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New firm to tackle shortfalls in senior care

Outcomes Health Information Solutions, based in Alpharetta in northern metro Atlanta, has launched a company that aims to address gaps in the medical care of seniors.

SeniorCare will send nurse practitioners into people’s homes to assess the health of individual seniors and send the information to the appropriate insurers and physicians’ office. It will primarily be a service company, unlike its health IT parent company, Outcomes Health.

A private firm established 20 years ago, Outcomes Health pulls data from physician offices and identifies gaps in the care of Medicare Advantage and other patients. full story

Rally opposes cuts in care for seniors

Dianna Massey of Norcross says respite care greatly helped her family when her mother had Alzheimer’s disease.

For years, “she was aggressive and combative,’’ Massey said. Before her mother died four years ago, her father was able to afford respite care – short-term help so the caregiver can have time off.

Concerned about those who cannot afford such care, Massey came to the state Capitol in Atlanta to talk about the importance of help for families who have loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

She joined lawmakers and other officials who spoke to scores of seniors gathered in a cold rain on the Capitol steps, attending a rally against proposed budget cuts in government aging programs.

The cuts in the state Department of Human Services budget include a $2.6 million reduction for community care services in the current fiscal year.

For fiscal 2014, which will begin in July, $484,559 is being cut from Alzheimer’s disease services and respite care. Another $528,871 is being trimmed from Adult Protective Services, which will lead to the elimination of 17 jobs that serve more than 1,700 seniors.

“The few dollars for respite in the budget are critical,’’ Massey told the crowd. “We have to take care of the caregivers.’’ full story

Legislators look at plan to fight Alzheimer’s

Nancy Humberstone fought an eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease before passing away last year.

She was just 65 years old when she died.

Humberstone, of Gainesville, was an Emory University professor of physical therapy. But the disease, as it slowly took its toll on her brain, made her unable to figure out how to check her cellphone messages, said her daughter Sheila, who became her mother’s caregiver.

“It was extraordinarily difficult,’’ Sheila Humberstone said. “By the end, I was showering her, changing her diapers.’’

Humberstone was among people testifying Tuesday before a Senate committee considering legislation to create a task force for developing a state response plan on Alzheimer’s disease.

Georgia is one of a few states that have not formed such a plan to deal with the costly disease, which is the most common cause of dementia.

An estimated 120,000 Georgians have Alzheimer’s, and the number is expected to keep going up. Georgia has among the highest mortality rates from the condition. full story

Progress toward an Alzheimer’s blood test (video)

A loved one is having memory problems. Often he is confused about where he is – and he’s having trouble completing familiar tasks.

Is it Alzheimer’s disease?

Currently, neurologists diagnose Alzheimer’s based mainly on clinical symptoms. Added information can come from brain imaging, which tends to be expensive, or analysis of a spinal tap, which can be painful.

Dr. William Hu, an assistant professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine, and other scientists have taken steps toward developing a blood test for Alzheimer’s, opening up the possibility of a more affordable, convenient way to identify the disease.

“Though a blood test to identify underlying Alzheimer’s disease is not quite ready for prime time given today’s technology, we now have identified ways to make sure that a test will be reliable,” says Hu.

Early detection of Alzheimer’s can help lead to drug and other treatments that can ease the burden of the disease. And caregivers and patients can be educated about how to lessen the effect of the disease on everyday life.

Here’s a video of a GHN interview with Hu, courtesy of Emory, explaining the research and why it could eventually represent a breakthrough.

Heroes lift spirits with visit to Grady

In the early 1940s, shortly after U.S. entry into World War II, Irma “Pete’’ Dryden of New York City was inspired when she heard of the young black men training as military pilots.

Dryden became a nurse for that unit in Alabama, which became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

“We would see to it that they got the best possible care,’’ Dryden, 92, said Thursday at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Dryden was among the honorees at a Tuskegee Airmen event hosted by the Morehouse School of Medicine and Grady staff.

They heard a lecture about the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency from Dr. L. Ray Matthews, a Morehouse and Grady physician, who has been researching that deficiency and its association with chronic medical conditions.

Dr. Kenneth Wilson, assistant professor of clinical surgery and the director of trauma at Morehouse School of Medicine, talked of the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and the racism they endured.

Wilson cited studies at the time that asserted blacks possessed brains significantly smaller than those or whites and that blacks were naturally lacking in courage.

The Tuskegee Airmen’s experience helped refute those myths. The all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps trained at a segregated Tuskegee airfield, and the airmen eventually flew more than 1,500 combat missions. The squadron saw action in North Africa, Sicily and the mainland of Italy.

Heros Visit Grady

(From left): Hillard Pouncy, Bernice Berthoud, Irma Dryden, John Haupert and Edgar Lewis.

full story

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