Avoiding Dangers of the Flu for Older Adults

(NewsUSA) – It’s the time of year everyone dreads: flu season.Last season, more than 900,000 people were hospitalized due to the flu or flu complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People over the age of 65 are at greater risk for these complications, making up about 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths and hospitalizations last year.Experts say nearly half (48.5 percent) of senior hospitalizations could, in fact, be avoided if proper preventative steps are taken, according to research from Home Instead, Inc. Here are tips to avoid the dangers of the flu:* Consider a flu vaccine for your loved one. If you choose to get the flu shot, the best time to get one is before flu season is in full swing. For the best protection, the vaccine should not be limited to just older adults. Caregivers and family members also need to stay healthy to protect older loved ones.* Take daily preventative measures. It might sound simple, but washing your hands and avoiding those who are sick can go a long way. The CDC lists seven healthy habits to stop germs, including not touching your eyes, nose or mouth and sanitizing properly.* Encourage physical activity for those who are able. Moderate exercise boosts the immune system and can reduce the risk of a cold, according to Harvard Health. Even in frigid winter temperatures, activities such as a walk at a community recreation center or simple strength training exercises at home, using household items and body weight, can boost immunity. * Pay attention to the signs and symptoms. Frequently check in on loved ones. Pay close attention to symptoms and changes in their appearance or demeanor. Encourage regular doctor visits to help keep minor symptoms from turning into more serious issues. And it’s important to know all symptoms of the flu and get treatment as soon as possible.* Take extra precautions to prevent hospitalizations. Simple steps, such as acknowledging symptoms of illness when they first appear, reducing risks of falls around the home and maintaining a healthy diet can all have a substantial impact on protecting older adults from hospitalization and further infection.For more information on staying healthy this flu season, including the "5 Ways to Prevent Senior Hospitalizations" guide, visit www.preventseniorhospitalizations.com, or find a Home Instead office near you at www.homeinstead.com/state

The Value of Prescription Drug Benefits for Medicare Enrollees

(NewsUSA) – If you are eligible for Medicare, prescription drug benefits should be an important consideration when it comes to choosing among various Medicare coverage options.It’s important to know that Original Medicare provides very little prescription drug coverage. Therefore, if you have Medicare and want drug coverage – known as Medicare Part D – you will need to purchase it from a private company, such as Humana. You can either buy a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) or obtain Part D prescription coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription benefits.Even if you’re not currently taking prescription medications, it is still a good idea to look into getting prescription drug coverage as soon as possible.One reason is that you may need to start taking a prescription medication sooner than you expect, but you can’t just sign up for coverage at any time. You can sign up for coverage only when you first become Medicare-eligible (typically at age 65) or during the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Election Period, which runs each year from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, for coverage that starts on Jan. 1 of the following year.A second reason to enroll in Part D coverage as soon as you are eligible is to avoid an enrollment penalty. If you wait to sign up, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) can charge you a penalty every month, in addition to the plan’s monthly premiums. Penalties can range from a few dollars up to more than $20 each month on top of your premium. This can be a significant cost if you’re living on a fixed income. Once a penalty is assessed, it never goes away."Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you choose the drug coverage that is right for you, such as talking with a licensed insurance professional or visiting Medicare.gov to compare all of the plans offered in your county,"says Jeff Fernandez, Senior Vice President for Humana’s Medicare West Region & MarketPoint Administration.Even if you are already in a plan, the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Election Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7) is the time to take a good look at all your plan options and find the coverage that is right for you. Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PFFS organization and a stand-alone prescription drug plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on plan renewal. Y0040_GHHKC3PEN_C 

More Than Half of Those Approaching Retirement Believe They Will ‘Unretire’

