Saturday, January 31, 2015

Holocaust Survivors: Adult Diseases (Research, Video 3:21)

Previous research about adults who were born during the Holocaust indicates that they suffer health problems as a result of being exposed to starvation and stress between conception and early infancy. Medically this effect is referred to as fetal origin of adult disease.

A more recent Holocaust research study was done to determine whether exposure to the Holocaust from preconception to early infancy is a cause of chronic morbidity (diseased state) in adulthood. Participants included 70 European Jews born in countries under Nazi rule from 1940-1945. This study began with interviews to determine if they had any chronic illnesses. A similar control group of 230 Israeli-born individuals also participated. Prevalence of selected risk factors and chronic diseases was compared between the groups.

Results indicated that the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and morbidity was significantly higher in the exposed group with diseases such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, angina pectoris, and congestive heart failure. The prevalence of cancer, peptic ulcer disease, headaches/migraines, and anxiety/depression was also higher in the exposed group. These results indicate that exposure to Holocaust conditions in early life may be associated with a higher prevalence of certain diseases in adulthood.

In this video, Betty Gold explains how she and her family escaped from the Nazis and hid in a cave in the Polish forest. Her family learned that their hiding place had been discovered, and they would be murdered that night:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
 Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes  is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
 Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Hospice-Palliative Volunteers' Opinions (Research, Video 2:58)

Hospice-palliative volunteers bring a unique perspective to the ongoing debate about physician-assisted suicide. Already legal in several states (Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico), the law requires that the terminally ill must be of sound mind when requesting assisted suicide, as confirmed by a doctor and other witnesses. The main difference between euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide is that the latter requires the patient, not a doctor or someone else, to self-administer the medication and decide when to do that. Despite fears that the assisted suicide law would be used inappropriately by many people not showing good care or judgment, that has not been the case.

Research on physician-assisted suicide included two groups consisting of Canadian in-home hospice-palliative volunteers and members of the community. Participants responded to 15 items about physician-assisted suicide. Differences of opinion were revealed in both groups. Additional questions confirmed the following about the majority of volunteers and community members:

     1)   They support legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
     2)   They would choose hospice-palliative care over physician-assisted suicide                 for themselves if they were terminally ill.
     3)   They think Canadians should place more priority on developing hospice-                   palliative care rather than on legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

In America, physician-assisted suicide has also sparked debate widely in various states. Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She decided to move from California to Oregon because doctors there are allowed by law to prescribe life-ending medication to patients who are older than 18 and have been given less than six months to live. She has taken that medication. This video features her story along with pros and cons of the physician-assisted suicide debate:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Naomi Long Madgett: Frances Shani Parker's Selfie Haiku (iPad Research)

Selfie Haiku

Magical tablet
imaging a friendship dear,
framing our selfie.

At the age of 91, Naomi Long Madgett enjoys using her computer. Poet Laureate of Detroit, Michigan, she is also an educator, author, and publisher. We have shared technology talks often, and her eagerness to learn more is refreshing. According to the Pew Research Center, four in ten people over age 65 do not use the Internet. When other older adults become frustrated with the dynamics of their computer "relationships," I use Naomi as a motivating example by reminding them that she never says, "I'm too old for this new stuff." 

I visited Naomi with my iPad after selfies exploded with popularity. I knew curiosity would entice her to explore this innovative technology. 

"Is that one of those things they call a tablet?" she asked me.

I responded by explaining a few tasks my popular mini giant could do. Finally, I questioned, "You want to take a selfie together? Do you know what that is?"

Like a confident geek, she immediately responded, "Sure, I've heard about them. They're photos people take of themselves. Let's do it!"

And we started some serious posing while I snapped until we had it right. I saved a visual snippet of our time together. At home later, I wrote the haiku, a form of Japanese poetry in 17-syllable verse form consisting of three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.

Without realizing it, Naomi's eagerness to embrace technology helps her in ways that a growing body of older adult computer research evidence supports. One example of such research conducted by the University of New Hampshire in Durham and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan was with a home-based information communication technology (ICT) training program. Graduate occupational therapy students used iPads for the training of older adults. 

Progress of participants being trained in ICT activities showed positive trends over six months, including their perspectives on technology. In fact, participants liked the iPads so much that the vast majority accepted ownership of them at the end of the study. This research reported that building capacity of older adults to utilize the multifaceted potential of this technology is "critical in addressing declines in health, impending disabilities, and social isolation." Clearly, Naomi's good choices with the "new stuff" enhance her quality of life.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

HIV and Older Adults (Research, Video 1:42)

Something negative and shocking may happen in our society this year. It is predicted that older adults will represent 50%of persons living with HIV in the United States. This population particularly should pay attention to these statistics. Rising rates of HIV among older adults require diligent use of condoms, no sharing of needles, testing for HIV, and discussions about HIV/AIDS with their doctors and others. serves as a gateway for information about federal government efforts with a focus on domestic programs.

But so much more can and should be done to get the message out about safe sex for older adults. Ageism attitudes and stereotypes in society also impact HIV prevention by perpetuating myths about low sexuality among this population, low clinical HIV suspicion among healthcare providers, lack of knowledge about risk among older women, and different ways that older adults negotiate sexual practices. Older women are at a disadvantage when it comes to HIV prevention, education, and treatment.

This video shows how the city of Baltimore health officials and private health care providers are spreading the word about HIV/STD testing and prevention.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Health Blogs vs. Health Websites (Research)

The years keep ending and beginning. I have been blogging through the last eight with Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog. Blogging is an interesting, time-consuming, and rewarding service-oriented activity for me. I include news, practices, research, poems, stories, and interviews. Images and videos are used often. I view my blog as an extension of my volunteer commitment to educate others about eldercare and improve lives of older adults in general. Having opportunities to communicate with people all over the world while gaining considerable knowledge myself is a major bonus.

A fascinating personal aspect of blogging is predicting which posts will be most popular. I’ve been surprised many times by the topics readers embrace with enthusiasm. These are my top three posts, each having thousands of page views over the past years: Impact of Death Rattle Sounds on Hospice Workers, Hospice-Palliative Care Doctors and Burnout, and Cremation Process and Storage of Cremains.

Health blogs and websites are persuasive vehicles that many use to impact the thoughts and actions of others. Is one more persuasive than the other? Are personal health blogs more persuasive than institutional health websites? In a study of HIV personal blogs in which people shared their intimate thoughts and experiences with HIV, results determined that a one-time exposure to a personal HIV blog had greater persuasive effects on its readers than an institutional HIV website providing the same content. While the website of an official institution had higher source credibility, blog readers had more positive attitudes and success toward condom use than website readers. The ideal is probably a good combination of both blogs and websites. Whichever you choose, be informed and prepared to educate and assist others.

If you are interested in reading more blogs related to terminal illness and end-of-life care, the Hospice and Palliative Care Community Blog Directory is located at the website of The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.