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Incontinence Support Blog

Jumping Hurdles

Posted by Nurse Nicole

Apr 11, 2017 1:35:34 PM

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There is no discrimination when it comes to who “should” live a healthy lifestyle- it includes all of us, don’t you think? Declining health does not focus on one ethnicity, sex, race, religion, or age.  Sometimes declining health is a wakeup call to start making changes; however, prevention is the best solution to a potential problem. Realistically, you can spend your entire life leading the healthiest lifestyle and will still face the possibility of health problems. Like anything else in life- “just do the best you can” while taking time to enjoy each moment we have!

 Let’s talk about information based on the most common hurdles that seniors face.

1. Arthritis (inflammation of the bones)

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and it is more common in women than men. According to the CDC, 22.7% (52.5 million) of adults reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis, with significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence in women (23.9%) than in men (18.6%). By 2040, an estimated 78 million (26%) US adults ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

  • Living with arthritis: Aches and pains are only the beginning of this problematic diagnosis. Use heat such as warm baths or heating blankets (which are my FAVORITE! Anyone else love the warmth of heating blankets?!) Heat helps loosen the muscles surrounding the joints, making mobility easier. You must be careful when using heating blankets persistently with Men’s Liberty because the blankets can get up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and this could interfere with the adhesive. Low- impact activities such as swimming or cycling will also be beneficial for someone with arthritis and will increase your range of motion- it is important to stay in motion as much as possible to prevent stiffness of your joints.
  • Prevention: Although there’s no true way to fully prevent arthritis, there are some things you can keep in mind to help reduce the symptoms. Always prevent unhealthy weight gain, which causes extra pressure on your joints), take fish oil (or eat lean fish) to help reduce inflammation and pain, and of course – don’t smoke.  According to Mayo Clinic, “toxins in smoke cause stress on connective tissue, leading to more joint problems”.

2. Heart disease

Coronary Artery Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Peripheral Artery Disease, Congenital Heart Disease are all some examples of heart disease. The CDC states that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with ~ 610,000 people dying in the US from it every year.

  • Living With: One common symptom of heart disease is shortness of breath. With heart disease, blood is not being pumped or circulated properly. When blood is not circulating well, it is not bringing oxygen to your tissues and oxygen is not flowing properly through the lungs. This causes shortness of breath and/or light headedness. “Heart disease” is a very broad term and involves multiple subcategories that involve different symptoms such as swelling of the limbs and/or numbness.  
  • Prevention: A few ways to prevent heart disease include: Not smoking (Isn’t this a solution for everything?), decrease salt intake, and exercise. These will all help to keep the blood flowing throughout your body and prevent you from retaining excess fluids!

3. Cancer

Such a broad, but ugly term. According to the most recent study done in the United States by United Stated Cancer Statistics: more than 1,600 people a day died of cancer in 2013. The most common cancers include skin cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and bladder cancer.

  • Living With: Common signs and symptoms of cancer include night sweats, fatigue, significant weight loss or weight gain. Of course there are additional signs and symptoms depending on the specific type of cancer. With colon cancer, you may experience a change in your bowel movements; Breast cancer you may usually find a lump under the skin; Laryngeal/pharyngeal (throat) cancer, you may experience a significant persistent cough, hoarseness, or difficulty swallowing. 
  • Prevention: There are things you can do to help prevent cancer, but there is no TRUE prevention.  Smoking is associated with many different types of cancer. Many people believe smoking only increases your chances of lung or throat cancer, but this is not true.  According to the CDC, “People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke”. However, smoking is not inclusive to lung cancer and is proven to increase your chance of developing any type of cancer.

Avoiding excessive sun exposure or persistently using sunscreen/ cover-ups can help prevent your chances of getting skin cancer.  These are solely suggestions, because cancer can affect anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

We don’t have a glass ball that shows us the future and what we will be faced with. Although it is beneficial to be knowledgeable, don’t fret on the possibility of something developing.

Taking care of your health and noticing symptoms are the two most important things you can do.

Like most things in life, we jump them as they come!

~Nurse Nicole

 

Resources:

  1. "Arthritis Pain: Do's and Don'ts." Mayo Clinic, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 04 Feb. 2017.
  2. "Heart Disease." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 29 July 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.
  3. "Cancer Symptoms." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 23 May 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Topics: medical research, proactive patients, incontinence, Nurse Nicole, cancer, Arthritis, Heart Disease

Why Aren’t Adult Diapers Covered by Insurance? And Why Men’s Liberty is…

Posted by Mens Liberty

Dec 8, 2015 2:55:00 PM


As you all should already know – last week we did a great new blog on how to get the best bang for your buck when paying for health insurance. And it seems to have sparked quite a discussion. And there has been one question coming to us over and over from viewers and I wanted to take a few minutes to answer it this week.

