How to Avoid Getting Sepsis in the Hospital or Nursing Home

Even though you do not hear much about sepsis, the complication can kill a person in a matter of days. Many cases of the illness develop from infections, with hospitals and nursing homes being primary places to contract this disease. Because one person every two minutes dies from sepsis (270,000 Americans a year), you need to know how to avoid getting sepsis in the hospital or nursing home.

Around 1.7 million Americans a year get sepsis. Out of all the reasons people in hospitals can possibly die, one-third of all hospital deaths are from sepsis. While you might count yourself lucky if you manage to survive a bout of sepsis, you could face these bleak consequences:

  • Decreased quality of life
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Amputations
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Cognitive and functional impairments
  • A greater likelihood of additional hospitalizations and dependence on caregivers

Sepsis – the Silent Killer

Despite how lethal and widespread this disease is, more than one-third of Americans say they have not even heard of sepsis. You cannot take steps to avoid something, you do not know exists.

Sepsis happens when your body goes into high gear trying to fight an infection. Your immune system will release chemicals into your bloodstream to attack the infection. When your body over-reacts, you can have a chain reaction that leads to dangerous inflammation throughout your body. It is as if your immune system used a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito.

When the over-reaction rages, you can go into septic shock. Your blood pressure can plummet, which can cause stroke, heart failure, respiratory failure, or the shutdown of other organs. It is essential to get medical intervention immediately, since sepsis is a firestorm throughout the body.

Who Is at Risk for Sepsis?

Over half of all cases of sepsis are in people over the age of 65. You can get sepsis from any type of infection, and older adults are more prone to infection, since their immune systems become less effective over time. Many of the medications that mature adults take suppress the immune system, increasing the risk of infection.

Lower levels of physical activity increase the risk of pneumonia and other infections. People with mobility issues or who use catheters, tend to have higher instances of urinary tract infections. Pneumonia and UTIs are the two most common infections that precede sepsis.

Avoiding Sepsis

The CDC considers hospitals (especially intensive care units) and nursing homes to be breeding grounds for sepsis. People who are bedridden in any setting, including at home, are vulnerable to this disease. To prevent sepsis, you have to prevent infections.

You should insist that anyone caring for you, whether in the hospital, nursing home, or in your home, washes their hands properly before administering any services to you. The failure to wash hands properly or at all is the number one reason people get infections in the hospital. Health care workers should wear gloves and change them between every patient.

Catheters, breathing tubes and other invasive devices cause many cases of sepsis, so make sure that these items are sterilized. Pressure sores lead to many instances of the disease, so caregivers must follow the protocols for preventing these painful conditions.

References:

AARP. “Protect Yourself from Sepsis.” (accessed May 2, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/sepsis-prevention-tips.html

 

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Does Your Bumper Sticker Read ‘We’re Spending Our Children’s Inheritance’?

Once you get to retirement, it’s important to identify what your goals are for your nest egg. Do you intend to spend it down enjoying your golden years, pursuing passions and activities that bring you and your spouse joy, or do you want to leave an inheritance to loved ones? The question is posed in the article “Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings or Leave It Behind? The Answer May Surprise You,” from the Warwick Advertiser.

For many people, the goal of retirement is to do all the things that had to be put off while working. That might include a hobby that requires time and resources, travelling, purchasing a vacation home, or fulfilling a dream of going back to school. If that’s your retirement dream, bear in mind that these dreams all come with costs. Spending in the early stages of retirement often goes up, as retirees are still healthy enough to do everything on their bucket lists.

Given the reality of longer life expectancies, it’s important for retirees to understand that they may be living from their retirement investments for three or more decades. That means that you’ll need to have enough money to cover routine expenses plus health care and most likely, long-term health care services. Make sure your financial planning takes these factors into account.

Once you know how much money you’ll need for your costs of living and health care, plus inflation, then what’s left behind is your retirement fun money.

