Proposed Medicaid Rule Highlights the Importance of Community-Based Care
In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new proposed rule governing Medicaid regulations for managed care. The last time these regulations were updated was in 2002, and the new rule reflects growing reliance on community-based ‘long-term services and supports,’ including home health care.
If accepted, the proposed rule could make it easier for Medicaid-eligible seniors to receive benefits for care at home or elsewhere in their communities, rather than in a long-term or skilled nursing facility. As the majority of seniors prefer to age in place, and home health care has been shown to keep patients out of the hospital, these regulations appear to address both the needs and the capabilities of this growing segment of the population. The complete proposed rule was published online June 1 for a formal comment period through July 27, 2015.
(Major New Medicaid Proposal Promotes Home Care; Home Health Care News)
Alzheimer’s Signs May Differ in Some Younger Patients
The initial signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often based in memory: a person has an uncharacteristically forgetful episode, or keeps losing track of keys. However, a new study of thousands of Alzheimer’s patients suggests that for a subset of younger patients, other symptoms can arise before the telltale memory loss. About one-fourth of patients under age 60 initially reported trouble with language or problem solving, rather than memory — a much higher percentage than in the older age groups. Findings like these could eventually lead to improved screening and testing methods, in a continued effort toward earliest-possible diagnosis and intervention.
(Memory loss may not always be first sign of Alzheimer’s; Reuters Health)
Home Education and Support for Better Dementia Caregiving
A recent study compared an experimental home-support program against conventional care for patients with dementia. In the new program, caregivers received regular advice, information, and encouragement over the phone by trained operators (as overseen by licensed clinicians). The patients’ caregivers reported higher satisfaction with the telephone-based program, as well as stronger confidence in their own caregiving abilities. Moreover, nursing home use was lower in the home-supported group. The study results suggest the value of more active — and more frequent — care for dementia.
(Home-Based Dementia Care Reduces Nursing Home Admissions; Home Health Care News)
- Imaging performed on thousands of seniors’ hearts showed that as alcohol consumption increased, so did the organ’s size and/or wall thickness. For women, even one drink per day could produce such unhealthy results. (Two drinks per day may be harmful to elderly hearts; Reuters Health)
- Caregiving comes with frustration, whether it’s in a specific moment or over a long period of stress. For caregivers feeling anxious, low, or not at their best, author Liz O’Donnell offers reassurance. (A Letter to My Fellow Caregivers; Huffington Post)
- As patients typically develop type 2 diabetes years before it is detected, this study underlines the importance of screening on overall health and prevention of related diseases. (Early detection and treatment of type 2 diabetes may reduce heart disease and mortality; MNT)
- For the first time, researchers may have found a method to prevent diabetic retinopathy (which causes blindness in patients with diabetes), instead of merely slowing its progress. (Study suggests new way of preventing diabetes-associated blindness; MNT)
- The bad news: Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that together signal increased heart and health risk, is found in about one-third of American adults. The good news: From 2008 to 2012, that rate hasn’t risen further. (Metabolic syndrome common but rates stable among U.S. adults; Reuters Health)
- Sibling conflict can be a distressing aspect of caring for a parent. When opinions differ or personalities clash, the emerging specialty of ‘elder mediation’ may help. (Strengthening Troubled Sibling Bonds to Deal With an Aging Parent; New York Times)
- Why do some patients respond to expensive drugs, while others don’t? For one class of costly cancer drugs, researchers have identified specific gene defects that are strong predictors of success. (Genetic glitch can predict response to new class of cancer drugs; Reuters Health)