Friday, April 4, 2014

Adult Care Financial Planning - Reverse Mortgages

Today’s post is part of a monthly series by Deborah Higgins, President of Higgins Capital Management, Inc., on adult care financial planning.
By Deborah M. Higgins/President/Higgins Capital
As you continue in your role as caregiver in 2014, don’t forget to look at all options to help with the costs of care.  Many older individuals own their home outright, but have little money available to pay for their health costs.  Consider whether a reverse mortgage would be the way to go in paying for at-home medical care or other expenses you are facing in your role as an adult-caregiver.  I helped my mother set up a reverse mortgage on her home many, many years ago “just in case.”  It has never been tapped, but it’s there if the need materializes.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Women at the Epicenter of Alzheimer’s Epidemic, According to Latest Alzheimer’s Association Report

The Alzheimer’s Association released their annual Disease Facts and Figures report this week and along with the latest national statistics, the report also paid special attention to the gender disparities that exist concerning the Alzheimer’s epidemic.  The report states that “almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women.” Just as startling, the report states that “women are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as breast cancer.” Along with the reasoning that women outlive men, other possible explanations include “differences in brain structure,” and “different hormonal physiology.” However, these explanations are not supported by scientific evidence making it difficult to definitively justify the difference.

In addition to analyzing gender difference in the prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer’s, the report also studied differences in informal caregiving between men and women.  Not surprisingly, more than 60% of dementia caregivers are women, with the actual number possibly higher due to underreporting.  The study found that women were more likely to assume the role of a caregiver, but that caregiving burden differed between those women who felt obligated to be a caregiver versus women who willingly chose to be a caregiver.  However, in general, women shouldered more of the burden and stress compared with men. Unfortunately, the report also indicated that women were “less likely than men to receive outside help for caregiving,” which often led to worse negative health outcomes.

The report concludes that Alzheimer’s clearly affects women more strongly than men in terms of both developing the disease, and caring for a loved one with the disease. The stress associated with either can then complicate and lead to further issues such as marital problems, lost employment, strained relationships and depression.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The American Music Therapy Association Releases Report Regarding Military Populations

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) recently released a report entitled “Music Therapy and Military Populations: A Status Report and Recommendations on Music Therapy Treatment, Programs, Research, and Practice Policy.”  The report highlights several music therapy programs currently provided to the military as well as research emphasizing the efficacy of music therapy for military populations. 
A major aspect of the report, which I found particularly interesting, was outlining the evolution of music therapy in the military. From the report:

“The roots of music therapy in the military span over 70 years of service in the United States. This legacy covers the entire continuum of care among service members, veterans, and their families. Music therapy services are an integral part of treatment delivered in military treatment facilities and VA medical centers throughout the country. Music therapy evolved from the early provision of music in military hospitals, to adjunctive treatment, to the delivery of evidence-based interventions.”

Consequently, the roots of music therapy are grounded in the military and the AMTA hopes to continue the tradition by increasing access to music therapy for today’s active duty and veteran populations.  In addition, the opportunity for research within military health facilities concerning music therapy is abundant and underutilized. 

This is an important report since it provides a framework for policymakers and program developers on the rationale behind music therapy as well as how to incorporate it for military populations. This is especially relevant for San Diego, where there is a large military population.  The several benefits of music therapy make it an ideal treatment for military populations because it enhances recovery from physical, mental, and emotional injuries. As a safe and non-invasive form of treatment, music therapy has the potential to heal people through music, regardless of health status.