This Veterans Day is November 11, 2015

A very Happy Veterans Day to our veterans. Thank you for all you have done for our freedoms. We frequently hear about all the challenges Veterans Affairs face in assisting veterans with their needs. But today I want to call attention to an interesting program for veterans that has recently received national media attention.

Shakespeare for Veterans?

Yes, Shakespeare for veterans. Recently, ABC News reported on a Milwaukee program for veterans called “Feast of Crispian,” a reference to a Henry V pre-battle speech. In this acting program, veterans work with area actors in scenes of heavy conflict from Shakespearean plays. The aim of this free program is to help former service members work on addiction and reintegration issues, mental health problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The project director of the program states that Shakespearean plays work well because the language of Shakespeare “holds big emotion.” Nancy Smith-Watson says the language “elicits it, but it also holds it, the metaphor just enables a lot of emotion to be put on them.” The acting, she says, helps veterans access bottled up emotions by using Shakespeare’s words, which breaks down walls and builds confidence. Participants are encouraged to be as angry or sad as they want. One participant, a 25-year-old Army veteran credits the program for allowing him to open up and be himself. He has also remained sober and free of drugs and alcohol for six months.

The program started in 2013, and to date has had 300 veterans participate.




September is World Alzheimer’s Month

Each September, the Alzheimer’s Disease International releases a report of the status of Alzheimer’s Disease throughout the world. This year, their report was entitled “The Global Impact of Dementia.” In it, they document the global prevalence, incidence, cost and trends of dementia in the world today. Some interesting facts include:

  • In 2015, there are estimated to be 46.8 million people worldwide who are living with dementia.
  • This number is expected to double every 20 years, and will reach 131.5 million in 2050.
  • Throughout the world, there is estimated to be one new case of dementia every 3.2 seconds, or 9.9 million news cases.
  • Of the number of new cases of dementia:
    • 4.9 million are in Asia
    • 2.5 million are in Europe
    • 1.7 million are in the Americas
    • 0.8 million are in Africa.
  • The global cost of dementia care is $818 billion in 2015, and will reach $2 trillion by 2030.
  • Global dementia care, if it were a country, would be the 18th largest economy in the world.

These are pretty grim statistics, especially in light of the fact that there is no effective treatment, no cure, and no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, if you are inclined to take part in the fight against Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are studies you can volunteer for. Even if you do not have a personal or family history of these diseases, you may be needed in a study. If interested, contact the NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at 1-800-438-4380 or visit www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/clinical-trials.

Northern Virginia Senior and Caregiver Resource

I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating because the resource can be so valuable. When you have questions about resources for an elder, and no one to answer them, a good way to help your search is with the local Aging and Adult Services office in your county. They know the resources and criteria and are a great place to start when looking for options, public or private. Each county in Northern Virginia has such an office, and it is worth your while to keep their number. Here they are:

City of Alexandria

Senior Services of Alexandria


Arlington County

Aging and Disability Services


Fairfax County

Fairfax County Services for Older Adults


Falls Church City

Adult and Aging Services


or contact

Fairfax County Services for Older Adults


Loudoun County

Aging Programs and Services


Prince William County

Prince William County Area Agency on Aging


Global Aging: A Little Look Around the World

Just out of curiosity, I recently sat down to do some research about how the world population is aging. I was interested in how other areas of the world are aging. Are the factors driving the aging population growth in the U.S. true in other countries as well? Here is a little bit of what I found.


There are excellent resources through the United Nations Population Division. As recently as late 2014, they published updated statistics that tell the global aging story. It was all very interesting.


For instance, during the years 2005 – 2010, the rate of death of persons 65 years and older was 50% per 100 total deaths. This was a significant change from the period 1950 – 1955. During that five year period, the rate of death among persons 65 and older was 22% per 100 deaths (all ages).


On first glance these numbers might seem incorrect, but there is a logical explanation. The increase in older age deaths was due to the reduction of child-age deaths, which had a worldwide reduction of 26%. There were some exceptions though – the least developed countries, where the percentage of mid-age deaths increased from 34% in 1950 – 1955, to 40% in 2005 – 2010.


The percentage of old-age deaths differs considerably from the countries with the highest percentage, to those with the lowest percentage: The three highest were Italy (86%), Sweden (86%) and Greece (85%). The three lowest were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (13%), Chad (12%), and Angola (11%). This again would be explained by longevity in the population in countries like Italy, Sweden and Greece.


