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Aging News

Presented here are a variety of news items of current national and global interest to the aging community. Subjects range from the results of medical research and scientfic breakthroughs to public policy and general quality of life issues. Please keep in mind that the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disabilty is neither responsible for the content on the linked sites, nor does the inclusion of a linked item imply an endorsement of the content. These links are provided for informational purposes only, and it is up to the individual reader to determine the merit and reliability of each news item.

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You can also get useful news and information from AARP Tennessee.


Relief Funds to Aid Seniors Struggling With Reverse Mortgages


From the Los Angeles Times: "A federal relief effort that set aside nearly $2 billion in housing aid for troubled Californians is being expanded to help older homeowners avert foreclosures on their reverse mortgages."


"The program, in a pilot stage, will provide up to $25,000 to low- and moderate-income borrowers who have fallen behind on property tax or insurance payments because of financial shocks, the California Housing Finance Agency said Tuesday."


*Yes, this story is about California home owners, but it offers good cautionary advice for anyone, in any state (including Tennessee), considering a reverse mortgage.


Added February 23, 2015

Pat Summitt Alzheimer's Clinic Planned for UT Medical Center


From the Associated Press, posted by "The University of Tennessee Medical Center and Pat Summitt Foundation are forming a partnership to establish the Pat Summitt Alzheimer's Clinic."


"UT Medical Center already handles Alzheimer's treatment within its Cole Neuroscience Center, but the new clinic will be dedicated solely to the effort. Officials plan to recruit a full-time medical director."


Added January 16, 2015

Five Signs Your Aging Parent Isn't Getting Enough Food


The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger has posted a short list of warning signs to help you spot when the seniors in your life may not be getting enough to eat.


Added January 6, 2015

The Green House Effect: Homes for the Elderly to Thrive


From the New York Times: "What happens now to America’s seniors when family members cannot care for them and assisted living is not affordable or no longer suitable for those with advanced physical or mental disabilities? For those who lack financial resources to pay for round-the-clock professional care at home, is the sterile, hospital-like environment of a nursing home the only option left? Not if you ask Dr. Bill Thomas, a Harvard-educated geriatrician who helped create the Green House project, a new model for long-term care . . . ." A report worth reading.


Added December 17, 2014

America's Real Hunger Game: 50 Million in Crisis


The title says it all . . . for now. The story warns of worse to come. Millions of Americans are hungry or bordering on food insecurity, and "The country is not prepared for baby boomer hunger." NBC News reports on what food banks and non-profits are doing to cope with current challenges, at the same timing addressing the looming problem of even greater numbers of mouths to feed in the not-too-distant future.


Added December 17, 2014

This Nursing Home Calms Troubling Behavior Without Risky Drugs


NPR shares a story about a group of nursing facilities in Minnesota that has managed to dramatically cut the use of antipsychotic drugs by many of its residents. This change further supports the argument that antipsychotic drugs are overprescribed for nursing home residents nationwide. The change requires, obviously, alternative techniques for responding to patients who were originally prescribed the drugs for one reason or another, including "problem behavior." Some of those techniques are mentioned in the story, and they may also be useful to in-home caregivers.


Added December 10, 2014

We May Be Able to Reverse Signs of Early Alzheimer's Disease


This article from CNN Health talks about a new approach to treating Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia: Look for lots of little risk factors that can be changed rather than try to find one specific "cure."


The report suggests "36 potential deficiencies, imbalances and sources of inflammation" that can lead to dementia. The example used in the story by Dr. Dale Bredesen is a "roof with 36 holes in it." Rather than try to create or find one solution (drug) that will cover those 36 holes, or deficiencies, Bredesen suggests patching each of the holes in a more targeted way. For example, if you suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, which is strongly believed to be a factor in higher dementia risk, ask your doctor about supplements and healthy increases in sun exposure or foods higher in Vitamin D.


This approach is still in the experimental stages. As always, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor about any dramatic changes you make to your lfiestyle and diet when trying to treat or prevent any disease.


Added December 8, 2014

Variation on Pet Therapy for Loneliness and Depression


The Telegraph, out of England, reports on a project to help increase a sense of wellbeing in seniors, at the same time "reducing isolation and depression." The seniors in the story are raising hens!


It sounds like a variaton on pet therapy, which has proven value. But for someone who may not like dogs or cats, or who may be allergic to one or the other, hens (and possibly other animals) may contribute to a better quality of life.


Added November 4, 2014

Grandparents Can Go Broke Raising Grandkids


This CBS News report gives families a lot to think about, especially those families held together by grandparents raising their grandchildren. Households across America have changed since the Great Recession, and some grandparents may never recover, but not because of their financial investments.


