Back when my brother and I were sharing the caregiving of our mom during years 2007 – 2011, I did not own a SmartPhone and had never texted.  Most of our communication was via live chats by cellphone.  Fast forward to 2018 and care has intensified for aunt Eunice, who is almost 91, a resident at a nursing facility in Southwest Virginia, a five-hour commute from Columbus, Ohio.

As I told you in an earlier post, our aunt had to leave the facility where she had been a resident for almost 28 years when it closed its doors.  As her guardian and POA, I made the decision to move our aunt to the town near where she grew up and where she has some family.

The move proved to be very difficult, partly because she had trouble understanding why the move was necessary and also because her vision is severely compromised due to macular degeneration.  And my assumption that she might connect with family and friends has been slow to materialize.

Her seemingly only choice for pushing back was to be combative and argumentative with her new caregivers.  That behavior caused her to become medicated to the point where she became relatively helpless, unable to lift a cup to her lips for water or feed herself.

Regrettably, I was recovering from emergency surgery when the move took place and it was weeks before I was able to go and check on her.  By that time she was sleeping much more than she was awake.  In fact the first time I visited her after her move, I had trouble waking her.

When our aunt left the original nursing facility she was feeding herself, getting dressed every day (with some assistance), and able to maneuver her wheelchair throughout the facility and communicate easily with her roommate and with other residents.

Since her arrival at the new facility in late October she has now lost approximately 50 pounds and developed a bedsore on her heel.   Our efforts at bringing attention to her needs through the nursing manager have gone unheeded.  With perseverance I found the doctor’s location and phone number, but requests for a call back went unheeded.

With the support of my daughter-in-law, who has been a nursing home administrator, the director of nurses was apprised of our aunt’s condition, and she pulled the medications that had been sapping our aunt’s energy.

Thankfully, she is now more awake and aware of her surroundings; and the best part is she is gradually getting back to enjoying the taste of a few foods she liked in the past.

And another change has been instituted:

The family has hired a sitter to come and be with our aunt for a couple of hours each day, Monday through Friday.  This sitter has proved to be an angel in some ways.  Yesterday the sitter brought her two chicken drumsticks from KFC – a favorite food from the past.  And the sitter is engaging our aunt in conversation, offering her the comfort and pleasure of personal attention.  The sitter calls each day from our aunt’s room, updating us as to our aunt’s progress.  I cannot say enough good about this lovely lady who has come into our lives.

Two other basic needs, we are continuing to wrestle with:  keeping our aunt hydrated and keeping her turned regularly.  As they say, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil!”  Every loved one in a facility needs an advocate!




A Piece of the Action

           After years of communication with my readers, there is one thing I know we have in common:   more of us fear the specter of Alzheimer’s than cancer, stroke, or any other debilitating condition combined.  And we have become frustrated, wondering if the hard shell of Alzheimer’s prevention and a cure will ever be cracked.

I would like you to know about a most amazing idea that came across my desk recently, which I am excited to share with you.  The idea happens to be a bold initiative to ensure a cure for Alzheimer’s in time and for each of us to have the opportunity to claim a small piece of its ownership.

To view a brief description of the initiative, click here.

The article, “Alzheimer’s:  The Shocking Truth About the Search for a Cure,” was authored by Max Tokarsky, Founder and CEO of InvestAcure, a Fin Tech Public Benefit Corporation startup based in Brooklyn, New York.

The entire article follows with my interest in receiving your feedback.

Alzheimer’s: The Shocking Truth About The Search for A Cure

Wall Street Math Behind Pfizer’s Decision and A Bold Initiative To Ensure A Cure In Time

by Max Tokarsky

Today at the office, we were calculating the Alzheimer’s death toll worldwide and figured out that every 38 seconds another life is claimed. With Pfizer following other Big Pharma in downsizing or closing their Alzheimer’s research divisions, it is clear that due to the high cost and unpredictable nature of clinical stage research, the investment business model for Alzheimer’s drug discovery is simply broken.

