Category: Health

  • Telemedicine

    September 28, 2020

    Tags:

    In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in the US has changed. More and more, people are seeking out telemedicine services versus the traditional brick and mortar physician’s office. This trend also includes telemental health services as well. So what are the advantages of these services and how are they growing to meet the need?

    Pandemic Launch

    The COVID-19 pandemic definitely thrust the use of telemedicine forward but many health care providers have been using this type of service for years. What the pandemic did do is encourage patients’ use of the telehealth services already in place. Telehealth is defined as “the practice of communicating electronically with a physician, typically via telephone or video chat.” While our hospitals and doctors’ offices have been overcrowded with very sick COVID-19 patients, use of telemedicine has allowed the burden felt in these locations to be lessened.  Patients call in for routine exams and are many times seen and treated faster than if they came in to the physical office location.

    Advantages to Telehealth Services

    According to a survey by FAIR Health, there has been a 8,336% increase nationally in the use of telehealth from April 2019 to April 2020. Advantages of this increase and use include:

      • Enabling patients to follow shelter-in-place restrictions by staying home and away from hospitals, except for emergencies
      • Minimizing risk to health care workers and patients by limiting exposure to the coronavirus and other diseases
      • Facilitating services for chronic patient monitoring, follow-up visits, therapy appointments and post-operative care
      • Employees see the offering of telemedicine benefits as a huge priority in examining employment options

    Advantages to Telemental Health Services

    Like Telehealth services, use of Telemental Health services have also increased this year. A recent mental health survey says that 7 in 10 employees cite the COVID-19 pandemic as being the most stressful time in their careers. Caring for children who are out of school, caring for loved ones, financial issues, and stress from job changes are some of the issues that employees are facing. Business owners see the benefit of telemental health as their employees’ access these services in higher numbers. High levels of stress have been known to result in lower productivity, lower morale, and higher absenteeism. Advantages for telemental health include:

    • The provision of telemental health services to patients living in rural and under-served areas has significantly reduced psychiatric hospitalization rates.
    • Low-income, homebound seniors experienced longer lasting effects of telemental health than those who received in-person mental health services.
    • Mental health providers rarely have to perform any physical services on their patients, so telemental health is more plausible than other types of telehealth services.
    • There is little or no difference in patient satisfaction with telemental health when compared with face-to-face mental health consultations.
    • Although mental health professionals are in short supply, mobile devices are not.

    There are some significant advantages to the use of telemedicine services. Zywave explains, “Virtual healthcare is emerging as a viable solution to help lessen the burden on healthcare facilities and staff while still providing individuals with the care they need.” Tele-services also reach more of the under-served population both for health care and mental health care. As consumers gain confidence in virtual living, the call for telemedicine will also grow.

  • Family Caregivers: 5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    August 10, 2020

    Tags: ,

     

    According to the National Center on Caregiving, a family caregiver (or informal caregiver) is “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.”  In the US, 85% of caregivers care for a relative or loved one with 42% of those caregivers supporting an aging parent. Since early 2020, we have seen this vulnerable aging population fall prey to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, those providing care for this group have also begun to fall prey to this virus’s demise in the form of care-fatigue. We’ve compiled a toolkit of some simple resources to help the caregivers that are on the frontline of care for their loved ones avoid burnout.

    5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    1. Plan Your Communication

    When taking your loved one to any sort of appointment, plan out what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Make a checklist of what items you want to discuss with the provider. Ask your loved one what they would like to talk about as well.  In addition, keep your other family members informed about the care you are providing by establishing a weekly check-in whether through email or Facetime or phone call.

    1. Don’t Go It Alone

    Providing daily care can be immensely rewarding but can also be a physically and emotionally exhausting job. When the job seems bigger than you can handle alone, do some research into community resources for assistance. There are networks of caregiving agencies that can help with everything from personal care to behavioral issues. Determine what you can afford to pay for services and prioritize those that are most needed for you to maintain your own health.

    1. Self-Care is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

    Have you heard the saying “you cannot fill someone else’s cup if your own cup is empty”? In order for you to continue providing care for your loved ones, you must tend to your own care. This involves taking regular breaks throughout the day—maybe for a quick walk or some exercise—to clear your head and refocus your energy. This can also include seeking out respite care so that your immediate family can go out for dinner or even away for a few days. Self-care is a chance to recharge your batteries so you are fully able to care for others.

    1. Teach Them Tech

    This may seem like a daunting task, but teaching your aging loved one some easy technology tips can free up some time in your daily schedule for other pressing tasks. Help them use Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to check the weather or call a friend or even to set alarms and reminders. Another handy tech tool is introducing them to the convenience and safety of telemedicine. Many elderly folks are unsure of transitioning to this kind of care, but with your support, this can be a great resource for their physical health appointments.

