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Articles Posted in Caregiving

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.

As we age, our hearing, like other functions diminish. When age- related hearing loss occurs, it is gradual and tends to affect both ears equally – what you cannot hear on the left side of your face is the same as what you cannot hear on the right side of your face. Doctors call this medical condition presbycusis or age-related hearing loss.

Why hearing loss occurs

Hearing loss is caused by noise aging, disease, and hereditary reasons. Hearing loss effects how people listen and then communicate with others. Because there are gaps with what is heard, the person suffering hearing loss may appear confused or misunderstand the context of the conversation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that approximately 1 in 3 people between the ages of 65 and 75 have hearing loss. They also found that half of the people over 75 have difficulty hearing. Both groups, have the same difficulty admitting they are experiencing hearing loss or hearing difficulty.

On November 7, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Culbertson v. Berryhill, to determine if there should be a cap or limit to the amount of legal fees awarded to lawyers for representing clients before the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Majority of disability claims are denied

For the period between 2006 and 2015, SSA approved 34 percent of applications for SSDI benefits. 62 percent of all applications were denied. Of the pool of applicants issued denials, 2 percent of them were overturned at the reconsideration level and 9 percent were overturned at the hearing level.

Words have meanings. They can quickly build-up or knock-down its recipients. One word emitting a great deal of comment is elderly. My father, an 82-year-old retiree, refuses to be identified as a senior. He prefers grey panther. He tells me that he wishes to be identified by the color of his hair, not his age.

Identity in the 50 plus range is a hot potato. People are living much longer than prior generations. 50 as the fashion magazines love to exclaim is the new 40. Is age a number or a feeling?

Is calling someone elderly or senior ageist?

Glucose powers the brain and is the organ’s main fuel source. According to the Mayo Clinic, diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar, known as glucose. Too much sugar in the blood can cause serious health problems.

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Other types of diabetes include gestational diabetes and prediabetes. Gestational diabetes typically goes away after the mother gives birth. Prediabetes is reversible in many circumstances with the proper diet. The most prevalent type of diabetes in the United States is type 2.

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that is treated by carefully monitoring the level of sugar in the blood. The blood is tested through a standard venous draw in a laboratory or doctor’s office or at home using one of the popular home testing kits. The New York Times reports that the home tests are ineffective and in fact are a waste of money for individuals not on insulin.

The White House is working on a proposal to have Uncle Sam browse social media websites, like Twitter and Instagram, to help identify individuals who claim Social Security disability benefits without actually being disabled. They would like to browse your social media presence and determine if you are participating in activities you claim you can no longer do because of your disability.

An example is an individual who claims a back injury prevents him from working. In his trip to Hawaii photos, there is one posted where he is surfing during the period of disability. The government would like to use that evidence to deny the application or stop disability payments of someone already approved and receiving benefits.

Online investigations of people seeking government benefits is not a new practice. Such investigations are routinely conducted when the government conducts a marriage-based immigration petition investigation, for example, as part of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services review to confer lawful permanent residence status on a spouse of a U.S. citizen.

Anyone who has ever been hospitalized remembers times when assistance was needed and despite using the call button to request help had to wait a long time for assistance. On one particular hospitalization I remember the nurse telling me that I had to call her in order to use the bathroom. I was taking a diuretic and I had to go dozens of times. Each time I called for the nurse however, I had to wait and wait and wait. Her suggestion, that I keep a bed pan was unacceptable.

Virtual assistants have the potential to dramatically change this common hospitalization annoyance. Introducing Aiva, Alexa’s cousin. Alexa is like Apple’s Siri. Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled virtual assistant was born with the iPhone 4S. She can be found on all Apple devices – phones, televisions, iPads, laptops, and desktop computers. All the other tech players quickly followed with their own voice-controlled virtual assistants. Microsoft has Cortana, Amazon has Alexa, and Google has Google Assistant.

Essentially, all these systems function the same. A voice request is made by the user and the virtual assistant fulfills the request by providing the requested information. The assistant is accessed through a device. For Apple it can be the iPhone; for Alexa it is the Amazon Echo or Dot. Information provided can be playing music, reading a book, controlling the smart home features of your house, or reading a recipe. The information provided by these virtual assistants is endless. Top news, the days weather report, and setting reminders, alarms, and timers are some additional features.

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