Alan Alda on Parkinson’s Disease

Actor Alan Alda, best known for the tv program M*A*S*H was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 3 years ago. But that hasn’t kept him down or flooded him with fear. According to Alda, who speaks openly about his condition;

alan alda

(image courtesy of CNN and CBS This Morning)

“I’ve had a full life since then,” he said. “I’ve acted, I’ve given talks, I help at the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook, I started this new podcast.”

In a video featured on “CBS This Morning”, Alda communicates that you don’t need to be immobilized by fear when you first receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis;  “You still have things you can do.”

These are important words for many people who may fear the condition; a progressive disorder known for nerve cell damage in the brain.

Further information can be found on the Parkinson’s Foundation site which offers information and resources on the disease.

Need help with Parkinson’s Disease? Broad Street can help. We provide Personal Assistants who are specially trained in the condition and who can help manage medication, doctor visits and overall health care and awareness. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources like advocates to attend appointments with you and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago. For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

Club Sandwiched Podcast with Broad Street

Thank you to Club Sandwiched for this great podcast!

As podcast host Andrea Weber relates; “Remember when I said that taking away your parent’s driver’s license was a big one? How about cleaning out their house? That’s a big one. Well, this episode just might win the award for one of the bigger moments in the Sandwich Generation – hiring a caregiver for your parent. In this episode, I have the pleasure of talking with Sam Cross, founder and owner of Broad Street Home Care.”

For more information on Club Sandwiched, a great resource for anyone who is taking care of kids and parents, visit www.clubsandwiched.com.

Looking for home care for your aging parents? Broad Street can help. We provide Personal Assistants who can help manage medication, doctor visits and overall health care and awareness. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources like advocates to attend appointments with you and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago. For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

 

Flu Season Vaccine

Flu season is nearly upon us. The U.S. Center for Disease Control states that the influenza activity starts to increase around October. Furthermore, according to the CDC, “it has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. Vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at high risk for complications from flu. Flu vaccines are often updated each season to keep up with changing viruses and also immunity wanes over a year so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against influenza. As long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even in January or later.

The most recent flu vaccine is available at many commercial pharmacy chains (local chains include Walgreens and CVS), clinics and primary physicians.

Speak to your primary care physician or any other medical professional if you believe there is a possibility of complications with the flu vaccine.

Best to get the vaccine before the possibility of the flu itself, but if you think you have the flu, check for fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. 

For more information please visit the CDC website for full information regarding the various types of vaccines available and other important facts.

Broad Street can help. We provide Personal Assistants who can help manage medication, doctor visits and overall health care and awareness. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources like advocates to attend appointments with you and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago. For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

What is Concierge Medicine?

Within the last decade many primary care physicians, frustrated with the limits imposed by insurance companies, started to sail their own ships by becoming concierge doctors. Now that health insurance is up for grabs under the new administration, concierge medicine is a nice option for people who want a solid relationship with their doctor and the security of knowing someone understands them on a more personal level.

Concierge medicine (also known as retainer medicine) is a relationship between a patient and a primary care physician in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. This may or may not be in addition to other charges. In exchange for the retainer, doctors provide enhanced care, including principally a commitment to limit patient loads to ensure adequate time and availability for each patient.

Concierge physicians care for fewer patients than those in a conventional practice and are generally more accessible via telephone or email at any time of day or night or offer some other service above and beyond the customary care. The annual fees vary widely, ranging, on average, from US$195 to US$5,000 per year for an individual with incremental savings when additional family members are added. The higher priced plans generally include most “covered” services where the client is not charged additional fees for most services (labs, xrays, etc.). Some of the other benefits of concierge healthcare are: in-home visits, worldwide access to doctors and expedited emergency room care.

