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Affiliated with the Rhode Island AFL-CIO “Fighting for the future of our members.” “NOW, more than ever!!!” Publication 2018 Issue 28 Published in house by the RI ARA

July 15, 2018 E-Newsletter

All Rights Reserved RI ARA 2018©

Brett Kavanaugh is a Threat to the Health Care of Older Americans and Must be Rejected Statement of Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance for Retired Americans, following President Trump’s announcement that he will nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court: “When President Trump vowed in 2015 to only appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he issued a serious threat to the

health care of all Americans. The nomination of federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Court has done nothing to alleviate that threat.

“The Supreme Court could soon hear a case that would take away coverage for millions of Americans with preexisting conditions by Robert Roach, Jr stripping away popular ACA provisions aimed at “Judge Kavanaugh routinely protecting them. According to a rules against working families report by the U.S. Department of and their access to health care, Health and Human Services, and he has promoted the more than half of all Americans overturning of well-established have at least one pre-existing U.S. Supreme Court precedents. condition, including 75 percent

of people ages 45 to 54 and 84 percent of people between the ages of 55 to 64. “The President’s Supreme Court appointment will affect this country and its laws for generations. The country must protect the rights of our oldest and most vulnerable citizens. We must reject the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh.”

Health Care Likely to be a Factor in Fight Over Next Supreme Court Justice A lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), filed in February by twenty state Republican attorneys general, is becoming an issue in the confirmation of the next appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court. The suit would strip away popular ACA provisions aimed at protecting patients with preexisting conditions, and the current administration has decided not to defend those protections in court. The lawsuit argues that the law’s protections were supposed to work in tandem with the mandate that individuals have health insurance. Because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is no longer enforcing the mandate,

they say, insurers no previous rulings and longer have to sell writings to give an policies to everyone indication on a potential regardless of medical ACA vote. According to status. With the recent an HHS report, more retirement of Justice than half of all Robert Roach, Jr Anthony Kennedy fr om Americans have at least the Supreme Court, the lawsuit one pre-existing condition, is gaining even more attention. including 75 percent of people The case could reach the ages 45 to 54 and 84 percent of Supreme Court soon, meaning people between the ages of 55 to that the next justice could vote 64. to take away coverage for preIn 2015, the President vowed existing conditions. to only appoint a justice who Democratic senators are would overturn the ACA. His expected to ask the nominee if short list of candidates includes he or she supports the a variety of judges who have in administration’s move. Most the past indicated opposition to Supreme Court appointees will the law and its merits. not answer questions regarding a The votes of Senators Susan potential case; however, Collins (ME), Joe Donnelly senators will also look back on (IN), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe

Manchin (WV) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) will be critical. According to a recent poll, 65% of all Americans say that a candidate's support for coverage of pre-existing conditions is important to their vote. Another poll found that 93% of voters will consider a candidate's position on preexisting condition protections before casting a ballot. “The president’s Supreme Court appointment will have a lasting effect on this country and its laws,” said Robert Roach Jr., President of the Alliance. “Elections have consequences. That is why we need to register voters, educate them and be sure to go to the polls.”

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 •

Trump’s ALJ Executive Order is the Latest Attack on Our Earned Social Security Benefits The following is a statement from Nancy Altman, Pr esident of Social Security Works, in r eaction to Donald Trump’s executive order stripping Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) of their independence: “There’s an ongoing war on Social Security and people with disabilities. Trump’s attack on ALJs is the latest battle in this war. ALJs already feel political pressure to deny Social Security disability claims. This will only ratchet up that pressure. Stripping ALJs of their independence by giving political appointees the power to hire and fire them arbitrarily denies all of us our due process. Workers earn their disability benefits with every paycheck. Republicans are taking yet another step to deny some of the most vulnerable people in the country the benefits they’ve earned. ALJs are hardworking civil servants who are doing their best. Letting the Trump administration threaten their livelihood when they act with integrity is something we must all protest.” One example of how SS Disability is not supposed to work. How many people would, and do, just give up after two denials? My son works for UPS and was out of work with a hip problem. After 8 months of seeking specialist in RI & Mass and a major surgery, they came to the conclusion that he needed a total hip replacement. He filed for SS disability and twice was denied. He filed for a Hearing by a ALJ and it hook over one year and contacting an attorney, to finally get the hearing. He was out of work for a total of 27 months and had been back the work for three months when he received the notice of the hearing. At that hearing, the ALJ asked why he was there. The ALJ said with all the medical, he should have been awarded the disability at the first filling. Within five days, the ALJ awarded him total disability back to day one.

