‘Healthcare’ Posts

Our Long-Term Care Journey

April 14th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Aging in PlaceMaking a life-changing decision on a loved one’s long-term care and considering a nursing home or assisted living facility is never easy and there are many hurdles that must be overcome. For many, this may not be necessary as they will receive the care they require in the comfort of their own home, which is certainly the first option for a large percentage of seniors receiving care.

According to an AARP study 89% of those 65 and older would love to age in place for as long as possible, and there are several important benefits of aging at home, like improved health, routine, independence and the familiar setting. If medically and financially possible, there is no place like home. In-home care can be affordable, when limited in services and in number of hours per day.

For low income seniors, there are several programs, like the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, the Cash and Counsel program, or if you or your family member is a US veteran, the VA administration for veterans may cover a variety of in home care services in your state. Services that are typically covered by these programs include, health care, personal care, homemaker care, adult day care, transportation, medical equipment and some minor home remodeling.

For those that prefer a group setting, or home care is not appropriate and/or affordable, and the family feels that a nursing home or assisted living facility would be the be the best fit, obviously there are many emotional issues that need to be dealt with. Often there are conflicting emotions raging, including, guilt, anger, sadness and helplessness, when they are no longer able to provide the care that their loved ones now require.

Another area that needs to be navigated when considering a nursing home, is how to pay the bill, which for many American families is financially out of reach even after saving up for a considerable number of years. The same situation arises with home care services; unless the person has savings, equity in their home, or Long Term care Insurance, cost can be an issue. The federal and state governments provide Medicaid/Medical help if the individual meets all financial and medical eligibility guidelines. There is often a grueling task, companies like Senior Planning Services could help you with the Medicaid application process, or you can address your local Medicaid office, often, with the risk of failure quite high.

Last but no least, there are considerations as far as choosing the right nursing home or assisted living facility for mom or dad, to the right in-home care agency that will take into account all personal, cultural, religious and location-based preferences. This accumulation of stress is enough to inundate any sane person, but for the nearly 65 million heroic individuals providing care in the US for a loved one, this is often the best care option for the senior.Having worked for many years as a nursing home placement coordinator for a NJ-based Medicaid planning company, I’d like to share the personal saga of one of our clients which touched me deeply.

Several months ago I was contacted by a woman living in northern New Jersey. Her mom, who resided in central NJ in Ocean County, was suffering from severe dementia and the daughter wanted her admitted to a nursing home in her own area, up in northern NJ, in Bergen County. In addition to her dementia, the elderly woman also had severe behavioral issues.

The family was in the Medicaid application process and their application was in the pending status. Because of her unique needs, our options were quite limited. We needed a nursing home with a secure unit where the residents could not wander out of the unit, since a wander guard would not have been sufficient for this woman. Dementia patients tend to become so confused and lost in their surroundings, that they will try to leave the premises even when wheelchair bound.

The woman, as we mentioned earlier, also had violent tendencies and would sometimes act disrespectfully, hit other residents and caregivers, and needed a nursing facility that was equipped for these needs. These issues made finding the right facility a nightmare.

When we did find one or two, we were turned down, since our Medicaid status was still pending and not all nursing homes were willing to work with Medicaid-pending applicants.

In the meantime, we found placement for the woman in a nursing home in the Ocean County area which was able to provide all of her needs. I had a good working relationship with this facility and, after some cajoling, they accepted her, confident that the Medicaid application would be approved. It didn’t satisfy the requests of the daughter, though, who wanted mom close by.

When the Medicaid application was subsequently approved, we were successful in transferring the woman to a facility closer to her daughter in Bergen County. We were all very excited that it had worked out well for everybody, at last. The daughter thanked me profusely for the effort I had expended in making it happen.

It was heartbreaking when, days later, the woman passed away at the facility…

Conclusion: You know, as professionals, we try to maintain a certain degree of detachment in order to be better able to assist our clients, but at the end of the day… it’s painful. We do develop relationships with the wonderful people whose long-term care is entrusted to us and when they go so quickly, it’s like losing a friend or relative, in a sense.

In collaboration with Benjamin Lamm, a senior advocate.

Cancer: you are not alone

April 9th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

The right teamA diagnosis of cancer is terrifying and often it is a long journey for patients, clinicians, and family members to look at the available options for treatment and care. Cancer patients often feel more comfortable and secure being cared for at home. Many patients want to stay at home so they will not be separated from family, friends, and familiar surroundings. Home care can help patients achieve this desire but cancer care often involves a team approach that includes doctors, nurses, social workers, physical therapists, family members, and others but one size does not fit all and looking for the right team is the key.

More than one million people living in the US are diagnosed with cancer each year – one million people, just like you, who will embark upon a journey of treatment, recuperation, and rehabilitation. It can feel, at times, like a lonely journey, and cancer survivors are often struck by the feelings of isolation and helplessness that are so prevalent during their diagnosis and treatment. However, it is important to know that you are not alone; we are here to share your journey.

There have been some huge developments in the world of cancer research in recent years; from new drugs to the discovery of what causes certain types of cancer, the medical profession is forging ahead in the field of research and pharmaceuticals. However, this news often comes as little comfort to those who may recently have been diagnosed with cancer – your first thoughts will probably be towards your own recovery, and the help available to you, rather than scientific progress, and that is absolutely where your mind should be.

Cancer: where can you turn?

Support comes in a variety of forms, from financial and medical assistance, to help with traveling to and from work, or daily tasks, such as shopping, cooking, or household chores. Where should you turn for support? The obvious answer is often friends and family, and it is those closest to you who will often be there to pick up the pieces following a cancer diagnosis; their dedicated rallying is invaluable at this time, so never be afraid to accept, or ask, for help. Living Well supports a team approach when caring for cancer patients at home.

