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Senior living needs ‘substantial and immediate financial relief’ from COVID-19, leaders tell federal government

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Senior living operators require “substantial and immediate financial relief” from expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders of four major associations representing operators of independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities tell President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), with other House and Senate leaders copied, in new letters.

Congress and the administration should “prioritize the needs of the senior living industry, residents and front-line staff in the next federal legislative response package,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda, LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan, National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle, and American Seniors Housing Association President David Schless wrote in letters dated Thursday and Friday and shared with the media on Monday.

“Senior living operators are proud to be playing a critical role in helping to ‘flatten the curve’ and avoid further burdening our nation’s hospitals during this crisis,” they said. “However, these extraordinary efforts are leading to significant financial stress, largely due to enhanced infection control measures, acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE) and related supplies, COVID-19 testing, additional staffing and incentives, and loss of revenue associated with halting new residents moving into the communities.”

Members of Congress returned to work Monday with a goal of working on another coronavirus-related aid package. Other than some funds to eligible state Medicaid providers, which would include a small percentage of assisted living operators, announced in June, assisted living hasn’t been allocated any federal funding to fight COVID-19.

The senior living leaders had six requests:

  1. Increased funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (Provider Relief Fund). The financial impact on the industry is expected to be $45 billion to $57 billion over 12 months, Balda, Schless, Sloan and Tittle said.
  2. Priority access to PPE, such as masks, gowns and gloves, for senior living communities. “Many parts of the country have not had full access to meet all of their PPE needs,” they wrote. “The impending second wave will bring an even greater shortage, placing residents and staff at risk.”
  3. Access to and reimbursement for diagnostic and non-diagnostic testing of employees and residents. “While diagnostic testing costs may be covered by Medicare for residents and private insurance for employees, recurring non diagnostic testing conducted to screen employees and residents is not covered,” the leaders said. “These costs are simply unsustainable, especially when testing residents and staff with any meaningful frequency are required under federal guidelines.”
  4. Priority access to the vaccine, when one is ready.
  5. Small business loans through Paycheck Protection Program expansion. “The program is currently limited to businesses that employ less than 500 employees, with exceptions that allow that limit to be applied on a per-location basis for businesses that are assigned a North American Industry Classification System code beginning with 72,” they wrote. “We urge similar treatment for senior living by authorizing a waiver of the affiliation rules for NAIC codes beginning with 62, Health Care and Social Assistance. This exemption should also include coverage of senior independent living communities, classified under codes beginning with 52, specifically 531110 and 531311.”
  6. Inclusion of all senior living employees in “hero pay” proposals that would provide an additional $13 per hour wage increase and recruitment incentives to attract insecure the workforce. 

“[O]ur communities and the millions of seniors under our care must be prioritized to ensure that senior living remains a viable option for the foreseeable future,” Balda, Scless, Sloan and Tittle said, calling COVID-19-related costs “unsustainable.”

AHCA / NCAL makes additional requests

In separate action on Monday, the American Health Care Association / NCAL shared the results of public opinion research the organizations conducted among 600 women voters aged 35 to 64 to better understand their views about government support for long-term care facilities.

The research, AHCA / NCAL said, found that:

  • 62% said they believed that the government did not make long-term care facilities a top priority and, as a result, did not help protect the health and lives of older adults.
  • 71% said that long term care facilities need more support from the government so they can save lives and take care of loved ones.

Echoing some of the priorities enumerated in the letters to the federal government, AHCA / NCAL also made several requests of Congress for the next round of stimulus funding, among them:

  • Create a $5 billion fund to which assisted living communities, skilled nursing facilities and labs can apply to cover the cost of any testing ordered by a government entity,
  • Ensure that assisted living and skilled nursing facility residents and staff members are “the first and  highest priority for vaccine distribution since they are the most vulnerable and at risk” for COVID-19.
  • Provide access to funding for small, independent special needs plans (I-SNPs) focused on assisted living and nursing home residents to offset losses associated with COVID-19.
  • Protect Medicaid.
  • Offer limited immunity from liability for COVID-related activities. “This is an unprecedented public health crisis, and caregivers are doing everything they can with limited resources and information,” AHCA / NCAL said. “Providers or individual staff members who are following government guidance should not be held responsible for their good faith efforts during this once-in-a-generation pandemic.”

