Taking Back Summer - Your Way!

Tips for a Healthy and Safe Return to "Normal"

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” says the great American song by composer George Gershwin. And this year, after spending 18 months or so in relative isolation, people from coast to coast are striving to get back to that carefree state-of-mind. From baseball games to backyard barbeques, block parties to picnics in the park, people are reclaiming former warm weather traditions that were all but abandoned last summer, victims of the coronavirus. But as with your approach to a swimming pool—a dip of the toe or a cannonball jump—everyone is finding their own way to return to normal.

While some are embracing re-entry full on, others find that the idea of socializing again is bringing new stress. One survey revealed that nearly half of vaccinated adults are reluctant to return to in-person interactions right now. In fact, this hesitation affects so many that experts have given the phenomenon a name: re-entry anxiety or cave syndrome.

At Capital Caring Health (CCH), our goal is to help you live the best life possible, at every stage and under every circumstance. So as we all emerge to a new and still evolving post-pandemic life, we offer some tips to make this a healthy and enjoyable summer. There’s no need to jump in the deep end right away—unless you really want to!

Reduce New Stress and Old

There’s no escaping it: modern life is stressful, made worse by the pandemic and restrictions that went along with it. Experts suggest one way to reduce your stress and feel safe with the “new normal” is to identify your boundaries, determine what activities you are comfortable with, and then relay that information to others.

Our advice below covers a few of the factors known to help reduce stress and promote better physical and mental health.

Stay Socially Connected

The pandemic tested our creativity, sense of community, and technology skills as families and friends tried numerous and new ways to stay in touch. If you are not yet comfortable with in-person gatherings, continue using Zoom, make phone calls, send email and texts. Make socializing a daily habit and spend at least 15 minutes connecting with someone, whether a family member, friend, or neighbor—especially if you are a senior living alone.

If you developed new friendships online and want to stay in touch, let people know you’d like to continue. They may also be delaying in-person interactions for now. And with warm summertime weather you can safely socialize outdoors. Take advantage of it while you can to meet up in nearby parks, or attend outdoor concerts, for instance.

Follow Healthy Habits—Sleep, Diet and Exercise

Whether you maintained good habits during the pandemic or not, now’s the time to get quality sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and enjoy the great outdoors.

Ensure Quality Sleep

Stress from the pandemic may have disturbed your sleep, resulting in insomnia or sleeping too much. Getting proper sleep is about its quality as well as the right number of hours. Without both, you run a greater risk of developing or worsening heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, depression, and more.

The best sleep calls for a ritual—a regular schedule of when you go to bed and get up, a dark room, and no phone or other blue light-emitting devices nearby. You’ll also improve your chance of quality sleep by not eating or drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Forget the “Freshman 15.” During COVID, the majority of Americans gained unwanted weight, tipping the scales at an average of 29 more pounds than in pre-pandemic days. Stress, boredom—and proximity to the refrigerator all day, every day—all played a role in America’s expanding waistlines. Alcohol consumption also rose sharply during the same period, especially among women.

Eating a balanced diet including fruit and vegetables helps maintain your health, energy, and outlook. Conversely, an unhealthy diet and too much alcohol can actually make stress and depression worse. You don’t have to give up potato salad and brownies at the next picnic; just consume in moderation!

Exercise

Given the requirements to stay at home, sitting may have been last year’s most popular pastime.  However, if exercise was a habit, you probably found it did a great job at reducing stress and improving your mood.

It doesn’t require a lot of exercise to reap the rewards. Even with a chronic illness and limitations, most conditions benefit from some type of exercise. Depending on your ability, try seated exercise or yoga, or take a walk or bike ride. Doing these activities in nature—or just being outside—is even better as it brings additional healthy results.  If you’d like to add safe socializing to the mix, try your hand at gentle outdoor summer “sports,” such as croquet, horseshoes, or lawn bowling.

Facing the Future

It’s hard to capture just how many things about daily life have changed during the pandemic, often for the worse, unfortunately. Yet, the time spent at home also offered many a chance to consider what really matters to them and to set priorities moving forward.

