Veterans Day 2019 Age Safe® America
Veterans Day 2019 is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast.
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Age Safe® America is proud to be a training and outreach partner with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Members of the (SAH) team have participated in the Senior Home Safety Specialist training and ASA will be training professionals serving our veterans with home modification programs. The VA provides grants to Servicemembers and Veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities to help purchase or construct an adapted home, or modify an existing home to accommodate a disability. Two grant programs exist: the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.
If you are a Veteran or serving Veteran clients, please explore these opportunities to help:
The VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program has a streamlined application process for veterans with specific physical injuries or loss that is designed to create a barrier-free living environment. This program offers up to $90.364. for specially adapted home modifications.
There is a Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant for veterans with specific injuries that has a current maximum of $18,074.
There is a Temporary Residence Assistance grant program available to eligible veterans and service members who are temporarily residing in the home owned by a family member. The maximum amount available to adapt the family member’s home for veterans who qualify for SAH is $39,069 and those who qualify for SHA is $7,083.
Learn more about eligibility and the application at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/adaptedhousing.asp
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program is also available. There is a lifetime benefit of $6800 for veterans or service members with a service-connected condition. These funds can be applied to projects allowing ingress or egress, use of sinks, roll-in showers, improved pathways and plumbing and electrical systems to support modifications.
To learn more specifics about the program and application process, go to: https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/HISA2.asp
Learn more: https://agesafeamerica.com/getting-help-to-pay-for-home-repairs-or-modifications/
Recently I had the pleasure of presenting to a Parkinson’s support group in my home town. It was a great group of 30+ people who are affected in some way by Parkinson’s. One of the heavy topics of the day was the cost of medical care, and the decreasing coverage of insurances every year. The leader of the group brought up how Dementias of all sorts are going to provide an enormous strain on the resources of our existing healthcare system within the coming generation. She is not wrong!
Currently there are almost 5.8 million Americans with the disease according to the Alzheimer’s association. It is expected that by 2050, 13.8 million people will have the disease…as much as 1 in 3 people over the age of 85. When we add in other types of dementia, Lewy Body, Frontotemporal, vascular, this number continues to increase greatly and at an earlier age. Baby boomers are growing older and coming to an age when the disease most commonly strikes.
What is Alzheimer’s? It is a form of dementia. Little is actually known about what combination of factors causes Alzheimer’s disease, though it is believed that genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposures (improper diet, chemical exposure, etc.) are all contributors. We do know that three specific brain changes that contribute to this: 1. A protein builds up in the brain causing plaques. 2. A second protein also accumulates causing tangles. 3. This combination causes nerve cells to die and the brain actually shrinks in size.
The most commonly recognized symptom is a memory problem, but the disease does not always start this way. Sometimes it is a difficulty processing new information, make decisions on complicated factors, plan new events. Sometimes it shows up as having difficulty with finances. I had a customer who was a CFO of a company, his first presentation was that he thought he was able to trade stocks and proceeded to trade his and his spouse’s retirement accounts to zero. They were millionaires, and his wife did not notice he was doing it until it was too late. Additionally, a person may hallucinate things are there that aren’t, or smell or hear something that is not there. I had another customer who could smell apples in the middle of the night. She would get up and look for the apples and had several falls.
It is important to note that it is not always easy to see the memory issues up front as it is not always the most prevalent sign. Some people have “large cognitive reserves,” high initial IQ, lots of education, jobs that required lots of brain power or were demanding, and are very good at hiding their symptoms or compensating. They are good at making sure you don’t see it. However, as this disease progresses, confusion about time and place, difficulty speaking and writing, poor judgement, changes in personality, aggression and agitation, and decreased recognition of loved ones starts to present. Eventually people lose the ability to speak, walk, sit, and even swallow.
Even though the majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years and older, it is not considered a normal part of aging. It does sometimes occur in younger people. There are about 200,000 people with Alzheimer’s who are younger than 65 years old. Risk factors include family history, type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, brain trauma, being female, African American and Latino descent.
The average person with this disease will live 4-8 years after diagnosis and almost half of that time will be in the more severe phases of the illness, requiring around the clock care. This is quite often more care than a loved one can provide. Families quickly learn how expensive long term care solutions can be. Caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost $290 billion this year alone. By 2050, the cost will rise to $1.1 trillion. It is by far the most expensive disease in the USA! This single disease will bankrupt Medicare. This is considering Medicare only covers the initial skilled episode. They do not cover the long term care for the person with the disease.
Far greater than the financial toll, is the emotional one. Families fall apart from this. They experience the loss of the person that they know right in front of their eyes. It is cruel and difficult to observe the person you once know disappear slowly into this disease.