Support Circle: Family Caregivers Share Stories And Tips To Ease Alzheimer’s Toll Vicki Bartholomew started a support group for wives who are caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s disease because she needed that sort of group herself. They meet every month in a conference room at a new memory-care facility in Nashville called Abe’s Garden, where Bartholomew’s husband was one of the first residents — a Vietnam veteran and prominent attorney in Nashville. “My husband’s still living,

and now I’m in an even more difficult situation — I’m married, but I’m a widow,” she tells the group one day. These women draw the shades and open up to each other in ways they can’t with their lifelong friends. “They’re still wonderful friends, but they didn’t know how to handle this. It was hard for them, and as you all know, your friends don’t come around

as much as they used to,” Bartholomew said. “I was in bad shape. I didn’t think I was — I did have health problems, and [now] I know I was depressed.” As the number of Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease continues to swell to an estimated 5.7 million, so do the legions of loved ones caring for friends and family members. The toll on Bartholomew’s own mental health is one of the

reasons the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America focuses on the nation’s estimated 16 million unpaid caregivers. With no cure on the horizon, the foundation has been highlighting the necessity of better support for those caregivers through a national tour. It stopped in Nashville earlier this spring, was in Milwaukee in June and heads to Fairfax, Va., in September….Read More

Taken For A Ride? Ambulances Stick Patients With Surprise Bills One patient got a $3,660 bill for a 4-mile ride. Another was charged $8,460 for a trip from one hospital that could not handle his case to another that could. Still another found herself marooned at an out-ofnetwork hospital, where she’d been taken by ambulance without her consent. These patients all took ambulances in emergencies and got slammed with unexpected bills. Public outrage has erupted over surprise medical bills — generally out-of-network charges that a patient did not expect or could not control — prompting 21 states to pass laws protecting consumers in some

situations. But these laws largely ignore ground ambulance rides, which can leave patients stuck with hundreds or even thousands of dollars in bills, with few options for recourse, finds a Kaiser Health News review of 350 consumer complaints in 32 states. Patients usually choose to go to the doctor, but they are vulnerable when they call 911 — or get into an ambulance. The dispatcher picks the ambulance crew, which, in turn, often picks the hospital. Moreover, many ambulances are not summoned by patients.

Instead, the crew arrives at the scene having heard about an accident on a scanner, or because police or a bystander called 911. Betsy Imholz, special projects director at the Consumers Union, which has collected over 700 patient stories about surprise medical bills, said at least a quarter concern ambulances. “It’s a huge problem,” she said. Forty years ago, most ambulances were free for patients, provided by volunteers or town fire departments using taxpayer money, said Jay Fitch,

president of Fitch & Associates, an emergency services consulting firm. Today, ambulances are increasingly run by private companies and venture capital firms. Ambulance providers now often charge by the mile and sometimes for each “service,” like providing oxygen. If the ambulance is staffed by paramedics rather than emergency medical technicians, that will result in a higher charge — even if the patient didn’t need paramedic-level services. Charges range widely from zero to thousands of dollars, depending on billing practices….Read More

