Who knew!!!!

Study: A Lengthy, Stable Marriage May Boost Stroke Survival

Posted by Amy Norton, HealthDay Reporter

Researchers found that among more than 2,300 stroke sufferers, those who’d been “continuously” married had a better chance of surviving—versus both lifelong singles and people who’d been divorced or widowed.

The long-term marrieds’ outlook was better even compared to people who’d gotten remarried after divorcing or losing a spouse.

The reasons for the findings aren’t completely clear, and the study doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship. But researchers said the study highlights the potential importance of “social support” in stroke recovery.

“This implies that the support of a lifelong partner has benefits,” said Dr. Ralph Sacco, a professor of neurology at the University of Miami and a past president of the American Heart Association.
A spouse can give emotional support, he said, as well as help with day-to-day basics—such as eating a healthy diet and remembering to take medications.

“People sometimes consider it ‘nagging,’ but it can help,” said Sacco, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“What we don’t know,” he added, “is whether other forms of social support might have similar benefits.”

In a previous study, Sacco and his colleagues did find that older stroke patients who had friends generally fared better than those who were socially isolated.

But it’s not clear whether friendships directly aided people’s stroke recovery. And no one knows whether unmarried stroke patients would live longer if they joined a support group, for example.
Those are important questions, according to Matthew Dupre, one of the researchers on the new study.
It’s known that “social support” can help people stick with their medication regimens or change unhealthy habits, said Dupre, an associate professor of community and family medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

So it’s possible that unmarried stroke patients could benefit from resources that connect them with other people, according to Dupre.

“More research is needed, though, to know the full implications of our findings, and to identify possible avenues of intervention,” he said.

The findings, reported Dec. 14 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, are based on 2,351 U.S. adults who’d suffered a stroke. Their health was followed for about five years after the stroke, on average.

During that time, 1,362 people died — leaving just under 1,000 survivors. Among those who survived, 42 percent were in a stable marriage with their first spouse. That compared with 31 percent among patients who died.

Overall, Dupre’s team found, lifelong singles were 71 percent more likely to die than stroke patients in a stable marriage.

Much of that disparity seemed to be explained by “psychosocial factors,” the researchers said — including depression symptoms and a lack of children or other close relationships.

It wouldn’t be surprising, Sacco said, if depression were a key reason that unmarried people tend to fare more poorly after a stroke.

“Depression is common after stroke, and it’s been shown to be a predictor of stroke outcomes,” he said. “Depression needs to be recognized and treated.”

Dr. Paul Wright, chief of neurology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., agreed.
He said stroke patients at his center are routinely screened for depression. But the new findings, he said, suggest that unmarried patients may need closer attention in general — including extra help with lifestyle changes that can improve their outlook.

“We may need to bring them in for follow-up earlier, and start monitoring them more closely,” Wright said.

Lifelong singles were not the only ones at higher risk in this study. People who’d been divorced or widowed were more likely to die after their stroke — particularly if they’d lost more than one marriage.
Patients who’d been divorced or widowed more than once were about 40 percent more likely to die than those in stable marriages. And those who were currently remarried fared no better.
Certain practical factors, such as income and access to health insurance, seemed to explain part of the risk — but not all of it.

“It may be that patients with a history of marital instability experienced more severe and debilitating strokes — and in turn have fewer economic resources and social support to use toward their recovery,” Dupre said.

For now, Sacco suggested that stroke survivors “reach out and interact with other people” if they feel isolated. Many hospitals have support groups, he said.

People could also try community or church organizations, or even online groups, Sacco said — though, he added, “we don’t know whether computer connections can replace face-to-face human connection.”
Wright agreed that unmarried stroke survivors should reach out for help. But in reality, he added, many do not — so their family members should be proactive.

“Be the ‘nudge’ who makes sure they’re taking care of themselves, even if they say they’re OK,” Wright said.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Fraud Prevention Checklist

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Elder Impact

New technology & communication, while opening the door for many positive avenues of progress, also makes us more susceptible as targets for scammers.  These individuals reach out to as many people as possible under some guise until they find someone who falls for their tricks.  The range of tricks being used by such scammers is always growing and evolving.  While you cannot know the details of each one of them, you can get a sense of the general types of scams out there.

Today’s seniors came from a generation raised to accumulate savings, to trust others, and to feel ashamed if they make any mistakes that feel “foolish”.  Because of their advanced age, it may take awhile for seniors to remember the events associated with the fraud and, when they finally do, the memories are somewhat faded.

Additionally, because advanced age can cause increased reliance on caregivers, family, and friends, abuse and fraud can happen with those individuals as well, breaking trust and taking advantage of need.  The answer is absolutely not to resist asking for help, but to educate yourself so that you can recognize the signs of any problems and intervene appropriately.

