It’s daunting to read some of the facts and figures from the Alzheimer’s Association. Stats such as this:
In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and someone develops the disease every 69 seconds. Unless something is done, as many as 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s in 2050 and someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds. In 2010, 14.9 million family members and friends provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias—care valued at $202.6 billion.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Based on mortality data from 2000-2008, death rates have declined for most major diseases while deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have risen 66 percent during the same period.
The Baby Boomer generation hasn’t been about frailty. Since day one, they’ve had strength in numbers—able to go through life with the knowledge that—simply by those sheer numbers—they’d be the indomitable force at whatever life stage they’d be at. Which is why AARP probably uncorked some champagne once 1996 rolled around—the year the first wave of boomers became eligible to not only join the retired persons ‘club’ (senior discounts!)—but also add their collective boom to AARP’s advocacy efforts.
But lurking in the background—regardless of CNN’s display of boomer vitality presented on one of their lead stories today—is a darker side of being Boomer: Alzheimer’s.
With statistics such as those above, it’s hard to understand why, for so many of us, Alzheimer’sis someone else’s parent’s or grandparent’s disease. But as the video at top states, Alzheimer’s can happen to anyone—and 65 is the age at which things start to shift into higher gear for Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s doubles about every five years after age 65.
And this year, 2011, just so happens to be the year in which the first wave of Baby Boomers turn 65.
It’s a sad truth the Alzheimer’s Association has been aware of long before any public cognizance—and even now, many probably don’t have any sense of the devastating imprint Alzheimer’s is about to leave on our Boomer nation.
What doesn’t make the Alzheimer’s lottery any easier—for those who may be afflicted and for their loved ones—is news like that which was reported at NPR.org this past week. It’s the story of Aurora Navas, who just happened to develop Alzheimer’s disease. As the demands to care for her increased, her family had to turn to assisted care. They trusted the assisted care facility to care for Aurora. Instead, she wandered out of the facility to a nearby lake, and drowned in eighteen inches of water.
Elder care abuse, nursing home neglect, assisted care negligence appear to be more common than we’d like to be aware of. The NPR article mentions a joint study done by The Miami Herald and WLRN which focused on assisted care facilities in Florida. The findings were bleak: at least 70 questionable deaths found in FL assisted living facilities in the past decade.
And, sadly, that number—and not just in Florida—stands to grow given the aforementioned strength in numbers the Boomer generation presents, particularly when combined with the lack of awareness Alzheimer’s patients experience.
As caregivers, there are signs to be aware of when it comes to elder abuse or neglect. Please read our information on the signs of nursing home abuse—and what to do about it if you suspect it. There are lawyers who specialize in elder care abuse and they are there to help you.
For information on Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, treatment options, statistics, information and advocacy, I can’t urge you enough to visit the Alzheimer’s Association website at alz.org. And be sure to check out the Celebrity Champion webpages where Anthony Anderson, Katie Armiger, Wayne Brady, Coach Frank Broyles, Kate Burton, Dominic Chianese, Dwight Clark, Dear Abby, Diamond Jim, Olympia Dukakis, Hector Elizondo, Emerson Drive, Shelley Fabares, Jack Ford, Vivica A. Fox, Soleil Moon Frye, Peter Gallagher, Victor Garber, Phyllis George, Leeza Gibbons, John Glover, Bob Goen, Bryant Gumbel, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Emma Mae Jacob, Matt Jenkins, Rafer Johnson, Lainie Kazan, Ricki Lake, The Marshalls, Kathy Mattea, Natalie Morales, Terry Moran, Kate Mulgrew, Terrell Owens, Stephen Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, Tony Plana, Sarah Polley, Ahmad Rashad, John Runyan, Rex Ryan, Molly Sims, Jean Smart, Brent Spiner, April Taylor, Lea Thompson, Tracie Thoms, Dick Van Dyke, Anna Wilson and Whiskey Falls have lent their voices, their passion and their commitment to the fight against Alzheimer’s.
Please share this post with all those you love.
According to the Levaquin manufacturer and even some government agencies, Levaquin side effects are rare. But tell that to possibly thousands of people who have suffered tendon rips and ruptures after taking Levaquin, sometimes for a slight sinus infection. (By September 2010, more than 1,000 reports of tendon problems had been documented.)
Elderly people are at risk for a few reasons. It’s easy to chalk up a torn Achilles tendon to simply old age and overuse; they could be on a number of meds so the finger can’t be pointed directly at Levaquin; they could have other, ongoing problems.
I also found out that Levaquin is over-prescribed and should only be used as a last resort, when other antibiotics fail. So why have I interviewed a number of people (like Marcia, a ballet teacher ) who took it for a minor sinus infection? And by all accounts, their doctors are not aware of Levaquin side effects because they aren’t being told by the drug maker! Sure, we could argue that our health providers should know, but how many hours are there in a doctor’s day to research all the meds they prescribe? I can understand their logic: If it ain’t in the big blue book, it’s OK by me.