Concierge medicine can come in a variety of fee-based models including one where the patient pays a monthly, quarterly, or annual retainer fee to the physician. The retainer fee covers most services provided by the physician in his/her office. Often, vaccinations, lab work, x-rays and other services are excluded and charged for separately on a cash basis or where additional services are charged to Medicare or the patient’s insurance plan. Some of the benefits and services typically included in these two retainer models are: same day access to your doctor; immediate cell phone and text messaging to your doctor; unlimited office visits with no co-pay; little or no waiting time in the office; focus on preventive care; unhurried atmosphere; cell phone, text message, and online consultations; prescription refills; and convenient appointment scheduling.

Of course there are always differences between practices and there are always pros and cons to working with a smaller group “out-of-network”. Understand your needs and do your research to determine if concierge medicine is an option for you or family member.

Broad Street can help. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources and doctors (including locally vetted concierge doctors) to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago.

For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

Broad Street in Make It Better Magazine: Assisted Living or Home Care?

Assisted Living or Home Care? How to Help an Elderly Loved One Make the Right Choice
by Susan Pasternak – Make It Better Magazine, July 11, 2017

For Jeff Pryor, keeping his 93-year-old mother, Adele Pryor, in her own home after his father passed was a priority.

“It’s a very personal decision,” Pryor says. “My example was my father, who took care of my mother for 20 years after she had a stroke. I’ve tried to live up to that example and we have an opportunity to do that with care in her home.”

As baby boomers age and require more help with daily life, many will face the choice between staying in their homes with some sort of support, or moving to an assisted living facility. Making that decision is deeply personal, and should take into account personality, location of family, and finances.

When the last of the baby boomers reaches age 65 in 2029, that generation will represent more than 20 percent of the total U.S. population. Add to that the fact that 70 percent of Americans require some kind of long-term care after they turn 65 and this country will see a huge spike in demand for senior living facilities and services in the coming decades, according to a Genworth Financial study.

While there’s a range of living and support situations for aging seniors, many people initially consider the benefits and challenges of in-home assistance versus moving to an independent or assisted living facility, depending on how much care is needed. The benefits of staying in one’s own home are obvious; a move can cause emotional upheaval for those used to a lifetime of independence and the comforts of home. And experts point out that even in an assisted living facility, residents might end up requiring one-on-one care.

“We have plenty of clients who live in assisted living facilities,” says Sam Cross, administrator at Broad Street Home Care, which leverages its on-staff nurses and professional network to bring high-quality care to seniors. Broad Street nurses and other support staff members work with Pryor and his family to provide the best caregivers for his aging mother. “Really the two elements to consider are: where do you want to live and what services do you need?”

The goal of assisted living is to maximize independence for residents, while offering on-demand assistance with tasks such as meal preparation, housecleaning and laundry, the dispensing of medications, and bathing and dressing, if needed. Assisted living residences are ideal for people who are finding it a challenge to live independently, but do not require more intensive care found in a higher-level nursing facility. However, situations often arise that require higher level medical care, which is when the resident would likely need to hire supplemental help, or move to the assisted living facility’s skilled nursing section.

Assisted living facilities also offer social and emotional support, an intangible benefit for seniors who don’t want to feel isolated. These facilities often offer organized activities and outings. Meal times offer opportunities to engage with other residents, as do enrichment programs that are often scheduled throughout the week.

“Just being around people is important,” says Nancy Siegel, a care manager at Senior Living Experts, which offers personalized service to evaluate care needs, budget and geographical preference.

Ideally, a move to assisted living is initiated proactively, and not as a reaction to a change in health or the passing of a spouse, and started in good health, when the senior can make thoughtful and informed decisions.

“We urge people not to wait until there’s a crisis to start thinking about this,” says Maribeth Bersani, chief operating officer at Argentum, an advocacy organization representing for-profit senior living facilities. “Take tours and meet the residents. Go to an open house if there’s a new community opening up. There is some of that gut instinct involved. It’s a little bit like love: you’ll know it when you see it.”

