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140,000 people around the world died last year... from measles?!?!
Hearing aids may help delay dementia, depression in elders
Vishwadha Chander5 Min Read
Among people who’d been diagnosed with hearing loss, those who used hearing aids were up to 18% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, depression or fall-related injuries over the next three years, compared to people not using the devices, researchers report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
More than 27 million older Americans live with hearing loss. But only 12.3% of those with a formal diagnosis get hearing aids, the authors note.
“Prevalence of hearing loss is estimated to increase as our population grows older, and we know there are strong associations between uncorrected hearing loss and conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia,” lead author Dr. Elham Mahmoudi of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters Health by email.
Past research has linked prolonged sensory deprivation - such as loss of hearing - with social isolation and cognitive decline, the study team notes. Hearing loss has also been tied to depression, anxiety and balance trouble with increased risk of falls.
Using insurance claims data, Mahmoudi’s team studied 114,862 people age 66 and older with hearing loss.
“For each patient, data was collected over four years - one year before they were diagnosed with hearing loss, and three years after,” Mahmoudi said. “This was done to ensure the patient had not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, depression or anxiety, and injuries from falls in the year before their diagnosis.”
Only 12.3% of the study subjects used hearing aids, the authors found. Hearing aid use was more common among men (13.3%) than women (11.3%), and among non-Hispanic whites (13.6%) compared to black (9.8%) or Hispanic (6.5%) people.
The gender and race differences are significant, the authors note, because the cognitive conditions being studied are more common among women than men, and among African-Americans compared to whites.
Hearing aid use was highest in north-central states at almost 37%, and lowest, at 6%, in the mountain states.
While everyone in the study had health insurance, hearing aids are typically not covered or only partly covered, and the cost falls on the individual, the study team points out. On average, hearing aids cost between $2,000 and $7,000.
“We not only need to advocate for insurance coverage for hearing aids, but also educate the public about the risks of uncorrected hearing loss,” Mahmoudi said.
The aging U.S. population makes this study significant, noted Dr. Linda McEvoy of the University of California, San Diego, who wasn’t involved in the research.
The study lacked data on patients’ education levels, socioeconomic status or lifestyle that could influence the risks for dementia and other study outcomes. This, McEvoy said, is an important limitation.
“If hearing aid users in the current study have higher levels of education than non-users, then some of the protective associations of using the aid may be the effect of education, not the hearing aids,” McEvoy said in an email.
The study wasn’t designed to determine how hearing aids might reduce risk for physical and mental decline, and randomized clinical trials to test if hearing aids have this protective effect are needed, the study team notes.
Until then, Mahmoudi believes, it would help to make hearing aids more affordable.
“Beyond the costs, low prevalence of hearing aid use has been linked to complexity of the hearing-care system in the U.S., stigma, and poor perceived benefit and need,” she said. “People also do not have a single point of contact.”
Although hearing aids are expensive, she noted, “the costs of the conditions they could prevent or delay are substantially more expensive.”
“The costs of caring for cognitively-impaired older adults are high. If hearing loss contributes to that risk, then hearing aids may be an easily implemented solution to reduce some of that burden on our healthcare system.”
'Fake lawyers' with bogus degrees a problem across Canada
People are posing as fake lawyers and it’s a big problem
Take these important steps to be sure you have someone who is really in the business.SHARE
TORONTO -- There is a disturbing epidemic of “fake lawyers” scamming vulnerable Canadians out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, with eight caught in B.C. earlier this month alone.
Lawyer Tanya Walker says that the practice of obtaining fake degrees, law or otherwise, is “quite common” online and worth a billion dollars worldwide.
“The most vulnerable segment of the population [to fake lawyers] are baby boomers, aging people because they may not be in tune as much with technology as the younger generation,” Walker said on CTV’s Your Morning Friday.
Walker said that new immigrants or those wishing to move to Canada are also vulnerable, as there may be a language barrier and may not know how to verify a lawyer’s credentials.
Fake lawyers can do “a lot” of damage, Walker said, as “the judgment is not automatically overturned because you are represented by a fake lawyer, you have to demonstrate that there was a miscarriage of justice.”
If the victim of a fake lawyer is unable to prove a miscarriage of justice, the original judgment can still stand, she said.
Walker said that with real, regulated and licensed lawyers, clients with an issue can report them to the law society and pursue compensation up to $500,000 – or sue the lawyer and pursue a payout from their insurer. None of those options are available with a fake lawyer.
“All a judge does for you when you win is write that you have won [against a fake lawyer], it’s up to you to collect, so if the person does not have any assets… you are out of luck,” Walker said.
Walker said that if you are in need of a lawyer, always verify the lawyer’s credentials, try to visit their office, call the law society and double check their registration number and “be suspicious if they do not have any pictures on their website or it’s too good to be true.”
Lawyers are generally only allowed to accept “around $7,500 in cash” per file, Walker said, so anyone asking for exorbitant amounts like $50,000 should “send up a red flag.”
