Thursday, November 29, 2012

Prognosis for Stroke Victims: What Should You Expect?

Senior care professionals in Durham, North Carolina, understand that caregivers must anticipate the needs of an elderly loved one after they suffer from a stroke. Although the exact impact that a stroke will have on a senior varies from one individual to another, there are ways to plan for the increased care that your elderly loved one may need after leaving the hospital.

In terms of severity, a stroke is a very intense event if not addressed by medical professionals quickly. In fact, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this particular medical condition is the second leading cause of death around the world. Due to improved medical response and the ability of individuals to get their family members into the hands of healthcare professionals quickly, the mortality rate associated with stroke is declining. In fact, the medical center asserts that over 75 percent of individuals who suffer from a stroke survive for the first year. Over 50 percent survive through the next five years.
The damage that a stroke causes to the body hinges on many factors. First and foremost is the location of the stroke. Depending upon where the bleeding or blockage occurs, the event will result in damage to different parts of the brain. Because the brain’s many parts control different functions and areas of the body, the damage done to them will dictate the lasting effects of the stroke. For instance, an aneurysm that cuts off blood flow to the part of the brain that controls speech may impair the ability of a senior to communicate vocally.

After your elderly loved one’s condition is assessed by a doctor, following the event, it is important to speak with the healthcare professional regarding their individualized prognosis pertaining to the damage that has been done to your loved one’s brain. Through this conversation, you can better gauge the amount of extra care that your senior will need.
Determining the prognosis of a stroke victim is not an easy task, and it is one that requires both family members and medical professionals to remain patient, as the lasting damage of the event will not be evident until after it has occurred. By understanding this damage, though, you can better cater to the needs of your loved one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Treatment Options for Stroke Victims

A stroke is a major medical event, one that must be treated as quickly as possible in order to minimize the damage that it causes to the brain. Senior care professionals understand that the treatment plan that a doctor recommends will depend upon the kind of stroke that has taken place. Also, an elderly individual’s medical history, symptoms, and other factors may be considered. Helping elderly loved ones through the treatment of a stroke is difficult, but you can assist your senior in staying strong through the process by educating yourself about the ways in which strokes are treated. The elder care professionals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, know that understanding these treatment options makes the entire process a little less daunting.

Ischemic Stroke Treatment
Ischemic strokes may be first treated with a clot-dissolving medication. Called a tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA, this medication disbands clots and, in so doing, restores blood flow to the brain. As such, if administered quickly enough, it can prevent further damage to brain cells.

In addition to a t-PA, seniors who suffer from ischemic strokes may also be given aspirin or a similar medication. This is an antiplatelet drug that prevents platelets from clotting.
Hemorrhagic Stroke Treatment

Elderly individuals who suffer from a hemorrhagic stroke may first be monitored for the symptoms of increased pressure in the brain. Medications to control several different factors, including blood pressure, fever, blood sugar, and seizures, may be administered to minimize the damage that the stroke causes to the body.
If the stroke has been determined to stem from a ruptured aneurysm, surgeons may opt to perform one of two different procedures; they may use a metal clip to stop the aneurysm from bleeding any further or they may choose to perform endovascular coil embolization, which entails threading a coil into the aneurysm to stop the flow of blood. Surgery is also an option when bleeding leads to high pressure around the brain, as medical professionals may need to drain the fluid that is pushing on the organ.

The most important thing to remember is to get your senior into the hands of a trained healthcare professional as soon as possible when a stroke begins. Treating this condition quickly is imperative to preventing lasting damage to the brain.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Happens During a Stroke

A stroke is a very dangerous medical event that occurs when the blood supply is cut off to the brain. This can take place for multiple reasons, but in every case it is crucial that elderly individuals receive medical attention as soon as possible. During a stroke, brain cells can die and cause permanent damage, resulting in a long list of complications for the senior who has suffered the event. By understanding what happens during a stroke, senior care professionals know that you can better navigate the situation and, ultimately, more effectively secure the care that your loved one needs.

A stroke can be caused by two different ways in which blood flow to the brain is limited. The first is a blood clot. When a blood clot blocks an artery, blood cannot move up into the brain. This blood is oxygen-rich and provides the brain with the nutrients it needs to survive. Without these nutrients, brain cells cannot live. The second way in which the blood supply can be cut off is through the rupture of a blood vessel. If a blood vessel breaks, then the blood will flow out into the body instead of up into the brain. Like a blood clot, the rupture of a blood vessel limits the flow of blood into this vital organ, causing its cells to die.

