Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

A program that helps thousands of Florida seniors sign up for Medicare could lose all of its funding by the end of the month if Congress doesn't act.

Debra Thompson is throwing a block party. She has good weather for it — never a sure thing in Chicago — a warm and sunny autumn afternoon. Music is playing, hot dogs are grilling.

But this party isn't just for fun. Thompson is the volunteer chairwoman of Englewood Village, an organization that connects low-income older adults on the city's South Side with services from nutrition to job assistance to home repair. And this is how she is reaching out to potential new members.

The roast turkey and pecan pie may be the same as always, but growing numbers of families plan to add a tradition to their Thanksgiving holiday this week: a frank talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.

Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity, the agency behind Five Wishes, a popular living will template, says requests for the documents that guide decisions surrounding serious illness and death typically surge starting now.

Hal Yeager for Kaiser Health News

For the millions of people who are still without power across Florida, heat illness can be a concern.  

Thousands reacted this week to a photo of residents sitting waist-deep in floodwaters at an assisted living facility in Dickinson, Texas. The town did not issue a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Tropical Storm Harvey. The photo, and Texas officials' decisions to not evacuate, could have ramifications for emergency plans for Florida’s elderly residents.

With everyone age 65 and older eligible for Medicare, seniors may be the last group that comes to mind when there's talk of Medicaid spending reductions.

The closing of a Winn-Dixie has State Senator Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, scrambling to help find transportation for senior citizens who rely on the grocery store.  

Madison Manor Senior Living, on Hogan Road near Beach Boulevard, is about a block from Winn-Dixie and 70 percent of the 255 residents don’t have vehicles. Now that the store is closing, they’ll have to figure out where to get their groceries.

Cuts by the Florida Department of Agriculture will eliminate a supplemental food program used by nearly 2,300 low income seniors in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, according to department officials and distributing agency, the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The cuts go into effect Jul. 1.

The cuts are through the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program, administered by Florida's Department of Agriculture since January 2015. The state agricultural agency says it's eliminating the program in the three counties while also expanding it in nearby Glades and Hendry counties.

Older Floridians Worry About Obamacare Replacement

Mar 21, 2017

Older Americans who have not yet reached Medicare age are among the groups hardest hit by the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

An analysis by The Associated Press shows that many of those who buy their own health insurance stand to pay thousands of dollars more.

Elderly Patients In The Hospital Need To Keep Moving

Aug 16, 2016
Hal Yeager for Kaiser Health News

Thelma Atkins ended up in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Hospital-Highlands after a neighbor in her senior living center ran over her feet with a motorized scooter.

Terri Middlebrooks, a nurse at the hospital, tried to figure out how active the 92-year-old Atkins was before the incident. “Are you up and moving at home?” she asked.

The prescription drug abuse problem has spread to nearly every corner of society in Florida. In 2014, 2,062 Floridians died from prescription drug overdose — a 7.6 percent increase from 2013.

People who are victims of drug abuse cannot be categorized into a particular socio-economic class or region, but are found in every segment of the population. Recently, addiction rehabilitation treatment centers throughout South Florida have noticed a rise in the number of seniors being treated for opioid addiction.

GAO: More Oversight Needed Over Medicare Advantage

Oct 1, 2015
General Accountability Office

The federal government needs to increase its oversight over private Medicare health plans to make sure seniors have adequate access to doctors and hospitals, according to a report released this week by congressional auditors.

A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there's all that time standing on your feet. It's one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.

But a company called Chefs for Seniors has an alternative: They send professional cooks into seniors' homes. In a couple of hours they can whip up meals for the week.

  The White House is holding the first in a series of forums to hear about the most important issues facing older Americans. 

The event Thursday in Tampa comes amid a historic demographic shift in the U.S. as the massive baby boom generation moves closer to old age.

Adjusting medications before someone gets sick enough to visit the doctor. Updating outside specialists so one doctor's prescription doesn't interfere with another's.

