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Care that encourages strong, well-informed and independent seniors.

5 Myths About End-of-Life Issues

heidi Elder Care Issues Comments Off on 5 Myths About End-of-Life Issues
Some people don't fill out important paperwork like a living will because they think they are signing their lives away. Not the case. Instead, this important paperwork ensures health care wishes are being met.

Some people don’t fill out important paperwork like a living will because they think they are signing their lives away. Not the case. Instead, this important paperwork ensures health care wishes are being met.

Some people don’t have a health care power of attorney or living will because they don’t realize how important these documents are. Others worry that such documents mean they are signing their lives away. Not so, according to Harvard Medical School’s HEALTHbeat.

These powerful documents make sure that you get the treatment you would want for yourself if you couldn’t communicate your wishes. Here are a few myths that shouldn’t get in the way of creating a health care power of attorney or living will:

Myth #1: More care is always better.

Truth: Not necessarily. Sometimes more care prolongs the dying process without respect for quality of life or comfort. It’s important to know what interventions are truly important. It’s often impossible to know that in advance. That’s where the advice of a health care team is invaluable.

Myth #2: Refusing life support invalidates your life insurance, because you are committing suicide.

Truth: Refusing life support does not mean that you are committing suicide. Instead, the underlying medical problem is considered to be the cause of death.

Myth #3: If medical treatment is started, it cannot be stopped.

Truth: Not starting a medical treatment and stopping a treatment are the same in the eyes of the law. So you or your health care agent can approve a treatment for a trial period that you think may be helpful, without any fear that you can’t change your mind later. However, be aware that stopping treatment can be more emotionally difficult than not starting it in the first place.

Myth #4: If you refuse life-extending treatments, you’re refusing all treatments.

Truth: No matter what treatments you refuse, you should still expect to receive any other care you need or want — especially the pain and symptom management sometimes called intensive comfort care.

Myth #5: Stopping or refusing artificial nutrition and hydration causes pain for someone who is dying.

Truth: Unlike keeping food or water from a healthy person, for someone who is dying, declining artificial nutrition or intravenous hydration does not cause pain.

For more on setting goals for end-of-life care and avoiding common pitfalls, access Living Wills, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

 

 


Getting Your Home Ready After a Hospital Stay

heidi Family / Caregiver Issues, Hospital Discharge Comments Off on Getting Your Home Ready After a Hospital Stay
A post-hospital recovery often means avoiding climbing stairs, installing grab bars and nonstick bath mats in the bathroom, and taking careful measures to avoid falling.

A post-hospital recovery often means avoiding climbing stairs, installing grab bars and nonstick bath mats in the bathroom, and taking careful measures to avoid falling.

If you’ve been in the hospital for an illness or a planned surgery, you know that preparing the house properly for your return can greatly impact your healing and recovery.

The following tips, courtesy of Medline Plus, encourage safety and independence at home:

Make it easy for yourself

Make sure everything you need is easy to get to and on the same floor where you will spend most of your time. If you need to use the stairs, limit using them to once a day, if possible.

*Set up your bed on the first floor (or the entry floor) if you can. You may not need a hospital bed. But your mattress should be firm.

*Have a bathroom or a portable commode on the same floor where you will spend most of your day.

*Stock up on canned or frozen food, toilet paper, shampoo, and other personal items.

*Either buy or make single meals that can be frozen and reheated.

*Make sure you can reach everything you need without getting on your tiptoes or bending down.

*Put food and other supplies in a cupboard that is between your waist and shoulder level.

*Place glasses, silverware, and other items you use often on the kitchen counter.

*Make sure you can get to your phone. A cell phone or wireless phone can be helpful.

Place a chair with a firm back in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and other rooms you will use. This way, you can sit when you do your daily tasks.

If you will be using a walker, attach a sturdy bag or a small basket to hold your phone, a notepad, a pen, and other things you will need to have close by. You can also wear fanny pack.

Get some help

You may need help with bathing, using the toilet, cooking, running errands, shopping, going to the doctor, and exercising.

If you do not have someone to help you at home for the first 1 or 2 weeks after surgery, ask your doctor or nurse about having a trained caregiver come to your home to help you. This person can also check the safety of your home and help you with your daily activities.

Some items that may be helpful include:

*Shower sponge with a long handle

*Shoehorn with a long handle

*Cane, crutches, or a walker Read more


Home Health Readmission Numbers Keep Getting Better

heidi Medicare Patient News, Referring to Home Health Comments Off on Home Health Readmission Numbers Keep Getting Better
The home health rehospitalization rate for Medicare patients decreased by nearly two percentage points, from 19.17% in 2011 to 17.39% in 2012.

The home health rehospitalization rate for Medicare patients decreased by nearly two percentage points, from 19.17% in 2011 to 17.39% in 2012.

Rehospitalization rates among Medicare patients from a home health setting are on the decline, and with an increased emphasis on coordination of care, the positive trend should continue, according to data recently updated by the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, a national non-profit consortium of home health care providers and organizations, as reported by Home Health Care News/Kourtney Liepelt.

The Home Health Chartbook, compiled by Avalere Health LLC, summarizes and analyzes statistics on home health economic and demographic trends from various government sources. The latest data included in the Chartbook shows a steady decline in hospital readmission rates for home health users within 30 days of discharge for the top 20 most common diagnosis groups.

Specifically, the home health rehospitalization rate for Medicare patients decreased by nearly two percentage points, from 19.17% in 2011 to 17.39% in 2012. The data shows that trend is continuing, as the rate fell to 16.92% in 2013. Alliance Executive Director Teresa Lee attributes the decline to alternate models of health care delivery, such as the Accountable Care Organization program and bundled payments. Read more