Palliative Care Could Cut Health Care Costs by $103 Billion

Palliative care could reduce societal health care costs by $103 billion within the next 20 years, the nonprofit economic research group Florida TaxWatch said in a report. The group recommended that policymakers take action to expand palliative care utilization in the state.

Palliative care in general can reduce health care costs by more than $4,000 per patient, according to a July 2017 study in Health Affairs. It can also reduce the frequency of 911 calls, emergency department visits, and unnecessary hospitalizations.

Many hospice providers offer palliative care in addition to their other services. Payors often treat it as a precursor to hospice, allowing patients to receive similar services until they become eligible for the hospice benefit.

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How Grief Impacts Sleep

The way each person handles the loss of a loved one is unique to that individual. The way someone handles grief in terms of symptoms depends on him or herself as well, but a disturbance in sleep is common. Nights of restlessness and tossing and turning with eyes wide awake can lead to a case of insomnia. With proper mindfulness and being proactive, you can limit the impact sleep disturbance makes on your life and your grieving process.

Definition of Grief

First, let’s define grief. Grief is often attributed to long term sadness and mourning over a loved one. Your thoughts are consumed with your loved one. Activities you once enjoyed don’t seem to excite you as much. Even food tastes less good. You may be going through the motions but not feeling anything. Even though grief is unpleasant, it is an essential life experience that everyone must face. Quite simply, it is a part of life itself.

Even so, we like to minimize our symptoms of grief and move forward as soon as we are able. Since sleep is so essential to each of us emotionally, physically, and psychologically, it is so important that we get sufficient sleep in spite of grief. You may have trouble sleeping due to reasons like financial issues caused by the loss of the loved one, or sleeping in the bed you shared with your partner, or intrusive and traumatic thoughts. However, by being aware of the effects of sleep deprivation and knowing active steps you can take to ensure you get enough sleep, this significant side effect of grief is more manageable.

Primary Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation impacts you as a grieving person on three levels: cognitive, emotional, and physical. Remember that sleep enables you to make decisions based on good cognitive judgment. Sleep also strengthens your memory and restores you so you don’t become forgetful. Sleep greatly strengthens your emotional life as well through balancing mood and reducing stress. Sleep helps your physical body in a number of ways, including helping replenish your immune system, so you are less likely to get sick. Quite simply, a lack of sleep leaves your brain exhausted and can cause a number of long-term health problems. So insomnia shouldn’t be ignored but attended to mindfully.

The Ideal Sleep Environment

In lieu of your grief, there are several tips and guidelines for creating the optimal sleep environment, which helps you combat your sleep disturbance. Here are a few:

  • Make sure the room you sleep in is well-ventilated and between 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Your body must cool down in order to fall asleep, so as long as your head is above the covers at this temperature, the lower air temperature should help you fall asleep.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and that your mattress and bedding are right for you. Remember that if you build it, your sleep will come! Take this moment in your life to invest on the right mattress for your needs.
  • Make sure that you associate your bed and bedroom only with non-stress related activities. You want your body and brain to associate your bedroom with sleep only.

While grief is unavoidable and just a part of life that each of us handles in a slightly different way, by taking care of yourself and being mindful of your sleeping environment, you are empowered to confront and minimize sleep disturbance.

. . . .

Lisa SmallsPosted by Lisa Smalls, a freelance writer from North Carolina. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008. After experiencing the loss of a dear family friend shortly after graduating college and seeing the impact this loss had on herself and her family, she became inspired to educate others on how to process grief through her writing. While she work on other freelance projects, encouraging and educating others who have gone through loss remains her lifelong passion.

“Grief is one of the most difficult emotions to grapple with while we are alive on this earth but when you come to understand how your grief can impact your life, only then can you begin to overcome it.”

Care Home Trials Virtual Cycling Trips for Dementia Patients

Stapely Care Home in Liverpool, England, is trialling a scheme where exercise bikes and videos are used to enable residents living with dementia to go on virtual cycling trips to locations around the world.

Staff say the project, which originated in Norway, has boosted wellbeing and happiness.

This 2-minute video explains more.

Watch the video

Filming and editing: Tom Brada

A Tedx Talk: What’s Wrong with Dying?

The answer might seem simple, but in the hands of Lesley Hazleton, the question takes us on a surprisingly humorous and thought-provoking journey into what it would actually mean to live forever. And whether we’d truly want to. A frequent TED.com speaker and ‘Accidental Theologist,’ Hazleton uses wit and wisdom to challenge our ideas not only about death, but about what it is to live well.