Our tips for healthy living are sound any time of the year, but this summer offers a chance to do a reset. Make time to continue or establish healthy habits and move on from bad ones you may have developed over the past year.

Lastly, while most of our tips can be followed on your own or with family members, Capital Caring Health can help if need be. Through our Primary Care at Home (PCH) program, we can provide nutritional counseling, arrange for the preparation and delivery of healthy meals, or develop an exercise regimen right for you.

At its core, PCH is designed to help you age safely in place, with a full spectrum of care and support at your fingertips. And if there comes a day when that isn’t enough, our many other programs and services can help, regardless of age or condition.

To learn about PCH eligibility and benefits, click here or call 800-869-2136. For more information on CCH’s many other programs, visit our website or call 800-869-2136, 24/7.

(PS: And whatever you do…no running by the pool!)


Celebrate Independence Day Every Day with Care and Support from Capital Caring Health!

As this Fourth of July approaches, many Americans will give more thought than usual to what “independence” and “freedom” mean. After all, we’ve just emerged from more than a year of lockdowns, mask-wearing, and other restrictions and are eager to return to pre-pandemic life, including in-person get-togethers over burgers and beers.

But after a much-needed holiday from the stress and anxiety of 2020—and the last of the fireworks have cleared the air—it may be time for you and your loved ones to think about your independence…now and in the future. Because the hard truth is that advanced age or serious illness can limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities, putting independence and the freedom to remain at home at risk.

Yet that’s exactly what most seniors desire for their later years. According to a recent WebMD/Capital Caring Health survey, nearly 90% of those age 50 and older want to “age in place.”

Capital Caring Health can help you meet that goal and remain independent. When you or your loved ones are no longer able to make it to the doctor’s office, cook a meal every day, or manage an advanced illness, we offer a variety of care and support programs tailored to each person’s unique situation. And the best news is our services are almost always provided in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Most are covered by Medicare (in full or at limited cost) as well as by commercial health plans, and some Medicaid programs where coverage, restrictions, and cost-sharing may vary.

Primary Care at Home

According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), 80% of seniors are affected by at least one of the following chronic conditions: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, lung disease, or diabetes. A full 60% have multiple chronic conditions.

For those who are 55 or older and home-limited by advanced illness or disability, CCH can help stave off further deterioration even as they stay put. Through Primary Care at Home, we offer the following convenient programs and services:

  • House Calls: Our doctors, nurse practitioners, and social workers—all experienced in caring for older adults with advanced illness—come to you, instead of the other way around.
  • Mobile Technology: We can perform sophisticated diagnostic tests (blood work, X-rays, ultrasound and more) right in your own home. An electronic portal eases communication between you and your medical team.
  • 24/7 Care Coordination: Our team is available by phone, day in and day out, to arrange for urgent and specialty care, support services, and other medical needs such as medication management to help you age at home with dignity.
  • Family Time: We work closely with families so each person understands the plan of care and their role in it.

As an added benefit for Primary Care at Home members, we offer a free, companion program that further helps patients age in place. Called Stay-at-Home Services, the program involves a team of Social Workers, Community Health Workers, and others who, in consultation with patients and family members, can arrange for supportive, ancillary needs such as:

  • Pharmacy delivery
  • Transportation
  • Rehab
  • Handy-man services
  • Meal preparation/meal delivery
  • Light housekeeping
  • Pet care and more

To see if we offer the PCH program in your area, click here.

Advanced Cardiac Care

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a leading cause of hospitalization, resulting in more than one million admissions annually. Furthermore, many CHF patients make frequent visits to the doctor’s office or emergency room due to breathing difficulties, fatigue, and other worsening symptoms. Without the right care, at the right time, such patterns can last for months or even years.

CCH’s Advanced Cardiac Care (ACC) program assures a consistent, comprehensive home-based approach to all heart failure patients in our care. Families also receive the support, information, and education needed to make sure symptoms can be safely managed at home, preventing a situation from growing worse and landing the patient in the hospital. Working in tandem with the CHF patient’s doctor, our interdisciplinary care team provides:

  • Regular visits and check-in calls by a nurse with specialized training
  • Patient education customized for each patient and family
  • Medications to help control symptoms
  • Additional supportive care by request—from a social worker, nurse assistant, chaplain, counselor, and/or a volunteer.