Added October 31, 2014

Could Cataract Surgery Slow Decline From Alzheimer's?


The title of this article from CBS news doesn't quite tell the whole story. What this study is actually suggesting is that sensory loss, including problems with both vision and hearing, may make dementia symptoms worse. It could be that, for people with both a form of dementia and another illness that affects one or more of their senses, successfully treating the other problems may slow the dementia.


Added October 13, 2014

Unique Alzheimer's Research Community Coming to Nashville


A new Nashville facility known as Abe's Garden is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015. It will be "the only Alzheimer's community in the United States founded to research, and then nationally disseminate best practices in dementia," Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was quoted by Nashville's News Channel 5 as saying.


According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's Disease, which is now the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. And Alzheimer's is only one of many different kinds of dementia.


Added October 13, 2014

Low-Cost Home Repairs May Prevent Falls and Related Injuries


This report from Reuters Health asks as many questions as it answers, but it does make a good case for taking a close look at your home—or a family member's home—to try and find problems that may lead to injury. A good example would be the three or four steps that often lead, in many houses, from the main living area to an attached garage. Many of those do not have rails or handholds, and a fall from that location is usually onto concrete. That could end in injury for anyone, at any age.


Another common problem is damaged flooring. Carpet that is loose or wrinkled or linoleum that has been damaged, exposing the subfloor beneath, may cause someone to trip. The fall could be onto the floor, or it could be into something, like furniture.


Added October 13, 2014

Mindfulness Training Helps Alzheimer's Patients and Caregivers


A new study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias reveals benefits to training both caregivers and patients to live in the now. Rather than dwell about the past or focus on what's no longer possible now, both groups can stay positive if they focus on what the person with dementia can still do.


Read the complete CBS News article for more information.


Added August 28, 2014

Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's Disease


This story goes to show that this disease favors no one. People from all walks of life may develop some form of age-related dementia as they grow older, especially as our lifespans increase.


Also of value in this report is the spotlight on work and family life. With the disease and diagnosis comes many changes and challenges. The disease effects more than just the person diagnosed; it's an issue for friends and family as well.


Added July 23, 2014

Study: Fish Oil Prevents Brain Shrinkage and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults


This is good news, though not great news for everyone. This is not a report of a cure, either for Alzheimer's Disease or any other form of dementia.


There is stronger support for fish oil as a preventive as a result of this study. Sadly, it appears that fish oil does more for people who don't have the genetic risk factor for developing Alzheimer's. In other words, fish oil does more for the people who need it least. But it's possible that people adding more fish oil to their diets at a younger age could delay some of the worst symptoms of dementia. As is often true, more research is needed. That said, this study does finally appear to make a strong case that everyone can benefit, even if only a little, from adding fish oil to their diet.


Added July 21, 2014

BlueCross Rate Increase in 2015 Would Affect Thousands


It's not just BlueCross. There are other insurance providers looking to raise rates next year. They say the changes in the past year due to the Affordable Care Act were hard to plan for. Now that the numbers are in, the providers say they need more money to do business.


Added July 17, 2014

5 Things You Didn't Know About Alzheimer's


Still no cure. This is not a report about an Alzheimer's breakthrough. And it could be the disease is like cancer in that, even when there is a breakthrough, there may not be a single treatment that works for everyone. This report is about what we do know and the steps many of us can take (but don't) to give ourselves the best chance of delaying the disease and limiting what it does to our brains. The good news is that even if you weren't doing anything yesterday to toughen your brain, it's not too late to start today.


The report states that by 2050, the number of people worldwide expected to live with Alzheimer's Disease, or another form of dementia, is 115 million. If you can prevent or delay becoming one of those people, isn't it worth taking at least a few hours each week to exercise your body? Isn't it worth taking just another 15-20 minutes every day to exercise your mind with a challenging brain game?


Added July 17, 2014

Forget Tuition: How Retirees Can Attend College for Free


Ready to retire but not quite ready to quit learning and working? Maybe it's time to go to college! U.S. News reports on the free or reduced cost options some colleges offer to senior citizens.


Read the report, then come back here for an example of what you can find in Tennessee, using Middle Tennessee State University as an example.


Added July 3, 2014

Your Dead Ex-Spouse's Debt Can Become Your Problem


This is probably a topic most people want to put off, if they ever think about it at all. Sore subject or not, it's better to deal with it on your own terms, before something happens to your ex-. Crossing your fingers and hoping things work out is not a good strategy. It only becomes more complicated as we age, possibly marrying and divorcing again. And again. For that reason, this article from CNN Money is a good place to start if you think you might have unfinished business with your ex-spouse. It might also be a good place to start if you think your parents could someday have this problem.


