The Importance of Medical Credentials Verification

By Lucy Qi
Silversheet Healthcare Blogger

About Silversheet: At Silversheet, we think healthcare should be about patients, not paperwork. Our team is passionate about creating software to streamline the way healthcare facilities and medical professionals connect.

If you are suffering from and doctoring for chronic illness, the qualifications of the centers and its doctors who treat you is likely very important to you. Which credentials matter most to you? Many patients consider a medical degree and active license to be the most important credentials, when in fact, there are dozens of credentials that are verified for each provider before they can begin practicing in a new healthcare organization.

Provider credentialing is the process of reviewing and verification a provider’s history and qualifications before they are granted medical privileges. A properly credentialed medical staff helps the facility stay in compliance with accreditation standards, which are designed to improve patient safety and care.

What are the credentialing requirements?

The credentialing process for new providers varies from state-to-state and facility-to-facility, but is consistently stringent across all healthcare organizations in the country. The screening process is meaningful to patients suffering from chronic diseases, as it ensures that each provider assigned to their care has a demonstrated history of successful management of disease.

There’s a lot more to gaining the privileges to practice than a medical school degree and residency. The providers must meet credentialed requirements such as:

  • Medical School & Postgraduate Training
  • Board Certifications
  • State Medical License
  • DEA License
  • Life Support Certifications
  • Fluoroscopy Certifications
  • Malpractice Insurance
  • Sanctions Checks
  • Granted Privileges
  • CV
  • Peer Reviews & References
  • Health Documents

Ongoing tracking and updating of the requirements helps ensure the standard of chronic illness management. The process was once completely paper-dependent, but now tools like Silversheet automate and digitize the workflow, allowing the credential managers to save time while reducing risk of credentialing errors.

Let’s take a look at three important components of a provider’s credentials and how they impact your care.

  • Board certifications. Many providers and most specialists are certified by a board, confirming that they have received sufficient current education in their area of expertise and continue to meet stringent requirements for board certification. Those with chronic illnesses should seek care from doctors who are board-certified and are provide proper health coaching to the patient in the management of their chronic conditions.
  • Additional certifications. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Advance Trauma Life Support (ATLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) are required by many facilities and need updating every two to four years depending on the certification. These certifications can give patients with chronic illness peace of mind in knowing that their healthcare provider is prepared to respond in an emergency.
  • Continuing education. Because there are new discoveries and developments in medicine every day, doctors must receive education in their field on an ongoing basis, which is tracked and verified by the facility that employs them as well as the licensing board for the state. This is especially important for the management of chronic disease as it serves as an additional level of verification that the provider is educated and updated on advancements in health and science.

What does this mean for the patient?

Having a skilled and high-quality medical staff is imperative to all healthcare facilities. Key to maintaining such standards is effective credentialing, which protects patients by reducing the risk of medical error and allows them to trust their doctors.

When you’re managing a chronic illness, your safety and effective treatment by qualified professionals are critical. Their credentials often reflect the quality and level of your chronic illness care including help with navigating the healthcare system, continuity, and emotional support.  Healthcare facilities must maintain a qualified and verified medical staff so that your provider can work with you to focus on your health, wellness, and disease management.

A letter To PD On Our Anniversary

By Allison Smith
Perky Parkie Blogger and Author


Today is my 6-year anniversary of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I wonder what Parkinson’s will give me to celebrate 6 years of having a committed relationship with it? Whoa… to think back to all the memorable moments that we have spent together… Priceless. I felt that the best way to celebrate our courtship was to write it a letter. So here goes…

Dear Parkinson’s,

Today we celebrate our 6th anniversary together. Even though we made it official on this day 6 years ago, I knew that you were apart of my life years before.   I remember when I first noticed you. There you were, in my left pinky cramping up after the gym everyday. I played hard to get and pretended like you never existed. But don’t think for one minute that I didn’t see you when I couldn’t swing my left arm anymore.   Oh man! You really got me on that one. Remember when I blamed sleeping on my arm? Heh, Heh! Then I found out it was you the whole time!

