AuthorChris Fulton

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Getting Started- Living Healthy

Living healthy is a way of life, not a “quick fix” that can be bought at a local supplement store. There are many advertisements that lead you to believe their product will help you take-off weight and keep it off. If it were that easy wouldn’t we all be at our desired weight? When thinking of diets, individuals usually have an end goal in mind, such as hitting a goal weight; but when this goal is reached the diet usually ends. After the diet is over, we tend to return to eating the same way we did before and the weight gets put back on. This is one of the differences between being on a diet and healthy living. When an individual is focused on living healthy it is not all about weight loss, it is about maintaining a healthy lifestyle; weight loss is a product of changing your diet and increasing exercise.

The moto that I have adopted towards my diet is, “moderation, variety, and balance.” Cutting out the foods that we love, makes them even more desirable. So, instead of cutting them out, eat them in moderation. We get the same great food, just not as much of it. Variety is also important when planning your diet. Getting a variety of different fruits and vegetables ensures that the body has the vitamins and minerals that it needs to perform at its highest level. Last but not least, is balancing your plate with all of the food groups; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy. MyPlate.gov is a great resource to identify different alternatives for each food group and to identify serving sizes. Eating healthy and exercise go hand in hand when talking about living a healthy lifestyle.

Exercise seems like a big leap if it is not already part of our routine. When starting out, doing anything is better than doing nothing. Taking a short walk or taking the stairs instead of the elevator are two great options to get started out. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, for adults. This is just a little over 20 minutes a day, seven days a week. They also recommend strength training activities on two of those days for optimal benefits. While this is ideal, it may not be everyone’s starting point.

Making these changes may seem intimidating, especially if there is no end in sight, but these changes can start out small. It may be as simple as watching portion sizes and taking the stairs when you can. Make it something that is easy to fit into your daily routine or eating habits. The more easily the change fits into your already hectic life, the more likely the healthy habit will be continued. Remember it is not all about weight; it is about being healthy and maintaining that lifestyle.

 

This week’s blog is from Ashley Duffie.  Ashley is the Nutrition/Wellness and Transportation  Specialist at AgeSmart Community Resources.

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BEWARE: JOINT ACCOUNTS WITH YOUR CHILDREN CAN BE TRICKY!

Good estate planning should account for every possibility both prior to death and as a result of death. For example, what happens if the father dies first and mom is in a coma; what happens if both parents die at the same time, and then the minor children die; or just one parent plus the kids die or one child dies before the parent? There are all sorts of terrible tragedies and bad estate planning will compound any tragedy for a family.

There are advantages to having your children as joint owners of investment and bank accounts, as well as, real estate deeds. One advantage is on the death of one of the joint owners, the account or property automatically passes to the other joint owner thus avoiding probate and delay in access to the accounts. Additionally, in the event the parent becomes ill, suffers from dementia or incapacity, the child as joint owner would be able to pay bills and manage investments. Often the addition of children to bank accounts and real estate is for convenience, however the exposure to liability has greatly increased, with the addition of their name to the account.

There are several disadvantages to joint ownership in financial accounts and real estate property. First, the money in a joint account is now owned equally by the parent and child which means the child can draw out the entire balance of the account at any time for any reason. As much as parents trust children, circumstances in life may arise where the child uses the money in an unintended way, thereby putting their parent at risk.

Another disadvantage, includes creditors of all joint owners have access to these funds held in these accounts, as well as, the ability to place liens on real estate property jointly held. Therefore, putting a child’s name on a deed potentially opens your property, investment and bank accounts up to all current and future creditors of a child, including bankruptcy.

Another obstacle with joint ownership is how a parent intends to distribute the inheritance to their children after their death. If there is only one child and the parent’s desire is for the child to inherit everything, then joint accounts and joint ownership in real property would allow for easy transition of property and asset management. However, still taking into consideration the risk of your child’s creditor’s having access to these accounts and property while the parent is still alive. But if there are multiple children that a parent wants to inherit their estate equally, then you would have to put the children equally on all the accounts and property, again increasing the overall exposure to liability for the asset. The parent would need to be vigilant to ensure that each account is equal and this is next to impossible when you factor in unexpected future healthcare and long term care costs.