Added June 26, 2014

Young Blood May Hold Key to Reversing Aging


The New York Times reports that, "Two teams of scientists published studies [recently] showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease."


Another scientist warns that there is a risk that this sort of treatment could increase cancer risks. "Waking up stem cells might lead to their multiplying uncontrollably." So it's not time to hide the kids just yet.


Added June 20, 2014

Alzheimer's Cases Expected to Triple in Coming Years


This forecast includes a personal story about a daughter and her mother.


Added June 19, 2014

Social Security Closes Offices as Baby Boomers Age


Well, that doesn't sound like a good idea, does it?


Added June 19, 2014

Watch 111-Year-Old Finally Graduate High School


See, it's not true what they say. Life doesn't end at 100! It's also never too late to earn your diploma, to go back to school, to learn something new, to begin a new career. If you live in Tennessee and think you might want to try for that diploma you never earned, you might start with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's list of testing centers. If this is something you really want, you can do this, no matter how old you are.


Added June 19, 2014

Hidden Cost of Retiring Early: $51,000 in Medical Bills


This is another argument for delaying retirement. If you read the article, realize that number won't apply to everyone. If you're lucky enough to remain healthy as you near retirement age, you may not have to sacrifice so much. On the other hand, you may be in worse shape than the average person. In that case, the number will probably be higher. Imagine what could happen if you retire at 62, then have a stroke or major heart attack at 64.


The main point is: Think about what you may be giving up if you leave the workforce early. Just because you can retire doesn't mean you should. Working even a few years longer, working as long as you feel healthy, can pay off in many ways. That doesn't mean you have to keep the same job either. Maybe you "retire" from a job you don't like, or can't do, but take a new job you can enjoy until you're 65 or older. That means more money to take care of yourself, as well as possibly more to leave to your family.


Added June 18, 2014

Time to Rethink What Old Is


CBS News ponders what it means to be old. That's something most of us do. The numbers don't seem to matter, other than to point out that more of us are living longer. What really matters is whether or not you feel old. If you don't, you're probably doing something right. If you do, then the questions to ask are: Why do you feel old? What can you do to change how you feel?


Are you still active? Do you still look forward to learning new things? Do you visit with friends and family on a regular basis? How you choose to live has an impact on how well and how long you live. The goal isn't just to live long, but to live long and well.


Added June 16, 2014

Elder Abuse Prevention: A Message From Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging and Adminstrator of the Administration for Community Living (ACL)


"[A]s our nation prepares to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2014, I hope you will join me in seeking out opportunities to raise awareness about elder abuse and neglect." Read the full blog entry for facts on elder abuse, as well as options for preventing it.


Added June 9, 2014

Why Older Couples Are Living Together, Skipping Marriage


From NBC News's Today Money comes a report that, "Many [unmarried] baby boomers already know a thing or two about marriage and are choosing not to tie the knot on their relationships — often because of money."


Added June 9, 2014

Reverse Mortgages May Be Ready for a Revival


There are pros and cons to reverse mortgages. For some, they may be a positive option, a source of extra income in retirement. For others, they may not be the right choice. No one should acquire a reverse mortgage without first learning as much as possible about the agreement. This CBS News article is a place to start.


Added June 2, 2014

The Number of Older Americans Lacking Access to Safe and Affordable Food is Rising


The Washington Post reports on rising food insecurity for seniors. The report includes a link to a just-released report by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger. Of particular note, seniors with grandchildren to care for are at much greater risk. Financial strain can cause them to choose what's best for their grandchildren, not themselves. That's easy to understand. The question is, what can be done to keep them from having to choose?


Added May 22, 2014

Report: More Than 300,000 Seniors Addicted to Prescription Drugs


Possible downsides to prescription drugs—strong drugs, in particular—for senior citizens.


Added May 22, 2014

Antidepressant May Hold Promise for Alzheimer's


It has been discovered that a particular brand of antidepressant, Celexa, may be able to slow the formation of the plaques that form in the brain to damage memory. As is stressed in this report from CBS News, this is not a cure or a quick fix. It is another lead, something to study more closely.

