Aging and Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Legal, Financial

Information, updates and interesting tidbits about healthy aging, senior care and family caregiving from across the country and around the world. In this issue:

  • Did you know that 2013 brings enhanced screening benefits for seniors who receive Medicare?
  • What are the ethical considerations when a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear?
  • Do you know the signs of elder abuse, and what to do if you suspect a senior is being abused or exploited?

Another Great New Year's Resolution: Take Advantage of Medicare Health Screenings
If you or a loved one is on Medicare, it's smart to learn about the free screenings that are now available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

According to Dr. Carolyn Clancy of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHQR), these preventive and screening tests now include:

  • Bone mass measurement (also known as bone density test): Covered every 2 years.
  • Cholesterol and other cardiovascular screening: Tests for cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels are covered every 5 years.
  • Colorectal cancer screening: Medicare covers colonoscopy tests once every 2 years for people at high risk; otherwise, once every 10 years.
  • Diabetes screening: Up to two fasting blood glucose tests are covered each year.
  • Flu shot: Medicare covers a shot once per flu season in the fall or winter.
  • Mammogram: Screening mammograms are covered once every 12 months. Diagnostic mammograms are covered when medically necessary.
  • Prostate cancer screening: Medicare covers a digital rectal exam once each year; prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests are covered once each year.

This is in addition to the new "Welcome to Medicare" wellness visit for people who are new to the program. Read more about Medicare screening services on the website.

The Ethics of Early-Stage Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Huge steps have been made in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. Medical tests can now detect the brain changes of the disease at an early stage—even before patients are experiencing any symptoms. These tests can even predict who is at higher risk of developing the disease. Yet we are not close to a cure for Alzheimer's, and the effectiveness of treatment has not kept up with the new advances in diagnosis. What does this mean for patients who receive a diagnosis before the symptoms are noticeable or affect their lives?

Dr. Jason Karlawish of the University of Pennsylvania Health System calls for establishing safeguards to protect these patients from discrimination, stigma, and threats to independence and autonomy that they might experience in the workplace, at the driver's license bureau, in financial planning and so forth. He says, "We need to develop systems now, to navigate the challenges of a pre-clinical Alzheimer's diagnosis."

Karlawish, an expert on the ethics of early diagnosis, warns that while the new tests allow for improved treatment and planning, knowing the prognosis can also have negative consequences for patients. He cautions,"The discovery of pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease may be how we prevent the tsunami of Alzheimer's disease dementia, but we must not drown in the challenges created by our own discovery."

The study appeared in the journal Neurology.

2013 Named the Year of Elder Abuse Prevention

Every year, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. And experts believe that for every reported case of elder abuse or neglect, as many as five cases go unreported.
The Year of Elder Abuse Prevention (YEAP) is an opportunity to take action to protect seniors by raising awareness about elder abuse. The U.S. Administration on Aging is offering fact sheets, outreach guides and event planning materials for individuals and groups. Included are:

10 Things Anyone Can Do to Protect Seniors 

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

How to Answer Those Tough Questions About Elder Abuse 

The YEAP task force encourages everyone to know the risk factors and signs of elder abuse. For more information, visit the website of the National Center on Elder Abuse ( or call 1-855-500-3537.