Starting this month, Medicare will pay primary care doctors a monthly fee to better coordinate care for the most vulnerable seniors — those with multiple chronic illnesses — even if they don't have a face-to-face exam.

The goal is to help patients stay healthier between doctor visits, and avoid pricey hospitals and nursing homes.

U.S. Department of Transportation

The perennial debate about seniors who drive has been reignited after an 88-year-old woman crashed into an auto shop in Lake Worth, The Palm Beach Post reports.

The woman is hospitalized in critical condition, and her husband who was in the car with her died, according to the Post. She is one of 167,000 registered drivers in Palm Beach County age 70 and older.

Florida Not the Healthiest for Seniors

Jun 13, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

"Minnesota Nice” might be the key to good health for seniors.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report rated Minnesota the healthiest state in the nation for adults aged 65 and over — beating out Hawaii. And that retiree and snowbird haven, Florida? It came in 28th.

A new report by the Orlando-based AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that older Americans are driving more than seniors in previous generations.

Released last month the report — Understanding Older Drivers: An Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors — says that 84 percent of Americans 65 and older were licensed to drive in 2010, compared to barely half in the early 1970s.

The study also finds that one in six drivers on American roadways is 65 and older.

A desk clerk at a St. Petersburg senior housing facility mistook a dead resident for a mannequin, thinking it was part of an April Fools’ Day prank, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Authorities say the 96-year-old resident jumped 16 stories to her death. The body was moved to the dumpster, and it wasn’t until later in the day that other workers found the body and realized the mistake.  

Does the Affordable Care Act permit the government to seize assets after Medicaid patients age 55 or older die? According to the Florida Times-Union, states have had the option to do that since the Medicaid program started in 1965.

This year’s flu epidemic is well under way across the nation, and Florida is no exception. Each year about 3,000 Floridians die from flu or related complications, health officials estimate.

Recent reports have cited two deaths of pregnant women in Brevard County and 12 deaths in Gainesville; now another two have died in Broward, CBS4 reports.

Following the example of private companies, Medicare is moving to limit the number of drug brands it will cover. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have proposed to allow private prescription-drug plans under Medicare Part D to cover only some of the antidepressants on the market, not all, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Kate GeMeiner, in a pixie haircut and a sensible brown pantsuit, holds up what, from the back of the room, appears to be a see-through balloon. It isn’t.

“Never use Vaseline with a condom,” she says in her best announcer’s voice. “Never, only KY jelly.”

Skip O'Rourke / Tampa Bay Times

Although Tampa General Hospital was recently ranked the second-best hospital in Florida by U.S. News & World Report, and ranked first last year, Consumer Reports’ new guide puts TGH at the bottom of the list for post-surgery recovery of elderly patients in Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Retirement is a time many seniors look forward to, but can delaying retirement keep the brain healthy? According to a study of nearly half a million seniors, working every day may keep dementia away. Since working involves being physically active, socially connected and mentally challenged, seniors who delay retirement have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Jeanette Rivera of Coral Springs was already struggling with breast cancer when her mother had a stroke, leaving her unable to care for Jeanette’s father, who has Parkinson’s disease. Rivera tried to get home-care services that would enable the older couple to remain in their condo, but found a long waiting list.

According to an investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post, Medicare is failing to properly monitor the drugs prescribed under Part D coverage. Analysis of the data shows doctors are overprescribing, and in some cases, giving seniors drugs that are potentially harmful or addictive. 

Florida Today

Congress' approach to cutting the budget -- automatic cuts called "sequestration" -- has affected the elderly where it really counts: food. 

The Orlando Sentinel reports that both meal delivery and congregate meals for seniors have been reduced.

Health care types have spent years trying to make the point that seniors are being prescribed medications that are unnecessary and dangerous. But the message hasn't really sunk in.

More than 20 percent of people with Medicare Advantage coverage are taking at least one high-risk medication, a new study finds.