Added May 15, 2014

Alzheimer's Disease Will Strike 1 Out of 6 Older Women, Study Says


From CBS News comes the story of a study suggesting that the odds of developing Alzheimer's are worse for women than men. Women in their 60s are actually at higher risk for Alzheimer's than breast cancer. Further, "[w]omen are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer's epidemic: they account for almost two-thirds of Americans with the disease, but also account for 60 percent of caregivers for people with dementia." In other words, the people who are already taking care of people with the disease are also at high risk for becoming victims of the same disease.


No one should misunderstand, the concern is not that they are somehow "catching" the disease. Instead, the fear is that the group of people providing the most care will become sick themselves, leaving fewer people to provide care. As the report states, "There are currently 15.5 million caregivers providing 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care" in the United States alone. What happens when there are more victims of the disease and fewer caregivers to help?


Added March 21, 2014

Blood Test Predicts Alzheimer's Disease


From CNN: "In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have developed a blood test for Alzheimer's disease that predicts with astonishing accuracy whether a healthy person will develop the disease."


Added March 10, 2014

Overwhelming Burden, Cost of Alzheimer's to Triple, Report Says


This CNN report includes an interview with the wife of a man with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He was 48 when he received his diagnosis, and his story—his family's story—illustrates the extreme difficulty of living with the disease as symptoms worsen.


Added March 10, 2014

Physicians are a Leading Source of Prescription Opioids for the Highest-Risk Users


This headline comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It hits home in our state because, as reported: "The Tennessee Department of Health, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and CDC found that high-risk opioid use is frequent in the state, is increasing, and is connected to an increase in overdose deaths." (That statement originated with Jama Internal Medicine, a publication cited in the press release.) It's a troubling report, worth reading if you or someone you know uses prescription opioids for pain relief.


Added March 7, 2014

DDT Pesticide Exposure May Raise Alzheimer's Disease Risk


This article from CBS News is a must-read for anyone interested in Alzheimer's research. As with many studies, "more research is needed," but the findings are both interesting and scary.


Added February 12, 2014

Let's Redefine What Retirement Means


CBS Moneywatch discusses how retirement has changed, suggests ways to plan, and offers new ideas to consider. The bottom line? Most Americans can no longer expect to retire the way many of us have imagined retirement for decades. The sooner we adjust to that idea, the better we can try to plan for our senior years.


Added February 12, 2014

African-Americans and Alzheimer's


With Black History Month in mind, the Alzheimer's Association wants to spread the warning that African-Americans are "two times more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer's disease than whites and less likely to have a diagnosis of their condition, resulting in less time for treatment and planning." Visit for more information.


Added February 7, 2014

World Health Organization Warns Cancer Cases Will Rise 57% in 20 Years


CNN Health reports that the WHO's cancer agency "predicts new cancer cases will rise from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million annually within two decades. Over the same period, cancer deaths are tipped to rise from 8.2 million a year to 13 million annually."


As with other diseases, the rising numbers follow growing aging populations worldwide. We're living longer, so the odds are that more of us are going live long enough to develop cancer. The report stresses that it's that much more important to minimize our individual risks, stating: "[H]alf of all cancers [are] preventable, and could be avoided if current medical knowledge [is] acted upon. The disease could be tackled by addressing lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise; adopting screening programs; or, in the case of infection-triggered cancers such as cervical and liver cancers, through vaccines."


Added February 4, 2014

Seniors Take Up "Cane Fu"


A fitness chain has brought walking canes onto the exercise floor! CBS News reports on exercise classes that also teach self defense, showing seniors how to use their canes to both get in shape and protect themselves.


Added January 23, 2014

Vanderbilt: At Least 17 Dead From the Flu


According to News Channel 5 and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, not only have at least 498 Middle Tennesseans been to the hospital because of the flu, an additional 17 have died. Died! Those counts are worse than those of the 2012-2013 flu season. The article points out that "Tennessee's peak flu months are usually January and February, even though flu season can stretch from late fall to spring." Read that again: Flu season can last until spring. It takes a few weeks for the effects of the shot to provide protection, and it's better to get the flu vaccine in the fall, but there is still time to potentially benefit from a shot (or spray).


Questions about the flu vaccine? There are probably answers at


Added January 23, 2014

High Levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked to Larger Brain Volume in Older Adults


CBS News shares information on another study with results suggesting fish oil may help maintain brain function in later years. There are still questions, and more study is needed. However, researchers found there is reason to believe that high levels of fish oil—or some types of algae—containing specific acids may delay normal brain aging by one to two years. That may not sound like much, but in late life that could mean one to two more years of independent living.


