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GeriPal

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GeriPal

Alex Smith, Eric Widera

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A geriatrics and palliative care podcast for every health care professional. We invite the brightest minds in geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care to talk about the topics that you care most about, ranging from recently published research in the field to controversies that keep us up at night. You'll laugh, learn and maybe sing along. Hosted by Eric Widera and Alex Smith.
 
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show series
 
The great resignation is upon us. One in five health-care workers has left their job since the pandemic started. Geriatrics and palliative care are not immune to this, nor are we immune to the burnout that is associated with providers leaving their jobs. In today’s podcast, we talk with Janet Bull and Arif Kamal about what we can do to address burn…
 
I don’t consider myself spiritual. For some in palliative care, this would be considered heresy as we are told “everyone is spiritual.” But, hey, I’m not. So there. However, despite not being spiritual, I do believe that spiritual care is fundamental to the care I give patients and families. I also recognize it is the one palliative care domain I a…
 
Though “breath” is in the title of Wes Ely’s book (and his song choice by the Police), relationships are its beating heart. The book operates on two levels. On one level, Wes Ely’s book is an autobiography of a critical care doctor’s horror and shame at discovering that his ICU practice of heavily sedating patients for days on end was leading to li…
 
Anyone who cares for individuals with serious illness must live in a messy space where tough conversations about treatment decisions are common and complicated. On today’s podcast we talk with James Tulsky about living in this messy space of medical decision making and the challenges that come with communication around advanced treatment decisions.…
 
“The secret sauce of the Transitions, Referral and Coordination (TRAC) team was including a lawyer.” This is brilliant and will ring true to those of us who care for complex older adults who end up in the hospital for long, long, long admissions. On today’s podcast we talk with Kenny Lam, Jessica Eng, Sarah Hooper, and Anne Fabiny about their succe…
 
Most studies in geriatrics have used metrics such as survival time or disability in activities of daily living as their outcome measure. Many palliative care interventions are evaluated on the basis of ability to change symptoms such as pain. But these outcomes represent a thin view of the human experience. What older adults and those with serious …
 
The FDA label for the amyloid antibody aducanumab (Aduhelm) started off exceedingly broad, basically including anyone with Alzheimer's disease, but was subsequently narrowed to to patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild dementia due to Alzheimer disease (AD). Should, though, the label be even more restrictive to mirror the populations…
 
“The take home message of this study is NOT that primary palliative care does not work.” So says Yael Schenker of the negative study of an oncology nurse-led primary palliative care intervention for people with advanced cancer. And we pushed Yael and Bob Arnold (senior author) on this point - we have several negative studies of primary palliative c…
 
Time-limited trials. We’ve all probably used them before. We meet with patients and families. We agree to either start or continue a particular treatment to see if it helps in some specific way over some defined period of time. If it works as hoped, great, we continue the treatments. If not, we stop them. At least that is how it’s supposed to go. O…
 
I’m going to start this introduction the way Eric ended our podcast. You are a GeriPal listener. Like us, you care deeply about our shared mission of improving care for older adults and people living with serious illness. This is hard, complex, and deeply important work we’re engaged in. Did you know that most GeriPal listeners have given us a five…
 
Randy Curtis, a paragon of palliative care research, was diagnosed with ALS in March. Randy is in a unique position as someone who studies and cares for people living with serious illness, who now shares his reflections on being on the other side, to reflect on the process of living with serious illness. His reflections are illuminating and inspiri…
 
alliative care has a diversity problem. The workforce of palliative care looks nothing like the patient population that we care for in the hospital and in our clinics. For example, in 2019-2020 academic year only 4% of Hospice and Palliative Care fellows identified as black, compared to 12% of the overall US population using the most recent census …
 
Much has been written in geriatrics and palliative care about anticipatory grief, about the grief of caregivers, and even the grief clinicians experience following the deaths of their patients. Krista Harrison, in a Piece of My Mind essay in JAMA, writes about something different. She writes about coping, as an academic hospice and palliative care …
 
Today’s podcast is on academic life hacks, those tips and tricks we have seen and developed over the years to succeed in academic medicine in fields that are somewhat generalist in nature. While the podcast is meant for fellows and junior faculty, we hope some of it applies to the work that all of our listeners do, even in non-academic settings. Wh…
 