“Long term care facilities cannot fight COVID-19 alone. We urge Congress to make long term care a priority for funding, critical resources, and protections that will enable us to keep residents and staff safe,” the organizations said.

Article originally appeared on McKnight’s Senior Living here.

by: Lois A. Bowers  Lois A. Bowers

NCOA: Senate GOP COVID-19 Relief Proposal Fails Older Americans

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Urgent Need for Food, Home Care, Employment, and Digital Health Supports are Ignored

Arlington, VA (July 28, 2020) – The National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, released a statement regarding the Republican Senate COVID-19 proposal put forth this week:

“NCOA is deeply disappointed by the Senate Republican’s most recent attempt to address the grave and ever-growing COVID-19 pandemic affecting our country because it fails to support and protect older Americans,” said NCOA Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy Howard Bedlin. “Older adults are among the most vulnerable Americans in this pandemic because they are facing not just potentially deadly health complications but also catastrophic financial insecurity.”

NCOA urges Senators to include the following important priorities in the bill:

  • Increased federal assistance is needed to improve access to home care services so that frail seniors can get help to remain with their families and out of nursing homes and other institutions, and states can to meet increasing Medicaid demands arising from high unemployment rates.
  • Low-income older workers are facing unique employment barriers and additional investments in job training and placement are urgently needed.
  • The vast majority of older adults have one or more chronic conditions that put them at particular risk, and resources must be increased to support access to digital health promotion and disease prevention programs that help manage existing chronic illness, prevent the occurrence of new conditions, and mitigate social isolation and loneliness.
  • Access to food continues to be a serious problem for millions of older adults and more must be done to keep them from going hungry.  

Many of these concerns are addressed in the House Heroes Act. “NCOA, on behalf of millions of older adults, urges Senators to reflect upon the unique challenges this population is facing during this pandemic, and take steps to better respond to the serious threats impacting our nation’s aging population,” added Bedlin.

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.

 

Contact:

Armando Trull, Media Relations Manager

202-709-2474;

armando.trull@ncoa.org

Want Added Years? Try Volunteering

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SATURDAY, June 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — If you’re older and you want to prolong your life, try volunteering, new research suggests.

“Humans are social creatures by nature. Perhaps this is why our minds and bodies are rewarded when we give to others,” said lead investigator Eric Kim. He is from the department of social and behavioral sciences and the Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston.

For the study, Kim’s team looked at nearly 13,000 people older than 50 who took part in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study and were tracked for four years between 2010 and 2016.

Compared to those who didn’t volunteer, those who volunteered at least 100 hours a year (about two hours per week) had a substantially reduced risk of death and of developing physical limitations during the study period, and higher levels of physical activity and improved sense of well-being.

The study was published online June 11 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Our results show that volunteerism among older adults doesn’t just strengthen communities, but enriches our own lives by strengthening our bonds to others, helping us feel a sense of purpose and well-being, and protecting us from feelings of loneliness, depression and hopelessness,” Kim said in a journal news release.

“Regular altruistic activity reduces our risk of death, even though our study didn’t show any direct impact on a wide array of chronic conditions,” Kim added.

The study didn’t find connections between volunteering and improvements in chronic conditions such as diabeteshigh blood pressurestrokecancerheart disease, lung disease, arthritisobesity, mental impairment or chronic pain.

The study was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting need for social distancing, the researchers noted.

However, “now might be a particular moment in history when society needs your service the most. If you are able to do so while abiding by health guidelines, you not only can help to heal and repair the world, but you can help yourself as well,” Kim said.

“When the COVID-19 crisis finally subsides, we have a chance to create policies and civic structures that enable more giving in society,” he said. “Some cities were already pioneering this idea before the pandemic and quarantine, and I hope we have the willingness and resolve to do so in a post-COVID-19 society as well.”

— Robert Preidt

Article appeared originally on: medicinenet.com

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NCOA Study: 3 Million Low-Income Older Adults Face Systemic Obstacles to Programs that Help Pay for Health Care

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Policy solutions would make access to benefits easier for low-income individuals

Arlington, VA, June 22, 2020 — Today, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well, issued a study analyzing the systemic obstacles that keep nearly 3 million eligible older adults and people with disabilities from accessing programs designed to help pay for their health care and medicine. The issue brief also offers policy solutions to ensure that all eligible low-income individuals receive this critical assistance.