(NewsUSA) – Reflecting a changing post-retirement landscape, a new survey by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network, reveals that 53 percent of workers approaching retirement in the next five years believe they will likely "unretire," or return to work.Not only do the majority of those approaching retirement and those who have "unretired" say they will change or have changed industries, nearly 80 percent of both groups say they want to make a meaningful impact in their communities during their post-retirement years.After money, the top motivators for returning to work among those who have retired were fighting boredom and keeping their minds sharp, while finding new challenges and fulfillment were important motivators among those pending retirement, according to the Home Instead, Inc. survey.Encouraging older workers to explore new "unretirement" options that will fulfill these needs, Home Instead collaborated with RetirementJobs.com to introduce an online career assessment tool that asks questions about users’ skills and interests before recommending a category that might be a fit for a post-retirement career:* Caregivers (e.g., personal care aide, child care worker)* Advisors (e.g., library assistant, tutor, admin assistant, clergy/counselor)* Networkers (e.g., driver, retail salesperson, tour guide)* Creatives (e.g., culinary worker, writer, graphic designer)Sales clerks, bank tellers, online tutoring and caregiving are among some of the most popular and flexible jobs for older workers.To explore additional unretirement resources including the Career Assessment Tool, visit UnRetireYourself.com, or find a Home Instead Senior Care office near you by going to www.homeinstead.com/state/

Planning for Your Final Years

(NewsUSA) – When it comes to the final years of life, communication and planning are the keys to ensuring that your life song hits the right note. A new survey conducted by Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network, found that 85 percent of surveyed seniors who have made plans for their final years agree that planning is a chance to decide how their life’s story ends.Planning ahead and involving adult children in the discussion can help guide important decisions and bring families closer together, while also reducing stress.The following tips can help with starting a plan for the final years:1. Consider personality and preferences. Where do you or your loved one want to spend your final years, months or days? If aging at home is the goal, there are many options for home care, including support offered by Home Instead Senior Care.2. Communicate with loved ones. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but it’s crucial. The Conversation Project (https://theconversationproject.org) offers tips for discussing end-of-life wishes.3. Identify people who can help plan. Developing relationships with financial planners, home care companies and funeral homes early on can give seniors and their loved ones peace of mind.4. Put finances in order. Meeting with a financial planner gives seniors and their loved ones the opportunity to prepare financially for the cost of care, funerals and other needs they will have. Genworth (https://www.genworth.com) provides resources for long-term care and life insurance.5. Complete a personal planning guide. There are resources available to help you in the planning process. For example, Dignity Memorial offers a personal funeral planning guide. You can go to www.thedignityplanner.com for more information.6. Create a bucket list. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. Plan a few fun goals to ensure that you achieve the things in life that matter most to you.Home Instead has compiled free resources to aid in planning the final years. The site includes a music generator to help seniors and families think about what steps to take to be better prepared for this journey.To get started on your plan, visit www.ComposeYourLifeSong.com 

Senior Care Requests Rise After Family Visits During The Holidays

(NewsUSA) – For adult children with aging parents, spending time together around the holidays can bring attention to changes in lifestyle or behavior that might indicate that a senior needs assistance at home.For those who provide senior care, the weeks immediately following the holidays tend to be the busiest of the year as families work to arrange care for aging loved ones. According to Home Instead Senior Care, January is the highest volume month for new inquiries related to senior care. Home Instead saw a 41 percent rise in service inquiries from December 2016 to January 2017.Families who have recently spent time with aging loved ones should consider these factors when deciding whether it is time to engage a senior care provider.* Mood. Was a senior loved one acting different around the holidays this year? Was he or she less talkative or more emotional?* Physical appearance. Did mom or dad lose a significant amount of weight since your last visit? Did they appear to be keeping up with personal hygiene?* Social life and routine. Did an aging relative mention socializing with neighbors and friends? Do he or she seem to be interested in making plans and getting out and about?* Household. During holiday visits, was their home clean and orderly? Have they fallen behind on paying bills, refilling medications, or housework?* Food choices. Did they have nutritious food at home, or was the refrigerator empty because they can’t make it to the grocery store?Families who notice changes in senior loved ones can find support and resources at caregiverstress.com or by reaching out to a local Home Instead Senior Care office. For many older adults, help with everyday tasks such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders can allow them to stay safe and healthy at home.For more information, visit caregiverstress.com or find a Home Instead office near you at www.homeinstead.com/state