“Loneliness is different than isolation and solitude. Loneliness is a subjective feeling where the connections we need are greater than the connections we have. In the gap, we experience loneliness. It’s distinct from the objective state of isolation, which is determined by the number of people around you.” - Vivek Murthy, two time (and current) Su…
 
On June 7th, 2021 FDA approved the amyloid beta-directed antibody aducanumab (Aduhelm) for the Treatment of Alzheimers. This approval of aducanumab was not without controversy. Actually, let me restate that. The approval of aducanumab was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck. After the approval, three members of the FDA advisory…
 
Cannabis use by older adults has increased substantially over the last decade, a trend that has paralleled the legalization of its use for medical and recreational purposes. In that same time, there has been a decreased perceived risk associated with cannabis use in older adults as noted in a recent study published in JAGS. On today’s podcast we ta…
 
In a new study in JAGS, Matthew Growdon found that the average number of medications people with dementia took in the outpatient setting was eight, compared to 3 for people without dementia. In another study in JAGS, Anna Parks found that among older adults with atrial fibrillation, less than 10% of disability could be explained by stroke over an a…
 
Older adults often turn to institutional settings like nursing homes when they need more help than they can get at home. However, since the 1970s, there has been a program that allows older adults to receive nursing home-level care outside of nursing homes. That model of care is known as the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE. O…
 
We have made remarkable progress in reducing the use of feeding tubes for patients with advanced dementia. This has been due to the leadership of people like Susan Mitchell and Joan Teno, among others. One might hope that this reduction in use of feeding tubes has been in part due to advance care planning discussions that helped align care and trea…
 
While palliative care most traditionally grew up with a strong association with cancer care and end-of-life care, more and more evidence is coming out about how to integrate palliative care into a variety of serious illnesses from heart failure to chronic lung conditions. Another emerging field is the integration of neurology and palliative care, s…
 
What if there was a tool that could break down a neighborhood’s socioeconomic measures, like income, education, employment and housing quality, to give us a sense of how those factors influence overall health, and maybe even inform where to target health resources and social interventions. On today’s podcast we talk with Dr. Amy Kind from the Unive…
 
Harm reduction, as so clearly described by our guest Monica Gandhi on this podcast, began as a public health approach that guided management of HIV. Harm reduction represented an alternative to an abstinence-only approach, which clearly did not work. In the harm reduction model, you acknowledge that people will take some risks, and that the goal is…
 
In your clinical experience, you may have cared for patients receiving palliative chemotherapy and wondered, hmmm, why is that called “palliative” chemotherapy? We’ve written about this issue previously here at GeriPal (“a term that should be laid to rest”) as has Pallimed (“an oxymoron”). Well, now we have “palliative” inotropes for people with he…
 
What is a care manager? In this week’s podcast we talk with Chanee Fabius, who after a personal experience caring for a family member with dementia, became a care manager. Chanee explains in clear terms what a care manager is, what training is required, and what training is required. In essence, a care manager is a “glue person” who hold things tog…
 
A September 2000 New York Times article titled, “Sometimes Saving the Heart Can Mean Losing the Memory” describes a relatively newly described phenomena of difficulty with memory and other cognitive tasks six months after cardiac bypass graft surgery, or CABG. The syndrome was termed “pump head.” A doctor is quoted in the article as stating that ol…
 
Frailty. What the heck is it? Why does it matter? How do we recognize it and if we do recognize it, is there anything we can do about it? On today’s podcast we talk to Linda Fried, Dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and world renown frailty researcher about all things frailty. We talk to Dr. Fried about how she first got …
 
Though origins of the term “moral injury” can be traced back to religious bioethics, most modern usage comes from a recognition of a syndrome of guilt, shame, and sense of betrayal experienced by soldiers returning from war. One feels like they crossed a line with respect to their moral beliefs. The spectrum of acts that can lead to moral injury is…
 
During the winter peak in coronavirus cases, things got busy in my hospital, but nothing close to what happened in places like New York City last spring or Los Angeles this winter. Hospitals in these places went way past their capacity, but did this strain on the system lead to worse outcomes? Absolutely. On today’s podcast, we talk with Brian Bloc…
 
