Category Archives: Aging Parents

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

What She Has To Offer

I’m in the kitchen starting the coffee when Mom comes in. “What can I do to help?” she asks before she even clears the door.

It is very important to Mom to feel useful. She doesn’t like others doing things for her. I try to make sure there is always a job she is able to do. Sometimes that is difficult, but this morning I am prepared.

“There’s Windex and paper towels on the table there,” I say. “Can you just wipe the table off for me?” She cleaned it last night, but she won’t remember that.

“K.O., I’ll do it!” she says, tearing off several paper towels with alacrity. “Is this the Windex?” She motions toward the blue spray bottle.

I turn from the coffeemaker. “Yep, that’s it.”

But before she can start, Mom sits abruptly in the large kitchen armchair, wincing. “Oooh,” she murmurs, rubbing her legs, the paper towels still in one hand.

Mom does not show pain often, so I’m alarmed. “What?”

“Well, it’s just …” She pulls both soft cotton pant legs up to her thighs. Her lower legs are puffy above her tight ankle socks and around her knees.

For the full article

Thanks to the NY Post Blog for this article!

Beware of Phantom Pharmacies

Why am I not surprised to find out that federal health officials have failed in their efforts to police the emergence of phantom pharmacies?

These pharmacies are fly-by-night storefront operations that bilk millions of dollars in false Medicare bills and then vanish with the cash.

No permits are needed — there is no store or pharmacy as we know them. There are no medicines on the shelves, no employees, no real in-store customers, and yet these fake pharmacies produce huge bills for medication, defrauding Medicare of millions of dollars a year.

It seems the only people making money these days are the crooks.

How is this accomplished? Thieves, crooks and fraudsters use a legitimate address to establish a fake pharmacy business. Then, using stolen ID and patient insurance ID numbers (mostly from seniors), scammers write fraudulent prescriptions for expensive drugs that were never actually prescribed.

Next, they submit these fake prescriptions for reimbursement to insurers, Medicare or Medicaid. In a single claim, a fake pharmacy canmake anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000. Some “fraudster pharmacies” only exist a few days! By the time the fake reimbursements have been collected, the phantom pharmacies have long since closed and their operators have disappeared without a trace.

For the Full Story

Several Bills Currently In Congress

There are several bills currently in Congress that will impact Medicare and senior service providers:

The first is a reintro­duced initiative to forgive student loans for those medical professionals who agree to service seniors in underserved ar­eas.

The second is a bill which would modify the new rule requiring a face to face doctor visit for ordering Medicare home health nursing services, by expanding the rule to allow nurse practitioners to order the visits as well.

Third, patients, families, and facilities are negatively impacted by the arcane rule requiring a three day stay in the hospital in order for Medicare to pay for the skilled nursing facility charges. There is a bill before Congress that would change this requirement to include “observation” time.

Thanks to Robin Smith Consulting for these valuable updates

Senior Abuse: An “Invisible and Silent” Crime

I was moved by an article in Saturday’s Boston Globe; Galvin Moves to Protect Elders’ Interests and thought that Patch readers might benefit from knowing more about this invisible, silent crime against elders.

Knowing that Secretary of State William Galvin took a first step towards rectifying the growing financial abuse against seniors by submitting a bill to the Massachusetts Legislature — a bill that would bar people with power of attorney from enriching themselves or otherwise abusing their authority — was satisfying, to say the least.

Better still is knowing that the legislation, filed earlier this year, states that those holding a power of attorney position must act in good faith. More importantly, it establishes that those holding power of attorney have a fiduciary duty to the people they represent — any action by them MUST benefit that person’s best interest.

Read the FULL story

Seniors Falling Is All Too Common

Do you remember your parents telling you to stand up straight, don’t slouch at the dinner table, balance a book on your head while walking? Did they also send you out to play at the first sign of light with a reminder to get yourself home by dinner? If so, you, like many in the Baby Boomer group is no stranger to realizing now why that advice was important and why we need to continue to impart the same to our children and grandchildren. Fitness and good posture are preventative measures to falling.

Every day hundreds of seniors over the age of 65 fall down and cannot get themselves up. They end up with serious or at least temporary injuries from these falls.

The main reason seniors fall is a loss of balance, changes and shifts in the body’s center of gravity and the loss of bone density and muscles happening at the same time make these ‘changes’ ones that need our full attention.

Falls can and do decrease mobility and many times cause seniors to reduce their activity. They may become less independent and less socially active. In essence, the fall changes their lifestyle. Compounding the problem is the fact that many seniors do not ‘share their fall’ with their doctor or family members because they fear losing their independence. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happens, because they stifle the chance for rehabilitative care and/or supportive preventive measures. So in the long run they actually hasten the loss of their independence.

Read the FULL article here

Plan For The Worse…Live For The Best

Here is what I know – At 59 I’m healthier than either of my parents were at age 59. I have never smoked. I’m fairly active and exercise some but not overly. I eat fairly well, but not always. I drink socially but not in excess. So what are my odds of remaining healthy and being able to care for myself? Better, I’m sure than my parents but the fact remains that the odds of something happening to me beyond my control still exists. Any number of accidents could befall me. What then?

We Boomers don’t like to think or talk much about aging. For us, and many in our generation, the idea of needing long term care is down the road a ways.

We avoid discussing these issues for several reasons; most notably as discussed above is that of denial. Secondly, I think that we have come to expect that the government will take care of us through Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Unfortunately, we ignore the fact that these programs are not fail safe measures of obtaining care especially if we want to remain in our homes. Yes, it is likely some form of government benefits will be there but statistics and finances will make it more difficult for us to receive these benefits.

Read More Here

What Is Home Health Care?

Simply stated it is the physical and mental supportive system and care services provided to those persons wishing to remain in their homes or assisted living apartments by a caregiver, caregiving agency, and/or assisted living environment when they can no longer perform (without help) the day-to-day activities of everyday living.

Today, many persons are opting for home care, and or home care assistance in assisted living environments as outpatient care has become the ‘norm’ for hospitals and insurance companies. Home care is appealing to many of us as we most often feel that our home is an extension of ourselves.  Receiving ‘in-home-health-care’ can be a great benefit to those recovering from surgery or other medical procedures that can limit their ability to easily take care of themselves, or maybe they just require a little extra help managing things as they grow older or maybe they are learning to live with a medical condition or disability. Whatever the scenario, I urge you to review and consider the questions below as this ‘issue’ nears closer to you and yours.

Read More Here