Medicare Launches Hospice Compare Website

Patients looking for hospice care can now get help from Medicare’s website. The agency’s new Hospice Compare site allows patients to evaluate hospice providers according to several criteria. The site is a good start, but there is room for improvement, experts say. Medicare’s comprehensive hospice benefit covers any care that is reasonable and necessary for easing the course of a terminal illness. Medicare launched the hospice compare website to improve transparency and help families find the right hospice provider. The website provides information on how hospices deal with treatment preferences, address a patient’s beliefs and values, screen and assess for pain Continue Reading

Who is your support system as you age?

For most people, it is their children but those who are childless are faced with creating their own support network to help them negotiate housing, social-service and health care options in addition to legal and financial considerations. One of the first steps is for “elder orphans” should take in creating their support system is to hire an elder law lawyer who can draw up documents that will protect them if they become incapacitated. For more advice about how to plan for your later years, follow our link to the NYT article. Single? No Kids? Don’t Fret: How to Plan Care Continue Reading

You Can Give Away More Tax Free in 2018

After staying the same for five years, the amount you can give away to any one individual in a particular year without reporting the gift will increase in 2018. The annual gift tax exclusion for 2018 is rising from $14,000 to $15,000. This means that any person who gives away $15,000 or less to any one individual (anyone other than their spouse) does not have to report the gift or gifts to the IRS. If you give away more than $15,000, you do not necessary have to pay taxes, but you will have to file a gift tax return (Form 709). The Continue Reading

In Japan, elderly residents risk dying a “lonely death”

In Japan, elderly residents of the danchi (apartment complexes) risk dying a “lonely death” or dying alone, their body only discovered days after their death. These elderly residents live alone and isolated so much so that an entire industry has developed in specializing in cleaning out apartments where decomposing remains are found. Additionally, many elderly Japanese write “ending notes” that organize their final affairs and ensure a clean orderly death. The danchi (apartment complexes) were built in post war Japan and were a symbol of Japan’s posterity – they introduced Japan to the Western concept of the nuclear family instead Continue Reading

Why Giving Your House to Your Children Isn’t the Best Way to Protect It From Medicaid

You may be afraid of losing your home if you have to enter a nursing home and apply for Medicaid. While this fear is well-founded, transferring the home to your children is usually not the best way to protect it. Although you generally do not have to sell your home in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, the state could file a claim against the house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care. Continue Reading

Funeral Directors Are Taking Advantage Of Technology

The National Funeral Directors Association recently held their annual convention in Boston where funeral directors from around the country gathered together to learn about new trends and how to handle topical issues in their field. Funeral directors are taking advantage of technology to aid families in creating personalized tributes to loved ones. To read the complete Boston Globe article, follow our link. Funeral directors work to put some life into death by Laura Crimaldi| Boston Globe Bob Biggins had a plan for navigating the exhibition floor at the funeral directors convention in Boston this week: Skip the caskets and steer Continue Reading

JAMA study says few nursing home residents receive palliative care

A recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal demonstrated that few nursing home residents receive palliative care. Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for seriously ill patients by relieving their symptoms and easing their stress which may be provided in conjunction with other medical treatment. The study found the need for better communication between nursing homes and residents and residents’ families regarding hospice and palliative care services their facilities offer. Follow our link to read the complete article Continue Reading

Estrangement is not all that uncommon

A recent study debunks some myths about estrangement. Estrangement is defined as one or more relatives intentionally choosing to end contact because of an ongoing negative relationship. Debunking Myths About Estrangement By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS | New York Times It’s the classic image of the holidays: Parents, siblings and their children gather around the family table to feast and catch up on one another’s lives. But it doesn’t always work that way. After years of discontent, some adults choose to stop talking to their parents or returning home for family gatherings, and parents may disapprove of a child so intensely Continue Reading

Massachusetts Hospitals ill-prepared for patients with dementia

Massachusetts is the only state to establish a committee to aid hospitals in developing a comprehensive plan for addressing the needs of patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s. A hospital stay can be traumatic for someone with Alzheimer’s and speed their decline often losing abilities they had, like dressing themselves and walking, before their hospital admission. The committee, formed in 2016, released a 70 page report with resources and suggestions. Dementia patients often need hospitals, which are often ill-prepared by Felice J. Freyer | Boston Globe Steve Johanson had a fierce and knowledgeable advocate at his side when he visited a Continue Reading

A lack of experience is not necessarily a bad thing

When it comes to the age of your physician, older isn’t always better. Research shows a consistent positive correlation between lack of experience and better quality of care. Additionally younger doctors are more likely to adopt innovative practices and are more likely to discuss important issues, such as end of life issues, with patients. For Doctors, Age May Be More Than a Number by HAIDER JAVED WARRAICH | NYT Article When I went on Terry Gross’s radio show last year, the very first question she asked me was one I get asked during my work as a doctor all the Continue Reading