Articles Posted in Caregiving

On April 5, 2019, Kathy Lee Gifford, the co-host of the fourth hour of the Today Show retired after 25-years working in daytime television. In an interview in AARP Magazine, she reflects on loss and loneliness. She states,

“If you’re not careful, what you’ve lost in life can define you. It’s so much better to be defined by what you still have, it’s just healthier. I’m making big changes in my life because I need to, really big changes that are feeding my soul. Otherwise, despair sets in and loneliness can be crippling.” | Kathy Lee Gifford

In the article, Ms. Gifford describes being a widow, losing her mother, and becoming an empty nester, all within months of each other. From a life full of others, she now finds herself home alone. To emerge from this cocoon, she next turns her attention to acting and singing.

I recently went to the emergency room at my local hospital because I was experiencing severe flank pain. I thought it was my appendix, but instead I was diagnosed with kidney stones. That wasn’t the most unpleasant thing to occur to me on that very painful night.

I arrived at the emergency room at 9:30 PM and was discharged the next morning at 10:00 AM. During those nine-in-a-half hours I was attended by eight different doctors. I never received a status report from the same doctor twice. At first, I thought it was a shift change, but then that would be two to three doctors at most. Eight seemed like something was out of order.

Three days later, I was in the waiting room of the kidney stone specialist’s office waiting for my appointment with Dr. X, a female doctor. I am ushered into the examination room by the medical assistant who takes down my chief complaint and checks my vitals. A short while later there is a knock on the door, and in enter three people that look like doctors, but were all men.

End of life planning is very difficult. On the one hand, you must understand what your assets are and contemplate how to dispose of them after your death in a way that is meaningful to you and the people or organizations you gift. On the other hand, you must identify your standard of medical care and treatment and be able to communicate it to a responsible person so that if and when you lose mental capacities and capabilities, your actual wishes are followed.

Even the best-laid plans can leave you vulnerable and at the mercy of the people around you – spouses or partners, children, and business associates – before you die. An estate plan does not protect someone before he or she dies.

Financial mismanagement concerns

Families today, as always, come in all shapes and sizes. This includes sexual orientation. As gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, and transgender people (LGBT) age and move into retirement communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, how welcome are they?

An individual who has lived a good life at 85 wants to continue living that life as he or she ages and needs assistance with self-care, regardless of where the individual lives – a retirement community, nursing home, or assisted living facility.

Many residents of such places deal with loss on a continual basis no matter their sexual orientation. There are limitations on movement – the ability to come and go as one pleases and limitations on relationships – spouses, partners, and close friends die or because they move away are too far or unable to visit regularly. So there is a tremendous loss of consortium as one ages.

Stan Lee, the co-creator of super heroes like Spider Man and Black Panther was issued a temporary restraining order by California against his legal guardian, Keya Morgan in the months before his death.

Morgan was arrested for filing a police report in relation to Mr. Lee. Morgan was Mr. Lee’s guardian-ad-litem. Mr. Lee suffered from hearing, vision, and memory impairments.

It is alleged that Morgan began inserting himself into Mr. Lee’s life as a caregiver after the death of Mr. Lee’s wife. Mr. Lee, the Los Angeles Police Department and Adult Protective Services believed Morgan was unduly influencing Mr. Lee and isolating him from his friends and family.   

Mental illness is hard to spot in people. This is especially true for seniors. Part of the difficulty with identifying who may be suffering from a mental illness is the social stigma associated with mental illnesses and treatment for mental illnesses. If you yourself are experiencing cognitive decline because of aging or an underlying illness like Alzheimer’s Disease, it may be up to your close friends and family members to identify a potential problem and seek appropriate medical advice from a mental health provider.

1 in 5 adults aged 55 or order have had a mental health concern

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 20% of adults aged 55 years or older have had a mental health concern but only two-thirds of this group have received treatment.

Much needed attention is shined on children with autism. Recognizing signs of autism early during a child’s development to begin treatment and education relating to the disease for parents and caregivers has contributed to heightened awareness of the disease and its challenges. Less attention, however is being directed to seniors with autism.

What is autism?

A good place to start is in the beginning. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to Autism Speaks, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP) estimates that 1 in 59 children in the United States today are affected by autism.

Last month we reported that hospitals are piloting voice enabled smart speakers in patient rooms at hospitals. Our post focused on Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. But a similar program is underway at Boston Children’s Hospital. Expect a program such as these to start in New York, at any one of the leading medical care systems available in the state.

The idea behind the smart speaker program is improving patient comfort. It also would help hospital staff stay organized by routing requests from the patient to the appropriate hospital personnel to improve a patient’s stay in the hospital. For example, if the patient needs medication for pain an alert is sent to the RN; if the patient needs assistance using the bathroom, an alert would be sent to the nurse’s aide immediately rather than to the RN then the nurse’s aide as is the usual practice.

Is my medical care and information private?

Cardiovascular diseases, like heart disease, affect adults 65 and older more than any other age group. A large part of the reason why this is so is because as people age, so does their heart. Aging changes the appearance and function of the heart. In severe cases, a blood vessel can become so clogged that it will trigger a heart attack because cholesterol is blocking the flow of blood to the heart.

How doctors check your heart

Doctors perform a series of medical tests to determine the health of your heart. They include checking your blood pressure and ordering blood tests. The blood test will help them identify if your blood vessels contain cholesterol or certain proteins. Cholesterol is dangerous because if too much of it accumulates a blood vessel may be blocked causing a heart attack or stroke. Proteins reveal if there is inflammation in the body. The doctor will also order an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to look at the electric activity in your heart. A chest x-ray is part of the usual workup to determine heart health and can determine if your heart is enlarged or your lungs contain too much fluid, signs of heart failure. An echocardiogram is a test involving sound waves that can detect and monitor heart disease. Lastly, the doctor can order a stress test, which is applying stress to the heart, in order to measure how it is performing.

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