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Senior discussing his hospital status with a doctor

Many beneficiaries wrongly assume their overnight hospital stay is considered inpatient and covered by Medicare Part A – only to end up paying thousands of dollars in hospital bills after they’re discharged. Learn how a patient’s hospital status affects Medicare hospital coverage and costs.

Imagine this scenario: You come down with food poisoning and need medical treatment.* When you visit your doctor, he orders you to stay in the hospital to monitor your condition. You’re given a bed and stay for two nights before you’re discharged. A month later, you receive a hefty hospital bill that Medicare won’t pay for because it says you were admitted under “observation status.” You end up saddled with a $1,216 bill for what you thought was a Medicare-covered, inpatient hospital stay.

Many Medicare beneficiaries don’t realize that their patient status affects what Medicare covers and how much they pay out-of-pocket. Whether a patient is covered as an inpatient under Medicare Part A or an outpatient under Medicare Part B could be a difference of thousands of dollars.

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Walking is good exercise for bone strengthOut of sight, out of mind — sometimes, we treat our bones that way. We don’t see them, so we don’t think about keeping our bones healthy. They must be OK because they’re still working, right?

But as we get older, our bones may become brittle and more easily broken if we aren’t careful. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 10% of women over 50 and 2% of men over 50 get osteoporosis of the hip, which is a dangerous bone weakening that often leads to fractures. Osteoporosis accounts for 306,000 people each year breaking their hips and requiring hospital stays of over five days.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis has useful advice about how to take care of your bones, even for older adults. Check out the following tips from the report, and learn to keep your bones healthy and strong so you can avoid weak bones.

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Assisted Living: Observations, Surprises, and Caveats

Do you know what to expect when it comes to deciding on an assisted living facility for seniors?

Some of our kids say we should move out of the house. Isn’t this what we said to them when they grew up? But now it’s different: they’re telling us to move out of our own homes. This blog post gives you one woman’s experience when it comes to senior assisted living and some tips on what to look out for.

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Older adult browsing the internet.

When you think of a “tech-savvy” person, who comes to mind? An image of Grandma expertly tweeting, posing for Snapchat, or skyping on her iPad might not jump out – but maybe it should. 

A recent Pew study on older adults and technology use found that some subsets of the senior population use the internet at levels equal to – and even surpassing – the general population.

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Quitting Smoking for Seniors: Is It Too Late?If you’ve been smoking for many years, it’s such an ingrained habit that it can seem impossible to stop. Quitting smoking is tough. Is it really worth it, especially late in life?

Sometimes it seems there are as many reasons to keep smoking as there are to quit. It’s really hard to do. Maybe you’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. Smoking curbs your appetite so you don’t overeat. It gives you something to do with your hands. Perhaps your friends smoke and you’d feel odd hanging out with them and not smoking.

But the arguments for quitting are hugely powerful. It’s not just that your kids and grandkids, not to mention your doctor, are forever pestering you to give it up. It’s more than the money you spend on cigarettes. It’s a fact that smoking contributes to a myriad of serious health conditions. The risk shoots up for many types of cancer if you smoke.

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Healthy Recipe: Basil Quinoa CakesSome circles refer to quinoa as “the supergrain of the future,” which may seem a bit odd for a seed that dates back thousands of years. Quinoa was first enjoyed by the Incas, who realized it was an edible grain seed. What they perhaps did not know then was just how beneficial its ingestion could be.

According to Forbes, quinoa offers several health-related benefits. It is rich in protein, offering all nine essential amino acids. It also contains double the fiber amount as most other grains, which could help prevent heart disease and constipation. Eating quinoa ensures an iron dosage to keep red blood cells healthy and functioning, and the inclusion of lysine means you’re getting an amino acid fix to help with tissue repair. Quinoa also includes magnesium (to help relax blood vessels), manganese (an antioxidant to protect red blood cells), and riboflavin (improves energy metabolism).

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Can a Waning Sense of Smell Be an Early Indication of Alzheimer’s?Deterioration in one’s sense of smell could be an early indication of Alzheimer’s. This data is theorized from a relatively new study, and dementia researchers believe that it could one day function as an early warning sign for Alzheimer’s onset.

The sense of smell can often trigger old memories, or partner with the human tongue to create the reception of flavors (during exhalation). It is unique among the human senses because it is the only one that bypasses the thalamus entirely, connecting instead to the forebrain. Since loss of this sense is an effect of Alzheimer’s, it is unsurprising to read that scientists are researching whether or not it can accurately forecast the arrival of that disease.

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Do Caregivers View The Experience Positively?A recent study on long-term care shows that while most caregivers viewed the experience positively, the caregiver’s relationship with the recipient had a strong impact on how they viewed the experience.

Even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70% of Americans will need long-term care in their lives, most individuals are not prepared for the financial costs of long-term care. With limited Medicare coverage for caregivers and nursing home care,  many opt to receive long-term care through family members and close friends.

A study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was released this month, tracking public opinions of long-term care among Americans age 40 and older. According to results, six in 10 respondents have provided, financed, or been the recipient of ongoing living assistance. The study underscored the significant impact of long-term care in the United States, as large numbers of baby boomers retire and increasingly need long-term assistance, often from their children. Caregiving is an experience that will affect most Americans at some point in their lives – either as a caregiver or recipient.

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Medicare prescription drugsBeneficiaries will enter the Medicare coverage gap more quickly in 2014, but be better covered once they are in it.

Medicare prescription drug costs were a mixed bag this year. The 2014 annual deductible for prescription drug coverage dropped to $310 (down from $325 in 2013), meaning that Medicare will begin paying its share of costs sooner.

At the same time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lowered the Medicare coverage gap threshold by $120 from the previous year. Also known as the “donut hole,” the coverage gap refers to the period that begins after beneficiaries and their insurance plans have spent a certain combined amount on covered prescription drugs, after which patients must pay the full cost of their drugs out-of-pocket.

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carepondWho cares for the caregivers? A Family Caregiver Alliance statistic says that up to 70% of family caregivers struggle with depression while 17% of all caregivers have seen their health deteriorate as a result of their responsibilities.

Enter the CarePond social network, a site dedicated to alleviating stress and depression among caregivers. It creates an outlet for them to connect with other caregivers, share information and experiences, and receive emotional support for their positions.

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