Added January 23, 2014

Simple Take-Home Test May Spot Early Alzheimer's Warning Signs


CBS News spotlights a newly introduced, simple, pen-and-paper test that can help reveal a decline in brain function. The test is called SAGE, for Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination. It's just 22 questions, takes roughly 15 minutes, and is meant to be given to a doctor to review. The goal is to catch problems early, allowing doctors to begin treatment early and possible slow the effects of a disease like Alzheimer's.


The test is available here. *Please note that an image from the test appears on this page above the test description but without instructions. Ignore that. Start the test below with question #1. The same image will appear later in the test, and you will then be told what to do with it.


Added January 14, 2014

The Two Words That Cost Medicare Patients Thousands


NBC News reports on the difference between "under observation" and "inpatient." If you reply upon Medicare for your insurance coverage and receive hospital care, being "under observation" or labeled an "outpatient" can mean you will be stuck with the bill. Follow the link and watch the video! Even if you aren't covered by Medicare, you probably know someone who is. Everyone needs to know the risks and the questions to ask before visiting a hospital.


Added January 14, 2014

Medicaid "Coverage Gap" Mostly Hits Minorities


CBS News reports on the status of Medicaid next year. With 25 states and Washington, D.C. expanding Medicaid and another 25 states not, there will be a problem: Roughly 5 million people won't qualify for Medicaid. They also won't qualify for subsidies applied to the new healthcare marketplaces. Of those 5 million, most are minorities. Read more in the full report.


Added December 20, 2013

Dementia Will Affect 135 Million Worldwide by 2050, Report Warns


CBS News shares a warning: Dementia is "a global epidemic and it is only getting worse," according to Alzheimer's Disease International's executive director, Marc Wortmann. Again, this is just the predicted number of dementia sufferers and does not include seniors who will need special care for other reasons. The article is accompanied by several related videos.


Added December 9, 2013

Officials Expect More People Directed to Tenncare


Nashville's News Channel 5 reports on new, higher projections for Tenncare enrollment as a result of the new health insurance marketplaces. It was expected that there would be new enrollees as people applied who previously did not realize they were qualified. However, the estimate was that approximately 47,000 people would enroll in Tenncare. Instead, numbers appear to point toward roughly 52,000 new members by fiscal year 2015.


Added November 20, 2013

Miss Senior Tennessee Crowned Miss Senior America!


Congratulations to Carolyn Corlew of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee for representing our state well! In addition to the News Channel 5 report linked in the heading above, you can read more at the Senior America site, as well as at


Added November 14, 2013

United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Launches Redesigned Website


This site, designated "senior friendly," is a source of information on a national level.


Added November 14, 2013

100 Southeast Memphis Seniors Could Be Homeless After the Holidays


WREG News Channel 3 out of Memphis reports on a Southeast Memphis property—an apartment building—carrying a $220, 000 tax debt owed to Shelby County. Roughly 100 of the apartment building's residents are seniors, many on fixed incomes and not easily relocated. They understand that they have until January 6 to find new homes if the tax bill isn't paid.


Added November 12, 2013

High-Priority Evidence Gaps For Clinical Preventive Services


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released its third annual report to Congress. It includes material relevant to the health and well being of older Americans.


Added November 12, 2013

11 New Gene Variants Linked to Alzheimer's Disease


CBS News reports on what it identifies as "the largest genetic analysis of Alzheimer's ever completed." The belief is that newly identified genes may be related to late-onset Alzheimer's. Another revelation of the study appears to be that the disease is associated with the body's immune system. What will be necessary now is a better understanding of the role these genes play in causing or contributing to the disease. The identification of genes associated with a disease is often also a way to warn those who may be at risk before they experience symptoms.


Added November 1, 2013

Social Security Benefit Increase: Additional 1.5 Percent for 2014


A Social Security Administration press release noting adjustments for the coming year.


Added November 1, 2013

Poll: Half of Older Workers Delay Retirement Plans


This story covers the growing trends of delayed retirement and working retirement. It isn't news that, for the average person, retirement options are more narrow than they used to be. Savings have been depleted by the recession (if there were savings at all), the cost of living has increased, and people are living longer. That said, is this all bad news?


Studies have shown that people who remain in the workforce longer—those who can—are more likely to remain happy, healthy, and better functioning in old age. Expectations must change for many, but while for some that may be disappointing, for others it may actually be for the best. Remember, continuing to work doesn't necessarily mean you continue to work at a job you don't like or can no longer do. Planning to work longer could mean that you begin to develop a second career in middle or late-middle age, and that second career could be as different from the first as you like, and it could be more suited to the older you.