As part of the program, CCH and other experts also developed The Patient and Caregiver Handbook—a practical guide to help manage the CHF patient at home including:

  • Symptom management and self-care tips
  • Information on medications and diet
  • Tools such as a chart to monitor symptoms and a log to track blood pressure and weight
  • An action plan with guidance based on how a patient feels—for example, when to call a member of the care team or what actions one can safely take at home.

Copies of the Patient and Caregiver Handbook (34 pages) may be downloaded here or you may request a print copy here.

Advanced Illness/Palliative Care  

Advanced illness/palliative care helps those living with serious illness through specialized medical care focused on relieving symptoms like pain and stress. With the goal of improving quality of life for both patients and families, such care is especially helpful for those suffering from a progressive illness, dementia, or neurological issues including Parkinson’s disease or stroke. And CCH’s advanced illness and palliative care is available to anyone—at any age or stage of disease, even as physicians strive to cure the patient.

While specific services vary for each individual case, in general the CCH team works with the patient’s doctor and specialists to assist with:

  • Expert symptom management
  • Help clarifying information and options
  • Assistance in finding needed resources, including transportation and insurance coverage
  • Addressing any concerns about the illness

Care can be provided in a variety of different settings including homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and other locations.

Hospice Care

Ultimately, achieving life-long independence is about choosing how we want to live and, when the time comes, how and where we want to spend our final days. Capital Caring Health can help you and your loved ones realize your last wishes, 95% of the time in the peace and comfort of your own home.

Hospice is a type of specialized medical care that provides compassionate physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical support to people in the end stage of disease. A central focus of the interdisciplinary team of experts—nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, supervising physicians, nurse practitioners, and others—is care designed to relieve pain and other symptoms. Services include:

  • 24/7 on-call support
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Medications to control symptoms and pain
  • Counseling and spiritual support
  • Light housekeeping
  • Limited respite care

With hospice’s dedication to symptom relief and support, many critically ill people are better able to focus on what is important to them during this stage of life—bringing a better quality of life to individuals and families in the time that remains.

To learn more about CCH hospice services, click here.

So wherever you and your loved ones fall on life’s continuum, know that when the time is right and you need help, a little or a lot, Capital Caring Health is here for you. Together, we can make every day Independence Day.


COVID Loss Mental Health Care

COVID kills twice as many Americans than were killed in World War II
Most have NO emotional support, but it doesn't have to be that way 

The Sad Fact...
Twice the number of Americans have died of COVID-19 than were killed in World War II, but most families are suffering today with no emotional support. DMV families, and families across the nation, should know they are not alone in their grief, and it costs nothing for professional counseling services, offered by Capital Caring Health (CCH) for every DMV family regardless of ability to pay, and for people of any age!

The CCH Solution...
We offer group sessions as well and one on ones, and have specially trained staff to help those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. We charge nothing because we view grief counseling as part of our mission for all the communities we serve. Many children are struggling with the loss of a parent, sibling, close friend or grandparent, so we offer special counseling programs for children including a summer overnight camp hosted by CCH this July, which is also completely free. We have 100 professional counselors in the DMV made up of grief counselors, social workers, and chaplains. We want to help as many area families as possible with their grief and, so often, extreme depression.

Changing COVID Mental Health Attitudes…

Capital Caring Health, and the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI)—a nationwide association of 75 non-profit hospices dedicated to helping people live fully through the end of life, and offering mental health care—are combining forces locally and nationally to help people cope, and grow beyond COVID-19 loss. This is a journey they don’t need to make alone, and with proper mental health assistance, we know people can grow, and move beyond the trauma of losing a loved one even stronger.