Many drugs have shown potential in restoring brain connections and memory, and leading scientists believe that Alzheimer’s can be cured. Yet, with scarce investment in clinical trials, progress has stalled and countless millions may perish as a result.

In laboratory experiments Alzheimer’s can be prevented and even reversed

In their thought-provoking article in the prominent blog, The Hill, founding members of the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease; Andy Sieg and George Vradenburg write that according to a September 2014 study from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, more Americans fear the specter of Alzheimer’s than cancer, stroke or any other debilitating condition combined. They go on to raise the alarm, that before Baby Boomers reach their 70s, generating a massive wave of new Alzheimer’s patients, we need a dramatically new approach to the way we fund research and development of new medicines and therapies for the disease. Within ten years, the government estimates that more than $2 trillion will be spent on care for those with Alzheimer’s, having a massive impact on the economy.

Dr. Hugo Geerts, who formerly headed Alzheimer’s drug discovery at Johnson & Johnson Belgium and who has now joined our Scientific Board at InvestAcure, described the situation best. ‘We can cure Alzheimer’s in our mice every week, but when it comes to clinical research where real progress needs to be made to cure people, there is simply no funding available.’

A single early-stage clinical trial can cost $10 — $30 million or more. Each trial just tests one potential component of a cure. With each trial, we learn vital lessons and come a step closer, but hundreds of trials are needed to test countless combinations and compounds. High-risk Venture Capital investment models need some degree of predictability. If you know that 9 of 10 startup companies fail, you can still make money as long as you make 20X profit on the 1 successful outcome. With the high cost and unpredictable nature of clinical stage drug discovery for a complex disease like Alzheimer’s, there is no way to create a sound mathematical model to forecast when a cure will be found or the amount of investment needed. This makes consistent Venture Capital investment impossible to sustain and has culminated in the current investment scarcity.

A comprehensive study of financial models for Alzheimer’s drug discovery, conducted by Andrew Lo, Director of the Laboratory for Financial Engineering at MIT, puts this in stark terms ‘our portfolio simulations show that the risk-adjusted return on investment of (Alzheimer’s) parallel discovery is insufficient to attract private-sector funding.’

What about charitable organizations and government funding?

The largest Alzheimer’s charity, the Alzheimer’s Association, raised about $300 million in 2016 and gave $29 million to support 159 research projects, almost all of which were pre-clinical. It goes without saying, that donors received zero equity in the research. It’s important to note that the Alzheimer’s Association does extensively benefit the public good by providing support to caregivers and advocacy, but their impact on advancing clinical stage research is rather small.

This is an inherent problem with a non-profit solution for this kind of social impact. Donors can be attracted to give with ads promising a particular impact which may legitimately be one of the missions of the non-profit. Once their donation is given, however, the non-profit can legally use those funds to support other related missions included in its charter. Donors do not own stock equity with their donation; they can’t sell their equity and get their money back. If the intended impact involves the development of a product which is eventually sold, the donors have no share in the revenue from that product, which seems both inherently unfair and builds in a lack of transparency leading to an inefficient impact model.

What about taxpayer-funded research?

In 2016, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) allocated $929 million for Alzheimer’s research. These funds were distributed in 1768 grantsaveraging a few hundred thousand dollars each and given mostly for pre-clinical research conducted by university labs. With the cost of clinical stage research in the tens of millions for a single study, this wide and shallow distribution of funds has little impact on clinical stage drug discovery and hence the process seems highly unproductive.

It is also hard to imagine that there were 1768 great ideas funded and much more probable, that as with much else in government, political motivations were involved. It goes without saying, that taxpayers had no direct say in how their money was spent, they also receive no stock equity when the government invests in private sector research.

A bold solution to end Alzheimer’s

We believe that InvestAcure’s Public Benefit Corporation model can solve this investment bottleneck by enabling the millions impacted by Alzheimer’s to power clinical stage research with affordable, automated, spare change investment.

Science relies on trial & error to make progress — with each clinical trial funded, we come one step closer to a cure!