    1. Practice Positivity

    Frustration and fatigue are easy traps to find yourself in when providing care for others. The way to best combat this is through finding ways to reframe your thoughts. The author of the Blue Zone series, Dan Buettner, traveled the world to study the happiness of people in different parts of the world and found that if you find a balance of pleasure, purpose, and pride in life, you can achieve happiness even in tough, challenging times. You can change the way you approach the caregiving tasks in your day by seeking this balance of the 3 P’s.

    As the “new normal” begins in our world, you can also begin a new approach to your role as a family caregiver. Commit to using these trusty tools for avoiding burnout. They are time-tested and will help you achieve the correct, and happiness-inspiring balance that best serves both you and your loved ones.

    Resources:

    American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) “Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping with Stress”

    U.S. Administration on Aging—Eldercare Locator

    Family Caregiver Alliance

    Caring.com—Family Caregiver Basics

    Caregiver Action Network—10 Tips for Family Caregivers

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

    Tags: , , , ,

    Everyone knows that eating healthy, getting exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our lifetime being spent sleeping, this part of our life must take importance. Let’s delve into why sleep is important and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At different stages in our life, we require different amounts of sleep. From birth to 4-years old, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep. They are growing and learning both cognitively and emotionally and this takes lots of energy. To restore that energy that is expended during these active toddler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age children are some of the most active humans on the planet. Being at school from 8-3 everyday really wears their little bodies out. Because of their activity, these children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8-10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7-9 solid hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    During our restful time of sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring, rejuvenating, growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones. To say the least, our bodies are never at rest. When we are awake and moving, we are busy processing stimuli, converting calories to energy, and growing, to name a few basic functions.  When we sleep, these processes continue but our body also does the intricate work of strengthening our immune system, fighting disease and infection, and processing the day’s emotions through dreams. Scientists say the benefits of good sleep include:

    • Sharper brain
    • Healthier heart
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Weight control
    • Mood boosters
    • Steadier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Section

    To get the optimized benefits of sleep you have to get your body in the correct circadian rhythm.  According to the National Institutes of Health, “Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.  They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm.  Your body’s biological clock, which is based on a roughly 24-hour day, controls most circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues (light, temperature) about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.” Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and even external lights can interfere with this rhythm and therefore have a negative impact on your overall health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to optimize that circadian rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a consistent schedule of both bedtime AND waketime
    2. Go for a morning walk—getting your body up and moving when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Limit evening technology
      1. bright lights confuse the brain into believing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in laptops and cellphones—should be turned off within 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Understanding the importance of and the benefits from a good night’s sleep will help you prioritize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of setting a consistent bedtime and build up to turning off that cellphone game early.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

  • Telemedicine

    September 28, 2020

    Tags:

    In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system in the US has changed. More and more, people are seeking out telemedicine services versus the traditional brick and mortar physician’s office. This trend also includes telemental health services as well. So what are the advantages of these services and how are they growing to meet the need?

    Pandemic Launch

    The COVID-19 pandemic definitely thrust the use of telemedicine forward but many health care providers have been using this type of service for years. What the pandemic did do is encourage patients’ use of the telehealth services already in place. Telehealth is defined as “the practice of communicating electronically with a physician, typically via telephone or video chat.” While our hospitals and doctors’ offices have been overcrowded with very sick COVID-19 patients, use of telemedicine has allowed the burden felt in these locations to be lessened.  Patients call in for routine exams and are many times seen and treated faster than if they came in to the physical office location.

    Advantages to Telehealth Services

    According to a survey by FAIR Health, there has been a 8,336% increase nationally in the use of telehealth from April 2019 to April 2020. Advantages of this increase and use include:

      • Enabling patients to follow shelter-in-place restrictions by staying home and away from hospitals, except for emergencies
      • Minimizing risk to health care workers and patients by limiting exposure to the coronavirus and other diseases
      • Facilitating services for chronic patient monitoring, follow-up visits, therapy appointments and post-operative care
      • Employees see the offering of telemedicine benefits as a huge priority in examining employment options

    Advantages to Telemental Health Services

    Like Telehealth services, use of Telemental Health services have also increased this year. A recent mental health survey says that 7 in 10 employees cite the COVID-19 pandemic as being the most stressful time in their careers. Caring for children who are out of school, caring for loved ones, financial issues, and stress from job changes are some of the issues that employees are facing. Business owners see the benefit of telemental health as their employees’ access these services in higher numbers. High levels of stress have been known to result in lower productivity, lower morale, and higher absenteeism. Advantages for telemental health include:

    • The provision of telemental health services to patients living in rural and under-served areas has significantly reduced psychiatric hospitalization rates.
    • Low-income, homebound seniors experienced longer lasting effects of telemental health than those who received in-person mental health services.
    • Mental health providers rarely have to perform any physical services on their patients, so telemental health is more plausible than other types of telehealth services.
    • There is little or no difference in patient satisfaction with telemental health when compared with face-to-face mental health consultations.
    • Although mental health professionals are in short supply, mobile devices are not.

