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Home Health, Palliative Care, Hospice: What's the Difference and Who Needs Them?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 6, 2014 | Janet Bollig

I recently spoke with a gentleman with a significant illness whose main goal is to stay home. He decided to utilize our skilled home health services and home medical equipment. Over time, he transitioned into our palliative care program and currently is in our hospice program. Here is information on what these services are and who may benefit from them...

'Be a Prepared Patient' Gets a New Look

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 1, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Finding good health care and making the most of it is critical for each of us. Yet all too often, reliable, unbiased information is hard to find and understand. On the redesigned Be a Prepared Patient website, we have collected trusted resources and tips to help people navigate their way through health and health care decisions and experiences...

Seeing the Government's Star Ratings Is One Thing, Believing Them Is Another

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 9, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Just a few years ago it seemed that advocates for health care transparency had scored a big victory. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would rate nursing homes by awarding five stars to the best and fewer stars to lower-quality facilities. It turns out, though, that five-star nursing homes may not be delivering five-star quality...

Getting Bumped to First Class Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 4, 2014 | Lawrence LeMoal

I am writing this post while seated comfortably in a motorized leather recliner with a window view and lots of other perks. What a legacy we would leave Saskatchewan citizens if we could figure out how to extend this first-class patient care to all patients and their families wrestling with chronic disease...

What Employers and Purchaser Representatives Told CFAH About Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 6, 2014 | CFAH Staff

"Employers have an opportunity to reduce barriers and support engagement because they sponsor health plans and can provide access to information, tools, technologies, incentives, and more. Employers have more ability to influence engagement than they often believe they have." – Michael Vittoria, Vice President, Corporate Benefits, MaineHealth, Portland, ME

What Would Mom Want?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 23, 2014 | Michael Wasserman

We've watched it many times on television or in a movie: The patient lies in the intensive care unit, gravely ill, with the family at the bedside. The doctor walks into the room and asks, "What do you want us to do?" and opens up a huge can of worms that is, in fact, ethically incorrect. The first priority that a physician has is to their patient...

Pulling the Plug on DNR Orders

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 2, 2014 | Muriel Gillick

Recently, a friend commented that she was not sure whether or not to agree to a DNR order for her 90-year-old mother. Complicating her decision was the knowledge that her mother had chosen a DNR status when she was cognitively intact, but then reversed her decision at the time of acute illness, believing that DNR meant she would not receive vigorous medical treatment. This is incorrect, and physicians are confused as well...

Society of Behavioral Medicine Announces Inaugural 'Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 30, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Dedicated to promoting behavioral medicine research and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities and populations, Society of Behavioral Medicine created this award to recognize an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.

Engagement From Patients' Perspective: Different Than Docs, Employers, Health Plans

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 26, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

The Prepared Patient Blog published over two hundred articles in 2013 about what it takes for people to get the most from health care and how the system can be improved to make it feasible for us to do so. Here's a recap of what engagement looks like to us – whether we are sick or well, whether we are caregivers or loved ones: Engagement is not easy and we can't do it alone. Patient engagement is not the same as compliance. It is not a cost-cutting strategy, and it is not one-size-fits-all.

A Better Health System for Frail and Disabled Elders

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 9, 2013 | Ken Covinsky

Let's stop telling the public that exercising and eating blueberries are guarantees for avoiding frailty and disability. Let's start talking about how to maintain our quality of life as we age and inevitably encounter health problems.

Going Online for Caregiving Help

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

"You don't get a manual when you become a family caregiver," says Constance Adampoulos. CFAH's latest feature offers advice, practical tips and links to expert online resources to help people manage caregiving's challenges...

Expecting Great Beginnings – and Endings

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 23, 2013 | Amy Berman

It tickles me to report that I live with incurable cancer and I am expecting. I am expecting that the cancer will take its toll, that I will need to make choices about my health and care, that I will need the support of my family and that I will need resources.

I Wish I'd Known Earlier...Palliative Care Is Not a Mandate Not to Treat

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 13, 2013 | Stephanie Sugars

When I signed up for palliative care in 2011, I thought I’d made my last medical decisions. In the future I’d take the least-invasive, lowest-cost approach to medical care and forego dramatic, expensive treatments. If only life with advanced cancer were so simple!

Why Everyone Deserves Palliative Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 16, 2013 | Richard Besdine

Life is full of surprises, but statisticians tell us that most Americans who make it to age 65 can expect to live to almost 85, and about 1 in 4 will live past 90. Unfortunately, because palliative care is a relatively new specialty, it is often misunderstood by patients, families and even some physicians.

Some Caregivers Find Hiring a Professional Advocate Helps

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 25, 2013 | Suzie Mitchell

Not long ago, I was chatting with a friend about my mom, whose life had revolved around work since my dad died 17 years ago. I was worried that my mother might be lonely, but worse, I didn't know how I would care for her at such a distance if she got sick.

“Go-to-Guy for All Things Medical” Tested at Mom’s End-of-Life

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 4, 2013 | Charles Ornstein

My father, sister and I sat in the near-empty Chinese restaurant, picking at our plates, unable to avoid the question that we'd gathered to discuss: When was it time to let Mom die?

Palliative Care: Easier Said than Done

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 1, 2013 | Conversation Continues

If we want our end-of-life wishes to be properly carried out, we have to prepare in advance and our clinicians must also be prepared to help us realize them.

Prepared Patient: Advance Directives: Caring for You & Your Family

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 31, 2012 | Health Behavior News Service

Heather Rubesch first remembers talking with her mom, Linda, about end-of-life care as a teenager. "When I was 14, I had an aunt who passed because she did not receive a kidney transplant. As a family, we had that conversation-if something happened to one of us, organ donation was what we wanted to do," said Rubesch, 37, a business and marketing writer from Kansas City, Mo. Decades later, when Heather got the call from the hospital, informing her of her mother's terminal condition, she was shocked to discover she was expected to make immediate decisions about her mother's end-of-life care.

My Mother's End-of-Life Discussion That Changed How She Died

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 21, 2012 | Leana Wen

I am a physician. The hardest thing I've ever had to do was to end my mother's life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 47. After a seven-year battle that involved multiple surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy, she decided that she had fought long enough.

Guest Blog: Hospice and Palliative Care: A Basic Primer

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 6, 2012 | James Cooper, MD

I've talked to hundreds of people about the health care options and decisions they face at the end of life. It's a challenging time and understandably many have little knowledge, while others have misconceptions, and some have bitter disagreements.

A Physician's Perspective on Shifting to Palliative Care: Help Us Change our Pace

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 20, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

Last week's essay, Shifting to Palliative Care: Help Us Change our Pace, provoked the following commentary from my friend and colleague, James Cooper -- to which I responded.

A Recommendation to Minimize Costs Backfires

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 15, 2012 | Alexis Ball

My mom passed away last December to Stage V breast cancer metastasized to her liver. During this battle she developed ascites (an accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity) as her liver failure progressed. This accumulation of fluid was not only extremely uncomfortable but painful as well.

Shifting to Palliative Care: Help Us Change our Pace

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 13, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

It is easy to understand why the medical machine the clinicians, the tests and assorted medical procedures is poised to provide constant often heroic interventions to save and prolong life.

Guest Blog: The End of Life Horror Show: We Can Do Better

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2012 | Chris Langston

Recently, New York Magazine published an agonizing first person cover story by Michael Wolff, 'A Life Worth Ending,' about the terrible choices and harsh reality of illness at the end of his mother's life. The summary slug for the piece says it all: 'The era of medical miracles has created a new phase of aging, as far from living as it is from dying. A son's plea to let his mother go.'

Advance Directives: Rarely Easy, Always Important

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 10, 2012 | Inside Health Care

Three essays discuss the critical importance of advance directives'even when implementing them is tricky.

Four Perfect Questions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 9, 2012 | Elaine Waples

I remember when my father-in-law passed away nine years ago. A nervous young doctor had the uncomfortable task of telling him that nothing more could be done about his leukemia and it was perhaps time for hospice.

1st Person: Hospice, My Husband and Me

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 26, 2011 | First Person

As Jerome Rafferty, diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia and an incurable, antibiotic-resistant infection, became more ill, his wife, Renata Rafferty, used hospice services at home initially to assist her in caring for him.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 14, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

That old Tom Petty song, 'The Waiting is the Hardest Part,' keeps running through my mind. Four of my friends are waiting to hear the results of medical tests taken last week.

A Visa for the Dying: Travels to Another Country

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 21, 2011 | Janice Lynch Schuster

People who are dying have much living to do, whether it is measured out in days, weeks or months, and the demarcation lines between the living and the dying might as well be drawn in pencil. But the truth is that it's important to talk about dying and what it means to each of us.

The Costs of Long-Term Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 14, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Does long-term care insurance have a future? In this roundup, Nancy Folbre, Don Taylor, and Trudy Lieberman offer their forecasts and perspectives on its costs.

Think Silver Not Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 1, 2011 | Amy Berman

Because cancer is primarily a disease of aging, we shouldn't be thinking pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month'we should be thinking silver.

Benefits of End-of-Life Planning

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Two new studies have found there are numerous benefits when people discuss their end-of-life preferences with their clinicians and caregivers.

Guest Blog: Can the Blind Lead the Seeing?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 1, 2011 | Amy Berman

Many of you know that eight months ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer, which has spread to my spine. My incurable diagnosis means that I live with a chronic disease, just like millions of older adults.

Thoughts on Life, Death and Facebook

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 14, 2011 | Kate Lorig

For more than three weeks I have been hanging around the ICU. Lara, my friend and colleague, is poised between life and death, having rejected her five-year-old transplanted lungs. She awaits the gift of a chance for life from another donor. Lara wants so much to live. During her last conversation with me before being placed on a ventilator, she talked about her fear. Now breathing and most everything else is done for her. Drugs keep her oblivious to the suspense.

Guest Blog: Making Hard Decisions Easier

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 13, 2011 | Amy Berman

Shortly after I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer a scan showed a hot spot on my lower spine. Was it the spread of cancer? My oncologist scheduled a bone biopsy at my hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, in order for us to find out.

Guest Blog: Death Panels and Decision Making: A Radio Interview

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 15, 2011 | Amy Berman

Diana Mason, former editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing, interviews Program Officer at The John A. Hartford Foundation, Amy Berman, and The New York Times blogger and nurse, Theresa Brown. Amy Berman was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer earlier this year, and in this interview, she says, 'Nothing was off limits.'

1st Person: Hospice, My Husband and Me

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 10, 2011 | First Person

As Jerome Rafferty, diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia and an incurable, antibiotic-resistant infection, became more ill, his wife, Renata Rafferty, used hospice services at home initially to assist her in caring for him.

I'm Dying To Know

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 24, 2011 | Amy Berman

In some ways, I consider myself lucky. I know this is a strange comment from someone diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I say this, though, because the first steps on my journey with end-stage cancer were undertaken with the help of a team of health care professionals who excelled not only in medicine, but also in communication.|

Can Good Care Produce Bad Health?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 15, 2011 | Amy Berman

For those of you who haven't yet heard, I have recently been diagnosed with Stage IV inflammatory breast cancer. This rare form of breast cancer is known for its rapid spread. True to form, it has metastasized to my spine. This means my time is limited. As a nurse, I knew it from the moment I saw a reddened spot on my breast and recognized it for what it was.

Listening to My Mother

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 9, 2011 | Corinne H. Rieder

I can't deny it I miss the mother I once had. Even at age 80, she was vibrant, loving, and independent. And she was strong. For nearly 20 years she provided care to my father, who before his death struggled with normal-pressure hydrocephalus and macular degeneration. What an incredible woman!

Prepared Patient: Advance Directives: Caring for You & Your Family

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 3, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

Heather Rubesch first remembers talking with her mom, Linda, about end-of-life care as a teenager. "When I was 14, I had an aunt who passed because she did not receive a kidney transplant. As a family, we had that conversation-if something happened to one of us, organ donation was what we wanted to do," said Rubesch, 37, a business and marketing writer from Kansas City, Mo. Decades later, when Heather got the call from the hospital, informing her of her mother's terminal condition, she was shocked to discover she was expected to make immediate decisions about her mother's end-of-life care.

About Death and Taxes

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 16, 2010 | Dorothy Jeffress

Today is National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD)a day devoted to recognizing the importance of expressing your choices about your health care through advance directives, by creating a living will and designating a medical power of attorney.