Posts tagged with "elderly"

Lindsay via David Purdy by 360 Magazine

The Benefits of Medication-at-Home

Taking medication is not without risks, especially for the elderly. Drug interactions can have unexpected and unintended effects. Side effects can lead to complications. Directions can be misunderstood. The recommended dosage can require adjustments. The list goes on and on.

Traditionally, doctors and other medical professionals had close interaction with the elderly patients whom they treated in assisted living or rehabilitation facilities. They were readily available for fielding questions and could quickly address issues related to prescription medications.

Today, however, medical models are changing. Many elderly patients are turning to the “aging in place” concept of medical care. This model empowers those with chronic medical conditions to receive appropriate care in their homes rather than at an assisted living or rehabilitation facility. 

The aging-in-place model offers a host of benefits, including better affordability and the ability for patients to stay more connected to their social circles. However, it also creates a distance between patients and their doctors that is much greater than they experience in care facilities. Because of this distance, patients have less available guidance from doctors when it comes to managing their medication.

Supporting aging-in-place with medication-at-home

To fill the gap created by the aging-in-place model, the world of healthcare is turning to an innovative method of medication management that is referred to as “medication-at-home.” This new model for patient care looks to pharmacists to provide an enhanced level of care for their patients. It looks to the clinical expertise that pharmacists bring to the care continuum as a key resource for patients who are looking to use medication safely and effectively while aging-in-place.

Appreciating the important role that pharmacists play in this new health landscape requires understanding how often pharmaceuticals are prescribed to the elderly. In 2010, studies showed that 87 percent of US adults 65 years-of-age or older used at least one prescription medication. By 2019, that number had grown to 89 percent. Elderly patients who do not use prescription drugs have come to be the rare exception. 

It should also be noted that aging in place may soon be a necessity rather than an option. The aging population in the US is leading to what some are calling an assisted living crisis. Those in the 65 and older category comprise approximately 46 million Americans today. By 2050, that demographic is expected to nearly double. As the number in need of care continues to increase, finding space in assisted living facilities may prove to be an overwhelming challenge, leaving home care as the only available option.

Providing expert medication oversight

For those experiencing aging-in-place, the medication oversight that the medication-at-home model provides is essential. Polypharmacy, which is the term used to describe the use of multiple medications, is a reality for most elderly receiving medical care. Figures on polypharmacy show that among those 65 or older, an estimated 44 percent of men and 57 percent of women take five or more medications.

Pharmacists have the expertise that is necessary to provide medication reconciliation for those who are taking multiple prescription medications. This process involves pharmacists reviewing the entire listing of medications that a patient is taking to determine overlaps or possible adverse reactions that may result from combinations of drugs.

In an assisted living setting, doctors would have access to the full slate of medications that patients were using. With aging-in-place, patients may receive prescriptions from a variety of doctors, including their primary care physician and other specialists. Pharmacists may be the only ones who have the complete picture of the medications that aging-in-place patients are taking.

Pharmacists are also uniquely positioned to provide essential guidance to patients as they begin with new medications, such as those that might be prescribed after a hospital visit. Studies show that 20 percent of hospital readmissions are medication-related. Among those, 70 percent were considered preventable. When pharmacists step in to assess how new medications might interact with what a patient is already taking, as well as to provide clarity on the proper procedure for taking new medications, unnecessary hospitalizations can be avoided.

Medication reconciliation is an ongoing part of the medication-at-home process. It begins during the onboarding process and is assessed on an ongoing basis. Rather than simply filling and billing prescriptions without oversight, medication-at-home elevates the process to the level of clinical pharmacy care. As a result, aging-in-place patients receive the same attention to detail that they would receive from caregivers at an assisted living or rehabilitation facility.

Supporting healthy adherence

To experience the full benefits of their prescriptions, patients must adhere to the prescription guidelines. If they fail to take the right dose at the right time under the right conditions, the medical benefits of the medication can fail to be realized. Lack of adherence is thought to be one of the biggest risks for patients who are taking medications in an aging-in-place setting.

The medication-at-home model can provide significant adherence support to patients. One solution it provides is medications that are synchronized to one fill day and cycled into a continual fill date. This takes the confusion that can result from refills off of patients and the caregivers who support them. By packaging medications in date and time stamped pouches, patients have a much easier time of adhering to their medication schedules.

In addition, the medication-at-home process also facilitates the same type of multi-dose medication packaging that is made available at onsite care facilities. This method, which is proven to increase success rates with medication adherence, places all of the medications that must be taken at the same time in the same packaging, removing the need for patients to institute their own organization methods.