I almost went crazy when I started to trip over you. Dragging my left leg was a gift I never saw coming. It was then that I stopped playing coy and acknowledged you. Oh how we fought like cats and dogs, but somehow you never left me. Right when I thought I might have found a way to quit you, there you were at my door with a new goodie.

Then we made it officially on March 18th 2010, when the Neurologist said that we would be together forever and ever! My heart melted. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that we have our disagreements. Like when I want to go exercise and you just tell me I should sit on the couch and eat Hostess Cupcakes… the cream filling gets me every time. Or when I have a billion things to get done during the day, but you just keep slowing me down. Phfft.

By the way, I love the mask you gave me this year. The way it makes my eyes look like I just won the lottery. But I think that I will save that for Mardi Gras or maybe even Halloween. Oh and don’t forget one of our most memorable moments! When I laughed so hard I peed my pants… literally! Bwahahah! Wow! So many glorious times that we have shared, it’s hard to remember them all.

Well my dear, it has been a roller coaster ride with you. But I have a feeling you have strapped me in for the long haul. So maybe in the future you could go for the traditional gifts of wood or silverware?

Yours truly,

Perky Parkie~*

12 Things Not to Say to Someone with Parkinson’s

By Allison Smith
Perky Parkie Blogger and Author

It can be difficult knowing how to respond to someone who has Parkinson’s disease (PD).  Trying to find one sentence that expresses your concern, compassion and your desire to help can be as difficult as hugging a greased pig. Sometimes best intentions can be taken out of context and can sound insensitive.   So instead of writing about what to say to someone who has PD, I decided to put another coat of butter on the swine and let it loose.  Here are 12 things NOT to say:

Pig Cartoon Clipart

1.  “My grandpa had Parkinson’s and once they gave him medication, he is just fine.”
-As I have described in an earlier blog “Not your grandfather’s disease”, the overgeneralization that Parkinson’s only impacts elderly people’s movement is common today.  Just because your grandfather had this neurological disorder and had controlled it with medication, does not mean that everyone will have the same outcome.  We each have a body that is unique to us in the way it manifests symptoms and how we metabolize the medications.

2.“You have Parkinson’s disease?  You don’t even have a tremor.”
-Each person will experience Parkinson’s in a distinct way; some may have a tremor, others might have rigidity.  We are kind of like snowflakes; there are no two Parkies that are alike.  Or if you are a fashionable and chic Parkie, you could see it as we all have our own pair of designer jeans that we wear. Although they may look similar, we each wear our jeans differently.

3. “With medical technology nowadays, I am sure they will find a cure within your lifetime.”
-This is a hope that many of us Parkies have, but being realistic offers the brutal honest truth.  We might find a cure someday, but that day has not come, so to brush off our fears with an unknown future can be frustrating.

4. “You look like you are having a good day, your Parkinson’s must be getting better.”
-Three words,  “Degenerative Neurological Disease”.  Parkinson’s is a progressive chronic illness that will worsen with time.  Just because a Parkie appears to be having a good day with little symptoms, doesn’t mean that their PD is getting better.  There is no cure, no way to heal from the illness, and keep in mind that hour to hour a Parkie can appear better or worse.

5. “So you have trouble multitasking?  I can’t multitask either, maybe I have Parkinson’s”.
-You basically said to a Parkie who feels like they have gone crazy, “What you’re experiencing is not a big deal, and maybe you’re overacting.”

6. “God can’t give us anything we can’t handle.”
-Religion and Spirituality is a very personal experience, try not to push your values on someone else.  Everyone has their own coping mechanism when faced with diversity; let them find what works for their situation.

7. “Those medications can’t be good for your body, have you checked into a holistic approach?  It might be your diet.”
-Oh! If I only I’d known it was a milk allergy that caused my Parkinson’s… riggggggght…

8. “Well Parkinson’s doesn’t kill you, so that’s good.”
-Yes, Parkinson’s does not “kill you”, but it is the complications of the disease that can.  Caution: attempting to help someone see that it could always be worse, may result in a Parkie throwing a sharp object at your head.