You asked: why does insurance cover Men’s Liberty but not adult diapers or pads?

It’s a great question – and it’s the topic for this week’s edition of “Understanding Your Insurance” with Men’s Liberty.


Let me start by giving you one little caveat – there are more than 35,000 different insurance plans in the US right now – so there’s no way I can tell you about each one. We’ve got to make some generalizations and then it’s up to you to look at your policy information or call your insurance company and ask one of their policy experts.

But in general, there are three main reasons for the difference in coverage.

#1:  Medicare sets the standard and most insurance companies follow their lead. Today, Medicare and Medicaid provide insurance coverage to roughly 1 in 3 Americans. That makes them a market leader – and the standard other plans are measured against. Medicare does not cover absorbent incontinence supplies, therefore most insurance companies follow their lead. Now there are some “cadillac” insurance plans out there that may cover some of these supplies but to be honest, I’ve never seen one.

Which leads us to #2: adult diaper manufacturers don’t want it to happen. Insurance coverage for any item usually requires proof of medical need and brings along medical coding, billing and documentation requirements. That is a lot of cost for the companies who would have no choice but to pass on the expense to consumers. So the cost of a pad goes up – and now you can’t buy it in CVS or Walgreens – you have to go to a doctor for a prescription. Quite simply –  if companies can sell lots more of them slightly cheaper – they STILL make more money. So it’s not in the manufacturers interests to get covered by insurance.

#3: It’s simply too expensive. Let’s do a little math – if 30 million people have urinary incontinence in the US (according to the NIH) and each of those people wears 4-6 diapers a day AND each diaper costs roughly $0.44 that is a total annual cost of $28,908,000,000 each year – i.e. nearly $29 BILLION dollars per year. That is a cost that insurance companies and insurance simply cannot afford to absorb without dramatically increasing everyone’s costs.


So with all that information – why cover Men’s Liberty? Because it’s only for men, because as manufacturers we have been through the Medicare coding verification process, because we provide the required documentation and ultimately – because the benefits outweigh the costs for men with urinary incontinence.

And before I leave you this week, I want to recommend a great video blog called Healthcare Triage. It’s run by Dr Aaron Carroll who is great at explaining all these things. He has a great blog that I’ll link in the description called “What is Health Insurance and Why Do You Need It” that’s filled with lots of great information.

Got insurance questions you need answered – email, call or let us know in the comments. 

Topics: proactive patients, Medicare, insurance

Understanding Your Insurance

Posted by Mens Liberty

Dec 1, 2015 10:30:00 AM


 Welcome back everyone! This week we’re talking about the biggest seasonal news out there. Nope – not Christmas. It’s Open Enrollment. That’s right – in addition to turkey and mistletoe this time of year is a very special one for people looking at new health insurance options. So today, we’re adding to our ongoing blog series: “Understanding Your Insurance.” And I’d like to share a little wisdom and help you get the best value for your insurance dollars.


The #1 Rule is to make sure you understand exactly what your insurance actually covers. This will help you get value for money in your current policy and help you pick the best policy for next year.

Tip #2 is to maximize value once you’ve met your deductible.

If you’ve met your deductible, the remainder of 2015 is an ideal time for elective procedures, surgeries, appointments, etc. that your current insurance covers. That is why this time of year is exceptionally busy period for healthcare providers. Also, don’t forget that your “well visit” is fully covered by Medicare (with no out-of-pocket expenses) and most other insurance, so make sure to take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity by calling your healthcare provider immediately.

And our blog today wouldn’t be complete without some useful insurance selection tips.

While it’s always nice to get a head start in October to compare your current coverage with other options, but there’s still time to do some research. Think of insurance as a bit of a gamble for you and your insurance provider. You’re paying a set amount up front,  betting that your plan that will provide all the coverage you need & save you money;  but the insurance company is betting that you will need less coverage than you’re paying for. Sometimes you use less, sometimes more – if you’ve got the right insurance this should balance out over time.

So what is the right insurance for you?

