Archive for May, 2012

As Senior Population Swells, State Needs to Lift Moratorium on Adult Day Care

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

As Senior Population Swells, State Needs to Lift Moratorium on Adult Day Care

 By Roberto Muñiz, President and CEO, The Francis E. Parker Memorial Home Inc.

 The NJ Department of Health and Human Services has documented the many financial abuses in the adult day care system, reporting numerous providers who have scammed Medicaid to reap small fortunes off the backs of taxpayers.

Negative stories abound in the media:   Day care providers telling the elderly to lie to state investigators about their needs, people with disabilities placed in wheelchairs when they are able to walk, and even one case where a client with alleged heart failure and severe asthma was spotted cutting the center’s grass.  All these examples illustrate the extent that unscrupulous providers will go to collect Medicaid payments.  

With investigators suspecting that nearly one-third of the state’s adult day care centers committed some form of Medicaid fraud, according to published reports, it was no surprise that the state stopped issuing new licenses for adult day care centers in 2008. And, in an April 16th decision, that moratorium will be in place until at least November 1st of this year.

But while the NJ Department of Health and Human Services remains hesitant to allow any new centers to open, the demand in New Jersey for home and community-based long term care services is growing and adult day care is a cost effective option.

 Adult day care centers, if operated honestly and ethically, are enormously beneficial.  They make life easier for older New Jerseyans, giving them a safe and supportive place to receive quality care throughout the day.  Services vary among centers, but include medical care, stimulating activities and exercise, and nutritious meals and snacks.  They also provide transportation within a designated service area, making care and support accessible, and give caregivers, such as a spouse or child, a break from 24-hour-a-day care.

 Center staff is trained to monitor medical issues and communicate changes in health to caregivers.  For example, a scratchy throat or a fever could ultimately become a costly stay in a hospital if left untreated. Having a hot, fresh, nutritious lunch supports a daily balanced diet minimizing risk of dehydration or malnourishment.  An engaging walk with friends around the grounds can replace another inactive hour in front of a television.

Adult care centers, which receive $78.50 a day from Medicaid for each person served, are saving taxpayers a small fortune. Consider this: if not for these adult day care centers, many more seniors would be placed in skilled nursing homes, where the government would be spending significantly more to care for them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Aside from cost, adult day centers honor every senior’s wish to remain home for as long as possible.

  Around New Jersey there are a variety of adult day programs.  At Parker, we offer two types, supporting both the social and medical needs of seniors.   The social program available five hours each weekday is for socially isolated elderly, who need motivation and support to maintain an active lifestyle while managing aging issues. Participants benefit from the wellness center, take in a movie, use the hair salon, attend rehabilitation therapy and engage in a host of other stimulating activities. 

 We also offer a medical program, available eight hours each weekday that provides health services, such as monitoring glucose levels, managing medications and providing clinical support for elderly with functional or cognitive challenges. Additionally, the program provides many activities that support the social and emotional needs of participants. 

 In addition to the much needed respite from the challenges of daily caregiving, Parker offers supportive education to caregiver families and assistance with long-term care options as participant needs grow.   

 The time is now for New Jersey officials to plot a future for adult day care, as statistics show there are now 1.13 million seniors living in the state and the numbers are quickly growing. As the Baby Boomers age and hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans require care, there will be an enormous burden placed on the system.

  We are grateful that the state identified the unethical sources of fraud in adult day health services, and put corrective actions in place.  Now it’s time for state officials to lift the moratorium on new adult day centers, so that more high quality adult day programs can become available. 

 As the state is encouraging long-term care funding to move to home-and-community based services, supporting the growth of adult day programs makes fiscal sense andis the right thing to do for a growing demographic of New Jerseyans who want to remain at home with the support of affordable community resources.  

Roberto Muñiz, MPA, LNHA, FACHCA

President and CEO, The Francis E. Parker Memorial Home, Inc.

 Roberto Muñiz has more than 20 years of senior executive experience with health care and long-term care service providers.   In addition to his current role as Present and CEO of Parker, Mr. Muñiz is extensively engaged in leadership positions with several New Jersey state and national associations that foster the availability and quality of aging servicesMr. Muñiz holds a bachelor’s degree in public health administration and master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University. He is a licensed nursing home administrator (LNHA) in both New Jersey and New York states.

Roberto Muñiz is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Foundation for Aging, Inc. 

NJFA’s 14th Annual Conference aims to bring you evidence based and successful community outreach models.

Friday, May 18th, 2012

NJFA’s 14th Annual Conference aims to bring you evidence based and successful community outreach models. One topic being covered on June 14th is community health and wellness.

Exercise can decrease bone loss, increase bone density, and reduce your risk of fractures. Exercise is not only good for the bones but also for your heart health, prevention of diabetes and many more positive outcomes.