Grandmother Conspired with State Officials to Gain Custody of Minor Grandchild in Violation of Parent's Right to Due Process (7th Cir.)
Jack and Angela Howser believed that Angela's daughter was failing to provide safe and suitable housing for Angela's minor granddaughter, E.W. The Howsers solicited the assistance of a private investigator, county prosecutor, and local law enforcement agencies to gain custody of the child. To this end, the group went to the daughter's home in the middle of the night for the purpose of arresting the daughter for issuing a $200 check to Angela with insufficient funds. Once in police custody, and without the daughter's consent to designate a custodian for E.W., the sheriff permitted the Howsers to remove the child from her home. Following lengthy custody litigation that concluded in the daughter's favor, the daughter filed suit against the Howsers, the sheriff, and county prosecutor under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for conspiring to make decisions regarding the care, custody, and control of E.W. in violation of the daughter's right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The prosecutor and sheriff settled. A jury found in favor of the daughter as to her claim against the Howsers and awarded $970,000 in damages. A magistrate judge for the federal district court for the Southern District of Illinois denied the Howsers' post-trial motions.
The Howsers appealed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The court held: 1) there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that the Howsers conspired to take custody of the child over the daughter's objection; 2) the magistrate judge's pretrial decision to exclude unfavorable information about the daughter and her husband was not error or an abuse of discretion; and 3) the damages award was not excessive in light of the Howser's "reprehensible" conduct.
GREEN V. HOWSER, 2019 WL 5797158 (7TH CIR. NOV. 7, 2019)
Fighting Elder FraudBy Terry Savage on October 12, 2019
As the huge baby boom generation ages, and lives longer, the opportunities for elder fraud increase. The FBI notes that seniors are increasingly involved in “romance scams” along with being victimized by fake calls pretending to be from the IRS, demanding money immediately. Many seniors purchase pre-paid credit and debit cards to comply with threats, thereby losing their life savings.
Now, the financial services industry is using new tools to not only identify but prevent this kind of fraud. The Senior Safe Act was passed in 2018, and it allowed banks and financial institutions to be exempt from privacy protections when trying to stop, or report, suspected financial elder abuse.
As a result, banks have started regular training programs for their employees, educating them about signs of potential fraud, such as large or unexpected withdrawals from accounts, or suspicious in-person bank visits for cash withdrawals.
Now, financial institutions, particularly broker dealers and investment advisors, have one more tool in the fight against elder financial fraud. It’s called FINRA Rule 2165 and it creates a “safe harbor” allowing broker dealers and investment advisors to place a hold in disbursements for 15 days if fraud is suspected.
As part of the latest updates to Rule 4512, which applies to broker dealers and investment advisors, they are required to make “reasonable efforts to obtain the name of and contact information for a trusted contact person upon the opening of a non-institutional customer’s account or when updating account information.”
As a result, you may be contacted by your financial institution or advisor asking you to name a “trusted contact” who can independently verify any unusual circumstances in your account to prevent possible financial exploitation.
While intended to provide protection, this can also raise issues. Is your adult child really your most trusted contact? Sadly, this is not the case for many seniors. Perhaps it would be better to name someone independent of your family – the lawyer who drew up your estate plan, or a younger friend who is not a potential beneficiary after your death. That trusted person could be a fiduciary financial advisor.
Michele Kryger, head of Elder and Vulnerable Client Care at AIG the giant life & retirement insurer, notes that most senior financial abuse goes unreported. That’s either because the senior is too embarrassed to reveal she or he has been “taken” – or because they are fearful of the family member or caregiver who abuses them. AIG has been a leader in training the people at their call centers, as well as all U.S. employees, to look for signs of potential elder fraud.
A recent AIG study show that nearly half of seniors manage their finances – and face these threats – entirely alone. Kryger suggests that aging seniors have not only a “trusted financial contact” but set up a dual power of attorney, and give a copy to your bank, broker, or other financial institutions. That dual POA would require not just one person, but two trusted people, to agree on any major financial or investment changes or withdrawals. This added check could help prevent the kinds of financial fraud that impoverish seniors on a regular basis.
Elder financial fraud is a slippery concept. It requires teaching a generation that may be lonely and alone not to respond to phone calls or emails promising romance or threatening loss of their home. It requires a real education effort to teach everyone to avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails, or giving out private information such as Social Security numbers over the telephone.
And even worse, for a generation that is often aging alone, it requires deciding who in your life is truly trust-worthy so you can name a “trusted contact” and empower your bank to protect you from fraud. Finding a trusted person — likely not a member of your family — is the toughest job of all. And that’s The Savage Truth.
Jeff Sodoma, MPA, Esq. is a lawyer based in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Hello, there! Welcome to my blog. I will use this blog as a platform for my writing. I will write about topics in the legal world, certainly, as well as everything else under the sun, because I have many interests (and viewpoints). All views expressed in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are mine alone. One of my interests is music--my wife believes that I should go on "Beat Shazam" because I know so many songs--and I will be, from time to time, analyzing song lyrics and how they relate to the legal world.