9. “My father had Parkinson’s disease, I know exactly what you are going through.”
-Ummm, I’m a 30-something woman.  Even if I found my identical twin and we both had Parkinson’s at the same age, we would have had different experiences.   We would eat different foods, live in different environments, and cope with our illness differently.

10. “I don’t know what I would do if I got Parkinson’s disease, I would probably give up on life… You are so strong.”
-Such comments can suggest that PD is a death sentence.  Although you mean well by complimenting the strength that your loved one is displaying in coping with a chronic illness, it can be interpreted negatively.

11. “You’re the Perky Parkie, you can’t be sad.”
-It’s my party and I will cry if I want to!  Just because it might be difficult to see the people you love going through emotional and physical pain,   doesn’t give you the right to dictate how they should feel.

12. “Don’t let Parkinson’s define your life.”
-A person is ultimately responsible for their path in life and they determine what’s important to them.  I am not just a Person with Parkinson’s disease.  It does not define me, but it is a huge part of who I am.

I know what you are saying….”Ok, I get the greased pig thing…. but what should I say to someone with Parkinson’s disease?”  The answer lies within my blog.  With each of us as little snowflakes, our disease is unique to only us.  That means that we will all need support in different ways.  You can’t believe that a person will cope the exact same way that you would.  We have lost enough control of our lives; so don’t dictate how we should cope with PD. Take the time to have a conversation with your loved one and meet them where they’re at.   Let THEM tell you what will be most helpful when faced with the challenges of Parkinson’s disease.

Allison Smith
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Founder of Parkinson’s in Balance
Perky Parkie Blogger and Author

Take Charge of Your Healthcare: be your own best advocate

By Martine Ehrenclou, M.A. |
Author of the award winning, The Take-Charge Patient


When I talk about being a take-charge patient, inevitably someone will incorrectly assume that I mean usurping a medical provider’s expertise by taking over the medical encounter.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Taking charge of your healthcare means taking charge of you as a patient. By taking some responsibility for your part and meeting your medical provider half way, you resist the temptation to be a passive patient and simply go along for the ride. A take-charge patient empowers him/herself with information that affects his/her body, mind and well-being. You wouldn’t go to a car mechanic and blindly hand over your car. You’d bring in information about what is wrong, ask the mechanic what he/she planned to do to fix it, how much it would cost and when it would be ready. You can use a similar strategy with your doctor and other medical providers.

Female doctor seeing a patient


Two reasons:

  1. Increased quality of care, increased patient safety, and increased patient satisfaction. This means you! If you participate in your medical care by becoming informed about your disease or condition, about your medications, proposed diagnoses and treatment plans, you will be happier with your care, there will be fewer medical errors and the care you receive will be better quality, According to The CommonWealth Fund.
  2. Increased patient confidence and empowerment. By being invested in your healthcare, asking questions, being prepared for medical appointments, and doing a little investigation on a doctor you see, you become a more informed patient—that translates to a more empowered one. You’ll feel less anxious in the face of a medical provider, and about your illness/condition. Familiarity breeds confidence.

You don’t have to have a serious illness or medical condition to take charge of your medical care. You can be an advocate for yourself just as you would for your children. And being an advocate for your kids takes some effort and investment of time to make sure pediatricians offer correct diagnoses and treatment plans.

It’s time to do the same for you. Regardless of the changes with HealthCare Reform (Affordable Care Act), we all must be proactive, take-charge patients.

And if you think that electronic health records, encouraged by Healthcare Reform, are going to erase the need for you to be involved, think again. Electronic health records are great when used in a closed system such as Kaiser Permanente or Cleveland Clinic. But for the rest of doctors and hospitals, they don’t have ways to communicate electronically to one another with the exception of phone, email, Google Docs and other apps. There’s a missing link in electronic health records—the means for medical providers to communicate with one another outside of a closed system.