Knowing how to work within the constraints of a budget, is actually more important during retirement. You can’t just go back to work for a few decades, if you find yourself running short. You still may need to pick up a part-time gig on the side. However, that income is quite lower than a full-time position at the peak of your earning career.

What if leaving a legacy is more important to you than buying a second home? Just like the plan for retirement fun, you’ll need to do some financial planning to make this goal come to fruition. Remember that your legacy will include whatever is left at the time of your death, as well as what you may give while you are living.

Giving your children or grandchildren their inheritance while you are alive, is a way to enjoy the gift twice — once when you give and a second time when you see what they do with your gift. You might want to help the family reach their own financial milestone, like covering the cost of a college degree, helping with a deposit on a home or helping to pay off a mortgage.

Charitable giving may also be part of your legacy. If there is a charity, foundation, or alma mater that aligns with your values, you may choose to set aside a portion of your estate for a donation.

Regardless of whether you are planning on spending everything, giving away your assets to family members, or to a preferred charity, an estate plan is necessary to ensure that your wishes will be followed.

Your estate plan needs to include written instructions on how you want your assets to be distributed. That usually happens through a will, and trusts are often part of an estate plan. Make sure that you know what your beneficiary designations are—these are the people who are named in your insurance policies, investment accounts, IRAs, 401(k), or other retirement accounts. They will receive the assets as noted in the beneficiary designations, regardless of what your will says.

Reference: Warwick Advertiser (April 18, 2019) “Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings or Leave It Behind? The Answer May Surprise You”

 

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The Top Three and Bottom Three States for Retirees

New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment” state, is seeing an influx of retirees, which is the same reason people are moving to Florida and Arizona. They’re fleeing New Jersey, Maine, and Connecticut, according to a survey from the moving company United Van Lines. The company asked 26,998 of its customers who moved from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 30, 2018 why they were moving and where.

According to CNBC’s article “Retirees are flocking to these 3 states—and fleeing these 3 states in droves,” four out of 10 people who moved to New Mexico said it was for retirement.

New Mexico seems to be taking over the lead from Florida, when it comes to retirement. Florida was second, followed by Arizona, and the cost of living is a key factor. After examining the cost of housing, medical expenses and income taxes, retirees or soon-to-be retirees are making their plans.

Another important factor is how states treat Social Security income. There are still states that tax Social Security, which is a big turn off for retirees. Those states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.

New Jersey is experiencing a big outflow of residents. It has the highest effective property tax in the country: 2.13%, according to the Tax Foundation. It also has a top individual income tax rate of 10.75%, applicable to income exceeding $5 million.

Affordability is a significant factor in retirement relocation, but there are other factors to consider, including:

Family and friends. If you can afford to stay where all your family and friends are, isn’t that worth a “friends and family” tax? Who will be on your emergency contact list in a new home town? Will you make a new network of friends to serve as your retirement family?

Know before you go. Get to know the area before buying anything. If you can, rent for a six-month or one-year period. You should also go off-season, if retirement has you considering an area with a high number of tourists. A busy beach community that becomes a deserted island may not be as much fun as when the crowds all leave — or it may be better. Live there before committing permanently.

Call your financial advisor. Don’t go anywhere, until doing a comprehensive analysis of the costs of the move and the new location’s cost of living. What does an active lifestyle cost in a new town? Just as important, what would it cost if you or a spouse become seriously ill in the new home? Is there quality health care nearby, or would you have to return home for any kind of serious medical care?

Call your estate planning attorney. If your plans include moving to a state far from family and friends, you’ll need to be sure that all estate planning documents are up to date. You’ll also need to have your current estate plan reviewed to make sure it will be valid in your new home state.

Reference: CNBC (April 17, 2019) “Retirees are flocking to these 3 states—and fleeing these 3 states in droves”

Suggested Key Terms: Retirement, Relocation, Estate Planning Attorney, Social Security, Taxes

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