Knowing how expensive and prevalent this is, we are attempting to provide environmental and technological solutions to assist in the caregiver burden, and provide strategies to keep people safely in their homes for a greater amount of time. We know that as time moves along with this illness, expenses arise including private duty caregiving, transportation, medication management, and safety strategies. We at SeniorSAFE will assess your home and make the necessary changes to decrease risk of falls and reduce caregiver strain.
Guest Post by:
Kristopher Rench, OT, OTD, OTR/L, CLVT, CMT II, CSHSS
CEO, SeniorSAFE, LLC
Age Safe® America Advisory Team Member
Copyright © *2019* *SeniorSAFE, LLC*, All rights reserved.
Fall is here, which means, like it or not, cold weather is just around the corner. While most of us would prefer not to think about turning on our heat just yet, this is actually the best time to check your heating to ensure everything is operating as it should. Neglecting to winterize your home and letting small issues pile up can have big repercussions. Ahead of the winter season, make sure you’re aware of three major things that may go wrong if you don’t winterize your house or neglect your heating system.
- Your utility bills may skyrocket. Utility bills often jump up in the winter due to the increased hours of darkness and the cost to heat your home. But if your heater is on the fritz or your filters are clogged, you could be in for an even bigger surprise. Dirty filters cause your furnace to work harder, which leads to inefficiency and a shortened lifespan for your heating system. Replacing filters is often an easy task for homeowners. A yearly tune-up is an inexpensive way to help prevent a costly system breakdown in the coming months. Also, keep in mind that some warranties require annual tune-ups, so don’t let your warranty go invalid by skipping this year’s tune-up.
- The threat of carbon monoxide is very real. Do you know how old your furnace is? Do you know how long it’s been since a professional checked it over? Carbon monoxide poses a health threat when the heating system flue, vent or chimney becomes blocked from debris or other material. During a heating system tune-up, a professional service technician can check to make sure all your vents are not blocked and are working properly. Drains and traps also need to be checked and combustion gases should be analyzed and compared to the specifications of your furnace or boiler to make sure everything is running safely. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is another smart way to help with early detection.
- Water pipes can burst. It’s not just your heating system that needs to be winterized. All too often it happens – we wake up to realize our pipes are frozen, or even worse, leaking. Before the cold sets in, make sure outside hoses are put away and water is turned off. Evaluate which pipes are at the greatest risk for freezing during cold weather. For example, if your water pipes come up from an un-insulated crawl space, or if they are in or close to an uninsulated outside wall or vent, they are more likely to freeze and burst in low temperatures. Inside pipes should be covered in insulation to keep pipes warmer longer. Pipe insulation is easy to apply and available at most hardware stores and home centers.
By having an annual tune-up in the fall, you can catch small issues now, instead of experiencing bigger problems in the dead of winter. A tune-up with a reputable local company can also save energy, reduce heating costs and prevent a system breakdown in the coming months.
A firefighter helps an elderly couple plan for their escape from a home fire. Credit: US Fire Administration
Age Safe America announces Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12 from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This years theme is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”. This year’s campaign recognizes the everyday people who motivate their households to develop and practice a home fire escape plan; these seemingly basic behaviors can have life-saving impact. For those of us who are older adults or care for older adults, this message is vital.
“This year’s campaign works to celebrate people of all ages who learn about home fire escape planning and practice, bring that information home, and spur their families to action,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA.
“Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” also focuses on what a home escape plan entails and the value of practicing it. These messages are more important than ever, particularly because today’s homes burn faster than ever. Carli notes that synthetic fibers used in modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, are contributing factors to the increased burn rate.
“People tend to underestimate their risk to fire, particularly at home. That over-confidence lends itself to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice,” said Carli. “But in a fire situation, we’ve seen time and again that advance planning can make a potentially life-saving difference.”
A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home. Home escape plans should be practiced twice a year by all members of the household. If you are an older adult, a family or professional caregiver, the escape routes may be different and the traditional escape routes, such as the windows, may not be feasible. So it is vital to identify the routes that will work with the challenges. Remember to notify local fire and emergency personnel if someone in the home has special equipment or difficulty leaving the home. Many fire departments have special lists for individuals in their territory who may require additional assistance.
A new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows scientifically for the first time that an individual’s ability to respond quickly to a residential fire determines who dies and who gets injured. Home fire deaths, the NIST researchers state, are more likely among those they define as frail populations—persons who are not in robust health and primarily age 65 and older—while nonfatal injuries occur more often in adults ages 20 to 49.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week and “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!,” along with a wealth of resources to help promote the campaign locally, visit fpw.org.
