Monthly Archives: August 2011

A Force To Be Reckoned With…

A force to be reckoned with…and I mean Pat, not the dementia. Kudo’s to Pat Summitt for coming forward and sharing her story. Anyone that has dementia or has been involved with those suffering from this diagnosis is aware of the changes it brings to your life and that of your family. However, strength can be garnered by the support of family and friends as Coach Summitt and her team will show us this season…

Read the article here

Pets and Senior Health

Do pets actually help improve ‘health’?

Experts say YES…Pet ownership can be good for your health both physically and psychologically…

Research indicates owning a pet helps reduce stress and blood pressure in owners, they increase longevity in those who’ve had heart attacks, and even relax and improve the appetites of Alzheimer’s patients…according to many psychologists owning a pet provides attention to something other than the patient themselves…

And we all know how difficult it can be to get some seniors (and others) exercising during the day…problem solved if you have a pet. Dogs insist on getting out and about, hence they have a strong tendency to get their owners moving…VOILA, instant daily exercise. In turn, studies continue to show that exercise helps improve your spirits…so instead of a vicious cycle of prompting your loved one to get up and moving without the slightest result…the pet has helped to create a positive one…and that’s a win win solution!

Pets have also been known to stave off loneliness.  Some seniors (and others) may actually consider their pets their “companion of choice”.

However, please remember, if you are considering introducing a live animal to a senior household to make sure you do plenty of research…choose a pet whose personality, size and requirements fit your senior’s needs, abilities and living situation…and don’t opt for more than ONE…more animals do not mean more health, just more responsibilities.

Lastly, even though pets bring many psychological benefits it’s important not to let your loved ones become too dependent on those animal companions…in the end pets should NOT be a substitute for human friends and family.

Over Medication Is a Real Problem

There is a culture of over-medication and unneeded procedural care in senior care.

Having seen first-hand pill bottles galore in the cabinets of many seniors, the question has to be asked: are seniors being over-medicated? Stories abound in community centers, assisted living, nursing homes and in the homes of those seniors still living at home, of seniors taking an excess of 25 pills a day. Geeze, what are all the meds for?

Are all these pills needed? Are they necessary? What is their purpose? Is there duplication? Do the prescribing doctors know what other medications the senior is taking?

There can be an enormous lack of communication between specialists (there could be several) and the senior’s general practitioner. Often, it is the pharmacist who sees that a negative reaction is about to occur! Sometimes the senior is using more than one pharmacy. What then?

Who is staying on top of the med-list? Who is responsible for updating a senior’s information? The general practitioner? The pharmacist or pharmacists? A family member? The caregiver? Who?

There are many seniors that have no idea why they are taking a particular medication; all they know is that it was prescribed to them. Well, honestly, our seniors need to know more.

The real issue is: who knows the WHY in relation to the senior’s care? When a senior receives specific medication, who is it that makes the decision that the meds are a necessity? Are there alternative or more natural means of targeting the senior’s symptom or illness? Who knows this? Who should know this?

Recently, geriatric care managers have surfaced, and the above is why they have become important. They actually review the senior’s med list and they are charged with making sure the meds are not excessive or harmful. Often, a geriatric care manager will find that a senior’s specialist is changing up the meds with instructions for the patient to return for a follow-up in several weeks. What if the senior doesn’t have a geriatric care manager? Will that senior go back? Who is checking on that senior? Did they stop taking their meds? Are they filling in with older meds, meds that should have been discarded? The dissemination of prescription drugs to seniors without a true overseer is a serious problem.

There are many, many doctors, caregivers and family members that are trying to do the right thing by their senior clients, patients and family members. They are true advocates for their clients and loved ones. The fact remains that most seniors have several levels of care and someone needs to be the consistent person responsible for the medicinal needs of that senior.

Questions to ask and get the answers to: why is a certain medication needed, and how does it interact with meds that are already being prescribed? Is the senior being medicated because of behavior (seniors’ individual personalities and traits should not be controlled through medication)? Is the medication that was prescribed working as it was intended?

There is an additional struggle in the healthcare industry as it pertains to the over-use of procedures: repeated labs, MRIs, X-Rays, and so forth. Do 80-90 yr olds need preventive care (scopes, mammography, pelvics)? Are these procedures really going to make their lives better?When is enough enough? Who is minding the store?

The key element in all this is a strong doctor-patient and patient-caregiver relationship. If seniors receive regular visits from family and friends, there is the capacity to nip problems in the bud. Unfortunately, this is not something our healthcare system usually promotes or accommodates.

Sadly, a key issue in the prescribing of too much medication goes back to the profits of the pharmaceutical companies, and given the fact that many seniors are hesitant to question their providers, change must come through “the boomers.” We must ask the hard questions and request the availability of other alternatives to assist in our parents’ and our treatment.

Become an advocate for what is right and just. Do not worry about hurting someone’s feelings or being politically correct. Do not worry about offending the physician by questioning his knowledge. This is someone’s life and rights. We are talking about seniors do not need over-medication and countless invasive procedures.

Check out some practical advice and think about requesting (FREE) Home Instead Senior Care’s Emergency Kit.

This story was first published in the Foxboro and Wrentham PATCH…

Ford looks to introduce health, wellness apps to its cars

Cars are already being programmed to parallel park, sense slippery road conditions and alert drivers to impending collisions. Soon they’ll be helping diabetics monitor their blood glucose levels, detect unhealthy air conditions and offer wellness advice.

That’s the plan from the Ford Motor Company, which is working with healthcare companies WellDoc, Medtronic and SDI Health to include health and wellness in-car connectivity solutions on the Ford SYNC platform. The platform makes use of AppLink to allow drivers to access smartphone apps by voice control.

With studies showing that Americans spend more than 500 million “commuter hours” per week in their automobiles, the concept of providing access to information while they’re driving or stuck in traffic is certainly attractive.

“Ford SYNC is well known in the industry and with consumers as a successful in-car infotainment system, but we want to broaden the paradigm, transforming SYNC into a tool that can improve people’s lives as well as the driving experience,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technology and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation.

Ford is joining with WellDoc, a Baltimore-based developer of chronic disease management solutions, to integrate WellDoc’s DiabetesManager System in the SYNC platform to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their disease while in their car. The integration is designed to allow diabetics to enter data such as medications, exercise and diet information through speech-to-text interaction while in their vehicle, then gain access to WellDoc’s clinical decision support tools.

“WellDoc was founded on the concept of helping people manage their chronic disease with the help of everyday personal tools that are easy to use and accessible on a regular basis,” said Anand K. Lyer, WellDoc’s president and chief operating officer. “People with diabetes must adhere to a strict regimen to manage their disease. Through our research with Ford, we’ve created a unique in-vehicle environment that supports those with diabetes so they can be continuously connected to the tools that help them maintain their daily routines without interruption.”
Read More Here