Tag Archives: caregivers

National Marrow Awareness Month

National Marrow Awareness Month

November is National Marrow Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the doctors, researchers, and donors helping fight back against marrow-based diseases. Learn more about which diseases can be treated by bone marrow transplants.

Bone marrow is the tissue inside your bones that helps make blood cells. White blood cells help fight infections, red blood cells help carry oxygen throughout your body, and platelets help to control bleeding.

Bone Marrow and Blood Cells

 

A bone marrow transplant replaces unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow from a donor. Learn more about the most common types of transplants.

Types of Bone Marrow Transplants

 

Bone marrow transplants can treat blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma, bone marrow diseases like anemia, or other immune system or genetic disease like sickle cell disease. Learn more about how marrow donation works.

What BMT Treat

 

Are you a patient facing a bone marrow transplant or a caregiver of someone who is? Learn more about the process, from the first steps to life after a transplant.

Patients and Caregivers and BMT

 

Becoming a donor is an important decision. Learn more about the process and the support you can get as a donor.

Becoming a Bone Marrow Donor

 

Even if you can’t be a donor, you can still join the National Marrow Donor Program’s community to help.

Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy Awareness Month

It’s Epilepsy Awareness Month, and epilepsy is the 4th-most common neurological disorder.

While epilepsy is a spectrum of many kinds of seizure types and levels of severity, misunderstandings of the disease from others can cause challenges sometimes worse than the seizures.

If you’ve ever had a seizure or seen someone have a seizure, they can be scary. Learn more about how they work.

Understanding Seizures

 

If you see someone having a seizure, knowing what to do can save a life. Know how to respond.

Seizure First Aid

 

Adults living with active epilepsy are more likely to have unhealthy behaviors or other chronic health problems, which can worsen the symptoms of epilepsy. A healthy lifestyle can help.

Healthy Lifestyles and Epilepsy

 

Many states have varying laws about driving with epilepsy, and transportation can be a challenge for those living with epilepsy. Learn more.

Epilepsy and Transportation

 

An important part of having and caregiving for epilepsy is knowing how it affects independence and day-to-day living. These resources can help.

Living Independently with Epilepsy

 

If you’re living with epilepsy and have suffered from discrimination, you have legal rights. Learn more about these and getting legal help.

Epilepsy and Legal Protections

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses.

National Hospice & Palliative Care Month

 

Hospice care is special care for people who are terminally ill. It includes medical and physical care and help with social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Hospice and palliative care empower people to live as fully as possible, surrounded and supported by family and loved ones, despite serious illnesses.

Know Your Options

 

Each year, more than 1.65 million Americans living with serious illnesses get care from the nation’s hospice programs.

 

Each year, hospice saves Medicare more than $2 billion through care and comfort for patients and families.

Protecting Yourself for the Future

 

Hospice care provides support for family and caregivers and can help take some of the stress of care off of them.

Preparing for the Future

 

It’s important to know about your options and prepare to share your wishes before a healthcare crisis with advance care planning.

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Figuring Out Caregiving Protections

Long View: Advocating for Our Elders

When I was a youngster, I remember having a hard time paying attention to anything for very long. Thankfully, that’s all behind me now, but sometimes these childhood lapses made it appear like I was misbehaving or being disobedient. That was not the case of course.

For instance, I had my own ideas of when I should be doing chores, and it didn’t always match what my parents had in mind. I’m sure I presented my folks with quite a challenge. Looking back, I realize they were always right, and they had insights I couldn’t have known as a child.

It’s interesting to compare this childhood relationship with the relationships of adult caregivers and their parents or older family members. Being supportive and resourceful and providing suggestions are all part of the deal, but sometimes it’s hard to remember these are relationships between adults and not between parents and children. Even the best suggestion isn’t going to be received well if it doesn’t coincide with the older person’s wants and needs. Of course there will be disagreements, but that’s to be expected.

At Health Alliance Medicare, we have many members who have signed an appointment of representative form, which allows a child or other caregiver to speak on their behalf with their health insurance. We know that acting for a loved one can be a challenging position to be in, but we must have this formal legal agreement before our customer service reps can share the member’s claims information and other confidential information.

Another kind of protection is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which works to protect, defend, and advocate for residents of long-term care facilities. One of its duties is to investigate concerns brought forward from anyone on behalf of the resident.

Amanda Hyde is the planning & grants manager at the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging, the sponsor that houses this program. She said, “The Ombudsman Program at ECIAAA is focused on advocating for resident rights. These rights include being fully informed on all aspects, including cost and even changes in rooms or roommates. Residents have the right to complain, participate in one’s own care, the right to confidentiality, the right to dignity, respect, and freedom, including the right to self-determination, and even making what others may deem as bad choices.”

