After deciding that it’s time to start home health care, and before meeting their nurse or therapist for the first time, patients and their caregivers can have a lot of questions. This basic guide addresses commonly asked questions and concerns about home health care and the kind of support provided through these services. Patients and caregivers can feel more comfortable and confident about the days ahead after they find out more about what to expect.
Residential in the Real World
More often than not, the victories that Residential Home Health nurses and therapists celebrate with their patients happen slowly, after days and weeks of hard work and support. These patient successes can be life-changing, although they may be harder to recognize because they happen bit by bit.
Another kind of success story is the thrilling save in the nick of time, like a medication oversight that causes a life-threatening blood clot. Today’s story is one of these thrillers — albeit not a health save. When Danielle, a Residential Home Health nurse and case manager, happened to hear her patient’s phone call, she sprang into action to protect his finances from a predatory stranger.
What Does My Genetic Test Tell Me? Genetic Counseling Can Explain
Genetics can tell us a lot, so long as we understand how to interpret them. In some cases, our genes can make us vulnerable to certain inherited diseases. One such example is breast cancer; mutations in the BRCA gene family are linked to 5-10% of all cases (and up to 15% of ovarian cancer cases). Genetic testing has made it possible to determine whether a person carries a specific mutation. Yet taking such a test — especially if the result is positive — could raise more anxieties than it puts to rest. The specialized field of genetic counseling is one way to fill knowledge gaps and help individuals understand what results they may receive, and what exactly that means for their health and future risk.
A recent study found that of women who elected to undergo testing for BRCA mutations, few were offered genetic counseling. However, those who received the service reported better understanding of their personal results and more satisfaction with the knowledge they gained. As the cost of these tests lowers to more affordable levels and more people may choose to take them as a predictive measure, it may not be feasible for all patients to access genetic counseling (which is covered as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act). But for some, especially individuals with a strong family history of an inheritable disease, it may be worth requesting more information or asking a doctor or specialist whether genetic counseling before getting tested would be a good idea.
Cancer Research Suggests a New Genetic Frontier in Treatment
Previously, treating a patient’s cancer meant treating the type of cancer: breast, prostate, skin, etc. Some types call for specialized surgeries, others for specifically developed medications, others for finely tuned chemotherapy or radiation regimens. But the field of cancer research is changing, with efforts increasingly focused on the genes that cause the cancer or help it to spread. And thanks to a new drug trial, reportedly the first of its kind, this approach could be gaining traction.
Previous findings had uncovered a common gene mutation found in both skin cancer and lung cancer. Researchers hypothesized that because of this similarity, a drug already approved for skin cancer might have a crossover effect on the other cancer type. Indeed, a substantial proportion of lung cancer patients responded to the drug. Other cancer types did not exhibit such promising results, which may be the result of fewer of those patients having the targeted mutation — the key may be narrowing down the right commonalities. Future studies along these lines are already in the works, and signs are pointing to new, more specific cancer treatments that are based on gene mutation rather than type.
White House Conference Echoes Caregiving Needs and Challenges
The White House Conference on Aging, held once per decade since the 1960s, took place on July 13. A chief focus of this decade’s conference was meeting elders’ caregiving needs, featuring thought leaders such as author and caregiver advocate Ai-Jen Poo. Of the millions of seniors who receive assistance with their care, only about one in seven lives in a full-time care facility; the rest rely on periodic visits from home care providers and/or voluntary caregivers such as relatives. Although the need for professional caregiving is climbing, the high turnover rate in this field continues to leave a shortage.
The conference also ventured into topics such as the scarcity of resources for unpaid, voluntary caregivers. The importance of respite care as a strategy to support caregiver health and avoid burnout was discussed, as was the organizational difficulty of coordinating local and community elder services among different providers.