We know from study after study that most older adults would prefer to age in place, in their homes, with their families and embedded in their communities. But our health system is in many ways not particularly well set up to help people age in place. Medicare does not routinely require measurement or tracking of disability that leads many people to…
 
There are no currently approved disease modifying drugs for Alzheimer's disease, but in a couple months that may change. In July of 2021, the FDA will consider approval of a human monoclonal antibody called Aducanumab for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. If approved, it will not only make this drug the defacto standard of care for Alzheimer's …
 
One of our earliest COVID podcasts with Jim Wright and David Grabowski a year ago addressed the early devastating impact of COVID on nursing homes. One year ago Mike Wasserman, geriatrician and immediate past president of the California Long Term Care Association, said we’d have a quarter million deaths in long term care. A quarter of a million dea…
 
COVID has taken a devastated toll in nursing homes. Despite representing fewer than 5% of the total US events, at least 40% of COVID‐19–related deaths occurred in older individuals living in nursing homes. The good news is that with the introduction of COVID vaccines in nursing homes, numbers of infections and outbreaks have plummeted. However, onl…
 
Hospice may not be a great match for all of the care needs of people with dementia, but it sure does help. And, as often happens, when patients with dementia do not decline as expected, they are too frequently discharged from hospice, an experience that Lauren Hunt and Krista Harrison refer to in an editorial in the Journal of the American Geriatri…
 
The COVID pandemic brought to light many things, including how society views older adults. Louise Aronson wrote a piece in the NY Times titled “‘Covid-19 Kills Only Old People.’ Only? Why are we OK with old people dying?”. The ageist viewpoint she was rallying against was also brought to light in a study of ageism in social media. When looking at t…
 
So what exactly does a hospice medical director do? Why do some choose to become hospice physicians? What additional training is needed, if any, beyond Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship and boards? Who should take the new Hospice Medical Director Certification Board Examination? A recent study in JAGS found high rates of hospice disenrollm…
 
Where are we with Alzheimers? Are we about to see a revolution in how we diagnose and treat it with Amyloid PET scans and the amyloid antibody aducanumab (which is currently on FDA’s desk for approval)? Or are we still in the same place where there is no meaningfully effective treatment? Or is it somewhere in between, given the data that we have on…
 
Nursing home residents have been devastated by COVID. Somewhere around 40% of deaths from COVID have been among nursing home residents, though they make up just a sliver of the US population. Prognostication among nursing home residents who have COVID is important for a host of reasons - for counseling patients and families about what to expect, fo…
 
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults have lived through a lifetime of discrimination, social stigma, prejudice, and marginalization. Is the care that we are giving them in later life changing any of that or are we pushing them back into the closet? This is what we talk about in this week's podcast with Carey Candrian from the …
 
On the one hand, every year we are fortunate to have new medications that help older adults and people living with serious illness. New treatments for lung cancer with remarkable survival outcomes come to mind, for example. On the other hand, the tremendous growth in medications has led to an explosion of prescribing, polypharmacy, with attendant s…
 
Most of us know we are going to die. How often though do we actually let ourselves really internalize that understanding? To imagine it? To feel it? To try to accept it? On today’s podcast we invited BJ Miller back on our podcast to talk about death using as our guide his recent NY Times editorial What Is Death? How the pandemic is changing our und…
 
Many of us in geriatrics and palliative care assume that we are the experts in health care when it comes to understanding the caregiver experience. Every once in a while, we are humbled and reminded of what we don’t know. Jessica Zitter had such an experience. Jessica, as many of you know, is an award winning author (link to our podcast about her b…
 
Surrogate decision‐making around life-sustaining treatments in the hospital even in the best of circumstances is hard. It’s maybe even harder when caring for those who are conserved or have a professional guardian. The conservator may not have known the patient prior to them losing capacity, they may not know their values or goals that can help gui…
 
“Diagnose and adios.” That’s the sad phrase that I’ve heard quoted more than once, representing caregivers' sentiment of what it’s like to be told by a clinician that your loved one has dementia. This week we talked with Zaldy Tan, Geriatrician and Director of the Memory and Aging program at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. With David Reuben at UCLA an…
 
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