Globally, the percentage of the population aged 60 years or over increased from 8.6% in 1980 to 12% in 2014. This group is projected to continue to rise, reaching 21% in 2050.

A Better Option for Senior Drivers

When an older driver reaches the time that he needs to stop doing so, perhaps what would make the process easier is having a good option for getting around. After all, in the U.S., driving a car is a mode of independence, and giving that up is a huge step. But there are options in communities around the U.S. We just need a way to find them.

Katherine Freund has a way. She founded the Independent Transportation Network (ITN), to do just that. The service is currently available in 27 cities, and provides senior riders an affordable transportation option. No money changes hands in the vehicle. Instead, riders use ride credits to pay for their trips. In some cases, the adult children of the seniors are earning the credits for their parent by being a volunteer driver for someone else. Another plus of this service over many other transportation options are that drivers provide senior riders “arm-through-arm service, and door-through-door service, as well as help with packages. And it is not just for medical appointments. Whether it be church, groceries, social activities or other kinds of fun, it’s all part of the service. Here is the link to ITNAmerica.

Graphic courtesy of Designed by Freepik.

Perhaps You’ve Noticed Something About Dad

As you settle into the long Thanksgiving weekend with older family members, it is possible you notice things are different.  Is the house or apartment less tidy?  Perhaps it is not up to their usual standards of cleanliness.  Is their appearance less tidy as well?  Is there a change in behavior or mood?  A change in weight?  Overall, are things looking out of sorts?

These things can be a sign they need more assistance with the everyday tasks of living.  Holidays can be a good time to recognize the changes and start to work toward a plan for getting them the assistance they need.  This week the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers re-posted an article from PRWEB that gives a list of seven signs to look out for.  First published in 2013, the information still applies and can get you thinking, and start a conversation with your loved one to move toward providing them the support they may now need.



Tips for Working with Caregiving Aides

David Troxel, the well-known author of the “Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care,” and an Alzheimer’s caregiver himself, tells a story of how he taught his mother’s caregiving aides how to prepare afternoon tea.

This article first appeared at BrightFocus.org and can be read in its entirety here.

Update to the Medicare “Observation Status” Problem

Several months ago, in September 2013 specifically, I wrote about the issue of being under “observation status” when in the hospital.  A problem occurs when a hospital deems a patient “under observation.”  Such a status means just that.  What it does not mean is that the patient has been admitted to the hospital.  The patient may be in the hospital, on a unit, and in a hospital bed in a regular room, even receiving all the routine procedures of a hospitalization, but if they are “under observation,” it can create a problem, especially when the discharge plan is to go to short term rehab in a skilled nursing facility.  Unless the patient was “admitted,” and was in the hospital for at least three days, the rehab stay currently will not be covered by Medicare.  The person’s only option is to pay privately for the rehab stay, or go directly home, if that is possible.

Now, though, efforts are under way to change that.  Congress is addressing this issue through the “Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act” (HR 1179 and S 569).  If passed and signed into law, the time spent in observation will count toward the three day hospitalization requirement.  Let your representatives know if you support this bill.

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Always a painful and difficult subject to even think about, elder abuse and neglect is all too common, and Sunday, June 15th is designated World Elder Abuse Day to create awareness of this global problem.  Tools are available to help us learn about, identify and find help for this problem.

The Administration for Community Living, within the Department of Health and Human Services this week released the following tools:

  • To learn the signs and risk factors for elder abuse and neglect, download the Red Flags of Abuse Factsheet (PDF).
  • You can help raise awareness in your community!  The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Tool Kit has resources to help you do that – plan events, educate others, empower people to action.
  • To report suspected elder abuse, contact your local adult protective services agency.  Or, for state reporting phone numbers, contact the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.



Love this Guy! D-Day Vet Sneaks Out of Care Home to Get to Normandy

In a move reminiscent of the bravery and determination of D-Day and WWII veterans, a nursing home resident and D-Day veteran quietly left his nursing home this week to get to Normandy and the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  He was not going to miss it, and even his wife was in on the plan.  The nursing home though, was not aware of his plan, and after realizing he was not there, notified the police who looked for him until another veteran called to say he was with them, and everything was fine.  He would be back when the celebrations were over.  How great is that?

See his return home below: