Category Archives: Consumer education

Are You Doing Doctor Appointments Right?

[Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Grace Birnstengel for Next Avenue

Navigating the medical system can be a daunting process. It’s challenging enough to find any doctor with openings, let alone a good doctor. And the internet isn’t always much help.

What is helpful, however, is this in-depth guide to having a good doctor’s appointment written for The New York Times by Dr. Danielle Ofri, author and associate professor of medicine at New York University.

“As a doctor I often get asked by friends and family how to make the most of a medical visit,” she wrote. read more

Why Your Funeral Director Will Likely Be Female

Funeral director Jan Smith of Flanner Buchanan in Indianapolis guides a casket into a hearse. [Photo credit: courtesy of Jan Smith]

By Kevyn Burger for Next Avenue

Jan Smith was in the final semester of her training to be a funeral director when her 8-year-old nephew died after a heart transplant.

Her family’s heartbreak deepened her understanding of the value of the work she was preparing for.

“I was able to be an observer of how my profession can help a family with a traumatic experience like the loss of a young child. I saw what a difference we make with creating that meaningful last experience,” said Smith, of Indianapolis. read more

5 Things Family Caregivers Need to Know About Family Leave

On the federal law’s 25th anniversary, who can’t take the leave and what lies ahead? [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Diane Harris for Next Avenue

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work to care for a new child or sick relative or to manage their own serious medical condition without fear of losing their job. The biggest cause for celebration, however, isn’t for what the law has accomplished over the past quarter century, but rather what may come next.

“Momentum is clearly growing among policymakers and employers for an expansion of the law that will include paid leave,” says Lynn Friss Feinberg, a senior strategic policy adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. “It’s increasingly seen as a bipartisan issue.” read more

A Dangerous Health Problem No One Talks About

Sliced steak on a cutting board

The risk increases with age, but there are ways to prevent it (Photo credit: Getty Images)

By Linda Melone, CSCS for Next Avenue

You’re sitting down to enjoy a nice steak at your favorite restaurant, maybe sipping a little wine. Suddenly a piece of meat gets stuck in your throat. It’s not enough to block your breathing, so you’re not quite choking —but you also can’t get it down. You excuse yourself and go to the restroom, hoping you can dislodge the food by either coughing it up, inducing vomiting or drinking water.

Called “steakhouse syndrome,” this common scenario can lead to death if you take matters into your own hands this way, says Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, N.Y., and assistant professor at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. read more

The Long-Term Care Benefit Many Veterans Are Missing Out On

How to find out if you or your spouse qualify for this long-term care benefit [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Joan Lunden for Next Avenue

When my mom’s dementia no longer made it possible for her to live alone, I began searching for an assisted living community. After I started working with an adviser from A Place for Mom — the senior-living referral service where I’m now a spokeswoman — I learned that my mother was eligible to receive Veterans Administration (VA) benefits that would help offset the costs of her care.

My mother had remarried a man who was a World War II veteran (my dad died in a tragic plane crash when I was 13). I had no idea that as the widow of a veteran there was this kind of financial assistance. read more

Will New Design Trends Lessen the Stigma of Hearing Aids?

Photo of new hearing aid

More wireless devices and new looks are changing the world of hearing aids [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Steve Outing for Next Avenue

Have you noticed that more people are putting wireless electronic devices in, or on, their ears? This significant trend has grown, in part, by Apple’s decision to make its latest iPhones without headphone jacks. This got me thinking: What implications does this have for those of us who wear hearing aids?

  • Will there be less-expensive consumer devices available to address hearing impairment and will they look different from expensive traditional hearing aids?
  • Will the stigma of wearing hearing aids lessen or even go away, so wearing hearing aids will be akin to wearing eyeglasses (in other words, no big deal)?

Less Expensive Options for Hearing Aids

To address that first question, a change is coming for hearing-impaired people in the U.S. thanks to a law signed by President Trump in August that will let consumers purchase hearing aids without going through a licensed audiologist. Non-medical technology companies soon will be able to sell low-cost devices that address mild to moderate hearing impairment and market them as hearing aids. read more

7 Ways to Eliminate Stereotypes About Aging

Graphic shows elderly man in an armchair, remote in hand, watching TV

An Influencer in Aging on how active intention can do it [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By George H. Schofield, Ph.D. for Next Avenue

(Next Avenue invited our 2017 Influencers in Aging to blog about the one thing they would like to change about aging in America. One of the posts is below; we will be publishing others regularly.)

When Next Avenue named its 2017 Influencers in Aging, a group I’m proud to be in, the site asked us: If you could change one thing about Aging in America, what would it be?

My answer was: Eliminate stereotypes. We are all pioneers, crossing shifting/surprising terrain. Longevity is an individual and collective gift. High quality of life relies on what we actively do with what we’ve got or can create. The catalyst isn’t age. It’s active intention. read more

Medicare, Medicaid and Long-Term Care: Your Questions Answered

A senior woman and a healthcare professional have a pleasant conversation in a senior living setting

Long-term care costs the federal programs do and don’t pay for [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue

Next Avenue recently asked readers to send us their questions about Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care coverage. The most popular ones:

  • What is offered by Medicare and Medicaid for long-term care?
  • If my assets are too high, should I forget about Medicaid?
  • Why does Medicare coverage only pay for skilled care?

Today, we’ll answer those questions.

This topic is weighing heavily on the minds of many Americans, and for two good reasons: 70 percent of people 65 and older will need some kind of long-term care eventually and long-term care costs are astronomical. The median annual fee for a private room in a nursing home, for instance, is $97,455 and hiring a home health aide runs roughly $49,000 a year, according to the 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Report. read more

Do You Really Need a Will?

“Prince Needed a Will, But Maybe You Don’t.” Is this New York Times headline accurate? (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Though some advisers pooh-pooh it, a will can avoid big problems

By Rosie Wolf Williams for Next Avenue

You might have heard that Prince died without a will, which has already led to a flurry of legal maneuverings over his estate. But do mere mortals like the rest of us, with far smaller net worths, really need a will?

Traditionally, the answer to that question has been an unequivocal “Yes” — particularly if you have a spouse, children or stepchildren. Lately, though, some financial advisers have been saying that many Americans might not need a will. New York Times “Wealth Matters” columnist Paul Sullivan wrote about that provocative view in his article, “Prince Needed a Will, But Maybe You Don’t.” read more

Why You Need the Shingles, Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines

Close up view of a healthcare professional injecting another person's shoulder with a vaccine

Did you know that as you age, your immunity to the diseases you’ve been vaccinated against as a child starts to wane? (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

The diseases can be a serious threat to older adults’ health

By Leah Ingram for Next Avenue

Did you know that as you age, your immunity to the diseases you’ve been vaccinated against as a child starts to wane?

So says Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease specialist at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas. That’s why it’s just as important to be vaccinated as an adult as it was as a child. Plus, some of the illnesses you could contract in the second half of life aren’t just an inconvenience — they could make you very sick or even kill you. read more