I’ve written about senior parent hospitalizations several times on this blog. When a parent is hospitalized, an adult child needs energy, clarity, and attention to detail.
Recently Dale Carter, over at Transition Aging Parents, wrote an excellent post about her experience when her mother was hospitalized for surgery, and she includes lots of ideas that can assist those of us who help to support our parents and may spend some time with them at hospitals.
Last week I shared that I had been away, helping my mother through surgery and recovery for colon cancer. As I reflect on the many lessons learned from this experience, I’ve decided to devote this post to the 5 things I believe were key in ensuring the best care for my mother. These are things that will make a true difference, regardless of the diagnosis, your location in the country, or selection of hospital. Continue reading this post at Transition Aging Parents.
Over and over the media refer to boomers as a health conscious generation, and boomers often assume that their generation is healthier than their parents’ generation.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Health Examination Survey (NHANES – Check out this informational video), researchers compared data from 1988-1994 for our parents’ generation and data from 2007-2010 for the boomers. This means that they were examining health data from similar age groups. The results are dramatic.
Some of the Findings
- In the older generation, 32% the those surveyed reported excellent health, while only 13.2% of boomers reported excellent health.
- Obesity was more common in the boomer generation.
- Regular exercise was less frequent in boomers’ lives.
- Hypertension was more common in boomers with 43% reporting the condition, but only 36% of their parents reported hypertension at the same age. Read more »
If you have ever had a stroke event in your family, you know — as we do — about the frustrating process of recovery and rehabilitation, as well as the constant bickering with benefits providers when it comes to whether a person is making “enough” progress to merit continuing rehab sessions.
If this is a familiar story, take a few minutes to read a stroke recovery article from the February 3, 2013 Washington Post, penned by United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). He writes about his stroke and the year-long road to recovery, including a description of how this dramatic health event has changed his perspective on his life and as a politician.
Yes, Senators have very good health benefits, but it is clear from the article that Senator Kirk, after interacting with many other stroke survivors during his post stroke rehabilitation, now has far more understanding of the need for better health care for everyone. More importantly, he reports that he now feels humbled as he goes about helping to govern. Humility, I believe, is in short supply these days.
Adult children who help aging parents should check out the Washington Post article At End of Life, Medicare Beneficiaries Spend Thousands Out-of-Pocket. Reporter Sarah Kliff explains that a recent study, Out of Pocket Spending in the Last Five Years of Life (abstract), published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, examined the amount of money that aging Medicare recipients spend on health care during the last five years of life. The abstract leads to the first two pages of the study, freely available.
According to the Post article, “The average Medicare beneficiary spent $38,688 out-of-pocket during the last five years of life.” This is in addition to the portion that Medicare covers. The Post article also features two excellent charts.
Researchers studied people who died between 2002 and 2008 using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), based at the University of Michigan. HRS is a large nationally representative study funded launched in 1992 and funded by the National Institute on Aging.
This week’s (August 10, 2012) edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), includes this informative graphic depicting the ten most common chronic conditions among people who live in residential care communities. Below the image I’ve pasted in a paragraph defining residential facilities as they are used in this survey.
A month after my mother’s surgery at the University of Virginia Health System, we returned for a follow-up appointment with her surgeon. My mom came through with flying colors, but the real star is Dr. Duska. Moreover, the people who work with this gifted and graceful physician, her residents and fellows, are also amazing. All of them communicated in a relaxed way, took medical histories with warmth and interest, and even spent time learning more about my mom than the mere facts about her medical condition.
But there’s more. Adult children know what it can be like to go to an unfamiliar specialist with an elder parent and watch the parent be treated as a child, or at least not as a full-fledged adult. Ageism is alive and well in many places.
Not once in our experiences did Dr. Duska or any her colleagues do anything that made my mother feel like an old or irrelevant person. Of course Charlottesville is in central Virginia, and even though UVA is a major public research university (Did I mention that we were there at the beginning of the leadership debacle?) at least a few people around the Medical Center called my mom “hon” or “dearie.” In the Commonwealth of Virginia one simply tries hard to get used to that.
But for Dr. Duska and her colleagues respect is an art form, just like their surgical skills.
Yet another friend has skin cancer. She always used sun blocking lotions, but also enjoyed staying out in the sun for long periods. (I have her permission to write this much.)
Check out the post about a new mobile skin-check app at the Health and Medical News and Resources blog. The app, developed by the University of Michigan (UM) Medical School and UM Health System, helps people monitor skin spots that may be cancerous. The post explains how the new app works — basically it walks users through a full-body skin check, especially the using device’s camera, to help a person monitor and screen skin spots. Also, check out the other skin cancer links at the post.
Watch This Introductory Video from the University of Michigan Read more »
When your parents go to the hospital and need to stay over night or longer, be sure the medical staff admits them as official patients and not for observation (which means that technically they are not admitted at all).
People hospitalized for observation do not qualify for Medicare’s skilled nursing care benefit after leaving the hospital, and they will have much higher out-of-pocket costs because many Medicare benefits require formal admission as an inpatient to a hospital, not a stay for observation, which is more like outpatient status.
Much has been written recently about this situation. Brown University gerontologists published their findings in the June 2012 Health Affairs (abstract), explaining that the number of observations rose 34% when compared to standard hospital admissions in 2007-2009. The study analyzed a huge amount of data — the Medicare claims of 29 million individuals between 2007 and 2009.
A report on the study in the June 4, 2012 Kaiser Health News, Study: Hospital Observations Stays Increase 25 Percent in Three Years, points out how researchers also found that patients under observation stayed in the hospital longer than admitted patients — some “observed” for longer than three days.
Interesting Quote from the Kaiser Article Read more »