It depends on your health needs and your financial situation. Most of you will probably be on Medicare so you need to decide what additional coverage you may want. To do this, its important to understand what Medicare does and does not cover. If you need certain services that aren’t 100% covered under Medicare Part A or Part B, you’ll most likely have to pay for part of them yourself unless you are enrolled in a:

  • Medi-gap (secondary) plan
  • Medicare Advantage plan OR a
  • Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan

 

Keep in mind that:

  • Even if Medicare Part A or Part B covers a service or item, you generally have to pay deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. In general Medicare covers 80% of the expense of a covered service – so you still have to pay the other 20% which can really add up!
  • Since Medicare Advantage plans do not necessarily provide coverage equal to Medicare, they may not be right for you if you require a surgery or procedure or have a condition (diabetes, urinary incontinence, etc.) that requires ongoing therapy, treatment with a prescription or supplies. Before choosing any Advantage plan be sure to read all the exclusions in your contract. Don’t be blinded by advertisements offering $0 co-pays. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!

Now for you Men’s Liberty clients out there – how can you tell what insurance coverage will be provided for your incontinence supplies?

The good news is the traditional Medicare Part B covers services or supplies for diagnosing or treating medical conditions. The one-a-day gold standard in treating male urinary incontinence, Men’s Liberty external collection device, is covered. Just like with other services, Medicare covers 80% of the cost – and if you have a secondary policy that usually picks up the other 20%. That’s 100% coverage right there!

So take action now during open enrollment – and follow these simple guidelines to get the most out of your insurance coverage!

Regain Your Freedom Today! 

Topics: proactive patients, Medicare, insurance

How to Pack for a Trip to the Hospital (if you're incontinent)...

Posted by Mens Liberty

Nov 10, 2015 2:00:00 PM


Welcome back – this week we’re going to be tackling some really practical advice. If you’re like me, when you are planning a stay in the hospital, whether it is for inpatient surgery, or another reason, it is important to be prepared. A well-packed bag is essential for having a comfortable stay in the hospital. But the big question is – what does “well packed” mean exactly?


Never fear – here is my MUST-HAVE list. Feel free to change this around to suit your needs but this is what gets me through a hospital stay.

  1. Pajamas or night clothes for each day. You spend all day and night in your PJ’s and tend to sweat more in the hospital,(especially with those plastic coated mattresses,) so you can usually only wear PJ’s for one day. Also don’t go for skimpy items. I have seen patients in hospital PJ’s or other clothing made of nylon and they tend to make you perspire and become uncomfortable, when in bed for any length of time.
  2. Socks and slippers – hospitals are filled with recycled air and they only have one temperature – cold! So even if you’re not a “hot” person by nature – don’t forget the fuzzy socks. A new pair for every day.
  3. Baby wipes or wet wipes for cleaning up hands, face and bottoms and for overall “freshening up,” especially if you can’t shower as often as you like. These are an absolute lifesaver!
  4. 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner – this saves time washing your hair when you feel awful. Even better try using Dry (i.e. waterless) Shampoo – for freshening your hair when you are unable to wash it yourself. While it’s not as good as a real hair wash, if you are unable to get out of bed or wash your hair as much as you would like, then this can be a good alternative.
  5. Moisturizer – Some hospital atmospheres can be very drying on the skin, especially if it has air conditioning or you are having bed baths. So don’t skimp on lotion or moisturizer. I particularly like the spray on moisturizer from St Ives for those hard to reach spots!
  6. Incontinence Supplies – hospitals will have pads or diapers but they buy them in bulk from the cheapest supplier possible so they feel just slightly better than sand paper – not okay. And let’s be honest here – no one wants a Foley catheter if they can avoid it. So whether or not you use Men’s Liberty, bring your supplies with you – one for each day plus two just in case. You’ll be glad you did.
  7. And last but not least – bring a comfortable outfit to wear home. Something slightly nicer than your PJs but comfy. Your going back out into the world and for some reason they don’t seem to like you to wear your PJs 24/7.

Well that’s my list – did I forget anything? What can’t you live without? Let us know in the comments!


 

Topics: urinary management, doctors visit, proactive patients, tips from Men's Liberty users

Open Enrollment: What You Need to Know About Medicare Advantage

Posted by Mens Liberty

Oct 23, 2015 11:00:00 AM


I just spend two and half hours on the phone with 1-800-Medicare. It was NOT fun. A friend signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan last year and it’s turned into an epic, if predictable, disaster. I was trying to help clean up the mess.

So why am I telling you? As our regular readers know, we are committed to sharing the best information that we can with all of you. Open enrollment is going on from October 15th to December 15th so now is the perfect time to be talking about the kind of insurance choices you should be making for the year ahead.


One of the biggest choices you will make is whether or not to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. For those of you new to the game, a Medicare Advantage plan is a private insurance replacement for Medicare Part A, i.e. hospital coverage, and Medicare Part B, also known as out-patient coverage. The private insurance company takes over your coverage and promises to cover everything that traditional Medicare would cover and lower your out of pocket costs.