Media Resources and Contact Information:

Justin Michaels, Capital Caring Health, 419-490-0800 (cell) and/or jmichaels@capitalcaring.org

More Info: https://www.capitalcaring.org/get-help/our-services/grief-support/

**Will coordinate live and taped interviews with impacted families, doctors, mental healthcare professionals and industry experts for broadcast, radio, web and print media**

###


Memorial Day Short Film Honors Veterans and Their Families

Memorial Day is dedicated to remembering and honoring the sacrifices of the more than one million men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. For our nation’s veterans – as well as the families who had loved ones die while serving their country – the occasion can trigger waves of powerful emotions. While remembering is important, doing so can also elicit painful feelings of grief and loss.

A new Memorial Day short film coordinated by the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI) and Hospice of the Western Reserve features an inspirational compilation of music, readings and reflections from not-for-profit hospice organizations across the U.S. The film was created to pay tribute to those who have gone before us and to lift up all who remember them.

 

Included are personal Memorial Day messages from several veterans, including a Medal of Honor recipient, the touching perspective of a Gold Star mother as she proudly speaks of her son’s contributions, a montage of photos and songs honoring the branches of the military and a helpful list of community resources available to support veterans.

 

About the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI)

The National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI) is a collaborative of 70+ not-for-profit, community-integrated hospice and palliative care providers dedicated to ensuring patients and their families have access to care that reflects their individual goals, values and preferences. Representing providers from 31 states and the District of Columbia, NPHI and its members help design more innovative and effective models of care, advocate for comprehensive and community-integrated care customized to meet each person’s unique needs, and build collaboration between national thought leaders, decision-makers, and other healthcare stakeholders to improve hospice care.

 

About Hospice of the Western Reserve

Founded more than 40 years ago with deep roots in the Northern Ohio community, Hospice of the Western Reserve (HWR) is the region’s leading not-for-profit provider of palliative and end-of-life care, caregiver support and bereavement services, providing care for more than 125,000 patients and their families. HWR relieves suffering, enhances comfort, promotes quality of life, fosters choice in end-of-life care and supports effective grieving. Care is provided wherever the patient lives, including private residences, assisted living communities, nursing facilities and hospitals. HWR also owns and operates two freestanding inpatient hospice care units providing intensive symptom management for complex cases.

 

 

Not-for-profit community hospice providers are uniquely prepared to support those who have lived through loss. The organizations have deep roots in the communities they serve, providing services like individually tailored grief counseling and support programs tailored to the unique needs of veterans.

 

This collaborative project reflects the commitment each of the participating hospice agencies to caring for and honoring our nation’s veterans.

 

Learn more about NPHI here and view the full film here.

 

NPHI contact:

Beth Kurta
Senior Director for Member Engagement
ekurta@hospiceinnovations.org

Hospice of the Western Reserve contact:

Nathan Gradisher
Veterans Outreach
ngradisher@hospicewr.org

Capital Caring Health contact:

Ashley Even
Director of Digital Marketing
aeven@capitalcaring.org


Offering Virtual Art Therapy and Grief Support to Kids and Teens in the Midst of a Pandemic

My name is Katie and I am currently a graduate intern working with Capital Caring Health & Capital Caring Kids. I am originally from Philadelphia but have been living in the DMV for almost 3 years now. Over the past two years I have been attending graduate school in an art therapy program. Art therapy is a mental health profession that utilizes art in a therapeutic way to help clients explore feelings when maybe the words are difficult to find; art therapy is for everyone and no art experience is required! I fell in love with art through photography but have really enjoyed exploring watercolor and printmaking over the past two years in my program. Half-way through my second semester, the pandemic began, and we had a swift transition into these virtual spaces we are in today.

I don’t know if I fully knew what to expect coming in as an intern, in the middle of the pandemic, during my final semester in graduate school. I had a small glimpse into grief & loss work in previous internship roles but had never worked solely with bereavement. Very quickly into starting this internship I could sense that this would be an experience I really wanted to explore further. I felt a very warm welcome from all the staff and the support I needed in going through orientation, receiving resources, and moving forward into building a case load- all virtually!