Added October 24, 2013

Memory May Be Protected by Keeping Blood Sugar Levels Low


CBS News reports on research that further develops the possibility that memory loss may, in some ways, be connected to blood sugar levels. While the research is not yet considered conclusive, it makes yet another argument for regular exercise and healthy eating.


Added October 24, 2013

For Jobless Over 50, a Challenging Search for Work


CBS News MoneyWatch reports on the realities of age discrimination in the workplace. Employment information appears to show that long-term unemployment rates are noticeably higher for older workers.


Though you cannot always control whether or not you are terminated or laid off from a job, there are things to consider when the choice is up to you. If you aren't confident in your retirement income, you may want to consider delaying retirement while you can still perform your job duties. If you do want to leave the full-time labor force but know you will still need some sort of supplemental income, start looking for a part-time job before you retire. In other words, don't leave your full-time job until your part-time job is secured. It is typically easier to find work when you already have it. It is also harder to find work the longer you have been out of the workforce.


Added October 23, 2013

Caution Medicare Consumers: the Affordable Care Act


If you have Medicare, you do not need to purchase health insurance through the Marketplace. Your Medicare coverage, whether received through a Medicare Advantage plan or through original Medicare, isn't changing because of the Affordable Care Act and the Marketplaces. You will still need to review your Medicare coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period, October 15-December 7th for your 2014 coverage. TN SHIP is available to help you compare plans available in your area. Call 1-877-801-0044 for help.


Added October 4, 2013

Still Working for Boeing at Age 93


More evidence supporting the assertion that an active senior life leads to a better quality of life in later years.

AOL Jobs reports on a woman, age 93, still employed by Boeing after first being hired to help build aircraft by the company in 1942. She doesn't want to be "put out to pasture." She never retired, and she has no plans to. We can't all work to 93, but it is possible that we could all work longer, that we may have to, and that we may actually be better for it—depending on the work, of course.


Added September 30, 2013

How To Pick the Right Medicare Plan


CBS News online writes about Medicare open enrollment, helping educate people about the available options. Enrollment begins October 15 and is open through December 7, 2013.


Tennesseans can also call the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) at 1-877-801-0044 and discuss questions and concerns with a SHIP representative.


Added September 26, 2013

Antioch Man Charged in Grandson's Shooting Death


Why is this relevant to aging and the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability? It paints a picture of what is one of the most tragic sides of dementia.


A small percentage of people with a form of the disease, as the article reports, can become "agitated" and confused, suspicious and paranoid. Behavior can change. Emotional responses can change. The behavior, if new to a person, may even be misdiagnosed as a mental disorder. It cannot be ignored, as this report illustrates. Someone demonstrating these tendencies needs help immediately. If untreated, if no one responds appropriately, there is a great risk to both the dementia sufferer and those closest to them.


If you have questions after reading the article, this page from Next Avenue does a good job of quickly suggesting ways to identify and cope with the problem in your own life.


Added September 26, 2013

Marriage and Social Security: What You Need To Know


A quick review of the Social Security options available to married couples. This brief article also includes an equally brief video report. It's worth having a look if you are nearing retirement age and need to begin learning the details of Social Security.


Added September 25, 2013

Woman Trapped in Home Full of Garbage, Feces for 3 Years


This is the kind of story no one really wants to see or read, but it serves a purpose. This is happening in other places, to other people, right now. It's happening to people of all ages. Seniors, children, and the disabled are often at high risk of the kind of tragic neglect described in this story because they are the most likely to find themselves with fewer options to respond.


Authorities were led to this house by an anonymous tip. That's all it took, a call to police suggesting there might be something wrong. Because of that tip, the victim is now receiving care. That's something we all need to keep in mind. Help doesn't always have to come from you directly. If you suspect something is seriously wrong in someone's life, something as simple as a call to the right people could help save a life or prevent abuse.


Added September 24, 2013

Can We Predict Alzheimer's a Decade Before Symptoms?


Research into new methods of effectively diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease points to a non-invasive (meaning no cutting) procedure which may alert potential Alzheimer's victims a decade a more before onset of the disease. The procedure involves an eye examination.


Another article, this one on, discusses not just this new approach to diagnosing Alzheimer's, but also the other health problems that can already be discovered by having an opthalmologist—one with the right experience and equipment—look into a person's eyes. *This is not a service you could probably expect to get from a conventional budget retailer, where eye exams are likely limited to helping you get good eyeglasses. For a more thorough exam to check for problems like diabetes, you should contact an independent eye doctor's office.