Based on the National Council on Aging’s “Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors,” we’ve assembled a checklist of steps you can take to prevent falling prey to fraud. Review this list with your loved ones, checking off items as you complete them and making notes for future steps.  It might be a good idea to print out this list and keep it by the phone/mail spot in the house.

On a personal note, this story hits very close to home: my husband’s grandmother was recently conned out of $9,000 when a caller from Vegas pretended to be her grandson – with whom she hadn’t spoken on the phone for awhile – and claimed to have run into some financial trouble, such that he now needed both a plane ticket back home as well as some money wired over.  This caller begged the grandmother “not to tell anyone” about what he was going through since it was so embarrassing. – MV

Table of Contents

  1. “Hi Grandma, it’s me…” – The Grandparent Scam
  2. “I’d like to help you deal with your loss…” – Death scams
  3. “Let’s reassess your home” – Real estate scams
  4. “Hi, I’m a Medicare Representative…” – Medicare fraud
  5. “Affordable prescriptions available here…” – Drug scams
  6.  “With modern science, who needs wrinkles?” Fake anti-aging products
  7. “Update! Click here…” – Internet fraud (including email/phishing)
  8.  “I am a Nigerian prince…” – Financial schemes
  9. “You’ve won the lottery!” Contest scams
  10. “Hello there, we need your help!” – Bogus Telemarketers

 

  1. “Hi Grandma, it’s me…” – The Grandparent Scam

As described above, scammers will call seniors claiming to be a grandchild in distress, requesting assistance and also discretion – both easy to obtain from the loving grandparent eager to help.

[  ] Make a list of family contacts, and if you ever receive a distress call, make sure you’re able to confirm the distress through contact initiated by you.

[  ] Never give out your personal information.

[  ] Never wire money except through a bank wire transfer, which requires confirmation of identity from the recipient.

More information: 

 

  1. “I’d like to help you deal with your loss…” – Death scams

There are many potential avenues for death scams, from claiming a fraudulent outstanding debt on behalf of the recently deceased through overcharging individuals for funeral costs.

[  ] Always ask for a written price list in advance of your visit.

[  ] Never consult with just one funeral home. Shop around to better understand the services and products offered.

[  ] Check your state laws on embalming, autopsy, and other issues concerning death.

[  ] Make sure you read through and understand all of the details of the contract, including cancelation and refund policies.  Do not hesitate to ask for more time to read through, to take the documents home and process.  If anyone tries to pressure you to sign right away, leave; you should never be forced to sign a document under pressure.
More information:

 

  1. “Let’s reassess your home” – Real estate scams

Using fake letters from the local assessor’s office promising reassessment with potential reduction in annual tax burden for the homeowner, scammers will artificially alter the value of a home to then encourage the homeowner to take a reverse mortgage.

[  ] Always be wary of unsolicited phone calls or other contact.

[  ] Always ask for references on the person/group contacting you, and be sure to research them online using sources like Google, Yelp, etc.  Ask for help from a family member, friend, or even your local librarian.

[  ]  Never pay for any services in advance.

[  ]  Never sign any documents without reading and understanding them in their entirety, as well as running them past your most trustworthy contact.
More information:

 

  1. “Hi, I’m a Medicare Representative…” – Medicare fraud

A phone call from someone claiming to be a Medicare representative to a senior aged 65 or older is too often enough to obtain personal information, which can then be used to file false claims and extort money from the system.

[  ] Don’t give anyone your Medicare or Social Security number or card, outside of your doctor/authorized Medicare provider.

[  ] Keep track of your doctor’s appointments and check that your Medicare statements line up with the services you were provided.

[  ] Don’t bend to pressure to buy any products or services on the spot; always ask for literature and time to think it over, then research on your own, in your own time.

[  ] Be skeptical of medical products or services that are advertised as being cheaper than usually offered.  These are usually scammers seeking to prey on the financially responsible.
More information:

 

  1. “Affordable prescriptions available here…” – Drug scams

With prescription drugs adding to the long list of high medical costs, it’s no wonder that cheaper options would be tempting.  In addition to conning people out of money, such scams are dangerous because the ‘medicine’ being sold is often expired or some other substance altogether, posing risks to the patient who takes them.

[  ] Be skeptical of door-to-door salesmen, because solicitations at your home without a previous appointment are illegal.

[  ] Only buy medicine from reputable pharmacies.

[  ] Know your prescriptions: names, doses, and appearance (size, color, etc.).  This is useful not just for avoiding fraud, but also for confirming your pharmacy’s product as well as for any doctor or hospital visits you may encounter, where you will surely be asked to list the medicines (and dosages!) you’re taking.
More information:

 

  1.  “With modern science, who needs wrinkles?” Fake anti-aging products

Similar to the prescription drug scams, these scams involve charging patients for procedures using unregulated, privately manufactured drugs that pose serious risks.

