Articles Posted in Home Care

caring-150x150A glaring gap in the U.S. health care system — the giving of care at home — is burgeoning into a costly chasm.  Pretty much everybody involved needs to pay close attention and finally act to deal with the nation’s failure to support home caregiving for the sick, injured, debilitated, and aged.

The consequences of inaction already are becoming clear, as the dearth of home care is smacking the recovering economy, “contributing to labor shortages around the country and playing a role in overall inflation,” the Washington Post reported, finding:

“At least 6.6 million people who weren’t working in early March said it was because they were caring for someone else, according to the most recent Household Pulse Survey from the Census Bureau. Whether — and when — they return to work will play a role in the continued recovery and could reshape the post-Covid labor force. For all the attention on parents — and mothers in particular — who stopped working to care for children during the pandemic, four times as many people are out of the work force, caring for spouses, siblings, aging parents, and grandchildren, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Monetary Policy Report.

casey-150x150wyden-1-150x150Senate Democrats, including chairs of two powerful committees, have started to tackle the nightmarish problems that experts blame for allowing the coronavirus pandemic to take a terrible toll on vulnerable residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Under a bill introduced by Ron Wyden, an Oregon senator and chair of the Senate Finance Committee (shown above, left), and Bob Casey Jr., a Pennsylvanian and chair of the Aging Committee (above, right), federal officials would both push and assist the facilities to improve health worker staffing, infection control, and regulatory oversight, notably through better inspections, the Associated Press and other news organizations reported.

The AP summarized the highlights of the Wyden-Casey measure, also supported by four other senators, thusly, noting it seeks to:

cdccoronaviruscasesmay222021-300x132These are exhilarating times for optimists about the coronavirus pandemic, what with cases finally dropping to lows not seen in months, hospitalizations in major decline, and deaths falling sharply. Public health measures targeted to protect people from infection are lifting, pronto, and the nation is opening apace.

Normality, however, isn’t exactly rushing in. And the toll of the pandemic — which rages across the globe — is still unfolding, as the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic are causing an extraordinary jolt in the U.S., inflating the nation’s death rate to the highest level seen in nearly two decades. Whether the U.S. will quickly snap back to pre-pandemic levels following a mass-vaccination effort remains to be seen. Daily Covid-19 deaths are on their way back down, but the disease is unlikely to disappear, and health experts say there could also be long-running effects from issues like missed cancer screenings, a surging rate of drug overdoses and health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic … The U.S.’s age-adjusted mortality rate shot up by about 16% in 2020 from the year before, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marking the highest point since 2003. This also broke a 90-year streak in which the yearly death rate was always lower than it was 10 years earlier.”

churninnhomes-300x300Churn may be a wonderful word when discussing fresh milk, heavy cream, and butter. But it can be a nightmare term for the too-common, rapid, and lethal turnover that occurs in health staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Personnel turnover left the aged, injured, and ailing residents at care centers, with an average annual health staff churn-rate of 128% and some facilities hitting as high as 300%, even more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study reported.

David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the study’s authors, told the New York Times of the information he and his colleagues gathered:

airliftwatertexasfreeze-300x227The climate change deniers can holler their heads off. But for all too many people from coast-to-coast, Mother Nature’s fury is tragically clear — as is the importance of not only future thinking but also emergency planning, by individuals and institutions.

This includes knowing common sense steps to safeguard one’s self and loved ones, in unusual circumstance, from misuse and abuse of ordinary products that also may have their own shortcomings, defects, or dangers.

Huge hurrahs, of course, are in order for the overworked, overstressed, and valiant doctors, nurses, and other health workers who — even while battling the over load of the coronavirus pandemic — have kept up medical services in hard hit areas of Texas and elsewhere during a brutal winter storm and its harsh freeze. The nightmarish conditions afflicted not only big hospitals but also those who provide desperately needed at-home care to the vulnerable.

countylahospicegrafic-300x139With coronavirus infections and deaths rising anew in worrisome fashion from coast to coast, matters could not get worse with the nation’s long-term care, right? Guess again. Profit-mongering and “audacious, widespread fraud” apparently has run amok in hospice care in the Golden State.