The mechanics of the model are similar to other online investment platforms such as Stash and Acorns. InvestAcure is set up as an SEC-approved Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Users download an app, set up an online investment account and give InvestAcure permission to purchase stock on their behalf. They then connect the credit cards they use for day-to-day transactions. Now, every time they spend money, the system automatically rounds out their transaction to the nearest dollar and deposits the spare change in their investment account. Guided by a panel of leading scientists, InvestAcure then invests those funds in companies spearheading research.

The motivation for this investment is not profit, but rather a feeling of doing one’s best to address a legitimate fear, investing a reasonable amount in a way that makes sense. Much like the motivation for buying term life insurance, you do not expect to die in the next 10 years, however, it makes sense to spend $50 a month to feel secure in the knowledge that you have done your best to protect your family in case you do. Similarly, if you know that you have a 30% chance of getting Alzheimer’s, it makes sense to spend $50 per month to have a reasonable chance for a cure.

Public Benefit Corporation model vs nonprofit

A Public Benefit Corporation is responsible to its shareholders in prioritizing a mission of a specific social good over profit. In the case of InvestAcure, our mission is finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and eventually, other deadly diseases. Unlike a charity or government taxes, the Public Benefit Corporation model is inherently fair and accountable, with each investor receiving fair equity in the outcome and putting investment to work directly in funding companies with specific trials, vetted by a world-class scientific board.

Why spare change investment?

The idea of spare change roundup investment is not new. A company called Acorns, has in a short time attracted two million users to an investment platform offering spare change investment as a way for Millennials to save a bit for retirement in a psychologically painless way.

While spare change doesn’t seem like a lot, automatically rounding up one’s transaction adds up to about $50 per month on average. 26% or 70 million Americans have a relative with Alzheimer’s. If just 1.5% become spare change investors, that’s $600 million annually, $3 billion over 5 years. That would have 30X the impact of Bill Gates’ recently publicized $100 million commitment to Alzheimer’s research. At a 15% participation rate, the number jumps to $6 billion annually or a staggering $30 billion over 5 years! That’s enough for countless clinical trials and a reasonable chance for a cure.

Just think about it, does it really make sense for millions of people to wait around to die from a horrible disease, simply because one can’t make a profit developing a cure?

Doesn’t it make more sense to invest our spare changeregardless if we make money or lose it, but so that we have a pretty decent chance for a cure in 5, 10 or 15 years?

In the words of Dr. George Perry, a world renowned Alzheimer’s scientist and editor of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, who has recently joined the InvestAcure board, ‘InvestAcure has developed a formidable financial plan to end the roadblock imposed by insufficient capital to fund clinical trials necessary to discover effective cures for Alzheimer Disease. With so many major pharmaceutical companies leaving the space, it is even more imperative that we activate this approach immediately if we are to bring cures to families.’

Such encouragement is gratifying and gives us the confidence to believe that the InvestAcure solution can work. It also means that the sooner we launch and scale, the sooner new studies can get funded. The sooner a cure is found and people stop dying!

This realization is probably both the most awesome feeling of purpose any human being can hope to experience and the heaviest possible responsibility. To think that every day, every hour, every minute, if we could just work a bit harder, a bit faster, a bit smarter, another life could be saved.

It reminded us of that scene at the end of Schindler’s list, when Oskar Schindler, surrounded by the 1100 people he saved from the Nazi death camps, is given a parting gift of a ring. It’s inscribed with the words from the Talmud ‘Whoever saves a single life, saved the whole world.’ He takes a gold pen from his jacket pocket and breaks down crying realizing that with just that pen, he could have saved another life.

So, to keep ourselves accountable we decided to put up an office clock, which counts down every 38 seconds and reminds of another life lost. If our idea makes sense to you, join us and together we can stop that clock 38 seconds sooner!

Over the past six months since we quit our day jobs and began working on building InvestAcure full time; a lot has been accomplished:

  • We have built a demo of our investment platform and are about six months away from official launching of a full working model.
  • Received approval from the SEC for our plan, with InvestAcure now an official Registered Investment Adviser (RIA)!
  • Most importantly, we assembled an incredible team, which includes some of the world’s leading Alzheimer’s scientists, who believe that this solution offers the best chance for a future when Alzheimer’s will be cured.