While it can be difficult being completely remote, Capital Caring has done a wonderful job at ensuring resources are readily available. At this point in the pandemic I am used to the virtual nature of everything, but sometimes that does not make it easier. Conducting sessions in my apartment can be weird – not having the opportunity to meet anyone in person or use the art therapy room presents new challenges in the therapeutic world. However, there are some unique aspects that add levity. For example, at this point, most of my clients have gotten to virtually meet my dog. Additionally, providing virtual sessions allows our services to be more accessible, which is wonderful. I do not think virtual therapy will be going anywhere anytime soon and because of this internship, and past year, I have been able to grow a new skillset and level of comfortability with the situation.

I’ve learned to push myself outside of my comfort zone in a variety of ways, which is allowing me to grow both professionally and personally. Having the opportunity to observe and co-facilitate groups has given me the chance to learn more about the grief process with adults and teens. I have also gotten to see and work on the process of creating each session in a short-term support group. With individual clients, I can work independently after the initial referral to create my schedule and plans for the subsequent sessions. As an art therapy intern, I can explore the different ways of incorporating art into sessions at an age-appropriate level, as well as try new interventions due to the pandemic. Being virtual presents new challenges especially with co-regulation and attuning to these young clients when I cannot be sitting next to them. However, these children show up each week and engage in difficult conversations and share their artwork with me.

The experiences I’ve had as an intern at Capital Caring have been unique and have allowed me to grow in ways that I did not expect. While having a virtual internship was not something I could have imagined a few years ago, I am very grateful for the opportunity to build skills that will help me support clients in many situations in the future.


What Do Adults Over 50 Want as They Age? We Asked!

May is Older Americans Month and was created to acknowledge the contributions made by older adults—especially those who defended our country. Observed every year since 1963, it is a reminder of the resilience and strength of older adults who have lived through wars, economic recessions, societal upheavals, and more recently, the pandemic.

American life expectancy was just 63 when the first baby boomers were born in 1946. At the time when President Kennedy first declared Older Americans Month, only 17 million Americans had reached their 65th birthday. Today, the average life expectancy is almost 79 years.

No matter your age, everyone has been challenged by COVID-19, forcing all, including older adults, to think about how we live and what may be necessary to remain safely in place…from help with daily living to healthcare.

To find out whether such a dramatic shift has had an effect on what older adults think about where they want to live, how they want to live, and what support they might need, we asked. Capital Caring Health, a leading nonprofit provider of elder, advanced illness, and hospice care partnered with WebMD, a major online resource of health information to field a national survey.

The random online survey of 3,464 adults over age 50 (the majority of which were baby boomers) revealed information about current lifestyles, expectations for the future, and knowledge about different living and care options including aging in place, advanced illness, and hospice care.

Some survey results demonstrated a knowledge gap that could create a barrier to getting needed care; responses varied by race, income and self-reported health status.

Among the survey highlights:

Nearly 90% of adults over age 50—across all age, race, income, and health status categories—want to remain at home and “age in place.”

Across the board, aging in place is strongly preferred for multiple reasons, including comfort and cost. Almost 90% of adults over age 50 currently live in their own home (78%) or the home of a family member or someone outside the family (10%). The only exception is among those aged 80+, who are more likely to live in a retirement community or assisted living facility.

Despite the overwhelming interest to age in place, not everyone is aware of how to do that safely. The majority of older adults surveyed are familiar with different types of living situations—hospice and assisted living in particular, followed by long-term care facilities and aging in place.

However, that figure is related to health status and income, with familiarity lowest among those rating their health as “fair” or “poor.” And among those with household incomes below $50,000, a full 20% are “not very” or “not” familiar at all with the aging in place concept. The same applied to other alternative living options.

Yet awareness of hospice and advanced illness/palliative care was surprisingly high.

More than 50% of older adults believe they know “some” or “a lot” about hospice. They are most knowledgeable that care can be provided in either the home or the hospital. 

About the same number are also familiar with the range of hospice services including care coordination, grief support, spiritual, and respite care.

The majority also know about advanced illness/palliative care and services, including that care designed to treat an illness can be offered at the same time as palliative care, which manages pain and other symptoms.

