Care Services for Individuals in San Diego with Multiple Sclerosis

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Windward Life Care is proud to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to provide care management services for individuals in San Diego living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The National MS Society provides telephone case management for the majority of individuals needing assistance via their MS Navigator program, but some clients who require in-person help are referred to the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program of the National MS Society. Through this generous program, care management services are provided at no cost to the client to help him or her achieve specific goals geared toward maximum independence.

Multiple Sclerosis: The Benefits of Care Management

How can a person living with Multiple Sclerosis benefit from care management? Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a progressive, degenerative disease that affects people of many ages and backgrounds with symptoms that can vary from person to person.  The symptoms range in both severity and onset, and can vary from week to week — even from day to day — making it difficult to predict the trajectory of the disease in a person’s life. People with MS frequently experience fatigue, as well as symptoms like vision difficulties, sensitivity to heat and cold, muscle pain and spasms, and cognitive changes. These symptoms can get in the way of a person with MS being able to organize their own affairs and advocate for themselves.

For these reasons, a Care Manager (CM) can be a valuable partner and advocate for a person living with Multiple Sclerosis. Care Managers can help by first listening to the client’s goals for their care and then creating a care plan to match the wishes and needs of the client. Care plan goals can address symptom management; social support; mental and emotional health; caregiving assistance; and government benefits and entitlements, among other goals. Although the client is the expert in their own lives, the CM is knowledgeable in community services which can support the client in achieving his or her goals with dignity and the utmost quality of life.

The Role of a Care Manager

One role a Care Manager can play in helping a person with Multiple Sclerosis it to be a healthcare advocate. A person with MS may find herself receiving health care in multiple settings including the hospital (acute care), rehabilitation center or nursing facility, and at home. When the person with MS is in a facility setting, the Care Manager can provide immediate support and advocacy, including confirming medical history, relaying medical treatment wishes to healthcare providers, as well as providing emotional support to the client and their family.

The Care Manager can also assist the person living with MS to evaluate different options for symptom management, as well as different healthcare providers, so he or she can make informed decisions about care.

As the care needs of a person with Multiple Sclerosis can increase over time, he or she may require additional in-home care, housing resources, or alternative placement options.  The Care Manager helps the client with MS navigate the sometimes overwhelming number of options available and  guides the client through the selection process, taking into account the available resources and support.

In addition to the “practical” supports offered by care management, people with MS benefit from the ongoing emotional support that Care Managers can provide. The unrelenting physiological changes caused by the disease, the hardships related to daily care, and the fear of the unknown can weigh heavily on the mind of the person living with Multiple Sclerosis.  A Care Manager provides support to the client and family and normalize their experience of coping with MS. If the client would benefit from more intensive support, the Care Manager can refer to a community mental health provider as needed for psychological and/or psychiatric services.

Should you or someone you know have a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, or for further information, you can contact Windward Life Care, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Navigators at 1-800-344-4867 or

Written by

Penelope Pongun, BSW

Aging Life Care Manager

Windward Life Care


How Can Occupational Therapy Help Me?

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The month of April is known as “Occupational Therapy Month,” designated as an opportunity to shine a light on the benefits that are available from these services. Occupational therapy can be helpful for people of all ages, particularly aging adults.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Age or disabilities can limit a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks. Occupational therapy practitioners enable patients by helping them function despite a disability, illness, or injury. Sometimes these services are used for children with disabilities or people recovering from accidents. Other times, practitioners help older adults who are working through cognitive and physical changes.

Occupational therapy services start with an evaluation to determine the person’s goals. A physician order is required for health insurance to cover the assessment and ongoing OT services. After the assessment, a custom treatment plan is put together to assist the person in reaching those goals. Ongoing therapy is adjusted based on outcome evaluation, with the practitioner making changes as needed. Finally, cooperation with family members, caregivers, and other professionals is necessary to ensure the long-term support to help the person as needed.

Maintain Independence in Retirement

If you are planning to remain in your home in the later years of life, then occupational therapy might be a good solution. The normal aging process can make it challenging to keep up with personal care, housekeeping, and yard work. An occupational therapist can support your goals by designing a plan that increases independence while maintaining safety at home.

There are times when family members might need to encourage support of aging parents. If you can see that your parents are finding it difficult to keep up with tasks in the home, then it is time to start the conversation about options that are available. Occupational therapy services are always customized to the person’s environment, skills, needs, wants, and budget.

Many times, families don’t know where to turn when these life changes are occurring. Instead of navigating the challenges without assistance, consider the support of our team. At Windward Life Care, we are experienced in helping individuals and families find the care and services that are needed. Our team is here to help you find an occupational therapist or other supportive professionals based on your situation. Call to learn more about the ways that we can help.


Healthy Aging Conference Presented by the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club

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Windward Life Care is proud to be a Bronze Sponsor for the Annual Healthy Aging Conference presented by the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center.

The event will take place at the beautiful Fairbanks Ranch Country Club on April 27.


You can find the details here on the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center website.


How to Reduce Medication Risks by Working With Senior Care Pharmacists

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Advances in the healthcare industry have uncovered treatments that can be used for most health concerns. As people grow old, it is common to use regular medications to help with the management of chronic conditions. Do you use prescriptions on a daily basis? Do you have a family member that uses medications regularly?