Therefore, planning for the unexpected, minimizing risk to seniors for their care needs and asset management and distribution is best done by utilizing a wide variety of planning tools such as durable powers of attorney, a revocable living trust, last will and testament and financial planning. Relying on joint ownership of property and assets by adding a child’s name to a deed, investment and banking accounts has limited advantages, increased risk and unexpected consequences of final distribution. Consulting with an Elder Law Attorney to assist in future planning for the unexpected is the best way to preserve your current and future assets.

AgeSmart would like to Thank Anita Ewing for this weeks blog.  Anita Ewing is an attorney with Harter, Larson & Dodd LLC whose offices are in Belleville and Mascoutah. The firm has an emphasis on intergenerational estate planning for people of all ages, and for the concerns of elders, those with special needs, and their families. This article is for information only and is not to serve as legal advice.

From the Collinsville Faith in Action Director’s Chair

Traveling for Pizza
By Lori Fry

A past episode of the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” featured two main characters traveling a good distance to purchase pizza on a whim. When my hometown pizza restaurant closed due to retirement of the owner, I believe the show’s antics gave me the start I needed to embark on my own pizza journey. I can’t say I traveled as far as the main characters, but I did make a memorable trip to Southern Illinois.

My pizza place was one of those single owner with a dream kind of places. Every small town has one or maybe two. I am sure everyone in town was related to someone who worked there, the owner, or had some other direct connection to the restaurant. My connection was the owner was a friend’s uncle and we all heard about the place daily at school. My real reason for visiting the place so regularly was much more direct. I am sorry to say my mother was a terrible cook and we had a standing order for two large pizzas every Friday night to avoid the kitchen.

As in many small towns, any member of my family could walk in and pick up the pizza with or without cash. They knew us by sight. Record keeping was informal. The owner knew someone would come in eventually and pay the bill – or bills. A bad week found me there two or three times for comfort food. I could say it was my second home, but that would be stretching the truth. It was certainly my hideout from the world.

When I heard the place was closing, I spent a good deal of time on Facebook with high school friends determining the final day and who was available to meet me for dinner. I anguished for a week to make time for the “road trip”. The thought of missing out on one last pizza was pretty daunting. I am embarrassed to say I lost a little sleep mentally moving my schedule to fit this dinner in.

In the end, I made it there for one last pepperoni, mushroom and onions. My husband, mother and brother were with me for this milestone. I took pictures to paste online for my many friends too far away to make the trip. The longtime waitress, Ruthie, remembered me vaguely and was shocked that we had driven “from St. Louis” to eat pizza. Hometown folks were coming and going with their carry outs and I saw several customers that I knew. All in all it was a good day.

I can’t help but wonder why I put so much effort into some pizza. We have pizza of some sort at many restaurants in Collinsville. The pizza wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered it. The folks I ended up eating with I see regularly. I visit my hometown and friends there fairly often – so that’s not it.

Maybe it was just the memory of something good – happy times. I wonder how often simply getting out and about can bring up memories long forgotten. I’ve said for the last year that the Elder Connection “just ate at restaurants this year”. After this trip, I can’t help but remember all the stories Elder Connection members were telling over dinner -all the happy times. I guess I shouldn’t say the Elder Connection “just ate out”. I should say they made memories in the midst of old ones. I finally get why eating out together is so important. Let’s get some pie together. I bet one of us has a story to go with it.

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Glaucoma Awareness Month

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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease.  Thanks to the Glaucoma Research Foundation for providing all of the valuable information in this blog.  You can learn more about the Glaucoma Research Foundation at www.glaucoma.org.

Currently, more than 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.

Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

Over 2.7 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

Help Raise Awareness

In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness. Here are three ways you can help raise awareness:

  1. Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret. Let your family members know.
  2. Refer a friend to our web site, www.glaucoma.org.
  3. Request to have a free educational booklet sent to you or a friend.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages.

Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called normal tension glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Regular Eye Exams are Important

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.

The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. And among Hispanics in older age groups, the risk of glaucoma is nearly as high as that for African-Americans. Also, siblings of persons diagnosed with glaucoma have a significantly increased risk of having glaucoma.

Risk Factors

Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

Learn more about Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, today’s blog has important information about HPV and Cervical Cancer prevention from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition ( a program of the American Sexual Health Association).

What is HPV?

HPV is human papillomavirus. HPV is a common virus–more than half of sexually active men and women are infected with HPV at some time. At any time there are approximately 79 million people in the U.S. with HPV.

Some types of HPV may cause symptoms like genital warts. Other types cause cervical lesions which, over a period of time, can develop into cancer if undetected. However, most people have no symptoms of HPV infection, which means they have no idea they have HPV. In most cases, HPV is harmless and the body clears most HPV infections naturally.

HPV and Cervical Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 12,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed cervical cancer this year and about 4,000 of these women will die. Most women with an HPV infection will not develop cervical cancer, but it’s very important to have regular screening tests, including Pap and HPV tests as recommended.

Cervical cancer is preventable if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early, before cervical cancer develops. Cervical cancer usually takes years to progress. This is why getting screened on a regular basis is important; screening can usually catch any potential problems before they progress.

What is the difference between PAP and HPV tests?

A Pap test is a test to find abnormal cell changes on the cervix (cervical dysplasia) before they have a chance to turn into cancer. A small brush or cotton tipped applicator will be used to take a sample of cervical cells. These cells are examined for abnormal cell changes. Experts recommend that Pap tests begin no earlier than age 21.

Unlike Pap tests, which look for abnormal cervical cell changes, an HPV test can detect “high-risk” types of HPV. “High risk” types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer and this test helps healthcare providers know which women are at greatest risk. Experts recommend using both the HPV test and Pap test with women ages 30-65. (HPV tests can also be used with younger women who have unclear Pap test results.) For women with normal Pap/HPV test results, co-testing should be repeated once every five years.

HPV Vaccines

Two HPV vaccines are currently on the market and both are approved for use with girls and young women.  One vaccine is also approved for use with boys and young men.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccination for males and females ages 11-12, with “catch up” vaccination for those ages 13-26.

Taking charge of your health

A majority of women diagnosed with cervical cancer either have never had a Pap test or did not have one in the previous five years. Cervical cancer is completely preventable if precancerous cell changes are detected and treated early, before cervical cancer develops. Regular Pap tests, supplemented by HPV testing, will detect virtually all precancerous changes and cervical cancers.

Learn more about HPV and Cervical Cancer 

www.nccc-online.org

www.asexualhealth.org

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Assistive Technology

Assistive technology refers to any item, piece of equipment or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. These items can be those purchased commercially, modified or customized for the individual.

According to the Centers for Disease Control it is estimated that:
• One in five Americans has a disability of some kind, this is approximately 53 million people.
• 33 million Americans have a disability that makes it difficult for them to carry out their activities of daily living; some have challenges with everyday activities, such as attending school or going to work, and may need help with their daily care.
• 2.2 million people in the United States depend on a wheelchair for day-to-day tasks and mobility.
• 6.5 million people use a cane, a walker, or crutches to assist with their mobility.

Some disabilities are quite visible, and many others are “hidden.” Most disabilities can be grouped into four major categories 1:
• Cognitive disability: intellectual and learning disabilities/disorder, distractibility, reading disorders, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information
• Hearing disability: hearing loss or impaired hearing
• Physical disability: paralysis, difficulties with walking or other movement, inability to use a computer mouse, slow response time, limited fine or gross motor control
• Visual disability: blindness, low vision, color blindness

Mental illness, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, and psychosis, for example, is also a disability.