[  ] Be wary of anything that seems too good to be true, or that purports to act as a cure-all.

[  ] Research a product extensively before trying it, including checking with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to find out if there have been any complaints against it.

[  ] Always check with your doctor before taking any sort of supplement.
More information:

 

  1. “Update! Click here…” – Internet fraud (including email/phishing)

Seniors are particularly at risk for such scams due to their reduced comfort with computers and the internet.  From fake anti-virus programs through phishing scams that harvest personal information through a request for updates.

[  ] Be careful about opening attachments (which often can contain viruses) as well as clicking links in emails (scammers can use letters/symbols that mimic actual letters/symbols to build a fake site that can lure you into entering your password details).

[  ] If you haven’t reset your password and receive any emails about resetting your password, independently visit the site in question and check your account.  Change your password immediately; consider calling the site’s customer support line to report the incident and make sure there are no further security measures you can take.

[  ] Monitor your bank statements vigilantly for fraudulent charges. Often, scammers will start with a small charge, just to confirm that the account is active (and also so that it is less easily spotted).  Call your bank immediately if you see anything strange.
More information:

 

  1.  “I am a Nigerian prince…” – Financial schemes

Seniors might be tempted to invest their money if it means increasing the longevity of their savings, and so myriad scams exist to draw them in, promising yields on their investments.

[  ] Do not ever send money to someone you don’t know.

[  ] If you receive an email claiming to be from a Nigerian prince or some other comparable obvious scam, mark it as Spam.  Often, it will have some sort of “sob story” designed to get you to feel bad for the sender and want to help them in any way you can; do not fall for this.

[  ] If you receive a letter in the mail claiming to be a from a Nigerian prince (or something comparable), or requesting your banking information, take it to the FBI office nearest you or to the US Postal Inspection Service.
More information:

 

  1. “You’ve won the lottery!” Contest scams

An announcement of a sweepstakes win is here linked with a need to invest to ‘unlock’ the prize.  Victims quickly send the money and receive a check, which bounces several days later.

[  ] Sweepstakes are free; there should never be a ‘buy-in’, especially if it promises you increased odds at winning – that should be a clear red flag for potential scam activity.

[  ] Be particularly wary of contests that you did not enter but announce that you are a winner.

[  ] Always read the terms and conditions for any contest in which you participate or from which you receive correspondence, as they should lay out the rules, procedure for entry, and even the probability of winning.
More information:

 

  1. “Hello there, we need your help!” – Bogus Telemarketers

Because of their comfort in using the phone for transactions and communication, seniors are a prime target for fake telemarketers, who maximize on the opportunity to use voice-only means.  Some of the scams include raising money for fake charities and fake accidents.

[  ] Register your phone on the National Do Not Call Registry.

[  ]  If you are being rushed through a call or asked to give/confirm your account information – don’t.  You can even hang up in the middle of the call.  These telemarketers are just trying to get you to say ok so that they can later claim that you allowed them to charge you.

[  ]  Click on the resources below (under “More information”) to see the types of “lines” that are most commonly used by telemarketers.
More information:

Talking about IMPORTANT things

I had the honor of speaking at a fundraiser for Wilderness Journey Ministries this weekend.  IMG_0424They do the wonderful work of helping families and loved ones communicate effectively and lovingly when a life-threatening diagnosis is received.  I love their slogan: “Helping families face a life-threatening illness holding Christ’s hand.”

It seems a bit surreal sometimes to be the person offering perspective and encouragement to others in need.  It just wasn’t that long ago when I was the one in need.  I am so happy to offer hope by being an example of successful, ongoing recovery.  With each story of not-so-successful recovery, I am reminded how important The Team is!  No one recovers alone.

Hearing stories of families who needed a terminal illness to finally learn how to talk about the important things was an eye-opener.  I guess we put off those important discussions because we assume there is always tomorrow so why rush it?  Every story included the realization that having the important conversations brought them closer and they were sorry they waited so long.  Good lesson to learn.

Jill Viggiano

Good…but different

After giving my speech last week, an audience member thanked me for talking about how “normal life” changes after a dramatic event.  He talked about the realization that “recovery” doesn’t necessarily mean going back to the way things were.

This is an important distinction.  In my speech, I talk about Gordon’s and my decision that life was still going to be good after his stroke, even though it was going to be different.   When our “normal life” was taken away from us, we chose to embrace the different life we were given.

There is still love and happiness to be had in this different life.  Yes, I miss the old life sometimes but I cannot let myself dwell on it.  It is gone.  We have today and it is good–good but different.

Jill Viggiano