The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) is from October 15th through December 7th, every year. This is the time of year that Medicare Beneficiaries can compare or switch certain Medicare coverage without penalty. During AEP approximately 1 in 5 people with a Medicare Advantage plan will change plans during this time. Plan benefits and costs change annually, so making sure your plan is still the best plan is a smart move. Read more →


Adult children are right to be aware of their parents’ physical and mental changes since there’s no way to stop the aging process. However, as a columnist on caregiving and a forum moderator, I’m seeing something very scary happening far too often. Ageism is overtaking common sense and respect. The fact that someone is over 65, and perhaps has arthritis and controlled high blood pressure, does not make this person cognitively unstable. Dementia doesn’t necessarily step in even after – gasp! – age 70. Read more →


Many people are genetically predisposed to developing certain diseases, among them diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. It’s natural to worry if you’ve watched family members endure the illnesses. However, the cortisol released in your body by chronic stress, which can be caused by worry, could increase your susceptibility. The fix? Be proactive. Limiting stress may not completely protect you from the disease that you dread, but it can help your overall health and, for some diseases, this could help you avoid a trigger. Where do you start? Read more →


Dear Carol: My mom is currently in a short-term swing-bed facility and will soon be moving to a nursing home. Dad is in assisted living where we already moved some favorite furnishings from home. Their house must be sold, so my brother and I are going through what's left. We’re stumped by jewelry and assorted items from their lives together. There are a lot of old pictures as well as Dad’s military medals which he says he doesn't care about. We’re not sure what to do with these things because they are items that have sentimental value. Mom had a stroke that has taken most of her memory and Dad says he doesn’t care what we do with the "stuff." My brother and I are both saddened by how their lives have played out and it seems somehow that discarding these items is discarding them, so we're struggling. What do we do with all these keepsakes Mom and Dad don't want or can't use? – LD Read more →


We are, for good reason, repeatedly reminded of the horrifying statistics related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people over the age of 65 is exploding and most dementia symptoms develop as a person ages. This is fact. In no way does this article intend to distract from the need to cure all types of dementia. However, there is one thing to celebrate. The actual rate of Alzheimer's seems to be declining. Of course, Alzheimer's will not go away without a fight.  Read more →


As you watch your parents or other beloved elders age, sometimes worry becomes inevitable. Should they have housing upgrades? Can they continue to live independently? Your intention isn’t to take over their lives, but you may genuinely want to start the conversation about possible future changes. How do you do this without causing a backlash?  Read more →


o dig a little deeper into the survey and its implications, I interviewed Beth Kallmyer, Vice President of Constituent Services for the Alzheimer’s Association, and Paul Hornback, who -- along with more than 1,100 other committed advocates -- attended the enormously successful Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C.  Paul’s personal interest in finding a cure stems from his diagnosis of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (YOAD) when he was 55. A cure could extend his normal lifespan, and help maintain his cognitive and physical health, for decades. Read more →


Make your facial expression pleasant when appropriate. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, the physical act may boost your own mood. Smiling can also reflect itself in your voice. Unless the situation is better suited to a compassionate expression, smile. When appropriate, try humor. Sharing gentle humor can make someone’s day. Read more →


Dear Carol: My mom was diagnosed with an early stage of dementia. Unfortunately, she thinks that there’s still a strong stigma surrounding dementia and she doesn’t want her friends to know about her diagnosis. I understand and respect her feelings, but when I asked her if she’d tell them if she had cancer, she said that she probably would. I tried to tell her that this shouldn’t be any different. Since her best friends don’t live close by, and she sounds like her normal self during most phone conversations as well as in her emails, there may be no rush. Still, while I don’t want to go against Mom’s wishes, I think that she could use their support and they are the type of people who would be behind her 100 percent. There will likely come a time when they should know. When is that time? – CT Read more →


Prior to the mid1980s, accepted psychiatric theory was that people with dementia had to be re-oriented. In other words, the people needed to be brought back into the real world – meaning the real world as we who do not have dementia see it. They were wrong. My dad had dementia brought on by surgery that was meant to correct the effects that a World War II brain injury. Tragically, the surgery failed and Dad came out of the operation with severe dementia. I, a completely uninformed person when it came to dementia, became Dad's primary caregiver. Read more →