Older Adults and Medication Use

While the medications can be helpful, they aren’t effective if the patient doesn’t take the right pills. Aging adults often find it difficult to keep track of the dosages and frequency. Medications are more difficult to manage when a person is working with multiple doctors. The taking of multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, could result in serious side effects and drug interactions. The best solution is to talk to a Senior Care Pharmacist who can offer personalized recommendations.

What is a Senior Care Pharmacist?

A Senior Care Pharmacist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the management of medications and lifestyle for seniors. The interest of the patient is the highest priority, and the pharmacist works in concert with the prescribing physician to find the best solutions for the patient.

Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is an evaluation that can be used to determine the effectiveness of the medications. A Senior Care Pharmacist will put together a plan that outlines the most appropriate, safe, and effective use of prescribed medications. The goal is to ensure that the patient is using the drugs correctly, avoiding as many side effects and interactions as possible.

Working with a Senior Care Pharmacist

Why should you consider working with a Senior Care Pharmacist?

Sarah Lorentz, PharmD, APh, Director of MTM Services at UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, explains. “Studies have shown that although people over 65 years old make up 15% of the population, they account for over 49% of hospital readmissions due to medication side effects.  Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who can help prevent hospital readmissions, especially in the senior citizen population, by reducing polypharmacy and ensuring that older adults are taking the safest, most effective medication therapy,” says Dr. Lorentz.

At Windward Life Care, our team is focused on the health resources that can improve your lifestyle. We are proud to partner with UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy, giving our clients access to the services that are available from a Senior Care Pharmacist. Contact us to learn more about the services that are offered.


A Growing Problem: Substance Abuse in Older Adults

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According to the US Census Bureau, it is estimated that there will be over 72 million people over the age of 65 by the year 2030. Not only is the large Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age, but medical advances are increasing the average lifespan of people in the United States.

Older Adults and the Risk of Substance Abuse

As the population of older adults expands, so do  concerns for their health. Historically, there haven’t been high rates of substance abuse in this age group, though it is thought that past rates may have been under-reported. Research is showing substance abuse to be a growing public health concern for people 65 and older. It is now estimated that more than a million people past retirement age abuse alcohol, drugs, or both. As a result, many families are facing the challenges of caring for an aging parent while managing substance abuse issues at the same time.

Why is Substance Abuse a Growing Concern?

The numbers vary depending on the reports that you read. But, there is no question that the incidence of substance abuse is growing in all age groups, including older adults. What is causing the increased risk?

One potential cause lies in the change in attitudes about the use of drugs and alcohol. For example, Baby Boomers have had more exposure to illicit drugs in their lifetimes and thus may normalize the use of substances that past generations have avoided. Unfortunately, this may also increase the Baby Boomers’ likelihood of experiencing the negative effects of drug use such as health issues, family issues, and overdose.

Another issue is that the use of prescriptions is growing in the United States, and some of these medications can lead to addiction. It is common for people to look for a “cure” in medications, resulting in an increase in drug use. Older adults suffer more physical ailments than younger adults, and tend to use more prescription medications. These can interact with each other in a harmful way, as well as produce negative effects with mixed with alcohol and illicit drugs. Older adults also metabolize certain substances like alcohol, more slowly, making them more susceptible to intoxication. This can lead to falls and injury.

Finally, older adults face life changes that can lead to increased use of substances, such as the death of a spouse or partner; loss of independence; and social isolation.

Professional Assistance for Substance Abuse Problems

Older adults can benefit from treatment, so family members and professionals should not be afraid to bring up their concerns. If you suspect that a family member is struggling with an addiction, then it is essential to find the right treatment program. Talk to us at Windward Life Care, and we will support you in finding the services that best meet the needs of your family.


Heart Health for Men: Four Ways to Keep Your Ticker Ticking

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February is a time when people often discuss matters of the heart. Instead of only focusing on relationships this month, it might be a good opportunity to learn more about cardiovascular health as well. Your daily choices play a big role in heart health, and these lifestyle habits might be the life-or-death choices that impact your cardiovascular system.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men. As men go through the aging process, it is necessary to make cardiovascular health a higher priority. Not only do you need to learn more about heart disease, but you also need to watch for symptoms that could indicate a need for medical care.

Tips to Protect Your Heart

You can manage your risk of heart disease by implementing a few important health tips:

  • Increase Fiber Intake: Instead of loading your plate with processed carbohydrates, fill up with high-fiber foods. Enjoy whole grains, vegetables, and fruit to reduce your risk of heart disease and manage your blood sugar levels at the same time.
  • Cut Back on Saturated Fat: There is a reason why saturated fat has earned a bad reputation. These “unhealthy fats” play a role in the development of heart disease. Limit your fat consumption to 20 – 35 percent of your caloric intake, and focus most of those calories on unsaturated fats. These fats come from almonds, walnuts, avocados, and olive oil.
  • Boost Your Heart Rate: Regular exercise is important to get your blood pumping and strengthen your heart. It is best to start a new exercise plan under the supervision of a doctor. Start with basic exercises, then increase the intensity and duration over time.
  • Maintain Preventive Care: You still need to visit the doctor, even if you aren’t feeling sick. Men don’t go to the doctor for annual checkups as often as women. But, these appointments are essential to check heart health by measuring blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Stay consistent with regular checkups with your doctor.

Following these tips will not only reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, but they will help to improve your overall health. If you need help finding the right medical services, then you are invited to talk to our team at Windward Life Care for more information.

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