The Disappearing Social Security Minimum Benefit

Social Security has a minimum benefit? Yes, it’s true. Congress designed the Social Security special minimum benefit in 1972 to help workers who have earned low wages for many years. But today, the benefit helps very few older Americans and unless Congress takes action, the benefit is on the road to extinction. Sophia’s story is typical. She worked for 25 years as a clerk in a factory and doing odd jobs for wages that averaged about $9 per hour (about …

Nurses Are Key to Meeting America’s Health Care Needs

Last month I moderated a fascinating panel discussion on health care that included business leaders, policymakers, insurers and health care experts. Each panelist brought a different perspective to the conversation, but an important point of agreement was clear: Nurses are key to meeting America’s growing health care needs. “This is a truly diverse, experienced and committed set of leaders that have a lot of important things to do,” said Mark McClellan, senior fellow and director of the Health Care Innovation …

Adult Day Services: A Model of Person- and Family-Centered Care

A recent study found that more than a quarter million participants attend an estimated 4,800 community-based adult day service (ADS) centers in the U.S. Although most participants are older people, more than one-third of ADS participants are younger than 65. Nearly one in three ADS participants has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. ADS centers provide coordinated and reliable services and supports. Services for participants include social activities, meals, personal care (such as help with toileting), a limited array …

Have Efforts to Create a Do-Not-Track List Derailed?

The brightly colored running shoes stare back at me from my computer screen. They’ve been following me from website to website — ever since I clicked on them while browsing an online store the week before. The shoes aren’t supposed to follow me like this. I’ve set my browser to send a message to each website I visit expressing my desire to opt out of such tracking. But here come the shoes again. And again. What happened to the online …

States’ Role in Limiting Inappropriate Use of Antipsychotic Meds in Nursing Homes

As nursing homes have moved away from using physical restraints, there is evidence that some institutions are substituting antipsychotic medications to sedate residents with behavior problems. Why is this a dangerous and inappropriate practice? Inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs by nursing homes exposes elderly vulnerable people to increased risk of falls, delirium, stroke and death. In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general testified before the Senate Aging Committee that antipsychotic drugs were being prescribed in “violation of …

Family Caregivers Need Support; Are States Meeting the Need?

One day my toddler decided that she was going to push “Gamma” in the wheelchair. She went to the tippy-top of her toes, reached her hands high to grab the handles and then p-u-u-s-s-h-e-d. It clearly wasn’t going to happen without some assistance, but she didn’t see it that way. After several frustrating attempts she looked up at me and said, “Help, Mama, help…” I am one of 42 million Americans who care for an older adult. I also work …