Posts Tagged ‘diagnosis’

Good Read for the Sandwich Generation

Posted on: May 5th, 2017 by Jamie

Good ReadAttention Sandwich Generation Members: If you need something to read while relaxing on this upcoming soggy spring Saturday and Sunday, I highly recommend Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?  by Roz Chast It’s not new, it came out in 2014 and won lots of awards, but I finally got around to reading it. This memoir details the author’s journey with her parents aging, decline, moving and ultimately their passing.

The graphic novel style makes it an easy read. It is heartbreaking, funny, unflinchingly authentic, and relatable – if you are going or have gone through this with your own parents.

If you haven’t had conversations with your parents about the future, make it happen as real life won’t wait for you to do so. Planning is power – Good luck!

Good Read

The Cycles of Life Part 1

Posted on: May 16th, 2016 by Jamie

The Cycles of LifeWe think our parents will always be our parents, in the original sense: they will take care of us, they will always be capable, and we can always rely on them. Unfortunately, as many of us have learned, this is just not true. There comes a time when our roles reverse, and it’s difficult, on many levels.

I am new to Armistead Senior Care but I am not new to Caregiving. Unlike my colleagues, Heather, Samantha, and Annmarie, I am not a Certified Aging Life Care Professional. I am a daughter, a sister and a mother who is experiencing this role reversal. I went from being a member of Generation X to the Sandwich Generation.
The beginning of my Caregiving experience was a long-distance one. I didn’t think of it as Caregiving, I thought of it as “support” but it quickly morphed into crises management: a crash course in multiple chronic diseases, legal terminology, effective communication with family and medical personnel, and navigating social services.
When I share my experiences dealing with my aging parents, almost everyone exclaims, “Thank goodness I am not dealing with that!” To them, I say, “Yet.” In fact, those of you that are in the “thank goodness” stage are in a very good place as you have the luxury of time to plan. This series of posts are for you.
There are a lot of books and websites devoted to the topic of eldercare. Many give tips and strategies on communication with your aging loved ones as well as with siblings. Family Caregiver Alliance and the National Alliance for Caregiving are great resources, use them, you are not alone in needing them. Take it slow and try not to become overwhelmed.
My goal here is to highlight the nuts and bolts of getting ready to help your aging loved ones beginning with the “little things” you need to familiarize yourself with. This is especially important if you are all scattered across the country or even the globe. Use technology, set up meetings and share documents with your family members. Keep the big picture in mind: helping your aging loved ones navigate this phase of their life. It is your turn to be there for them. Communication is key.
So much of being prepared is having information. You can begin to gather information by having meaningful conversations with your loved ones: gently addressing their health and how important it is for you to have information and access to information just in case anything were to ever happen. I have found that starting with their health is a good place because it will tell you how comfortable and engaged your loved one is with this phase of their life. Be patient and respectful. If they are agreeable, and I hope they are, you can move forward at the pace with which everyone is comfortable.

Medicine:

  •  Make a list of all medicine (including over-the-counter ones) they take, when they take it, and why they take it.
  •  Please do not be surprised or get angry if they don’t know why they take it. You can find out more information later from their health care provider and by looking them up online.
  • Find out where they keep their medicine and how they remember to take it.

Health Care Providers:

  • Make a list of who they see, the name of the practice, the open hours and their on-call procedures, phone and fax numbers, emails and if the practice has an electronic portal for communication.
  • Add to your list the medical reason they see each provider. Again, please do not be surprised or angry if your loved ones cannot answer these questions. You may need to sort it all out and that is okay.
  • For each health care provider’s office inquire about their specific HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) policy and release forms. These forms must be signed by the patient and you (and your siblings, if applicable) and returned to the provider’s office. Follow up on the form’s return, so you can speak to staff members about your loved one’s medical conditions and medications. Once you are on the HIPAA release, you can create an account on their electronic portal which is a great way to communicate with the entire office.
  • If the health care providers are affiliated with a hospital in the area, that hospital may have an overarching portal that covers all providers. This is good information to have if or when you are looking for a new provider. For example, the University of Vermont Medical Center has a portal called MyHealth Online and I find it invaluable in helping to manage the care for my parents.

Medical Issues:

  • Once you have learned what medical issues your loved ones have, read up on them. We are fortunate to have the resources at our fingertips. Learn about their conditions from a reputable source and add them to your list.