But there is a knowledge gap, sometimes related to lower income and poorer health status. Older adults with lower self-reported health status (“good/fair/poor”) and household incomes below $50,000 generally feel less knowledgeable about hospice care services.

The same goes for palliative care, with nearly one-third stating they were not aware that care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness. The same percentage didn’t realize care also includes non-medical services such as help with insurance issues, scheduling appointments, arranging transportation, patient/family communication, and more.

To learn more about the survey and its results, you can request a copy of What Boomers Want: Living Independently Now and in the Future here.

What Care and Support Options Can Help?  

With the strong preference of adults over 50 to age in place, what realistic options are available given the inevitable process of growing older? Needs vary, of course, and while many boomers continue to feel great and lead a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to understand the difference between “life span” (expectancy) which is 78.7 years and “health span”—those years when one is generally healthy, free from serious disease and disability—which stands at 68.5.

Besides those differences, if there’s anything the past year has taught us, it’s that life is unpredictable. The healthcare needs you and your loved ones have today can literally change overnight. Alternatively, change may take place more gradually over a period of years. Regardless, you can be ready for what comes next with Capital Caring Health’s (CCH) “surround care” approach to help meet your quality-of-life goals no matter your health status or income.

CCH has special programs to help baby boomers and others remain independent and age safely in place—delivering primary care or support in the home for those who need a little extra help. We meet the older generation where they are, customizing care and adapting as needs change, across all stages of life with programs and services as described below.

Primary Care at Home (PCH) delivers peace of mind by making sure older adults don’t miss out on important health-care services due to advanced illness, disability, or other barriers that make getting to the doctor’s office difficult. From house calls to diagnostic tests at home, and managing other needed care like seeing a specialist, the care team is available 24/7. The best part is that Medicare pays for most of it!

Stay-at-Home Services is designed to help navigate the activities of daily life and more. The program offers an array of support services that may be needed due to illness, disability, lack of mobility, or advancing age. Case management certified nurses, social workers, and community health workers coordinate many types of support services to help older adults safely age in place. Services include: prescription delivery; transportation; home repair and modification for safety; meal preparation and/or delivery; light housekeeping, and pet care.

Advanced Illness/Palliative Care addresses the challenges faced by those living with serious illness through specialized medical care and a focus on relieving symptoms, pain, and stress. With the goal of improving quality of life for both patients and families, advanced illness/palliative care is available to anyone—at any age—suffering from a progressive illness (cancer or diseases of the heart, lung, kidney, and others), dementia, or neurological issues such as Parkinson’s disease or stroke. The care team works with the patient’s doctor and specialists and specific services vary for each case.

Palliative care is typically covered by regular Medicare Part B, some Medicaid programs, and many commercial health plans. Individual restrictions, deductibles, and co-pays may vary by coverage.

Hospice Care offers specialized medical care plus compassionate physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical support to people in the advanced stage of illness. Care is most often provided in the comfort and familiarity of home, so patients and their loved ones can focus on what matters most. An interdisciplinary team of experts—nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, supervising physicians, nurse practitioners, and others—focus on care designed to relieve pain and other symptoms. Services include: 24/7 on-call support; medical equipment and supplies; medications to control symptoms and pain; counseling and support; and more.

Hospice care is covered in full by Medicare, usually at no additional cost; private insurance and most Medicaid programs also cover the services. Details may vary however, so it is important to check your individual policy.

A new Advanced Cardiac Care program helps patients with advanced heart disease/ congestive heart failure (CHF) safely manage their often-challenging symptoms at home, avoiding trips to the emergency room or hospital stays.

CCH’s advanced illness/palliative care program is uniquely qualified to address. Patients with end-stage heart disease remain safely at home under the care of an interdisciplinary care team, working with the patient’s doctor. Through the Advanced Cardiac Care program, CCH also offers primary care in the home, along with hospice when needed.

Whether you or a loved one are already living with CHF or newly diagnosed, learn more about this special program and request The Patient and Caregivers Handbook for practical help.


