May 2019 newsletter

May 2019 newsletter Image



Dance Like Nobody’s Watching – It’s Good for You

A growing number of studies indicate older adults reap benefits from dancing -- like improved balance and enhanced cardiovascular health. Regular dance may also slow dementia and boost emotional health. Some studies show that dance is better than walking or yoga.

Researchers think because dance involves both mental and physical effort, the benefits are greater than other activities. Dance requires balance, strength, endurance, adaptability, concentration, fluid motion and sometimes memory for choreography.

Here are some additional findings:

  • Patients with Parkinson’s Disease taking regular tango lessons experienced improved motor skills and balance, reduced non-motor symptom severity and were able to better perform daily activities. 
  • In a study in Japan, older women who often danced had a 73 percent lower chance of becoming disabled during the study period, contrasted with women who didn’t dance.

Additional research projects suggest participating in singing, theater and visual arts improve the health, well-being and independence of older adults.

  • 400 seniors who participated in a large clinical trial called “Community Voices” by joining a community choir experienced positive results within 6 months. In particular, joining the choir reduced feelings of loneliness and increased interest in life. However, cognitive and physical outcomes and healthcare costs did not change significantly.
  • In a study called the Memory Ensemble, 69 participants with dementia created improvisational theater under the supervision of a clinical social worker and a master teaching artist. Preliminary results show participation improved mood, decreased anxiety, and increased a sense of belonging, normalcy. Participants also reported feelings of achievement, empowerment and self-discovery.
  • There is a growing interest among researchers to study how music can be used to reduce behavioral symptoms of dementia, such as stress, aggression, agitation and apathy, as well as promoting social interaction.

Four Things That Matter Most Late in Life

Poul-Erik Tindbæk, social entrepreneur, lecturer and author on the transition from work life to a new career in the “third age” (his name for the healthy years after work and before frailty and disease set in) lists the following as the things that matter most late in life.

1.Look at 60+ as a new beginning not an ending. This period can be a time of important contributions and new purpose but finding new purposes takes some planning.

2.Stay healthy physically and mentally. It’s never too late to adopt new and potentially healthier eating and exercise habits. Fitness centers and senior centers offer lots of classes for seniors and they help you meet new people – which wards off loneness and boredom.

3.Do something you are good at which is meaningful to you. This could be something you did before or something you have always wanted to try. To find that something, reflex on your life and focus on a time when you thought you were doing great work and you were happy.  Develop a list and see if you can return to that work or effort.

4.Do something good for others. According to Tindbaek, “Many who arrive at later life believe the time has come to give something back from all they’ve gained and experienced. To find the way to a long and good life in the third age, it is important to fill your life with activities that give you personal satisfaction. For many, however, there’s extra satisfaction knowing that you’re still needed and that all the experience and know-how you’ve gained through life can still be used to provide value for others.”

Some Medications Don’t Mix Well with Alcohol

from National Institute on Aging

Many medicines—prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal remedies—can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. Before taking any medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol.

Here are some examples of 
problems caused by mixing alcohol with certain medicines:

  • If you take aspirin and drink, your risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding is increased.
  • When combined with alcohol, cold and allergy medicines (antihistamines) may make you feel very sleepy.
  • Alcohol used with large doses of acetaminophen, a common painkiller, may cause liver damage.
  • Some medicines, such as cough syrups and laxatives, have high alcohol content. If you drink at the same time, your alcohol level will go up.
  • Alcohol used with some sleeping pills, pain pills, or anxiety/anti-depression medicine can be deadly.

Study Shows Number of Delaware Docs is Declining

The number of full-time primary care physicians providing direct patient care in Delaware in 2018 declined about 6 percent from 2013, a trend that resulted in a slightly lower percentage of physicians statewide who are accepting new patients, according to a University of Delaware study of the primary care physician workforce commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).

The study, done by UD’s Center for Applied Demography & Survey Research, also found that the reduction in primary care physicians likely will continue.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the ideal patient to doctor ratio is 2,000 patients per primary care physician. Kent and Sussex Counties are just over that ideal with 2,069 and 2,014 respectively. New Castle County is in line with the goal.

Other findings:

  • About 82 percent of physicians were accepting new patients in 2018, compared with 86 percent in 2013, but the proportion accepting new Medicare patients (72 percent) and new Medicaid patients (78 percent) was lower.
  • Average wait times statewide for new patients was 23 days in 2018, compared with 32 days in 2013, and six days for established patients in 2018 vs. 17 days in 2013.

Understanding Social Security Survivors Benefits

Provided by Davida Smith-Reed, Social Security District Manager in Wilmington, Delaware.

Unfortunately, tragedy can strike without any warning. The loss of the family wage earner can be devastating both emotionally and financially. Social Security helps by providing income for the families of workers who die.

Some of the Social Security taxes you pay go toward survivors’ benefits for workers and their families. The value of the survivor’s benefits you have under Social Security may even be more than the value of your individual life insurance. When you die, certain members of your family may be eligible for survivors’ benefits. These include widows and widowers (and divorced widows and widowers), children, and dependent parents.

Here are the people who can get survivors benefits based on your work:

  • Your widow or widower may be able to get full benefits at full retirement age. The full retirement age for survivors is age 66 for people born in 1945-1956, with the full retirement age gradually increasing to age 67 for people born in 1962 or later. Your widow or widower can get reduced benefits as early as age 60. If your surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50.
  • Your widow or widower can get benefits at any age if they take care of your child who is younger than age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits.
  • Your unmarried children, younger than age 18 (or up to age 19 if they’re attending elementary or secondary school full time), can also get benefits. Your children can get benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22. Under certain circumstances, we can also pay benefits to your stepchildren, grandchildren, step-grandchildren or adopted children.
  • Your dependent parents (who relied on you for half of their support) can get benefits if they’re age 62 or older.

How much your family can get from Social Security depends on your average lifetime earnings. The more you earned, the more their benefits will be. For more information on widows, widowers, and other survivors, visit

You can read more about Survivors Benefits at

Many Remote Nursing Homes are Closing

More than 440 rural nursing homes have closed or merged over the last decade forcing patients to find care at different nursing homes – often miles away from friends and family. Why:

  • Thirty-six failed to meet health and safety standards.
  • Financial reasons including low Medicaid reimbursement.
  • Competition from independent and assisted living
  • New benefit policies which pay for in-home care.
  • Inability to find staff.

The relocations can be traumatic for older residents, and the separation creates heartbreaking complications for families. Often, relatives must cut back the number of visits, due to longer drives.