Hidden disabilities can include some people with visual impairments and those with dexterity difficulties, such as repetitive strain injury. People who are hard of hearing or have mental health difficulties also may be included in this category.1

Some people have disabling medical conditions that may be regarded as hidden disabilities—for example, epilepsy; diabetes; sickle cell conditions; HIV/AIDS; cystic fibrosis; cancer; and heart, liver or kidney problems. The conditions may be short term or long term, stable or progressive, constant or unpredictable and fluctuating, controlled by medication or another treatment, or untreatable. Many people with hidden disabilities can benefit from assistive technologies for certain activities or during certain stages of their diseases or conditions.1

People who have spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, osteogenesis imperfecta, multiple sclerosis, demyelinating diseases, myelopathy, progressive muscular atrophy, amputations, or paralysis often benefit from complex rehabilitative technology. This means that the assistive devices these people use are individually configured to help each person with his or her own unique disability.2

For more information about conditions that can often be helped with assistive technology:
• MedLine Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine, provides information about assistive devices for various conditions.
• The Paralysis Resource Center provided by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation explains some of the different paralytic conditions that can benefit from assistive technology.
• The public television station WETA offers information on the use of assistive technologies for children with learning disabilities.

The following are types of assistive devices that individuals can utilize:
• Mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, crutches, prosthetic devices, and orthotic devices, are used to enhance mobility. Lightweight, high-performance wheelchairs have been designed for organized sports, such as basketball, tennis, and racing.
• Hearing aids
• Cognitive assistance, including computer or electrical assistive devices, can help people function following brain injury.
• Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement applications, help people with mobility and sensory impairments use computer technology.
• In the classroom and elsewhere, assistive devices, such as automatic page-turners, book holders, and adapted pencil grips, allow learners with disabilities to participate in educational activities.
• Closed captioning allows people with hearing impairments to enjoy movies and television programs.
• Barriers in community buildings, businesses, and workplaces can be removed or modified to improve accessibility. Such modifications include ramps, automatic door openers; grab bars, and wider doorways.
• Adaptive switches make it possible for a child with limited motor skills to play with toys and games.
• Many types of devices help people with disabilities perform such tasks as cooking, dressing, and grooming. Kitchen implements are available with large, cushioned grips to help people with weakness or arthritis in their hands. Medication dispensers with alarms can help people remember to take their medicine on time. People who use wheelchairs for mobility can use extendable reaching devices to reach items on shelves.

Resources and more information can be found at :
• Local Center for Independent Living:
o For the Illinois Counties of St. Clair, Monroe and Randolph: LINC, Inc., 15 Emerald Terrace, Swansea, IL 618-235-9988, TTY 618-235-0451, Video Phone 618-310-0054.
o For the Illinois Counties of Bond, Madison, Jersey, Macoupin, Greene and Calhoun: IMPACT CIL, 2735 E. Broadway, Alton, IL. 618-462-1411, TTY 618-474-5333
o For the Illinois Counties of Clay, Clinton, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Hamilton, Jasper, Jefferson, Marion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne and White: Opportunities for Access, 4206 Williamson Place Suite 3, Mt. Vernon, Illinois. 618-244-9212, TTY 618-244-9575, V/TTY 800-938-7400.
The following sites provided information for this blog:
National Institute of Child Health and Development http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/pages/need.aspx

Illinois Assistive Technology Program- http://www.iltech.org/

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1. CANnect. (2012). Assistive technologies and what they do. Retrieved August 12, 2012, from http://projectone.cannect.org/online-education/assistive-technologies.php
2. National Center for Assistive and Rehab Technology. (2009). What is complex rehab technology? Retrieved August 11, 2012, from http://www.ncart.us/advocacy/what-is-complex-rehab-technology

