Are Crypto-Currencies Safe?

Here's a Bitcoin - at least a representation of one since they're actually electronic

Here’s a Bitcoin – at least a representation of one since they’re actually electronic

Last week Yvonne and I closed on the sale of our Austin home and the purchase of another home in the Dallas area. The process was simpler than I remember from the past, and since we paid cash for the new home, we didn’t even need a notary. I just downloaded a few forms, signed them on the kitchen table, scanned into the computer, and sent them back to the Title Company through a secure email service. This experience foretells the future, but are crypto-currencies safe? Really safe?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting research papers related to blockchain applications in healthcare. Blockchain is the enabling technology behind BitCoin and other crypto-currencies, and it’s catching on fast — maybe too fast. Judge for yourself. Read More …

Getting Disability Benefits as a Caretaker

Getting Disability Benefits as a Caretaker

By Bryan Mac Murray, Outreach Specialist, Social Security Disability Help (Not affiliated with Social Security Administration)

Applying for Disability on Behalf of Someone Else

The Social Security Administration (SSA) knows that disability applicants are not always physically or mentally able to complete the application themselves. For this reason, there are processes in place that allow a caretaker to apply for Social Security disability benefits for someone else. Read More …

Smart Elder Orphans Prepare for Aging Stages

Asian woman is an Elderly Orphan living alone but with a plan for future care needs. She's an example of how to prepare for aging stages.

Image source: Huffington Post

By Carol Marak, Aging Advocate and Senior Care Contributor (original at Huffington Post)

This article about “Elder Orphans” is the second in a series, describing how to prepare for aging stages by first knowing what they are. If you missed the first article, here’s your chance.

I got interested in creating and sharing my own plan with Huffington Post readers after reading umpteen studies of senior isolation and how the harmful effects devastate our mental and physical health. Living alone suits me but isolation certainly does not. That’s why at age 64, I think a lot about my latter years. But doing that is a challenge, and even the renown geriatrician, Dr. Bill Thomas, admits to the misconceptions of aging.

Humans have a limited ability to predict accurately or even imagine the needs of their future self. That’s especially true when the future has scary possibilities.[EDITOR: See my collection of Famous False Predictions.]

However, if I don’t want to be stuck in suburbia away from social connections, an amped-up imagination is needed, with helpful tips from readers like you.  Read More …

Elder Orphans living alone need to avoid social isolation

Seniors living alone and socially isolated are Elder Orphans.

Source: Huffington Post

By Carol Marak, Aging Advocate and Senior Care Contributor (original at Huffington Post)

Seniors living alone and socially isolated are Elder Orphans. The deeper my age propels into my senior years, long-term care planning cannot delay. This is the first of a series on how I plan to avoid the problems of elder orphans. Like most over 60 years of age, we haven’t planned well, and adults like me who live without a spouse or children cannot afford to put it off. Even my parents delayed making arrangements. But they had four children they could rely on for care. I don’t, nor does my sister or many of my friends. But since I work with aging experts at SeniorCare.com, there’s no excuse to let the loose ends dangle. Read More …

The Financial Costs Of Moving Home

The Financial Costs of Moving Home

By JP Adams

Many family caregivers consider moving close to a loved one or parent as they become older. There they can help with cleaning, getting groceries, and driving to doctors’ appointments. Most importantly, this gives them and their loved ones an opportunity to connect.

At the same time, the decision to move home can be challenging. I often hear mixed feelings from families – “I’m not sure if it’s something I want to do,” OR “I want to be with her but I don’t really like the area where she lives.”

One thing is overwhelmingly clear.  Moving home is a significant financial decision. There are costs and benefits.  It’s important to go through each and make a rational decision.  Read More …

Patient Choices in the Used Car Lot of Healthcare

Used Car Salesman

Guest essay by Chris Oldenburg [with editor’s comments at the end]

In America we love our choices. Drive by any car lot and you might see 10 models that only differ in exterior color. We also love simplicity and service. Those cars had better have a clear cost taped to the windshield right next to a list of what’s included. Read More …

The 10 Best Cities for Technology-Assisted Living

by Christin Camacho, PR & Content Manager, REDFIN, a next-gen real estate brokerage

The National Conference of State Legislatures and AARP Public Policy Institute report that nearly 90 percent of people over the age of 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible. [See below for brief summary.] Fortunately, in most cases, they won’t have to move as they age. According to Seniorly, a service that helps people find senior care, the majority of seniors do NOT need to move into a nursing home. They simply need some care equivalent to what they would find in an assisted living community, which includes assistance with daily activities like meals, medication, housekeeping, bathing and transportation.

And these days, there’s an app for that. An elderly woman can take an Uber to her friend’s home, find someone to walk her dog through Rover.com, schedule her lawn to be mowed or her house to be cleaned through Porch, get groceries delivered through Instacart, and schedule a professional caregiver to assist with bathing, meal preparation and other daily living activities through CareLinx. Or, for those seniors who aren’t tech-savvy, friends and family can use these technology-based services to arrange care for them. Read More …

Senior Housing Options Compared

Senior Housing Options from HelpGuide.orgarticle by Perry Hua with edits by Wayne Caswell

The goal when choosing housing is to pick an option that best matches your financial, physical, medical, and social needs. The earlier you assess your current and future needs, and the more you know about the options available, the easier it is to make a decision. Here’s a list of options showing their advantages and costs, starting with the most expensive first. Read More …

The Cost of Aging in America

 

Income levels for aging Americans are increasing,
but not as quickly as “The Cost of Aging in America.”