To further support the medication process, pharmacists can coordinate delivery services that ensure patients have what they need when they need it. Throughout the entire process, the medication-at-home team stays in contact with the patient to provide coaching, counseling, and whatever other reassurances are needed.

Reducing healthcare costs

Finally, medication-at-home facilitates a solution that makes effective healthcare much more affordable for elderly patients. By 2028, out-of-pocket costs for facility care are expected to total more than $266 billion. Aging-in-place dramatically reduces those costs. By leaning on the historically underutilized expertise that pharmacists bring to the healthcare puzzle, medication-at-home makes aging-in-place and the benefits it brings to patients a viable healthcare solution.

Lindsay Dymowski is President of Centennial Pharmacy Services, a leading medication-at-home pharmacy, and co-founder and principal of The Centennial Group, a pharmacy management company supporting community pharmacies and health systems. Combining her over 15 years of pharmacy experience with her entrepreneurial spirit, Lindsay knows exactly what drives successful pharmacies, launches collaborative provider programs, and gets the attention of payers – and it’s not dispensing medications. It’s how well you can support an organization’s goals to better health outcomes with patient-centric pharmacy care.

Four Tips to Keep Elderly Adults in Good Health

Contrary to what some people may think, becoming elderly isn’t always about gray hair and having to deal with medical conditions. In truth, many elderly people are just as healthy as they were during their younger years. Granted, being that healthy and staying that way does require diligence and proper medical care. Here are four tips for elderly people to keep themselves healthy and active.

Remain Active

Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they should stop moving. In fact, physical activity is one of the best ways for older people to stay in good shape. This is because regular exercise, whether it’s a power walk or a light jog, can give your immune system the boost it needs to ward off any unwanted illnesses. It also can decrease the risk of inflammation, which is a common medical problem among elders. Here’s a quick list of low-intensity exercises you can do:

  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Small weight training

If you’re someone who’s not too excited on going out of the house, you can easily do your exercise routine from home. You can use an elliptical machine, a treadmill and even a pulley for your strength training. However, these can be expensive pieces of equipment, so you may have to look to alternative means of affording them.

A great way to get the money you need is to sell a life insurance policy. You can accomplish this by either giving it back to the company or getting a life settlement. A life settlement is when you give your policy to a third-party rather than the actual company. Depending on how much your policy is worth, you’ll receive a lump sum of cash, which can be up to 25 to 30 percent.

Eat Right

While engaging in physical activity every day is good, it’s not the only contributing factor when it comes to staying healthy. You need to balance it out with a nutritional diet, which includes vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Be sure that you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs to build immunity as well. In some cases, living too cleanly can rob our diets of important elements of health. For elderly people, fruits that are rich in antioxidants, like blueberries and raspberries, are ideal as they can reduce inflammation.

Learn How to Manage Stress

Stress is something you can never really be rid of. While some stress is a good thing, experiencing excessive amounts of it isn’t. Stress is the catalyst to many types of problems, albeit physical or mental. Elderly people can suffer the brunt of it more than younger people because their bodies are a bit slower. To keep stress levels in check, you’ll need to learn how to proper management strategies. There are many ways you can manage your stress, which include taking breaks from certain tasks and indulging your favorite hobbies.

Have Routine Checkup

In order to truly know how healthy you are, you need to get your yearly physical. Despite the tips provided here, certain medical conditions can easily slip under your radar. Hypertension, for example, often goes undiagnosed. Seeing your doctor regularly is one of the best ways to monitor your blood pressure.

Frontliners by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

AHCA/NCAL Urges Guidance from CDC

In a letter addressed to Rochelle P. Walensky, the Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is requesting further guidance, data-sharing, and urgency into researching the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccination, especially in regard to the elderly population. The AHCA/NCAL, represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year.


The AHCA/NCAL reports: “need for urgency on this matter is painfully evident. For nearly a year, long term care residents have been unable to visit with their loved ones in-person or participate in enriching social activities. Despite our staff’s heroic efforts to keep residents engaged and fill the void of family members, we are deeply concerned that the prolonged isolation of our residents is impacting their health and wellbeing. Prioritizing research on the vaccines’ effectiveness among our population would help ensure these facilities can swiftly and safely reopen, improving the lives of our vulnerable seniors.”

While earlier guidance from the CDC urged nursing homes to restrict group activities and visitors, the vaccination has now been administered millions of nursing home residents. As a result of this, the AHCA/NCAL hopes to see changes in the guidance previously administered by the CDC in order to improve the quality of life for their residents under these new conditions.