Sounds too good to be true… and well for 98% of us, it is.

You see a Medicare Advantage plan works like any other HMO – you have to use in network physicians and get referrals for everything. They also may require you to use lower cost options or deny access to certain high cost medications.

So what happened to that friend of mine –two years ago, she started losing the feeling in her right arm. She went to a chiropractor and treatments were helping. Everything was covered under her traditional Medicare plan. Then she signed up for the AARP United Medicare Complete HMO plan. When the same problem came back this year she discovered the dark side of Medicare Advantage.

Although United claimed to provide coverage for chiropractic services, there were ZERO doctors in her area that accepted her insurance – no one within 50 miles!! Can you believe it! And because she had an HMO the insurance wouldn’t pay for any out of network coverage.

So now she is paying thousands of dollars for medical treatment that is supposed to be covered. That’s why I spent so much time on the phone – I was racking my brain trying to figure out how this was even legal, and then after much research I understood.

An Advantage Plan is required to cover everything that traditional Medicare covers but there are no rules that govern how much they have to pay doctors. So if Medicare would normally pay $10, the Advantage Plan can say they will only pay $4 for the same service. Doctors that can’t afford to provide that service for $4 opt out of accepting the insurance plan.  

That’s exactly what happened to that friend of mine. The AARP United Medicare Advantage Plan was offering chiropractors so little money that they had to opt out of accepting that insurance plan. Doctor’s offices are businesses too and they need to at least break even.

The stunning thing here – all of this is completely legal; possibly unethical, bad business, bad for patients and completely legal.

Now, I don’t want you to think that all advantage plans are terrible. For patients who are in excellent health and do not have any chronic conditions, they can be a good choice. Think of it like a bet. You are betting on whether or not you will need more or less coverage than the policy provides. The insurance company bets you will need less – that’s how they make money. If they’re right you both save some money. If they’re wrong, you’re the one footing the bill, not the insurance company.

So now that open enrollment is right around the corner, take a long hard look at your options for healthcare coverage for 2016. You have three choices:

  • Traditional Medicare
  • Traditional Medicare & a Medi-Gap plan or
  • Medicare Advantage

My only caution is this – Before choosing any Advantage plan be sure to read all the exclusions in your contract. Don’t be blinded by advertisements offering $0 co-pays. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is!

We’ll be taking a detailed look at Medi-Gap plans in another bonus edition of Understanding Your Insurance. Until then - let us know if we've missed anything or share your insurance horror stories in the comments below.  

Regain Your Freedom Today!


 

Topics: proactive patients, Medicare, insurance, incontinence

11 Things You Should Never Say To a Caregiver

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Aug 28, 2013 10:51:00 AM

Some things simply shouldn't be said.

When they come from people who don't know what someone else is going through, even well-intentioned comments and questions can be frustrating and hurtful.

Cindy Laverty, caregiver coach, radio talk show host, and author of, "Caregiving: Eldercare Made Clear and Simple," offers examples of phrases that can leave caregivers thinking, "Did she really just say that?" 