Millions of financially vulnerable older adults and people with disabilities who have trouble affording prescription drugs and health care qualify for Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs), which help pay for Medicare premiums and cost sharing, and the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) (also known as Extra Help), which helps pay for prescription drugs. However, almost 3 million of these eligible individuals are not enrolled in the programs.

The issue brief estimates eligibility, enrollment, and take-up rates in MSPs and LIS among the age 65 and older non-institutionalized population for even years between 2008 and 2014.

“About two-thirds of people eligible for MSPs are enrolled, but another 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries are missing out on the benefits of this program,” said Dr. Susan Silberman, NCOA Senior Director, Research and Evaluation. “While some of these individuals may be making an informed decision to not apply, many are unaware that they are eligible or have found the enrollment process too intimidating to attempt or too difficult to complete.”

NCOA recommends a range of policy solutions that would improve access to these important Medicare low-income assistance programs. They include:

  • Loosening eligibility standards, which can have the dual effect of making more people eligible and making enrollment easier
  • Aligning eligibility standards more closely across programs, particularly between MSP and Part D LIS
  • Simplifying the enrollment process to make signing up as automatic as possible
  • Allocating more resources for benefits outreach and enrollment to find and assist eligible individuals in applying for the programs

The complete issue brief, Take-Up Rates in Medicare Savings Programs and the Part D Low-Income Subsidy Among Community-Dwelling Medicare Beneficiaries Age 65 and Older, is available online.

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.

Article appeared origianlly on: NCOA.org.

Staying Safe As Your City Reopens: Friends And Neighbors May Be Resuming Their Regular Activities—Should You?

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Cities and counties across the country are beginning to ease or even end the regulations that closed stores, restaurants, businesses, services, and schools back in March 2020. But adults 65 years and older and those with chronic health conditions are still at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and facing its most serious complications, including death.

If you have underlying medical conditions, particularly if they are not well controlled, the CDC suggests that it’s wise to continue to maintain the highest level of vigilance about going out and resuming your regular activities. Some of the specific underlying health conditions noted by the CDC include:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Being “immunocompromised”
    • People who are immunocompromised have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases.  Many things can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.
  • Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease and undergoing dialysis
  • Liver disease

You can’t reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19 to zero. But if you understand the risks and use proven prevention measures, you may be able to help reduce the spread of the virus.

KEEP IN MIND: If you have COVID-19, have COVID-19 symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you must stay home and away from other people. Talk to your healthcare provider about your specific precautions. When you can leave home and see others depends on different factors for different situations. Follow the CDC’s recommendations for your circumstances.

Here is the CDC’s science-based guidance for the best way to protect yourself as you begin to resume daily activities:

Before you venture out, ask yourself: Will my activity put me in close contact with others?

  • Practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others). COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close physical contact with others.
  • Stay home if sick.
  • Use online services when available.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when running errands.
  • Use hand sanitizer after leaving stores.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.

Protect yourself while shopping.

  • Order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup (if possible).
  • Only go to the grocery store, or other stores selling household essentials, in person when you absolutely need to. This will limit your potential exposure to others and the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.
  • When you do have to shop in person, go during the early morning or later at night when fewer people will be there.
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.
  • Disinfect the shopping cart. Use disinfecting wipes if available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.

Use hand sanitizer.

After leaving a store or completing an activity or task outside, use hand sanitizer.

Exercise caution when using public bathrooms

Bathrooms have a lot of high touch surfaces, including door handles, faucets, and stall doors. Viral transfer risk in this environment can be high. A recent report in the New York Times suggested that the virus can be transferred when the toilet is flushed. If possible, close the lid before flushing a public toilet. Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not possible. Avoid using automatic hand dryers. Keep your cloth face covering on when in the restroom.

Wash hands at home

When you get home from being outside or around others, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Be smart about deliveries & takeout.

  • Use delivery services when possible and limit in-person contact if possible.
  • If possible, pay online or on the phone when you order.
  • Accept deliveries without in-person contact whenever possible. Ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your house (such as your front porch or lobby), with no person-to-person interaction. Otherwise, stay at least 6 feet away from the delivery person.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after accepting deliveries or collecting mail.

  • After receiving deliveries or bringing home takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • After collecting mail from a post office or home mailbox, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Adjust how you do your banking.