Home for the Holidays

It is said that love is the greatest gift of all. As many families gather together during the holiday season, it may provide a good opportunity to express how much care through frank and open discussion with older relatives about their wellbeing. If you are not living in the same town as your older relatives it is easy for you to see changes in health status. This is a good time to begin the discussions. As we age and live longer, financial, legal, health care and long term care issues affect the whole family not just the older person. AgeSmart links older consumers and their families to aging series. Below are some ways that you might be able to initiate conversations.
•Find out what financial benefits are provided by your parents Social Security and pension. Determine if they are eligible for other financial programs.
• Be certain that each family member has a living will. Know where you parents’ insurance policies, wills, trust documents, tax returns, investment and banking records are located. “Thirty percent of adults do not know where their parents keep important papers such as their health insurance care, financial statements or will.” – Family Circle and Kaiser Foundation
• Understand that Medicare generally does not cover long term care (e.g. nursing home or extended home care), and Medicaid pay for only low-income individuals.
• Investigate what type of long term care insurance coverage may be best for you.
• Identify what community services are available that can help your parents maintain independence in the home for as long as possible, such as home modification programs that can install assistive devices. Learn whether housing options are available to meet their changing needs.

 

Families may avoid potential problems and be in good position to deal with later life needs by understanding and being prepared to face the following issues: Financial Organization, Legal Preparation, Health Insurance and Community Services. These conversations may seem difficult but be brave and start them. It will make everything easier should you have to find out this information during a crisis.

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Healthy Eating for Thanksgiving

It is the holiday season once again; which means loads of tasty food. Thanksgiving only comes around once a year and often we over indulge. So, what is the harm in splurging, right? According to WebMD the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season. While this seems like a minimal amount, without increased exercise it does not get taken off throughout the year. With a small amount of planning, the guilt and worry of over indulging can be significantly minimized; and without cutting out the foods that we love.

Some foods only come around during the Thanksgiving season such as pumpkin pie or green bean casserole, and it is hard to resist taking more then we need. While taking large portions is easy to do, sticking to smaller portion sizes can allow us to enjoy all of the delicious specialties, and not feel stuffed after we are done. It is reasonable to enjoy a variety of different choices, just be mindful of how much you need to feel satiated. This is a simple step, but is hard and takes a lot of self-awareness to know when you are full.

Along with smaller portions, eating slowly can also influence the amount of food that we eat. Eating slowly gives the body a chance to respond to what we have just put in it, allowing the “full” feeling when the body has had enough to eat. When an individual eats too fast this “full” feeling can be overlooked. Another way to reduce over eating is leaving the dinner table after everyone has finished. By visiting with food on the table it encourages more eating. Instead initiate the clean-up; this will take stress off of the host and allow for everyone to have more time together.

Thanksgiving has good food and it is hard to stop with just one small helping. Using low-fat and no sugar options are a great way to cut out calories without taking away from the amount eaten. Not everyone will use these options, but by bringing one of your own it can take a large chunk out of caloric intake at the Thanksgiving meal. While many may think that saving up our calories for the big meal is advantages, experts say that eating a well-rounded breakfast in the morning can help give you more control over your appetite. This could be something as simple as an egg, whole wheat toast, fruit, and a glass of milk. Putting something in your stomach will stop you from being starving when you arrive at the gathering.

Healthy eating during the holidays does not mean you have to watch everything you eat. Being mindful of your portions, eating slowly, choosing low-fat and no sugar substitutes, and eating a well-rounded breakfast are a few options to decrease caloric intake. Eating healthfully is not always easy during the holidays, but choosing one or a few of these options can help. It is easy to over indulge, but with some planning it can be avoided. So, have a plan in place and enjoy the food, friends, and family; most of all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sometimes We All Need Reminded

In times past, a string around an index finger was the universal symbol of a reminder. Today, I have reminders virtually everywhere. I believe every electronic device I own will remind me of the things I need to do. My e-mail, phone, and iPod – all have calendars with alarms to tell me what to do. The running joke for those of us who use the e-mail calendar “Outlook” is the reminders come so frequently that most of us don’t even bother to read them. I just click it off with only a glance. As I write this, my Outlook calendar says I have “17 Reminders”. Hopefully, most of it got done because it will be several minutes until I take the time to sort through them.

In addition to these reminders, I have many people in my life who remind of the things I should be doing. It’s a given that my pastor reminds me every week what a Christian life should contain. My early twenties daughter reminds me I should be dressing, behaving, and generally paying attention to modern culture. Friends at the gym remind me to work and not talk. Coworkers remind me to work and not talk. My boss reminds me to work and not …well you get the idea.

