Gratitude Pairs well with Apple Pie

I have come to know November as the month of gratitude. I, like most people I know, encounter many obstacles in my daily living. When I slow down and remember the things I’m grateful for, my mind is free and my day is a little lighter. 

First, I am grateful for my nursing profession, allowing me to help so many people and transform my passion into Anchor Healthcare Advocates. My science-based love of the human spirit and connection with my clients have helped shape the woman I am today.

Second, I am grateful for the veterans who were -- and are -- in my life. My dad served in World War II.  Many of these veterans came home left to deal with what they had seen and done in silence. I am thankful that today’s veterans are given coping methods for their post-traumatic stress. The Exalted Warrior Foundation continues to shape the lives of our veterans using adaptive yoga techniques. Having recently earned my yoga instructor license, I’m fully aware of the healing benefits of yoga and how important it is to keep our brain healthy.  

Third, and closest to my heart, I am grateful for my family. Without their unconditional love and support, I’d be lost at sea. They are my anchor!

In gratitude and peace,
Diane Eggert, BSN, RN
Owner & Principal Advocate
813-539-2526

 
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dedicated to my Dad Joe.

Dedicated to my Dad Joe.

This has been my go-to recipe since I was a teenager. I’d hand the list of ingredients to my dad to buy. I didn’t know it until much later, but baking has been a form of meditation for me. It stimulates all my senses: touching the ingredients, hearing the crispness of the apples while I peel them, and finally the smell. Oh, the sweet smell!
The tasting was my dad’s specialty.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have.   

Pastry
(makes two 9-inch pie crusts)
2 cups flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 100% stone-ground whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled
½ cup ice water
 
The good stuff
7-8 medium tart/juicy apples (I use granny smith)
1 tbsp flour
Dash of salt
2/3 – ¾ cup sugar, depending on tartness  
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp cinnamon
 
Sift flour on waxed paper. Add salt. Mix. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a wire pastry blender. Do this quickly so the shortening doesn’t become too warm. Particles range in size from rice grains to navy beans.

With one hand, sprinkle ice water into mixture while tossing the dampened particles with a fork in the other hand. Continue to add water until the particles are uniformly moistened and barely stick together.

Form the mixture into a ball. Let pastry stand 5-10 minutes. Chill in frig for 30 minutes (this gives you time to peel the apples). Cut ball into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other.

  While pastry is in the frig, cut apples in quarters, then cut quarters into 3-4 slices. Set aside. 
Take pastry out of the frig and place on floured pastry cloth or waxed paper. Use outward strokes with a rolling pin to form the bottom crust. Fold pastry over and move into pie pan (ungreased). 

Blend flour, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle about ¼ of mixture on bottom of pastry-lined pan. Mix the remainder with quartered apples. Set aside. 

Roll out remaining dough for top of pie (not too thin). Make decorative gashes in center to allow for air vents during cooking. Moisten rim of bottom crust, fill with fruit, then place top crust. Crimp with tines of fork or fingers.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce to 325 for 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy within 24 hours of baking!

Does Your Loved One Have Alzheimer’s? Here Is How You Can Afford Their Care

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Alzheimer’s is a difficult thing to experience both as an individual, and a loved one on the outside. However, the condition can be managed much better with proper care. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, here is what you need to know to help cover the costs of care.

What Costs to Expect

This disease is not a predictable one, and costs will vary over time. You’ll need to be prepared for checkups, possible medical equipment in the home, household modification, medication and care services, either during the day at an adult day care facility or a full-time residential care home. Depending on where you live, private care expenses will differ. This disease is devastating in many ways. It’s a progressive disease that may get worse over time. Care can run thousands of dollars monthly.

In the early stages of the disease, you may not need to pay too much, but simply make a few changes around the home to make it safer. However, this stage typically only lasts two years. After that, care becomes increasingly more expensive. In the best possible case, your loved one will have long-term care insurance, but many do not. In such instances, it falls to the family to cover these costs.