  1. "Why are you having such a hard time being a caregiver?" Usually voiced by someone who has never been a caregiver for an elderly loved one, this question can be very difficult for a caregiver to hear. As Laverty points out, it effectively takes their role of providing care for a loved one, and diminishes it. 
  2. "Gosh…we haven't seen you in such a long time. Why don't you get out more?" Though it probably comes from a place of love, Laverty points out that this can be an unproductive way to express concern for a friend or family member who is a caregiver. "The truth is that most caregivers do need to get out more, but this is an insensitive way of saying it," she says. 
  3. "You look really tired. Are you making sure to take care of yourself?" Caregivers generally have a good reason for looking tired and haggard—because they are. "The biggest issue for caregivers is that they tend to sacrifice personal care—it's the first thing that goes," Laverty says. Caregivers look tired because they are not getting enough sleep, they spend their nights worrying and making sure their loved one doesn't wander. But, that doesn't mean that they appreciate having that fact pointed out to them. 
  4. "Caregiving seems like a burden. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your life for your mother's." Caregiving is hard. That's why so many people, both caregivers and non-caregivers alike, refer to it as a ‘burden.' But, according to Laverty, when a friend or family member likens caregiving to a burden, what they're really telling the caregiver is that they aren't handling the situation properly and that this isn't what they should be doing with their life. "Caregivers get into their role because they started out as loving, caring people trying to do the right thing," she says. 
  5. "You need to get a ‘real' life." As the old saying goes, ‘you're preaching to the choir.' "Every caregiver understands that they need to get a life, have a plan, start making time for themselves," Laverty says. But, telling a caregiver to ‘get a life' is like telling them that what they're doing now (caring for a loved one) doesn't matter. 
  6. "Why don't you just put you mother in a nursing home? It would be better for everyone." Laverty says that comments like this can make a caregiver feel like they're not doing a good job taking care of their loved one. The reality is, a nursing home might not be financially feasible, or a caregiver may be trying to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible. Outsiders think they're offering good advice, when they might really just (unintentionally) be making a caregiver feel guilty. 
  7. "Why do you visit your dad so much? He doesn't even know you." If a caregiver is taking care of someone who has Alzheimer's or another form of dementia and lives in a nursing home, people may ask why they bother to visit someone who doesn't even remember who they are. "People need human contact and love, or they will just shrivel up and die," Laverty says, "Caregivers shouldn't feel stupid for going to visit someone who doesn't recognize them outwardly. As long as they know who their loved one is, that's all that should matter." 
  8. "Don't feel guilty about…" When you're a caregiver, "guilt just comes with the territory," according to Laverty. Caregivers want to fix everything, to solve every problem, to ease every hurt, when the reality is that no one can do it all. When people tell a caregiver not to feel guilty about something, it can make things worse by bringing that guilt to the forefront of their mind. 
  9. "Let's not talk about that. Let's talk about something happy and fun." When it comes to your average small talk scenario, caregivers generally don't have a lot of "fun" things to contribute. Laverty says that people need to understand that people taking care of an elderly loved one need to talk about what's going on. Friends and family members of caregivers should take the time to listen to what a caregiver has to say, no matter how ‘unpleasant,' or ‘unhappy' it is. 
  10. "You must be so relieved that it's over." When their elderly loved one dies a caregiver is likely to be facing a bunch of mixed up emotions. Relief may be one of those feelings, but Laverty feels that it's probably not productive to point this out to a person who has just lost a parent, spouse, or sibling. "If you diminish the event, you diminish the life and effort of the caregiver," she says. 
  11. "When are you going to get over it (a senior's death) and move on?" Grief is an individual process. For some people, processing the death of a loved one will take some time. This is particularly true of caregivers, who've poured a significant amount of time and energy into taking care of the person who has just passed.

Tips for responding to callous comments

Conventional conversational courtesies tend to fly out the window when intense situations (like caregiving) and strong emotions collide.

Caregivers, according to Laverty, tend to have a heightened sensitivity. "Everything seems to affect you more than when you're a normal person going to work and dealing with family, because you're so on edge and trying to do a million things in a day," she says.

It's easy for stressed-out caregiver to take a well-intentioned comment or question the wrong way and snap at whoever said it. Laverty has a few general suggestions for caregivers:

  1. Respond calmly to whatever is said. 
  2. If you're hurt by someone's question or comment, you can say "I know that you really care about me, but what you just said didn't feel good, here's why…" 
  3. Use hurtful comments as a way to ask for help. For example, you could say: "I'd love to figure out how to, ‘get a life.' As my friend, would you be willing to sit down and brainstorm ways to help me balance being a caregiver and having a ‘real' life?"

Conversely, friends and family members bear some responsibility for expressing their concern in appropriate ways. Laverty's advice: "Think before you say something stupid."

Interactions between caregivers and their family and friends have the potential to be helpful and fulfilling for both parties. When in doubt, following the Golden Rule and treating someone how you would like to be treated always works best. As Laverty says, "We get these packages that say, ‘Handle with care.' Why don't we make efforts to apply that to each other?"

A former caregiver, Cindy Laverty is the Founder of The Care Company, and host of The Cindy Laverty Show, the nation's only commercial radio program dedicated to the subject of CARE - how we care for ourselves, so we can better care for each other. Cindy has established herself as an advocate and coach for America's family caregiver. For more information, visit her website.

Topics: family, Caregiving, proactive patients

The Invisible Victims of Alzheimer’s Disease: Family Caregivers

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Aug 21, 2013 11:18:00 AM

MaryAnne Sterling Pictureby MaryAnne Sterling , Co-founder of Connected Health Resources

To a few close family and friends who know me as a longtime caregiver and advocate for my aging parents and (more recently) my in-laws, I have done the impossible: survived 17 years of struggling to support the needs of three-out-of-four parents who have either died from, or currently struggle with, some form of dementia. To the rest of the world, I am invisible.