  • Ask about telephone or virtual options for banking services.
  • Bank online whenever possible.
  • Use drive-thru banking services, automated teller machines (ATMs), or mobile banking apps for routine transactions that do not require face-to-face assistance as much as possible.
  • Look for any extra prevention practices being implemented by the bank, such as plexiglass barriers for tellers or bankers, staff wearing cloth face coverings, or physical distancing signs in the lobby.
  • Wear a cloth face covering when making any in-person transactions where you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people. Make sure that bank employees and other people inside the bank are also wearing cloth face coverings.
  • Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after any deposit, withdrawal, exchange, drive-thru visit, or use of an ATM.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly when you return.

Play it safe when getting gas.

  • If available, use disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons before you touch them.
  • After fueling, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you are able to access soap and water.

Stay Empowered, Stay Informed

Photo Contest Showcases the Richness of Aging Well in America

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By: Armando Trull, Media Relations Manager, NCOA.org

Winners chosen for their artistic and dignified portraits of older adults

Arlington, VA, June 16, 2020 — For its 2020 Age+Action Virtual Conference, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) invited photographers and artists from around the country to submit work exploring the artistic expression of Aging Well for All—how older adults are making the most of their longevity.

“The winning entries beautifully showcase the richness of aging well in America,” said Ken Bracht, NCOA Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer. “The judges were amazed by the quality of all submissions—totaling more than 1,000 images—from both award-winning professionals and self-taught photographers.”

The winning photographs and artists were announced at NCOA’s 2020 Age+Action Virtual Conference, June 8-11, the first national gathering of aging services professionals in the COVID-19 era. The 4-day online event featured 150+ speakers and 100+ sessions designed to help community-based organizations better serve older adults.

First Place went to A Loving Touch, submitted by Allan Mestel of Longboat Key, FL. The black-and-white photo features an older interracial couple in an intimate moment.

“The judges chose this photo because of its artistry, poignancy, sensitivity, and dignity,” Bracht said. “I’m stunned I won first place,” Mestel said.

A Loving Touch © Allan Mestel

Second Place was awarded to Grandma Quality Time from Michael Paras of Maplewood, NJ. It’s a Norman Rockwell scene of a wide-eyed toddler and her grandmother enjoying a chocolate shake and each other.

Grandma Quality Time © Michael Paras

The Merit and Honorable Mention awards include photos of older adults of all races and backgrounds.

  • Merit: On The Bench, Mark Coggins; Bread Baker, Michael Paras; Pay Attention, Susan Sidebottom; and Work Out #3, Maria Trunk
  • Honorable Mention: Diane Bernard, Tom Atwood; Time To Go Home, Edward Boches; Hands On Chest, Marna Clarke; At The Park, Judi Iranyi; Memory, Charlotte Niel; One Day Like The Next, Charlotte Niel; Grandmom, Nickolas Nikolic; Ben, Leroy Skalstad; Red Door, John Tiedje; and Portraits Of Dementia, Joe Wallace

Two Honorable Mention artists have created photographic series that spotlight important issues in aging. Tom Atwood’s series Kings & Queens in Their Castles portrays the LGBTQ experience in the U.S. Portraits of Dementia by Joe Wallace features images of older adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

The public is invited to view the complete NCOA online gallery of all selected photographs and artists here: http://ncoagallery.org/link/AgingWellforAll.

This article originally appeared on NCOA.org.

LeadingAge calls on HUD to release millions earmarked for affordable senior housing

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HUD Secretary Ben Carson

Critically needed COVID-19 relief funds provided by the CARES Act for affordable senior housing are long overdue to ensure the safety of at-risk populations and staff, according to LeadingAge.

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, took the Department of Housing and Urban Development to task on Tuesday for not effectively distributing Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to assist providers of low-income, older adult housing.

“HUD-assisted communities for older adults living on low incomes serve a population at high risk for falling ill and dying during this pandemic,” Sloan said in a statement. “For months, starting in early March, LeadingAge has been advocating for congressional action to avert a COVID-elated disaster from reaching the more than one million older adults who reside in these homes nationwide.”

Although Congress allocated funding through the CARES Act in March for these providers, HUD has yet to deliver those funds. LeadingAge called on HUD to release $50 million from the CARES Act for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program as well as the remaining $200 million of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance funds. 