Medicare and Medicaid

There are pitfalls to both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare may not cover long-term care costs, while Medicaid can be difficult to navigate. Before applying for Medicaid, it’s wise to give your assets to a loved one, as these can be used against you. They have a five-year look-back policy, which means the value of any assets your loved one, or their spouse, had within the last five years can be expected to be used to pay for care. Medicare covers doctor visits and diagnostic costs during the early stages of the disease, but only handles short-term care during later stages. However, if you do qualify financially, if you are under the poverty line, Medicaid can pay for the services you and your loved one will eventually need. This includes transportation, nursing care, home care and doctor appointments.

Mortgage Information

One option many turn to is a reverse mortgage . Unlike a traditional mortgage, instead of paying it down over the years, you receive payments based on the equity of your property. The balance of the loan is paid off once the home is sold, or the owner passes away. It causes equity to decrease over time, and the longer a reverse mortgage is kept, the greater the amount you owe. However, with the right research, you can find a reputable and trustworthy company that genuinely has your interests at heart. This does require shopping around to find, but can be an asset to give your loved one the care they truly need.

Alternative Funding

Many families use retirement plans and savings to help pay for their loved one’s treatment, and this is not sustainable. Get your family together to see what resources you have to work with, but do research to see what additional help you qualify for. If you are low-income, there are more state-run options available. These tend to provide general assistance to help cover medical costs, and may not be specific to Alzheimer’s. Several states, however, do give specific care for dementia-related needs. They may have day care services, home visits and what is called respite care. This provides relief for your loved one’s primary caregiver, which may be you. It’s in-home care at a greatly reduced fee, or completely free of charge. There are grants you can apply for, and non-profit foundations specifically there to help provide support.

No one wants this diagnosis. It can be difficult for all involved in countless ways. However, with the right planning, preparation and knowledge of your options, you can give your loved one devoted care, consistency and all they need to continue to thrive.

Lydia Chan, Alzheimer’s caregiver. Image Courtesy of Pexels.com

What I Learned About Caregiving

It was not until my husband had surgery that I thought of myself as a caregiver.  This might sound funny to you.  My image of a caregiver is someone without any medical background, learning everything from the healthcare staff or things they read on the internet.  Although my expertise as a nurse was invaluable to my husband’s hospital stay and now recovery, I am first and foremost his wife, friend and life explorer. 

Emerson Point Preserve, Manatee County

Emerson Point Preserve, Manatee County

My role as a wife and friend just expanded as caregiver to someone who went through a serious operation.  Reflecting now, my biggest fear was losing the man I married, my sailing buddy and the fun adventures we share today.  The other piece that became very clear was that as his companion, I know all his idiosyncrasies.  What makes him laugh, if he's angry or sad and the respect and love we have for each other.  Would these paid hospital healthcare providers know this?  The answer is no. 

Although we entrusted his life over to the scientific care of an expert surgeon, his team and amazing nurses, I am ultimately his advocate.  I am the person he trusts that will help him get through this event in his life.  If I had not had the experience as a critical care nurse, I would have consulted a nurse advocate.  When he was waking up from anesthesia, it was my nurses eyes that were "on" assessing all of his systems, the tubes and talking with the post-op nurse. 

When you hire Anchor Healthcare Advocates, you will get an experienced nurse with knowledge of your disease process and demonstrate communication with the healthcare providers to obtain accurate and timely answers to your questions.  They will take extra time to listen with family and the patient and be objective with their assessment of your loved one. 

Many people try and be their own healthcare advocate without the proper education and experience.  This is when confusion and havoc come into play.  It would be as if I insisted on joining the operating team and be a surgeon without a surgical residency or medical degree. Thankfully, I know my boundaries and limitations.  I stayed in the waiting room while the surgeon performed the operation.  With a well thought out and researched plan, we chose a remarkable specialized surgeon.  This is a perk you'll get with Anchor.  Finding a reputable, board certified surgeon in the respective field is vital to a strong wellness plan.   

