Tag Archives: families

Reporter takes on mental health and caregiving in new documentary

Richard Lui

Photo courtesy of Richard Lui

Journalist Richard Lui is best known as the weekend news anchor on MSNBC. But eight years ago, he also became a family caregiver — flying between New York City and his parents’ home in San Francisco to help care for his father, who had Alzheimer’s disease. 

It got him thinking about mental health — his dad’s, his own, and that of other families who struggle with serious illness or disability. His journey led to  “Unconditional,” a documentary that profiles three families — including his own — as they help their loved ones through their crises and discover their own inner strength. 

Continue reading

Calls growing to add dental benefit to Medicare Part B

Photo: Moodboard via Flickr

Photo: Moodboard via Flickr

A quarter of a million Americans are retiring each month. Many are surprised to learn that Medicare does not include coverage for routine dental care. But could the nation’s health insurance program offer dental benefits? Should it?

There are important reasons to consider the idea, says Beth Truett, president and CEO of the nonprofit Oral Health America.

“More people are living longer. More people are keeping their teeth,” said Truett, who was featured in a recent AHCJ webcast. “Oral health is part of overall health.” Continue reading

System-wide changes urged to meet family caregiver needs

Photo: Brian Walker via Flickr

Photo: Brian Walker via Flickr

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) is calling on the next presidential administration to take immediate steps to address the health, economic and social issues facing family caregivers of older adults. Continue reading

Clock is ticking for commission charged with addressing comprehensive long-term care


Image by Enrique Bosquet via flickr.

Providing care and support for older adults is expensive, drains time and energy of family caregivers, and can make family lives chaotic. The repeal of the CLASS Act leaves the United States with no national long term care services and support plan for the millions of older adults who need it now, and the millions more who will need it in the next 20 to 30 years. 

As part of last year’s “fiscal cliff” bill, Congress established a Commission on Long-Term Care to investigate options and make recommendations on how our nation can address this growing challenge. The 15-member panel is working under tight deadlines to propose solutions that offer cost-effective health and social services to seniors, and support their caregivers, who are frequently caught between raising their own families, work and caring for aging relatives.

Lynn Feinberg, senior strategic policy adviser for AARP’s Public Policy Institute, testified before the commission on the urgent need for family caregiver supports. “What I was struck with the most at this most recent hearing, was virtually everyone who testified spoke about the importance of family support in long term services and support,” she said. “Everyone was recognizing this was not just an aging issue, or not just a woman’s issue, but it’s a family issue that really touches everyone and increasingly affects more people and will affect most everyone in the future.” Continue reading

Webcast explores aging adults’ contributions, widening disparities, creating ‘synthetic families’

You don’t often hear about how much older adults contribute to society. That’s a shame.

It allows the aging of American to be portrayed as a story of dependency: the reliance of the old upon the young. Instead, the truth is that the generations are inter-dependent, each benefiting the other.

Toni Antonucci

S. Jay Olshansky

Julie M. Zissimopoulos

This was one of the themes articulated during AHCJ’s recent webcast with three members of the MacArthur Network on an Aging Society, a group of prominent academics exploring the opportunities as well as the challenges associated Americans’ increased life spans.

Julie Zissimopoulos, associate director of the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, described a framework for understanding how much support older adults get and how much they give in turn. (Resources and PowerPoint presentations from the webcast are available here.)

In the “here’s what they get” column, she put government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, benefits from the department of Veterans Affairs, food stamps, programs supported through the Older Americans Act, and informal caregiving, largely from children and spouses, among other smaller items.

Total that up and it comes to $916 billion in public expenditures for older Americans in 2010.

In the “here’s what they give” column, Zissimopoulos included income taxes (federal and state), payroll taxes and property taxes that older adults pay, gifts and inheritances that they pass on to family and friends, the informal care they provide to spouses, elderly parents and children, and the many hours they spend volunteering, among other items.

Total that up and it comes to $646 billion in contributions by older Americans, also in 2010.

The difference, $316 billion, is a lot of money but by no means the enormous, out-of-proportion give-away portrayed by some. And the reality is all of society shares an interest in controlling health care costs, the largest item in the “debit” column for older adults.

Another theme of the web chat revolved around one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century – the extension of the human life span by more than 30 years, largely because of improvements in public health as well as advances in science and medicine. Continue reading