Aging and Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Financial

Information, updates and interesting tidbits about healthy aging, senior care and family caregiving from across the country and around the world. This month, it's all about SENIOR POWER!

Senior group

  • A study overturns some previous negative assumptions about the ability of seniors to make good decisions.
  • Medicare officials say seniors are the best weapon when it comes to fighting fraud.
  • A surprising number of people who reach the age of 100 say they wouldn't change a thing about their life experiences.

For Healthy Older Adults, Aging Does Not Impair Decision-Making

It is commonly assumed that as we grow older, our ability to make sound decisions declines. But new research by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas shows that previous studies on age-related decline of the ability to think logically and solve problems were flawed in key ways. The Healthy Brain, Healthy Decisions study noted that earlier researchers lumped all seniors into one group, failing to separate out test subjects who were dealing with dementia and other health problems that caused cognitive impairment. The new study instead examined healthy seniors, and found that in many ways, people in their 70s surpass younger people when it comes to strategic learning capacity, conscientiousness and vigilance in decision-making. "The study findings are a crucial first step to move beyond age as a demographic factor used to explain impaired decision-making," said University of Texas researcher Sandra Chapman, Ph.D. "Policies and practices that focus exclusively on age-related declines in decision-making will unnecessarily curtail the autonomy of older adults with preserved cognitive function. Age is not a disease." Read the entire study here

Medicare Enlists Seniors to Fight Fraud

Recognizing that Medicare recipients are a powerful force for spotting and reporting fraud, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is about to launch a redesigned statement of claims and benefits that will make it easier to spot potential fraud, waste and abuse. Reducing fraudulent Medicare claims is a major focus of the Affordable Care Act, and since the passage of the Act, over $14.9 billion in healthcare fraud judgments has been recovered.

CMS deputy administrator Peter Budetti says, "Most Medicare providers are honest and work hard to provide services to beneficiaries. Unfortunately, there are some people trying to exploit the Medicare system." He adds, "A beneficiary's best defense against fraud is to check their Medicare Summary Notices for accuracy and to diligently protect their health information for privacy." Learn more about your Medicare Summary Notice here. Report fraud here; you might even qualify for a $1000 reward!

When Polled, Half of Centenarians Say They Wouldn't Change a Thing About Their Lives

The eighth annual 100@100 survey by UnitedHealthcare found that a longer life doesn't necessarily mean a longer list of regrets. When asked what they would have done differently if they knew they would live to 100, 50 percent of the centenarians polled answered, "Not a thing."

The average American today lives to be about 80. In view of the "additional years" centenarians have lived compared to peers of their generation, the oldest seniors were also asked what could have made these extra years of their lives even better. One-third (33 percent) said nothing: It's as good as they could have hoped for. An equal number (33 percent) wished for more time with their spouse or loved ones. Thirteen percent wished for better health. Only 6 percent said they wish they had more money.

Centenarians are most nostalgic about young adulthood (45 percent), despite the challenges many people associate with this time of life, such as balancing the demands of a career and family. The second-most fondly remembered time? Approaching their 100th birthday (12 percent).

"The centenarians in this year's 100@100 survey show that maintaining a positive outlook isn't all about focusing on what the future holds," said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. "Reflecting fondly and confidently on the choices they've made throughout their lives helps the longest-living Americans maintain a sense of satisfaction and well-being that's vital to healthy aging."