As a caregiver, I also asked for help from family and friends.  My mother-in-law flew in for the week to be by my side and ultimately see her son through the major operation. I had nurses I worked with to talk with and friends who came by.  I had family texting and calling throughout the day of surgery sending their love and support.  I was able to get away each day to be home for just a couple of hours and de-stress. 

When I look at my husband, I don't see him as a patient.  I see the man I met years ago as my high school prom date and high school sweetheart,  now my husband of 9 years.  He is the light that gives me joy each day.  I often tell him, that my whole nursing education and career was for the purpose of being his nurse advocate.  What a gift I have today.

Let Anchor Healthcare Advocates be the gift you give your family and friends during times of illness to create their smooth journey toward wellness and recovery.   

 

 

Memorial Day

If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.
— Thomas Aquinas

Americans celebrate Memorial Day in many ways.  I hope all of us took a moment to remember those Americans who served our country in Civil War or foreign wars like my dad during World War II.    Because of their bravery we have the freedom to celebrate with family and friends sharing food and conviviality in whatever way we like.   

This year I went sailing on our boat #svgatogo with my husband.  We joined about 30 fellow sailors for an annual bar-b-que.  Meeting new people and socializing is a great way to live a little longer.  Maintaining close relationships also protect us against illness by boosting our immune system.   We hear interesting sailing stories and learn from the experienced sailors who have sailed all over the world.  Although I have traveled several hundred miles on our sailboat, we primarily sail on the West coast of Florida.  If we were to travel further south to Key West or Cuba, we would depend on more experienced sailors to guide us through the voyage.

When setting out for a sailing weekend we begin the arduous detail of weather watching.  We try to obtain the wind direction, the speed, and the tides.  How we use our nautical tactics will ultimately steer us to our destination; however the weather is unpredictable.  Similarly in healthcare, we choose a provider from our insurance plan, schedule the appointment and gather our records.  Out best strategy for smooth sailing toward healthy living can be challenging at times.

Having a patient advocate navigate your healthcare journey will reduce stress for you and your family.  Whatever the issue, Anchor Healthcare Advocates has the expertise and years of experience to help you.   

 

Sources:  urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia

 

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) also known as incipient dementia or isolated memory impairment.  It is the intermediate stage between the expected aging cognitive decline versus the more severe signs of Alzheimer’s.  During the time the symptoms are evolving, the patient is often aware of their memory "slipping".

As like the rest of your body, the brain will age and forgetting someone’s name or coming up with a word is normal.  Constant forgetfulness, stopping mid-sentence in a conversation may be more of a concern.  When family and friends notice these changes it will further put up a red flag to seek further neurological evaluation.

I had a client who's family member noticed that her loved ones text messages were disjointed.  She then learned she had a recent fall.  The family member reached out to Anchor Healthcare Advocates to explore whether she had a head injury from a fall or something else.  When we first met, she shared her professional and personal life and her love of homeopathic practices.  As the story unfolded, her friends had noticed her less focused and disorganized.  She described it as being "foggy" which lasted hours and sometimes days.  She was referred to a neurologist to have diagnostic neuroimaging and neuropsychological testing which is recommended when these symptoms appear.  

Father and son enjoying a moment at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Father and son enjoying a moment at St Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Mild cognitive impairment can be treated.  Along with neurodiagnostic testing, antidepressants can elevate mood.   Imagine a puzzle and some of the pieces are missing.  Certain processes we have performed all our life and then suddenly forgetting how to turn the handle of a blind to let in light.  These every day signs are subtle and I hope those closest to us will question us even if it turns out to be the normal process of aging.   