How to start:

  1. Obtain copies of important medical records from your medical providers. You may have to fax a letter or pay a small fee. Put copies in your health file at home. This way you can withdraw a piece of information when you need it, or when a doctor needs it, instead of waiting for medical offices to send your information which probably won’t arrive in a timely manner, if at all.
  2. Create a list of your current medications and their dosages, over-the-counter medications, herbs, supplements, and allergies to medications. Bring this list to each medical provider you see.
  3. Create a list of questions and your top three medical concerns before each appointment with your doctor or nurse. It’s okay to ask questions of your doctors—that’s how you learn.
  4. Ask your medical provider about the risks and benefits to any procedure, test, treatment or surgery.
  5. Research your diagnosis and proposed treatment plan before you simply agree to it, unless moving quickly is a medical necessity. Credible websites end in .edu, .org and .gov I’ve also recently discovered MedNexus, a search engine specifically for medical and health information. Check it out
  6. Evaluate your relationship with your doctor, as that relationship is the cornerstone of quality medical care. Do you feel listened to and heard? Do you and the doctor communicate well? Do you respect one another? Are you comfortable asking questions? Do you have a personal connection? Does he/she welcome your participation?
  7. Get an advocate to accompany you to medical appointments if you are at any time confused, overwhelmed or uncertain about what your medical provider is telling you.
  8. Get a second opinion. If ever you are unsure about a medical provider’s diagnosis or treatment plan, or simply if you want to make sure it’s the correct one for you, get another opinion from a different medical provider, specifically one who is board-certified in that specialty and affiliated with a respected medical school.

It’s not about taking over. It’s about taking charge of you as a patient.

Martine Ehrenclou, M.A. is an award-winning author of The Take-Charge Patient and Critical Conditions. She is also a freelance journalist and advocate.

The Power of Softness


Sometimes, when I walk by our guest bedroom, the Persian cat with green eyes grabs my attention. She sits patiently on the floor beside the bed staring at nothing in particular, yet for me, her mere presence releases a flood of memories. For many, many years that ceramic cat resided in my parent’s living room. It’s no surprise, then, when this white kitty triggers an unmistakable longing for my mom. If only there were a way to satisfy such a longing with conversation or a hug! Of course, it’s impossible, since Mom passed away in 2008. Recently, a conversation I had with my friend, Jean, about our mothers gave me an idea, and while it can’t help fulfill my yearnings as a daughter who has lost her mom, it might make a difference someday for you.

Ceramic Cat+

After her mother’s death several years ago, Jean found herself hesitating over an old sweater as she cleaned out her mother’s belongings. Rather than going into the donation box, somehow the sweater found its way home with her. In our conversation, Jean told me there have been a few times over the ensuing years that she’s pulled the old sweater off the hanger and actually worn it. She shared that the softness of the sweater next to her skin feels like an embrace from her mom, a sense of being enveloped by her essence and her love. I’m touched by this lovely sentiment.

Sadly, many of us will face the deconstructing of our parents’ household somewhere along life’s journey. Knowing first-hand the stress involved in this difficult endeavor, it’s not uncommon to become an automated machine with “donate, trash, sell, or giveaway” the words of the day. Dismantling a home of many years can become a chore to endure and rarely do we utter the word “keep.” In sorting through my mother’s belongings after she passed away, besides the ceramic cat, I chose to keep several of her decorative teacups, a ’60’s “lady” vase, a few knickknacks and even her spurs. While in no way diminishing the sentimental value of these items, I’ve come to realize they simply can’t offer the same intrinsic experience as an article of clothing. No way can I cuddle with a spur! Saving an item of Mom’s clothing was the furthest thing from my mind during those disquieting days. I was all about tidying up and moving stuff out. It has taken time and distance for me to recognize what I will call the “power of softness” and what it would have meant to me to have one of my mom’s old sweaters or even her bathrobe.


As a daughter, if you find yourself in the position of sorting through parents’ belongings, may I suggest stopping long enough to save something soft? Fold it up and tuck it away. Grieving happens in stages. It comes and goes. You may not even think about or touch this precious garment again for quite a while. If, however, somewhere down the road, like me, you experience this longing for your loved one, that “softness” might become a cherished treasure, more special than you ever imagined.

I miss you, Mom.


Somebody Stole My Iron by Vicki Tapia

Somebody Stole My Iron

Vicki’s memoir details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and the many painful decisions involved when caring for two parents with dementia. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe the book as brave, honest, raw, unvarnished, as well as a must-read for every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient’s family.