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 •

RI ARA HealthLink Wellness News


Medical Marijuana a Hit With Seniors Seniors are giving rave reviews for medical marijuana. In a new survey, those who turned to it for treating chronic pain reported it reduced pain and decreased the need for opioid painkillers. Nine out of 10 liked it so much they said they'd recommend medical pot to others. "I was on Percocet and replaced it with medical marijuana. Thank you, thank you, thank you," said one senior. Another patient put it this way: "It [medical marijuana] is extremely effective and has allowed me to function in my work and life again. It has not completely taken away the pain, but allows me to manage it." Study co-author Dr. Diana

Martins-Welch said, "The impact of medical marijuana was overwhelmingly positive. Medical marijuana led them to taking less medications overall -- opioids and nonopioids -- and they had better function and better quality of life." Martins-Welch is a physician in the division of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, N.Y. The biggest complaint the researchers heard about medical marijuana was the cost. "It's an out-of-pocket expense. Insurance doesn't cover it because it's federally illegal," Martins-Welch explained.

As for unwelcome side effects, MartinsWelch said sedation was what she heard about the most. "A lot of people don't like feeling sleepy," she said. It's also important to work with your doctor to find the right dose, since pain experts say that too little or too much doesn't ease pain. Thirty-one states have some type of medical marijuana law on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. "Every state has its own laws, like what a qualifying condition is. There are a lot of differences. And you can't take a product

from one state and cross another state line," Martins-Welch said. According to federal law, medical marijuana is still illegal in the United States. "There are legal fears. Some practitioners worry that the DEA [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] might come after them," she added. Medical marijuana is different than just picking up some pot and smoking it. "The goal with medical marijuana is to find the dose that gives a therapeutic benefit without a high, or slowing reaction time or causing sedation," Martins-Welch said. "To find that right dose, we start low and go slow."...Read More

How young you feel may reflect the true age of your brain You may have heard some seniors say, "I'm 80 years young," to suggest that their biological age does not reflect how they feel. New research backs them up, as brain scans demonstrate that people's "subjective age" — rather than their objective age — accurately predicts how young their brain really looks. Jeanyung Chey, of the Seoul National University in Korea, started the research by asking

herself, "Why do some people feel younger or older than their real age?" More intriguingly, could it be that how young or old they feel accurately reflects how their body ages? Potential answers to the first question "include depressive states, personality differences, or physical health," she explains. "However, no one had investigated brain aging processes as a possible reason

for differences in subjective age," adds Chey. So, she and her colleagues set out to fill this gap in research. They used MRI to detect signs of aging in the brains of 68 healthy people aged 59–84. The new findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Studying subjective age and brain health As we get older, our bodies will go through significant changes. As for the brain, it, too, has a range of specific agerelated signs that show our mental agility may start to decline. Previous studies, for instance, have shown that a decrease in gray matter volume is associated with mental and cognitive decline….Read More

'Skinny fat' linked to cognitive decline, study warns Sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass, tends to happen naturally with age. So, in older people with sarcopenia, excess body fat may not be readily visible. But hidden fat, paired with muscle mass loss later in life, could predict Alzheimer's risk, researchers warn. A recent study — the results of which have been published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging — has

found that sarcopenia and obesity (independently, but especially when occurring together) can heighten the risk of cognitive function impairments later in life. The research was conducted by scientists at the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine of Florida Atlantic University in Boca

Raton. "Sarcopenia," explains senior study author Dr. James Galvin, "has been linked to global cognitive impairment and dysfunction in specific cognitive skills including memory, speed, and executive functions." "Understanding the mechanisms through which this syndrome may affect cognition is important as it may inform

efforts to prevent cognitive decline in later life by targeting at-risk groups with an imbalance between lean and fat mass." Dr. James Galvin "They may benefit from programs addressing loss of cognitive function by maintaining and improving strength and preventing obesity," he adds….Read More