How Older Americans Can Benefit From Chiropractic Care

(NewsUSA) – It’s not just you.As a nation, America is getting older – with another 10,000 Boomers turning 65 every day. And whether you like to admit it or not – and who does? – odds are you’re probably already experiencing at least some of the same nagging health issues you once thought only happened to your parents.What’s also likely, assuming you’re one of the nation’s 100 million chronic pain sufferers, is that you’re seeking a safer alternative to opioids after being scared off by news headlines of people becoming addicted and even dying from them. Read on to see if drug-free chiropractic care may be right for what ails you.* Back and neck pain. It’s the primary reason older Americans visit doctors of chiropractic every year. And as Dr. Phillip Pizzo of Stanford University’s School of Medicine has said, "We see that for many patients, chronic pain becomes a disease in its own right."Blame the aging process itself for why even the most active seniors – weekend athletes, say – aren’t immune from such pain: Our muscles, spinal discs, facet joints and ligaments simply become less hydrated, weaker, and less able to withstand normal stresses. Doctors of chiropractic, who are highly educated and trained in the structure and function of the human body, can help provide relief through hands-on techniques that enhance flexibility, muscle strength, and range of motion.* Osteoarthritic pain and dysfunction. Knees or hips acting up? As with back and neck pain, doctors of chiropractic can also outline a program of exercise – monitoring your progress along the way – aimed at rehabilitating and strengthening specific muscle groups.* Overall wellness. This, it’s been said, is "the wheelhouse of a chiropractor." Exercise. Nutrition. Alignment. Posture. He or she can advise you on all those and more."Doctors of chiropractic are dedicated to helping patients get the best outcome from their body," said the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress’ Sherry McAllister, DC.For more info, visit f4cp.com/findadoctor

How to Age with Optimism

(NewsUSA) – Having a "glass half full" approach to life has long been considered important for overall wellness. But evidence suggests that there may be truth in this folk wisdom.Humana recently surveyed 2,000 people aged 60 and over, and found that 87 percent of seniors who identify themselves as "most optimistic" reported their health as good to excellent. This is compared to 44 percent for those who said they’re "least optimistic."Also, the most optimistic people reported nine fewer physically unhealthy and seven fewer mentally unhealthy days per month than their least optimistic counterparts.Seniors who rated themselves as most optimistic also reported positively on other attributes linked to health, including sleep, confidence and overall happiness.* 91 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling confident in the past week, while only 52 percent of the least optimistic respondents did, a difference of 39 percentage points.* 90 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling happy in the past week, compared to 44 percent of the least optimistic respondents, a difference of 46 percentage points.* And only 31 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported getting a restless night’s sleep in the past week, while 62 percent of the least optimistic respondents did, another difference of 31 percentage points.Despite these impressive numbers, having an optimistic mindset is often easier said than done. The stresses of life, social stereotypes and one’s natural temperament can all impede approaching aging with optimism. Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez, Humana vice president and chief medical officer for care delivery, has the following advice for anyone struggling to stay on the sunny side of life:1. Take ownership and recognize that your health is your own. To achieve your best health, you need to set personal goals – just for you.2. Engage with your doctor or other health care professional and build a trusting relationship.3. Find a higher purpose that makes you excited to get up in the morning. Humana’s survey found that the majority of respondents (86 percent) who identify as optimists also rank a sense of purpose as an important attribute for aging.4. Remain socially engaged, not isolated, and nurture close relationships. The importance of social engagement is recognized by the 71 percent of Humana survey respondents who identify as optimists and get together with friends or relatives either monthly or weekly. Further, 80 percent of optimists say maintaining an active social life is an important motivator to stay healthy.5. Stay active and remember that physical activity is important. Find something that’s right for you and that you like to do. Almost all of the most optimistic survey respondents (97 percent) say remaining physically active is a major motivator for retaining good health.6. Practice gratitude and make it a habit to look for and appreciate everything you’re thankful for in life."As a boomer myself, I know that the majority of the decisions about my own health take place outside of a doctor’s office," said Dr. Hernandez Suarez. "With the knowledge that optimism may be linked to health and well-being, I’m focused on making positive health decisions through all aspects of my life. Our goal at Humana is to empower everyone to approach health in the same way." 

