Beating the Problems of Senior Care

Looking after for an aging mother or father, domestic partner, household partner or good friend provides challenging difficulties, especially when a problem strikes and you are instantly faced with the required senior care. Perhaps your aging mother slipped, is put in the hospital with a broken hip and needs to go to a rehabilitation facility or senior care facility to recover. Care giving can also begin as a result of disturbing incidents and signs that indicate a need for lengthy lasting senior care. Perhaps your domestic partner has wandered off and went missing several times. Or a long-time buddy has lost a lot of body weight and hardly ever leaves the house. You may be the only person available to provide care. Or, you may be the linchpin of a network of close relatives and friends willing to help take care of your elderly. Whatever the situation, you are not sure of the next phase, or even the first thing to do.

Take a deep breath slowly. This may be the most important advice you receive throughout the care giving journey. All along the way, remember to stop every now and then and collect your thoughts. Clear your mind and relax. It may be challenging, but it will help maintain your mood and prevent you from falling under the weight of care giving problems. Make sure you know the senior’s birth date and Social Security number. You will need these details to access many services. Collect details about medical providers. If you haven’t done so already, collect details about your loved one’s doctors and health insurance coverage.

Another good advice is to call a family meeting. Try to get as many people as possible engaged from the start. Early feedback from them will accomplish interaction and decision-making down the line. Allow all close relatives an opportunity to show themselves and their emotions about what should be done. If possible, assign a person to be accountable for each process. These are just some steps that you can follow to avoid issues or problems when facing the task of senior care.

Improving Patient Care

Every health care provider aims to provide the highest level of care for their patients. They are molded to become not only skilled in their field but also exhibit the utmost patient care as well as professional dealings. Medical professionals are always faced with the issue of how to improve patient care. They are aware that skills are not the only thing that matter to deliver the best patient care. More often than not, patients appreciate it when they are handled in a most human way.

Patients are now more aware of issues underlining the medical practices like malpractice and they fear being involved in one. This creates a reason for them to seek medical practitioners who will deliver the best patient care. They will likely go to someone whom they trust rather than someone who is popular because of being expert in their field. People will go for competent, affectionate and empathetic health care professionals. For this reason, professionals in health care system are now seeking ways to develop interpersonal skills as early as during their education. Patient care is now emphasized in educational curriculum.

The quality of patient care is not only quantified through technical and personal skills. The health care system needs to ensure that delivering patient care is at its best because of the new technology and infrastructure. The advancement of technology is a contributing factor in innovating new equipment and methods to efficiently get results from patients’ diagnosis.

Moreover, patient care needs to be accessible to the patients anytime and anywhere. This is a great challenge to all health care professionals considering that there are still areas around the globe that are far beyond reach.




Patient Care and Retail Based Clinics

patient_careThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a strongly worded policy declaration re-enforcing its place that retail-based treatment centers (RBCs) are unsuitable locations for pediatric patient care. Many workers in pediatrics are also up-in-arms over the increase of RBCs as many practices feel they are taking valuable sufferers. The fact is that RBCs are an excellent supplement to the micro practice design that our practice is depending on. For us, the advantage of RBCs is that they do what we do not want to do. Namely, they open on evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and vacations. But one major adverse is that they cannot staff as many hours as the bigger, multi-provider practice.

A recent cover story at The Harvard Business Review said to forget about work-life balance and it described that life is about hard choices; this is a fact. Employees want to be home for supper with their family and invest their time in their children’s days off from school having fun. We like knowing that the RBCs are there to fill in for the bigger practices when they are closed. It should be said that RBCs offer a convenience; medically, there is usually no reason why someone with symptoms cannot get some over-the-phone patient care from the health professional or physician on call and then wait for their office to open at 9 a.m. the next morning. But for those who choose not to wait and in some situations are willing to pay a premium for the comfort, why should not they go see an experienced and certified health professional specialist at an RBC? Whether the strep test is run by bigger practices or RBCs, provided that there is interaction, there shouldn’t be an issue with RBCs offering mid-level triage for us.