At 46 years old, I am a small business owner, I have a college degree and a wonderful husband. By all accounts, in the prime of my life! But dementia is progressively taking everything I have. Here are a few examples:

Earnings potential. I gave up an advanced degree to take on the responsibility of supporting my parents. At the time, Dad had dementia and my parents were running out of money. As an only child and a daughter, I was duty-bound to help. But I often wonder what I could have accomplished had family caregiving not diverted me from becoming a medical researcher. People need to know.

Financial burden. I lost Dad to dementia in 2001. After the Medicaid spend down required to pay for his nursing home care, my husband and I had to support Mom financially so she could eat, so she had a roof over her head. We have continued to support Mom for the past 12 years. My husband and I have parted with roughly a quarter of a million dollars thus far. The resource depletion of a “surviving spouse” of someone with Alzheimer’s is another invisible consequence of the disease. People need to know.

Health challenges. I struggle with stress-related health issues that are cumulative and permanent. I was relieved to see the recent piece in the New York Times that relates the effects of caregiving to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Relieved, because people need to know.

Family caregivers are the invisible victims of Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, family caregivers are the most underutilized resource in the healthcare system, even though we are on the front lines of dementia. We are care coordinators, medical record keepers, medical decision makers, insurance navigators, and medication administrators, just to name a few of our numerous roles. But in the eyes of too many in the healthcare system, we are often discounted as “pushy” family members. We are forced to deal with separate silos for healthcare, social services, and community supports (such as transportation and respite care). We are subjected to poor communication, near total absence of collaboration, and the use of complex medical and insurance jargon that nobody is willing to translate into “normal-human-speak.” We often encounter roadblocks when we try to gather medical information and test results on behalf of our loved ones.

Although the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease includes provisions to improve support for family caregivers, this is a much larger task that demands unprecedented culture change. And there is a role for everyone!

  • Providers: include the family caregiver in the conversation. Listen to us. Educate us. Ensure that we are treated as key members of the care team. Think how welcoming us as partners could help reduce hospital readmission rates and improve patient outcomes.
  • Healthcare community: help change attitudes. Make it everyone’s responsibility to assist the family caregiver in coordinating both healthcare and support services for our loved ones with dementia.
  • Policy makers: break down care coordination silos. We must align community supports and social services with healthcare. Great concepts like the Aging and Disability Resource Center Program have yet to make enough impact at the local level. In addition, we must find new ways to assist family caregivers financially. Reauthorize the Older Americans Act (S. 1028) and pass the Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 709/H.R. 1507)
  • Employers: develop a proactive plan to assist employees who are struggling with caregiving responsibilities. Ensure that your employees have a safe environment in which to discuss their caregiving challenges. Collaborate with the community around you to find solutions.
  • Community leaders and faith-based organizations: reach out to family caregivers in your community. Develop a plan and processes to assist family caregivers in finding the resources we need but may not know are available to us.

For those of you wondering what the future of dementia looks like in our country if our family caregivers continue to be invisible victims, you need look no further than my house.

People need to know.

Topics: family, Caregiving, Interesting Articles, proactive patients

Seniors reusing incontinence products!

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Aug 15, 2013 11:55:00 AM

It seems that US Seniors aren't exactly alone in not having their incontinence products (i.e. diapers) covered by the government or insurance. It's the same situation in our northern neighbour, Canada.

Absorbent products go by a lot of names these day – adult diapers, briefs, pads, male guards and pull ups, just to name a few. Whatever the brand, there are some basic commonalities. Absorbent products are made up of hydrophilic materials like paper pulp which absorb urine and a hydrophobic external layer like nylon to hold the moisture inside and prevent leaks.

The price of most superabsorbent pads is between $0.44 and $0.86 per unit. Pads should be changed an average of 4-6 times a day, meaning that the annual expenditure for an incontinent man using pads could be as high as $4,402. Because absorbents aren’t covered by insurance, these costs are borne almost exclusively by the individual user.

So I understand the impulse to try and make your pad last a little longer and to save a little of that money. But sadly diapers are generally only designed to absorb around 16 ounces of fluid in a single episode and most do very poorly during a second urination.

But in Canada, Jack O'Neill is on a mission to change all that.

Orange Line

Jack O'NeillPORT COLBORNE - Jack O’Neil is disgusted that low-income seniors are forced to put their dignity aside to feed themselves.

The longtime seniors advocate says some seniors on fixed incomes in Port Colborne have to choose between buying groceries or incontinence products.

“Depending on the level of incontinence, people can spend more than $150 a month on these things,” he said.

“I know some people try to use them again or even wash them and it’s not healthy.”

