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A1. A NEW MISSION FOR HOSPICE, by Betsy Day
A"Hospice," derived from the word "hospitality," began as an early Western tradition of providing a place of rest for tired or ill travelers (probably on their way to or from pilgrimages). As modern medicine became more refined, the hospital became the impersonal, efficient, and expensive place in which to be very ill, and to ultimately die. Doctors were treated as gods, and family were treated as guests. However, in 1974 the first hospices opened in the U.S. as "homes" where people could die with dignity, still receiving the medical care that kept them reasonably comfortable, and where family, friends, and even pets were welcomed as part of the continuum of life while awaiting the inevitable. Hospice services were also available to those who decided to remain in their own homes-nursing care and palliative medication were (and are) part of the mission of in-home hospice care.
Now hospice may be taking on a new mission: treating patients, either in-house or at home, as persons who deserve every chance to continue life-prolonging treatment. This new development, which many private insurance companies are endorsing and paying for, allows terminally ill patients the opportunity to receive sophisticated treatments that may slow or even halt the progression of disease. This program is termed "open access."
Cost benefit is only one of the positive aspects of this new system, though an important one. Medicare covers palliative care in hospice, but not treatment for the illness. Private insurance companies and individuals are finding that it is cost-effective to pay for treatment that keeps their clients going while Medicare picks up the tab for the usual hospice services and in-home care.
Of course, the most important benefit may not be the money, but the hope that it gives hospice clients that they may yet feel and be less ill, though their prognoses remain the same. It also entices people to join hospice earlier in their illnesses so that the services hospice can provide will have a more comforting, effective way to help all involved and keep patients out of the hospital at end-of-life. Patients may be able to regain more function; families may have strain relieved as caregivers; and everyone will know that everything possible is being done to prolong the patients' constructive lives while making the likely outcome more bearable to all.
Two of the companies offering life-extending treatment are Aetna and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. Two of the hospices involved in this new life-prolonging system are Capital Hospice (Falls Church, VA) and Continuum Hospice Care (part of the hospital system of the same name) in New York. Some companies, such as Dow Chemical, are willing to pay the higher premiums for this new service, deeming it "the right thing to do."
For general information about hospice in your area, check the Web for "hospice services."
For more information, contact your own health insurance
company and visit the following Websites:
Additional health-related information for seniors
can also be found at:
A2. RELIEF FOR HOMEOWNERS? NOT JUST YET
To some, the current financial crisis arising from the housing market in America can be laid at the door of greed: Corporate greed from within the banking system. Greedy finance men on Wall Street. And the greed of foolish home buyers who knew they couldn't afford a home and bought it anyway.
To others it feels terrifying - like the fear of losing one's own home. Because they are.
Many are confused by all the reports, so we'll try to lay out the situation in clear terms:
Banks increased their lending activities and lowered requirements for some borrowers because the real estate market nationally was hot. Financial institutions like Bear Sterns bought those loans and bundled them into financial instruments they sold to investment funds, and other banks around the world making big profits in the process.
The problem was that mortgage brokers, banks, and real estate appraisers began to operate with a "wink and a nod" on standards. The appraisers in some cases were manipulating the values of properties so the borrower could qualify for loans. The mortgage brokers in some cases were looking the other way as the borrower exaggerated their income, or assets, or both. Other mortgage brokers sold loans that were unfavorable without informing the buyer of future rate increases to come. Increases that they might not be able to afford, and may have thought better of had they known before they signed the loan documents. While real estate prices were rising there was no problem, but once the bubble burst the realities of payments due was unavoidable. If someone owned a house that was suddenly worth less than they paid for it - and the interest rates were rising - they could just walk away from the loan and suffer the foreclosure on their credit.
Other homeowners have taken second and third jobs in an effort to pay the rising interest rate loans, and keep their family home.
Economists and politicians were for a moment arguing that bailing out the system would simply insulate irresponsible investors from suffering the result of their own risky investments. If it sounds a bit too pat of an answer - it usually is. And was. Those voices turned around and the Federal Reserve Bank made substantial changes in how it serves the finance markets. The Federal Reserve facilitated the sale of Bear Sterns because allowing that institution to fail could have thrown the nation into a deep recession overnight, or in the estimation of some, even a depression.
Today the notion among economists and politicians is one of "save the Nation". Because if every homeowner currently on the edge loses their home, the costs to the economy will be far worse than the result from risky investors receiving a beak. The recession that is upon us will be far worse, far deeper, and devastating if the hard working homeowner is left to twist in the wind.
Additional financial information for seniors can also be found at:
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
Ringtones to Enjoy
809 Area Code Scam
Be cautious when responding to e-mails or phone calls from the 809, 284 or 876 area codes.
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.
More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm
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D. SPECIAL OCCASIONS THIS MONTH
1. Arthritis Month
2. Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month
E. SPECIAL SURFING SITES
Easing the Alzheimer's Burden
Comparison Shopping Sites
F. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE
For Those Who Love The Philosophy Of Ambiguity
When Insults Had Class
"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at:
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SPONSOR AN ISSUE
This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).
Aging in Place