"COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the nation, leading to the implementation of stringent social distancing guidelines by local and regional authorities. In a desperate effort to limit infection rates, in-person social interactions have been reduced, and many have turned towards indoor hobbies and online platforms to connect with their loved ones. Still, this solution to mitigate the spread of the virus deeply ...

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"Empathy is more than just loving an elderly loved one. It is more than simply making the decision we may feel is best for our loved one. Empathy is different from sympathy. Empathy means putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and making an informed decision. Empathy is seeing through our loved ones’ eyes, hearing through her ears, feeling her emotions, and ...

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Consents have become a prominent part of health care. We sign consents for visits, procedures, medication, privacy, release of information, care of minors … the list goes on and on. We must acknowledge and respect the patient’s autonomy in their care. This is never more apparent or more important than in end of life care. Physicians encourage everyone to have an end of life plan, a living will. It is ...

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Telemedicine blossomed into an essential tool in health care overnight due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. It is a long lost innovation at the forefront of our battle. Telemedicine is especially valuable for our frail older adult patients. At the initial phase of the pandemic, a quick decision was made by fellowship program leaders to transition to telemedicine in an attempt to decrease the number of cases, help protect ...

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Astor lies in a reclining wheelchair, surrounded by community, gathered for morning prayer. A rosary,  woven between folded fingers rests upon her belly. Astor murmurs: “Help me. Help me. I am all alone.” Today, the last Friday in March, I am assisting another resident as he leads the Divine Mercy Chaplet, a meditative Catholic prayer using the beads of the rosary as a guide. In younger years, Astor found this prayer to ...

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She reached for my hand, her hands gnarled, the skin fragile, translucent, road mapped by bluish veins: Hands that had done much in her 87 years. She looked at me from her hospital bed and with voice trembling, her eyes tearing, spoke words that penetrated my heart: “Can I stay here? Everyone is so kind. I am all alone now. I have no family or friends left. I have no ...

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On a cold evening in early March, my grandpa and I queued outside a nursing home in rural California. He pulled an insulated lunchbox, filled with hot chai and pureed rotis, to his chest and sighed. There are at least eight families in front of us, and if we don’t move fast, my grandma will fall asleep before she’s had dinner. Twenty minutes later, we’ve reached the threshold: a nurse takes ...

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COVID-19 has rapidly spread across the nation, leading to the implementation of stringent social distancing guidelines by local and regional authorities. In a desperate effort to limit infection rates, in-person social interactions have been reduced, and many have turned towards indoor hobbies and online platforms to connect with their loved ones. Still, this solution to mitigate the spread of the virus deeply impacts vulnerable groups. Specifically, social isolation of the elderly ...

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I have cared for them both, husband and wife, now in their 80s, for almost 20 years. She is a retired nurse and him from his business. They are so typical of this “greatest generation”: tough, enduring, hard-working, deeply faithful, fervently independent, those characteristics that allowed them to survive the Great Depression, World War II, and the many challenges that come with life. They have seen their share of joy ...

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A few weeks ago, I met Mr. T, a 96-year-old man admitted to the hospital from a nursing home. With numerous chronic medical problems and another hospitalization preceding his nursing home stay, Mr. T had been clear about his wishes. After spending a few nights in the ICU without improvement, he and his wife had opted to pursue hospice care. Following his transfer from the ICU onto my wards team, ...

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Two months ago, I kneeled next to Sarah – an avid drinker of chocolate milk, ex-journalist, and new hospice resident – in a nursing homeroom. We had a knack for discussing emotions, and that day, our conversation reached the idea of suffering. Her pain-stricken voice shared, “Did you know that we notice? When someone’s health turns for the worst, we notice. There is a special whispering that flutters throughout the building. ...

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The novel coronavirus continues to rage through America, with the total cases standing at more than 210,000 and the death toll at over 5,000. It is without question that our seniors--those 65 years of age or older--will bear the brunt of the health consequences of COVID-19 and the projected American death toll of up to 240,000 this year. It is now well known that seniors have a ...

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An excerpt from Tough Decisions In Care Of Elderly Loved Ones (A guide for caregivers).

Empathy is more than just loving an elderly loved one. It is more than simply making the decision we may feel is best for our loved one. Empathy is different ...

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Most Canadians are familiar with nursing homes or long-term care facilities that provide 24-hour care to seniors who are no longer able to care for themselves independently – but we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. Given our rapidly aging population, and the likelihood that someone we love, or maybe even ourselves, will be living there one day, maybe we should.

What might surprise ...

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The first signs are often subtle — missed appointments, unpaid bills, or a once immaculate home that now has an unmowed lawn and dirty dishes on the counter. It’s easy for adult children of aging parents to miss these first signs that their parents need help with tasks they once handled easily on their own. In fact, many older people take great pains to cover up these problems and insist ...

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As I enter the exam room, I hear, “Don’t get old honey!” As a physician caring for a large population of geriatric patients in Florida, I hear this approximately five times a day. To this statement, I always reply, “There’s no alternative, though!”  I also try not to get offended by repeatedly being called “honey.” Although I am waiting to someday state; “it’s Doctor Honey.”  Usually, my level is offense is ...

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The chances that you or someone you love will be diagnosed with dementia are shockingly high. By age 65, your chances are already at 9 percent. Make it to age 85, and the chances go up to 33 percent. Of course, if you’re diagnosed with dementia, it will be a struggle for you to think clearly about your diagnosis. So, today, while all of your faculties are still intact, I’d ...

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First, you have to call up your daughter to pick you up and take you to the lab. It’s hard for the nurse to find your vein. The pain from his fishing around in your arm is not nearly as bad as the pain you always have in your hip, and back, and shoulders, but it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and you cry a little bit. The ...

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Sometimes what makes truly great catchphrases, mission statements, and movie titles so powerful is that they are true, always necessary, and sometimes sufficient.  I was reminded of this a few months back when a patient called into our telephonic urgent care triage line worried about a drug overdose.  I was in my office typing or talking away, as I am prone to do, when the registered nurse who took the ...

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The holidays bring friends and family together for celebrations and the chance to reconnect with people we may not see regularly during the rest of the year. But for people who are the caregivers for a parent, spouse, partner, or other family member who is living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, the holidays can be more complicated. Beyond the stress of continuing to provide care during an especially ...

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