There are many levels of caregiving, and I know it can be stressful. Differences of opinions are bound to happen. Although our loved ones aren’t always going to agree with us, I am sure it’s comforting for them to know that our care and support isn’t based on their obedience.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Life in Grey Dementia

Vantage Point: A Glimpse into Dementia

“It only takes 20 minutes,” Melissa Knott, community relations coordinator for Highgate Senior Living in Wenatchee, told us as she invited Erin Cass, Mary Brandt, and me to participate in a sensory experience called the Virtual Dementia Tour.

Little did we know that the simulation, which helps family members and caregivers understand the overwhelming effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, would be an unforgettable and personally revealing experience.

Since I’d learned about the tour beforehand, I thought I knew what to expect as I was outfitted and given instructions, but I was not prepared for my brain to go into survival mode as I entered the room. I hunched as I felt my world shrink, and I tried to look purposeful, even though I’d instantly forgotten some of the simple tasks assigned to me. I felt no impulse to smile, interact with Mary or Erin, or feel anything but a narrow, tunnel-like focus.

It was hard to imagine that just the night before, I was riding a rocket of a horse in a community parade, outwardly waving and laughing. That extroverted person was gone, and in her place was someone who shuffled instead of walked, set the table with a towel instead of a tablecloth, and asked for help but ignored the answer.

Afterward, the facilitator went over how the simulation enhanced each of our unique character traits to give us an intimate, introspective glimpse into what our own life might look like if we were diagnosed. I realized the effects of the disease could make a once big world feel very small, and for someone who’s normally independent and active, how depressing that could become.

Thanking Melissa, the 3 of us started to leave, but Erin turned back. “I need to go see my grandma,” she said, and I wished I could hug mine, who passed long ago from the disease.

As a community liaison for Health Alliance, I have participated in both the Wenatchee and Moses Lake Walks to End Alzheimer’s that advocate a cure and honor loved ones. Much like my virtual experience, these events generate empathy, inspire, and give us the energy to make a difference.

It’s not too early to form a team for a walk in September. Visit alz.org/walk to find a walk near you. And for more information on the Virtual Dementia Tour in North Central Washington, please contact Melissa at Highgate Wenatchee at 509-665-6695 or Laurie at Summerwood Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Moses Lake at 509-764-1900.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.

Your Personal Health Coach

Vantage Point: A Helping Health Hand

Not every coach is as well known as Pete Carrol of the Seattle Seahawks, but Susan DeLong, our nurse case manager and health coach in our Wenatchee office, is key to our team.

She’s smart, caring, a good listener, and a compassionate advocate. You will probably never see her on TV, but in our members’ eyes, her work is just as important and meaningful as any superstar’s.

Managing a health condition can be hard, and a health coach is someone with extensive experience who can be a consistent source of support. There’s so much information that it can be hard to know what’s key. One of the benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan like ours is the free education and support a health coach can provide.

At Health Alliance, a health coach like Susan can give our members:

  • Answers to questions about their conditions
  • Tools and lifestyle skills to minimize the risk of problems
  • Information about self-care skills
  • Free educational materials and resources about managing conditions
  • Support on the phone at their convenience
  • Help keeping them, their provider, and their caregivers connected
  • Help making the most of their healthcare benefits

Health coaches do not replace medical care from a doctor, but instead work with their primary care physician as part of a team to make sure their management plan is working.

Compassionate nurses like Susan also help identify warning signs for possible health problems, and they make sure members have a plan, day or night, to handle those issues if they become serious.

Susan also works hard to troubleshoot these issues before they become serious health problems. For example, she helps members understand the importance of refilling prescriptions and outlines what they should do if their drugs run out too soon.

Susan even partners with community resource agencies, like Meals on Wheels and the Confluence Health Patient Service Department, to help our members overcome barriers to their care. She knows when a member has a hospital stay or ER visit, and she tracks follow-up appointments and makes sure any meds they’re sent home with will work well with their current prescriptions.

But just like famous coaches, a big part of the job is to motivate. Susan empowers our members to take an active part in their health by setting attainable goals, and we value the important role she plays in our team and in lending a helping hand to our members.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.      

Relax for National Family Caregivers Month

National Family Caregivers Month

November is also National Family Caregivers Month, and this year’s theme is all about RESPITE and taking care of yourself as a caregiver.

R is for rest and relaxation. Relaxing sometimes is the best way to stay fresh as a caregiver.

E is for energize. You need to re-energize and lower your stress so you’re a good caregiver.

Energize

 

S is for sleep. Caregivers often have sleep problems. Try these tips or talk to your doctor.

Sleep

 

P is for programs that can help you as a caregiver. Find programs near you.

Programs

 

I is for imagination. Let your mind loose with activities like movies and books that let you take a mental break.

Imagination

 

T is for take 5, or 10. Little breaks that help you beat stress will also help you be a better caregiver when you are there.

Take 5

 

E is for exhale. Simple breathing exercises can help you calm down and refocus in no time.

Exhale

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