SilverSneakers Fitness Program Improves Older Adult’s Physical and Mental Health

(NewsUSA) -Joanne C. was 74 when she had a stroke two years ago that left her paralyzed on the entire right side of her body. She refused to accept that she’d end up in a wheelchair and began rehabilitation, determined to get her life and body back to where it was before her stroke.Joanne’s hard work paid off. She has regained much of her strength and movement and can walk again. In large part, she credits her SilverSneakers exercise classes – offered through her HumanaChoice® PPO, a Medicare Advantage preferred provider organization (PPO) health plan – as key to her successful recovery.Being a SilverSneakers member helped keep Joanne in good physical condition before her stroke. "SilverSneakers helped me be familiar with many of the exercises they had me do in physical therapy and gave me the confidence and strength to persevere through a difficult rehab process," Joanne says.Numerous studies, including Tivity Health’s SilverSneakers Annual Member Survey of 2016, confirm that exercising, especially with others, improves older adults’ physical and mental health.1,2, 3However, there are challenges that prevent many Medicare beneficiaries from joining gyms and fitness classes.By offering SilverSneakers through its Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Humana is working to overcome those barriers so more people with Medicare can benefit from exercising.For those on a fixed income, joining a gym can be expensive. SilverSneakers provides gym access at no additional cost to many of Humana’s MA members across the country, including those in Florida and Texas. SilverSneakers has partnered with almost 14,000 fitness and wellness centers around the U.S. and, with national reciprocity, SilverSneakers members can go to any one of those facilities.The program is designed with the Medicare population in mind and taught by certified instructors who offer classes and modifications for all fitness levels. These instructors are specifically trained to help members avoid stress-related injuries to muscles and joints.There’s also a wide variety of classes offered, including circuit training, yoga, Latin dance and even an outdoor boot camp. SilverSneakers members also have access to all of a facility’s amenities, which can include a range of exercise equipment, weight rooms and swimming pools."According to Tivity Health’s annual survey, SilverSneakers has made a significant difference in the lives of many of our Medicare Advantage members, not only in their physical health, but also in their social life," says Lauri Kalanges, M.D., Humana’s Medical Director of Medicare Products for the Mid-Atlantic Region.Tivity Health’s Annual Member Survey of 2016 found that 91 percent of SilverSneakers participants reported an improved quality of life. SilverSneakers has had a substantial impact on the health of its participants, reducing hospitalizations and the risk of depression.3For more information about SilverSneakers, go to www.silversneakers.com.Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PFFS organization with a Medicare Contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments and restrictions may apply. Benefits may change each year. SilverSneakers is not offered on all Humana MA plans in all areas. 1. Nguyen Q, Ackermann RT, Maciejewski M, Berke E, Patrick M, Williams B and LoGerfo JP. Managed-Medicare Health Club Benefit and Reduced Health Care Costs Among Older Adults. Prev Chronic Dis 2008;5(1). 2. Nguyen HQ, Maciejewski M, Gao S, Lin E, William, B, LoGerfo JP. Health Care Use and Costs Associated with Use of a Health Club Membership Benefit in Older Adults with Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2008; 31:1562-1567 3. Nguyen, Koepsell, Unutzer, Larson and LoGerfo. Depression and Use of a Health Plan-Sponsored Physical Activity Program by Older Adults. Am J Prev Med 2008;35(2):111-117 

