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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why the ‘Peculiar’ Stands Out in Our Memory Ohio State professor speaks on the neuroscience of remembering

How Memory worksNewswise, June 27, 2017 – Memories that stick with us for a lifetime are those that fit in with a lot of other things we remember – but have a slightly weird twist.

 It’s this notion of ‘peculiarity’ that can help us understand what makes lasting memories, according to Per Sederberg, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

 “You have to build a memory on the scaffolding of what you already know, but then you have to violate the expectations somewhat. It has to be a little bit weird,” Sederberg said.

 Sederberg talked about the neuroscience of memory as an invited speaker at the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France on June 19. He spoke at the session “What are memories made of? Stirring emotions and last impressions” along with several advertising professionals and artists.

 Sederberg has spent his career studying memory. In one of his most notable studies, he had college students wear a smartphone around their neck with an app that took random photos for a month. Later, the participants relived memories related to those photos in an fMRI scanner so that Sederberg and his colleagues could see where and how the brain stored the time and place of those memories.

 From his own research and that of others, Sederberg has ideas on which memories stick with us and which ones fade over time.

 The way to create a long-lasting memory is to form an association with other memories, he said.

 “If we want to be able to retrieve a memory later, you want to build a rich web.  It should connect to other memories in multiple ways, so there are many ways for our mind to get back to it.”

 A memory of a lifetime is like a big city, with many roads that lead there.  We forget memories that are desert towns, with only one road in. “You want to have a lot of different ways to get to any individual memory,” Sederberg said.

 The difficulty is how to best navigate the push and pull between novelty and familiarity. Novelty tells us what is important to remember. On the other hand, familiarity tells us what we can ignore, but helps us retrieve information later, Sederberg said.

 Too much novelty, and you have no way to place it in your cognitive map, but too much familiarity and the information is similarly lost.

 What that means is that context and prediction play critical roles in shaping our perception and memory. The most memorable experiences are those that arise in a familiar and stable context, yet violate some aspect of what we predict would occur in that context, he said.

 “Those peculiar experiences are the things that stand out, that make a more lasting memory.”


 Sederberg’s co-presenters, all based in London, are Dominique Bonnafoux, a senior strategist at FITCH; Mike Reed, founder and creative director of Reed Words; and Jason Bruges, a multidisciplinary artist and designer.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Study by Nation's Leading Senior Care Provider Explores Sandwich Generation's Growing Concerns

June 6, 2017--PRNewswire/ -- With nearly 75 million Americans ages 51-691, Baby Boomers are currently the second largest living generation in the United States.

 According to a recent survey of 1,000 adult children ages 45-64 issued by Senior Helpers®, the nation's premier provider of in-home senior care, nearly 60 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are concerned about juggling the responsibility of caring for their families alongside of also providing for the wellbeing of their aging parents.

Many find it is nearly impossible to maintain a full-time job and care for children at home or in college, while assuming the additional role of a full-time caretaker for an aging loved one. The added duty of elderly care can create added emotional, financial and physical stress, the study finds
"While caring for an aging loved one is a noble act, this should not come at the expense of one's own physical and mental health," said Chris Buitron, chief marketing officer, Senior Helpers.

"Above all, it's important to be realistic and determine what care you can or cannot provide, and then know when to seek assistance. In-home senior care companies like Senior Helpers help relieve the burden that family members experience when caring for an elderly loved one."