About the Author:

Vicki TapiaVicki Tapia, long-time lactation consultant and published author of numerous lactation articles found her energies redirected to the other end of life when both her parents were diagnosed with dementia in 2004. Her diary documenting their journey resulted in the publication of Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia, a 2015 finalist for the High Plains Book Awards. The mother of three grown children and eight grandchildren, she lives with her husband and Mini-Schnauzer in south central Montana.

Heart Attack or Atrial Fibrillation: What You Need to Know

by Shelley Webb

Men in red shirt having chest pain - heart attack - heartbeat line

Having been a caregiver for my both my father for 4 years and then my mother for a lesser period of time, I’ve come to learn about several health conditions on a fairly intimate basis. My father suffered from vascular dementia brought on by atrial fibrillation which ultimately led to congestive heart failure. He had several heart attacks, stent placements, a quadruple bypass and insertion of pacemaker with internal defibrillator. His medications included Digoxin, Lasix, Coumadin and nitroglycerine tablets.

Because he could suffer from angina from either a heart attack or the atrial fibrillation (afib), it became important to know how to tell the difference between the two or at least make an educated guess.

Atrial fibrillation, a common type of arrhythmia whose symptoms can mimic those of a heart attack might require different treatment than the heart attack. Knowing the signs and symptoms of each condition can help guide the actions a caregiver takes between the time a 911 call is placed and when emergency responders arrive.

Heart Attack

When a person complains of chest pain, a caregiver’s first thought is often, “heart attack.” A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, occurs when a coronary artery becomes blocked and the heart is deprived of blood and oxygen. This causes the tissues of the heart to die. The longer the heart’s blood supply is interrupted, the more extensive the damage will be.

Although a heart attack can certainly cause chest pain, this is not always the case. Other symptoms that signal a possible heart attack are:

  • pressure or heaviness in the chest
  • discomfort in the arm, jaw, or throat
  • feelings of fullness or indigestion similar to heartburn
  • sweating
  • nausea or dizziness
  • sudden, extreme weakness
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid pulse

It is important to note that a heart attack may not trigger all of these symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically persist for half an hour or more and are not improved by rest.

What to do:

  • plan ahead—keep a current list of your loved one’s medications and physicians and a copy of their resting electrocardiogram (ECG) where you can get to them quickly and easily
  • call 911 and be prepared to provide as much information as possible; stay on the line with the dispatcher until emergency responders arrive and follow any instructions he or she provides
  • if not allergic, ask your loved one to chew and swallow either one (1) regular aspirin tablet or two (2) baby aspirin tablets
  • help him or her sit or lie down in a place where emergency responders will have room to take over treatment
  • encourage your loved one to take slow, deep breaths

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Afib occurs when the top chambers of the heart—the atria—beat erratically and out of sync with the lower chambers—the ventricles. This causes an elevated or irregular pulse, which is oftentimes how patients or their caregivers first discover Afib. During Afib, the heart may not pump blood through the body as well as it should. Depending on how persistent this irregularity is, Afib can be relatively benign or it can contribute to and complicate other conditions such as congestive heart failure, respiratory distress, and edema. While Afib is asymptomatic in some people, it is associated with the following:

  • heart palpitations, or a feeling of fluttering or pounding in the chest
  • fatigue
  • light-headedness due to low blood pressure
  • chest pain or tightness
  • shortness of breath, especially when lying flat

Even in the absence of bothersome symptoms, persons diagnosed with Afib require close monitoring. Prolonged Afib leads to fibrosis of the heart muscle and heart failure. Persons with Afib are 5 times more likely to have a stroke, so caregivers should familiarize themselves with common signs of stoke.