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 •

Feel Like The Last Friend Standing? Here’s How To Cultivate New Buds As You Age. Donn Trenner, 91, estimates that two-thirds of his friends are dead. “That’s a hard one for me,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of people.” As baby boomers age, more and more folks will reach their 80s, 90s — and beyond. They will not only lose friends but face the daunting task of making new friends at an advanced age. Friendship in old age plays a critical role in health and wellbeing, according to recent findings from the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Sightlines Project. Socially isolated individuals face health risks comparable to those of smokers, and their mortality risk

is twice that of obese individuals, the study notes. Baby boomers are more disengaged with their neighbors and even their loved ones than any other generation, said Dr. Laura Carstensen, who is director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and herself a boomer, in her 60s. “If we’re disengaged, it’s going to be harder to make new friends,” she said. Trenner knows how that feels. In 2017, right before New Year’s, he tried to reach his longtime friend Rose Marie, former actress and co-star on the 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van

Dyke Show.” Trenner traveled with Rose Marie as a pianist and arranger doing shows at senior centers along the Florida coast more than four decades ago. “When we were performing, you could hear all the hearing aids screaming in the audience,” he joked. The news that she’d died shook him to the core. Although she was a friend who, he said, cannot be replaced, neither her passing nor the deaths of dozens of his other friends and associates will stop Trenner from making new friends.

That’s one reason he still plays, on Monday nights, with the Hartford Jazz Orchestra at the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, Conn. For the past 19 years, he’s been the orchestra’s pianist and musical conductor. Often, at least one or two members of the 17-piece orchestra can’t make it to the gig but must arrange for someone to stand in for them. As a result, Trenner said, he not only has regular contact with longtime friends but keeps meeting and making friends with new musicians — most of whon are under 50….Read More

What Is Lewy Body Dementia? Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. LBD is one of the most common causes of dementia. Diagnosing LBD can be challenging. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in other brain diseases like

Alzheimer's or in psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. Also, LBD can occur alone or along with other brain disorders. There are two diagnoses of LBD—dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease dementia. The earliest signs differ but reflect the same biological changes in the brain. Over time, people with dementia with Lewy bodies or Parkinson's disease dementia may develop similar symptoms.

Who Is Affected by LBD? LBD affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States. LBD typically begins at age 50 or older, although sometimes younger people have it. LBD appears to affect slightly more men than women. LBD is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms start slowly and worsen over time. The disease lasts an average of 5 to 8 years from the time of diagnosis to death, but the time span can range from 2 to 20 years. How

quickly symptoms develop and change varies greatly from person to person, depending on overall health, age, and severity of symptoms. In the early stages of LBD, symptoms can be mild, and people can function fairly normally. As the disease advances, people with LBD require more help due to a decline in thinking and movement abilities. In the later stages of the disease, they often depend entirely on others for assistance and care….Read More

Alzheimer's: Aspirin may reduce toxic plaque A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that regular intake of low-dose aspirin may prevent Alzheimer's pathology from forming in the brain and protect the memory of those living with this form of dementia. Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia that affects 1 in 65 seniors in the United States, is characterized by a toxic buildup of a "sticky" protein fragment called beta-amyloid in the

brain. The protein aggregates in "clumps" that break down the communication between brain cells. This will trigger the brain's immune cells, which cause inflammation, eventually leading to the degeneration and death of neurons. Although the precise cause of Alzheimer's remains unknown, the "amyloid hypothesis" holds that this accumulation of amyloid is the primary cause.

A consequence that would flow naturally from the theory above is that activating or boosting the brain mechanisms for clearing up cellular waste should slow the progression of the disease. In fact, some studies have suggested that malfunctioning lysosomes — the "garbage disposals of the cell" — are the reason why amyloid beta builds up in the first place. Other studies point to an association

between aspirin use and a lower risk of Alzheimer's. New research ties these two pieces of evidence together and reveals that aspirin stimulates the waste-clearing lysosomes and reduces pathological plaque in mice. Dr. Kalipada Pahan, the Endowed Chair of Neurology and a professor of neurological sciences, biochemistry, and pharmacology at the Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL, led this study. Read More

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 •

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R ARA July 15, 2018 E-Newsletter  

R ARA July 15, 2018 E-Newsletter  

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