If you are without a local network of friends and family, or have found it difficult to approach anyone for help, there are a host of organizations that are dedicated to helping those in your shoes. Charities such as The American Cancer Society, The American Association for Cancer Research, and The Cancer Research Institute provide invaluable information and services, including advice on your diagnosis and treatment options, financial guidance, manned helplines, and details on support groups and health services that are local to you; wherever you are, their aim is to connect you with somebody who will listen.

Assisted living: there is somewhere else to turn

There may come a time during your treatment or recuperation when assisted living is suggested, or even prescribed, by a health care professional. While the phrase may conjure images you may not wish to associate with your own situation, assisted living can help to quell worries of living alone, help you to cope with daily tasks, support you during times of loneliness and isolation, and assist you in accessing support. Assisted living can be the supportive environment that you need, allowing you to channel all of your energy into recovery. Whether provided on a temporary or permanent basis, assisted living often becomes a vital lifeline to those experiencing physical or mental changes, and can make recovery much easier when a person’s home no longer has suitable amenities to facilitate treatment.

The most important thing to remember following any diagnosis, particularly that of cancer, is that you are not alone; whether you are being comforted and supported by family, assisted by a dedicated charity, or cared for by home care staff or an assisted living complex, never be afraid to lean on those around you.

Physician recommends “A ‘Code Death’ for Dying Patients”

April 11th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

In a New York Times Well blog post, critical and palliative care physician Dr. Zitter recommends that “physicians need to relearn the ancient art of dying.”

Life Insurance Conversion to Pay for Long Term Care Services

April 4th, 2013 by Doris Bersing

senior-coupleDavid Kitaen, a Marin County, California resident, and a specialist in long term care insurance, has been lobbying to make this option a reality. The possibility for those who do not have other meas or need an option, to convert their life insurance into long term care insurance to pay for their care as they age and need more assistance.

He addresses specially the home care agencies and say: “…Home Care Agencies- pay attention to this article on Long-Term Care Insurance- it’s a new spin on an old idea that many people wish in hindsight they had taken advantage of at a younger age. It IS important for Home Care Agencies to have EVERY EDGE when they are marketing themselves. There is no reason why your agency can’t become an expert in filing Long-Term Care Insurance claims….read on!


Quality Nursing Care is Key to Patient’s Recovery

October 11th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

Guest post by Melanie Bowen

When a person has been diagnosed with cancer, the news is quite devastating and usually unexpected. Daunting thoughts or a feeling of loneliness may easily present itself in the lives of these patients. This is especially true for individuals who live alone or for those who lack an understanding of the disease and are unaware of the various treatment procedures that are available to them.

A knowledgeable, licensed nurse who specializes in oncology can be of great assistance to a patient who suffers from cancer. This particular nurse will have the skills, knowledge, and compassion necessary to lead the patient in the direction towards obtaining good health. Having the assistance of a nurse during trying times can be extremely beneficial.

Nurses in the field of oncology can prove to be valuable to cancer patients, as these nurses provide answers to questions, clarify misunderstood answers, and explain treatment procedures. With the expertise of these nurses, they can guide patients in the direction of choosing a treatment plan that is best for them. Additionally, since these nurses are assigned to specific cases, they may likely have the time to lend a listening ear to their patients, as many of them will need someone to talk with.

Cancer patients can also benefit from oncology nurses because these nurses can help patients navigate through the complex maze of cancer tests and various forms of treatment. This navigation process provides patients with a list of treatment procedures available in addition to a thorough understanding of how these treatment procedures works. According to a 2012 study by the National Cancer Institute, a nurse navigation program involves oncology nurses who assist cancer patients through their treatment procedures. Nurse Navigators work with their patients from the diagnosis stage to the stage of being a survivor.
The relationship between a nurse and a patient during cancer treatment leads to reduce depression caused by cognitive and behavioral stress. This results in an increased number of cancer patients who have a positive outlook on life. These positive results are due to the daily activities, exercises, and emotional support that these nurses provide. With this needed assistance, many patients gain a new respect for life while shifting priorities and learning how to live life to the fullest.

The quality care that nurses provide leaves a significant impact on the lives of their patients concerning overall health and well-being. In addition to routine and follow-up care, these oncology nurses or navigators provide key intervention measures, which lead to the achievement and maintenance of good health.

These intervention measures may consist of providing follow up care, attending treatment programs, or lending a listening ear. Additional intervention measures may include provisions for daily activities or exercise regimens to keep patients healthy and active. Quality, nursing care can leave a positive impact on the lives of those who suffer from traumatic medical conditions. Whether the condition is a mesothelioma diagnosis, breast cancer treatment, or any other life threatening condition, or perhaps someone living in an assistant living home; quality, nursing care is key to a patient’s recovery both physically and mentally.

AgeTech California Releases 2012 Telehealth White Paper

June 15th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

The AgeTech California 2012 Telehealth White Paper seeks to promote the benefits of telehealth, such as cost savings and improved patient satisfaction, and the adoption of telehealth by payers, such as Medicare, Medi-Cal, and private insurance.

In addition to discussing an update on telehealth legislation and activities in California, the white paper also details telehealth advancements in other states including Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota and Colorado. As a useful tool which will be distributed to legislators, the paper concludes with policy recommendations to encourage California’s leadership in connected independence.

Read the paper

New Technology: Helping Older Adults Matter

June 13th, 2012 by Doris Bersing

by By Matt Perry, California Health Report
A new electronic wave – loosely termed eCare – is speeding electronic adoption by older adults with a robust set of features that integrate social interaction with health and safety monitoring. The adoption of Gero-technology helps lower the cost of care while monitoring health as needed and helping elders to socialize and interact. Baby boomers are not ready to leave their homes and anything that can help them to age in place will be welcome…wirelessly!
Read the article