Key insights uncovered by Senior Helpers' survey include:
  • A majority of respondents (34 percent) indicated they would prefer someone with prior caregiving experience to care for their loved one's daily needs, but do not require a professional care facility.
  • Nearly 85 percent of adult children would prefer for their loved ones to age at home.
  • A surprising 67 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are comfortable talking to aging loved ones about long-term care options.
  • When asked why their aging parents still live at home, 58 percent of respondents said it was because of the comfort and dignity associated with living independently.
  • Nearly 60 percent of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers feel that when the elderly are cared for in their own homes their experience is more positive than in an assisted living facility.
  • When asked hypothetically who would make the ideal caregiver of choice, 37 percent of respondents chose Jill Taylor of "Home Improvement" to care for their aging loved ones. Others cited include Fran Fine of "The Nanny" at 25 percent, Tony Micelli of "Who's The Boss" at 24 percent and "Uncle Phil" of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" at 13 percent, respectively.
Founded in 2001 with a vision to help seniors who wish to remain in their homes – despite age-related illnesses and mobility challenges – Senior Helpers serves elderly individuals and their families around the world. Senior Helpers differentiates itself with its proprietary, specialized programs that have been developed in collaboration with leading medical experts. The company was the first provider in the industry to offer specialized care services for individuals with Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's disease.

For more information about Senior Helpers, visit http://www.seniorhelpers.com.

1 According to the Pew Research Center



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Research Shows 'Baby Boomer' Disdain For Massachusetts Nursing Homes

Dramatic Fear of Nursing Homes & Concern for Plight of Nursing Home Residents
MS Study shows disdain of Boomers for Nursing Homes

PRNewswire-USNewswire, May 20, 2017-- A new survey of 250 Massachusetts 'baby boomers' shows overwhelming anxiety about nursing homes with 90% of those surveyed fearing a move into a nursing home. 92% of respondents do not support the nursing home industry's attempts to reduce protections for nursing home residents. 88% felt nursing homes in Massachusetts did not have enough staff to provide quality care.

The survey, sponsored by the Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (MANHR) sheds light on attitudes towards nursing homes, among Massachusetts 'baby boomers,' as millions of Massachusetts baby boomers will retire over the next 20 years.

"Such strong negative results show that the vast majority of Massachusetts nursing homes are not living up to their promise of quality care," said Arlene Germain, president, MANHR.  The nursing home industry continues to work hard to remove regulations – we call them protections -- that ensure the care, safety and dignity of nursing home residents."

96 percent of Massachusetts 'Baby Boomers' favor comprehensive reform to improve the lives of nursing home residents with 88 percent agreeing the MA Legislature does not make the quality of care of nursing home residents a high enough priority. 97 percent believe it is important for nursing homes where abuse occurs to be shut down.

"Nursing home residents are 'the forgotten ones' as most people don't pay attention to this truly needy segment of our population," said Martin Alintuck, senior advisor at MANHR.

"When our elderly need help the most, we fail them by not reforming a system that many of them must choose because they get old and run out of money."

Other Survey Results
  • 73% do not believe nursing homes make the best interests of their residents a priority.
  • 86% do not believe there is enough media coverage of nursing home problems in Massachusetts.
  • 66% do not believe it is right the Commonwealth does not have enough resources to investigate and police the thousands of annual complaints about nursing homes.
  •  
Survey Details


MANHR/SurveyMonkey research conducted between 3/31/17 and 4/11/17.  The 250 respondents, 44% male and 56% female, live in Massachusetts and are between the ages of 52-72.

The nation’s acute shortage of home health aides is jeopardizing care for vulnerable older adults




Acute shortages of home health aides and nursing assistants are cropping up across the country, threatening care for people with serious disabilities and vulnerable older adults.

In Minnesota and Wisconsin, nursing homes have denied admission to thousands of patients over the past year because they lack essential staff, according to local long-term care associations

In New York, patients living in rural areas have been injured, soiled themselves and gone without meals because paid caregivers aren’t available, according to testimony provided to the state Assembly’s health

In Illinois, the independence of people with severe developmental disabilities is being compromised, as agencies experience staff shortages of up to 30 percent, according to a court monitor overseeing a federal consent decree.

The emerging crisis is driven by low wages — around $10 an hour, mostly funded by state Medicaid programs — and a shrinking pool of workers willing to perform this physically and emotionally demanding work: helping people get in and out of bed, go to the bathroom, shower, eat, participate in activities, and often dealing with challenging behaviors.