Right now, we are working to raise our Seed round, so that we can finish building the investment platform and launch in the next six months. If you feel, like we do, that working on an idea which could save countless lives is just about the most meaningful thing one can do in life, the good news is that there is plenty of room to get involved:

  • We need as many people as possible to sign-up to download the app when it is launched, this saves precious time once the app becomes available and let’s our investors, who are helping us develop the platform, know that there is strong base of people who care! Go to http://www.investacure.com to sign up today!
  • We need volunteers to spread the word to their local community, answer questions nd galvanize support. We simply can’t do this alone. If you are a natural leader and want to help build the InvestAcure community, email us at info@investacure.com Please put the word Volunteer in the subject of your email.
  • Finally, if you have the financial means to become a Seed investor and partner in building the InvestAcure platform faster, so that more lives can be saved, please email me at mtokarasky@investacure.com and we can schedule a time to speak.

Max Tokarsky is the Founder & CEO of InvestAcure, a FinTech Public Benefit Corporation startup based in Brooklyn, New York. He can be reached at mtokarsky@investacure.







Safe travel starts with planning before you leave.  Here are some suggestions for traveling with an elder dealing with dementia challenges.

Be sure to do some advanced planning.

  • Call the airline to explain your needs. Ask what they provide.  Ask about rules for carry-on medicines.
  • If you are traveling to a resort, call and ask what help they can provide.
  • Pick out snacks or book activities to help your elder enjoy the trip.
  • Put together a packet that has phone numbers for your loved one’s primary care provider, neurologist, and pharmacist, an emergency family contact who knows your elder’s medical history, and the nearest pharmacy and hospital in the place your are visiting.
  • If an airport or tourist attraction requires security screening, ask to have your elder manually searched. This will avoid setting off the security screening device.

Prepare your elder’s medicines.

  • Be sure to have prescriptions filled and picked up before you leave home.
  • Pick up the medications 2-3 weeks before the start of the vacation, so you have enough to take with you.
  • If needed, call your insurance company to see if they will give you advance doses so you will not run out.
  • For air travel, carry two supplies of medicines with you. Put one in your carry-on and the other in your checked baggage.
  • Carry a written list of medicines and doses. This is called a Home Medication List.
  • Bring your pharmacy phone number from home. They can help you with insurance issues at a new pharmacy.

Prepare for the event of an emergency.

  • Ask for and carry a current emergency care plan signed by your care provider.
  • Your elder should wear a medical bracelet or necklace, including any allergies on it.
  • Everyone traveling with your elder should know first aid.

Take precautions if your elder is on a special diet.

  • Ask to have a refrigerator put in your hotel room to store special diet foods.
  • Make enough meals to have on hand during traveling. Plan extra meals in case you are delayed by weather.  Be sure to take an insulated carrier and enough cooling packs to keep food that you are carrying safe.
  • For travel out of the country, you may need a doctor’s letter to take foods/liquids in and out of the country.

Take additional precautions once you arrive at your destination.

  • Check for the location and phone number of a pharmacy and hospital near you.
  • Call ahead for advance seating at restaurants and local attractions.
  • Have a hospital bag put together so that you will have everything you need if an emergency happens. Include a change of clothes, money, the emergency care plan, and your care notebook or notes about your elder’s care.
  • If you need to visit the emergency room while on vacation, the following tips may help make it a smooth visit:
  • Carry an emergency care plan from your care provider. This should include the doses of emergency medicines already calculated for your elder’s weight.  This plan should be signed by your care provider.
  • Bring your provider’s contact information and your elder’s medication list with dosage and formulation.
  • Speak up for your elder. You know your elder’s care best.

Content in this article was adapted from information sent to us by CHOC Children’s Neuroscience Institute.

You Never Know!

Though I am dog tired from a day trip to Virginia to check on my 90-year-old Aunt Eunice, I want to share with you an amazing instance of synchronicity (if such be a word).

