Monday, October 31, 2011

Aging - Kaiser Health News

Aging - Kaiser Health News

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Report: Quality of American Nursing Homes Improving

In-Home Care, Assisted Living, and Aging-in-Place are three excellent options for those seeking to delay or avoid a nursing home stay.  But even with recent advances in technology, nursing home care is still a reality for millions of Americans, and the number of young nursing home patients under 65 is on the rise.   

The good news is, since 2009, there has been a marked quality improvement to America’s nursing home facilities, according to a report from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care and the American Health Care Association. 

“The report used government-measured, publicly-available quality data. Independent researchers provided expert analysis on the capabilities of skilled nursing facilities, trends in skilled nursing care and the need for quality measures to effectively evaluate rehabilitation outcomes among an increasingly diverse patient population.” 

Read the full article here (

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Timeshare Traps and How to Avoid Them

Timeshare Traps and How to Avoid Them

If you are fortunate enough to go on that well-deserved vacation this year, then there is a good chance you will find yourself listening to the all-too-familiar ‘timeshare marketing pitch.’   Most people are familiar with the concept of a timeshare, but there is more than meets the eye.  The repercussions of owning a timeshare can vary tremendously depending on many things, including whether it is a real property interest, a mere right to use the property, or some other arrangement.  

#1 Timeshares are not Inherently Bad Investments.  If a timeshare really interests you (and they are legitimate and worthwhile investments for many families), you can plan in advance to take ownership the right way and avoid legal traps and snares down the road.  Most people do not realize the thicket of possible legal ramifications inevitable to owning one (or more).  Timeshares are typically sold in a high-pressure environment, chock full of free food, gifts, and even vacations; these tools are all part of a business model intentionally designed to get vacationers to make impulsive buying decisions.

#2 – Type of Ownership is Critical.  If you own real property outside Virginia and die without proper estate planning documents in place (no, a simple Will is not enough), then a representative of your estate must appear in every state where such property is located.  This means that if you live in Virginia but you own a timeshare for one-week in Florida, if it is considered “real property,” then the Florida courts must determine how and to whom your interest is distributed. 

If your purchase of the timeshare is in the form of a deeded contract, your interest is considered ownership of real property.  Just like your residence, this real property may be sold, rented, gifted, or given to your heirs after death.  Similarly, your timeshare interest may also be subject to real estate taxes and probate.  While taxes are usually included in your timeshare maintenance fee, the disposition of your ownership interest after your death is another issue.  If you die without a trust to dispose of your assets, then the court system where the timeshare is located will either “probate” your Will, or follow the statutes of the state if you have no Will.  In any event, dying without a trust and with real property can cause major headaches for your executor. Luckily this can all be avoided.

If the deed to your current or prospective timeshare is a “leasehold deed,” then it means ownership only lasts for a specified period of time.  A “right to use” contract means what it sounds like – the purchaser acquires a right to use and enjoy the rights of the property owner (usually a resort).  However, the pitfall of a “right to use” contract is that some benefits you may not care about, like a club membership, may be included.  The “right to use” form of timeshare acquisition is used heavily overseas and in Mexico, because the ownership of foreign real property interests opens a door to many more legal complexities.

#3 You Should Not Decide Then and There.  Do not sign anything before you leave, unless you already have a revocable living trust and have already met with your lawyer regarding the timeshare you are considering.  The concept of a timeshare is attractive, but before saying “yes,” it is absolutely imperative to speak with a good estate planning attorney.  For those who own timeshares already, whether or not you are considering an additional purchase, it is very important to be sure that transfer of your ownership interests in these timeshares upon your death will not result in expensive and time-consuming paperwork for your heirs.

Image: photostock /

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pediatricians urged to use autism checklist

The National Institutes of Health has developed a 24-item checklist for autism that can be used for babies as young as one year old.

The checklist can be completed by parents in a few minutes while waiting in a pediatrician's office. It asks simple questions such as whether a baby smiles and shows joy at 6 months; makes eye contact; whether the baby is babbling by 12 months; or can speak any words at 16 months.

So far, it has allowed researchers to diagnose autism spectrum disorders correctly 75 percent of the time.

It is important to begin therapy as early as possible while babies' brains are growing and most easily shaped. During early life, the brain circuitry that supports social and language behavior is rapidly developing and shaped by experiences.

Early intervention draws the infant's attention to others and engages them in pleasurable interactions. It increases opportunities for learning and for more normal brain development.
Image: Rawich /

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interesting new resource available to millions of caregivers

 There is an interesting new resource available to millions of Caregivers.  Caregiver Village, according to their Web Site, is a "a community of supportive, positive, life-changing individuals," and "is designed for families who care for loved ones with ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autism, cancer, depression, diabetes, general aging, general caregiving needs, heart disease, mental and developmental delays, mental/emotional illness, Parkinson’s, physical disabilities, stroke, surgery, injury or wounds, and war-related injuries."

What separates this site is the virtual, playful atmosphere. Relaxation is an important part of living a balanced life as a Caregiver, and resources such as Caregiver Village promote that notion. 

Caregivers or persons with family members who either are Caregivers or receive care, you may want to familiarize yourself with the roles Caregivers play.  Read Evan Farr's chapter from the Virginia Nursing Home Survival Guide, "The Caregiver's Role."