We all need to be “ourself,” whatever we determine that to be. Through the ages, arts and crafts have been considered ways to truly express our feelings — our inner self. For the dementia patient, expressing one’s self is particularly different and highly frustrating. For the “outsider,” the loved one’s “self” may not be the one they’re used to or can even understand or relate to. Arts and crafts may just be the key to the patient’s quality of life and the caregiver’s hope.
According to a heavy but thorough study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “The broad theme set out in this paper is that music, visual art, and dance — taken here as representative art forms, have potential benefits to offer people with dementia, which include cognitive, emotional and social outcomes. In keeping with the manifesto, the arts also foster dignity, autonomy, reciprocity, lack of stigma and social integration.” In other words, music, dance, painting, pottery, and other arts and crafts, are good for patients. Other “‘Studies have shown that purposeful hand use, meaningful engagement, and creative processes elevate mood,’ says Dr. Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist and co-author of The Creativity Cure: How to Build Happiness With Your Own Two Hands. When we’re deeply absorbed in a creative hobby, ‘time falls away and the mind becomes focused.’”
Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Aging is warning Pennsylvania seniors, their families, and caregivers, about a new scam targeting older adults. DNA testing has become extremely popular in the past few years for people looking to learn more about their family history and health, and scammers are now targeting Medicare beneficiaries with a fraudulent DNA testing service. These scammers offer “free” genetic testing, claiming it is covered through Medicare, as a means for the senior to avoid disease or to find the right medications. This is simply an effort to gain access to a senior’s personal Medicare information, which can lead to access to financial information and more.
“Unfortunately, scammers continue to develop ways to target seniors,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “It’s a major priority to circulate new scam tactics to the public as we discover them to help older adults and their loved ones be one step ahead of potentially being a victim of these criminals.”
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) suggests the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Do not accept genetic testing services, including a cheek swab, from someone at a community event, a local fair, a farmer’s market, a parking lot, or any other large event.
- Always be cautious about giving out your personal information, including your Medicare number.
- If you receive a genetic testing kit in the mail, don't accept it unless it was ordered by your physician. Refuse the delivery or return it to the sender and keep a record of the sender's name and the date you returned the items.
- Always review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits. The words “gene analysis” or “molecular pathology” may indicate questionable genetic testing.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in 10 older adults is a victim of elder abuse, and according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, for every case of elder abuse reported, five go unreported. This reporting rate is even more troubling in financial abuse cases, which estimates that only one in 14 cases is reported.
If you or a loved one have already received a genetic testing cheek swab or screening that was not ordered by a trusted provider, or have any concerns about possible fraud, find and contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) here or call 1-877-808-2468.
Anyone can report elder abuse by calling the 24-hour statewide elder abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505, or by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging. Pennsylvania law protects those who report suspected abuse from retaliation and civil or criminal liability; all calls are free and confidential.
Learn more about the Genetic Testing Scam here.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania Department of Aginghere.
When Money and Memory Seem to Fail
Financial planning seems to be an endless process. Your parents planned for your future; as you grew up, you planned for your spouse and children; as the nest emptied out, you planned for your retirement. And now, the cycle takes a turn: you may be planning for your parents’ future, especially if dementia or other senior-care needs are thrown into the mix. If that is the case, the time to start planning is now.
The costs for senior care, especially for dementia patients, can take you by surprise, and may change as the disease progresses. You can explore your options with insurance and other benefits, but don’t expect outside assistance to cover all the costs. The following are some common costs to keep in mind, as well as the fact that costs may vary according to your location and providers.
The Annual Open Enrollment Period (AOEP) runs from October 15th through December 7th. You have the opportunity to change or enroll for a Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan. The changes take effect on January 1st.
You can make the following changes during the Medicare AOEP:
- Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
- Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
- Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.
APPRISE counselors will be available to answer your Medicare-related questions at the following events. One hour appointments are available at different times and locations by calling 267-880-5700. Please call the location to schedule a 20-minute appointment. Bring a list of your medications with you. Lists of Bucks County sites and times follow. Please click here for Montgomery County information.
When the Patient Is Truly at a Loss for Words
On average, we communicate about 15,000 words per day. A small percentage of that is considered meaningful by researchers. The human brain is remarkably capable of processing this onslaught of verbal missiles, as well as tone of voice and body language. However, the parts of the brain that process communication are progressively affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, making even simple communication increasingly difficult.
As we age, we commonly begin to forget or substitute simple words and even names. Our train of thought can easily get derailed, or we get tangled up in multiple conversations or story lines. We can choose to laugh these off as signs of old age or become frustrated and withdraw. But when these symptoms become pronounced, they may signal the onset of a form of dementia.
Although your loved one with dementia may have lost their fluency, all is not lost as far as communicating. Following a few simple rules and keeping it simple will help keep the lines of communication open as much as possible. And remember, don’t take things personally. When the conversation or language comes across as offensive, it’s the disease talking, not the person’s heart.