Nearly 90% of Americans Age 50 and Older Want to 'Age in Place'

National survey results highlight a desire to be cared for at home, as well as the need for accessible and affordable home-based services

Falls Church, VA, May 10, 2021—What does it take to live independently—today and in the future—as we grow older? The recent pandemic forced everyone, including older adults, to think about how we live and what we need to remain safely in place…from help with daily living to healthcare.

To find out whether such a dramatic life shift has had an effect on what baby boomers—plus some older adults from GenX and the Silent Generation—think about where they want to live, how they want to live, and what support they might need, we asked. Capital Caring Health, a leading nonprofit provider of elder, advanced illness, and hospice care, partnered with WebMD, a leading online resource of health information to field a national survey.

Nearly 90% of adults over age 50—across all age, race, income, and health status categories—want to remain at home and “age in place.”

Despite this overwhelming number, few are aware of how to do that safely.

The new random online survey of 3,464 adults over age 50 (the majority of which were baby boomers) revealed information about current lifestyles, expectations for the future, and knowledge about different living and care options including aging in place, advanced illness, and hospice care. Some results revealed a knowledge gap that could create a barrier to getting needed care. Responses varied by race, income, and self-reported health status.

“Our hope is that insights from this research on the preferences, knowledge, and attitudes of older adults serve as a call to action,” says Tom Koutsoumpas, president and CEO of Capital Caring Health. “We are committed to improving public awareness of the care options—usually home-based—seniors want. That means dispelling myths and providing actionable information to individuals and families dealing with serious or terminal illness and improve access for all.”

Almost 90% of adults over age 50 currently live in their own home (78%) or the home of a family member or someone outside the family (10%). While this is true for the majority—regardless of age—individuals aged 80+ are more likely to live in a retirement community or assisted living facility.

Older adults were also asked about their familiarity with different types of living situations including “aging in place,” assisted living, hospice and long-term care facilities. Awareness of different living options available as they age drops with income and self-rated health status. Those older adults with “fair” or “poor” health are the least familiar with options and 20% with household incomes below $50,000 are “not very familiar” or “not at all familiar” with aging in place as well as other living situations.

Growing older often involves addressing health issues, including serious conditions. When it comes to care options for serious or life-limiting illness, over 50% of older adults believe they know “some” or “a lot” about hospice. They are most knowledgeable that care can be provided in either the home or the hospital. About the same number are also familiar with the range of hospice services including care coordination, grief support, spiritual, and respite care.

The majority of older adults surveyed also know about advanced illness/palliative care and services, including that curative care—care designed to treat an illness—can be offered concurrently with palliative care, which manages pain and other symptoms.

However, with such care there’s still a knowledge gap—older adults with reported lower health status (“good/fair/poor”) and household incomes below $50,000 generally feel less knowledgeable about hospice care services. With advanced illness/palliative care, nearly one-third of older adults were not aware that care can be provided at any stage of a serious illness. The same percentage didn’t realize that care also includes non-medical services such as help with insurance issues, scheduling appointments, arranging transportation, patient/family communication, and more.

Capital Caring Health (CCH) knows well the difference such care can make to the quality of life for patients and their families at this most difficult time. Survey respondents agreed about the value of hospice:

More than nine in 10 surveyed report that “comfort and relief from pain at the end of patients’ lives,” “a dedicated care team overseeing the care of patients,” and “different care settings (e.g., the home, hospital, extended care facility)” are “very important” or “important.”

Older adults more likely to need advanced illness or hospice care—with a health status of “fair” or “poor” —may also be from communities of color. That’s the health rating for nearly one out of three older Black adults, a much higher rate than Whites and Hispanics. Yet, national hospice utilization rates are exceptionally low for minorities and the LGBTQ community: 8.2% for Blacks, 6.4% for Hispanics and 1.7% for Asians—compared to 82.5% for Whites.

For CCH Chief of Communications, Marketing and Philanthropy Steve Cone, informing seniors and their families about accessible and affordable home-based services available in their own communities is part of the mission—important whether they are home-limited due to disability, facing advanced illness, or in need of end-of-life care and support. He adds, “Information gleaned from this new survey from WebMD will make a difference to how we shape our public outreach.”