Added Sepember 10, 2013

Those with Disabilities Eligible for Free Telephone Equipment


The Herald-Citizen out of Cookeville wants to remind Tennesseans that there is a telephone assistance program for those who have difficulty hearing, are speech impaired, or may otherwise find using a conventional telephone to be challenging. Someone falling into one or more of those categories may be eligible for free telephone equipment from the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA). Click the link above for the full article, or go directly to the TRA's Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program page.


Added September 6, 2013

Alzheimer's Patients Mentor Med Students in Buddy Program


Another extension to theToday Show coverage of aging and Alzheimer's Disease. In this case, the story addresses the need for medical students to receive more direct exposure to patients suffering from dementia—to receive more than just a textbook education. "The program is helping improve medical student knowledge and familiarity with Alzheimer's, while heightening sensitivity and empathy towards dementia patients," explains the report.


The benefit to those diagnosed with a form of dementia and participating in the program as mentors is a renewed sense of self-worth, a sense that there is still a purpose in their lives. Studies have also shown that continued social engagement can delay the symptoms of Alzheimer's, meaning the participants in such a program receive yet another benefit from their participation; it may actually represent a form of treatment.


*Important reminder: Dementia is a loss of brain function that accompanies certain diseases. There are many forms of dementia, of which Alzheimer's Disease is only one.


Added September 6, 2013

Join the Conversation: Maria Shriver Answers Your Questions About Alzheimer's


A continuation ofToday Show discussions of Alzheimer's Disease. This video segment runs close to 30 minutes long and addresses a broad range of topics from fundraising, to research, to spreading the message about the complications that accompany dementia in any form.


Added September 5, 2013

Eight in Ten Adults Want to Support Parents' Elder Care


A brief Today Show discussion of the importance of planning ahead for parents' care in later life. This video segment spotlights some of the sacrifices caregivers must expect to make, as well as the importance of making the decision with other family members in mind.


Added September 5, 2013

Alzheimer's Extracts a High Price on Caregivers, Too


This is a very revealing report on the demands placed upon caregivers: the stress, the risks, the challenges. If you are already caring for someone or anticipate that you will be in the future, this article is for you.


Added September 5, 2013

NPT Announces New NPT Reports: Aging Matters Television Series!


Nashville Public Television (NPT) has announced the first episode of an important new series, premiering Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm. The series will focus on the challenges presented by our growing population of senior citizens, with the first episode devoted to end-of-life care and considerations. The series will debut in the NPT viewing area, including Middle Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, before national distribution later this year.


Added August 23, 2013

Copper in Foods Linked to Alzheimer's Disease Risk


From the CBS report: "Consuming foods that contain traces of the metal copper may contribute to the plaque buildup indicative of Alzheimer's disease, researchers are reporting in the Aug. 19 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."


Added August 21, 2013

Pilot Program to Help Veterans Receive Decisions Faster and Reduce Claims Backlog


From the release: "The Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today [August 9, 2013] a new partnership and pilot program aimed at reducing the claims backlog and making it easier for unrepresented Veterans to receive assistance developing their claims for disability pay."


Read the full announcement for more details. Additional Veterans Affairs releases are available on the department's website.


Added August 13, 2013

Governor Haslam and TDVA Announce Online Pre-Registration Resource for Burial in State Veterans Cemeteries


The process of requesting burial in a state veterans cemetary has just been made a little easier. The new process does not guarantee a specific plot within a cemetary, but it does allow veterans and their families to confirm burial eligibility before death, thereby removing a potential burden for families when a veteran passes.


Added July 22, 2013

Study: Later Retirement May Help Prevent Dementia


The Associated Press out of Boston reports on broad French research, drawing from the records of more than 429,000 people, that firmly concludes there is a clear advantage to staying active in old age, and that includes working longer. The numbers support a benefit that would grant "[s]omeone who retired at 65 . . . about a 15 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60." And while the emphasis is on the benefits of staying both engaged in life and socially active, meaning there are ways other than full-time work to attain those benefits, your retirement fund and overall financial security will benefit from more time spent in the workforce, too.


Added July 16, 2013

How Boomers Can Keep Their Identities Safe


A Fox Business report raises the alarm, as many other sources have, about the dangers of identity theft. It is "America's fastest-growing crime," states the report, "and scammers are increasingly targeting older Americans." The report includes advice for protecting personal information and encourages seniors to become proactive. It is just as important for family members to take a respectful but vigilant position with regard to this threat, however. It is not safe to assume your loved ones have all the facts, even if they are savy and still fairly independent. Likewise, even if they have the facts, do not assume that the appropriate precautions have been, or will be, taken. Consider reading the article together and use it as a starting point for a conversation about taking action. The threat of identity theft, though often anonymous and present at a distance, is just as real as the threat of a break-in or a robbery, but it can be much harder to recover a stolen identity.


