living your best to the end
Vial of LIFE

Vial of LIFE

What is the Vial of LIFE Program It may sound like the fountain of youth, or miracle life-saver in a vial. It is neither. Instead, it’s information about your health care and wishes, stored in your fridge with a fridge sticker to announce its presence. LIFE stands for Lifesaving Information for Emergencies The Vial of LIFE sticker on your fridge alerts Emergency Response Teams (EMS) Paramedics and other health care providers who may come to your home that you have information in your fridge with directions about your health care and wishes. Why Vial of LIFE in the Fridge? In case of fire, your wishes will be preserved. What should be in your Vial of LIFE? There are many templates to help organize and detail your health conditions, concerns, medications and ‘next of kin’ or who to call in the event of an emergency. If you’ve completed Advance Directives such as BestEndings, or have a specific Do Not Revive instructions, a copy can be put with the Vial of LIFE documents. Many’s the time when a medical crisis at home requires emergency services, that too little is known about overall health, health conditions to be aware of (heart, kidney, lung disease or allergies to medicines) to provide proper treatment. A Vial of LIFE sticker on the front door is also recommended Below is a picture of one example of a Vial of LIFE form. To complete follow this link Vial Form Also read: Who’s Important? End of Life Machinery CPR: what does it really mean?...

Multiple Medications: too many for too many of us

By age 65, two thirds of us are taking 5 or more prescription medications a day so reports the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Not included in that total is the number of times a day meds are taken. And it doesn’t include whatever non-prescription therapies we take. That’s a lot of swallowing, a lot to remember, and that’s certainly a lot of chemistry and chemicals acting and interacting in our bodies. Many drugs cause side effects, that require additional drugs to manage them. And too many of certain drugs together can mimic symptoms of alcoholism, substance abuse and Dementia. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) , Choose to Change: A Client-Centered Approach to Alcohol and Medication Use by Older Adults  details those outward appearances that can be the result of medications: Confusion, disorientation, recent memory loss,slowed thought process,loss of muscle coordination, tremors, gastritis, depression, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, malnutrition, dehydration. In my conversation with  Dr. Paula Rochon, VP Research at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, whose passion is medications as relates to the elderly, her strong recommendation: “Get medications reviewed regularly by a pharmacist. Ask questions that will help fit these meds into your lifestyle. If a pill is so large it’s hard to swallow, ask about tips to make it swallowing easier. Get specific about how to take it: if you’re not a big breakfast eater, and the meds indicate ‘take with food’ – determine what’s considered ‘food’.” For my thoughts on medication confusion, check out 10-second...

Medications: work differently and more dangerously as we age

Drug Use and Seniors 1 in 5 over age 65 are taking 10 or more prescription medications, 1 in 20 are taking 15 more so reports Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI). Not included in that total: the number of times a day meds are taken and non-prescription products. Not detailed are medications taken to counteract side effects of medications, and whether medications are being taken properly. That’s lot of chemistry and chemicals acting, reacting and and interacting in our bodies and huge room for error: the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports more than a million (U.S.) hospitalizations and emergency room visits are the result of an ‘adverse event’. Some of the medication errors I’ve heard about, that can lead to serious harm: Directions said: take one when you wake up. 80-year old man nods off during the day, and takes one every time he wakes up. This is only discovered at a family get together when his 3 children realize they’ve each been getting his prescription refilled. Capsules for an ear infection: put in the ear instead of swallowing. Capsule for a puffer wrenched out of puffer-enclosure and swallowed. Take twice a day interpreted as two capsules two times daily taken 15 minutes apart. An Australian study, focusing on why seniors are particularly at risk for medication errors: large quantities of medication, trouble opening the package, trouble swallowing, troubling side effects, and confusion — often caused by medications. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH): Choose to Change: A Client-Centered Approach to Alcohol and Medication Use by Older Adults, details outward appearances –  resulting from multiple medications...

Mouth Care improves Quality of Life

Oral Care: in eldercare, the mouth is often overlooked Our mouths – so important for so many reasons – seems overlooked, dismissed, ignored in its role in overall health and well-being. Consider the work we expect from our mouth: in addition to the vital task of eating (and all that’s required from lips, tongue, teeth, cheeks) there’s the impact of talking, coughing, sneezing and even breathing when the nose isn’t properly working. Anyone’s who’s had a toothache, cold sore, tender gums, dry mouth, canker sore knows no matter the state of health of the rest of you – the buck stops at the mouth. Add age, medications and their side effects, chronic conditions, mental decline and there’s a world of trouble brewing. Even health care professionals need to be mindful of oral care. From the journal, Impacted Nurse: “Just yesterday we had an elderly lady who we just could not get to keep any oxygen masks or nasal prongs on. She just kept swiping across her face and knocking them off. After trying everything, I though as a long shot I would give her some mouth-care. Her mouth was dry as Mars. And guess what? After a freshen up and a little Vaseline to her lips she slept like a baby.” For many, mouth problems are tied to conditions: (Also from Impacted Nurse)“There are groups of patients that are predisposed to mouth hygiene problems such as those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (due to persistent mouth breathing), patients that are nil by mouth and those with physical injury or intellectual impairment. Oncology patients: cytotoxic drugs or radiotherapy can cause...

Music Therapy: Unlocking the soul

Music has charms they say.. (Joe Jackson: ‘Slow Song’) Amy Clements-Cortes For Amy Clements-Cortes, PhD, MusM, MTA, the charm of music is its ability to accomplish a multitude of health and wellness goals.One of Amy’s areas of specialty is end of life music therapy and specifically using music to help clients complete relationships. “When we complete relationships in our lives, there are key sentiments that need to be expressed to help us accomplish these completions. “I Love You,” “I Forgive You,” “Forgive Me,” “Thank You,” and “Goodbye.” Music can unlock emotions and communication where memory loss or the ability to speak has become an issue. For example with dementia, Parkinson’s and Stroke survivors. “Music provides an outlet for expressions of grieving and loss as people come to the end of their lives. Music helps express feelings that are difficult to speak about such as Holocaust experiences.” Working with fellow health-care professionals such as those in speech/language therapy: “I can help augment the work clients are doing in speech therapy by engaging the client in vocalizing vowel sounds to music, so they can hear their own voices.” It’s not just any music that Amy uses: she makes it specific to the situation and the client, asking what music they liked, gently coaching with prompts such ‘what soothes you, what songs did your relative listen to when they were in their 20s?.’ With the populations Amy treats, this isn’t always possible. “It’s a bit of a fishing expedition I’ll research what music was popular in their day, or if they’re from another culture, will consult with musicians from that culture.” Amy...