As brain cells begin to die, seniors will experience a loss of certain capabilities. For instance, their speech or movement may become impaired. If blood flow is not restored to the brain quickly enough, the damage done to the cells may prove irreparable. This means that seniors can face permanent damage to their ability to speak and move. Additionally, if a certain part of the brain is affected, elderly individuals may lose their memory.
The extent of the damage caused by a stroke is dependent upon several factors. First and foremost, the location of the event will determine which parts of the brain are impacted. Furthermore, the amount of time that it takes for individuals to receive medical assistance plays an integral role in the ability of healthcare professionals to restore function to affected parts of the brain. By understanding what is taking place, you can better get your senior the medical assistance they need.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Parkinson's Disease: What Treatment Options Are Available?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive illness that, over time, causes neurodegeneration in the brain. Although the progression of the disease is often slow, allowing individuals to live for decades after receiving their diagnosis, it creates a long list of symptoms that can interfere with the daily lives of individuals who have this condition. Unfortunately, modern medicine is still searching for a cure for this disease; however, individuals who suffer from Parkinson's disease are encouraged to take advantage of the treatment options that can alleviate their symptoms and, ultimately, improve quality of life.

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, both pharmaceutical and surgical treatment options are available to individuals with this disease.[1] The symptoms that healthcare professionals advise be treated are those that most impair the ability of their patients to enjoy their lives. For this reason, the treatment plans created for individuals who are battling Parkinson's disease are different from one case to another.
Pharmaceutical Treatment

When Parkinson's disease takes hold, the brain often struggles to create the dopamine it needs. For this reason, many of the drugs prescribed to treat this condition focus on replacing or mimicking dopamine. These pharmaceuticals are often also able to alleviate rigid muscles, which frequently develop with this condition. Furthermore, they can improve coordination and speed while reducing the severity of tremor.

Surgical Treatment
Surgery is always a major undertaking, and it is important to remember that it should only be performed if medications have not satisfactorily addressed certain symptoms of Parkinson's disease. If the characteristic tremor of this condition is not alleviated by pharmaceuticals, surgery is often an option. Additionally, individuals who suffer from motor fluctuations may also consider this method of treatment to improve their symptoms and enhance their quality of life.

Complementary Treatment
Herbs, vitamins, and supplements may prove helpful in lessening the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. It is important, though, that individuals exploring this avenue are certain of the credentials of the individual providing them with treatment advice.

Clinical Trials
Researchers are actively looking for cures to this devastating disease. As such, multiple clinical trials are taking place at any given moment.
Parkinson's disease is a difficult condition for both individuals and their loved ones to handle; however, with the support of a knowledgeable medical team, families in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, can help alleviate the symptoms of their loved ones. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parkinson's Disease: What Is the Prognosis?

A progressive illness, Parkinson's disease is a condition that gets worse over time. Frequently, the disease intensifies slowly, allowing individuals who have received this diagnosis to enjoy long lives with their loved ones; however, with a cure still not confirmed by medical researchers, it is important that individuals understand the prognosis of this condition in order to best care for their loved ones who have the disease. Lindsay, from Durham, North Carolina, was by her mother's side when she was told she had Parkinson's disease. Since then, Lindsay has learned the importance of planning ahead—and knowing what the plan for.
While doing her research, Lindsay discovered several different pieces of information regarding the health challenges that her mother had before her. While it was certainly hard for her to think about the difficulties that the progressive disease would cause, Lindsay is glad that she understands the road before her mother.
Here are some details regarding the prognosis of Parkinson's disease:[1]

  1. This illness progresses at a different rate for everyone. Oftentimes it develops slowly; however, there are cases in which the condition progresses at a more rapid rate.
  2. The life expectancy of individuals who have Parkinson's disease is lower than that of those who do not, but the disease itself is not fatal. Oftentimes, any loss of life associated with this condition stem from health complications that accompany it. These may include pneumonia, choking, and falls, among others.
  3. In some cases, Parkinson's disease can transform into a Parkinson-plus disorder, which is often resistant to pharmaceutical treatments. 
  4. A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease does not mean that a person has lost the ability to live life to the fullest. Treatment options are available to assist in managing symptoms and helping individuals live a higher quality of life.
Lindsay understands that Parkinson's disease presents a challenge for both her mother and the rest of the family; however, armed with information about what to expect and how to react to certain symptoms as the years go on, Lindsay is confident that she can help her mother experience the best life possible despite this condition. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What Is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease is a condition that affects the nervous system. As such, it impacts movement and often causes a tremor in individuals who suffer from this illness. To date, there is no cure for Parkinson's disease; however, there are medical therapies that can assist individuals in managing the condition's symptoms and improving their quality of life.

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

The symptoms associated with this disease showcase its impact on movement. The most common is a tremor, which causes hands and limbs to shake. Individuals who have this condition may also experience bradykinesia, or slowed movement. With impaired nervous symptom function, people with Parkinson's disease may find that it takes them longer to move. For instance, they may start taking shorter steps or have difficulty getting up out of a chair. Rigid muscles, which create stiffness and limit range of motion, often contribute to this problem.

