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Things to Do Now to Lessen Risk of Dementia

Worried about your risk of dementia?  While there are some risk factors that are out of our control, there are some activities you can do to lessen your risk for some types of dementia.  This article on Yahoo!, “3 Things to Do Now to Lower Your Risk of Dementia Later,” suggests the following:

1. Eat Right.  Remember, not all dementia is the Alzheimer’s type.  Poor circulation to the brain can cause vascular dementia, which can also lead to strokes.  You can lessen your risk of a stroke by reducing your sodium intake.  Try tasty herbs and other spices instead.

2. Exercise.  It’s not just good for your heart!  You can reduce your risk or certain types of dementia, too.

3. Relax and Stay Engaged.  Use your brain “muscle”!  Engage in activities that keep you thinking and active, such as yoga, crossword puzzles, or game nights with friends.

For more reading, find the article here.


So What About This VA Benefit?

Our office is seeing an increased number of clients interested in applying for the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit.  This is a great benefit offered to veterans and their families that can help pay for long term care.  There does, however, seem to be a lot of misinformation floating around about what is available and who is eligible.  I hope I can give you a (preliminary) answer to some of those questions.

Who is eligible for the VA Benefit?

Veterans who served at least ninety (90) days active duty AND one of those days was during a defined period of war.  Most of our clients served in World War II, Korea or Vietnam.  Surviving spouses of veterans with qualifying service are also eligible.  Divorced spouses are generally not eligible, nor are veterans who served in the reserves.

Is there an income limit?

Yes.  For a single veteran, the income limit is $1,704 per month; for a veteran and one dependent, the limit is $2,020 per month; and for a surviving spouse, the limit is $1,094 per month.  This is also the maximum benefit payable.  However, the VA allows you to reduce your income by the amount you pay for monthly, unreimbursed, recurring medical expenses.  For example, if you are a single veteran with $2,000 worth of income, and you are paying $3,000 a month to live in assisted living, your countable income is $0, and if you meet all other requirements, you could be eligible for $1,704 per month.

Is there an asset limit?

Yes, but there is no specific number.  The VA looks at a number of factors, and determines if you have enough money to pay for your level of care for the rest of your life.  If so, you are not eligible.  In short, the VA uses the veteran’s age to determine projected lifetime income and adds to that the veteran’s countable resources, and then balances that figure against the lifetime projected medical expenses.  If the medical expenses exceed the income and asset figure, the veteran is qualified.

This is intended to be a short example of the VA Aid & Attendance benefit.  For more details, please contact our office for an appointment at 817-263-5190.  We look forward to helping our veterans!

Travelling with an Older Adult to Get Easier

One of the most frustrating processes in life is boarding an airplane.  You’re already rushed to be on time, making sure you packed everything you need… and now you have to go through security.  Travelling with an older adult, much like with a small child, increases the worry and stress: you have to strip down not only yourself, but your loved one, who many have mobility issues, may not understand the process, and whose nerves are probably just as frayed as yours, all while keeping the line moving.

Hopefully, the process will soon get easier.  The TSA has announced a pilot program in four airports to test alternative screening procedures for persons deemed to be 75 or older, much like they have different rules for children under 12.  Older adults will be allowed to leave their shoes and light outer clothing, such as a jacket, on while going through screening.  They will get a second pass at a machine if something out of the ordinary is detected, and be screened for traces of explosives before being patted down.  If these modifications work out, they could be expanded to all airports.  Let’s hope this makes travelling with an older adult one less thing to worry about.


TSA set to test new screening protocols for elderly,

Dementia and Holiday Celebrations

Is your family struggling to celebrate the holidays with a loved one who has dementia? The change in routine, hustle and bustle, and added noise of parties and family get-togethers can spell disastrous results for the dementia patient. How have you modified your holiday celebrations to accomodate older family members? Here are some suggestons:

1. Create a new tradition. Is the big meal getting to be too much, even if Grandma just watches? Order in a meal, or go out for Chinese food for Christmas dinner. Your family can start a new tradition in her honor.

2. Have a safe place. If Dad gets tired and irritable easily, have a bedroom with soft lights away from the noise designated and ready for him to get away for a while.

3. Talk with others about appropriate behavior. If your family includes small children, let them know that if they want to run around and be loud, they have to go outside or to a certain spot. Remind them to keep the noise down around their granddad. Talk about what to say if he forgets their name or asks the same question over and over. Keep them busy with an art project, such as decorating name tags for everyone.

These suggestions and more can be found in this article. You can also visit your local Alzheimer’s Association site for more tips.


After Alzheimer’s Diagnosis, Families Adapt Holiday Traditions –

New Medicare Benefit

Medicare news that may be helpful for many:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that Medicare is adding coverage for preventive services to reduce obesity.  This adds to Medicare’s existing portfolio of preventive services that are now available without cost sharing under the Affordable Care Act.  It complements the Million Hearts initiative led jointly by CMS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with other HHS agencies, communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, and private sector partners across the country to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes in the next 5 years.
Screening for obesity and counseling for eligible beneficiaries by primary care providers in settings such as physicians’ offices are covered under this new benefit.  For a beneficiary who screens positive for obesity with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2, the benefit would include one face-to-face counseling visit each week for one month and one face-to-face counseling visit every other week for an additional five months.  The beneficiary may receive one face-to-face counseling visit every month for an additional six months (for a total of 12 months of counseling) if he or she has achieved a weight reduction of at least 6.6 pounds (or 3 kilograms) during the first six months of counseling.

Through the end of October, 22.6 million people with Original Medicare have received one or more of the free covered preventive services this year.

Alzheimer’s Walk

Saturday was a great day for a walk–cool in the morning, warm later on. Team Katten & Benson joined several hundred others as we walked to end Alzheimer’s disease. We had a great time, dogs included! I hope that everyone will consider joining us next year, because I’m sure we’ll have another team.


Open Enrollment

Medicare open enrollment begins this Saturday, October 15, and runs through December 7. I really encourage everyone with a Medicare Part D plan (prescription drug plan) to review your current plan and compare it to other plans. Open enrollment is the only time you can make a change.

Every year plans change their drug lists, and premium prices change, so you might find a more economical plan. It is easy to compare plans at If you don’t have computer access, you can get help from the benefits counselors at the Area Agency on Aging in Tarrant County by calling 817-258-8125. If you aren’t in Tarrant County, the North Central Texas Area Agency on Aging can be reached at 1-800-272-3921.


How Does Texas Rank?

AARP has come out with a state scorecard on long term care services. Overall, Texas is ranked 28th overall when compared to other states on a variety of categories. Here are a few highlights:

  • We are ranked 20th overall on affordability and access to care
  • We don’t do so well on issues of quality of life and quality of care, with an overall ranking of 42
  • We do a bit better on support for family caregivers, with a rank of 19
To see more, visit the state website.

What To Do With These Meds?

What do you do with old medications?  Where is the best place to keep them?  Here are a few places to go for resources.

This is a good article on where to keep – and where not to keep – your medications.  Heat can lessen the effects of many medications, and in some cases, can break them down into undesirable compounds that might make you sick.  Especially in this summer heat, you should never leave your medications in a vehicle.  You also should not store your medications in the bathroom, as exposure to heat, light and moisture can damage them as well.

Heat, Medications Don’t Mix – Baylor College of Medicine online

What about medications that are no longer needed?  Included in my water bill this month, I had a flyer for the Take Back Meds Program.  On Saturday, October 29, you can drop off old medications at three different locations.  This is a great way to clean out your medicine cabinet and not worry about putting substances in the public water supply.  Check out the flyer below.


Take Back Meds Program