To achieve this goal, the NHCA/NCAL is asking for CDC’s support to rapidly evaluate the vaccines’ effectiveness among the long term care population in both preventing spread and in reducing morbidity and mortality. The NHCA reports that the organization understands that clinical trials only evaluated the effectiveness in preventing symptomatic disease and severe illness, and participants did not include long term care residents. Therefore, they are requesting further study regarding the vaccines’ impact on transmission and the elderly population before revising guidance to long term care settings. The NHCA/NCAL asks that the CDC expedite this evaluation of the vaccines in order to bring clarity to states, providers, residents and family members as soon as possible.

Fortunately, preliminary analysis by AHCA/NCAL reports that the vaccines may be as effective as hoped. Their research division, the Center for Health Policy Evaluation in Long Term Care (CHPE), found that COVID-19 cases decreased at a faster rate among nursing homes that had completed their first vaccine clinic, compared to nearby nursing homes that had not yet administered the vaccine. More specifically, the CHPE analysis reports:

  • Vaccinated nursing homes experienced a 48% decline in new resident cases three weeks after the first clinic, compared to a 21% decline among non-vaccinated nursing homes located in the same county.
  • Similarly, new staff cases declined by 33% in vaccinated nursing homes compared to 18% in non-vaccinated facilities.

While encouraging, further study is needed to determine if these trends will continue in subsequent clinics or after the second dose of the vaccine. The AHCA/NCAL requests that data and funding be made available to the research community to expedite this ongoing analysis. Both organizations are willing to assist the CDC in this effort through facilitating data sharing between providers and researchers, as well as connecting with experts from the public and private sector to assist with data waiting to be evaluated.

As the CDC has taken great effort to administer residents and staff their second dose of the vaccine, many states have started planning reopening strategies. The AHCA/NCAL reports on the reopenings: “State governments play a vital role in contributing to the protection of our residents and staff during this time. However, in this situation, we believe that cohesion is needed to ensure effective outcomes. Without guidance from the federal government, states may create confusing or inconsistent practices.”

In hope of creating consistent practices surrounding reopening, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living is requesting that the CDC reiterate their most up-to-date guidance on COVID-19 safety practices. Since the effectiveness of the vaccine isn’t fully determined, the AHCA/NCAL emphasizes the importance of clear communication with stakeholders to make sure that everyone understands the stressed importance and vigilance of vaccination efforts.

Melvin Sampson illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Remembering Melvin Sampson

By Hannah DiPilato

Melvin Sampson was a leader throughout his life and was dedicated to fighting for the rights of indigenous people. Before his passing, he was a tribal councilman that pushed for Native American’s rights. 

Some of his most monumental efforts include helping to establish the Indian National Finals Rodeo, assisting in the improvement of health care for Native Americans across the nation, advocating for the construction of the Yakama Nation Indian Health Services clinic west of Toppenish and pushing to improve fish restoration in the Yakima and Columbia basins.

Sampson passed in his home on December 11 at 82-years-old and left behind his wife, Betty Jean and his four daughters. He will be remembered by his big family of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Sampson’s full obituary can be found on Heggies Colonial Funeral Home’s website and anyone is able to leave thoughts, prayers and condolences for Sampson’s loved ones. People can also send flowers or a virtual gift and share photos and videos, a beautiful way to share remembrance amidst the pandemic. 

“He’s bigger than the Yakama Nation,” said Yakama General Council Chairman Roger Fiander, who grew up beside Sampson. “Besides that, he was my roping partner.”

Sampson’s legacy of helping to gain rights for Native Americans will live on for generations. Hopefully, many more people will follow in his footsteps to preserve tribal culture. 

Sampson was an advocate of better healthcare for Native Americans for 17 years while he served on the National Indian Health Board. He also helped form the Portland Area Indian Health Board, which monitors the federal administration of Indian health services in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. 

In Washington D.C., Sampson was at the head of an effort to gain funding for a new Indian Health Clinic. Eventually, his efforts led to an expansion of the clinic which expanded it into a facility of over 80,000 square feet. 

Sampson also wanted to improve fish rearing practices in the Yakama and Columbia basins in order to help the fish that lived there. With Sampson in charge, the Yakama Nation gained control of the Klickitat Hatchery which is found on the Klickitat river outside of Glendale. This hatchery was designed to rebuild the population of salmon by mimicking the natural habitat system that fish thrive in. 

Everyone that knew Sampson believed he was a born leader. He had a diverse understanding of tribal culture and government which allowed him to make many changes in his lifetime. George Waters, a lobbyist for the tribe in Washington, D.C., said that Sampson was just a person able to operate in different worlds. 