 Sources:  Mayoclinic.org

 

Telehealth is a Great Addition to Your Healthcare Toolbox

The benefits of telehealth through videoconferencing allow you to be face to face with your provider.  This can give you peace of mind anywhere you are regarding your non-emergency health issues. When taking responsibility for my health and lifestyle, I have the 20 minute rule.  While I was a clinical nurse and had to call a doctor for results, if no answer within 20 minutes, a second call would be placed.  At a scheduled primary care physician appointment I follow the same standard.

Time is valuable to me and I take a proactive role in my health, wellness and fitness.  Telehealth is one of my preferred health choices that give me a greater opportunity to stay #fitover50.  According to statistics with some telehealth companies, you can schedule an appointment within 10 minutes of your call or at your own convenience which gives you control over your time and health status.

Top 5 benefits of telehealth

1.       Provides a convenient way to access a physician 24/7/365 for non-emergent issues.  It can be accessed through the internet via your smart phone or your laptop at home. 

2.       Reduces cost to patient and employer.  When the health issue is immediately identified you are able to see a doctor within hours of the initial symptoms. Telehealth may reduce time away from work by cutting down on commuting time either for yourself, a child or an aging parent.  

3.       Initial contact with a provider can identify necessity of a specialist.

4.       Providers who manage population health under risk adjusted base arrangements under Medicare and other private insurers can reduce expensive hospital admissions, emergency room visits and re-admissions to the hospital. 

5.       Once the health concern is identified, questions can be answered in a timely manner, prescription medication (non-narcotic) can be prescribed and instructions on the treatment of the illness can be given.

Watch Anchor Healthcare Advocates website for upcoming news for telehealth for their clients.

 

Friday Date Night

It’s my dad’s birthday today.  He would have been 92.   I thought it would be appropriate to begin my blog talking about my dad since the core of my advocate business was fired by the events that took place the last 6 months of his life. 

My Dad was a veteran of the Coast Guard in WWII, born second generation Italian in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  My mom passed away in 1994 and I was a single mom with a 4 year old daughter at the time.  His granddaughter became his purpose in life, a key piece to seek value as you get older.  As my daughter got older and busier with her own friends, we decided to reserve Friday night as date night with my dad.  He also became busier with his friends and played poker once or twice a week with his buddies, was active in his church and had a had a group of friends he would go out with. 

Life moved on, my daughter went to college and I married my high school sweetheart and I moved about 4 hours away from my dad.  One weekend, I visited my dad on my own in April 2011.  It had been the first time we spent time together without my daughter and husband or others.  I can remember him saying how much he enjoyed having me all to himself and how much we laughed and got along so well.  At 87, he looked pretty good, still driving his golf cart to the grocery store, playing cards and socializing.  He had given up his car 3 years prior but not without a fight! 

I got a call in May 2011 from his primary care physician that he had fainted in the doctor’s office and they had suggested he go to an assisted living facility for a while to build up his strength.  He was old school and followed doctor’s orders without much question. 

I can’t really remember much of my first visit with him at the facility.  I was in shock that I must have missed something during that visit in April.  It turns out that he had become more anemic and his mobility was failing him, specifically his feet.  Within a few weeks I felt it was important to get a durable power of attorney and organize other financial affairs.  It was if he had suddenly given up on life and everything took such effort.  He would tell me how much he missed his house and that his friends didn’t come visit him. 

I knew intuitively from my 30 years of nursing care of patients that my dad did not have long to live.  I encouraged my daughter to visit him even while she was away at college.  When he saw her his face would light up and he always smiled for the camera when she was by his side!

My daughter now has twin boys of her own and is married to a wonderful young man starting his career in general dentistry and she is a stay at home mom. They came to visit us this weekend and we reminisced about how life was with my dad and her grandfather who she called “poppi”. 

He passed away November 20, 2011 and I miss him every day.  Our Friday date night is my favorite memory with him.    Cherish what you have today and schedule time with those who are important in your life as our bodies and mind do not last but the memories we create today will be with us forever.