December 17, 2014

Give seniors, chronically ill a practical gift they can use every day

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (December 17, 2014) – For more than 133 million Americans living with chronic conditions, the best holiday gift is something that will make navigating a daily routine easier. There are almost 40 million people age 65 and older in the U.S., making up almost 13 percent of the population.

“A fancy department store box with pajamas, a robe or a sweater, gourmet treats or designer cologne are all traditional and thoughtful gifts. But if you want to really show someone with special needs that you are concerned about their well-being, check out your local pharmacy for gifts they’ll use every day,” said Debbie Jansky, assistant nurse manager, Home Health Services at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

Jansky and her team of 35 registered nurses, therapists, social workers and home health aides make about 1,600 home visits each month to those who need skilled nursing or physical therapy in their home.

“It’s very sad to see patients receive gifts of expensive perfume or cardigans that they may never enjoy because they can’t open the bottle or unbutton the buttons,” Jansky said. “These are the items I recommend regularly and are used and appreciated every day,” she said.

Here are Jansky’s top picks for holiday gifts:

Medication organizers - $1.50-$10. Help mom or dad keep track of all their pills. Available in all shapes and sizes (daily, weekly), these tools will give the whole family peace of mind that the right pill is being taken at the right time.

Pill cutter - $3. Many pills and tablets need to be halved or quartered. These handy devices offer precise cutting with minimal effort.

Pill punch - $8. “Many medications come in a multipunch card that those with arthritis have trouble manipulating,” said Clark Chrisman, a Gottlieb pharmacist. “The pill punch easily pushes the individual pill through the sealed packaging."

ID bracelet - $7 and up. A simple piece of jewelry alerts healthcare professionals to important medical information such as allergies to penicillin, congestive heart failure or diabetes.

Grabber - $28. A sturdy clawlike hand tool that can be used to retrieve a box of crackers from the top shelf or a slipper that got kicked too far under the couch.

Adjustable cane - $27. A cane that compresses to a 5-inch-long stick, much like a collapsible umbrella. It’s small enough to place in a purse or coat pocket and quickly can be assembled to provide support.

Medicool - $45. Keeps insulin or other medications cool and organized.

Rollator - $160. A luxurious walker with high-quality wheels and brakes, a basket for shopping and a handy bench to stop and rest.

Accessible bathroom aids - $27-$100. Hand-held water sprayers, toilet-seat benches and bathtub safety rails may look insignificant in their box but install them in the bathroom and you have created a safe haven that will be used, well, regularly.

“You might also ask a caregiver or health professional who cares for them to suggest something,” Jansky said. “Hearing aids, special compression stockings and orthotic shoe inserts may not sound glamorous. However, they may really need these things and many people are reluctant to spend money on items that their insurance might not fully cover.”

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.