SENIOR ARTICLE – February 2021


Seniors in nursing homes have been in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, with their facilities in lockdown to prevent potentially fatal outbreaks. Now that they (some) are first in line to received COVID-19 vaccinations, it would be natural for nursing home residents to expect their friends & family will visit soon.

That might not happen! Uneven vaccination rates and unknowns related to the vaccines could mean that seniors in nursing homes will have to remain isolated for a while longer. It will be a while before there are enough people immunized to really start to see a reduction in risk, said Dr. Chris Beyer, a professor of public health & human rights with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

There’s a reason for caution as this challenging period there may not be enough vaccine and we will not have enough people immunized. People in long-term care facilities have accounted for 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., even though they represent only 6% of overall infections.

The assisted care facilities are full of people with conditions that put them at high risk of a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said they are “extremely optimistic this vaccine will expedite the reopening of our facilities to family members and loved ones. They hope to discuss what next steps look like once the “second” dose of the vaccine is being widely delivered and administered to staff and resident across the country, but all of us are going to have to remain vigilant, even after the vaccine.
Health experts have stated the vaccine is safe and effective, but they do not yet know whether vaccinated individuals can still be carriers of the virus and infect others.

For now, it could still be months before nursing homes reopen for visitors. The best estimate is there will be enough vaccine for every adult in this country (who wants one) sometime between June/July 2021. The Fall may be much better for families in terms of resuming visits.

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner/CSA
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military (Veterans/Spouses) Advocate/Resources/Locator

*(Sources): Chris Beyrer, MD, Professor of Public Health & Human Rights, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, American HealthCare Assoc/National Center for Assisted Living, statement


Falls are the leading cause of deaths related to injury for people age 65 and older. The falls that don’t kill you can change your life. Simple falls can decrease your mobility. Broken bones may not heal properly and these bones can be more likely to break in the future. Consider this: One out of three seniors fall every year. Two-thirds who fall will fall again within six months. In 2018 & 2019, 2.5 million seniors were treated in emergency departments; over 581,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Senior Prevention should be a priority for both seniors and for those with seniors in their lives.

The risks of falling are higher for several reasons:

  1. Your gait and balance is not as good as when younger.
  2. The use of some medications may affect your balance.
  3. Your muscle strength is not what it use to be. Men are more likely to die from a fall than women. Women are more likely to be injured in a fall than men. Osteoporosis – thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density – increases risk of a hip fracture from a fall.

Precautions to Prevent Falls: Exercise regularly. Exercise to increase leg strength, improve balance and flexibility. Tai Chi, Yoga, and bicycling. Review your Medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Visit your Optometrist once a year. Take daily recommended levels of calcium and Vitamin D. Move furniture if in your way. Use double-sided tape so throw rugs will not sip or get rid of throw rugs. Stairs lights and switches at top and bottom of the stairs. Keep Bedroom and Bathrooms clutter free. Avoid slippers!! Purchase a medical alert – it could SAVE your life…..

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner
The Next Horizon Senior & Military Locator/Resources

SENIOR ARTICLE – Difference Between A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA & a Caregiver)

Working with so many seniors & military veterans one of many questions asked is: What is the Difference Between a CNA & a Caregiver. Below is a brief explanation:

Basic Duties: Certified nursing assistants, called CNAs and Caregivers are often employed in home health care. Both are eligible to work as aides in hospitals, clinics, and assisted living facilities and Personal Care Homes.

CNAs: A certified nursing assistant is formally trained within a State-Approved educational facility and trained with at least 75 hours. Candidates must take an examination of competency to earn the title of CNA. CAN candidates also commonly have a criminal background check before certification. Graduates of CNA programs can work in the facilities (mentioned above) and can help a patient with the following: Help with bathing, dressing, transferring from bed to walker or wheelchair and oversee the patient take their medication (CNAs cannot administer or fill the medication box but watch the patient take their required medication only). CNAs can also help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, running errands and drive the patient (in the patient’s vehicle) to doctor appointments.

CNAs are usually working with a Caregiver Agency that employees them to be assigned to a patient, either in facilities or in the clients’ personal home. CNAs, if working in a hospital, may have a different job title, such as technician. Duties can include taking vital signs, caring for catheters, transporting patients, or help with discharging patients.

Caregiver: Caregivers provide assistance to the disabled or an elderly with day-to-day functions as helping with laundry, driving, paying bills, help the patient to eat or prepare meals. Many Caregivers are asked by the family to be a “companion” only….meaning, be at their bedside and read to them, or write letters for the patient or just be there to chat. Some Caregivers are employed as live-in companion, with room & board provided by the patient or patient’s family. A Caregiver that is NOT providing medical services needs no formal state-license as they are being more of a companion.

*Information provided by:
Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner/CSA
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military Advocate/Resources/Locator

SENIOR ARTICLE – January 2020

(You have rights and you have options. Be aware of them)

Medical expenses were a contributing factor for those that could not pay their medical bills or filed bankruptcy according to the American Journal of Public Health. The National Council on Aging surveyed social service professionals about their clients’ debt, more than half said medical debt was the biggest problem facing older Americans.

You may not be able to avoid medical debt, but you can navigate it better – Here are Five things to know:

  • Initially you have more leeway. Most medical debt is held by hospitals and doctors, whose practices are not structured that you are charged “interest.” Hospitals don’t charge “late fees.” This gives you time to figure out how to manage the debt. Also, when missed payments on a credit card can affect your credit score, the three major credit reporting agencies – don’t report medical debt that is less than six months overdue. They also remove from your record medical debts that are later paid by insurance.
  • Hospitals can reduce your burden. If you owe money to a hospital, ask if you can qualify for help paying it off. Under IRS rules, nonprofit hospitals must have charity care and financial assistance polices in place to help low-income folks. (Definitions of “low-income” can vary). Both profit and nonprofit hospitals offer financial assistance to people with income up to 300 or 400 percent of the federal poverty line (income up to $37,000 or $50,000 for one person, and $51,000 or $68,000 for a couple). If your hospital or doctor doesn’t have a program to help pay off your debt, talk your situation through with them. Many agree to a payment plan! Prevent the debt going into a collection agency. As long as you communicate and show good faith in managing the debt, they will help keep your debt in-house.
  • Replacing debt with debt could make things worse. Do Not Take Out a Home Equity Loan or Reverse Mortgage to pay off a medical debt – that puts your home at risk unnecessarily. Do not put your medical debt on a regular credit card or on a medical credit card because once the debt is on a credit card, you lose the ability to negotiate with your doctors or hospital on repayment. If your income is low enough, you might qualify for Medicaid and you may be able to get retroactive coverage from Medicaid for recent bills.
  • Collectors have to follow rules. Once a provider decides you cannot or not likely to pay what is due, they may have a Debt Collector take over. Under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collectors can’t “harass, oppress or abuse” you in connection with collecting a debt. But, Collectors can go to court to collect the debt. If they win, they can garnish part of your wages, but your Social Security and VA benefits are protected! State laws set a “time limit” three to six years, for them to file suit, but making a small good faith payment may extend that window.
  • You may not owe anything. If debt collectors call you regarding your medical debt, don’t assume their info. Is correct. Under the FDCPA, you have 30 days after a collector contacts you to ask for proof that actually owe the amount demanded. Medical debts can be bundled and sold multiple times to different collectors and mistakes are not uncommon.

Hopefully, these Five Steps will be helpful. After doing my research on this topic, the AARP Bulletin provided some of these guidelines.

Brenda Dever-Armstrong, CEO/Owner
The Next Horizon Seniors & Military Advocate/Resources