Added July 1, 2013

A Dementia That Rivals Alzheimer's Strikes Before Age 65


An NBC News report puts a spotlight on a form of dementia, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), that affects an area of the brain that Alzheimer's does not. "It's a dementia that generally strikes at an earlier age than Alzheimer's disease. And its symptoms are different—at least in the beginning" the report describes.


Dementia is a loss of mental function: problems with thinking and reasoning, as well as memory. The problems can become severe enough to interfere with basic functions and daily life. The most common and best known form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but there could be as many as 50 other similar conditions with different symptoms, presenting different challenges. The report adds that "[t]he Alzheimer's Association estimates that in people younger than age 65, FTD may account for up to 20 percent to 50 percent of dementia cases."


Added July 1, 2013

Volunteers Sought For New Caregiver Pilot Program in Tennessee


The Upper Cumberland Development District of Tennessee, which covers 14 counties, is looking to launch a new program and is seeking retired professionals who have at least eight hours a month to contribute. The goal? Provide relief—a break—to caregivers who may be overwhelmed by the continuous responsiblity for a friend or loved one. Training will be provided, and the intention is primarily for volunteers to provide assistance with meals, as well as companionship. The deadline for registration is August 16, 2013. For more information, contact Clare Farless at 476-4143 or email her at


CBS News recently reported that "Nearly 40 percent of American Adults care for someone with serious health issues" and that the burden brings with it, as might be expected, both financial and psychological stresses. As the aging population grows and as Americans continue to live longer, this problem is expected to worsen. Read more at Nearly 40 Percent of U.S. Adults Act as Caregivers for Loved One.


Added July 1, 2013

Obamacare's Biggest Challenge May Be Coming This Fall


This October, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes to life, the country will see as many as 24 million people entering government-run, private health insurance exchanges. Kaiser Foundation polls reveal that a large percentage of people, roughly half of those polled or more, are still unclear about the changes and what the ACA means for them. The National Constitution Center, referencing the Kaiser poll, reports that "[a]bout 48 percent of people acknowledge they knew nothing about their state's plans for insurance exchanges and Medicaid, and 78 percent knew little about their governor's stance on the Medicaid issue."


Added June 7, 2013

Fraud Alert!


There seems to be no end to the techniques con artists will use to prey upon Tennessee's seniors. A warning has been issued by VRI, a home health monitoring service. This warning details a scam involving the offer or delivery of no-cost or free emergency and medical alert services. While supposedly free, the automated call progresses to a customer service representative who asks for payment and personal information. The warning includes a link to a brief YouTube video claiming to present the recording of an actual call.


*Please note, the inclusion of information provided by VRI, a for-profit home health care monitoring company, is not intended as an endorsement of the company or its products and services. The warning and video should be taken as good general cautionary advice. Seniors and their families must be educated about the threat these types of scams pose. Sharing the wrong information with the wrong person just once can ruin a person financially. Learn the tricks, do not become a victim.


For more information, you may also be interested in State Warns Elderly, Disabled People About Automated Phone Scam, a report from Nashville's WKRN News Channel 2.


Added June 6, 2013

Scammers Now Posing as Debt Collectors: Tennesseans, Know When to Hang Up!


Telephone scam artists are taking yet another approach to stealing the money of unsuspecting and fearful Tennesseans. This latest report decribes a scam in which a supposed debt collector, one who has gathered details about a person's family, calls a parent with the threat of jail time for a child unless a fictional debt is paid. Follow the link to the News Channel 5 report to learn more about this crime and how to avoid becoming a victim.


Added June 6, 2013

Trustees Say Medicare Won't Be Exhausted Until 2026


The government has revised its projection for Medicare's trust fund depletion to the year 2026. Social Security still stands at 2033. Nonetheless, that is still just 13 and 20 years away, respectively.


Added June 3, 2013

Phone Call Scam Targets the Elderly


Seniors are regular targets for scammers and con artists. During the past six months alone in the Shelby County city of Bartlett, Tennessee, police have taken no fewer than eight reports related to seniors who have been tricked out of thousands of dollars, as well as the kind of personally identifying information that could further victimize them if their identities are stolen. It's important for seniors, as well as their families and caregivers, to be aware of this type of abuse, to understand the risks, and to know how to identify a scam. Read the article by Memphis News Channel 3 reporter Natasha Chen and watch the accompanying video.


Added May 3, 2013

Links to older news items.