Finally, a Vision for Care Referrals That Will Improve Outcomes

Picture this: you’re one of millions of Americans who needs care at home either because of aging, dementia, recovery from surgery or other disabilities.  You’ve got a family—and often an unpaid caregiver who helps with your care.  They’re part of an elaborate team of caregivers, physicians, therapists and non-medical assistance.  I’ve lived this first-hand as I’ve cared for my mother, and I’ve spoken to literally hundreds of families in the same situation.

Insurance companies and other employee benefit programs often deliver these care recommendations.  They do the best they can considering maintaining these programs—and the underlying data—is not their primary business.  Unfortunately, they struggle to extend these programs across the whole company so that each member-facing group can leverage the same data to provide the best care referrals to their members. I’ve just assumed it was one of those “not-yet-solvable” situations, as healthcare technology is always a bit slower than other industries.  So we did the best we could and used what was not an ideal support system.

The Future of Care Referral Programs

I think I finally found a vision for the future.

I ran into a white paper from SNAPforSeniors that really caught my eye.  If SNAP can deliver on this vision—and if insurance companies, call centers and other providers have the vision and foresight to adopt it—it will dramatically change the outcomes of care coordination as part of the age in place movement.  More important, it will give families like mine the peace of mind that we are getting referred to the best matched providers for our care.

I know this vision may not concern some of you, but I highly recommend you check it out.  These types of ideas are the ones that are going to make the biggest impact. If you think your family would benefit from your insurer adopting programs like this, you should let them know.

Here’s the link to the paper –

Need Your Opinion: Women and Aging Panel Discussion

Our good friends at Volunteers of America are having their second Women and Aging Panel Discussion.  David Burch of VOA asked me for some input on their panel discussion, but the best people to ask are you!!  Please share your input by commenting on this post, and I will send the consolidated feedback over to David.

Hi Ryan,

Hope all’s well with you. I wanted to let you know about a panel discussion Volunteers of America will host on Tuesday, May 11 at the National Press Club in Washington on the topic of women and aging.

Like we did with our panel last year, we’d like to gather feedback from bloggers like you who write about issues affecting older Americans. The panelists will explore the health care, financial and societal issues affecting older women that will influence workplaces, public policy and the economy for years to come. Some of the questions we’ll explore include:

  • What should be done to care for elderly women who have exhausted their resources caring for others?
  • How can a woman prepare for her own golden years while balancing careers, children and caring for parents or loved ones?

Please feel free to email me any questions you would like to ask the panel.

For those of your who aren’t familiar with the Women and Aging Panel Discussion, you should take it look.  There’s a great line-up planned.

6 Senior Care Consumer Advocacy Groups To Know

There are many consumer advocacy groups both on a state and national level whose mission is to protect the rights and benefits of seniors or anyone who requires long-term care.  They are:

Health Information, Counseling, and Advocacy Program (HICAP): An independent resource established by the California Department of Aging that provides free counseling and advice about Medicare and healthcare insurance options to senior citizens.  To find counseling services in your area go to:

The Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living (CCAL): A national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of assisted living patients, their families and their caregivers. CCAL assists consumers with education about their choices for assisted living environments.

American Health Care Association (AHCA): The nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute care providers.  They advocate for quality care and services for frail, elderly and disabled Americans. Their mission is to improve service and administration of nursing homes.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR): A statewide nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy organization, is committed to improving the choices, care and quality of life for long term care patients. Their mission is to educate and support consumers and advocates regarding their legal rights and be a voice long term care reform and humane alternatives to institutionalization.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care (NCCNHR):  Formerly the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, NCCNHR is a national nonprofit organization of consumers and advocates dedicated to improving care for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Long-Term Care Ombudsman: An ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. They provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care. Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system. To locate state agencies and citizen advocacy groups by state:

To find additional U.S. government information regarding senior consumers, go to

Photo credit: ktylerconk

Your Senior Health Care Bill: $260,000!

I have always been a big fan of Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents.  In fact, he was the very first person I interviewed for my Leaders in Elder Care series.  If you aren’t familiar with Howard’s blog, you’re really missing out on a complete play-by-play of how the health care debate is impacting the cost of senior care.

This morning, he shared some startling statistics about paying for elder care that I have quoted below.  In this article, Howard has links to some fascinating studies about the out-of-pocket costs for seniors, and it is shocking.  It is mind-boggling to me how financing elder care will be solved as we move forward. He wrote:

A typical couple would have to save nearly $200,000 to pay for their out-of-pocket medical costs from the time they are 65 until they die, according to an important new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Add in nursing home costs, and they are likely to need $260,000.

But that’s only part of the story. About 5 percent of 65-year-old couples will face catastrophic medical and long-term care costs exceeding $570,000, according to researchers Anthony Webb and Natalia Zhivan.They estimate those expenses would have exhausted the total financial assets of 85 percent of all retirees even at the peak of the stock market in 2007.

As someone who has first-hand experience with out-of-pocket expenses and my Mother’s care, I was still so stunned by these numbers, that I could not write a conclusion to this article.  What do you say?

Obviously, I encourage you to check out Howard’s writing.  In the meantime, what are your thoughts about these big numbers?

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