Monthly Archives: August 2017

FTC Warns Hurricane Victims About Flood Insurance Robocall Scam

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about a flood insurance scam targeting those that have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), homeowners and renters are getting fraudulent robocalls telling them their flood premiums are past due.
Don’t respond to these robocalls.
If you have flood insurance and you’re not sure what to do, read this FTC blog post: Hurricane Harvey scams: Callers lie about flood insurance.
If you suspect fraud, call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 1-866-720-5721. Also report it to the FTC. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice and put an end to unfair and misleading business practices.
For information about how to help victims, and for dealing with and recovering from the storm, read FTC Advice for Helping Hurricane Harvey Victims.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
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5 Qualities of a Great Nursing Home

Whether you’re there for rehab after surgery or due to a lifelong illness, here’s what makes a nursing home great.

By Samantha Costa, Staff Writer |Nov. 16, 2016, at 12:01 a.m.

Close up of older woman and caretaker holding hands.

Top nursing homes demonstrate genuine care for each and every resident. (Getty Images)

When Sue Johansen’s husband, Chris, 57, was in a catastrophic car accident in 2014, she had just 24 hours to find a good nursing home in the San Francisco Bay area that could handle his rehabilitation. Sue Johansen was unusually qualified to do the search. A senior living advisor with A Place for Mom, a Seattle-based senior care referral service, she has done legwork for countless families in need of a top-notch facility for loved ones who are dealing with a host of health issues.

With her husband’s discharge looming, Johansen, 54, refused to be rushed. “Everything unfolds day by day, and you’re dealing with new information and ill-equipped [to do so],” she says. She stretched the search to six days until she was satisfied with the facility that suited Chris’ needs.

Whether the goal is a nursing home for short-term rehabilitation following an accident, round-the-clock care after a stroke or long-term care for a disabling condition like the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, great nursing homes all have five qualities:

They make it all about each resident. A genuine focus on each person as a unique individual is critical, says Susan Reinhard, senior vice president of AARP’s Public Policy Institute. A resident should never be defined by her illness or inability to grasp a fork. Treating residents like anyone else helps them feel like they’re in a safe, home-like environment.

The right nursing home can be a wonderful place, says nurse practitioner Barbara Resnick, a professor in the department of organizational systems and adult health at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and past president of the American Geriatrics Society. “It’s all about the love,” she says. “It can be a million-dollar place with the newest renovations, but if there is no love, it’s not a home.”

When you visit prospective nursing homes, says Resnick, observe whether staffers greet residents and visitors with a smile. “The staff should be happy, and if the staff isn’t happy, you have a problem. Either you love working with older adults or you don’t. And if you don’t, it doesn’t make a happy home,” Resnick says. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends asking the manager what the staff will say to a person with dementia who constantly requests to go home. The answer indicates how the staff responds to challenging individuals.

Residents can make choices. They’re not ordered to go to sleep and wake up at certain times, and they have a say about what they can wear, the type of food on the menu and where they can eat. “I should be able to wear my own clothes and not a gown,” Reinhard says. “Does everyone have to get up at 7 a.m. if that’s not what they did their whole life? When it comes to meals, there should be a nice place to sit and be with others.” Ideally, for example, residents will have the choice between a big cafeteria and a smaller dining room. Some residents like to socialize at mealtime; others prefer to eat quietly by themselves or with one or two others at most. When visiting prospective facilities, shed light on this by asking: “Will Dad be able to share a meal with his family in private?” and “Can Mom eat alone if she feels like being left alone?”

There are lots of nurses and other professionals. There should be plenty of professionals, from physicians to registered nurses, family counselors, certified nursing assistants and aides, “especially for someone with pain medication needs or someone who requires a feeding tube,” says Sue Johansen. Residents in a nursing home to rehab after a hip replacement, for example, will need regular physical therapy tailored to the surgery; a stroke patient, on the other hand, may need a variety of specialists from a speech therapist to an occupational therapist in addition to ordinary nursing care.

