“Caregiving: A Special Report,” Washington Post, 3-5-14

In early March 2014, the Washington Post published a special report on caregiving.  See:


The articles and video interviews are on different aspects of caregiving.  One of the articles included notes that nearly 4 in 10 American adults identified themselves as a family caregiver.

Recently, I had a chance to read over the report and watch some of the video clips.  I’ve copied below some of the items I found most interesting.  In particular, check out:

* Rosalynn Carter’s story about a man with Alzheimer’s who wouldn’t go into the bathroom.

* the article that posits that caregiving can be hardest on the middle class.

* the physician who says:  “When I teach physicians, I tell them that asking the caregiver how she is doing is an investment in your patient not ending up in the hospitals. That ought to be on the problem list along with the diabetes and everything else you are investigating, because what’s keeping that person healthy is not you actually, it’s the caregiver.”

* the idea that there should be “support groups [for caregivers] just like book clubs everywhere” so that caregivers don’t become isolated.

* the gerontologist who says that “Research shows that a male caregiver is more likely to get hooked up with services.”

Online, you can find a PDF of the print articles here:


Earlier in the year, the Washington Post and AARP hosted two forums on caregiving in America.  Video clips from those forums plus some additional video are posted on the Washington Post’s website here:



“What to expect when you call an ambulance” (Washington Post)

Recently, Sacramento-based support group member Maureen Anderson sent me this interesting article in the Washington Post about calling 911.  The author reviews what help people will and will not receive when an EMIT arrives on the scene.



What to expect when you call an ambulance
Washington Post
By Amy Orndorff
March 18, 2014

The author has a useful list of what the public can do to help EMTs, including:

  1. Put BIG numbers on your house and make sure they are well lit at night.
  2. Know where you are. … Just knowing major intersections near you makes a big difference in finding you.
  3. Write or type the names of your medications, the conditions for which you take them and the dosages. Put this information someplace easy to find, such as on the fridge or in your wallet. Writing down a list of allergies helps, too.
  4. Hide a key outside. If you have a medical emergency — like a bad fall down the steps — and can’t open the door for us, we will have to knock it down. If you have a key hidden, you can tell the dispatcher, and we’ll know where to look.


Medicare Policy Change – No Improvement Requirement

This recent New York Times post from the New Old Age is about the fact that Medicare has changed its policy manual to eliminate the need for improvement to receive physical therapy, speech therapy, etc.  Here’s an excerpt:

In January of 2014, Medicare officials updated the agency’s policy manual — the rule book for everything Medicare does — to erase any notion that improvement is necessary to receive coverage for skilled care. That means Medicare now will pay for physical therapy, nursing care and other services for beneficiaries with chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease in order to maintain their condition and prevent deterioration.

This is a very important change.  We’ll see how it plays out within Medicare and whether other insurance companies go along with this policy change.

Here’s a link to the full article:


The New Old Age: Caring and Coping
The New York Times
A Quiet ‘Sea Change’ in Medicare
By Susan Jaffe 
March 25, 2014 5:00 AM


Geriatricians question common treatments, including dementia drugs

This is an interesting post in the New Old Age blog of the New York Times about five common treatments questioned by geriatricians.  At the top of this year’s list are cholinesterase inhibitors — such as Aricept, Exelon, and Razadyne — which are prescribed for those with Lewy Body Dementia and some of the other disorders in our group.

See last year’s list of five things here:


Here are some excerpts from the article about cholinesterase inhibitors:

Topping this year’s list is a caution against dementia drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors — Aricept is the most widely used — without following up to see whether they’re really helping.

[While] the drug may produce cognitive improvement that is statistically significant in a clinical trial, “it’s not clear that it’s big enough for a caregiver to even notice, or big enough to make a difference in a patient’s quality of life,” Dr. Lee said. “We’re learning, after more experience with these drugs, that they benefit a minority of patients.”

On the other side of the equation, most patients who take them will experience gastrointestinal problems like nausea, cramping and diarrhea that often cause weight loss. So the society urges extensive discussion before doctors prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors and suggests no more than a three-month trial. If there’s no meaningful improvement by then, there won’t be later. “This is not a medication to start and then forget about,” Dr. Lee cautioned.

Here’s a link to the full article:


Geriatricians Question Five Common Treatments
New York Times
By Paula Span
March 7, 2014 3:49 PM