Communication:

  • Compile all information and share with your aging loved ones, they should keep this important information in their wallets so it is with them in an emergency and they should keep it accessible at home in case emergency personnel come to the house. Many fire departments and drug stores issue emergency medical information kits, sometimes called “Vial of Life.” Inquire at the local fire, police, or emergency services office. Usually, they ask all users to keep this information in the same place, like the refrigerator door.Vial of Life Emergency Medical Information Kit
  • Compile all information and share with appropriate family members.
  • If there is a chronic disease involved, such as diabetes, you may want to discuss a medical identification bracelet. They come in all types of styles, colors and materials and are very helpful with communication in case of emergency. I definitely felt better knowing my loved one had a bracelet on and it was worth it as it was utilized more than once by emergency personnel.

That’s a great start to your planning for now. As you can see, there is a lot to be done in laying the groundwork for assisting your aging loved one. If it is too overwhelming or if you do not have the time, you can hire an Aging Life Care Professional (also known as a geriatric care manager). As I mentioned earlier, Armistead Senior Care has three of these professionals on staff; they are members of the Aging Life Care Association  (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers). An Aging Life Care Professional is a health and human services specialist who is a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for an older relative or disabled adult. They have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in their communities. There are numerous benefits to using an Aging Life Care Professional, especially if you cannot physically be near your aging loved ones.

Please Join Us for a showing of the Glen Campbell documentary, I’ll Be Me

Posted on: May 2nd, 2016 by Jamie

Armistead Senior Care and The Arbors at Shelburne are sponsoring a free movie night this Wednesday, May 4th.

“I’ll Be Me is the story of musician Glen Campbell embarking on a farewell tour after he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It reveals how Glen and his family navigate the unpredictable nature of the disease through love, laughter, and music.” The documentary was released in 2014.

The Arbors is at 687 Harbor Road, Shelburne VT 05482; please RSVP (802) 985-8600.

Doors open at 6:00 pm and the movie begins at 6:30; refreshments will be served.

I had the chance to see this film in March; I think it does a great job of showing the full spectrum of how Alzheimer’s affects not only the person diagnosed with the disease but everyone around the person. In this case, the person happens to be a famous singer, songwriter and musician. Glen, his wife, three of his children and his long-time support staff performed 151 concerts between August 2011 and November 2012. For Glen Campbell, this was an amazing feat, considering that Alzheimer’s disease prevented Glen from being able to locate the bathroom in his own home. The family bravely shares so much, anyone who has experienced what Alzheimer’s does to a loved one will easily relate to their story. If anyone hasn’t had the personal experience, this documentary will be a touching eye-opener.

The subtitle of the movie is “Glen Campbell – His Music is Legendary. His Story is Human”. Looking back at his career on stage and screen is great, especially if you are familiar with his work. The humanity of his situation is heartbreaking…and very real. The humanity of his family and his fans is uplifting and illustrates the importance of acceptance. The interviews with other famous musicians, Bruce Springsteen, Kathy Mattea, Brad Paisley, etc., are also very human as they, too, have loved ones with Alzheimer’s. The final moments of the film are scenes from the last time Glen Campbell was in the recording studio. He was recording the song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, an ode to his wife, Kim, and to the reality of Alzheimer’s disease. Thank you Campbell family for sharing your story with us.

Please join us to view this moving documentary.

Senior Citizens and the Risks of Pleural Mesothelioma

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by Armistead Admin

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people between the ages of 65 to 74 are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year more than any other age group, with pleural mesothelioma being the most common form of the disease. This is largely due to two main factors: the long latency period of mesothelioma and the fact that many senior citizens once worked at job sites where asbestos was heavily used prior to strict regulations. Asbestos exposure is the most common reason that mesothelioma develops.

Jobs Associated with High Asbestos Use

Unfortunately, countless industries once relied on asbestos for its heat and fire-resistant properties. The military, in particular, once used asbestos generously throughout ships, barracks, production lines, tanks, chemical plants, and much more.

In fact, according to Military.com, from 1930 until around 1970, almost every naval ship contained asbestos and asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). People who worked on and around these ships and in other branches of the military are at high- risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.

Although asbestos use was discontinued by the military in the 1980s, people currently in the military can still be affected. Numerous flooring tiles, ceiling tiles, insulation, and structures that contain asbestos are still in use by the military today.

Other industries and jobs that commonly used asbestos include:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • Mining
  • Fire (fire stations)
  • Insulation
  • Paper Mills
  • Steel Mills
  • Power Plants
  • Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
  • HVAC
  • Brick and Stone Masonry
  • Welding
  • Iron Works

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed strict regulations on asbestos use at job sites in the late 1970s. Yet, the regulations came well after a plethora of workers across the nation had already been exposed to asbestos for prolonged periods of time.

