I just finished reading Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. In his book, Dr. Gawande, a nationally known surgeon, writer, and public health researcher, discusses end-of-life care, the many issues with traditional nursing home care in this country and the ways in which long-term care should be re-imagined.
A 2009 study found that more than half of Americans over the age of 65 take 5 or more prescription drugs regularly and one in 4 seniors takes between 10 and 19 pills per day. And that the more medications a senior takes, the more room there is for error.
When medications are taken incorrectly, serious, life-threatening harm may result. In medical terms, this would be described as an “adverse medical event.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that older adults are twice as likely as others to visit the emergency room due to an adverse drug event – over 177,000 visits per year. Reasons for these visits may include dizziness, falls, delirium and changes in vital signs.
More than 70% of health care dollars in this country are spent on chronic conditions. Two out of three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions, and 95% of health care spending for older adults is attributed to chronic disease. As Baby Boomers live longer than the generations that came before them, research into conditions that are common in old age – like osteoporosis, fractures, falls, dementia, and delirium – is becoming more and more critical.
When I was in nursing school in the mid eighties, I had not yet attained influenza vaccination enlightenment, and in the middle of that winter season, I got the flu. What ensued was a week of being bedridden. I was unable to eat, drink or move. I was helpless. I had a high fever, body aches and the whole week was a complete blur, except for the one thing I remember very clearly. I was so sick, I came very close to asking my roommate to give me a Tylenol suppository. I was too embarrassed, so I suffered through it. I will never forget it. I will never forget that feeling.
Almost all of my hearing aid patients ask me “what’s new” in the world of hearing aids when they come in for their check ups.
Like all technology, there is almost always something new! I generally tell my patients that each hearing aid manufacturer will roll out a new product 1-2 times a year. Does this make their current product obsolete? No. But, for those who might be in the market for new hearing aids, or, those who always seek the latest products, asking about the new developments is wise.
I have devoted my research career to advancing the understanding of a serious condition called delirium and the impact it has on clinical outcomes. As a medical resident, I observed symptoms of confusion and disorientation in many of the seniors I cared for during my hospital rotations. These symptoms were generally shrugged off as just something that sometimes happens to older patients. Little, if anything was done to prevent or treat it despite its devastating effects.
This blog is part of a year-long series aimed at addressing some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from family and adult children on the topics most concerning them regarding their aging parents or loved one. In 2012 Hebrew SeniorLife published the eBook "You & Your Aging Parent: A Family Approach to Lifelong Health, Wellness & Care," a compilation of answers from HSL geriatric experts in response to the many of the most frequently asked questions. We're reposting some of the most popular Q&A posts from our original eBook which was downloaded over 2,000 times. We're also adding new Q&As throughout the series that address topics not originally included in our eBook.
April is Occupational Therapy Month and what better time to build an understanding about what an OT (occupational therapist) does and how vital the service is that we provide to older adults. The role of an OT is often confused with that of a PT (physical therapist). Although our functions sometime overlap, and OTs and PTs often work together as a team, there are important differences between the two disciplines.
On March 9, we marked the formal opening of Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care with a presentation by Dr. Jerome Groopman that articulated the essential Jewish values of love and hope at the core of our endeavor. We came together to express our gratitude to the generous donors who made it possible and the exceptional hospice team who care for our patients.
In early 2014 the Outpatient Therapies Department at Hebrew SeniorLife recently launched a service we call Therapy House Calls (THC), which delivers outpatient therapy services to patients in their own homes. Launching an innovative service is exciting enough on its own, but what really had me and my team thrilled, is the opportunity we discovered in HSL’s senior living communities to work collaboratively with specialists across disciplines to benefit our patients through a continuum of care. By doing so, I believe we are able to deliver the best care in the right place at the right time. Let me explain.