I subscribe to the belief that no one should die alone or afraid, and death is a natural part of the life cycle that can be—should be—a sacred, deeply meaningful experience.
Sadly, too often that’s not the case. Our current health care system doesn’t do death well at all. Unless they qualify for hospice, patients and their families are left feeling helpless, confused and afraid. Sometimes angry.
No one expects us to be experts at childbirth if we’ve never had a baby. Why should we be experts at death if we or a loved one has never died before?
I … Continue reading
This post if for any of my readers who are Medicare age or about to be Medicare age.
I think it’s important to understand what changes are in the pipeline that will affect your doctors and their ability to be able to treat you.
Some doctors already refuse to see Medicare patients because of government red tape and poor reimbursement.
But starting in 2017 it’s going to get worse, and many physicians are wondering if they should follow their colleagues and drop out of the Medicare game altogether.
I recently read two posts by physicians on the health care blog … Continue reading
A painful but common condition in older adults is shingles or herpes zoster. I’ve known several elderly people afflicted with this, and I will absolutely get the vaccine as soon as I turn 60!
The vaccine, Zostavax, is FDA-approved for ages 50 and up, but the Cleveland Clinic recently advised that it’s not cost effective for anyone under 60 to get immunized.
Why? Because Zostavax is too expensive. On average, it costs about $200, and that doesn’t include the cost for the office visit or vaccine administration that some clinics charge.
The vaccine is effective for 10-12 years, so … Continue reading
Chronic neck pain can be, well, a pain in the neck.
Usually caused by overuse, poor posture, tension or arthritis—or a combination—neck, shoulder and upper back pain can interfere with almost all routine activities.
But some simple yoga moves can help, and I think this particular YouTube video is great. The moves are well explained, and they can be done either standing or sitting at your desk. And it’s short, only 4 minutes, so these exercises can be done almost any time if your neck muscles are feeling tight or painful.
The Clinical Journal of … Continue reading
My father passed away on the Fourth of July. He was 93 years old.
It sounds a cliché to say he was “surrounded by his family,” but he was, and it was an experience none of us in that room will ever forget.
My mother, brother, husband, sister-in-law and four nieces (along with one fiancé and one boyfriend) were all crowded into Dad’s little room at his memory care home.
His condition had deteriorated the previous night, and we knew this day could be his last. He was not conscious and his breathing was labored.
As we talked, cried and … Continue reading
Do you think of yourself as an optimist or a pessimist? Or, like me, a hybrid of the two (hope for the best, but plan for the worst)?
I just finished reading Up: How Positive Outlook Can Transform Our Health and Aging by Hilary Tindle, MD, MPH, and found it an engaging look at how our outlook can drive our behaviors toward better or poorer health.
Dr. Tindle began her career as a primary care doctor. What she found were “relentless days of chronically ill” patients who suffered from obesity, depression, anxiety, insomnia, smoking, drinking, loneliness and isolation.
… Continue reading
My husband sent me a link to a short Ted Talks video about aging. After watching it, I’m wondering if I’ve been going about aging the wrong way.
The video is about an inspiring woman, Olga Kotelko, who took up amateur track and field at the age of 77. At age 91, she was competing in the long jump! She had more than 50 world records!
How did she think about growing old? And how might our own perceptions or biases about aging affect us physically?
What if age is just a state of mind?
A report published last week detailed how much Medicare spends on prescription medications.
In 2013, Medicare spent $103 billion on drugs. (I’m guessing the total will be more in 2014 and 2015, when they get around to publishing that data.)
Federal officials said they hoped that disseminating the data would lead to new revelations about the prescribing patterns of doctors and for particular drugs.
Dan Mendelson, the CEO of Avalere, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm, said the data could provide patients with new questions about their prescription history when they visit their physician. “It’s really important to stimulate conversations
… Continue reading
The last few weeks have been stressful for my family as my 93-year-old father suffered a heart attack, a stroke and other medical problems that led to a 2-week hospital stay (I’m amazed he survived that), a 10-day stay in a skilled nursing facility, and—just this weekend—a move into an adult family home.
He needs round-the-clock care that my 85-year-old arthritic mother can’t provide in their home.
In a few weeks, I’m sure I will be helping her sift through an enormous pile of statements, explanations of benefits (EOBs) and invoices related to my dad’s care.
Sure Medicare will pick … Continue reading
I’ve been AWOL on the blog for a couple of weeks because my 93-year-old father has been hospitalized with multiple health issues. Each day brings us a mixed bag of improvement and decline.
As a family, we are in agreement that we don’t want Dad to suffer. We don’t want him to linger with a low quality of life. Although he is confused and unable to communicate with us, we know he doesn’t want that for himself, either.
With good communication and constant re-assessing of Dad’s condition and options, we will make it through this period in our lives. I … Continue reading