HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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If you are or a family member is hospitalized and you cannot hire a patient advocate, a family member may serve the purpose. Dreher offers the following tips for advocating for a sick family member:


•  Become proactive. Prepare a summary sheet for your loved one in advance, covering all health conditions, allergies and names of physicians, and    keep a current list of medications so if the patient is hospitalized, there is a record.

•  Educate yourself about a loved one’s medical condition but choose your sources carefully. Talk with the patient’s family doctor and/or specialists if    possible.

•  Consult the National Institute of Health (NIH) for information.

•  Choose all doctors carefully. Ask a trusted healthcare professional for a recommendation.

•  Try to avoid hospitalization, especially if the patient is elderly.


In the event of hospitalization, Dreher says family advocates must:


1.  Realize vigilance is required because medical personnel may make mistakes.

2.  Pay attention, take notes, provide information and ask questions.

3.  Organize shifts among relatives.

4.  Take notes and jot down information such as the names of hospital personnel seeing the patient, as well as your observations.

5.  Make questions count. Don’t ask a doctor a question a nurse could answer.

6.  Make sure the staff wear gloves and use hand sanitizer before touching the patient.

7.  Know you are allowed to request medical records.

8.  Be especially vigilant during admission and discharge; this is when hospital personnel are working extra fast and are likely to make mistakes.

Receiving health care today is a challenge. It often involves participation in a system that is time consuming and complicated. While there are many efforts today to simplify and safeguard this system from errors, nevertheless errors are made daily. Questions about practice are often lost in the asking, and patients are left to fend for themselves.


But a new trend is emerging: the fast-growing field of patient advocacy. Formal programs are being developed for assisting patients with their medical needs and doing patient advocacy. Many patients and their families are hiring private professional health advocates (PPHAs). Many of these advocates are experienced RNs who guide the patient and family through the confusion of modern healthcare.


“The healthcare system has become so complex and profit driven, patients get lost in the shuffle,” said Toni Dreher, founder of North Shore Patient Advocates LLC (www.NorthShoreRN.com) in Chicago. “Up to 440,000 patients die in the hospital each year due to medical errors. Patients need someone knowledgeable speaking and watching out solely for them.”


Some patient advocates offer medical assistance that requires knowledge of the health care system and a medical background. They are usually retired RNs and doctors or someone who has spent years in the

THE PATIENT ADVOCATE - PROFESSIONALS HELP FAMILIES WHEN LOVED ONES ARE HOSPITALIZED

medical field. There are, in addition, patient advocates who are employed by hospitals and others who help primarily with insurance and insurance filings.


Dreher’s first attempt at advocating was in an intervention she made on behalf of her father-in-law. Despite a life-threatening blood clot, the hospital that was treating him was set to release him. Dreher successfully intervened, but it made her wonder: What if he hadn’t had a nurse in the family watching out for him? Now well established in her business, Dreher uses a team approach to look out for patients during hospitalization. Her services include:


•  helping patients and their families become more knowledgeable about their    diagnosis;

•  asking doctors questions a lay person wouldn’t know to ask;

•  getting all the facts;

•  researching all treatment options;

•  researching and identifying the best doctor, hospital and/ or nursing home for a    patient; and

•  helping take care of insurance claims.

JEAN JEFFERS

Jean is an RN with MSN from the University of Cincinnati. She is a staff writer for Living Well 60 Plus and Health &Wellness magazines. She has an article in the Fall 2016 issue of Today’s Christian in the Mature Years.

more articles by jean jeffers