Monday, March 15, 2021

5 Ways to Diagnose for Alzheimer's Disease

 

Checking for Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease affects over 6 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's causes severe memory loss which gradually gets worse over time. Even though there isn't a cure, patients (mostly senior citizens) who are diagnosed with Alzheimer's can be treated for the symptoms with a combination of drug and non-drug options.

There is no single diagnostic test that can detect Alzheimer's disease, so patients must go through a series of tests and evaluations before a diagnosis can be made. Doctors must rule out several conditions and refer the patient to a psychologist for a second evaluation before a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is made.

Below is are 5 steps used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease today.

#1. Medical History & Family History. This allows a doctor to learn about any family history of Alzheimer's and other diseases. The doctor will also learn about any prescription drugs a patient is taking, and may request a urine or blood test. The Alzheimer's Association reports that some symptoms that mimic dementia can be reduced when the person stops taking certain drugs, consuming alcohol, or is able to manage depression in a healthy way.

#2. Physical Exams. Doctors must review a person's current state of health by conducting a complete physical examination that includes a test of vital signs, and a thorough evaluation of many parts of the body including the bones and muscles, head, eyes and ears. This helps to rule out any preexisting conditions that may need to be treated.

The Mayo Clinic reported that seniors often have medical problems such as lung disease, high blood pressure and heart disease that can complicate the diagnosis.

#3. Mental Status Evaluation. This part is done by an experienced psychologist - the evaluation is designed to help determine what level of sensory abilities and mental abilities the individual still has. The patient may be asked to perform linguistic and intelligence tests, and to perform simple calculations.

#4. X-Rays & Lab Tests. Blood or urine tests may be taken again at this step of the Alzheimer's diagnosis process to check for nutritional deficiencies, gauge the level of thyroid hormones, and check blood counts. At this stage of testing, a doctor may also want to run a MRI scan, a CAT scan and X-rays to rule out the instance of blood clots or tumors which can cause impairment or forgetfulness. Another test that measures brain activity and function is an EEG test.

#5. Ongoing Psych Evaluations. If the tests so far show no indications of Alzheimer's, a doctor may still request a psychological evaluation every couple months to check for signs and symptoms. If some of the test results do point to Alzheimer's, the patient may be provided with a treatment plan to manage the symptoms and improve their quality of life. Only an autopsy of the brain can reveal whether the patient was actually effected with Alzheimer's disease.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Which Senior Living Option Is Best

 

Types of Senior Living Options

Senior care is not something that should be overlooked - humans are living longer, and having a conversation about potential senior living options is a natural stage in life. But it's a major life-changing decision and in a lot of cases it means a parent will have to leave their current home.

There's a few options available such as independent living in a senior community, nursing home, assisted living care, and specialized short-term and long-term senior housing for memory care (seniors with Alzheimer's disease).

In some cases there's a specific event, such as an illness, or an injury that triggers an initial conversation. In other cases it's noticeable symptoms of aging, whether physical or mental, that causes us to start considering the different senior housing.

Most common senior living options:

  1. Independent living - life as usual, but with regular check-ins from staff or a caregiver.
  2. Assisted living - senior assisted living is part of a continuum of long-term care that provides housing, personal care services, and health care designed to respond to individuals who require assistance with activities of daily life (known as "ADLs").
  3. Nursing home (or "skilled nursing") - a nursing home is for seniors 62+ who need more assistance than those in an assisted living facility. Most nursing homes have licensed nurses 24/7 and on-site doctors during business hours. Resident's rooms are equipped with an alert system to notify staff in case of an emergency. Nursing homes also offer specialized care such as physical therapy, memory care, speech therapy or occupational therapy.
It's always good to plan for the future when time is on your side, even if there is no immediate crisis.

Also by planning ahead it won't be as traumatic for them when the day finally arrives. It's a major life change and can cause a lot of stress for everyone if it's not properly planned out ahead of time.

Here's 5 things to consider when researching the best senior living option:
  1. Age and health. Is your loved exercising and stretching each day? How is his or her memory? What is their ability to take care of themselves with activities of daily life? Do they require any special care? These answers will determine the senior living options available to you.
  2. Senior care pricing. What is your loved ones ability to pay for care? Are there any savings or assets such as a home that can be used to help pay the monthly costs of senior care? Also which government programs are available to help pay for the senior care needed (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Gap).
  3. Responsibilities. Who will be the primary caregiver? Is it just yourself? Are siblings or other family members, willing and able to assist?
  4. Expectations. Another consideration is your parent’s emotional readiness for making the transition. Do you know whether a move will prove to be a big issue for them, and they will fight it, or are they ready for the change, and accept it as a necessary move? Have you had “the conversation” yet? Do you know what to expect or are you in for a surprise reaction?
  5. Distance. Last but not least to consider is location. Would you be looking for a place within 30-mins of their current residence? Would it make more sense to move closer to yourself or to another sibling? Perhaps it makes sense to move a warmer climate?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

How To Assess A Skilled Nursing Facility


Skilled Home Care is for what they call in the industry, “skilled” needs. According to seniorchecklist.com try to find Medicare-certified facility with at least 4-stars overall, and good ratings for staff quality, resident care, and has a staff-to-resident ratio of 10-to-1 or better.

To qualify for a “skilled” nursing facility, a senior must be home bound and have needs such as wound care, physical, occupational or speech therapy. By Medicare definition, “homebound” means the person is not able to leave their residence for any purpose other than to see a health care provider or attend a religious services.

In most U.S. states, insurance covers ‘skilled” home care services, if you qualify for the benefits under your policy. It's important to check with your insurance carrier about any co-pays or visits.

Senior home care services may supply an aide to come in and assist with activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, dressing, etc). The cost is generally covered by Medicare or Medicaid, but only if it's required and available from the home care facility.

When considering a skilled nursing facility here's some things to research and ask:

  • Is the in-home care facility or service accredited by a governing agency such as medicare.gov? Many insurance companies require this accreditation for payment. Accreditation means the facility has met certain requirements in regard to staffing, training, and supervision.      

  • Ask to see the home care agency’s survey report for health & safety.

  • Most states require agencies and skilled nursing facilities to be licensed and reviewed regularly. These reviews may be available upon request and can be valuable for assessing quality of resident care.

  • Ask to see the outcome studies regarding your loved one’s condition.

  • Ask them to provide references from: doctors, social workers, hospital discharge planners, and especially current residents 

  • What are the credentials of the providers? Are they licensed and bonded?

  • Do they provide special resources for memory care or physical therapy?

  • What is the monthly cost of senior living care? What types of payment does the facility accept? (not all accept Medicare).



5 Ways to Diagnose for Alzheimer's Disease

  Alzheimer's disease affects over 6 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer's Association . Alzheimer's causes severe mem...