Monday, June 15, 2020

What's up with Hospice During Covid-19 and into the Future?

Washington State Health Advocacy Association has been presenting Zoom programs on various topics.
Last Monday, June 8, the question was "What is happening in the health system with COVID-19, and what can we expect ahead?"

The presenters were doctors and medical directors with Providence Hospice and Swedish Health Systems, They included Stacey Jones, Bruce Smith, and Dale Reisner.

The good news around COVID-19 is that only two countries in the world--India and Brazl--are currently seeing increasing numbers of new cases. The United States has at the most recent count, 23,000 new 
cases, compared to Brazil's 29,000 new cases. Our numbers are down.

What has changed during the COVID-19 period in terms of patient care? Many of the most ill are under the Hospice program, which is part of Palliative Care. Both programs work to manage symptoms, not to extend life. 

Hospice is for patients whose doctors have signed off that there is a good likelihood that they will not live past six months. Palliative Care has no such limitation. Dr. Smith says, though, that they have a patient who has been on Hospice off and on for five years. 

Hospice is a program, not a place, although there are a few stand-alone Hospice Centers. Hospice can be done in a nursing home, an assisted living community, an adult family home or a private home. The program includes a nurse, a social worker, a chaplain, and home health aids. There is also bereavement support.

These days, the professionals do more of their work on the phone than in the past.  But the face to face visits,with the professional wearing protective gear, are still happening on a more limited basis.. For many, the new protocol works well, especially for those whose loved ones live far away and can't fly to Seattle.

The hospice professionals told of a 90-something woman with dementia who received the surprise of her life. Her sister and daughter couldn't come to visit her. Her social worker asked her daughter,"Is there anything your mother would wish for, if it were possible?"  The daughter didn't take much time to think about it. "She has always wanted to visit the Sistine Chapel. She is a very religious person." Through the magic of a Zoom virtual tour, this woman was able to see exactly what she had pinned her hopes on, and her daughter was able to enjoy the tour at the same time.

For the future, it's likely that some of the new changes may continue. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Is Your Parent Giving Up Driving? Here are some options

Giving up driving is so hard to do.  Our parents likely have two objections:

I'll be stuck at home and wither away.
I'll go broke paying for alternative transportation.

First, the money issue. Jeannine White, RN, MSN, suggested creating a transportation fund using proceeds from the sale of the car plus savings in the future on automobile insurance, gas, maintenance, etc. From that fund, schedule rides from paid and free sources.

Uber are Lyft and great sources for a ride to the hairdresser, to the airport, etc. Private drivers are also available--check with your local senior center. If your parent is healthy, public transit may work for some rides. And if your parent isn't physically or cognitively able to drive, they may be eligible for the paratransit program, assuming their physician completes the paperwork.

One of my colleagues at Silver Age, Susan Watters, has another transportation idea. She is well versed in her other role as an Occupational Therapist in finding good alternative ideas for seniors. She also happens to do driving assessments.

Her suggestion?  Consider a move to a retirement community. Transportation is provided to medical appointments and shopping, and there are outings and social activities right at the senior's fingertips.
There are also chef-prepared meals, housekeeping and maintenancee.

Silver Age can help you find one. There is life after driving.
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