In addition to challenges with voluntary movement, individuals who have Parkinson's disease frequently experience a decline in involuntary movement. The swinging of arms when walking, the ability to blink, or even the ability to smile may decline. Changes in speech, too, occur with this illness. People who have this condition may speak softly, slur their words, or speak in a monotone manner. Writing, similarly, may change in appearance.
Complications of Parkinson's Disease

Frequently, people who have this illness suffer from complications, which can be thought of as secondary symptoms in a way. Difficulty thinking, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, bladder control problems, and sexual dysfunction are all associated with the disease.
Diagnosing Parkinson's Disease

Medical professionals cannot simply run a test for this condition; most commonly, a diagnosis is made through differential diagnostic procedures. Simply put, physicians eliminate the presence of other possible illnesses to determine if Parkinson's disease is the best diagnosis. After this is complete, if Parkinson's disease seems to be the most likely candidate, doctors often prescribe medication for the illness. If the medication creates a significant improvement in the individual's condition, it is thought as a confirmation of the diagnostic conclusion.
Parkinson's disease is a devastating condition for many individuals; however, early detection and treatment options can improve quality of life for people who suffer from this illness.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Skilled Nursing Facilities: How Many Professionals Should Be On Staff?

When seeking the best nursing home for her mother in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Darla compared many characteristics of a handful of skilled nursing facilities. During her efforts to pinpoint the best facility, she realized that the staffing of these facilities was integral to their ability to provide the highest possible degree of care to residents. As such, she began to analyze the value that different senior care professionals bring to the team.

Darla quickly recognized that the federal requirements regarding the staffing of nursing homes are very vague. In fact, they simply dictate that a satisfactory number of professionals are available to care for the residents. State requirements, on the other hand, are a little more detailed; however, they are still a bit ambiguous. In many cases, a registered nurse is required to be on hand for eight hours of each day and a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or licensed vocational nurse is required to be available 24 hours per day.
Because these guidelines leave skilled nursing facilities a lot of leeway regarding their staffing procedures, Darla encourages individuals to consider staffing levels when comparing the facilities from which they are choosing. During her experience, she discovered that there are three groups of professionals working within nursing facilities: direct care, support, and administration.

Direct care professionals are the most important, as they are the individuals who interact daily with the residents of a facility. Included in this category are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and certified nursing assistants. Depending upon the facility, specialty therapists and other medical professionals may be on staff or on call.
Support personnel are the individuals who ensure that the facility runs smoothly. This category of professionals includes maintenance workers, custodians, and groundskeepers, among other individuals. These are the professionals who ensure that the facility, as a whole, is a safe, clean, and healthy place to live.

Administration professionals are probably the least involved in the care of residents. These individuals handle administrative tasks and rarely have contact with the seniors living in the facility.
Darla encourages you to consider the staffing levels of the nursing homes you and your family are considering for your loved one. She advises you to find a well-staffed facility that conducts background checks and only employs qualified, licensed professionals.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Long of a Stay Does Medicare Cover In a Skilled Nursing Facility?

Many elderly individuals rely upon Medicare to assist in paying for their healthcare costs. As such, it is important for seniors and their families to understand the role that Medicare plays in a stay at a skilled nursing facility, or nursing home. James, from Durham, North Carolina, recently assisted his mother in arranging her short-term stay at such a community. As such, his insight may help you in planning for your elderly loved one's tenure at a nursing home with the benefits of Medicare coverage.
Why a Short-Term Stay?

Oftentimes, people assume that seniors who move into nursing homes do so permanently. This is, however, not the case. Many elderly individuals stay in nursing facilities after an operation or similar medical complication in order to benefit from the services of around the clock healthcare professionals. As such, they can rest and recover with the assistance of skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced individuals.
James' mother's stay at a nearby nursing home is a great example of this situation. She fell and suffered a broken hip. To recover as successfully as possible, she opted to move into an assisted living facility for two months to ensure that the break healed properly.

How Much Does Medicare Cover?
The amount of the medical expenses incurred during a short-term stay at a nursing facility really depends upon the number of days that an individual lives at the community. According to[1], the Original Medicare Plan will cover 100 percent of the expenses accumulated if the stay lasts for 20 or fewer days. For stays lasting 21 to 100 days, Medicare covers everything except a daily copayment. It is important to note that Medicare does not contribute to the expenses that are associated with a stay of over 100 days.

What Is a Copayment?
The copayment of a Medicare plan is similar to that of a regular insurance policy; however, it can change from year to year. James encourages you to call to find out the exact copayment that your family will be responsible for when arranging for your loved one's stay.

Medicare is an important resource for many families. By understanding the benefits it provides, you can optimize your loved one's budget.