Have you heard Eli Wallach, Rita Moreno or Cliff Robertson on television or radio lately? No, they're not boasting about their latest blockbuster film.
These celebrities have turned their attention to aging issues and are talking about a new campaign called "Do yourself justice . . . know your rights." According to Horace Deets, executive director of the American Association of Retired Persons, which co-sponsors the program with the American Bar Association, "The purpose of this campaign is empowerment. By learning about their rights, people can become their own advocates."The campaign is both timely and needed. Older people are among the nation's predominant consumers of health care, insurance and professional services and products. Indeed, although people 65 and older constitute 12 percent of the population, they account for one-third of total personal health-care expenditures.
The consumer-education campaign addresses seven areas:
-The right to appeal adverse decisions concerning Medicare coverage and reimbursement;
-Advance planning to maintain independence and ensure personal wishes is respected;
-The rights of nursing-home residents;
-The right to equal and fair opportunity in credit, employment and education;
-Medicare supplemental (Medigap) insurance, particularly minimum benefit standards that must be met and disclosed to consumers;
-Advance funeral planning; and
-Telephone lifeline programs, which provide financial assistance to low-income Americans of all ages to help pay for telephone service.
For more information, request a free copy of "Do Yourself Justice" from AARP Fulfillment, 1909 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20049.
QUESTION: I am a 68-year-old woman who has trouble sleeping. I sleep during the day and then stay up long hours into the night. Is this routine normal? Should I do as a friend suggests and take medication to regulate my sleep?
ANSWER: Sleep patterns change as we age. Older people tend to rise earlier, and their sleep is more shallow. But troubled sleep is not an inevitable part of growing older.
Insomnia - having difficulty falling asleep, waking up several times each night or waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep - is the most common sleep complaint, affecting 20 percent to 40 percent of all Americans. For about 20 percent of those affected, the problem is serious.
People who are tense, depressed or under a great deal of stress often have trouble falling asleep. Try to determine whether a specific event preceded your insomnia. Did you experience a personal loss? Develop an illness? Have surgery? Start new medication? Move or change jobs?
Discuss your situation with your physician. Although many doctors treat insomnia with medication and patients are often satisfied with the treatment, drug therapy will not address conditions that may have triggered your long-term insomnia. Try to change your sleeping patterns without drugs. Forgo daytime napping, exercise regularly, avoid drinks with caffeine. If you can't sleep, don't lie in bed thinking about it - get up and do something until you feel drowsy.