It portends even worse difficulties to come, as America’s senior citizen population swells to 88 million people in 2050, up from 48 million currently, and requires more assistance with chronic health conditions and disabilities, experts warn.

“If we don’t turn this around, things are only going to get worse” said Dr. David Gifford, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs for the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes across the U.S.

“For me, as a parent, the instability of this system is terrifying,” said Cheryl Dougan of Bethlehem, Pa., whose profoundly disabled son, Renzo, suffered cardiac arrest nearly 19 years ago at age 14 and receives round-the-clock care from paid caregivers.
Rising demand, stagnant wages
For years, experts have predicted that demand for services from a rapidly aging population would outstrip the capacity of the “direct care” workforce: personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an additional 1.1 million workers of this kind will be needed by 2024 — a 26 percent increase over 2014. Yet, the population of potential workers who tend to fill these jobs, overwhelmingly women ages 25 to 64, will increase at a much slower rate.

After the recession of 2008-09, positions in Medicaid-funded home health agencies, nursing homes and community service agencies were relatively easy to fill for several years. But the improving economy has led workers to pursue other higher-paying alternatives, in retail services for example, and turnover rates have soared.

At the same time, wages for nursing assistants, home health aides and personal care aides have stagnated, making recruitment difficult. The average hourly rate nationally is $10.11 — a few cents lower than a decade ago, according to PHI, an organization that studies the direct-care workforce. There is a push on now in a handful of states to raise the minimum to $15 an hour.

Even for-profit franchises that offer services such as light housekeeping and companionship to seniors who pay out-of-pocket are having problems with staffing.

“All the experienced workers are already placed with families. They’re off the market,” said Carrie Bianco, owner of Always Best Care Senior Services, which is based in Torrance, Calif., with franchises in 30 states.

Finding new employees was so difficult that Bianco started her own 14-week training program for caregivers nine months ago. To attract recruits, she ran ads targeting women who had left the workforce or been close to their grandparents. In exchange for free tuition, graduates must agree to start working for her agency.

“There’s much more competition now — a lot of franchises have opened and people will approach our workers outside our building or in the lobby and ask if they want to come work for them,” said Karen Kulp, president of Home Care Associates of Philadelphia.

Hardest to cover in Kulp’s area are people with disabilities or older adults who live at some distance from the city center and need only one to two hours of help a day.  Workers prefer longer shifts and less time traveling between clients, so they gravitate to other opportunities and “these people are not necessarily getting service,” she said.

It isn’t possible to document exactly how common these problems are nationally. Neither states nor the federal government routinely collect information about staff vacancy rates in home care agencies or nursing homes, turnover rates or people going without services.

“If we really want to understand what’s needed to address workforce shortages, we need better data,” said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI.

Hard times in Wisconsin
Some of the best data available come from Wisconsin, where long-term care facilities and agencies serving seniors and people with disabilities have surveyed their members over the past year.

The findings are startling. One of seven caregiving positions in Wisconsin nursing homes and group homes remained unfilled, one survey discovered; 70 percent of administrators reported a lack of qualified job applicants. As a result, 18 percent of long-term facilities in Wisconsin have had to limit resident admissions, declining care for more than 5,300 vulnerable residents.

“The words ‘unprecedented’ and ‘desperate’ come to mind,” said John Sauer, president and chief executive of LeadingAge Wisconsin, which represents not-for-profit long-term care institutions. “In my 28 years in the business, this is the most challenging workforce situation I’ve seen.”

Sauer and others blame inadequate payments from Medicaid — which funds about two-thirds of nursing homes’ business — for the bind. In rural areas, especially, operators are at the breaking point.

“We are very seriously considering closing our nursing facility so it doesn’t drive the whole corporation out of business,” said Greg Loeser, chief executive of Iola Living Assistance, which offers skilled nursing, assisted living and independent living services in a rural area about 70 miles west of Green Bay.