The Long Latency of Pleural Mesothelioma

Another major contributing factor that leads to senior citizens developing pleural mesothelioma is the long latency period associated with the disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it can take anywhere from 15 years to 50 years before the first symptoms of mesothelioma appear. Therefore, people who worked around asbestos decades ago many live through many years without the slightest clue that they were at risk of developing a life-threatening disease.

To make matters worse, once the initial symptoms of mesothelioma surface, they generally mimic symptoms of common respiratory ailments, such as the flu or a cold. The first symptoms of pleural mesothelioma may include:

  • Chest congestion
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Difficulties with swallowing

Once symptoms start to appear, it typically means that mesothelioma has reached its advanced stages. Health quickly deteriorates after this point, leaving many victims wondering how the disease happened so fast.

However, in most cases, senior citizens can link the disease back to asbestos exposure at jobs they worked at many decades ago. As a result, a good majority of mesothelioma victims have legal rights and file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the manufacturers that supplied asbestos to the job sites.

If you’ve worked in any of the aforementioned industries, it’s important not only to get routine medical check-ups, but also inform your physician that you may have been exposed to asbestos. The earlier it is detected, the better chances you have of treatments working more effectively.

Talking with your Doctor

Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by Armistead Admin
from NIH Senior Health
 

Planning Your Doctor Visit

A Partnership

How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Unfortunately, talking with your doctor isn’t always easy. In the past, the doctor typically took the lead and the patient followed. Today, a good patient-doctor relationship is a partnership. You and your doctor can work as a team.

Creating a basic plan before you go to the doctor can help you make the most of your visit. The tips in this chapter will make it easier for you and your doctor to cover everything you need to talk about.

Make a List of Your Symptoms

Talking about your health means sharing information about how you feel. Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything that is bothering you during your doctor visit. Making a list of your symptoms before your visit will help you not forget to tell the doctor anything.

Symptoms can be physical, such as pain, fever, a lump or bump, unexplained weight gain or loss, change in energy level, or having a hard time sleeping. Symptoms can also involve your thoughts and your feelings. For example, you would want to tell your doctor if you are often confused, or if you feel sad a lot.

What to Include

When you list your symptoms, be specific. Your list should include:

  • what the symptom is
  • when it started
  • what time of day it happens and how long it lasts
  • how often it happens
  • anything that makes it worse or better
  • anything it prevents you from doing.

List Your Medications

Your doctor needs to know about ALL the medications you take. Medications include

  • prescription drugs
  • over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs
  • vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements
  • laxatives
  • eye drops.

Sometimes doctors may ask you to bring all your medications in a bag to your visit. Other doctors suggest making a list of all your medications to bring to your visit.

Note Dosages, Frequency, Side Effects

If you do make a list of the medications you take, do not forget to write down how much you take and how often you take it. Make sure to tell the doctor if a dose has changed or if you are taking a new medicine since your last visit.

Write down or bring all your medications even if you think that one or some of them are not important. The doctor needs to know everything you take because sometimes medicines cause problems when taken together. Also, sometimes a medicine you take for one health problem, like a headache, can cause another health problem to get worse. Write down any medication allergies you have and any bad side effects you have had with the medicines you take. Also, write down which medications work best for you.

To provide the best care, your doctor must understand you as a person and know what your life is like.

Do You Use Assistive Devices?

Be sure to let your doctor know if you use any assistive devices to help you in your daily activities. Assistive devices can help you see, hear, stand, reach, balance, grasp items, go up or down stairs, and move around. Devices used by older adults may include canes, walkers, scooters, hearing aids, reachers, grab bars, and stair lifts.

What Are Your Everyday Habits?

Be prepared to tell your doctor about where you live, if you drive or how you get around, what you eat, how you sleep, what you do each day, what activities you enjoy, what your sex life is like, and if you smoke or drink alcohol.

Be open and honest. It will help your doctor to better understand your medical conditions and figure out the best treatment choices for you.

Any Life Changes?

Sometimes things happen in life that are sad or stressful. Your doctor needs to know about any life changes that have occurred since your last visit because they can affect your health. Examples of life changes are divorce, death of a loved one, or changing where you live.

Your list should include all your life changes but does not need to go into detail.  It can be short like “had to sell home and move in with daughter.”

Any Other Medical Encounters?

Also, write down and tell your doctor if you had to go to the emergency room, stay in the hospital or see a different doctor, such as a specialist, since your last visit.  It may be helpful to bring that doctor’s contact information.

What Else to Bring

Bring your insurance cards, names and phone numbers of your other doctors, and the phone number of the pharmacy you use.  Also, bring your medical records if your doctor does not have them.

 

 
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