Thursday, April 5, 2018

April Is Healthcare Decisions Month

April is National Healthcare Decisions Month and April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day. As our loved ones age, and as we age, there are many decisions to be made about health care as well as end-of-life care and they are not comfortable topics of discussion.

What's even less comfortable is having to make decisions when you have not had those discussions with your aging loved ones and every possible relative and friend comes out of the woodwork with a different opinion of what needs to be done, what the loved one said they wanted and carries a strong sense of entitlement to be heard and followed!

Sudden illness and death as well as dealing with a terminal diagnosis are hard enough. Having decisions made ahead of time, allows everyone to relax and enjoy whatever quality time they have left.

Triggers for the Conversation
Starting the conversation can be very hard, but the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) offers some important suggestions and literature to read about conversation triggers and how to find the forms to set your goals and plans. Understand that these can be altered at any time and opted out of. But they provide everyone the opportunity to discover for themselves what kinds of decisions they want made for them if they are unable to decide for themselves.

For example is quality of life a priority over just being alive longer? Religion and spirituality can be a huge influence over this matter and it's something that really must be discussed before a crisis happens.

Advance Directives
Advance Directives and Living Wills can spell out very specific parameters of what to do IF..., or they can be a very general guideline as is comfortable. They can be state specific as well. These documents also appoint the spokesperson(s) also known as the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOA-HC) who can make the decisions when the loved one is no longer capable of doing so or defers to them to make the decisions. A Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters should also be considered. Free downloadable printable documents available from AARP.

Advance Directives can also designate organ donation options, which even for the elderly can include things such as corneas and skin, or making a donation to science of the whole body or tissue donations for research purposes.

These documents need to be reviewed periodically. April is a good time to remember to do so. What changes have happened in the past year and how do they affect the decisions and documents. Having things in writing makes everything go smoother.

Discuss with the MD- sign a POLST
Having a talk with healthcare providers and giving them a current copy of the documents is encouraged so that everyone is on the same page. Again, the decisions can be revoked by your loved one at any time, so keep the conversation going. This is especially important if as a healthy individual they opt for being a full code (wanting CPR performed) with everything possible to be done for them. But after an illness or watching a friend or family member suffer through something, they may want to reconsider. The decisions don't have to be black or white. There are many options in the middle. Some states also encourage a POLST document be completed with your healthcare provider.

Burial or Cremation?
Perhaps one of the most important decisions to be made is whether to bury or cremate.  Making arrangements in advance can also be a cost savings. And can relieve some of the burdens for the grieving family and friends.

Consider Hospice Early
Another consideration is where would they prefer to spend their last days? Would they want to be at home or prefer to be in a hospital or nursing home setting? Many people will have very strong feelings about one or the other and others may just want to go with the flow and see how things unfold.

Hospice care can be provided in most settings to help manage symptoms and allow the patient to live out their final months in comfort. Hospice in a hospital setting may be limited in your area so investigate options. Talk to your healthcare provider early on. Hospice care started in the last days or week of life doesn't always have time to capture all of the benefits available. Hospice care initiated when the prognosis is 6 months or less can help improve the patient's quality of life and prepare the family and friends for a peaceful experience.

photo from pixabay

Thursday, February 8, 2018

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

URGENT: Stop Medicare Cuts and Repeal of Obamacare with Tax Bill

Whatever your politics are you need to be aware that the current version of the GOP Tax Bill includes a number of points that have Nothing to do with taxes.

Medicare Cuts and Repeal of Obamacare
One will cut Medicare which is going to affect your aging loved ones and another includes a Repeal of Obamacare (that has already failed in the Senate because the American People said NO!)

Time is running short. These cuts will take place January 1, 2018 if this bill passes. Please call your Senators today and ask them to vote NO on this bill. It only take a couple of minutes and you'll probably get to leave a voicemail.

All you have to say is: " I'm [your name] and I'm your constituent in [Zip Code]. Please vote NO on the Tax Bill. Thank you."

Look up the contact information here. You can email if you prefer. Thanks for your help!

photo credit

Friday, September 15, 2017

When Mom Falls....

Safety is one of the most important issues in all of our lives, but with our elderly family and loved ones, safety is an absolute priority. Even those over 65 years of age become more prone to falls as they age and if they've fallen once, the probability increases exponentially. Getting assistance quickly can be of the utmost urgency. Changes in balance and gait due to aches, pain, chronic illnesses etc., all affect the gait and safety and the predictability of a fall. Falls can be deadly!

Removing trip hazards from the home such as throw rugs is one of the first things any health professional will instruct you on. Clear and open pathways are essential.  On the other hand, bear in mind that your loved one may actually need the clutter, the furniture and walls for support while leaving their cane or walker behind. Many thrive on the clutter to help stabilize them as the maneuver through their home from one room to another.