An important factor to consider is price. In-home aid typically costs between $20 and $27 per hour, experts say. The cost for assisted living varies depending on many factors such as quality of the residence, the staff to resident ratio, types of meal plans, and other factors, with the national median falling around $3,000 per month, according to various studies. In a growing number of states, some assisted-living services are covered under Medicaid, but most people pay out-of-pocket or through a long-term-care insurance policy.

Whether looking for an in-home aide or an assisted living facility, experts caution to ask the right questions and to understand that higher prices do often translate to higher quality and more services. Seniors weighing the financial implications of either hiring in-home might consider hiring an aide for just a few hours a day to help with meal preparation and light housekeeping. However, quality caregivers looking for full-time work will then look elsewhere, or try to piece together multiple jobs, which isn’t ideal for what can be physically and emotionally tiring work.

“If consistency in a caregiver is important, you have to be prepared to meet a certain threshold of hours,” Cross says.

In addition to assisted living and in-home care, proactive seniors are also exploring another option: CRCCs, or Continuing Care Retirement Communities, which provide independent living options for on-the-go seniors but also offer services providing a greater level of assistance if the need arises. For example, should a spouse fall ill or become memory-impaired, they are able to move to an assisted living or nursing care building, while the partner is able to live independently, all on the same campus.

-Susan Pasternak

 

Summer Travel Tips

Travelling this Summer? Here are a few tips to consider before heading to the airport:

  • The Transportation Security Administration offers a handy checklist that offers up tips based on what is and is not allowed through security.
  • If you have special needs, the TSA offers support for security check-in via TSA Cares. The helpline provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. Call ( (855) 787-2227) 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
  • Research the weather a few days before you leave so that you can pack accordingly.
  • Visit your doctor before you leave to make sure you’re on top of all vaccinations, medication refills and treatment instructions (take a copy with you written out by your doctor) in case you need to visit a medical provider at your destination.
  • If you’re changing time zones, medication schedules, along with changes in eating schedule may need to be considered. In addition, jet lag can be a real trial when you aren’t used to the disruption. Make sure you plan your activities with enough of a time buffer before your flight and after reaching your destination so that you don’t wear yourself out.
  • Make sure you have enough medications for the duration of the trip.
  • Long air travel can make one prone to Deep Vein Thrombosis. Drink plenty of water and take an aspirin (if it’s safe for you to do so) before your flight. Make sure you get up from your seat at regular intervals to walk a bit. If you are concerned, speak with your doctor before flying.
  • Pack spare items like prescription glasses or other necessary items, in carry-on bags and packed bags, that may end up getting lost or delayed during travel.
  • Go to the website of your destination airport to get familiar with the layout or to find out about any special announcements (construction or repairs) that are currently highlighted. In general the internet can be a great resource for specific travel information, delays and local announcements.

Travel has become more complex. If you haven’t gone on trip in a while you’ll be surprised at how the landscape has changed. Additionally, the summer months have increased traffic at the airports. You’ll feel more relaxed if you begin your trip prepared and supported.

Need extra help? Broad Street provides Travel Companions; Personal Assistants who help plan itineraries, support departure and return travel and provide active companionship during the trip for a more enjoyable and engaging experience.

We also provide Personal Assistants who can help manage overall health care and awareness in the home. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago.

For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

 

Questions to ask before you fill that prescription for an Opioid

Opioid use is currently a huge topic in America.  An estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and the amount of deaths related to opioid use account for half a million since 2000.

One of the main reasons for the problem stems from the unfortunate fact that doctors didn’t think there was a risk of addiction associated with opioids used for acute conditions. So prescriptions were handed out liberally for folks with legitimate pain. Research has now shown that the risk of addiction is high even with short term use. The medical community is wiser but it’s still important as a patient to understand the risk.

Harvard Health provides a great list of questions to ask your health provider before accepting pain meds:

Is this medication an opioid?

Drug names are difficult to remember and easily confused, so you’ll want to determine whether a painkiller is an opioid.

Is this safe to take with my other medications?