Adequate numbers of medical staff can also help stave off trips to the emergency room. “Let’s say you were dehydrated,” Reinhard says. “Ideally, you could get IV treatment in the nursing home and not get shipped to the hospital.” In a study published March 24 in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, researchers found that almost half of all long-stay nursing home residents identified through records at Wishard Health Services (now known as Eskenazi Health Services) – a large public health system in Indianapolis – made at least one trip a year to the ER. That not only increases the risk for infection in seniors or people recovering from surgery, but adds stress for people with conditions like dementia.

They offer flexible extended visiting hours. The best nursing homes offer open visiting hours. “That’s something worth exploring, particularly if it’s important to the family member,” Resnick says. “Some nursing homes will help facilitate an overnight stay for you. So, say mom or dad had surgery or is sick. How well will the nursing home adapt to that? Will they bring in a cot for you? Is there a special room you could use?”

Plentiful and meaningful activities are offered. Bingo can be fun, but mindless games shouldn’t dominate the daily schedule. The best nursing homes offer myriad social, physical, interactive and educational activities and leave it up to residents to make choices. Is an outdoor area available for walking, eating or visiting family or friends? If your loved one has a disability, are activities offered for him? Some homes offer yoga classes for those in wheelchairs, for example. Will a staff member take someone in a wheelchair outside when a family member can’t come?

Exceptional homes give residents opportunities to engage in the meaningful tasks they once did at home. They might help deliver mail, or bring water pitchers to residents’ rooms, or read to others.

Some nursing homes bring in dogs or cats from local adoption or pet therapy groups. Others offer volunteer days, where community groups like the Boy Scouts visit. Or residents may be able to tutor young people in reading or sewing or model building. “For some, time spent in nursing homes is actually the best time in their life,” Resnick says. “It’s a community. That’s what you really want to feel when you walk in there. It’s a home.”

Seniors and Sexual Health: What Older Adults Should Know

There’s no retirement age for desire.

By Lisa Esposito, Staff Writer March 16, 2016

Senior Couple Relaxing On Bed Smiling to Each Other

“Older adult women are very vital,” one expert says. “They continue to be orgasmic well into their 90s.”(GETTY IMAGES)

Older people have sex for the same reasons anyone else does: pleasure, intimacy, excitement, togetherness and fun. Some health concerns don’t change, like the need to practice safe sex. Physical limitations and medical conditions can pose challenges as people reach their 60s, 70s and 80s, but workarounds exist.

Whether you’re a baby boomer or beyond, you should feel comfortable talking to doctorsabout sex-related matters – and they should feel comfortable talking to you. And since sex starts in the mind, an open attitude and healthy dose of self-esteem can go a long way toward a satisfying sex life at any age.

What People Want

In 2014, the American Sexual Health Association collaborated on a survey of some 3,000 adults ages 40 to 74 who were in a committed relationship. Two-thirds said that their sex life influenced their overall satisfaction more than time spent on themselves or the quality of their friendships. And the majority said they felt happy and healthy when their sex life was healthy.

However, nearly half of those surveyed said they’d like to increase frequency of sex. While participants reported having sex an average of five times a month, men said they’d to prefer to have sex 10 times a month; for women, eight was the magic number.

“Based on survey responses, men and women had different priorities on improving sexual intimacy,” says Fred Wyand, director of communications for ASHA. “Women, for example, said their priorities were improving the ability to have an orgasm, emotional bonding with their partners and just a general enjoyment of sex.”

“Men were much more likely to focus on the physical ability to have sex, where the functioning aspect was more important to guys,” Wyand says. “And also being able to experiment and try new things.”

STDs at Any Age

Older isn’t necessarily wiser when it comes to preventing sexually transmitted diseases. Condom use for vaginal intercourse is lowest among the oldest adults, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, conducted by Indiana University researchers. Among adults age 61 and older who were surveyed, only 5.1 percent of men and 7.4 percent of women used condoms during recent sex.

“Part of it is because for older people, the sexual-health disaster of their generation was an unwanted pregnancy,” Wyand says. “They may not be thinking about protection when in fact seniors are just as susceptible to STDs as anybody else.”

It’s not surprising that seniors are less aware of the risks. “If you go to an STD clinic and look at the brochures around AIDS or around chlamydia and gonorrhea, they don’t have people with wrinkles and gray hair on the front of those brochures,” Wyand says. “And they need to.”