Because California, alas, too often serves as a trend-setting locale, patients, their loved ones, clinicians, regulators, and politicians may wish to take heed of an investigation published by the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported that too many older, sick, and injured patients have been gulled into signing up for unneeded and undelivered services meant for folks at the end of their lives:

“[M]any [hospice patients] are unwitting recruits [of] unscrupulous providers who bill Medicare for hospice services and equipment for ‘terminally ill’ patients who aren’t dying. Intense competition for new patients — who generate $154 to $1,432 a day each in Medicare payments — has spawned a cottage industry of illegal practices, including kickbacks to crooked doctors and recruiters who zero in on prospective patients at retirement homes and other venues … The exponential boom in providers has transformed end-of-life care that was once the realm of charities and religious groups into a multibillion-dollar business dominated by profit-driven operators. Nowhere has that growth been more explosive, and its harmful side effects more evident, than in Los Angeles County. The county’s hospices have multiplied sixfold in the last decade and now account for more than half of the state’s roughly 1,200 Medicare-certified providers, according to a Times analysis of federal health care data.”

GovMikePence-300x200The viral outbreak that exploded out of central China suddenly has captured the rapt attention of Wall Street, the White House, and Americans from coast to coast. The rising pitch and politicization of the important conversation about Covid-19 — a respiratory virus that already has posed a growing global health threat — can only be described as worrying.

For ordinary folks, the guidance emerging from all this: It may be time for smart preparation — definitely not panic.

The Trump Administration apparently has gotten the message that viral concerns are high, and the president and his men have conducted two news conferences in almost as many days, including announcing the first coronavirus death of an American in the continental U.S. and travel restrictions affecting Iran, Italy, and South Korea.

grayillustration-213x300Although Americans may have particular wishes as to how their lives might close out, they aren’t getting these optimal outcomes for themselves and their loved ones.

Instead, the much-desired option of dying at home is proving to be stressful and draining to the extreme for families, and, when it comes to the dreaded loss of control involved with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, drug therapies seem elusive in a concerning and crushing way.

Older workers’ health is becoming a startling concern, too, for many more employers as seniors stay on the job longer than they have before — leading to more workplace injuries and deaths.

bathroomscale-300x300Many of us may feel a little too hefty after weeks of seasonal feasting and merrymaking. But Old Man Winter also may share a slice of the blame for our weight gain at this time of year and beyond.

Packing on a pound or two, maybe even five, may be more common at this time of year than many realize, researchers say. Blame it not only on drinking and eating with friends for the holidays. It also may be due to our increased sedentary behaviors due to cold and stormy weather. As the Washington Post reported:

“On average, research shows that people gain one to two pounds over the winter months. For instance, a study of 195 people at the National Institutes of Health found weight gain of about one pound between late September and March. A study of 248 U.S. military personnel, who were enrolled in a weight-loss program, found that people added about two pounds from fall to winter. Here’s something else. There also is evidence that American adults gain one to two pounds each year, gradually accumulating weight over decades. Winter weight gain may be a major culprit, so perhaps we should view the season as a particularly risky time for adding excess padding. Indeed, 165 subjects in the NIH study returned for a September weigh-in and, on average, were 1.4 pounds heavier than the year before. A note: One to two pounds on average means that some people don’t gain any weight while others gain five pounds or more. And in a rude twist of fate, the people who gain the most are more likely to be already overweight or obese.”

voxsnip-300x134Americans are confronting a care-giving calamity with the elderly at home, and the alarms are sounding loudly about it. But are experts and politicians grasping the severity of this crushing health care shortfall?

The New York Times, Vox, Washington Post, and Forbes all published detailed and solid news articles about the nation’s quiet nightmare with the workforce needed to deal with the booming population of aging baby boomers.

Just a reminder: This is a huge group that is graying rapidly, with 10,000 boomers each day turning 65 and this startling reality continuing for the next  decade or so. Seniors long have said they prefer to age at home, that they dread and may not be able to afford nursing home care, and they are panicked about who will help them in their daily lives as they become debilitated, especially with dementia or Alzheimer’s — conditions predicted to explode in prevalence and cost as the nation’s elderly population increases.

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