O’Neil met with Welland MPP Cindy Forster Monday morning to deliver a petition with more than 1,300 signatures from residents of Port Colborne and doctors from across Ontario calling for government funding for incontinence products for low-income seniors.

“I think it’s an important issue,” Forster said. “Seniors don’t have enough money to live on. Many live below the poverty line as singles and even couples. This is another example of the need for supports for low-income seniors.”

She intends to bring the petition to Queen’s Park when the Ontario legislature resumes Sept. 9. Health Minister Deb Matthews will have 24 sessional days, or six weeks, to respond in writing.

Forster, a former nurse, said trying to reuse incontinence products or leaving the same pair on for expended periods can lead to rashes, bladder infections, skin breakdowns and serious skin infections.

Roseanne Western, administrator at Niagara Region’s Gilmore Lodge seniors home in Fort Erie, said in a phone interview that almost 90% of seniors living in regional senior care facilities have incontinence issues.

“It’s just something that happens as we age,” she said. “We experience a loss of muscle tone, so (people) lose a lot of control of bowel and bladder functions. Those muscles are not as strong or working as well (as they used to).”

She said the region’s homes receive funding for the products, but she empathizes with seniors who have to buy their own.

“It’s definitely an issue,” she said. “They are expensive and it’s quite a cost for them.”

At Shoppers Drug Mart on Niagara St. in Welland a package of 16 Depends Undergarments cost $23.99. The brands Max Protection undergarments are the same price, but come with 10 in a package.

Find Out About  Diaper Alternatives!

 

Original article published in Well and Tribune CA - http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2013/07/15/seniors-reusing-incontinence-products

Topics: Interesting Articles, proactive patients, diaper alternatives, urinary tract infections

67% of Survey Respondents say Fear of Accidents is their #1 Worry

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jul 27, 2013 10:20:00 AM

Recently, Parentgiving.com conducted a great opinion survey on the troubling condition reaching out to nearly 5,000 people who use self-care products for incontinence. The goal was to learn how you cope with incontinence and if a greater awareness about it as a medical issue has erased its stigma and prompted more people to talk to their doctors about treatment. They also asked respondents to share both their frustrations and their strategies for maintaining quality of life.

Results show that while progress is being made, there is still distress and frustration. Slightly over 70% have talked to their healthcare provider about incontinence—many of them are taking or have tried medications, and a few have had surgical procedures. For nearly 25%, incontinence is a known part of an ongoing medical problem, from MS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease to prostate surgery for men and uterine prolapse for women.

Twenty five percent are taking or have taken medications, but less than half report that the meds help. Some can't take incontinence drugs because they'd interfere with medications prescribed for other conditions or because they just can't afford them.

Other medical conditions and costs were among the reasons some people declined to have surgery to correct incontinence. Others chose not to have it because the results were too iffy or because they felt they were too old. One respondent already had two surgeries, neither of which helped, yet three others found their surgery successful—procedures involved a sling or implanted stimulator. At the other extreme, a few respondents reported that their doctors didn't bother to suggest any treatment or minimized the condition.

A few did find help with a non-invasive approach: "My doctor sent me to a 6-week continence program with a local therapist. It's very hard to do the exercises consistently, but if I don't then the problem gets worse."

The discouraging finding is that nearly 30% of respondents have still not sought medical attention. Reasons are varied. A few people still feel embarrassed about bringing it up, even to an experienced medical doctor. One respondent wrote, "Too embarrassing to discuss, especially since I don't think there's anything she can do about it. Also, if there's a pill for it, I already take so many pills I rattle when I walk."

Others just assume it's just a normal part of old age (it's not!) or don't know that there are treatments that might help. Some feel that their more life-threatening medical issues, from diabetes to stroke recovery, take precedence when they're at the doctor's office. For a few, the possibility of yet another medication to add to their existing regimen is financially out of the question, so they just don't bother to bring up incontinence. But one person offered this advice to anyone still hesitating about asking for medical care: "If you don't feel comfortable talking to your doctor, please find another doctor."

How Incontinence Products Factor In:

Survey results offered insights into what concerns you most and how you manage incontinence:

* Fear of accidents is the top concern.
Two-thirds of respondents ranked this as their number one worry. The lack of product selection came in second at 21%. People want more product choices, which will, in turn, help them feel more secure about avoiding accidents.

* Online is the way people want to buy products.
Nearly 46% buy products online where you can get the widest selection and have anonymity.

