Health AGEnda

A Bridge to Better Lives for Family Caregivers

This is the second in a series of six Health AGEnda posts on the 2014 Annual Report.

This is the second in a series of six Health AGEnda posts on the 2014 Annual Report.

Editor’s Note: The John A. Hartford Foundation’s 2014 Annual Report features five profiles of Hartford Change AGEnts whose work is representative of the kinds of practice and policy change the initiative is making. Read Harnessing the Power of Hartford Change AGEnts for more on the Change AGEnts Initiative. In the coming weeks, the Health AGEnda blog will spotlight the stories and videos of the other Hartford Change AGEnts profiled in the Annual Report. Today, we meet the co-chairs of the Hartford Change AGEnts Initiative Dementia Caregiving Network: Alan B. Stevens, PhD, and Nancy L. Wilson, LMSW.

The John A. Hartford Foundation’s Change AGEnts Dementia Caregiving Network aims to serve as a bridge between evidence-based programs and care practices and people with dementia and their family caregivers.

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Home Care Ruling a Victory for Fairness and Better Care

PHI_4423022672_524d5afa55_b_300pWhether we receive care, provide care, or coordinate care for a loved one, everyone benefits from improving the quality of jobs for America’s 2 million current home care workers and the millions more we’ll need to care for the growing number of older adults in the coming decades.

That’s why the recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirming the extension of federal labor protections to home care workers is an important victory not only for fairness, but for improving the quality of care for older adults and people living with disabilities.

The decision, handed down on Aug. 21, arrives as care needs for the country’s aging generation are expanding rapidly. PHI, the nation’s leading authority on the direct-care workforce, estimates that the demand for home care workers will increase 50 percent by 2022.

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Helping Families Navigate Their Caregiving Journeys:
A Conversation with Dr. Joseph Gaugler

Dr. Joseph Gaugler

Dr. Joseph Gaugler

Editor’s Note: Health AGEnda recently spoke with Dr. Joseph Gaugler, professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and co-editor (along with Robert Kane, MD) of the new book Family Caregiving in the New Normal. This unique work addresses challenges and offers cost-effective solutions via a comprehensive “roadmap” for family caregivers, clinicians, and policymakers. It also includes chapters from members of the Hartford Change AGEnts Dementia Caregiving Network, a multi-sector, interdisciplinary team of leaders with expertise in practice, policy, and research related to caregiving and dementia whose mission is to achieve improvements in services, supports, and care for those with dementia and their family caregivers.

What is the “New Normal” for family caregivers?

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Creating Change Every Day:
The 2014 John A. Hartford Foundation Annual Report

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This is the first in a series of six Health AGEnda posts on the 2014 Annual Report.

At the John A. Hartford Foundation, we like to say that our job is not to make grants, but rather to make change.

Making systemic, large-scale practice change is the idea behind the John A. Hartford Foundation Change AGEnts Initiative, which is featured in our 2014 annual report. We approach our annual reports a bit differently than many other organizations. Rather than just recounting our grants and financial statements for the past year, we prefer to focus on one facet of our work and explore it in-depth.

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Accelerating Change: The New Nurse Leaders in Aging

Gerontologist_0615_350pThe cover of the recent special supplement to The Gerontologist  devoted to the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) catches my eye. Take a look. The 18 nurses who grace the cover share the distinction of having been honored with the Doris Schwartz Gerontological Nursing Research Award.

This award, presented by the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) Health Sciences Section, is given to a GSA member in recognition of outstanding and sustained contribution to gerontological nursing research.

The special supplement—supported by NHCGNE, which is housed at GSA—traces the evolution of the pioneering work of these outstanding nurse leaders and others at NHCGNE over the years and features 16 articles authored by JAHF-supported nurse leaders spotlighting research in a variety of areas, ranging from in-home fall risk assessments to teaching nursing students to care for older adults.

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Join the Effort to Ensure That Medicare Covers Skilled Nursing Care for Those Who Need It

CMA_logo_400pGlenda Jimmo is a name you should know.

Mrs. Jimmo, who is blind and had her leg amputated due to diabetes, was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011 by the Center for Medicare Advocacy on behalf of beneficiaries and seven national organizations representing people with chronic conditions. Mrs. Jimmo requires a wheelchair and needs weekly home health services for her complex conditions. However, she was denied Medicare coverage for services on the grounds that she was unlikely to improve.

This rule of thumb—that Medicare services for skilled nursing or therapy should be discontinued when a patient “plateaus” or will no longer improve—is wrong.

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A Trifecta of Good News for Supporters of Elder Justice

older_Americans_400pFor those of us who have long advocated for a national agenda to prevent, detect, treat and report the mistreatment of older adults, developments over the summer have sparked some measure of hope and optimism.

The cause of elder justice hit the trifecta, with good news coming from all three branches of the federal government. First, the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act represented a victory for the Elder Justice Act as well. Enacted by Congress as part of the ACA, the Elder Justice Act targets the widespread issue of elder abuse in communities and long-term care facilities.

Then, at last month’s White House Conference on Aging, President Obama announced that a new rule to be issued by the end of 2015 will clarify that, among other approved uses, assistance funds from the Victims of Crime Act may be used to aid elder victims of abuse, financial exploitation, fraud, and neglect.

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Dr. Suzanne Landis Demonstrates True Meaning of Leading Practice Change

Dr. Suzanne Landis has devoted her life to improving care for older adults.

Dr. Suzanne Landis has devoted her life to improving care for older adults.

Suzanne Landis, MD, MPH, drives an older, sensible car. She is an understated person often found standing in the back row of group photos. But don’t let her modest demeanor fool you.

She is one of the most giving and effective people I know. Dr. Landis, who practices geriatrics in rural Western North Carolina, leads the Center for Healthy Aging at the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

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Proposed Physician Fee Schedule Change
Brings Christmas in July

Chris Langston, right, with his "Faraway" grandmother Nancy Imber, circa late 1970s. Joining them are his mother Adair and younger sister Anne.

Chris Langston, right, with his “Faraway” grandmother Nancy Imber, circa late 1970s. Joining them are his mother Adair and younger sister Anne.

When I was a child, I had two grandmothers. A nearby grandmother (Gammy) and a faraway grandmother, known forever after just as “Faraway.” I know she found it rather odd to be looked right in the face and addressed as “Faraway,” but as it was all I ever knew, it seemed just right to me.

In her last years, after the death of her second husband and the usual pile-up of chronic conditions, my Faraway grandmother came to live with her daughter, my mother. But the active and interested woman we had known was gone. She had lost most interest and pleasure in activities that had previously occupied her and seemed unwilling to try new things.

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Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Contributes to Better Health for Older Americans

gay_coupole_nyc_shutterstock_235663813The landmark United States Supreme Court decision that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution has important implications regarding the health and care of older Americans.

Studies show that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has a negative impact on their mental health, according to a 2006 report by Herdt & Kertzner. And a growing body of evidence suggests that policies conferring protections to same-sex couples are linked to lower health care and mental health care utilization, as well as to decreased health care spending.

There also are numerous studies confirming the health benefits of marriage for older heterosexual couples. “Married persons, on the whole, tend to have lower rates of fatal and nonfatal diseases, physical functioning problems, and disability compared to all other marital status groups,” reported Amy M. Pienta et al. in Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years, published in the Journal of Family Issues in 2000.

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