 A complete exercise program should include weight-bearing, resistance, postural, and balance exercises, according to Margie Bissinger, Physical Therapist and presenter at this year’s conference.  The NJ Department of Health and Senior Services offers safe, peer led exercise programs such as, “MoveToday” that contain all of these elements.

Move Today is a 30-45 minute non-aerobic exercise class designed to improve flexibility, balance and stamina. Participants assess their health, physical well-being and intent to make behavior changes before and upon completion of the program. The exercises and guidelines are based on current nationally recognized standards and science.

Exercises can be done while sitting or standing. Classes are led by trained peer leaders and meet weekly or bi-weekly for twelve sessions. Program features include:

  • A brief education component focusing on an exercise-related topic.
  • Inexpensive exercise bands to gain maximum effect from resistance exercises.
  • A major focus on good posture and falls prevention.
  • An exercise intensity scale and a weekly exercise log to track participant activity.
  • A self-assessment process for participants to assess their health, physical well-being and intent for behavior change given both before and upon completion of the program.

At NJFA’s Annual conference on June 14th, you can hear from, Margie Bissinger the physical therapist who helping NJ develop these programs, as well as two practitioners, Lois Yuhasz and Susan Galatz who are involved in coordinating Move Today programs.

For more information about the conference and how to register visit: www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html or call 609-421-0206.

Are you fierce?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Are you fierce?

We recently came across an interesting website, www.fiercewithage.com, the site is a call to action for boomers to not fear aging and to resist ageism. The founder of this site is Carol Orsborn, Ph.D. is an author and spiritual advisor.

 Dr. Orsborn believes that anti-aging messaging is destructive not only mentally, but that it could also have consequences socially, politically and economically.

 She considers this effort a “consciousness movement” and compares it to fighting for women’s rights. Dr. Orsborn has identified five flags, or things you should avoid saying and beware about others saying them and gently confront them about it.

 The five flags are:

  1. Satire or jokes. Dr. Orsborn cautions against self-deprecating comments that may insinuate that older adults are a burden or that young people are not also forgetful. In particular she references the common phrases, “off our rockers” and “I’m having a senior moment”.
  2. Youth-centric language. Dr. Orsborn states that referring to an older person as “youthful” implies that those traits can only be associated with a young person. She suggests instead using, “vital” and “passionate”.
  3. Separating one out from peers. Here Dr. Orsborn is referring to statements like, “Can you believe I’m 60 years old?!” These type of statements make it seem that any positive characteristics could not be possible for someone that age and that anyone else that age looks worse.
  4. Defining successful aging based solely on attributes normally associated with younger individuals. She cautions that we should be wary of equating strength, exceptional health or mental acuity as successful aging. For example, she refers to people who over reach their personal capacity when exercising and therefore they risk injury. She suggests following your desires and evolving passions.
  5. Romanticizing or sanitizing images of aging. Dr. Orsborn calls attention to the problem of wishful thinking instead of being realistic. While we want to aspire for the best case scenario we need to prepare emotionally, practically and financially for the future.

 These five flags were published in a recent article in the Huffington Post. At the end of the article Dr. Orbsorn asks for a call to action and urges boomers to get involved with a “new consciousness” group.

For more information about that and about Fierce with Age visit them online at www.fiercewithage.com

Learn more, connect with others and get involved.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Learn more, connect with others and get involved.

 Affordable housing, job availability, livable wages, food security these are all key pieces to living and aging well in NJ. A recent article in the Trenton Times highlights the struggle of the homeless in accessing services at three key organizations that provide shelter, food and many other services. In navigating this “triangle” as they call it (due to distance traveled between each organization) some of the homeless in Mercer County have hope of escaping the street and having a home, a job, food, their health.

 Certainly Mercer County is not alone in this problem, throughout the state there are many homeless who find themselves navigating their way through the services available in each area. In addition to the homeless there are those living on the edge of homelessness, they are unemployed, under-employed and living pay check to pay check wondering if this will be the week they end up on the street.

There are many supports available to the homeless and working families, like SNAP (food stamps), SRAP (State Rental Assistance), Family Care (Medicaid/Health insurance) and of course there are many non-profit, charitable organizations that are doing their part to help those in need through various programs and supports. But is it enough?

 There are ways to get involved, to learn more and to connect with other advocates. The Anti-Poverty Network of NJ, a group of like-minded organizations and individuals that meet to strategize on advocacy efforts is holding a summit, Poverty Summit: A Call to Invest in the People of New Jersey on Monday, May 21, 2012 from 9 am to 12:30 pm at the War Memorial in Trenton, NJ. At this summit you will hear statistics on poverty in NJ, you’ll hear from service providers as well as community members who have experienced poverty, but you’ll also here about advocacy efforts and opportunities for you to join in those efforts.

So, please join us to learn more, connect with advocates and get involved. For more details and to register go to http://apnpovertysummit.eventbrite.com/

 PS- You can follow this up by coming to NJFA’s Annual Conference on June 14, 2012 to discuss affordable housing and many other important topics for aging well in NJ! www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html