* Absorbency is the key feature in choosing products.
An overwhelming 81% ranked this first. Information on a product's absorbency should be front and center on product descriptions, say the respondents. Comfort ranked second and the ability to buy a product online ranked a strong third at 36%, above both cost and anatomical design of items.

* Many people are satisfied with their incontinence products. In fact, 40% are very satisfied. However 44% are only somewhat satisfied—there's room for better education about products to help people find those that are more effective and the respondents had numerous suggestions for incontinence product manufacturers to improve styles.

Orange Line

The only issue I have to take with the study, is that it ignores any available alternative to diapers/pads. It focuses just on cash sales, ignoring options covered by insurance. For seniors and their caregivers, frequently on fixed incomes, this is no small thing to overlook.

So for the 60% of you who aren't totally satisfied with your current incontinence product, consider Men's Liberty. The external, non-invasive design provides security for 24+ hours, discreet shipping to your door and you can reduce or eliminate your out-of-pocket costs through insurance or Medicare coverage.

Click me

 

For full survey results: click here.

Topics: family, doctors visit, Caregiving, proactive patients, diaper alternatives

7 Surprising (And Odd) Facts About Spinal Cord Injuries

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jul 9, 2013 9:48:00 AM

For most people, when they hear the word “quadriplegic,” their mind goes straight to an image of Christopher Reeve in his wheelchair. Or when they hear “spinal cord injury,” they think the worst of it is that we can’t walk.But how a body is affected and can still function despite the main nerve being down is quite something.

From lesser-known secondary effects to the body’s impressive resiliency, here are seven surprising facts about spinal cord injuries.

1) We can’t sweat. The spinal cord may be the organ that helps the body feel and move, but it also tells your sweat glands when to kick in. Getting hotter and hotter is what folks with spinal cord injuries have to go through until they finally cool off their body from the outside, either by dumping cold water on their skin or basking in the AC.

2) 82% are men. Out of everyone on the planet with a spinal cord injury, 82% are male. That’s quite the disparity between men vs. women and most think feel it’s because men are bigger risk-takers than women. Hard to argue there. Motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, falls, men find themselves in these situations a lot more often.

3) Before the 1940s, our life expectancy was two years. There may be no cure for spinal injuries yet, but we’ve come a long way in improving long-term prospects for people with spinal cord injuries. Prospects before the 1940s were not good. It was before antibiotic use began to be widespread, which mean most died before the two year mark from slow deaths related to untreatable infections; bladder, blood and skin. Paralyzed WWII veterans are some of the first people in human history to move onto full lives post-injury.

4) Less sensation, less body hair. One of the few bonuses of having a spinal cord injury (if you could call it that) is less body hair. Researchers have recently discovered that body hair grows better when it’s getting feedback from the brain. They’re not sure why, but it’s a phenomenon that’s been observed in most people with a spinal cord injury. So there you go, break your back, save money getting your leg follicles lasered away.

5) We can’t cough. We may be able to emit a tiny cough, but that’s about as fierce of a cough most of us can do. Reason why – spinal cord injuries don’t just effect the legs and arms, they affect the chest wall muscles; everything becomes paralyzed below the level of injury. This is why respiratory failure remains the number one cause of death among people with spinal cord injuries. Coughing up phlegm is critical when fighting off colds, but the good news – cough-assist devices and techniques like these.

6) We can pee through our belly buttons. Everyone thinks they know our going-to-the-bathroom secret, we use catheters—duh. But there’s one big secret mainstream society has no idea is possible—a surgery that allows you to pee through the belly button. That’s right, a hole is put in the belly button, with a new urinary conduit to boot. All you need to do is insert in a catheter, put a drainage cup between your legs, and you’re good to go. This fascinating surgery was invented by Dr. Mitrofanoff.

7) Our legs can still move. I mention this because mainstream society thinks paralysis equates to the legs being absolutely frozen in time—but this is not the case. Paralyzed legs move and shake a lot on their own; anything causing pain below the level of injury can do it. One time when my legs spasmed while riding in an elevator, a guy who had a crush on me was there and he was hysterically overjoyed to see my legs move. “Oh they move!” (Pretty sure he thought he had just witnessed a miracle). And then suddenly, he wanted to chat me up like Pamela Anderson. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t a miracle. I just had to pee. So there you have it – odd facts regarding spinal cord injuries – a condition many are hoping may be cured one day soon. Stem cells may make spinal cord injuries a far off memory in the next 50 years, but in the meantime, knowing the inside scoop can never hurt.

By: Tiffiny Carlson - Originally published: June 3rd, 2013 | Source: themobilityresource.com

Topics: urinary management, proactive patients, spinal cord injury