He was able to create many amazing things such as doing leatherwork and beginning a shop in his basement. Sampson can also be remembered for his forward-thinking ways that were ahead of his time. 

Irving Pinkham, another childhood friend of Sampson, said that Sampson cared for everyone and always wanted to help indigenous people. “In our way, nobody is better than anyone else and that’s what he believed too,” Pinkham said. “He never was a person who said ‘I, I did this, I did that.’ He was always a person who said ‘We, we did this, we did that.’ “

Sampson’s perseverance and ability to understand people helped him become a success in many aspects of his life. He was able to improve healthcare and the way of life for those around him and his legacy will be seen in all of the work he accomplished over his lifetime.

elderly illustration by 360 Magazine

Caring for Elderly Parent Without Financial Burden

Ron Craft of Bristol is typical of many adult children who lovingly care for their aging parents. He considers it “a blessing” to be able to keep his mother, Shirley Dunphy, comfortably living in her own home. Also typical for family caregivers, Ron gave up his salary when he left his job as a financial advisor ten years ago to help his mom. However, Ron was able to ease his financial stress three years ago when he enrolled in the Connecticut Adult Family Living (AFL) program that pays him to provide care. Ron is supported by Assisted Living Services, Inc. in Cheshire, a credentialed provider of the AFL program.

“A lot of elderly parents don’t want to be a burden to their children, so they don’t ask for the assistance they need until there’s a crisis,” explains Mario D’Aquila, MBA and COO of Assisted Living Services. “The AFL program stipend eases any guilt parents may have about their child losing income, as well as financial stress for the caregiver.”

D’Aquila explains that a caregiver can receive a tax-free stipend of over $500 per week, depending on the complexity of care, under AFL. The program is part of the Department of Social Services’ Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE).

Shirley, 80, required care after falling down the stairs 13 years ago and sustaining second degree burns on her legs. She never fully recovered. Ron, 57, lives with his mother and does all of the cooking & laundry, gets her dressed, drives her to doctor’s appointments, bathes her and pays her bills. Prior to the fall, Shirley was extremely active, travelled a lot, was involved in church and other activities and hobbies, and socialized with friends. Dunphy is still full of mental energy, but uses a walker and cane to move around.

“It was difficult at first for me to admit that I physically needed help as I was always very independent and took care of others,” shares Dunphy. “I had to learn how to allow others to care for me. There’s always a sense of pride in all of us not wanting to admit you need help. But it is so natural for a mother and son to care for and help each other.”

The pair also share a spiritual bond as they are both retired ordained ministers. Dunphy writes faith-infused, Christian-based books. She authored Windfall: A Cut Above on Amazon and Kindle with four more books in the works based on her life experiences.

Shirley learned about the AFL program during a home visit from the CCCI (Community Care of CT, Inc) organization. Ron had previously volunteered at a nursing home, so he was already comfortable with caregiving.

“Before we could even apply for the program, Mary Scagliarini RN, Director of the Adult Family Living Program at Assisted Living Services (ALS), came to our house to get it prepared by installing fire alarms, life alert, etc.,” said Ron. “She then guided us through the application process and it was approved within a few days.” He is grateful that today, ALS offers a huge support network to give guidance and answer questions. Mary and Nurse Andrea Murray are just a phone call away.”

In its formal role as a credentialed provider of the program, ALS provides Ron and other caregivers with the “tools” needed to be comfortable and successful at caregiving, such as:

  • Provide the caregiver with orientation, education and on-going support.
  • Ensure that the home is properly maintained as required by the State.
  • Make sure the Caregiver is meeting the homecare and safety needs of the participant.
  • Pay the Caregiver weekly and offer direct deposit for convenience.
  • Provide respite coverage for the Caregiver for time off or vacations as needed.
  • Enlist resources, such as a Certified Dementia Care Specialist, to assist in training for certain circumstances.
  • Utilize the company’s unique and innovative program called CarePlus that combines caregiving and technology to help address client needs at no additional cost. “Personal care supplemented with wireless devices is the perfect combination,” said D’Aquila.

In order to qualify, applicants must be a Connecticut resident, 65 years of age or older, at risk of nursing home placement, meaning, the applicant needs assistance with critical personal care such as bathing, dressing, eating, taking medications, toileting or transferring, as well as meet the program’s financial eligibility criteria.

“Most elderly people want to remain in their own home and home care is more cost-effective than an in-patient care facility,” said D’Aquila.

“God bless this program!” exclaims Dunphy. “It has allowed me to live with my son in my own house. My son is my eyes, heart and soul, he is my guide and I am so grateful to be cared for by him.”