Observe How Mom Maneuvers with the Clutter before you start clearing everything away, observe how they maneuver and see how you can make it a safer situation by reducing and rearranging. Work WITH them and be sure the remember the changes you have made. Encourage them to keep their cane or walker at their side always and use it instead of relying on furniture, walls and piles of newspapers for support.

Have a System in Place
If your loved one does fall, having a reliable device available to summon help quickly if they are alone will not only help give you peace of mind, but improve their odds for a quick and healthy recovery.  There are a variety of devices and services available and you should investigate them thoroughly to find the one that fits your finances and needs.

A new system from offers several options for medical alert. One of the best options is that it does not require a landline phone system for operation. This is optimum as we are moving away from being tethered to landlines.

The system also offers the ability to travel with the user either as they leave the home for a walk, shopping etc. or even to travel. The system utilizes GPS tracking services and cellular services. No contracts are required. They come with a waterproof pendant or a wristwatch.

Remember, no device can replace a caregiver! Make sure you have the appropriate level of care in place for your loved ones and utilize these devices as directed.

Resources: The Senior-Friendly Guide to Medical Alert Systems from

Medical Supply Depot

Friday, April 28, 2017

3 Ways for Spousal Caregivers to Cope with their Grief and Pain

By Leandro Mueller

Who watches over the watchmen; who cares for the caregivers? In as so much that caregivers (especially spousal caregivers) are essential for the majority of baby boomers entering the retirement phase of their lives, some much-needed care and respect are crucial for these individuals to see the value of their efforts and sacrifices. After all, spousal caregivers tend to give more (and lose more) for their partners – their personal time, work opportunities, and even relationships with friends and family are all at risk.

As such, we’d like to list down several ways on how spousal caregivers can get through the darkest days of their lives. If you are one, take heart and know that there are people who care for everything you’ve done, are doing, and will do in the future. If you know one or are a care recipient, these tips may also help you acknowledge and assist you in allowing your spouse to have a better experience looking after you.

Acknowledge that You Need a Break
According to “Families Caring for an Aging America,” a report published last year by The National Academies Press, spouses make up approximately 21.5% of all caregivers looking after a family member in need of care during the golden years. As primary caregivers, same-generation spouses are also at risk of age-related (physical and cognitive) conditions.

It’s a conundrum – as recipients age and care demands increase, spousal caregivers are also exposed to health and emotional problems that’ll prove to be detrimental to their well-being. And this is why caregivers need to be aware and accept that they need and deserve a break. Caregiver stress is real – and if not addressed properly, may not only lead to lackluster custodial services, but a blow to one’s personal health and well-being as well.

You’re only human, after all. You need that break – please go and grab the chance for some R&R!

Connect with Others
The University of Exeter recently conducted a study on loneliness experienced by spousal caregivers. As determined by the researchers, caregiving can be a rewarding activity, yet mental and physical health is also at risk with of the loss of contact with other people. Additionally, and particularly for same-generation spousal caregivers, social isolation may soon seep into one’s life, which may result in anxiety or depression.

Spousal caregivers, aside from taking a break, also need to keep in touch with friends and families. Having an active emotional connection with peers will not only improve one’s emotional state – support in the form of learning retirement solutions, the latest trends in custodial care, or even self-care tips can be gained from simply talking with friends.

A Worthwhile Hobby will Matter
Additionally, pursuing a hobby will help spousal caregivers get over the pain or frustration that they may feel when accomplishing their custodial tasks. Think of this as a welcome, yet productive, escape from everyday life. For an even more practical hobby, consider gardening, learning a new skill (such as coding/computer literacy/arts & crafts), and even cooking as a way to connect your passion with your care recipient. Who knows, what makes you happy may also be a good opportunity to bond with your loved one!

Aside from these tips, we’d like to point spousal caregivers towards a helpful list of resources compiled by CBS Pittsburgh. The list will assist caregivers with any of their additional concerns on how to both properly stay functional and happy when looking after their loved ones.

Author Bio:
As the Online Content Director of, Leandro Mueller aims to push for awareness and promotion of the many benefits of Medigap insurance plans in the market. He hopes that his work will help boomers and retirement industry experts alike in their lives. He hopes that his work will lead people in applying for the best Medigap plan that will suit their needs and preferences.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Americans are Living Longer

As a general rule, I don't place Infographics, but this one comes from a vetted source, and is full of great information. Enjoy... (It takes a few seconds to load, and you have to do some scrolling side to side as well as up and down.)

The University of Southern California Online