The infographic below was produced by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. It explores the serious financial burdens faced by aging Americans, their loved ones, and industry — as well as steps our health care system might take to counteract this trend. I gladly feature it today to complement other articles here about health reform, public policy, and the future of healthcare.

Some highlights:

  • The number of seniors 85 and older will triple by 2050, an important statistic because these are people who need the most expensive care.
  • The cost of healthcare in America is already over $3 trillion/year, and that doesn’t even include the roughly $450 billion provided by unpaid family members.
  • Paid caregivers earn just $18-20K per year, and while demand for their services will likely double by 2022, their wages likely won’t increase much.

Read More …

Investor Look at 2015 Healthcare Opportunity

Bull MarketEditorial by Wayne Caswell

While I’m not a financial advisor or Wall Street analyst, I took issue with a MedCityNews article by Paul Beckley, “An investor’s 2015 healthcare roundup.” In short, he said to “BELIEVE in the business of health.” While I’m bullish on the future of healthcare, I sure hope he’s wrong, because the amount Americans spend on healthcare needs to go way down, not up. Here’s my reader comment and investor advice.

Beckley’s article bills Healthcare as an immensely profitable industry. It is, because it brings in $3T/year. But since that’s twice what other nations pay per person, yet we still live sicker and die younger (per the World Health Organization), investors should prepare for some very big losses in my view. At least that’s what I hope happens, and while it may not be good for clueless healthcare investors, it would be immensely good for the economy.

Our nation should “theoretically” be able to cut overall costs in half (like $1.5T/year) with health reform, digital innovation and new business models and still improve outcomes. There will be many winners among the innovators, but there will also be a great many losers who aren’t insightful enough to see the handwriting on the wall or quick enough to adapt.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

That, and the fact that 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies [1955] are no longer in business today, is a scary thought for those sitting at the top of the healthcare mountain. They know they must adapt to health reform die, and they’re looking down with fear at hungry innovators who are already exploiting the many healthcare MiniTrends and their important intersections. For those innovative entrepreneurs, these are times of great opportunity, and they’re climbing up the mountain.

See 101 MiniTrends in Health Care. It’s a “must read” for investors and entrepreneurs looking at the 2015 healthcare opportunity.

Managing My Costs of Care [ESSAY]

MedicaidDollarsManaging My Costs of Care is a well-written essay by Jay Warner.

I recommend it, because this one example shows just how easy it “should” be to cut healthcare costs in half to get down to what the rest of the world pays — for better care and outcomes — and save $1.5 trillion/year. It all comes down to getting the incentives right, because with employer-provided health insurance, Jay had no incentive (or ability) to comparison shop. Now he does.

The healthcare landscape is changing as payers pressure providers for more price transparency and seek other ways to contain costs and maintain profitability now that they can no longer cherry-pick the healthiest customers or cut them off when care gets too expensive.

Other disruptive changes include remote sensor monitoring (telemedicine) that can follow trends and identify problems earlier, remote consultations (telehealth) that can replace in-person office visits, medical tourism when it’s less expensive and has better outcomes than local surgeries, and an overall shift away from the fee-for-service insurance model. That model once served as pre-paid medical care, but now payers are starting to view insurance as protection against catastrophic illness and injury with consumers paying for the small stuff out of pocket. With that trend comes two others: (1) increased competition and (2) an increased focus on overall health and wellness, including nutrition, exercise, and sleep as it’s pillars.

A side benefit of wellness, beyond dramatic reductions in health care costs, is improved safety and performance. Restorative sleep, for example, is associated with improved alertness, attention, creativity, decision-making, focus, learning ability, mood, reaction & recovery times, and working memory, all of which contribute to better grades at school, better productivity at work and in sports, and fewer motor vehicle accidents and deaths.

The Underestimated Caregiver Burden

The number of family caregivers is declining.By Henry Moss (original at American Society on Aging)

Caregiver burden is emotional and subjective. We try to measure it by looking at rates of depression and anxiety disorders in the caregiver population, and at the seriousness of these disorders. We know the highest rates of emotional burden and the deepest levels of depression are felt by caregivers who experience entrapment—a sense of powerlessness, aloneness and suffering associated with long periods of caregiving for the most difficult elders, especially those with dementia. We are aware of the many studies showing how excess stress and emotional burden can impact a caregiver’s health, finances and family life, creating even more anxiety and depression.