What to do:

  • keep a current list of your loved one’s medications and physicians and a copy of their resting electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • if chest pain or stroke symptoms—severe headache, dizziness, loss of balance, confusion or trouble speaking, numbness or weakness on one side of the body or face, blurry or
  • darkened vision—are present, call 911, help the person lie down with their head and shoulders elevated, and monitor the their breathing and pulse until emergency personnel arrive

In the absence of the above symptoms, bring your loved one to the Emergency Room and alert his or her primary physician

The Difference

  • Many of the symptoms of heart attack and atrial fibrillation overlap. So, how do you tell them apart?
  • A person that reports fluttering feelings in their chest is almost always experiencing Afib.
  • Afib produces fatigue rather than muscle weakness.
  • Low blood pressure suggests Afib, whereas elevated blood pressure is more commonly observed in heart attack patients.

Any time chest pain is present, especially in elderly persons, it should be treated as an emergency. Quick action by the caregiver can make a huge difference in the loved one’s prognosis. Heart attack and atrial fibrillation can both lead to cardiac arrest. If your loved one experiences cardiac arrest or stops breathing for any reason, check the airway and then perform compression-only CPR until breathing resumes or emergency responders arrive. If your loved one’s physician has prescribed the use of an external defibrillator (AED), follow those instructions.

The Bottom Line

Preparation is important; know what to do in an emergency. If you are caring for an elderly patient, you may want to pursue a Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification

About the Author:

Shelley Webb, a retired R.N., was blessed to have cared for her father for more than 4 years. You can find out more about caregiving for aging parents or loved ones at her blog, The Intentional Caregiver.

The FDA Joins the Cloud

The FDA is set to make strides towards integrating big data in the upcoming year thanks to a recent push by the government to transition to digitizing systems.  

Most recently, the FDA has attempted to accomplish this by moving to a cloud based system.  The move, announced on December 15th  by the recently appointed chief information officer Todd Simpson, will allow the FDA to process more data at a faster speed.  In 2016 the FDA plans to have both testing labs and field offices connected digitally in this way so that data from the two may be shared.  This is meant to help deal with one of the organization’s biggest problems: interoperability due to a fragmented network.


These moves are following a call to action from the Bipartisan Policy Center, whose “FDA: Advancing Medical Innovation” initiative focused on having Congress allow the FDA to access hospitals’ electronic health records and crowd-sourced patient satisfaction data in order to expedite the drug and medical approval process.  The think tank argued that the current review process is inadequate in reflecting real-time patient data, which can easily be obtained from sources like hospitals and patient-focused social networks.  

In October the FDA implemented their IT Strategic Plan, a three year plan to improve IT strategies at the organization.  Additionally, they currently have one specific project that is entirely cloud based called precisionFDA, which is a cloud-based portal allowing researchers to collaborate.  While it is currently focused on DA sequencing techniques, it may also be used for other FDA projects as well.  The agency plans to hire a chief data officer to oversee these changes in infrastructure.

An Unsung Hero…The Family Caregiver

By Vicki Tapia, author

In 2004, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia and a few months later, my mother with Alzheimer’s disease. That was the year I became a caregiver. While my parents didn’t reside with me, I was still intimately involved in their daily care for the next 4 and 5 years. Traveling down that rabbit hole of dementia with my parents was difficult and sad. I watched helplessly as this disease steadily and ruthlessly chipped away at their brains, one memory at a time. That said, it was also a time of considerable personal growth for me. I learned to parent my parents with patience and compassion, caring for them much as they’d cared for me as a child so many years before.
Interspersed with the challenges were times of fleeting lucidity, as well as moments of poignant tenderness, which I still remember and cherish, even today. These are moments I would have missed forever, had I not been a family caregiver.

According to Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 Facts and Figures, 85 % of unpaid caregiving help provided to older adults in the U.S. is provided by family members; 2/3 of them women. And, over half of us caring for people with dementia are taking care of parents.

How many of us actually plan on being an unpaid caregiver? Whether it’s a spouse, parents or a well-loved aunt, it’s unlikely most of us ever anticipate the reality of wearing the label “caregiver.” As the boomer population continues to age, the number of unsung heroes caring for a family member is on the upswing. According to the report *Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, there are currently an estimated 34.2 million American adults taking care of a loved one 50 years or older. Caregiving can be overwhelming, both emotionally and physically, bringing with it a myriad of emotions, all of which I experienced at one time or another, including:

  • Frustration
  • Helplessness
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Guilt

Caregiving can be lonely! At times, I remember feeling like I was on a deserted island, with nary a person who really understood what it was like.

