and more likely you’ll get caught. Medicare’s much higher loss rating and lack of funding for fraud prevention make it a much riper and safer peach, just waiting to be picked.
Ever had a bill collector assume guardianship over you so they could pay themselves with your money? It’s hard to imagine, but it is a practice nursing homes employ when patients don’t pay their bill – and it is legal. Be it a dispute over charges, lack of cooperation, or just plain refusal to pay, a facility can gain power of attorney without the consent of patients or their families, and then they have control over how the patient’s money is spent. And the first thing they do is pay themselves.
The New York Times recently reported on the case of Lillian and Dino Palermo, a good example of the abuse of the law that nursing homes are perpetrating. After Mrs. Palermo’s dementia progressed to a point where her husband couldn’t care for her alone, Mr. Palermo made the difficult decision to move his wife into a nursing home. After a time, the home changed their monthly fee claiming Mrs. Palermo was receiving more care. Mr. Palermo disagreed with the charges. While he had the bills reviewed, he refused to pay the rate the nursing home asked. One day, he came into his wife’s room to find a legal petition on her bed stating that the nursing home was filing for guardianship over Mrs. Palermo. He was shocked. Mr. Palermo fought the petition, at his own expense. While the court battle raged on, the review of Mrs. Palermo’s care bills was completed and Mr. Palermo paid the remaining balance (which was less than the nursing home claimed he owed). The petition for guardianship was immediately withdrawn.
It is obvious that the nursing home’s sole concern was to get paid, and they used the cruelest of tactics to make sure it got done. This case is not unique. It is hard to determine just how often it happens because many such cases are cloaked under the veil of patient privacy rights. The lawyer trying the Palermo case spoke to the Times about his experience; he estimated that he had brought 5000 such cases to trail in his 21 years of practice. Another independent study is underway and the researchers shared some preliminary findings. Over a ten year span, they found that 3,302 guardianship cases were filed in Manhattan; nursing homes were the petitioners in 12.4% of those cases – that’s more than 400 times, just in one section of one city in the nation. While there are legitimate reasons to file such petitions, those familiar with the field agree that the primary purpose is bill collection.
If the court approves guardianship, it takes precedence over previous arrangements made by the patient, such as the power of attorney and health care proxy Mrs. Palermo had set up naming her husband as her guardian. People need to be aware of this possibility when a loved one is in a nursing home. The problem is not widely known, and families can find themselves unprotected and without the means to fight back. Mr. Palermo fought, but it cost him $10,000 and a great deal of worry and stress. It’s hard to say what would have happened if the nursing home had not withdrawn their petition. Mr. Palermo was determined to fight to the end, but his pockets are certainly not as deep as the nursing home’s.
The debate about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines rages on. Opinions vary wildly about their usefulness for children and the nation as a whole. Recent outbreaks of measles have brought the issue front and center in the media, but not many people are talking about the effect on the elderly population. So what do vaccines do for seniors? Are they beneficial for those with an aging and weakening immune system, or do they open people up to more illness than they protect against? Here’s a few facts to consider when debating whether you or someone you care for should be vaccinated:
It’s hard to imagine children growing up in nursing homes, never mind dying there. But right now there are over 6000 kids living in medical facilities for the elderly, according to federal data. These are sick children, in need of high levels of medical care to survive each day; nursing homes are not the best place for them, but they are better than every other option their parents have. Nursing homes for the elderly are specifically designed to handle complex and time consuming medical needs, but they are not intended to meet needs specific to children.
It can also be hard to find a nursing home willing to take a child, and sometimes kids end up far from home and family. Zach moved into a nursing home at ten years old because his needs were too intense for most child care programs, and his mother had to keep her job for the insurance that paid his medical care – not to mention provided food and a place to live. The state would not pay for at home care and the only place that would take him was 200 miles away in another state. His mother made the trip every 2-3 weeks to visit and meanwhile tried every way she could think of to bring him closer to home. When Zach turned 21, after eleven years in a home for the elderly, he was no longer eligible for the children’s program that had supported him, and his care deteriorated. He spent most of his time in bed and got sicker. His mother’s primary fear was not so much that he would die, but that he would be alone when it happened. A program that would allow him to receive care at home became available, but Zach had lived out of state for so long that he was not eligible. He would have to live in an in-state facility while waiting on a list, thousands of people long, to get into the program. At 25 he died in the nursing home waiting for his chance.
Bylon was six years old when she had a stroke. She received care at home until her mother got sick and was hospitalized. Bylon had to move into a nursing home and not too long after that, her mother died in the hospital. On the day of the funeral, aides got her dressed and ready to travel, but the van to pick her up never came and she missed her mother’s funeral. She wanted out of the nursing home badly, but there was no one to take care of her. At 23, Bylon got into a program that would pay for an accessible apartment and aides, but there was a waiting list. She was excited to live her own life, for the first time since she was six. She aspired to finish high school and go to college. A year later, Bylon died in the nursing home.
Nursing homes are designed to take care of the elderly. Typically, patients are tended to for medical and basic personal needs and left to themselves the rest of the day. Activity programming is geared toward the interests of people over 60, not under 10. There is no friendship, no social time, no education, and not many visitors. There is no childhood in a nursing home. However, there is life. When there is no other alternative, placement in a nursing home saves kids’ lives; having a place to turn in desperation is a godsend. Most parents are fortunate enough not to have to consider sending their child away to live in such an environment, and because the problem only affects a small percentage of the population, better solutions (like youth nursing homes) are not well funded. Where else are desperate families to turn? Until there is a better solution, children will continue to be sent away from the familiarity and relative comfort of home to live in a facility amongst the sick and dying.