I made the trip from Ohio for the nursing home’s Christmas Party today.  Here is what happened —

Though physically challenged, Aunt Eunice has always loved to sing – her alto voice is usually spot on with the harmony of the music, if the song is one she knows.  She was excited to be called to the front to sing with the guitar player during the party.  One tune she was really comfortable with was, “I’ll Fly Away”.

Immediately, after the party broke up, a nicely dressed elderly lady and her daughter appeared before us, introducing themselves to my aunt, who actually remembered the older lady.   I was then asked by them, “Who are you?”   In that place of families knowing families, I answered, “I’m Dupey’s daughter.”

This lady broke into a huge smile, telling me that my mother was her fifth grade teacher. (Before marriage my mom had taught in the community.)

This lady further said, my mother was the best teacher she ever had; and she had named her daughter Christine after my mom!

The mom and daughter were willing to have me snap their photo together.  As I did so, the daughter confided to me that she had always wanted to be called by her middle name Christine rather than Wanda.

Had my aunt not been called to the front, this meeting might never have occurred.

The mother, I was told, has a school days photo in her room.  When I return to the nursing facility for a visit with my aunt, I will hope to talk further with this mom who brought tears of appreciation to a 75-year-old daughter on a gray day in December!


12 picture poster

Forget the candy, shirts, sweaters, smell-um-goods this year, as those well-intended gifts may wind up in your loved one’s closet and be soon forgotten.

Instead consider making a Memories from My Life photo poster filed with enlarged pictures and captions, giving your loved one a constant source of pleasure and pride, with the wall poster visible at all times, reminding your loved one of the special people, places, and events that shaped his or her life.

To get started simply visit http://www.MemoriesfromMyLife.com or click here, then follow the prompts.  (If you use older photos, they will need to be uploaded into your computer or iPhone.)  This year as our gift to you, please use PROMO CODEmfmlnh10 for 10 percent off your order!!

Here are a few ideas for deciding what photos to use:    1) A place (childhood home, favorite vacation spot, or special event;  2) Special people (parents, siblings and friends); 3) Hobby/interests (travel, sports activities, crafts, gardening, art interests); and/or  4) Pets (a collage of family dogs, cats, birds, favorite animals).

The posters come in four sizes, beginning with the smaller four photos plus cameo picture of your loved one.  (Shown at the top of this page is the 12-photos plus cameo size 24″ X 36″.)  Alzheimer’s caregivers recommend two or three smaller size posters, such as the 4-photos plus cameo size 16″ X 20″ for loved ones dealing with memory challenges.

Reminiscing with the photo posters can facilitate conversation with visitors.  And your loved one will enjoy seeing herself or himself as they used to be!

Remember to use the PROMO CODE:  mfmlnh10 for 10 percent off your order!!

I am bringing up this topic, Medicare Plan Choices, for seniors residing in the United States, who have until December 7th to make any changes in Medicare coverage.

I have learned that healthcare costs rank the most burdensome among common living expenses for seniors, yet seniors are more likely to comparison shop for groceries, gas, cable and internet service, and even travel deals, than they are to shop for a Medicare plan.   That’s according to a new survey “The Cost of Complacency,” by WellCare, which reveals surprising perceptions and behaviors among seniors when it comes to healthcare.

Only one third of seniors reported they comparison shop for a Medicare plan at all; and only approximately one in three seniors (38%) review their Medicare plan annually to determine if they are getting the best deal.

Given that healthcare spending is expected to increase year after year for the vast majority of seniors and that virtually every Medicare plan changes each year, we seniors could be missing out on savings and putting our retirement income at risk by keeping our heads in the sand, so to speak.

Recently I was privileged to speak with Retirement, Aging, and Eldercare expert Bart Astor.  He is the author of the Washington Post bestseller, AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life:  Smart Choices about Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle, and Pursuing Your Dreams, and the best-selling book, Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents.

Our talk focused on what to look for when reviewing a Medicare plan.