The survey also asked baby boomers and other older adults about caregivers and what type of in-home care and support they might need now and in the future. Attitudes and use of home-based technology for health such as telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring was also queried. Regarding top concerns, issues that topped the list included not being able to cover healthcare costs, not being prepared for a healthcare or financial emergency, and death of a spouse.

Survey results will prove useful to Capital Caring Health and to other healthcare providers. "Our organization has a long history of providing evidence-based information to consumers and providers to enhance decision-making,” states John Whyte, M.D., MPH, and chief medical officer for WebMD. “This information is especially timely given the new focus on our aging population as a result of the pandemic experience.”

Finally, from public and personal reports, experience during the pandemic may have delivered at least part of what baby boomers and other older adults want: overwhelmingly, emotional support is the leading type of support those aged 50+ get or expect to get from their family as they age, at 65%.

###

About CCH

Capital Caring Health is one of the leading nonprofit providers of elder health, hospice, and advanced illness care for persons of all ages in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. We annually serve over 7,000 hospice patients and provide more than $3 million in charity care to those who are uninsured and have nowhere else to turn. Almost 90 cents out of every dollar goes to caring for patients and their families. capitalcaring.org

About WebMD

WebMD is the leading online provider of health information and services to consumers and healthcare professionals. By providing objective healthcare and lifestyle information, we help consumers take an active role in managing their health, on their own. For physicians and healthcare professionals, we make it easier to access clinical reference sources, stay abreast of the latest clinical information, learn about new treatment options, earn continuing medical education credits, and communicate with peers. webmd.com

To learn more about the survey results and aging options, request our “What Baby Boomers Want” guide and view our program… What Baby Boomers Want: Living Independently Now and In The Future.


Hospice Nurses: Dedicated Experts When We Need Them

As a leading regional provider of advanced illness care, Capital Caring Health offers highly specialized, vital treatment and support. None of that care would be possible without our hospice nurses. Hospice nurses help in so many different ways, from managing patient symptoms to training families on how to care for a loved one, to coordinating care. They help patients and families know what to expect at the end of life. They have an immense responsibility to ensure that both the patient and their families feel heard and supported each step of the way.

All nurses minimize pain and provide emotional stability. But hospice care dictates a much higher level of emotional support. With their intimate knowledge of a patient’s end-of-life journey, hospice nurses become trusted confidants. Their visits are required, crucial, and an integral part of hospice care. They work closely with a patient’s chaplain to address spiritual needs. Equally important, they fiercely uphold the guiding hospice tenet that no one should die alone.

National Nurses Day is Thursday, May 6 and anchors Nurses Week, culminating in the commemoration of Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. This week we say a very special thank you to all of our hospice nurses – those who have cared for our patients and loved ones in the past, those who are going on or off-shift today, and those who may be caring for us in the future. Whether their specific duty involves being an admissions nurse, a case manager, an inpatient unit nurse, a nights and weekends nurse, a triage nurse, a clinical supervisor, or a clinical hospital liaison, our hospice nurses get this impossible job done. Their persistence and compassion improve the quality of life for patients of any age and at any stage in advanced illness, whether it is curable, chronic, or life ending.

While Capital Caring Health officially observes National Nurses Week this month, our hospice nurses are celebrated each and every day for their dedication to patients and families. We heartily recognize their contributions as they provide support to our four inpatient centers, thirty hospitals, and over 3,000 advanced illness/palliative and hospice care patients daily throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.


Capital Caring Health Launches TV Special on What Boomers Want

What Boomers Want: Living Independently Now and In The Future

Tune-in Saturday, May 8 at 7 PM, to view our TV Program on NBC4 Washington.

With Mother's Day coming this Sunday, it is a great way to honor Moms (and Dads) and learn more about safely aging in place.

This program will feature:

WebMD's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Whyte

National Council on Aging's CEO, Ramsey Alwin

Capital Caring Health's Chief of Marketing, Communications, and Philanthropy, Steve Cone