“These communities operate on lean budgets and generally do not set aside money for infectious disease control,” Sloan said. “As HUD dithers, providers are spending thousands a month on COVID-19 costs, using funds that are earmarked for fixing the roof and the air conditioning, just so that they can support residents and staff with extra cleaning and disinfecting, personal protective equipment and services like security and meals, and extra staffing support.”

In a June 4 letter to Carson, Sloan stated that more than 1.1 million older adults live in HUD-subsidized apartment buildings and face “triple jeopardy during this public health crisis” — they are older, they have low incomes and they experience health disparities.

In testimony Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, HUD Secretary Benjamin S. Carson Sr. said in the coming weeks that HUD will continue to expedite getting funding provided by the CARES Act into the hands of communities.

HUD announces allocation of $2.96 billion in emergency grant funding

Carson also announced on Tuesday the allocation of $4 billion total in Emergency Solutions Grants targeted toward communities with high homeless populations or individuals at risk of becoming homeless, including low-income older adults.

The announcement includes an additional $2.96 billion in funding to support homeless Americans and individuals at risk of becoming homeless due to job loss, wage reductions or illness due to COVID-19. This funding is in addition to $1 billion in ESG grants announced within a week of President Trump signing the CARES Act.

The $2.96 billion in funding will be used to make more emergency shelters available, operate emergency shelters, provide hotel/motel vouchers, provide essential services to the homeless and prevent homelessness by rapidly rehousing homeless individuals.

“Homelessness was a major issue in some cities across our nation long before this pandemic occurred, and unfortunately the dire living conditions of our most vulnerable Americans left many without a home to isolate in or proper medical and healthcare resources to defend themselves against this invisible enemy,” Carson said. 

Get Moving, Seniors: It’s Good For Your Brain

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By Robert Preidt (HealthDay News)

Want to give your brain a boost? Go for a swim, take a walk, or spin your partner on the living room floor.

A new study finds that aerobic exercise can improve older adults’ thinking and memory, even if they’re longtime couch potatoes.

This type of exercise increases blood flow to the brain and counters the effects of normal aging, according to the study published online May 13 in the journal Neurology.

“As we all find out eventually, we lose a bit mentally and physically as we age. But even if you start an exercise program later in life, the benefit to your brain may be immense,” said study author Marc Poulin, of the University of Calgary School of Medicine in Canada.

“Sure, aerobic exercise gets blood moving through your body. As our study found, it may also get blood moving to your brain, particularly in areas responsible for verbal fluency and executive functions. Our finding may be important, especially for older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias and brain disease,” Poulin said in a journal news release.

The study included 206 adults, average age 66, with no history of memory or heart problems.

For six months, they took part in supervised exercise program three times a week. As they progressed, their workout increased from an average 20 minutes a day to least 40 minutes. They were also asked to work out on their own once a week.

At the end of the exercise program, participants had a 5.7% improvement on tests of executive function, which includes mental abilities used to focus, plan, recall instructions and multi-task. They also had 2.4% increase in verbal fluency, a measure of how quickly a person can retrieve information.

“This change in verbal fluency is what you’d expect to see in someone five years younger,” Poulin said.

On average, blood flow to their brain increased 2.8% — a gain tied to a number of improvements in types of thinking that typically decline with age.

“Our study showed that six months’ worth of vigorous exercise may pump blood to regions of the brain that specifically improve your verbal skills as well as memory and mental sharpness,” Poulin said.

“At a time when these results would be expected to be decreasing due to normal aging, to have these types of increases is exciting,” he said.

Original Aricle: link

Lockdown Got You Feeling Low? Yoga May Help

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By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter, MedicineNet.com

News Picture: Lockdown Got You Feeling Low? Yoga May Help

THURSDAY, May 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Many people under stay-at-home orders have turned to online yoga as a way to manage the stress. And a new research review suggests they’re onto something.

The review, of 19 clinical trials, focused on the benefits of yoga for people with clinical mental health conditions ranging from anxiety disorders to alcohol dependence to schizophrenia. Overall, it found yoga classes helped ease those patients’ depression symptoms.

And while the trials focused on in-person classes for people with formal diagnoses, there are broader implications, the researchers said.

“Definitely, if you’ve thought about trying yoga, now is a great time to take the opportunity,” said Jacinta Brinsley, lead author on the review and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Australia School of Health Sciences in Adelaide.

