Would AMA cozy up to “alternative” care?

A recent article in the NY Times focused on The Netherlands’ unorthodox approach to dementia care.  Got me wondering – even if studies proved the untraditional care is effective, could a model that is primarily tactile & minimally pharmaeutical gain acceptance in America?  Presented with incontrovertible proof of the positive impact of complementary care, would the AMA bestow its seal of approval?

Call me a sceptic, but I doubt it.  In my experience, the American Medical Association has a history of favoring hospital-based & prescriptions over alternative medicine, which it has tended to cast as whifty.

Three cheers for The Netherlands’ innovative work with dementia patients!  May their creative approaches & willingness to try the new cross the Atlantic & inspire our own medical professionals!

NOT just for hospice!

It gripes my soul how many of the techniques that I used to keep Mom happy, healthy & humming along after a nasty health crisis at 85 finally derailed her health from 5 stars to 4 is typically relegated to being for hospice care.  Argh!

Massage was a big part of her later & last years.  How is it possible that so-called medical professionals found it in any way suspect, especially for hospice patients?!

I bungled my wording!

Oh, drat!  It just hit me that I’ve been using entirely the WRONG wording in making requests of myself & of the Universe!  And I realized it thanks to a doctor friend who, having read about my frustrations over not finding a durable vehicle for my peculiar elder support energies,  sent me list of positions she feels are suitable for my skills & experience.

Alas, how little she knows me.  My background does not leave me well-suited to be an activities director at either a continuous care retirement community nor at a senior center.  As for signing up with an agency like “Visiting Angels,” she doesn’t grasp that while my mother & John’s got up there in years – 91 & 87, respectively – neither ever was what would pass as “elderly.”  Until her last hospitalization, Mom only needed a slight assist – no serious mobility issues, no dietary problems, sound in mind & body, considering her age.  Ditto with John’s mother, who lived on her own until the day she died.   My friend sees us as massively effective in what we do, but doesn’t realize that we lived with aged parent who were elders without being elderly, that our only elder experience & sole strength is providing social enrichment that staves off or reducing the effects of dementia.

But my friend’s e-mail joggled the mega aha about using totally off-base language in asking what I want from myself & the Universe!  It now asks, “To release bodacious USE streams, flowing with purpose-surged energies.”

While money & durable income streams are important, serving essential yet undervalued uses has always taken the lead in my life v. settling for work that produces income without drawing on my strengths.  It will be awesome when the uses I ably serve connect with a commensurate income – it its time.  But I didn’t just memorize Consider the lilies…,” “Take no thought for the morrow…,” “For peace has in it confidence in the Lord…”;   I put my faith in them.

So, I will keep writing my blog posts & seeking ways to nurture connection & strengthen community ties & to deepen relationship, to forge stronger intergeneration bonds & improve intra-family communication, to say “Enough!” to alienation & collective numbing, to shake the Kool-Aid out of our ears & the lead out of our feet.  I will keep doing what I’ve done lo these many years – believing in every portion of my being that “Peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that our God leads all things to a good end.  When we are in faith of these things, we are in peace, for we fear no things, and no worries about the future disturbs us.”

The challenge of aging

I yelped with joy, reading Connie Goldman‘s sense of what we’re, each & everyone,  called to do  ~ ~ “The challenge of aging isn’t to stay young;  it’s not only to grow old, but to grow whole – to come into your own.

That is a great quote because it is as true when we are twenty as when we’re inching up to ninety.  ALL of our life is about being all thoroughly all that we are as possible, whatever our situation or circumstances.

What too often blocks our way is having our aging ever upward woven into a cultural fabric that seems to disengage from grasping the importance & power of true elderhood, that puts barriers in the way of continued growth – in the name of convenience.

Life was never meant to be convenient.  It’s SUPPOSED to be challenging & messy, enriching & inconvenient, expansive & exasperating.  From first breath to last.

Older people need advocates, people who help brush aside physical, emotional, even mental barriers.  Every step these essentials take, every action, helps them grow whole, helps them come more fully into their own.

The life they enrich, that they help give the space to grow whole, may be their own!



When the ambulance chaser IS the ambulance

originally published on Rx4Caregivers.wordpress.com


Eye-opening article in KAISER HEALTH NEWS on ambulance service billings, often in the thousands!

“Forty years ago, most ambulances were free for patients, provided by volunteers or town fire departments using taxpayer money, said Jay Fitch, president of Fitch & Associates, an emergency services consulting firm. Today, ambulances are increasingly run by private companies and venture capital firms.

