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Live Life On Your Own Terms

fallsEvery 19 seconds, an American 65 or older dies from something easily preventable:

A fall.

And in the four minutes or so it takes to read this post, an average of 22 seniors will have fallen and hurt themselves badly enough to be rushed to emergency rooms.

According to a CDC report released this month, deaths from falls increased by 31% over the past decade.

No one’s immune to falls. On May 24 of this year, Charlotte Fox, who’d survived a near-fatal blizzard near the top of Mount Everest and had become the first American woman to successfully scale three 26,247-foot-high mountains, “apparently slipped on the hardwood stairs in her four-story house, fell and suffered fatal injuries,” the Aspen Times reported. “She was 61.”

But while falls can be fatal, they can also be preventable, by addressing their three main causes – environmental, physical, and medical.

medicareSometime between now and year’s end, a new Medicare card will show up in your mailbox. Instead of your Social Security number, it will have a unique, 11-digit, randomly assigned Medical Beneficiary ID number to protect against identity theft. What’s more, that number will be good for not only Medicare, but also other programs, including Medicaid, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and Special Needs Plans (SNPs).

But while that new card is the first and most visible Medicare improvement, other new, more valuable changes, are less obvious. That’s because they give seniors with multiple or chronic medical issues new resources for aging in place.

On February 9, President Trump signed the CHRONIC (Creating High-quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic) Care Act of 2018 into law. And this law offers valuable new benefits – particularly for the 19 million Americans who signed up for Medicare Advantage plans:

senior walking 300x226Two long-term British medical studies have discovered warning signs of dementia and heart disease risk in an unlikely place – at your feet. Specifically, they found that older adults who walk more slowly are more likely to develop dementia and heart disease.

According to a study published in the March 6, 2018, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, University College London and University of Nottingham researchers discovered this correlation when they examined data from 3,932 over-60 adults participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. In 2002-2003 and again in 2004-2005, they recorded participants’ walking speeds. Then, between 2006 and 2015, they checked the participants’ yearly follow-up assessments.

There were more dementia cases, they found, among the slower walkers – especially those whose walking slowed the most between the first time their walks were measured and the second time, two years later.

lonely seniorA 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association compilation of many studies’ results concluded that a link between loneliness and fatal heart disease exists.

In Sweden, medical researchers discovered that the mortality rate of coronary bypass patients who’d checked the “I feel lonely” box was 2.5 times higher than other patients 30 days after surgery and was twice as high even five years later.

A Brigham Young University study covering more than 300,000 people found that loneliness was just as strong a marker for early death as alcoholism and heavy cigarette smoking.

caregiver photot 781x520Are you starting off the New Year feeling exhausted? Unmotivated? Constantly frustrated and forgetful? Having problems at work or with relationships?

Then you may be grappling with caregiver burnout.

It’s bad enough that the ongoing obligations and responsibilities – and the routine stress, worry and discomfort that caring for a loved one entails – threaten your emotional health.