Like other short-staffed operators, he’s had to ask employees to work overtime and use agency staff, increasing labor costs substantially. A nearby state veterans home, the largest in Wisconsin, pays higher wages, making it hard for him to find employees. Last year, Iola’s losses on Medicaid-funded residents skyrocketed to $631,000 — an “unsustainable amount,” Loeser said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a 2 percent Medicaid increase for long-term care facilities and personal care agencies for each of the next two years, but that won’t be enough to make a substantial difference, Loeser and other experts say.

The situation is equally grim for Wisconsin agencies that send personal care workers into people’s homes. According to a separate survey in 2016, 85 percent of agencies said they didn’t have enough staff to cover all shifts, and 43 percent reported not filling shifts at least seven times a month.

Barbara Vedder, 67, of Madison, paralyzed from her chest down since a spinal cord injury in 1981, has witnessed the impact firsthand. Currently, she qualifies for 8.75 hours of help a day, while her husband tends to her in the evening.

“It’s getting much, much, much more difficult to find willing, capable people to help me,” she said. “It’s a revolving door: People come for a couple of months, maybe, then they find a better job or they get pregnant or they move out of state. It’s an endless state of not knowing what’s going to happen next — will somebody be around to help me tomorrow? Next month?”

When caregivers don’t show up or shifts are cut back or canceled, “I don’t get proper cleaning around my catheter or in my groin area,” Vedder continued. “I’ll skip a meal or wait later several hours to take a pill. I won’t get my range-of-motion exercises, or my wheelchair cushion might slip out of place and I’ll start getting sore. Basically, I start losing my health.”

Debra Ramacher and her husband have been unable to find paid caregivers since June 2015 for daughter Maya, 20, and son Michael, 19, both of whom have cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other significant disabilities. The family lives in New Richmond in western Wisconsin, about 45 minutes from the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

“At least three agencies told me they’ve stopped trying to hire personal care aides. They can’t find anybody and it costs them money to advertise,” said Ramacher, executive director of Wisconsin Family Ties, an organization for families with children with emotional, behavioral and mental disorders.

“It’s incredibly stressful on all of us, living with this kind of uncertainty,” she said.

Every few months, Ramacher tries to find caregivers on her own by putting ads up on Craigslist, in local newspapers and on job boards.

“We get a few bites,” she said. “Most recently, two people came and interviewed. One never got back to us; the other got a better job that paid more.”

In the meantime, she and her husband are being paid by Medicaid to look after Maya and Michael.

“We don’t want to be the caregivers; we want to have our own life,” Ramacher said. “But we don’t have any option.”


KHN’s coverage related to aging & improving care of older adults is supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

About one-in-four U.S. workers have taken leave to care for a seriously ill family member

By Kim Parker  (c ) Pew Research Center

Family caregivng
About one-in-four Americans (23%) say there has been a time when they took leave from work to care for a family member with a serious health condition. An additional one-in-four say that if this hasn’t happened to them already, it’s at least somewhat likely that it will in the future.

The current debate over paid leave often focuses on maternity and paternity leave. Yet among adults who were employed in the past two years, more took time off from work to care for a sick family member (11%) than did so following the birth or adoption of a child (7%), according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Roughly two-thirds of all adults (67%) say workers should receive paid leave when they need to take time off to care for a sick family member, and most (60%) of those who took family leave in the past two years say they did receive at least partial pay while they were out of work.

But the vast majority of those who received at least partial pay (86%) say some of that pay came from vacation, sick leave or personal time off. Relatively few of these workers (15%) say they received pay from a family and medical leave benefit provided by their employer.

Workers who took maternity or paternity leave with at least some pay in the past two years are significantly more likely to report that they were paid, at least in part, through an employer-provided family or medical leave policy (28%).

Family-leave takers are generally more satisfied with the amount of time they took off from work than parental-leave takers – half of those who took leave from work to care for a sick family member say they took about as much time off as they needed or wanted to, compared with 36% of those who took maternity or paternity leave.