They key is, as with most issues affecting personal and community health, has to do with RBC rules. How much can a patient really value the guidance of a company who works for an organization that makes money when you buy over-priced over-the-counter snake oil? Government departments have a responsibility to make sure that RBCs are not favoring client care over quality clinical judgment. Think about it: Patients looking for needless medications are more likely to buy over-priced products when they have gladly obtained the medication they desired but probably did not need. As a primary patient care provider, one of the greatest values of RBCs is the ability to diagnose illness as early as possible in order to treat the patient for the best possible outcome.

Care and Dignity in Hospice Care

The end of life should be lived with as much convenience and joy as each day before. It is a moment when the discomfort from a serious illness is replaced with feelings of love from close relatives and care providers. Hospice care neither speeds up nor postpones death. It is about enhancing time people share together. “Patients and their loved ones as well as doctors, choose hospice for many reasons and the key word is choice, placing the decisions in the hands of patients and close relatives,” says community liaison, Kristen Lorenz. “We see our services as a gift of physical, emotional and spiritual support with care and dignity.”

hospice_careWhat is hospice care? It’s a philosophy of modern care for the control of signs associated with an individual’s diagnosed medical problem. The care is provided occasionally and as needed wherever the individual lives, including someone’s house, assisted living facility, long-term care center or hospital. “We try to emphasize that getting hospice care does not mean giving up hope,” says Lorenz. “We change the focus to one of making the most of life. The goal is to recover the essence of life through pain management and management of symptoms, so family members can remember special periods and create even more of them.”

According to Lorenz, only some Americans eligible for hospice care coverage take advantage of the benefit, 27% to be exact. Of that getting hospice care, the average time frame is only 9.6 days. Such proper care is 100% covered by Medicare Part A, State health programs and Veterans Administration benefits based upon an individual’s diagnosis and life span. While most often utilized for those with six months or less to live, there are times when it is available for longer. “It’s truly remarkable that so few utilize one of the best entitlements we are provided,” she adds.


Paperless Patient Care

Most people reading this probably grew up in an age of paper medical care details, hand-written medications, and faxed or sent by mail test results. A common sight at many physicians’ office visit was a wall of patient files containing just this kind of details, all alphabetized and marked with little colored tabs. However, to younger visitors and what will certainly be the case for your children, this program of handling your medical care information will look like it belongs in a museum. In a world where you can do everything from book, to pay your takes and even call a cab online, the idea of depending on document records to arrange important elements of your medical care and also one of the biggest sectors in the United States seems ancient.

patient_careFor decades now, medical care service suppliers have discussed the move from paper-based medical care information. Today, electronic medical care record techniques are finally becoming more popular. This is a pattern that has been growing over the past 10 years but that has significantly extended since 2009, when President Obama released the “Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act”, an incentive program to motivate medical care centers and patient care suppliers to look at digital medical care information. To date, the stimulation bundle has provided immeasurable dollars to over one hundred thousand qualified medical care centers and qualified patient care suppliers  who have confirmed adopting, called “meaningful use,” of qualified EHR technology. Improvement is being made, for example, a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the number of medical care centers using some kind of EMR has tripled in the last three years, bringing the total utilization up to 44 percent of US medical care centers.

The conversion away from paper-based methods to digital medical care information, however, has not been easy, or quick. Part of the problem has less to do with technology and more to do with culture. Applying an EMR program means that patient care suppliers and other medical center staff have to go about their work in a different way than in a paper-based environment. Applying an EMR invariably has an effect on clinical process since a new part is being added between the patient and doctor and how the doctor is documenting the individual’s information and developing a plan of proper care.

Senior Care and the Role of Lawmakers

Underfunded elderly care facility has been a major task to the senior care and state recently and will continue to be resolved in the future, many law makers and medical experts estimate. During the last session of the Minnesota Legislature, elderly care facility regulation was implemented, creating a 5 percent across-the-board increase. That activity by the Legislature showed the first increase in financing in the past five years. Nursing home employees have had their income freezing since 2008 and will now be seeing a rise in income come September 1, 2013. Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said, of the $83 million it will cost for four years, $74 million was reprocessed out of the senior care facility market.

