Category Archives: Senior Care

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…

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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

Caring For Loved Ones With Alzheimer’s

http://www.thetakeaway.org/2011/jun/21/caring-loved-ones-alzheimers/.

Never an easy task, the above link offers support and help from Julie Noonan-Lawson. Julie talks openly about her families struggles and how they have handled the illness in her family.  The interview was conducted by Sean Corcoran, the lead reporter for WCAI radio on Cape Cod.

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

 

 

 

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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