Opioids aren’t advisable if you’re taking a benzodiazepine — a class of drug used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Are there any non-opioid pain relievers I could take instead?

Some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like celecoxib (Celebrex) and diclofenac (Voltaren), which are more potent than nonprescription NSAIDs, are available by prescription. Although these medications may have more troublesome side effects than over-the-counter NSAIDs, they won’t lead to dependence or addiction.

Is this the lowest dose possible?

You don’t want to take a higher dose than you need for pain relief. It’s better to start with a small dose and ask your doctor to increase it if necessary.

May I have fewer pills?

Take the lowest dose possible for the briefest time possible. If you still have unmanageable pain once you’ve finished your prescription, you can discuss further options, including continued opioid use, with your doctor.

How should I taper off the medication?

You may need to gradually reduce the amount you take to avoid withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain and nausea.

Should I have some naloxone (Narcan) on hand?

This drug, which rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is available by prescription as a nasal spray.

Managing pain doesn’t need to have the additional concern of prescription risk attached to it. The CDC now recommends three days of use of opioids for most conditions of pain. Like many drugs of this nature the effectiveness wanes after too much use. Sticking to a short term regimen makes sense. Alternative therapies, like physical therapy, are also widely used to help relieve pain. Consider all of your options before you accept a prescription automatically.

Broad Street can help. We provide Personal Assistants who can help manage medication and overall health care and awareness. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources like advocates to attend appointments with you and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago. For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

 

 

Fall Prevention

1 in 3 Americans aged 65+ fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. However, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. Through practical lifestyle and environmental adjustments the number of falls among seniors can be reduced substantially.

Why is Falling so Dangerous?

Older adults don’t heal as quickly and efficiently as younger people. So any injury for an elder is going to be more serious than it would be for a younger adult or youth. Falls can lead to broken bones, damaged nerve-endings, concussions, dislocations and musculature problems. The most prevalent fall-related injuries among older adults are fractures of the hip; spine; upper arm; forearm; and bones of the pelvis, hand, and ankle.  A minor injury can lead to bed rest and recovery time that further weakens the individual. A major injury can lead to surgery which includes extended bed rest and risk of infection and other complications associated with surgery. That’s assuming you notice you have an injury at all. Many individuals who fall don’t notice immediate injury and fail to identify brain trauma.  Bleeding in or around the brain, swelling, and blood clots can disrupt the oxygen supply to the brain and cause wider damage later on.

With a fall, age-related challenges together with the added problem of injury and weakness during recovery time can become the starting point to longer term pain, disability, loss of independence and premature death. It’s not surprising then that many falls lead to a decline in overall health and well-being and even shortened life span.

Risk Factors

The circumstances surrounding fall risk are based on a host of factors that may work in conjunction, increasing the risk. According to the Journal of Physiotherapy, “There are a range of body structures and functions involved in maintaining the body in an upright position. To avoid falling, a sighted ambulant person needs adequate: vision to observe environmental challenges like uneven or slippery surfaces; awareness of where body parts are in space; reaction time; and muscle strength to extend the legs against gravity.”

Additionally, acute medical problems such as infection, chronic conditions such as diabetes, and progressive conditions such as Parkinson’s disease can also impact a person’s posture. Medication, specifically dose, interactions and metabolism can also add to the mix. Psychoactive medications have been particularly associated with falls.

Accounting for the physical risk factors can only take you so far; “A person’s behavior is also crucial in the consideration of risk for falling. People can choose which tasks they undertake and how they undertake them. Behavior is likely to be influenced by cognitive impairment, insight and level of support available. Some individuals with a high physiological risk of falling may be able to avoid falling by increased awareness and use of assistance when required. Individual variations in attitudes and behavior probably explain the differences between measured fall risk and actual falls experienced.”

What’s the Solution?

Fall prevention strategies are now a major component of most senior lifestyle programs. The idea is to improve the overall quality of the elder’s lifestyle, strength and health so that if a fall happens, it’s not a game changer.