Here goes:

PAT WHITE:                Good morning!  Very nice to speak with you and to have your comments for Memories from My Life readers.

                                    My interest for our visit today is for you to offer guidelines in evaluating the different Medicare plans.

BART ASTOR:          I can talk a little bit about the verbiage.  

The Cost of Complacency Survey sponsored by WellCare polled over a thousand seniors.  And although healthcare is the number one most burdensome of living expenses, including groceries, food, transportation, and utilities — despite the fact that healthcare is the most burdensome, seniors do not review their plans annually.

That potentially leaves money on the table, but it also means seniors may not be getting the kind of coverage they need.  I think that’s what the key takeaway is.

So to your point, by not looking at it, you’re going to be losing out not just the money; but there are certain things you want to be covered for that you may not be.

Yes, it’s important to look at premiums, and it’s important to look at the deductibles.  Those are things that determine how much you’re going to pay out of pocket.

And you will need to look at coverage for diagnostic tests that your Medicare may not cover.  You may run into lifetime limits on the number of tests you can have like PET scans and MRIs.  So we have to include that.

In addition, you will want to take the next step and see what other coverage might you need in the future, not in the past but in the future.

For example, you might decide you want to pay for additional coverage for vision care or for dental care.  If that’s in your future, then you want to include that in your costs.

You might want to make sure your coverage includes hearing exams, for example, if that is relevant to you.

The point is to compare apples to apples.  As we know from the survey, people look at this as the most horrendous thing to do.  It is so unpleasant, people would rather go and renew their driver’s license at the DMV than look at their Medicare plans, or they would rather do their taxes.  It sounds funny, but it’s true.  That’s what the survey revealed.

So I want to say, yes, it’s confusing; yes, it’s complicated, but there’s also help for you.  And there’s lots of information available and lots of ways you can get that help.  So please don’t just put it on autopilot and just assume that what you have now is what is right for you in the future.

PAT WHITE:                I must admit I am one of those people who have been on autopilot!  I knew I had a choice on supplemental plans but had ignored choices on Medicare itself.

BART ASTOR:             This survey did not get into supplemental plans.  The survey was really looking at traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, which is different from supplemental plans you were referring to.

But even within your Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans you can work with your insurer to tailor to what your needs are.  Whatever your plan, the important thing is that it be tailored to your needs.

There are ways to get the information you are going to need to make the right choices.  You can go to Medicare.gov and get the information there.  And you can go to www.CostofComplacency.com and also get more information.

I encourage people to go and check with their local senior centers where there are experts to help guide you on a one-on-one basis for not just – “Here’s a bunch of information; make your choice.”  They tailor it to you.

And there are customer service people at the companies that do focus on Medicare Advantage plans to help guide you to make the right choices for yourself.

It is complicated.  And you want to make sure you are paying for what you really need and you are not paying for things you don’t need.

PAT WHITE:    Obtaining information from the senior center, I would not have thought of that.

BART ASTOR:  Yes, it’s a great resource.  There you are actually talking with a person who can guide you toward making the right choice.

Yes, it’s confusing; but they can help you look at your options to see what you really most need.

How much does cost matter to you?  Sometimes it matters a lot; and sometimes it doesn’t matter quite as much.  Everyone is so different that way.

As we said at the beginning, healthcare is the most burdensome of living expenses.  We feel like it’s just such an unpleasant thing to review, but potentially there’s money in it that matters for you and, most important, the kind of coverage that you really need.

PAT WHITE:    My thanks to you for sharing this relevant information.  Memories from My Life readers, though probably several years younger than myself, are going to need to address these issues eventually for themselves.

BART ASTOR:  They will for sure.  And coverage is going to be changing every year; it always does!  And our health changes every year as well.

We have to review it and say ‘What am I like now?’  Not, ‘What was I like two years ago.’  You must consider, ‘What do I need for next year?’

I want to encourage that December 7th is a hard and fast deadline.  So you are locking in what you need for 2018 by December 7th.  You cannot miss that deadline.

