Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Caregiving is Big Business has a fascinating article on the hugeness of Gen Sandwich, and the impact on business. A few of many key points:

According to AARP. the economic value of family caregiving is worth $350 billion a year -- with productivity losses costing American businesses $33 billion.

A 1999 MetLife study found that 33 percent of working women decreased work hours, 29 percent passed up a job promotion, and 22 percent took a leave of absence -- all in order to fulfill caregiving responsibilities.

As 78 million Baby Boomers reach retirement age in less than three years, the impact is set to skyrocket. By 2030, 60 percent of Boomers will be managing more than one chronic condition; by 2040, seniors will outnumber caregivers 3-to-1.

It’s not uncommon that one caregiver would have a grandmother, a mother and a stepfather to look after. And extended families being the way they are, the problem is only going to get bigger.

Companies are finding both business needs and opportunities in this demographic as they seek to solve problems for their employees and in the process, find solutions they can market.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Tax Proposal for Gen Sandwichers

Philips Lifeline reports on a tax proposal being offered by Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine). The summary offered seems to make some sense. I’m all for tax cuts, and the author is right. The incidentals add up quickly. It costs us $100 in gasoline every month when we visit Mom, plus all the little things we take or buy there. It would be nice to get a bit of that back on our taxes!


Monday, July 23, 2007

10 Useful Resources for Gen Sandwichers

I just discovered a post from October 2006 on GenBetween. Elizabeth lists 10 books for Gen Sandwichers. They are timeless, so check them out.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Alzheimer's Reading Room

I just ran across this wonderful resource for those dealing with Alzheimer's. It’s written by Robert T DeMarco, who defines himself as a Caregiver. His blog, which has a professional look about it, contains news, research, articles, information useful to family caregivers, and new developments in the search for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Seems to have information for everyone. Check it out.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sandwich Grandparents Raising Grandkids

You think you’ve got problems! Here’s an article on Gen Sandwich grandparents raising the children of their drug-addicted kids. Most of the grandchildren are also drug-addicted and suffer from a variety of physical, emotional, and behavioral problems. These grandparents are in their 60s and 70s and many are still caring for their aging parents. Needless to say, they are exhausted!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Medicare Scam in Pennsylvania

Cumberland county officials announced today that there is a phone scam targeting Medicare beneficiaries in their area.

Callers, claiming to work for the government's health insurer for senior citizens, insist they must issue a second Medicare card. All that's needed, the caller insists, is a senior's bank account information.

Once again, remind your elderly parents not to give out any personal or financial information over the phone or to anyone they don’t know has a legitimate right to it. All too often, these people are sweeter than they are wise.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Unintended Consequences of Medicare Part D

In an article, “How The Medicare Doughnut Hole Is Making American Seniors Sick,” Jeremy Cockerill talks about the heath consequences of seniors hitting the donut hole under Medicare Part D. He says,

An estimated 7 million Medicare Prescription Drug Plan beneficiaries will hit the coverage gap in 2007. Hitting the doughnut hole can have very serious health consequences for seniors. In fact, it can even potentially result in death.

He quotes a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine called, "Unintended Consequences of Caps on Medicare Drug Benefits," that found that drug plans with a cap on drug coverage (such as the doughnut hole in the Medicare Drug Plan) have an annual death rate that is 22% higher than plans that do not limit drug benefits. In addition, the study found that individuals whose benefits were capped were less likely to adhere to their long-term prescription drug therapies once they reached the coverage cap. This led to significant increases in hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Cockerill suggests that by creating a gap in coverage in Part D, Congress actually created the potential for a major health crisis for seniors once they hit the doughnut hole. As drug prices continue to rise each year, seniors will be at greater risk of hitting the donut hole and being unable to afford their medications while there. From April 2006 to April 2007, Medicare drug plan prices increased 9.2% on the top 15 drugs prescribed to seniors.

Cockerill concludes,
These price increases, combined with the doughnut hole, will lead to a vicious cycle of non-adherence to drug therapies and poor health outcomes. During the time of year when seniors are hitting the doughnut hole (usually in the late summer and fall months) many will simply stop taking their medications. Come January, when a new Medicare benefit year begins, seniors will start up their therapies again. That is, if they were able to survive the doughnut hole.

With the death of my step dad, I’ve been less aware of the donut hole this year. But obviously it continues to be a problem.


Friday, July 06, 2007

A New Gen Sandwich Season

Our family is in a new season, it seems. For a year and a half, we were occupied with caring for my step dad in the nursing home and then in the board and care home. Dealing with his medical, emotional, and financial issues consumed much of my time and even more of my mom’s time. I had worried about her spending so much time with him. She complained about being tired of having to go every day. A lot of that was her own issues—her own negativity and martyr syndrome. But it’s true. It was hard on all of us.

Now that he’s passed away and we’ve taken care of the funeral and most of the major business issues, Mom is in a new season--one that I need to learn to deal with. She’s exhausted and depressed, and of course, grieving, and it all mushes together so I don’t quite know what to do—if anything. I call and I can’ tell she’s either crying or has been crying. She sleeps more than she used to. An outing exhausts her.

I know that some of this will just take time. Grief is a long season and takes on different nuances from day to day. What I need is wisdom to know what’s normal and when we have a problem. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get caught up from all that I fell behind in and find that I don’t call as often and don’t even visit as often. I guess I’m pretty tired too. But I know that I need to remain faithful and consistent and intentional about caring for Mom. Oh the joys of being a Gen Sandwicher.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day Greetings

Two hundred and thirty one years ago in Philadelphia, a small band of statesmen drafted and signed a document outlining a list of grievances against the British crown and declaring the independence of the colonies from the tyrannical government of Great Britain. In doing so, they pledged to one another and the new nation their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And for many, it cost them everything. But the result was the freest, most prosperous nation on earth. Of course, that result didn’t come without years of war, hardship, and pain. But led by principle, integrity and Divine Providence, these men led the new nation to freedom.

Eleven years later, on September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was adopted in its original form by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, PA, and later ratified by the people in conventions in each state as the supreme law of the land—the United States of America.

Over the past 231 years, we’ve had many occasions to defend our freedom. Today we are in another such battle—a battle against terrorists who wish to eradicate our way of life. Different in nature, but similar in purpose. We must highly resolve to understand our freedom and be willing to defend it. We need to pray for statesmen who will do the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing.

On this Independence Day, I encourage you to take a few minutes and read the Declaration of Independence, the document that established the underlying principles of our government. And to thank God for our freedom.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

AMA calls for Medicare Reform

At the AMA annual meeting in Chicago last week, physicians called
on Congress to stop Medicare physician payment cuts and instead update payments in line with practice cost increases. Next year, Congress plans to cut Medicare physician payments by 10 percent, placing seniors' access to health care at risk.

According to an AMA press release, AMA Board Member William Hazel, M.D. said,
"We are also calling on Congress to enact legislation that lays the groundwork for complete repeal of the fatally flawed Medicare physician payment system. The current Medicare physician payment system is broken beyond repair. It relies on a formula tied to the ups and downs of the economy, not the health care needs of America's seniors."

"A full sixty percent of America's physicians say next year's 10 percent payment cut will force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can care for. The government projects nine years of Medicare cuts totaling about 40 percent, while at the same time practice costs increase 20 percent. As the baby boomers begin to age into Medicare during the life of the cuts, we are concerned there won't be enough physicians able to care for all the new Medicare patients."

As we deal with our parents on one hand and grow closer to Medicare age on the other, we need to pay attention to the political shenanigans concerning Medicare. I only have a few years to go, but wonder if my Medicare will go the way of my Social Security.