Disease Management Update
Volume III, No. 33
December 7, 2006

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Table of Contents

  1. Elderly Concerned About Memory Loss, but Few Share Concerns, Even with Doctors
  2. Disease Management Q&A: Transitioning to the Baby Boomer Generation
  3. HealthSounds Podcast: Managing Transitions to Care for Medicare Patients to Avoid Costly Inpatient Admissions
  4. Hearing Loss Significantly Impacting Work, Home Life for Baby Boomers
  5. Baby Boomers' Impact on Healthcare: High Demands, Expectations Met with a Healthy Dose of Prevention


1. Elderly Concerned About Memory Loss, but Few Share Concerns, Even with Doctors

Many elderly individuals have memory concerns but are reluctant to discuss them with others, even their physicians, according to a study of people who attended a voluntary memory screening during National Memory Screening Day sponsored by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA).

Seventy-three percent of attendants had concerns about their memory, 30 percent of which had not discussed their concerns with anyone. Of those who did share their concerns, most confided in their spouse.

While 84 percent of those who completed a survey while attending a voluntary screening said they had visited their doctor within the previous six months, only 24 percent of those concerned about their memory shared their unease with their physician.

More than 36 percent of respondents said the memory screening was their first health screening of any type, with the top motivating factors being forgetfulness (50 percent), a desire to obtain a baseline score (56 percent) and having a relative with Alzheimer's disease (21 percent).

To learn more about the findings of this study, please visit:
http://www.metlife.com/WPSAssets/19939585801161192952V1FMemoryDayScreening.pdf

2. Disease Management Q&A: Transitioning to the Baby Boomer Generation

Each week, a healthcare professional responds to a reader's query on an industry issue. This week's expert is Dr. Randall S. Krakauer, national medical director of retiree markets at Aetna, Inc.

Question: As we make the transition to serving the baby boomer generation, which is more demanding than its predecessor, how can we channel members' energy to help them get what they want out of the healthcare system?

Response: The baby boomer generation, which includes me and many of you, is more demanding than the "greatest generation," which fought during World War II. Baby boomers have high expectations of the healthcare system, and this may change how the industry has operated up to this point. We'll have to adapt as the trend evolves. I may eventually end up on the consumer rather than provider side of this coin, but I don't think the basic process is going to change.

We'll still be facing the same issues — clinically, psychosocially, financially and geographically. We may have to find different means to serve this new population and adjust to its demanding nature. We all know the demographic forecast — the elderly population is going to grow. We also know the dependency ratio. We're just going to have to adapt our established practices to suit this population. I'm confident we can do this. If we fail, if the healthcare system cannot adapt to these consumers' needs, we'll have to resort to a national health plan.

For more details on identifying risk, improving predictive modeling techniques, and strategies for enrollment and engagement of Medicare beneficiaries, please visit:
http://store.hin.com/product.asp?itemid=3447

We want to hear from you! Submit your question for Disease Management Q&A to info@hin.com.

3. HealthSounds Podcast: Managing Transitions to Care for Medicare Patients to Avoid Costly Inpatient Admissions

Miscommunication during the care transition puts elderly patients at risk for reduced quality of care, poorer outcomes and unnecessary procedures. In this week's Disease Management podcast, Gregg Lehman, president and CEO of Inspiris, defines the key players on the care transition team, suggests strategies for improving communications during this crucial phase and describes his organization's approach to dual eligibles who find themselves at this healthcare crossroad.

To listen to this complimentary HIN podcast, please visit:
http://www.hin.com/podcasts/podcast.htm#26

4. Hearing Loss Significantly Impacting Work, Home Life for Baby Boomers

Hearing loss has become a serious health issue for aging baby boomers, impacting their work and home lives, yet most are not seeking help, according to a survey released by the EAR Foundation and Clarity, a division of Plantronics, Inc.

The second phase of a 2004 study that indicated nearly half of the baby boomers in the U.S. are experiencing some degree of hearing loss, the new survey not only confirms the prevalence of hearing loss among baby boomers, it reveals that hearing loss is significantly impacting their lives at work, home and while traveling and is affecting men much more than women (62 percent vs. 38 percent).

Almost one-fourth (23 percent) of individuals said their hearing loss is affecting their success in the workplace, while 25 percent said hearing loss is affecting their earning potential. The areas of their work that are most affected are hearing and understanding phone calls and conversations with coworkers.

To see more of this survey's results, please visit:
http://www.earfoundation.org/downloads/boomer_survey_06.pdf

5. Baby Boomers' Impact on Healthcare: High Demands, Expectations Met with a Healthy Dose of Prevention

Baby boomers are depicted as an educated, financially secure bunch, redefining retirement as they care for aging parents and launch second careers. But whatever else they accomplish during their "golden years," baby boomers will likely fall ill and challenge the healthcare system to treat and manage their chronic and acute health conditions — by 2029, when all of the baby boomers in the United States have turned 65 years of age, some experts predict we'll be in the midst of a dementia epidemic.

In a recent online survey, the Healthcare Intelligence Network asked healthcare organizations to assess baby boomers' impact on their field and define strategies for anticipating and treating the needs of the sandwich generation so consumed with caring for their own parents that they may neglect their personal health issues.

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