PAT WHITE:    So you are saying for us seniors, re-evaluation is necessary every year; we can’t just do it this year and wait two or three years.  It’s a year-by-year thing.

BART ASTOR:  Absolutely, it is a year-by-year.  It depends on how things have changed for you.  If there have not been many changes, then it’s a little bit easier.

But that’s not to say you should ignore it.  It will just take a little bit less time to say not too much has changed and I’m still okay.

But if things start changing either in the plans that are available or in your own needs, then absolutely, it’s time to really delve right into the ‘weeds’ and reevaluate what’s best for you and your family.

PAT WHITE:    Are these companies competitive enough so that they are willing to do the best they can for consumers?  There seems to have been a lot of advertising about it this year, more than I remember before.

BART ASTOR:  I think as the looming deadline approaches, you are seeing more ads saying for Medicare recipients to review their plans.

I notice that they also say ‘Call in for more information.’  That really is critical!  I think people can and should call in for more information to wherever they are most comfortable calling.

CostofComplacency.com is certainly one place to contact for more information.  The customer service people are really very knowledgeable and very good at guiding you the caller for what is most appropriate for your needs.

Look at it this way:  There is a cost of being too complacent, and overpaying for senior healthcare is one of those.


The interview with Mr. Astor was made possible through courtesy of WellCare.  Thanks to Tiffany Miller for this opportunity.


Since the posting of this article I contacted my own health insurance company, requesting a review of my coverage.  Lo and behold I was able to get over $700 deducted from my premiums!  And this was without a comparison with any other healthcare insurer plans.








My aunt made a life-changing move to another nursing home a few weeks ago.  The institution where she had lived for the past 29 years closed.

As things happened, I was unable to help with her move due to an unexpected illness and surgery.  With family encouragement we found a lovely place in the town where our Aunt Eunice grew up that appeared to be a wonderful fit.  Our thinking was that she might receive some much-welcomed visits from friends and family who had been unable to come before due to travel distance.

The part of the move that affected our aunt in a huge way, however, was that her roommate was assigned to another different living location.  Our aunt,  a 90-year-old elder, had so enjoyed her roommate Juanita, who at 30 years her junior was full of vitality and energy and a wonderful companion, especially with our aunt’s deteriorating vision.  Having to adjust to the new place with new caregivers and without her roommate was almost more than Aunt Eunice could manage.

Her way of coping turned out to be ‘acting up’, perhaps hoping if she was bad enough, she might get to return to her old place.  But that’s not what happened.

The first inkling I had that things were not as they should be was when I called to speak with my aunt a week ago.   For a lady who has always been clear of mind, her words were unintelligible that morning.  When I called a few hours later to speak with a nurse, I was informed that my aunt’s behavior was such that she had had to be ‘medicated’.

I have Power of Attorney for our aunt, and I was always contacted immediately by the previous administration at the former nursing home whenever any change was noted in her health condition or otherwise.  That trust was a given.

The seriousness of the situation was evident when my brother and I arrived yesterday for a visit  – each of us driving over 200 miles from our homes.  Our aunt at noon was completely sedated, so that we were unable to wake her.  Her lunch tray sat beside her bed untouched.

Our first move was to find out what medications she was being given:  Remerol in the morning, Ativan three times a day, and Paxil.  For someone who had never been on medication such as this before, especially an elder, knowledge of this regimen was shocking to say the least.

An hour or so later our aunt gradually woke up.  She was very thirsty – evidently dehydrated.  My brother brought her favorite soft drink – Dr. Pepper, which she devoured.  She also drank two cartons of milk and much water.

Our request to nursing staff was a care conference ASAP and a request for the reduction and gradual stoppage of drugs.

Had we not physically been present, we would not have known about our aunt’s condition.  The charge nurse did have my information.

Did the staff think because we had not been there sooner, that we didn’t care?  I did see the charge nurse make a note about my request to be contacted on any change in our aunt’s condition or proposed medication.

Any person who is handicapped for whatever reason needs an advocate, who is physically able to visit on a regular basis and see how care is being delivered.