I interviewed 73-year-old Carol (not her real name) yesterday—yet another Levaquin victim. (BTW, I –personally–must have interviewed dozens of Levaquin victims in the past few years, so how can the side effects be rare?) Anyway, her story is a typical example of Levaquin’s serious side effects, and how the drug company is getting away with so many injuries…
Carol took the 5-day course of Levaquin in January 2009 and her infection cleared up right away. Then she took it again in May for a bout of bronchitis. “In November I had some trouble with my ankle,” says Carol. “I just figured I had overused it (I live in New York and walk everywhere) and could just walk it off; apparently it’s common to have foot problems when you get older. Close to Christmas I ended up at the podiatrist: he took an x-ray, said it appeared to be inflamed and put me in a walking boot to keep my ankle stable, and sent me to physical therapy…
In September I was at the beach with my friends and I was limping due to a back problem. My friend asked if anything was wrong with my ankle. Then she said, ‘ Have you ever taken Levaquin because I took it and my ankle starting aching right away so my doctor told me to stop taking it—ASAP.’ I’d never heard of such a thing!”
What really amazes me is why so many people still don’t know about Levaquin and its link to tendon ruptures and rips—an injury that is not only very painful, but hard to recover from when you get older…
“Now I find out, through a friend who worked at J&J for years, that Levaquin has a black box warning,” says Carol. “Besides a recall, that’s the worst thing that can happen to a drug.” And potentially the worst thing that can happen to the consumer. (Incidentally, a lawsuit accused J&J of pushing Levaquin on to senior citizens, who didn’t even need the drug.)
“The first time I looked up Levaquin’s black box warning, it was contraindicated for people over 60,” Carol points out. “Now young people are being warned. My friend has a 24-year-old daughter who was given Levaquin and her doctor told her not to run while taking it. Ah hah, now the warnings are for young people too.
All I can prove is that I took Levaquin twice and had tendon problems—I had my entire left foot rebuilt and spent 10 weeks in a wheelchair. But whether I can connect the two—that’s up to the attorneys. However, if I am deemed eligible and can join a class action, then I will.”
Nursing homes, it seems, have lately become less about safety, comfort and good care—as the term might imply—and more about saving money. So, not surprisingly, standards are being dangerously compromised—that is assuming they’ve been established. Case in point, an investigative report by CBS News last week cited a government report which found that over 90 percent of nursing homes hired employees with criminal records—convictions.
Apparently, the government ran background checks on all employees who worked at some 260 nursing homes on June 1, 2009, and found 92 percent employed at least one person with a criminal conviction. The report also found that nearly half of the nursing homes had five or more individuals employed who had criminal convictions.
The report, by the Inspector General for Health and Human Services, revealed seven registered sex offenders gainfully employed at five separate facilities, while 43 percent of the convictions were for crimes including burglary, shoplifting, and writing bad checks.
According to CBS News, 43 states currently require nursing homes to run some kind of criminal background check. However, “only 10 states require both a state and FBI background check that would detect convictions in multiple states.”
“On its face, it’s shocking,” Janet Wells, director of public policy for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care told CBS News. “People move from state to state and they may have an abuse record at another health care facility, that’s why we would prefer to see a national mandatory program.”
Well, yes. That would seem the obvious solution, because here’s the real consequence of not having such a system: in January, LAS reported on a shocking incident in Santa Clara, CA, in which a Read the rest of this entry »
What would you do with 20 life insurance policies? Would you even buy 20 life insurance polices? Probably not, that is, if you knew what you were doing. Mary Mullen, an institutionalized senior—in her 80s—with Alzheimer’s disease, did not know what she was doing and so relied on salesmen from New York Life Insurance to take care of her. Instead, they took care of themselves. Those 20 life insurance policies– by the way—cost $600,000—and involved a number of elaborate schemes including an arranged marriage. New York Life, for their part, apparently refuses to investigate the suspicious policies, for which “the primary motivation” was “commissions and premiums.”
The whole sorry saga, which is now the subject of a lawsuit, began in 1994, when, according to Rebecca McFarland, trustee of the Mary Mullen Revocable Trust, one John Palmateer approached Mullen representing himself as an expert in insurance and financial matters. McFarland claims he gained Mary Mullen’s trust by visiting her occasionally, sometimes at the hospital. Of course, most people at this point would ask—’what about her family?’ Well, Mary Mullen had family, but they all lived out of state. Palmateer is accused of keeping the truth about Mullen’s deteriorating health from her family.
Palmateer also stands accused of collaborating with Mullen’s neighbor, Guido “Jack” Chirillo, to defraud the elderly woman of her assets. According to the complaint, “At Palmateer’s suggestion and direction, Chirillo married Mullen, who was then 87 years old, ostensibly to assist with the care of Mullen.” And, you guessed it, her family was never notified. BTW—Chirillo and Mullen never lived together.
The complaint also states, “Palmateer and [Jeffrey] Knight participated in a series of steps to Read the rest of this entry »