Think Your Insurance Company is on Your Side? Think Again

From TIME Magazine:


Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

By Steven Brill Feb. 20, 2013

1. Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills

When Sean Recchi, a 42­year­old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non­Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.

Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.


Stephanie was then told by a billing clerk that the estimated cost of Sean’s visit — just to be examined for six days so a treatment plan could be devised — would be $48,900, due in advance. Stephanie got her mother to write her a check. “You do anything you can in a situation like that,” she says. The Recchis flew to Houston, leaving Stephanie’s mother to care for their two teenage children.

About a week later, Stephanie had to ask her mother for $35,000 more so Sean could begin the treatment the doctors had decided was urgent. His condition had worsened rapidly since he had arrived in Houston. He was “sweating and shaking with chills and pains,” Stephanie recalls. “He had a large mass in his chest that was … growing. He was panicked.”

Nonetheless, Sean was held for about 90 minutes in a reception area, she says, because the hospital could not confirm that the check had cleared. Sean was allowed to see the doctor only after he advanced MD Anderson $7,500 from his credit card. The hospital says there was nothing unusual about how Sean was kept waiting. According to MD Anderson communications manager Julie Penne, “Asking for advance payment for services is a common, if unfortunate, situation that confronts hospitals all over the United States.”

Read the full article here: BitterPill

One Minute Wisdom from a 109 Year Old Holocaust Survivor

This woman’s wisdom is so simple, yet so deep. Do yourself a favor a take a minute to watch this brief video!


Click on the link below:

“I look for the beauty…”

Can Untreated Depression Lead to Dementia?

Recently, NPR hosted Meryl Butters PhD, a well know neuropsychologist who talked about the relationship between untreated depression and dementia.


“Depression can have physical consequences. Research now suggests that when people get depressed in middle age and beyond, they’re more likely to develop dementia in old age.

But the link between depression and dementia remains something of a mystery. Researchers are working to understand why that occurs and what might be done to prevent dementia.

Brain researcher Meryl Butters with the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine has spent years trying to answer this question. She asks, “What is it about a mood disorder that is relatively treatable, that people can recover from; what is it in the brain that may increase one’s risk for dementia many years later?”

Dementia can be caused by different diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, which follows a stroke or series of mini strokes. In a recent study, Butters found that the risk for both of those types of dementia nearly doubled among people who had suffered depression after the age of 50.”


You can read more here or listen to the interview.  This is something we should all be thinking about now rather than later!

The Problem in “Looking” for Something in Life

A lovely thought for a lovely Saturday morning:

Man on a bench old

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.

– Neil deGrasse Tyson’s response on Reddit when asked “What can you tell a young man looking for motivation in life itself?”…
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

It’s a Book!

Bella Vida Press is proud to announce the publication of “My Story, My Life: A Journal of Self-Discovery” by Nancy Hoffman, PsyD.

This is a personal journal to use for a life review or to collect your memories and record the story of your life. It is meant to be interactive — that is, it is meant for family members to do together. However, it can also be completed on your own and given as a gift to your family.

I designed this journal for my grandmother when she had mild dementia and was living in a nursing home. She was not always able to participate in conversation, but she seemed to enjoy reminiscing and her memory for the past was very good.  We kept an earlier version of the journal in a drawer next to her bed. Whenever conversation was stalled, we could pull out the journal and start asking her questions about her life.  We wrote her stories down as she told them and we now have a lovely memoir to remember her by.  This is particularly important for her great grandchildren who never knew her.

The journal begins by asking straightforward questions about your early life and your family members. However, as it goes on, the questions require more reflection about the road not taken, your regrets, etc.  Each page is beautifully illustrated by Christi Payne of Book & Page in Astoria, Oregon.  At the bottom of each page is a quote meant to help you think about the topic presented.  My favorite page asks the question, “If you could take one memory into the afterlife, what would it be and why?”

My Story, My Life will make a fantastic gift for an older parent who is considering end of life issues. However, it is also an excellent gift for an adult in the middle of their life who is in transition and wants a reflective tool to help make decisions about the next step.

The journal is available on or at Barnes & Noble.

