Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

A couple of weeks ago, I had arthroscopic knee surgery because of a fall more than a dozen years ago. It was partially exploratory to determine the next step as well as to “clean it up.” The next two weeks will determine my options, but total knee replacement is not necessary.

In order to go through this surgery, I had to get a second opinion and while the second doctor determined that surgery is necessary, it was his opinion that a total knee replacement should be considered “just in case” I might need one down the road. On the other hand, my world-renowned knee specialist said you never replace anything that’s in good condition and basically, other than my knee cap, my knee is in very good condition. But the most important lesson in this is to prevent falls in the first place and to prevent arthritis from creeping in.

Fitness expert Sonia Gow, in a previous post, shared her expertise about why people fall. She mentioned that falls are not a normal part of aging.

Did you know that falls are a leading cause of hospital admissions for people over 65? For those over 65, one in three will experience a fall each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 to 30 percent of the falls result in injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, and head traumas with hospital bills averaging nearly $18,000 per patient.

According to Mary Tinetti, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, the more chronic health conditions you have, the more likely you are to suffer a fall.

  • Diabetes can worsen vision and desensitize nerves in the feet.
  • Depression can increase risk of falling.
  • Many medications cause dizziness and affect balance, especially sleep aids.

Other diseases causing a higher rate of falls include:

  • Circulatory disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Arthritis

Yoga and tai chi which has slow, rhythmic movements can help you with your balance. Don’t forget to strengthen your arms too since you can use them to steady yourself. Find a personal trainer or borrow/buy a DVD to help you.

Long-Term Care in America — Part 1

Pat O'Neill

Pat O’Neill is an independent long-term care insurance specialist. She works with individuals, businesses, and associations. She will be enlightening us on long term care in America in a three-part series.

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter said,
There are four kinds of people in the world:
Those who have been caregivers
Those who currently are caregivers
Those who will be caregivers
And those who will need caregivers.

Rosalynn Carter

What is long-term care?

Long-term care (LTC) is for people with a prolonged illness, a disability, or a cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s disease). Care may be provided at home, adult day care, nursing home, and assisted living community. LTC includes both skilled care and personal care. Up to four generations can be affected by a LTC need.

The need for LTC can start gradually, or it may come on suddenly due to an accident, stroke, heart attack, or major illness. You may need care for a short time or for many months, years, or the rest of your life.

Leading causes of LTC:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia – 31% of LTC claim dollars
  • Circulatory Disease and Hypertension Related – 16%
  • Parkinson’s and other Central Nervous Systems Conditions – 14%
  • Stroke – 9%
  • Broken Hips and Related Injuries – 9%

Who may need LTC?

  • Today, about 63% of people needing LTC are over 65. However, 37% are 64 years of age or younger.
  • The longer you live, the greater chance you will need assistance due to chronic conditions.
  • For people ages 65 and older, there is a 68% lifetime probability of needing LTC at some point in their lives.
  • About 44% of people reaching age 65 are expected to enter a nursing home at least once in their lifetime.
  • LTC is an especially important issue for women.

How much does LTC cost?

The cost depends on the amount and type of care you need and where you get it. Below are national average annual costs for care provided in different settings as of 2009. You can learn the current average cost for your area by going here.

  • Nursing Home – national average cost was about $219 per day for a private room, or $79,935 annually.
  • Assisted Living Facility – national average of $3,131 per month (for a one-bedroom unit) or $37,572 per year, including rent, meals, and most other non-medical fees. Costs can be higher if more care is needed.
  • Home Care – The national hourly rate for home health aides was $21. Yearly costs vary widely depending on the amount of care needed.

Who pays for LTC?

  • Personal resources (income and assets) of individuals or their families
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Some assistance from Medicaid for those who qualify (must have low income and very little assets)
  • NOT – Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance, and health insurance usually will not pay for LTC.

NEXT WEEK:  What is long-term care insurance and do you need it?

You can visit Pat O’Neill’s Web site at’Neill and download her booklet, Dignity for Life, or you can reach her at 703 534 3255 and