‘”Ambulance providers now often charge by the mile and sometimes for each “service,” like providing oxygen. If the ambulance is staffed by paramedics rather than emergency medical technicians, that will result in a higher charge — even if the patient didn’t need paramedic-level services. Charges range widely from zero to thousands of dollars, depending on billing practices.

“While the federal government sets reimbursement rates for patients on Medicare, it does not regulate ambulance fees for patients with private insurance. In the absence of federal rules, those patients are left with a fragmented system in which the cost of a similar ambulance ride can vary widely from town to town.”

Be a savvy consumer of health care costs – read the article, discuss with friends & family!


Death loosens its spectral grip

No, am NOT getting kick backs from the NY Times for leading my readers to its articles!  Can’t be helped, with some of the best writers on living expansively issues on staff.  All hail Paula Span & John Leland, with a special place in my heart for two Janes –  Gross & Brody!

Going analog – at home – is a whole new world for me, especially on the weekends, when our local libraries cut back the amount of time someone can fritter… I mean spend on their computers.  Assigned 40 minutes yesterday, so didn’t dig deeply enough into my digital subscription to find John’s article on America’s changing attitudes toward death.  Praise be, he has a dandy short piece in today’s issue, spotted while perusing the print edition this a.m. at Be Well, my beloved café/away-from-home office.

In Sunday’s lengthier piece, John discussed attending Shatzi Weisberger’s FUN-eral.  As the 88-year old former nurse explained,  “I have been studying and learning about death and dying, and I want to tell people what I’ve learned.  Some people are coming because they love me, and some people are coming because they’re curious about what the hell it’s about.”

John was there because covering a revamped/revitalized funeral was a natural build on three years of becoming friends with & writing about a variety of seriously-old (85+) New Yorkers.

The centerpiece of the standing room only party, held in the commons room of her Upper West Side apartment?  A biodegradable cardboard coffin on which enthusiastic guests were writing greetings, from  “Go Shatzi! (but not literally)” to “Shatzi, many happy returns … as trees, as bumble bees, as many happy memories.”

At 88, Shatzi has become a prominent voice in the “positive death movement.”  My heart leapt at the description – didn’t know there was a movement to describe what I experienced seventeen years ago with Mom, three years ago with my sister Mim & even with Dad, who died in 1973 before the first wave of integrating more humanity into death & dying yet still held a remarkable attitude toward what he was experiencing rather than crumpled & devastated at the prospect of dying at 62.

Shatzi & her “Go, Death!” compadres speak to my concern that American culture finds death to be icky, a topic to be avoided rather than embraced, resulting in a silence that diminishes the lives that lead up to it. 

I think about my oldest brother.  After decades of a relatively distant relationship, they became close over the last twenty years of Mim’s life.  But he still has not seen her online memorial service – the first of its kind in our church, inspired by the unescapable fact that the best minister to capture my sister’s unusual persona was retired & living in Arizona.   I can’t understand WHY Peter has yet to see it, but he hasn’t.  Which is too bad, since it is a wonderful collaboration,  a heartfelt tribute to a creative & complex spirit.

Schatzi would understand the inspiration behind Mim’s tribute, honoring a woman who exited this world cracking up hospital staff who’d swing by for a visit if they felt down in the dumps, knowing that a patient facing death within days would make them smile at her jokes & feel awed by her “bring it on!” attitude.

More & more people feel like Ms. Weisberger, who simply got fed up with Death American-style after sitting with a dying friend who was was so terrified at the prospect of her death, “she couldn’t even talk about it…  And then she died.  So that was a problem.  We had not dealt with the issue – myself, herself and the others.

Schatzi Weisberger used her FUN-eral to educate her friends about having a positive death experience.  She showed them the burial shroud she plans to have cover her for burial (she considers cremation to be environmentally unfriendly), which she got from Amazon.  Friends have agreed to was her body, in keeping with Jewish tradition, and another will bring dry ice to preserve it before burial.  But she assured one & all that she’s in good health, good spirits, and will wait her own good time to have the good death for which she has so carefully prepared!

Schatzi Weisberger does have a final wish – “I really want to experience my dying.  I don’t want to die in a car crash or be unconscious. I want to be home, I want to be in my bed, I want to share the experience with anybody who’s interested.”   She doesn’t expect death to take her hand in a spectral grip, but with a friendly touch.