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Archive for August 1st, 2013

Congress is headed home for the August recess, leaving much of what they have been working on up in the air. We sum up some of the main issues concerning members.

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» Cambridge Realty Capital Companies recently arranged $24 million in Housing and Urban Development loans to refinance skilled nursing facilities with a total of 549 beds in three states. The loans will go to Alden Northmoor Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Illinois and four North American Health Care Inc. properties in California and Utah.

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Health Care REIT is buying the remaining 20% equity interest in a Merrill Gardens 38-property portfolio, the two companies announced the final week of June. The additional $173 million investment will give full ownership to the REIT, which has agreed to a triple-net lease with Emeritus Senior Living to manage the properties. A third-quarter closing is anticipated.

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Kindred Healthcare will split with PharMerica and instead partner with Omnicare in 2014, marking a significant change in the landscape of long-term care pharmacy services providers.

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New research suggests moderate exercise may be the best method for combatting cognitive decline in those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, through improving the efficiency of brain activity linked to memory. 

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health conducted a study on 17 participants with mild cognitive impairment—a diagnosis that signals greater risk for Alzheimer’s—and recently published the results in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Two groups of physically inactive older adults between the ages of 60-88 began a 12-week exercise program that included regular walking on a treadmill, with guidance from a personal trainer. One group of participants had MCI, while the other group had healthy brain function.

The levels of exercise used for the study are in line with physical activity levels recommended for older adults, consisting of moderate intensity exercise several days a week totaling about 150 minutes. 

Not only did both groups improve their cardiovascular fitness but about 10% by the end of the program, they also improved their memory performance and demonstrated enhanced neural efficiency while engaged in memory retrieval takes. 

“We found that after 12 weeks of being on a moderate exercise program, study participants improved their neural efficiency—basically they were using fewer neural resources to perform the same memory task,” said Dr. J. Carson Smith, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Department of Kinesiology. “No study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise.”

Tests and imaging to measure participants’ brain activation were conducted before and after the exercise program. Brain scans taken after participants completed the intervention showed a decrease in the intensity of brain activation in 11 brain regions while correctly identifying famous names, such as Frank Sinatra or other celebrities they’d be familiar with. 

The brain regions that showed improved efficiency were the same areas of the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s diagnoses, including the precuneus region, which involves episodic memory, and the temporal lobe. 

“People with MCI are on a very sharp decline in their memory function,” Dr. Smith said, “so being able to improve their recall is a very big step in the right direction.” 

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Written by Alyssa Gerace

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Ohio — State nursing home investigations have spiked, raising questions about how the attorney general’s office is utilizing surveillance cameras.

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McKnight’s Long-Term Care News has earned two 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors awards, one each on the national and regional levels.

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Hospice workers who provide care for residents of skilled nursing facilities will have to provide more detailed claim data starting next year, according to recently released requirements from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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The leader of Florida’s long-term care ombudsman program is under investigation and has been placed on administrative leave under strict conditions, according to local reports. Harold J. Crochet has run Florida’s LTC ombudsman program since 2011. Last Friday, he was placed on paid leave by Elder Affairs Secretary Charles T. Corley, according to a memorandum obtained by the Miami Herald.

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A new House bill aims to improve the nursing home survey process, enhance whistleblower protections for surveyors and establish an advisory committee for CMS that would include skilled nursing facility administrators, directors of nursing and other stakeholders. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the bill on Tuesday.

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