Easing Senior Loneliness – It’s More Important Than We Think

(NewsUSA) – Social isolation is a little-thought-of, but growing, factor in the health and well-being of people 65 and older – and it may play a greater role than obesity as a public health hazard, according to research at Brigham Young University.But what does "social isolation" really mean? It’s how often we interact with others, and how much we enjoy those connections. In fact, social interaction is so important that it’s actually a key factor in maintaining good health.As we age, a support system is more important than ever – because often, basic life circumstances may have changed. For example, seniors may be on a fixed income, with less money to spend on eating out. Or may not see well enough to drive. Bottom line, it can become difficult to fulfill the basic human need to connect with others."Relationships really do matter when it comes to healthy aging, because there’s a strong correlation between a satisfying social life and a senior’s overall well-being," says Larry Weinstein M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Humana Behavioral Health. "If you’re feeling isolated, the first step is to talk your doctor, and it’s important to reach out to family and friends for encouragement and support. There also are lifestyle changes we can make to better nurture our emotional health, and by extension, our physical health."Humana’s Dr. Weinstein recommends five ways in which to become more active and engaged:1. Socialize on ScheduleNurture existing relationships by scheduling a weekly phone call, coffee date, or game night with friends or family.2. VolunteerIf you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. Or comforting babies at a hospital.3. Stay ActiveLocal senior and community centers offer health and wellness activities, exercise classes, walking clubs, and social programs, often at little to no cost.4. Learn Something NewJoin a book club or take a class to learn a new skill. Local libraries are a wonderful community resource, often offering seminars free of charge.5. Get a PetPets are wonderful companions. Choose a pet that suits your needs. For example, an older, trained dog is easier to care for than a puppy. Or a cat or fish might be a good fit.When it comes to maintaining good health, social interaction matters. If you – or a loved one – are struggling with social isolation, please contact your physician.And for more information on health and wellness, please visit humana.com

Florida Invests In Seaports, State Is Key Player in Global Marketplace

(NewsUSA) – Summer may be over, but Florida’s economy isn’t cooling down. So much so that start-ups and businesses are flocking to the Sunshine State because of its strategic geographic locations, state-of-the-art infrastructures, multilingual workforces, and concentrations of corporate and financial resources. That’s according to Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders and the principal economic development organization for the state. Other reasons for the influx of businesses to the state include taking advantage of the younger talent moving to the area, no state income taxes, and promotions to reduce the property tax. Also the much lower cost of living. And to make Florida even more attractive for U.S. and international businesses, the state has also invested billions in upgrading and expanding its seaports in recent years. To this end, the state is continuing to invest in its ports based on the market demand. Under the leadership of Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature, the state’s seaports have seen billions invested through state, local and private funding since 2011. This has produced a Return On Investment (ROI) of nearly $7 in state and local tax revenue for every $1 of state investment. And an additional $2.8 billion has been earmarked for capital improvement projects over the next five years to ensure that Florida remains a key player in the global marketplace. The annual Five-Year Seaport Mission Plan is a statutorily-required report produced by the Florida Ports Council on behalf of the Florida Seaport and Transportation and Economic Development Council. Some highlights of the 2017-2021 plan include: * $50.1 billion in value of containerized cargo moved (6.4 percent increase); * 3.5 million twenty foot equivalent units handled; * 15.5 million cruise passengers served (1.4 percent increase); * $2.8 billion programmed in improvements over the next five years. “Those are market-driven investments, responding to market needs,” says Doug Wheeler, President and CEO of the Florida Ports Council, a Florida nonprofit corporation that serves as the professional association for Florida’s 15 public seaports and their management. “We’re seeing more and more businesses recognize ports as very beneficial to their bottom line.” As these 15 Florida ports see upgrades and expansions, international companies are taking advantage of the benefits. There has been a growth in business from Mexico, South America, Central America, and Asia businesses, says Wheeler. The ports have seen an uptick in automobile business and parishables, such as fruit. “We’re seeing growth at our ports,” Wheeler says. “It benefits everyone on the supply chain and helps the existing port tenants. We’re seeing companies with a manufacturer component recognize that ports can be a value-added service and be where they need to be to export or import their products.” Companies are not the only ones benefiting from the upgrades in seaports. The economy of the state is also feeling the love. Since 2012, the total economic value of the Florida seaports increased from $101.9 billion to $117.6 billion, and total jobs supported and related to cargo and cruise activity grew by 217,664 within the state. “Clearly, port infrastructure investments by Governor Scott and the legislature are paying off as Florida further establishes itself as a key player in the global marketplace,” Wheeler says.