Sometimes in today’s world, I really wonder if I ever have to think for myself and remember anything. It is so easy to get into routines and follow the lists of to do tasks and reminders – to not think for myself and just do what I am “supposed to do”. When I get the time, I actually think about the things I want to do and my thoughts are where I want them, I realize that I should spend my time very differently than my reminders show. I should be doing less administration and spending much more time with the people we serve. I should be doing more for the others around me and worrying much less about whatever silly daily task I have let bog my day down. Sometime along the way, I really should look at the good we do for the folks who need us. Productivity isn’t the paperwork I produced, but the lives we changed.

My next reminder on my Outlook calendar should say “make someone smile” or “check in on someone who is alone.” The beauty of working at Faith in Action is that if I just work hard and fast enough I can do just that and still keep up with the reminders that never stop. I think I will create a reminder for each day of the week that will improve the lives of those around me. Maybe if I write enough reminders I can make a difference to those who use CFIA. It’s worth a shot. Now if someone will just remind me to do it.

Thanks to Lori Fry at Collinsville Faith in Action for this week’s blog.

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Three Things You Thought You Knew About Hospice

Join Hospice of Southern Illinois in their celebration in November of National Hospice Month. During National Hospice Month, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) and Hospice Organizations across the United States encourage others to emphasize the importance of quality end-of-life care for all Americans, regardless of age, diagnoses or location of care. It is during this month, we take a stand to speak out to help bring awareness to the communities we serve!
Hospice is often and unfortunately misrepresented to the general public. Often seen as the people who “come at the very end” or when someone is “giving up”, hospice is very much the opposite.
1. Did you know hospice services can be utilized for up to 6 months?
According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s NHPCO’s Facts and Figures on Hospice, “The median length of service in 2012 was 18.7 days. This means that half of hospice patients received care for less than three weeks. The average length of service increased from 69.1 days in 2011 to 71.8 in 2012.” These statistics tell us that a large percentage of patients are not receiving the full benefits of hospice care. Although we are seeing a slight increase in the average length of service, why don’t we see more people utilizing the hospice benefit longer? Some could be attributed to disease criteria, acceptance, or access to care. If patients, however, had 6 months to fully reflect and experience their end-of-life journey, maybe more people would have the opportunity to die their way: with dignity and grace.
2. Choosing quality of life does not mean giving up.
When people elect their hospice benefit, it definitely doesn’t mean they are “giving up”. It can be hard for family to see that. Their mind says, “Treatment means fighting for life”. Consider weighing the pain, suffering, and symptoms that may be associated with treatment. Choosing to forego curative treatments could alleviate certain stressors, symptoms and expenses. This is different than giving up. This is simply choosing quality of life, which take tremendous courage. Celebrate that decision and celebrate the time there is left with loved ones, while feeling as good as possible.
3. Dying can be peaceful and graceful.
Death is very sad to accept and discuss. It is, however, unavoidable that we will all die. It is difficult to accept and reflect on this time and plan for a peaceful and graceful journey. Further, it is definitely not easy to understand how dying can be peaceful and graceful, but it is possible. Hospice of Southern Illinois can make it easier to understand, especially the longer the service is utilized. Nurses and hospice aides can address the physical/medical needs of patients; the counseling team can address emotional and spiritual wishes of the patient and family; and volunteers can provide companionship and relief of caregiving to let the family focus on being a family during the important time that is left. All members of the team are instrumental in assisting the patient and their family to honor the goals of care until the end of their journey. When the goals of care are honored, dying then becomes more peaceful and graceful.
Learn about Hospice of Southern Illinois, getting hospice services, and having your questions answered. Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 800-233-1708 or visit our website for more information, www.hospice.org.
Source: http://www.nhpco.org/sites/default/files/public/Statistics_Research/2013_Facts_Figures.pdf

Hospice of Southern Illinois
Your Community-Not-For-Profit Hospice
618-235-1703
www.hospice.org

 

Tanks to our friends at Hospice of Southern Illinois for providing this blog.