Lesley Hazleton has traced the roots of conflict in several books, including compelling ‘flesh-and-blood’ biographies of Muhammad and Mary, and casts “an agnostic eye on politics, religion, and existence” on her blog, AccidentalTheologist.com. Her newest book, Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto, celebrates the agnostic stance as “rising above the flat two-dimensional line of belief/unbelief, creating new possibilities for how we think about being in the world.”

In it, she explores what we mean by the search for meaning, invokes the humbling perspective of infinity and reconsiders what we talk about when we talk about soul.

Common Sleep Issues Associated with Cancer

Getting a restful night’s sleep is a challenge for many cancer patients. Pain from the cancer itself, fatigue and discomfort from chemotherapy, and medication side effects are just a few of the things that make sleep elusive for cancer patients. Worse, not getting enough sleep weakens the immune system and can exacerbate symptoms or negative side effects.

An increasing amount of research has found links between poor sleep and several cancers. Keep reading to learn what the latest research suggests about the connection between cancer and sleep, and how you can get better sleep if you’re undergoing cancer treatment.

Does lack of sleep cause cancer?

Regularly getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of your overall health. While sleep itself has not been deemed a causal factor for cancers, researchers have associated certain sleep disorders with an increased risk of cancer. The three main sleep issues correlated with cancer are chronic sleep deprivation, sleep apnea, and shift work sleep disorder.

Sleep deprivation and cancer

Anyone who has missed a night’s sleep understands the reality of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep worsens your mood, increases fatigue, and reduces your ability to concentrate. Chronic sleep deprivation (getting less than sufficient sleep over a sustained period of time, usually 7 to 8 hours for adults) is associated with:

  • Poorer memory and cognitive processing skills
  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Increased irritability and higher risk for depression
  • Poorer judgment

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BREAKING NEWS: Landmark study on hospice cost savings!

Dear Hospice Advocate,

NHPCO and the Hospice Action Network have some big news to share- the publication of a new study in Health Affairs by Dr. Amy Kelley from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Kelley’s research shows what we in the hospice world have known for years- that hospice care provides better quality care at the end of life, while saving Medicare money. This is big news for the hospice community!

HAN has set up a web page with links to the Health Affairs article, some key findings, and a press release about the study.

Hospice Advocates, 2013 is going to be an active year for hospice- a tightening federal budget and the possibility of entitlement reform will continue to drive the discourse here in Washington. This article proves the value of hospice to patients we serve, as well as our value in saving the federal government precious Medicare dollars. We encourage you to use it in all of your advocacy efforts and interactions with your elected officials. Together we can make a difference for hospice!

Dr. William Lamers Jr. dies at 80; championed modern hospice care

Elaine Woo February 19, 2012
Los Angeles Times

“I’m not sick; I’m only dying,” a friend told Dr. William Lamers Jr. The man had inoperable cancer and wanted to go home to die, but his doctor wouldn’t let him out of the hospital.

It was the early 1970s, when most people with incurable illnesses died in a hospital, in a lonely room, attended by doctors and nurses with no specialized knowledge of the dying patient’s emotional and physical needs. There was no system for caring for the dying at home.

The experience opened Lamers’ eyes to a major failing of the healthcare system.   Read full article…

Like taxes, death is certain do you know how to prepare?

April 16, 2012|Barbara Brotman
Chicago Tribune

The room was small, but the questions were huge.

What kinds of treatment would you want — or not want — if you are dying?

How do you choose someone to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated?

What happens if you don’t know anyone you can ask?

In a meeting room at the Frisbie Senior Center in Des Plaines, attorney Kathryn Casey was talking about how to plan for medical decisions at the end of life.

Ten men and women sat at round tables, listening intently. They were at an age where the subject was of particular interest. They considered the matter so private that they did not want their thoughts aired publicly. But they had been thinking, hard. Read full article…

In the end, making hard decisions about dying brings personal, financial benefits

By Michelle Balani
Rock Center

Originally published: Sept. 19, 2012.

After being married for 21 years, Paul and Jean Pearson thought they had mastered the art of navigating life’s tough decisions, but nothing could have prepared them for Paul’s illness. Paul, a 73-year-old retired architect, was diagnosed in February with inoperable lung cancer.  Although the couple had talked about their healthcare wishes throughout their marriage, the experience forced them to confront how Paul wants to spend the rest of his days.   Read full article…