With yoga teachers worldwide now offering live-stream classes, she noted, people have a chance to find something that is right for them in their own homes.

“Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right type [of yoga],” Brinsley said. “Enjoyment is a really great indicator that it’s a good fit.”

In general, physical activity is a recommended part of managing mental health disorders, according to Brinsley. Yoga — which combines physical movement with breathing exercises, meditation and other “mindfulness” practices — has been the subject of many studies.

Some have found it can ease depression. That said, there are questions.

Yoga comes in many styles. Brinsley said it’s not clear whether particular ones are more or less beneficial for depression symptoms: How much depends on specifics of the physical movement: Is it vigorous or gentle? Does the practice need to include breathing exercises or meditation?

But in general, Brinsley said, there is evidence that both exercise alone, and mindfulness practices alone, can help ease depression.

“So we infer that these practices combined, as yoga, are effective,” she said.

The review, published May 18 online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, covered 19 clinical trials from six countries. All tested the effects of yoga among people diagnosed with psychiatric conditions like major depressionpost-traumatic stress disorderalcohol use disorders and schizophrenia.

The specifics varied, but each yoga program was at least 50% physical movement. Participants were randomly assigned to either add yoga to their usual treatment, go on a waitlist for yoga or to stick with standard care alone.

Overall, Brinsley’s team found, people practicing yoga showed a greater reduction in depression symptoms than those in the comparison groups.

Researchers said the average effect was “moderate,” not dramatic. And the studies were short-term, generally lasting a couple of months. So it’s not clear how long the benefits last, according to Brinsley.

But, she said, like other therapies, yoga is not a quick fix.

“Often, we don’t take a course of medication for 12 weeks and are cured, so we need to think about exercise and yoga and mindfulness in the same way,” Brinsley said. “It’s not necessarily a cure. To get the benefits, you’re going to have to keep doing it.”

Terri Miles is a registered yoga teacher in Culpeper, Va., who specializes in working with cancer patients and trauma survivors.

She agreed that consistency is crucial and stressed that yoga practice need not involve the “acrobatics” characteristic of some styles.

“Just the simple act of breathing properly can bring a change. You see it in people’s faces,” said Miles, a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Even a series of simple poses, she said, can be powerful, partly because it “distracts the mind from whatever was bothering it,” and also because of the movement itself.

“If I cue someone to ‘feel the stability of your feet,’ and they feel it, that sends a message to the brain, ‘Hey, you’re OK. You’re grounded,'” Miles said.

She agreed that now could be a good time to find online opportunities for yoga — with some classes being offered for free. Miles urged prospective students to check out teachers’ credentials and find out if their yoga style is what you’re looking for.

She also encouraged people to keep an open mind.

“If you try a class and it works for you, fantastic,” Miles said. “If it doesn’t, it might be the style, or the teacher. Or you might not have been ready that day because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. So try again tomorrow.”

Original article: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=232038

COVID Test Scam Targets Elderly

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COVID test scam targets elderly

by Geebo via Greg’s Corner

During the current crisis, the elderly are not only the most vulnerable to the virus but could also be the most vulnerable to coronavirus related scams. Once again, an old scam has been repurposed for the global pandemic and it involves seniors’ healthcare.

According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers are posing as Medicare employees offering coronavirus home testing kits. They ask their victims for personal information including seniors’ Medicare information. Tests are sent to the victims but again, no home test has been approved for use by the FDA. The BBB says that these scammers are more than likely committing Medicare fraud and are billing these tests to Medicare. If Medicare is paying the scammers for these tests, this could affect Medicare coverage for future coronavirus testing by doctors.

If you receive one of these calls or possibly an email from someone claiming to be from Medicare offering you a test kit, either hang up on the call or delete the email. Whatever you do, please do not respond to any of these offers. Keep in mind that if Medicare was actually calling you, they wouldn’t need to ask for your Medicare number.

This also goes for people on private health insurance as well. Your insurance company isn’t going to offer you an at-home test kit and won’t ask you for your ID number. If your insurance company ever does need to call you, they’ll already have that information on hand.

Both Medicare and private insurances mostly communicate with patients by postal mail. Anybody claiming to be them with some kind of offer is either an identity thief or an insurance fraudster.

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