Check it out and let me know what you think. I am particularly interested in hearing about the different ways people have used the journal to spend time together as a family.


Good Advice for the Ages

From the people at Rock Health:


“Live in rooms full of light. Avoid heavy food. Be moderate in drinking of wine. Take massage, baths, exercise and gymnastics. Fight insomnia with gentle rocking or the sound of running water. Change surroundings and take long journeys. Strictly avoid frightening ideas. Indulge in cheerful conversation and amusements. Listen to music” – De Medicina – Aulus Cornelius Celsus c25 B.C – 50 A.D.

Guest Post: Three Critical Issues Left Out of the HC Reform Debate

The political battle on health care reform rages on. But the debate totally misses some important features of the Affordable Care Act that directly affect elders.

Maybe people who oppose the Supreme Court decision don’t want to look as if they are against elders so they avoid discussing a number of the real benefits to seniors that are part of the bill.

Who am I talking about that will benefit? It could be your own aging parents. The ACA requires many broad changes that will be directly and immediately helpful to our elders.

Here are just three of the many things the National Senior Citizens’ Law Center reports about what is in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the effect on seniors.


Read more here:

You Can’t Be Too Careful: Tips on Preventing Elder Abuse

TEN TIPS from prosecutor Paul Greenwood, head of the district attorney’s elder abuse unit, on avoiding financial elder abuse:

• Choose a caregiver with caution. Don’t assume an agency will send someone whose background has been checked. Such checks are not mandatory in California. Consider hiring a private investigator to check out the proposed caretaker.

• Keep an inventory of all jewelry. Jewelry is the number-one item stolen from seniors in San Diego County. Keep it in a locked drawer, and have photographs of it in a separate location. Says Greenwood: “One carpet cleaner, alone in the house, stuck his high-powered vacuum cleaner into a jewelry drawer, and ‘Clunk, clunk, clunk,’ the jewelry was sucked into his truck.”

• Every home needs a shredder. Every piece of mail with your name, address and any other identifying information, such as account numbers, should be shredded. Never throw away old checkbooks or credit-card applications. “Dumpster divers will be going through the trash.”

• Protect your incoming and outgoing mail. Never let mail sit in an unsecured mailbox. A mailbox with a red flag is an easy alert for cruising thieves.

• Do a credit search on yourself at least two or three times a year. The state of California guarantees you one free credit check a year. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

• Every telephone should have caller I.D. Incoming calls showing “private” or “unknown” may be a tipoff it’s a crook——they don’t want to show their own number.

• You will never, ever win the Canadian lottery. “It’s tragic that so many senior San Diegans have fallen for this scam.”

• Consider letting your bank send a duplicate of your monthly statement to a trusted family member or an accountant or attorney. An independent pair of eyes, looking over bank statements every 30 days, will be able to catch suspicious activity early.

• Don’t assume that friendly handyman is licensed. Always get at least three estimates for work in writing, and check the name of the contractor with the Better Business Bureau (858-496-2131) and the Contractors State License Board (800-321-2752). Insist on a written contract, and take photographs as the work progresses.

• Always have a second line of defense at your front door. Have a locked screen door or a security chain guard. Crooks will attempt to gain entry with such ruses as a fake emergency or false uniforms or badges.

This is your life & it’s ending one minute at a time…



The Billionaires’ Top 10 List for Success (In Work & In Life)

Recently Barbara Walters interviewed several billionaires for 20/20 and asked them the secrets to their success.  A Top 10 list was generated by the Wall Street Journal that has a profound application both to business and to life.

Here is the list along with a link to the original article:

1. Figure out what you’re so passionate about that you’d be happy doing it for 10 years, even if you never made any money from it. That’s what you should be doing.

2. Always be true to yourself.

3. Figure out what your values are and live by them, in business and in life.

4. Rather than focus on work-life separation, focus on work-life integration.

5. Don’t network. Focus on building real relationships and friendships where the relationship itself is its own reward, instead of trying to get something out of the relationship to benefit your business or yourself.

6. Remember to maximize for happiness, not money or status.

7. Get ready for rejection.

8. Success unshared is failure. Give back — share your wealth.

10. Successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do.

Is there anything you would add to this list?