Even so, four-in-ten family-leave takers say they took less time off than they needed or wanted to. And among those who say they took too little time off, family-leave takers are much more likely than parental-leave takers to say they came back to work sooner than they needed or wanted to because they were worried about job security.

For example, 62% of family-leave takers who came back to work earlier than they would have liked say they thought they might risk losing their job if they took more time off. Only 37% of maternity- and paternity-leave takers say the same.

In addition, among those who returned to work sooner than they wanted to, family-leave takers were more likely than those who took parental leave to say they worried about the impact their time away was having on their co-workers.

About half of family-leave takers who took less leave than they would have liked (46%) say they felt badly about their co-workers taking on additional work in their absence, compared with 31% those returning from maternity or paternity leave.

There are some intriguing gender dynamics underlying family caregiving patterns. A narrow majority of all Americans (54%) say that when a family member has a serious health condition, caregiving responsibilities fall equally on men and women, but nearly as many (45%) say these responsibilities fall mainly on women. Most women (59%) say that family caregiving responsibilities fall mainly on women, while only 29% of men agree with this assessment. A majority of men (69%) say family caregiving responsibilities fall equally on men and women.

However, women and men who were employed in the past two years are equally likely to say that they have taken time off to care for a sick family member during that time, but women report having taken slightly more time off, on average, than men.

And women are much more likely than men to say that they were the primary caregiver for their sick family member. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of female family-leave takers say they provided more care for their sick family member than anyone else in the family. Only 44% of male family-leave takers say they were the main caregiver.

For women who have taken family leave in the past two years, a plurality (38%) say they were caring for a sick parent. Fewer say they were caring for a spouse or partner (25%) or caring for a child younger than 18 (20%).

Men who took family leave in the past two years are just as likely to say they were caring for a spouse or partner (33%) as they are to say they were caring for a parent (34%). Some 13% of men say they took time off from work to care for a sick child.

Among all workers who have taken time off from work in the past two years to care for a sick family member, about six-in-ten say the experience did not have much of an impact on their career.

 For those who do think it made a difference, men are more than twice as likely as women to say the impact on their career was positive (26% vs. 10%). Men are also more likely than women to say their family benefitted from their taking time off from work: 79% of men, compared with 67% of women, say taking time away from work to care for a sick family member had a positive impact on their family.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Older Entrepreneurs an Untapped Force for Economic Stability




Older entrepeneurs force for economic stabilityEntrepreneurs over 50 years of age offer significant “golden dividends” for economies wrestling with aging populations that place a disproportionate burden on resources—according to a new report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

Newswise, April 3, 2017— The number of older adults who are self-employed outweighs that of young adults, suggesting that people of 50 years and older still have a significant role to play in economies around the world—this according to a new Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Special Report on Senior Entrepreneurship.

This new report, co-sponsored by Babson College, Universidad del Desarrollo, Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, and Korea Enterprise Foundation, draws on data collected between 2009 and 2016 on entrepreneurial activity in 104 countries.

The sample comprises 1,540,397 adults aged 18 to 80 years old across five regions of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Middle East and North Africa (MENA), South East Asia (SEA), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the European culture countries (ECC). Visit http://www.gemconsortium.org/
  
“Entrepreneurial success and prosperity has no age limits,” said Mike Herrington, Executive Director of GEM.

“While the traditional perception of entrepreneurship is that it is a young person’s endeavor, the data are showing us that, in many aspects, older people are a significant entrepreneurial force. But this segment is largely an overlooked and undervalued resource.”

According to the report, 18 percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 and 13 percent between the ages of 65 and 80 are self-employed compared to just 11 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29. Eighteen percent of “middle-aged” entrepreneurs (aged 30 to 49) are self-employed.

Yet entrepreneurship programs and support are, by and large, geared towards younger segments. The report suggests that specialized support for older entrepreneurs could help unlock benefits for economic stability—especially in economies where senior entrepreneurship is underrepresented.

