Friday, May 20, 2011

Mom's Miracle: Why It's Important to Plan Ahead

It's been a while since I last posted. That's because my mom, age 92 years, landed in the hospital three times since March.

This last visit looked like the final one. The rabbi lead the family in prayer for a miracle or for gentle passing (honestly, I don't remember because I was so distraught). Because mom was obviously struggling and in discomfort, I, as the health care advocate who knew her Do Not Resuscitate wishes, agonizingly ordered the removal of the breathing tube.

To our surprise (and the doctors consternation!) Mom started breathing on her own.

She is now home. She'll have nurse aide visits and physical therapy for as long as Medicare will cover the costs.

She uses a walker but is anxious to get rid of it. She continues to do her exercises as she brushes her teeth twice a day. She is feisty and sharp as ever.

And I am lucky to have her around for however much precious time she has left.

Please, please, please plan ahead. Have your loved one select a health care advocate. Provide your physician and hospital with a copy of your health care directive. Keep a copy of current medications in the medicine cabinet and/or above the refrigerator. Check out how hospice or palliative care can help. And do a lot of praying. I did.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Noise and Stroke

A new Danish study found that prolonged exposure to loud traffic noise is strongly associated to stroke risk among people 65 and older.

Dr. Mette Sorenson of Institute of Cancer Epidemiology of Danish Cancer Society explained that "Exposure to traffic noise is believed to provoke a stress response and disturb sleep, which might increase the risk for stroke."

Some researchers questioned the validity of the study because there were too many other factors that could have affected the outcome--like diet, socioeconomic status, etc.

Still the Danish researchers insisted that noise-deafening building materials could have a positive effect.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chemical Highlight Alzheimer's Disease in the Brain

Current medications are most effective in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. That's why the FDA may approve a new chemical that can highlight Alzheimer's signs in the brain.

Eli Lilly's Amyvid is injected into patients who then get a PET scan. A negative diagnosis rules out Alzheimer's.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CAM Helps Hospices

Even though complementary and alternative therapies are not typically covered by medical insurance, these treatment are utilized in nearly 42% of U.S. hospices.

Massages, support group therapy, meditation and music are employed to make end-of-life more calming, alleviating pain and anxiety.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Genetic Test Identifies Certain High Risk Cancer Patients

German researchers report that a genetic test seems to be able to identify stage II colon cancer patients who have a higher risk of recurrence.

According to cancer experts, "this would be a huge help to doctors in determining which patients need follow-up treatment after initial surgery and which do not, and it would be an improvement on existing ways to predict recurrence."

80% of stage II colon cancer patients are cured with surgery. The new test aids in decision-making on chemotherapy and radiation.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg at University Hospital, Technical University, Munich, said that those patients identified as high risk by the test were over four times as likely to develop a distant metastasis.