For his part, Ron is thrilled to see his mother not just living, but thriving. “I encourage anyone not yet enrolled in the AFL program to reach out to Assisted Living Services, as it’s going to alter your life!”

About Assisted Living Services, Inc.

For almost 25 years, award-winning home care agency Assisted Living Services, Inc. in Cheshire with branch locations in Clinton and Fairfield has provided quality care to residents across Connecticut. Their unique CarePlus program blends personal care with technological safety and monitoring devices from sister company Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. Learn more by visiting www.assistedlivingct.com or calling 203.634.8668.

3 Great Ways to Stay Mentally and Physically Healthy After Retiring

When you retire, your whole life changes. Or, at least that’s how it feels. For most of us, our careers are a huge part of our entire identity, and you will probably feel a lot different once you hang it up.

That can be good and bad. For some, it is fully and undeniably a great feeling on day one. A dream come true. For others, the transition is difficult. And that can lead to some negative effects — both mentally and physically.

The best way to make sure you can adapt quickly and avoid any severe downside is by staying active and staying healthy. The more you can do to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, the better it all will go.
The following represent three great ways to maintain your physical and mental health after retiring.

1. Pick Up Something New

By the time you hit retirement age, you are probably pretty set in your ways. The last thing that might seem like a good idea is even more change. But it really can help. It doesn’t have to be something major. Replacing the hours you normally spend at work with something else, however, will do you a lot of good. Join a new club, pick up a new hobby, or get involved in your community in a new way. It can really help you adjust — you won’t be just losing something but adding something as well.

2. Embrace the Water

One of the difficult parts about getting older is that it’s harder to exercise and stay in shape. Even people who have always been fit and love to run or play sports have trouble maintaining their routines because it can be so hard on the joints. The solution? Jump in the pool! There’s a reason that even pro athletes rehab in the water. You can continue using you body and strengthening your muscles — plus your lungs and heart — without risking injury.

3. Get Top Coverage

Of course, no matter how fit you stay, there will always be some health concerns. That’s just inevitable as people age. So you need to make sure you have the best possible healthcare coverage. For most seniors, this means going with some type of Medicare Advantage plan. This allows you to expand upon the coverage of the traditional program at a very affordable rate. There are many different types, but it’s hard to go wrong with a Medicare Advantage PPO plan that includes benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t. Make sure you have access to all the medical care you need.

Staying Mentally and Physically Fit

After you retire, there will be an adjustment period. But you can minimize the negative parts of this transition by implementing the right strategies. The goal for everything should be staying healthy — and improving your health. 

After all, you don’t have to grind away at a 9-to-5 anymore. You might even be able to strengthen your body and sharpen your mind with more free time and more energy to devote to yourself.

Start by replacing your work hours with some new hobbies. Stay fit with low-impact activities like swimming. And make sure you have the best healthcare coverage possible. This alone will help so much. You can embrace retirement head on and start loving your life more and more every day.

Coronavirus illustration

COVID-19 Cases at Nursing Homes

Nursing homes see spike in COVID-19 cases as communities loosen quarantine guidelines.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released a report today showing nursing homes in the U.S. have experienced an alarming spike in new COVID cases due to community spread among the general population according to recent data recently released from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The CMS data shows COVID cases in nursing homes significantly increased last month after having dropped significantly throughout the month of June.

As experts have repeatedly noted, COVID-19 cases in a surrounding community is a top factor in outbreaks in nursing homes. Dr. David Grabowski, professor of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School recently stated, “According to preliminary research presented, larger facilities located in urban areas with large populations, particularly in counties with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 cases, were more likely to have reported cases.”

The same report also showed COVID-related deaths in nursing homes had declined significantly but have started to uptick again in recent weeks.

“With the recent major spikes of COVID cases in many states across the country, we were very concerned this trend would lead to an increase in cases in nursing homes and unfortunately it has,” stated Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. “This is especially troubling since many nursing homes and other long term care facilities are still unable to acquire the personal protective equipment and testing they need to fully combat this virus.”

AHCA/NCAL is calling on public health officials to take immediate steps to protect nursing homes and assisted living communities especially in areas with significant uptick in new COVID cases. Specifically, Parkinson is urging Congress for an additional $100 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible for all health care providers impacted by COVID-19, and that a sizeable portion of the fund be dedicated to helping nursing homes and assisted living communities acquire resources associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus, including constant testing, PPE and staff support.

“Without adequate funding and resources, the U.S. will end up repeating the same mistakes from several months ago. We need Congress to prioritize our vulnerable seniors and their caregivers in nursing homes and assisted living communities in this upcoming legislation.”

For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org/coronavirus.