Sixty Seconds Newsletter 
A Monthly Update from Senior Resources of West Michigan  
An Area Agency on Aging Serving Muskegon, Oceana & Ottawa Counties
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January 2016
 New Dietary Guidelines Released 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released updated nutritional guidelines that encourage Americans to adopt a series of science-based recommendations to improve how they eat to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. 

The specific recommendations fit into five overarching guidelines in the new edition:
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all
Healthy eating patterns include a variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein foods and oils, while limiting saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium. A healthy eating pattern is adaptable to a person's taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget.

The guidelines suggest Americans should consume:
  • A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
  • Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.
Americans should be encouraged to consume:
  • Less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars. provides more information about added sugars, which are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
  • Less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to check for saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium for people over the age of 14 years and less for those younger. The Nutrition Facts label is a helpful tool to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, and soups.
USDA has also released updates for consumers on, and new resources will soon be available on from HHS that will help health professionals support their clients and patients in making healthy choices.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is available at

What's new in Medicare? A lot
The program is changing the way that health care is delivered by fostering teamwork among physicians, hospitals and other providers, and paying special attention to transitions between hospital and home.  For example, almost 20% of Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S. are now in "Accountable Care Organizations" - networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers that strive to deliver better quality care at a lower cost.  Part of their Medicare reimbursement is tied to meeting specific quality and cost targets.  Michigan has 20 Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), covering 417,000 beneficiaries (approximately 20%).  Fourteen of the 20 achieved cost savings in 2014.  A major expansion is planned this year.
Joint replacements are the most common surgical procedure covered by Medicare.  Starting this April, hospitals in 67 metro areas will be responsible for managing the total cost of hip and knee replacements.  This experiment - called "bundled payments" - will cover a 90-day window from the first doctor's office visit through surgery and rehabilitation.  Quality, cost-effective care will reap financial rewards for the participating hospitals.  Hospitals in Genesee, Saginaw, Cass and St. Joseph counties are participating.  This unique payment approach will expand in future years.
An ongoing Medicare experiment in seven regions of the country is transforming primary care practices by reimbursing them to provide care management using a multi-disciplinary team of health care professionals.  (Michigan is not one of the regions.)  All of the practices track hospital discharges and provide patients with 24/7 access to a practitioner who can access electronic health records.  Some practices include pharmacists and behavioral health specialists as members of the care team.  Early results show savings in hospitalizations and other costs, suggesting the initiative may be expanded when this experiment ends in December of this year.   
Two changes impact care at the end of life.  This area is of special interest to the federal government since 30% of Medicare expenditures occur the last year of life.  Medicare has a hospice benefit, but many terminally ill beneficiaries never use it, or enroll with only weeks or days to live.  One reason is the requirement that hospice patients agree to forego any curative procedures, such as chemotherapy.  But a new pilot program - "Care Choices" - will allow individuals to receive hospice services at the same time as traditional treatments.  Seventy hospices launched this new model on January 1, with 70 more next year.  Ten hospices in Michigan will participate.
The second change - Medicare is now paying physicians to counsel terminally ill patients about their options for care at the end of their lives.  Doctors are reimbursed $86 for the first 30 minutes of "advance care planning" if it takes place in their office, and slightly less if it takes place in a hospital.  Research has shown that while the majority of people say they prefer to die at home, in reality, most die in hospitals or nursing homes.  Advance planning could help many realize their hopes for a peaceful death at home.
Governor Snyder's State of the State address . . . is scheduled on Tuesday, January 19 at 7 pm.

Article reprinted with permission from The Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan Associate Member News  
Learn more about pharmacy benefits
S enior Resources, in partnership with Walgreen's,is hosting events during Pharmacy Benefits Week to help maximize pharmacy benefits.  

Older adults often list medication cost as a problem they have when trying to access health care, and understanding their benefits is an issue for 20% of them.

Who should attend? Older adults and people with disabilities who have Medicare prescription drug coverage, as well as caregivers who want to help their loved ones understand their coverage.

There are two events scheduled:
  • Jan. 27, 11 a.m., at Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging, 1051 S. Beacon, Grand Haven; contact Stacey at 616-842-9210.
  • Jan. 28, 1 p.m., hosted by Senior Resources at Tanglewood Park, 560 Seminole, Norton Shores. Call 739-5858.
Senior Resources of West Michigan Inc