“Workers will see an increase, but it will come out of the other elderly care facility cash that was reprocessed,” Abeler said. “It’s like taking your wallet out of your right pocket and putting it into your left pocket and saying, ‘I’ve got some cash now,’” Abeler said. “The program is hungry for cash and we cannot give the people a good increase because of the demands about minimum salary,” Abeler continued. Abeler, last session, served as the ranking Republican on the Health and Human Services Finance Committee. He chaired the committee the two past years with Republicans being in authority control.

Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota, said needs of assisted living facilities have not been effectively resolved by the Legislature and by others. The activity by the Legislature “was a step in the right direction and we are thankful for it, but our job is not done,” Kvenvold said. On the average, the distinction between what it costs to manage a senior is a deficiency of $28 per day, Kvenvold said. She said it will take more than one legal session to make up that difference. Aging Services of Minnesota is the state’s biggest organization of getting senior care services companies. Its account involves more than 1,000 participant companies such as 700-plus company participant sites. In cooperation with its members, the organization works with more than 50,000 care suppliers throughout the state and provides more than 100,000 elderly people each year in configurations across the continuum from their house to assemble real estate to assisted living to senior care facilities. Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, said the legal activity in 2013 showed a significant improvement and is a “good start.”

Senior Care Costs

Millions of families are beginning to grapple with the one major health expense for which most Americans are not insured: long-term care. About 10 million elderly people currently rely on others for daily care, such as help getting dressed, preparing foods or taking medication. That number will only increase as more of the nation’s 78 million middle-agers enter old age. Nearly 7 in 10 people will need some way of long-term care after turning 65, according to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute. “Nobody wants to go to a senior care facility, it’s the last resort,” says James Firman, president of the National Council on Aging. “People want to stay in their own house and if they can’t, they want to go to a place where they can get assistance but that still feels homelike.”

senior_careNursing houses are the most intense way of long-term care, including round-the-clock medical supervision. That level of senior care comes with a steep price tag: the average cost of a semi-private space last year was $81,000, according to a survey by insurance company MetLife. A private space ran more than $90,500. Fortunately most elderly people won’t require extended senior care facility care. Only 5 percent will need five years or more in a senior care facility.

Less intense alternatives include home-care solutions that offer help with foods and household chores, and boarding houses where some elderly people live with on-site caretakers. But like assisted living facilities, these solutions aren’t covered by Medicare, the government’s health care insurance option for elderly people, or private health insurance coverage. Plans for long-term care are available, but only about 5 percent of adults have them. Most family members don’t plan for long-term care, because often the need comes unexpectedly: an elder takes a bad fall or experiences a stroke. Cost is another problem, because policies can run $1,000 to $8,000 a year, based on a senior’s age, health and other aspects.

Qualifying Hospice Care

Many people who are critically ill delay coming into hospice care until just a few days or even weeks before they die, in part because they or their loved ones don’t want to admit that there’s no hope for a cure. “It’s a hard decision to say yes to,” says Jeanne Dennis, senior V. P. at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York are able to, which provides hospice care to 900 sufferers daily, among other services. “Everybody knows it means you’re not going to get better.” A latest research released in the publication Health Affairs discovered that there may be another reason that sufferers don’t take advantage of the comprehensive solutions that hospice care provides: limited registration guidelines that may prevent sufferers from signing up.

The study of nearly 600 hospices nationwide discovered that 78 % had registration guidelines that might limit individual access to care, especially for those with high-cost healthcare needs. The guidelines included prohibitions on applying sufferers who are palliative radiation or blood transfusions or who are being fed intravenously. Medicare will pay the majority of hospice bills, and authorities have raised concerns in latest times about possible neglect of federal funds. Eighty-three % of hospice sufferers are 65 or older, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Holding Hands with Elderly Patient

To be eligible for a hospice care under Medical health insurance coverage, an individual’s doctor and a hospice healthcare home must approve that the affected person has six months or less to live. Patients must also agree not to seek healing care. Once an individual selects to enter hospice, the benefits include therapy for non-curative requirements such as pain and symptom management as well as emotional and religious support for sufferers and their loved ones. Most sufferers get hospice care at home. The Health Affairs research points out that some therapies typically considered healing also may be used to manage the symptoms of a dying individual. For example, someone might get radiation therapies to shrink a tumor to make breathing easier or be given a blood transfusion to reduce exhaustion.