    There are some significant advantages to the use of telemedicine services. Zywave explains, “Virtual healthcare is emerging as a viable solution to help lessen the burden on healthcare facilities and staff while still providing individuals with the care they need.” Tele-services also reach more of the under-served population both for health care and mental health care. As consumers gain confidence in virtual living, the call for telemedicine will also grow.

  • Family Caregivers: 5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    August 10, 2020

    Tags: ,

     

    According to the National Center on Caregiving, a family caregiver (or informal caregiver) is “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.”  In the US, 85% of caregivers care for a relative or loved one with 42% of those caregivers supporting an aging parent. Since early 2020, we have seen this vulnerable aging population fall prey to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, those providing care for this group have also begun to fall prey to this virus’s demise in the form of care-fatigue. We’ve compiled a toolkit of some simple resources to help the caregivers that are on the frontline of care for their loved ones avoid burnout.

    5 Tools to Avoid Burnout

    1. Plan Your Communication

    When taking your loved one to any sort of appointment, plan out what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Make a checklist of what items you want to discuss with the provider. Ask your loved one what they would like to talk about as well.  In addition, keep your other family members informed about the care you are providing by establishing a weekly check-in whether through email or Facetime or phone call.

    1. Don’t Go It Alone

    Providing daily care can be immensely rewarding but can also be a physically and emotionally exhausting job. When the job seems bigger than you can handle alone, do some research into community resources for assistance. There are networks of caregiving agencies that can help with everything from personal care to behavioral issues. Determine what you can afford to pay for services and prioritize those that are most needed for you to maintain your own health.

    1. Self-Care is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

    Have you heard the saying “you cannot fill someone else’s cup if your own cup is empty”? In order for you to continue providing care for your loved ones, you must tend to your own care. This involves taking regular breaks throughout the day—maybe for a quick walk or some exercise—to clear your head and refocus your energy. This can also include seeking out respite care so that your immediate family can go out for dinner or even away for a few days. Self-care is a chance to recharge your batteries so you are fully able to care for others.

    1. Teach Them Tech

    This may seem like a daunting task, but teaching your aging loved one some easy technology tips can free up some time in your daily schedule for other pressing tasks. Help them use Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to check the weather or call a friend or even to set alarms and reminders. Another handy tech tool is introducing them to the convenience and safety of telemedicine. Many elderly folks are unsure of transitioning to this kind of care, but with your support, this can be a great resource for their physical health appointments.

    1. Practice Positivity

    Frustration and fatigue are easy traps to find yourself in when providing care for others. The way to best combat this is through finding ways to reframe your thoughts. The author of the Blue Zone series, Dan Buettner, traveled the world to study the happiness of people in different parts of the world and found that if you find a balance of pleasure, purpose, and pride in life, you can achieve happiness even in tough, challenging times. You can change the way you approach the caregiving tasks in your day by seeking this balance of the 3 P’s.

    As the “new normal” begins in our world, you can also begin a new approach to your role as a family caregiver. Commit to using these trusty tools for avoiding burnout. They are time-tested and will help you achieve the correct, and happiness-inspiring balance that best serves both you and your loved ones.

    Resources:

    American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) “Caregiver Burnout: Steps for Coping with Stress”

    U.S. Administration on Aging—Eldercare Locator

    Family Caregiver Alliance

    Caring.com—Family Caregiver Basics

    Caregiver Action Network—10 Tips for Family Caregivers

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

    Tags: , , , ,

    Everyone knows that eating healthy, getting exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our lifetime being spent sleeping, this part of our life must take importance. Let’s delve into why sleep is important and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At different stages in our life, we require different amounts of sleep. From birth to 4-years old, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep. They are growing and learning both cognitively and emotionally and this takes lots of energy. To restore that energy that is expended during these active toddler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age children are some of the most active humans on the planet. Being at school from 8-3 everyday really wears their little bodies out. Because of their activity, these children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8-10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7-9 solid hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    During our restful time of sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring, rejuvenating, growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones. To say the least, our bodies are never at rest. When we are awake and moving, we are busy processing stimuli, converting calories to energy, and growing, to name a few basic functions.  When we sleep, these processes continue but our body also does the intricate work of strengthening our immune system, fighting disease and infection, and processing the day’s emotions through dreams. Scientists say the benefits of good sleep include:

    • Sharper brain
    • Healthier heart
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Weight control
    • Mood boosters
    • Steadier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Section

    To get the optimized benefits of sleep you have to get your body in the correct circadian rhythm.  According to the National Institutes of Health, “Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.  They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm.  Your body’s biological clock, which is based on a roughly 24-hour day, controls most circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues (light, temperature) about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.” Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and even external lights can interfere with this rhythm and therefore have a negative impact on your overall health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to optimize that circadian rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a consistent schedule of both bedtime AND waketime
    2. Go for a morning walk—getting your body up and moving when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Limit evening technology
      1. bright lights confuse the brain into believing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in laptops and cellphones—should be turned off within 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Understanding the importance of and the benefits from a good night’s sleep will help you prioritize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of setting a consistent bedtime and build up to turning off that cellphone game early.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

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