We’ve Moved

Health Issues Unmasked can now be found as a section of jacquelineljones.com. We’ve added more topics and resources to keep you abreast of the what you need to know to improve your health and your life. Join us at jacquelineljones.com today!

Order Tests Directly from Labs

by Jacqueline L. Jones

Many people with chronic illnesses have sought answers through Internet research. During that research, they may have stumbled upon the right answers, but faced resistance from primary care providers unwilling to order the necessary tests.

If you have an idea of what may be ailing you, you have the right to order tests directly from a specialty laboratory. Some insurance companies pay 100% for these services.

Representatives of the lab come to the patient’s homes to draw blood, if necessary. Patients collect their own gene or stool samples in a kit provided by the lab, and mail the samples to the lab for analysis. Representatives then contact patients to convey the results and recommendations for further action.

Some popular labs are:

From Secrets of Getting a Diagnosis Unmasked.

Seek Help with Caregiving Duties (Part 3)

by Jacqueline L. Jones

Friends, relatives, neighbors, and people in your local congregation of faith can be a great source of help with caregiving. As I stated in an earlier post, my friends and the few family members in the area are unable to help much. A member of my church recently volunteered to fill in the gap. What a difference her help made!

This sweet lady read to my mother and played bingo with her. She even washed dishes and helped tend to Mom’s personal needs.

We caregivers sometimes are reluctant to share our burdens with others. At times this reluctance is based on an unreasonable belief that we must shield the patient from scrutiny by others. At some point we must let go of our pride and apprehension.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association and various medical journals, caregivers have an increased rate of depression, and often die before the patients they serve. Caregivers with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable.

Now that you are aware of additional resources, you can begin to care for yourself before there is no one left to care for your loved one.

Seek Help with Caregiving Duties (Part 2)

by Jacqueline L. Jones

The next stop in the search for no- or low-cost help with caregiving is your Area Agency on Aging (AAA). They have the most comprehensive knowledge of resources for elder care, and they often provide services as well.

In our area, AAA provides respite and homemaking services and asses charges on a sliding scale according to the total household income. They also provide Meals on Wheels for seniors whose incomes are below a certain level. For more information, visit the Website of the National Assocation of Area Agencies on Aging.

The National Family Caregivers Association also maintains a Website that that lists extensive resources, including sources of respite care. The organization conducts workshops and sponsors the Caregiver Community Action Network (CCAN) of local volunteers who may be able to give you personal guidance.

The local or regional chapter of the support group for your loved one’s illness also may provide help. Our regional office of the Alzheimer’s Association pays for a few days of adult day care. That brief respite may provide enough time to search for a long-term solution. The Alzheimer’s Association also maintains an extensive library of resources on caregiving and sponsors the Safe Return program, which provides IDs so you and your loved one can be identified if you become incapacitated while on an outing with them or your loved wanders away.

My last post featured Medicare as a source of short-term help. My next post will address often overlooked sources of help that are closer than you think.

Seek Help With Caregiving Duties

by Jacqueline L. Jones

I’m not into crowds. Most of my activities the last few years have centered around my home, parents, friends, and church, and I like it that way. But the responsibilities of caregiving have forced me to expand my circle by necessity.

As an only child recovering from severe fatigue and helping to care for a mother who has Alzheimer’s, I’ve struggled to find the right balance between personal, professional, and family responsibilities. Childhood friends envied me because I don’t have brothers and sisters. Until recently, I’ve envied them because they have help in sharing the load.

Where do you turn when you don’t have enough family members around to help, and your friends are as sick as you used to be? What if you haven’t been able to work for years because of personal and/or family illness? And what if your family has too little income to pay for extra help but too much to meet the income qualifications of most federal programs, qualifications that haven’t been adjusted to deal with the real cost of living? Start with Medicare.

Because of recent budget cuts, Medicare is a temporary solution at best, but it pays for a variety of short-term and intermittent (ceasing for a time) services. These services are geared toward training family members to provide care more efficiently.

The home health agency that provides our services initially has created a new set of challenges. A small army of new caregivers–a nurse, a physical therapist, and a personal aid–has descended on our apartment for short visits that require us to participate and learn new techniques. We have seen rapid results, however, in their lessons on streamlining necessary tasks and encouraging patient independence. You can access similar services by contacting your loved one’s primary care provider.

In future posts, I’ll address other ways to get help with caregiving duties.

Relief for Doctors and Patients is on the Way

by Jacqueline L. Jones

My last post addressed how time constraints and other problems in the medical system interfere with a physician’s ability to provide good service. Last week The New York Times reported that an influential nonprofit organization focused on health care has proposed changes to relieve some of the pressure.

The plan, developed by The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and titled the Physician Practice Connection (PPC), includes identifying top notch doctors and paying them for longer office visits, as well as phone and e-mail communications after hours, none of which currently are reimbursed by insurance companies. NCQA presented its plan on Nov. 7 in Washington, D.C., before the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) Call to Action Summit, a meeting of doctors, insurers and employers that provide health benefits.

The PPC is specifically geared toward reducing costs associated with chronic illness. Chronic illness care for 20 percent of patients is responsible for 80 percent of the health care costs, said Dr. Arnold Milstein, medical director of the Pacific Business Group on Health.

Read the rest of this entry »

Medical System Frustrates Doctors Too

by Jacqueline L. Jones

There was a time when I hated mainstream medical professionals. Wouldn’t YOU get a little surly after repeatedly hearing that you were a hypochondriac in spite of the fact that you had a persistent fever of 104 degrees, your ankles were so swollen you couldn’t walk, and you couldn’t lift your hands over your head or do dishes? How could you avoid feeling a little smug when you fixed much of the problem without them, and most of them didn’t know enough to know anything was wrong?

My attitude is beginning to change thanks to the book How Doctors Think. Dr. Jerome Groopman, the book’s author and a medical researcher, Harvard professor, and journalist, says that though some insensitive physicians make snap decision that harm patients, most started off as caring professionals and have become jaded by dealing with the system. Insane restrictions from insurors and equally insane control by pharmaceutical companies along with time restrictions dictated by practice managers have created a prescription for disaster. Unfortunately, insensitivity only adds to the problem, but I can’t say I’d have a different attitude under the circumstances. I hate to say it, but I’m beginning to empathize with them.

Read the rest of this entry »

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