Regionally, senior entrepreneurship, in terms of both entrepreneurial intention (the percentage of the adult population who intend to start a business within the next three years) and early-stage entrepreneurial activity (those who have started and are running a business that is less than 42 months-old), is highest in Sub-Saharan Africa (35 percent/19 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (27 percent/14 percent), and MENA (23 percent/7 percent) and lowest in the ECC (six percent/four percent).

Just 14 percent of seniors in South East Asia report entrepreneurial intentions and nine percent are actually engaged in an early-staged venture. These numbers are consistent with GEM findings that entrepreneurship levels are typically higher in factor-driven economies where the types of businesses started often require lower skills and less money to get off the ground.

According to Thomas Schøtt, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern Denmark and lead author of the report, senior entrepreneurs bring with them a host of benefits—economic, social, and environmental—that the report labels “golden dividends”. These include relieving pressure of an aging population on the state and job creation.

“Every older adult who is self-employed is less likely to place a financial burden on society and to contribute to the economy of that country through the payment of taxes and by remaining economically active.

“Additionally, senior entrepreneurs are marginally more likely than their younger counterparts to employ more than five people so they are not only creating jobs for themselves but for others as well,” said Schøtt.

Additional economic benefits come from the fact that seniors who act as informal investors also tend to invest considerably more money compared to younger adults. Almost two thirds (63 percent) of older business angels invest more than the median of all investments.

And elderly entrepreneurs across all phases of entrepreneurial activity report substantially higher levels of satisfaction with both their life and their job, compared to elderly routine employees. This translates into better health and fewer demands being placed on social service/entitlement programs.

Schøtt said that these findings have particular significance for economies struggling with the perceived burden of an aging population.

“With approximately 16 percent of the world’s population 55 or older, the issues of entrepreneurial activity at these more advanced ages directly affect more than a 1.2 billion people,” he said.

“The world is beginning to understand how senior entrepreneurs with their wealth of work and life experience, deep networks, and eagerness to remain productive are a huge untapped resource.

“It is time that we stop thinking about this demographic as a liability and instead recognize them as assets, and work across sectors to help break down barriers to unleash their potential.

“It is imperative for governments to create innovative, inter-agency frameworks to marshal resources, catalyze strategic thinking, prioritize new policy, and create actionable research to advance this movement.”

Additional Findings
• Older individuals have the lowest confidence in their own ability to start and run a business, but risk-willingness is highest amongst older age groups.
• Older adults are slightly more likely to be social entrepreneurs than entrepreneurs in the other three age groups. This suggests that people may retire from jobs as employees or as self-employed, but may continue to pursue ventures with a social or community objective. This is an interesting finding, as social entrepreneurship is often associated with young changemakers who are idealistic in nature.
• Gender has an influence on senior entrepreneurial behavior. Entrepreneurial intentions are lowest among senior women compared to the other three age groups, with fewer than seven women expressing the intention to start a business for every ten men in this age group. Older people report the widest gender gap in terms of early-stage entrepreneurial activity, with only six women engaged in start-up activity for every ten male entrepreneurs in this age group.

About the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) was initiated in 1999 as a joint venture of Babson College and the London Business School. Starting with 10 participating economies, the project expanded to include 73 economies in its 2014 survey. The latest survey spans 62 economies. GEM is the largest and most developed research program on entrepreneurship in the world. GEM is unique because, unlike most entrepreneurship data sets that measure newer and smaller firms, GEM studies the behavior of individuals with respect to starting and managing businesses.

GEM academic teams in each participating economy are members of an exclusive research project that provides access to the collective knowledge of some of the world’s most renowned researchers and institutions involved in entrepreneurship research. At a time in history when individual entrepreneurial activity may hold the key to transforming the global economy and discouraging ingrained economic disparity in countries with minimal economic opportunity, GEM data has influenced national economic policies and continues to expand its collaborative role. Global sponsors of the research include Babson College (lead sponsor) in the United States, Universidad Del Desarrollo in Chile, Universiti Tun Abdul Razak in Malaysia, and Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico.