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Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 2/15/2010 | 0 Comments

 

Julie Halbert, at left with her dad, writes: 
"Last spring, my 78-year-old father began a downward descent. Instead of initiating conversation in his usual gregarious way, he would stare into space, unresponsive, never wanting to leave the house. He scrambled to find the right words in conversation. Ultimately, a neurologist diagnosed him in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
 
"We were told he needed to stop driving and would require constant supervision. Immediately, my sister and I were forced to confront a situation we never prepared for, scrambling to take turns spending time with him, showing my mother how to begin handling the finances and driving him to a round of doctor’s appointments.
 
"My father at the time was on 18 medications for his various chronic illnesses, including asthma, diabetes and low functioning kidneys. After reviewing these medications, the internist decided to take my father off eight of them.
  
"Within a few weeks, he started to emerge from his coma-like state. His alertness returned, along with his sense of humor and memory, and he was back to exercising regularly. His neurologist revised the diagnosis to medication-induced dementia. Now, just seven months later, he’s like his old self again.
 
"My father's problem, called 'polypharmacy,' is quite common, says Ken Langa, a professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan whose focus is geriatric care. As you age and face a host of chronic illnesses, it's not uncommon to have several specialists prescribing varying medications that can interact to create a hazardous cocktail of side effects—one that’s often mistaken for dementia."
 
Here's more:  http://tinyurl.com/yhcwuja 
 
Posted by: Laurence Harmon on 2/12/2010 | 0 Comments

Wheaton, Illinois-based HomeCare Physicians (http://www.homecarephysicians.org) uses wireless technology to serve elderly 5,000 patients in a 300-mile zone west of Chicago. As founding medical director of the firm, Dr. Tom Cornwell observes, "How ironic that it was technology that caused home visits by physicians to go away, and now it's technology that makes it possible for us to treat homebound patients."  While HomeCare clinicians do make house calls, the wireless technology provides ongoing care to help keep its chronically ill patients out of the hospital.

HomeCare Physicians’ mission is to provide compassionate, comprehensive, state-of-the-art medical home health care to improve the quality of life of homebound patients and their caregivers. The service enables patients to remain at home, thus reducing costly hospitalizations and nursing home placements and dramatically saving the costs of unnecessary ambulance trips, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and premature nursing home placement.
 
Here’s a partial list of services provided by the firm: 

Physician Visits and Assessments

• Primary care visits
• Episodic/acute care visits
• Post-hospitalization and post-skilled nursing facility visits
• Pre-facility admission visits
• Nutritional assessments
• Disease management visits
• Care plan oversight of home health nurses and hospice
• Wound care visits
• Dementia assessments

Services

• Decubitus ulcer care and debridement
• Tracheostomy tube changes
• Gastrostomy tube changes
• Joint injections
• Vaccinations/flu shots
• Blood draws and laboratory services

Diagnostic Testing

• Laboratory testing
• Holter monitoring (24-hour cardiac monitoring)
• Skin biopsies
• X-rays (outside service)
 
Dr. Cornwell tells the Chicago Sun-Times, "Just this morning, I visited a 450-pound 64-year-old with an irregular heartbeat who hasn't left her home in four years. I placed three (heart monitors) on her chest and--thanks to a wireless machine, a Bluetooth (connection), and technology--I read her heartbeat on my phone within 60 seconds. It's technology that allows us to do EKGs, vitals, ultrasounds in the home."

Read more:
http://tinyurl.com/y9f8sxs
 
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