During Fall Prevention Week we consider the Impact of falls on Caregivers and Employers. One of the most staggering statistics for companies is the lost productivity by employees acting as caregivers. The losses range from lack of attention to current job tasks, more time away from work for appointments and caregiving to the increased levels of stress and health-related issues for the employees themselves. Informal caregiving burdens cost employers as much as $33 Billion annually in lost productivity according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.
American workers must make the most out of their situation when life happens while performing at an optimum level. That’s the corporate ideal, but on a personal level, the burden of caregiving can exceed a worker’s mental fortitude and earning potential. A new report from the Harvard Business School Project on Managing the Future of Work shows companies lose too when workers must decide when to care for a loved one or to keep on working.
“The Caring Company,” from co-authors Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman, suggests companies are ignoring the “silent crisis of caregiving” as it pertains to today’s workers. A rapidly aging population, more women in the labor force and misalignment of benefits are contributing to pressures on work-life balance. For companies that espouse a culture of caring, many are unprepared to expand their conception of caregiving and benefits beyond family leave or more flexible work options.
In the authors’ estimation, companies do not calculate or understand the costs their workers incur when absent from the job or working when distracted or fatigued. High turnover and training costs are hidden from companies’ bottom lines while parents and elder caregivers are acutely aware of what they sacrifice in pay, time and mental strength. The rising cost of child and elder care is eating into earnings, leading workers — mainly women, who still shoulder the majority of caregiving responsibilities — to restrict their careers.
Workers’ expertise leaves with them when they suspend their careers, and many companies aren’t offering a pathway back to pick up where they left off. The result is a miscommunication between the two parties. According to the report, workers suffer in silence and do not utilize their benefits to ease their caregiving burden in fear of negative consequences while companies could look at this underutilization and say that there isn’t a problem. “The Caring Company” illustrates how companies operate in ignorance and pay lip service to caring, while not accommodating a widening spectrum of issues related to care.
The report comes at a time where dynamic population and healthcare trends are coinciding with a labor and skills shortage.
It doesn’t have to be this way! There are professionally trained Senior Home Safety Specialists™ who can provide the information and solutions to reduce the stress and worry about aging parents at home while an employee is attempting to put in a full day’s work. Age Safe® America has trained professionals throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East to provide the valuable resources for HR departments and EAP program administrators.
Our mutual goals are better, healthier, less stressed, more productive employees who have confidence that their family members have the right solutions in place for their home environments.
Age Safe® Live Well.
Falls Prevention Awareness Day!
The annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. We have heard the statistics over and over. One in 3 Americans over the age of 65 will fall this year. One in 2 Americans over the age of 80 will fall this year. Falls account for 40% of nursing home admissions. It doesn’t have to be this way! As our population ages and the demographic studies tell us that the longevity for the current generations is greater than any other time in history, then this is the opportunity to change the statistics. Ten years from now, the fall rate among Americans can be significantly different. But in order to do so, we must take the action.
The social activism of the 60’s needs to translate into personal activism to maximize the independence and control we can exert in our lives. This generation took the action 50 years ago to affect military policy, civil rights and the creation of Older Americans Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are too many stories of people moving into assisted living communities or long-term care, not by choice but by necessity. We all know an individual, family member, friend, member of our social circle or faith community who has not had the chance to remain independent.
You must be the change you want to see in the world….Gandhi
Be the change—-get a professional home safety evaluation. A trained specialist can identify the opportunities and changes that we don’t see for ourselves. They may suggest to add the grab bars and motion lights, clear the pathways and make sure our entrances are safe and easy to navigate. (The extra benefit of a safe entrance is a safe exit during an emergency or natural disaster!) You can make an appointment get your eyes checked, mark your calendar and get it done! On the next visit, take your list of questions and review your meds with the doctor. Exercise can be as simple as a short walk or stretch or taking a class in person, by video or on TV.
We cannot look back and wish we had our home evaluated or our eyes checked.
Our future selves are relying on our taking the steps today to change the trajectory of our lives and change those awful, realistic statistics. Take a step today to Age Safe® and Live Well!
Change the Statistics, Make a Difference.
Plan for independence!
We all want to live safe, independent and comfortable, regardless of our age or ability. Unfortunately, many homes were not designed to give you freedom as you age. Whether you are living by yourself or with a family member, you can design your own additions or home modifications that will help you continue living independently. Trained advisors and qualified contractors are available to help you plan and create the safety, comfort and flexibility in the home that you want and need. Age Safe® Live Well.
Join NCOA for Falls Prevention Awareness Day 2019 events! #FPAD2019