Category Archives: Being Well

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

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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…

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!

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

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

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

 

 

 

Time To Stay Hydrated!

Heat waves are upon us and summer has yet to be officially announced so be sure to alert the seniors around you (as well as others) to stay hydrated! Dehydration is dangerous and specifically more so in the summer months when seniors are most vulnerable. Seniors often forget to drink enough fluids and now when the temperatures are soaring it is even more crucial to their good health to be well hydrated…

Dehydration impacts our senior population frequently because
· Those with dementia often ignore the body’s cue for thirst
· Chronic illness, such as diabetes, and taking certain medications are risk factors.
· Even those seniors in good health tend to underestimate how much water they need
· Seniors may be weak and/or tired and may not have the energy to get up and get a glass of water.
· Seniors many times suffer from incontinence and hence limit their water intake to prevent ‘accidents’

Dehydration may cause:
· Confusion, fatigue, fainting, and unconsciousness.
· Kidney, bladder and bowel problems
· Muscle cramping
· (Depending on illnesses and medications being taken) toxin build up

To stay hydrated in it is best to:
· Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption
· Encourage seniors (and others) to keep a glass or bottle of water handy
· Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as they are high in water content.

Healthcare: Make Your Voice Heard

Several weeks ago I wrote a column in relation to some proposed changes to Healthcare in America and my thoughts regarding those changes. Low and behold others must have felt the same. I think we should all take another long hard look at this ‘healthcare proposal’ of Paul Ryan’s and all others that are presented and then we must be prepared to voice our approval or dislike – loudly!

I have said it before, the Boomers have a strong influence and lately with the mortgage fraud and financial manipulation of securitized investments, many of our contemporaries have seen their retirement funds dwindled to nothing or near to nothing. On top of all that some government leaders, such as Ryan, were thinking of causing those very same Boomer-Seniors to have less health support as they age.

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Getting The Most From Medicare Drug Plans

Thanks to Robin Smith for this informative article

While the majority of the healthcare delivery system is plagued by runaway costs and obtuse and arcane billing prac­tices, consumers often overlook aspects of their benefits that can actually save money, and possibly improve their health. All Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (aka “Part D”), include underutilized features that seniors who take multiple medica­tions may want to utilize. The first is medication manage­ment provided by the plan at no additional cost to the client. Details on this service, as practiced by individual plans, are in the membership booklet, or can be explained by calling cus­tomer service. Secondly, if the senior has a drug prescribed by the doctor which is not in (or has been removed from) the plan’s formulary, the senior does have avenues available to get the plan to cover the drug. Called “step therapy,” the patient’s doctor can write a letter to the plan, stating the rea­sons why the patient must receive the drug. Reasons can in­clude things like: all other drugs for the condition have been tried and failed, interaction with other drugs the client is tak­ing, etc. Once again, the membership book outlines how this benefit may be accessed.

Patients should always discuss whether or not they can afford the drug the doctor has prescribed, as cost is one of the main drivers of medication non-compliance. 78% of the drugs pre­scribed in the USA are now generics, although there is recent evidence that Big Pharma is fighting back by slowing the manufacturing of generics to create shortages. For seniors on multiple medications, consultations with pharmacists are free of charge. To prepare for a pharmacist consult, the FDA has a list of things the senior should bring. Seniors should always include non-prescription drugs on their lists, as drugs like Ty­lenol PM, with an active ingredient of Benadryl, can have very bad side effects when taken by the elderly.

When Medicare Open Enrollment comes around again, sen­iors can bring their medication list to Walgreens or CVS to determine the best PDP plan for them for 2012, free of charge

Home Instead Senior Care Is On Cable!

Finally, we are ON AIR! Just wanted to let our BLOG, TWITTER and FACEBOOK friends and readers know that the Home Instead Senior Care cable show is on! Hope you enjoy watching and hearing from those business’ and people who offer additional support and help to the growing population of seniors. It is my hope that the cable show will offer insight into better managing our families as we all enter into the ‘golden years.’ Here’s the cable station internet, AACS link where you may view the shows that have previously aired. Each week additional shows will be added. Lots more to come…guests are already booked through August. Any ideas for what you may want to know more about, your comments and/or input is always appreciated!