While speaking at a caregiver’s meeting recently, two women approached me afterwards to share their stories. One woman told me her spouse with Alzheimer’s is slowly becoming more than she can handle, but her children are insisting that she keep him at home. The other woman suspects that her elderly father, who lives next door to her, is showing signs of dementia, but he flatly refuses to go to the doctor. They were both searching for answers. Like growing old, caregiving is not for sissies.

I sensed in these 2 women what experts label caregiver burnout, a very real phenomenon and a number one reason why it’s imperative for all caregivers to recognize the importance of self-care.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, I encourage you, please make time for a doctor’s visit.

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sleeplessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Poor concentration
  • More susceptible to illness

*Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 – A Focused Look at Caregivers of Adults Age 50+ was published by The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute


Somebody Stole My Iron by Vicki Tapia

Somebody Stole My Iron

Vicki’s memoir details the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and the many painful decisions involved when caring for two parents with dementia. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe the book as brave, honest, raw, unvarnished, as well as a must-read for every Alzheimer’s/dementia patient’s family.

About the Author:

Vicki TapiaVicki Tapia, long-time lactation consultant and published author of numerous lactation articles found her energies redirected to the other end of life when both her parents were diagnosed with dementia in 2004. Her diary documenting their journey resulted in the publication of Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia, a 2015 finalist for the High Plains Book Awards. The mother of three grown children and eight grandchildren, she lives with her husband and Mini-Schnauzer in south central Montana.

How Safe is Your Data?

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently released a set of guidelines dealing with the privacy and security of the personally identifiable health data collected by fitness wearables.  The approximately 2,000 health tech companies associated with the CEA, including Apple, Under Armour, Google, and FitBit, approved these guidelines.  The main point of the guidelines is to obtain and maintain consumer trust.  

The guidelines have several suggestions, including:

  • Clear and concise privacy policies
  • Obtaining consumer consent before transferring data to a third party
  • Ability to opt-out of advertising

These privacy guidelines are particularly pertinent considering that fitness wearables are a popular holiday gift, especially among employers.  In 2014, 10,000 companies offered fitness trackers to their employees.  Considering the vast amounts of data that wearables can now collect (some even can track your GPS location), most users have considerable amounts of their personal health information in the hands of these health tech companies, which can be used in a variety of ways.  Last year a woman in Canada used her Fitbit history in a personal injury claim.


Another chief security concern is that fitness wearables may be hacked.  At the Hacktivity conference in Budapest, hackers demonstrated the ability for a Fitbit to be hacked.  Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, though seemingly ubiquitous, can actually be easily hacked into as well.  

With the newly available guidelines, the CEA and many other wearable tech companies are hoping that they’ll be able to prevent any major data breaches.  How safe do you think your data is? Would your privacy prevent you from picking up a wearable this holiday season? Let us know on twitter @med_nexus.

Video Game Physical Therapy

Everyone loves video games, so doesn’t it make sense to use them as treatment?  That’s what Reflexion Health thinks, at least, with their program called Vera. Vera recently received FDA approval for their program, and uses Microsoft Kinect to provide musculoskeletal rehabilitation while collecting patient data concurrently.


Vera is not the only program using video games to help improve patient engagement, adherence, and enjoyment.  Due to the unique motion sensing abilities of Microsoft Kinect it has become a popular choice as a physical therapy tool.

Canadian company Jintronix uses Kinect for physical therapy and is able to support individual customized plans with personal exercises and educational components.  THey have recently partnered with the Cleveland Clinic and Brooks Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, FL.

A multitude of different conditions can be helped by Kinetic-based physical therapies.  A study has patients with schizophrenia can achieve heart rates as high as if they had used an elliptical or treadmill.  Other therapies are able to help people with chronic muscle ailments and cerebral palsy.  As CEO of Vera Spencer Hutchins puts it, companies like Vera are innovating unconventional technologies “to deliver care in a more engaging and efficient way.”