We already know that the 45- to 64-year-old population will grow only 1 percent between 2010 and 2030, while the age 80 and older baby boomer population increases by 79 percent. As the age 80 and older baby boomer cohort grows, the number of family caregivers available to assist them drops dramatically, from 7.5 in 2010 to 2.9 in 2050, a more than 50 percent decline. Alarm bells have been going off and researchers and advocates have been busy estimating the impact on the long-term-care system. Read More …

Saving while Helping your Kids & Parents

Click to view original photo

Flickr photo credit: geoffreyrockwell

By Lucy Stewart, a financial counselor
for families looking to get out of debt

Forty-eight percent of middle-age adults provided support to their adult children in 2012, which is up from 42 percent in 2005, according to PewSocialTrends.org. Also up is the financial support they provide their aging parents: 21 percent said they provided some financial support to a parent age 65 or older in 2012, up from 19 percent seven years earlier.

Offering financial support to your adult children and 65+ parents does not mean that you give up your own financial plans and dreams. Family is family, but sacrificing your personal well-being won’t benefit anyone. Look for ways to cut expenses and create streams of income, and don’t assume you have to do this alone. Read More …

The Elephant in the Room – Retirement Planning

The Elephant In The Room When It Comes To Family And Retirement

Elephant in the RoomThis is the first of a two-part series by Ken Dychtwald Ph.D. (Gerontologist, psychologist, author, entrepreneur and public speaker)

For most of us, our families make our lives — and life in retirement — richer and far more enjoyable. However, retirement planning has traditionally centered on just dollars and cents — and largely on the financial needs of an individual or a couple. With more and more of our lives impacted by family ties as well as family tensions, perhaps it’s time to rethink retirement planning from a more holistic perspective.

You may have already begun to notice in your own life that the hopes and dreams of today’s pre-retirees and retirees are increasingly complicated by three converging family-related trends: Read More …

Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably.

Portrait of a beautiful senior woman smiling at home

Help Seniors Live Safely & Comfortably
by Eliminating Safety Hazards at Home

Guest article by Anna Graves, a freelance writer
who lives on a farm in upstate New York.

Researchers from Colorado State University reported what most of us long suspected—the number one reason seniors fall in their home is tripping over something they didn’t see on the floor. The dangers don’t stop at the front door, either; uneven sidewalks, poor lighting and steep inclines present challenges for seniors. While you can’t remove every risk of a fall, you can explore your options to ensure your home (or the home of an elderly parent or friend) is safe.

First Things First

Every room in the home has potential dangers. Take a tour of the home with a friend or relative and look for hidden risks of a fall. Read More …

Every Patient is Unique

Lowering Health Care Costs Is Hard Because Every Patient Is Unique — That’s Bull $hit.

Drug MoneyBelow is my scathing response to this recent article in The Atlantic, by Dr. David A. Shaywitx, director of strategic and commercial planning at a San Francisco based biopharmaceutical company.

COMMENT:

I’m not surprised that this article was written by someone representing a biopharmaceutical company who sees every cure as a new drug and has a profit motive to find ways to justify high costs – in this case the “complexity of patients.”

This is exactly what’s wrong with our health care system – it’s actually a sick care or disease management system that has nothing to do with keeping people well and healthy and that treats symptoms to keep patients alive but coming back as paying customers. Read More …

Middle Generation: Rising Cost of Care for America’s Elderly

Middle Generation LadiesBy Caroline Montague

With an aging population and a generation of young adults struggling to achieve financial independence, the burdens and responsibilities of middle-aged Americans are increasing. Nearly half (47 percent) of these adults have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). In addition, about one in seven middle-aged adults (15 percent) are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.

Adult children, worried about costs and the loss of their parents’ independence, must make difficult decisions about the best options for care for their loved ones. Assisted living communities, such as Emeritus assisted living, allow individuals to remain independent as long as possible in an environment that maximizes the person’s autonomy, dignity, privacy and safety. These types of communities also encourage family and resident involvement. (Editor: Emeritus is one of the largest and most well known, but you can also compare facilities in your area by zip code.)  Read More …

What is a Fair Price for your health care needs?

Hospital Charges can vary widelyAccording to a new report from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, there are vast differences in how much you will pay depending on which hospital you use. Where one might charge $7,000 for a procedure, another just down the road may charge $100,000 or more for the same care quality. (see Secret Hospital Charges)

Now there are ways to find the Fair Price on your own. One is like the Kelly Blue Book of healthcare, and it’s appropriately called Healthcare Blue Book. If you’re dealing with some major healthcare procedures, it’s certainly worth checking out. It never hurts to get informed when it comes to dealing with health care providers.

Read More …

Unpaid Caregiving in America

Image showing The economic cost of unpaid caregiving is over $480 billion per year.According to AARP, 43.5 million Americans are caregivers, and although they do it out of love and obligation, caring for a loved one takes a personal and financial toll.

The economic impact is surprisingly high. It was over $480B/year in 2009, a figure that includes lost worker productivity, reduced earning capacity & retirement income, and increases in their own physical & emotional health and related costs. That’s about 3.2% of the U.S. GDP ($14.1 trillion in 2009). It’s more than the $361B in Medicaid spending. And it’s nearly as much as the $509B in 2009 Medicare spending. It’s also more than half of what we spend on defense. The burden is even worse for long-distance caregivers.

The infographic below details caregiving in the U.S. Read More …