Emergency alert systems (Consumer Reports comparison)

I stumbled across this helpful comparison of emergency alert systems on the Consumer Reports website from July 2015:


Many local hospitals (such as Stanford, Mills-Peninsula, etc.) offer special discounts to anyone who lives in their area for these sorts of systems.  (Often it’s a discount on the monthly fee.  Participants do not need to be patients at those hospitals.)  Stanford and Mills-Peninsula both have contracts with Lifeline.  One of our group members is actually an installer for Mills-Peninsula.
The article accompanying the comparison suggests what you should look for when signing up with one of these services.
Here’s also a link to an AARP newsletter article on the same topic:

Free Medicare Program and “When to Take All Those Pills” (NY Times, 12-18-15)

I’m in Arizona with my mother (who takes one medication) and her husband (who takes 18 medications for various chronic conditions). I’ve been investigating all kinds of things such as medication management and Medicaid eligibility. Oh, the joys of getting older…

This recent New York Times makes several relevant (to my family’s situation) and useful points, including:

  1. It’s easier to adhere to a medication regimen if you take fewer doses per day. Yet, in one study, only 15% of the participants figured this out when they had to come up with a medication schedule for seven medications.
  2. Medications can appear ineffective if not taken according to their prescribed schedule.
  3. There are several reasons why people do not adhere to their medication regimen. Complexity or confusion is one; the dosing schedules are hard to figure out. Cost is another. Cognitive impairment is a third. And medications can have the same color, size, and shape.
  4. Those using a Medicare Part D drug plan might ask their prescription drug plan provider if a free Medication Therapy Management program is available. You can read about the MTM program on Medicare’s website at www.medicare.gov/part-d/coverage/medication-therapy-management/medication-therapy-programs.html

The New York Times article is here: www.nytimes.com/2015/12/22/health/a-prescription-for-confusion-when-to-take-all-those-pills.html

The New Old Age
New York Times
A Prescription for Confusion: When to Take All Those Pills
by Paula Span
December 18, 2015


“Long-Term Care Insurance Can Baffle, With Complex Policies and Costs”

A social worker shared this New York Times article about long-term care insurance with me today.  As she says – it’s really nothing new but nicely put together in one article.

Here’s a link:


Long-Term Care Insurance Can Baffle, With Complex Policies and Costs
New York Times
By John F. Wasik
December 18, 2015

Often there are seminars in the community about long-term care insurance.  These seminars are often led by HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program). HICAP is a service provided by county in California.  To find a HICAP counselor near you, do a web search for HICAP and the name of the county in which you live.

Happy holidays,

“Dementia and Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference” – video available

Brain Support Network hosted a “Dementia and Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference” in mid-November in Santa Rosa. A volunteer recorded the half-day conference and another volunteer created a YouTube playlist.  You can find the playlist here:


In particular, I’d like to highlight these four presentations:

* “Caring for a Family Member with Lewy Body Dementia” – by longtime LBD group member Helen Medsger  (13 minutes)

* “Coping with Behavior Change in Dementia” – by longtime BSN friend Laurie White, LCSW  (14 minutes)

* “Importance of Estate Planning” – by attorney Steven Goldberg  (9 minutes)

* “Parallels of Dementia and Improv” – by actor Mick Laugs  (31 minutes)

I don’t list Dr. Ali Atri’s presentation as a highlight mostly because I’ve heard so many neurologist presentations on Alzheimer’s and dementia.  But your ranking may be different!

Happy viewing,


“Over-the-Counter Medicines’ Benefits and Dangers” (NYT, 11-30-15)

This article on the benefits and dangers of OTC (over-the-counter) medication might be of general interest.

According to the article: “one in five adults who self-medicate admit to taking more than the recommended dose or using the medication more frequently than the label indicates.  […] Even if O.T.C.s are used correctly, there can be problems. Some drugs should not be taken by people with certain health conditions, or be combined with other drugs–prescribed or over the counter–because of the possibility of adverse interactions.”

Two pieces of advice are given:

  • People who have underlying health problems or who routinely take one or more prescription drugs would be wise to consult their doctors before taking an O.T.C. drug. At the very least, check with the pharmacist. […C]arry with you a list of all the prescription and O.T.C. medications you take to show the pharmacist.
  • Among other sensible precautions when using an O.T.C. drug: Read the entire label, including ingredients, dosages, time limits and warnings; note whether the drug should be taken with food or on an empty stomach; don’t mix medicines with alcohol; avoid taking vitamin-mineral supplements at the same time; and, if you experience an allergic or adverse reaction, write down the likely cause so you can avoid that ingredient in the future.

See the article here: well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/over-the-counter-medicines-benefits-and-dangers/

Personal Health
The New York Times
“Over-the-Counter Medicines’ Benefits and Dangers”
By Jane E. Brody
November 30, 2015 8:35 am