Fall prevention strategies fall under 4 categories;

  • Improving the environment (home and surroundings) around the elder including;
    • Good lighting
    • Clutter removal
    • Easy access to avoid reaches
  • Exercises to help strengthen legs and balance in general
  • Medication management
  • Safety-related skills and behaviors (occupational therapy)

The strongest single predictor of future falls is a history of previous falls. An individual’s reason for falling the first time is likely to recur if measures aren’t taken to prevent falling. There are assessment tests that can be given by doctors and occupational therapists. Renovations to the home to improve safety can be tax deductible. If you think there is fall risk in your future or the future of a loved one, it’s a good idea to plan ahead, assess risk and take measures. Fall prevention, like diet and exercise, ensures longevity and is worth the effort.

Broad Street can help. We provide Personal Assistants who can help manage overall health care and awareness. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, Illinois, the North Shore area of Chicago. For more information, please call 847.728.0134.

Better Brain Activity Through Un-Focused Time

Think a stronger brain means hours of Sudoku or brain training? Nope. There’s a part of your brain, referred to as the Default Mode Network, that while at rest helps you retrieve memories, link to better creative thinking and can help you feel more connected. The good news is that the best way to tap into this part of your brain is to rest, relax and effectively “do nothing”.

According to Harvard Health here are some great ways in which to activate the “unfocus” network of your brain;

Napping: If, for example, you are dog tired in the mid-afternoon, and just need your mind to be clear, a 10-minute nap might be all you need for sharper thinking. But if you have a major creative project ahead of you, whether it is an innovative idea at work, or redecorating your house, you will need at least 90-minutes of napping time. This gives your brain enough time to shuttle around ideas to make the associations that it needs to make.

Positive constructive daydreaming (PCD): It’s hard to imagine daydreaming as a type of training, but it is. It has to be the right type of daydreaming. According to Jerome Singer, who has studied this for decades, slipping into a daydream is not of much use; neither is guiltily rehashing everything that makes you feel bad — like the expense you incurred when you bought the shoes you liked, or the one-too-many drinks that you had at a party. But there is a type of daydreaming that will make you more creative and likely re-energize your brain. Called positive constructive daydreaming (PCD), it is best done while you are engaged in a low-key activity, not when you are fading. And as opposed to slipping into a daydream, which is more like falling off a cliff, you must parachute into the recesses of your mind with a playful and wishful image — perhaps one of you lying on a yacht or floating on your back in a pool on vacation. Then comes the swivel of attention — from looking outside, to wandering inside. With this move, you engage your unfocus brain and all the riches that it can bring.

Physical exercise and free-walking: In the brain, thinking supports movement, and movement supports thinking. In fact, exercise improves your DMN function. It normalizes it in obese people (who have too much of it) and increases connectivity in young healthy people. Even a single session can make a difference. Aerobic exercise can help prevent atrophy of key regions within the DMN, and also help the connectivity between different regions too. Walking does boost creative thinking, but how you walk matters. One year of walking boosts the connections between the different parts of the DMN too. In 2012, psychology professor Angela K. Leung and her colleagues tested three groups of people. One group walked around in rectangles while completing a mental test; one group walked around freely; and the last group sat down while taking the test. The free-walking group outperformed the other two groups. Other studies have shown that free-walking results in improvements in fluency, flexibility, and originality of thinking. So if you want to boost your creativity, go on a meandering hike on a safe path less traveled. Furthermore, walking outdoors may be even more beneficial than puttering around the house (unless you’re using PCD, of course!)

So go ahead, skip all the cognitive high-jinx and take a walk, a cat nap or a day dreaming excursion. Your brain (and stress levels) will thank you.

Broad Street can help. We provide Personal Assistants who can help manage overall healthcare and awareness. Through our Professional Network we can help you find the right resources and doctors to help answer questions or identify areas of concern. We provide home care in Wilmette, the North Shore area of Chicago. For more information, please call 847.728.0134.