Health care providers who prescribe erectile dysfunction drugs to older men and topical hormones and vaginal lubricants to women after menopause don’t always counsel them on safe sex and STD precautions.

Older women should feel empowered to talk to their partners about safer sex, Wyand says, and insist on condom use if they want it. The female condom is another option, he notes. “That’s something we don’t talk about a lot, but it’s a woman-controlled barrier method of contraception.”

Obstacles and Options

It’s undeniable that seniors can face certain challenges to a satisfying sex life. “Chronic illness is one of the leading problems, especially for older adults,” says Sallie Foley, a sex therapist, sex educator and sex therapy supervisor. Diabetes, prostate surgery after cancer, severe arthritis, memory issues or a partner’s dementia can all affect someone’s sex life. Heart disease and medications to treat them may have sex-related side effects.

Older men with erectile issues should talk to their physicians about solutions, says Foley, who teaches in the University of Michigan graduate school of social work and is the director of the University of Michigan Sexual Health Certificate Program. Doctors may be able to substitute for certain medications that can cause problems with erections.

Anyone who’s ever turned on a TV knows about erectile dysfunction pills like Viagra and Cialis. But men may not know about self-injection drugs for ED, which can produce better erections than pills, Foley says. The short-needle injection, given in the shaft of the penis, causes no more discomfort than a similar injection in the upper arm, she adds.

Late or delayed ejaculation is a bigger problem, Foley says, with fewer ready solutions. Fatigue can be part of the cause, she says, along with neurologic issues due to chronic illness.

When people are distressed about their sex lives, it’s time to seek professional help, she says, starting with a doctor who’s comfortable talking about sex.

gynecologist can help women with sexual problems related to menopause. A urologistcan determine the causes for men’s sexual issues, while a sex therapist can help couples find ways to work around any limitations and continue to enjoy sex. The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists can help you locate a specialist in your area.

Time and Space to Relax

Juggling multiple career and family responsibilities can cramp people’s sex lives, Foley says. She’s heard from people in their 60s and 70s who want to enjoy sex in a relaxed, private atmosphere, but they can’t get their millennial kids out of the basement, and they’re caring for their 94-year-old mother-in-law who’s living upstairs.

People in their 60s and 70s don’t have as much physical energy in reserve as young or middle-aged adults, Foley says, and they’re more vulnerable to fatigue. “So they have to take good care of their bodies, and that requires time,” she says. “A lot of times, the first thing to go is time for pleasurable sex. People in their 40s can actually push through fatigue much easier than people in their 70s can.”

Maturity Pluses

In some ways, sexuality can improve once a woman is done with menopause. “Postmenopausal women feel a kind of surge of energy,” Foley says, sometimes described as “postmenopausal zest.” With menopause out of the way, she says, energy returns along with a new ease of attitude. “Women often feel like, ‘This is the body I’m in. I’m not going to try to get into 3-inch stilettos anymore. And I’m comfortable with who I am,’” she says.

That’s consistent with what’s seen among long-term, older couples, Foley says: “Even though their bodies have changed, they’re much more interested in the engagement and vitality people bring to life when they’re in their 60s and 70s.”

The extent of certain changes from aging, such as hormonal shifts, can be overstated. “There’s a tendency to dwell on that,” Foley says, noting that if a woman still has her ovaries, she continues to make testosterone well into her 80s. “Older adult women are very vital,” she says. “They continue to be orgasmic well into their 90s.”

Moving Past Misconceptions

Negative cultural stereotypes can inhibit sexuality for some older women, Foley says. “They sometimes withdraw from enjoying their bodies, getting dressed in the clothes they like, enjoying life,” she says. For older women who want to find partners but don’t feel desirable, she says, “If they can get into counseling and get into exercise so they can feel strong and good in their bodies, they usually increase their self-esteem.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about older adults is that they lack passion, Foley says. “Some people have had this extraordinary long-term partnership where they remain very passionate,” she says. “And other people who are widowed or divorced, when they fall in love and they’re in their 70s or their 80s, they feel the same way as people who fall in love in their 20s. They’re gaga for the person. And their sex is great.”