Since 2017, our Iyashi Care team has had the privilege of assisting over one hundred older adults and their loved ones with the difficulties of living with serious illnesses and debilitating symptoms. However, understanding how palliative care can help can be a little confusing at first, and sometimes it might be difficult to just take that first step in asking for assistance. But Iyashi Care was created knowing that quality care requires a strong relationship between the patient and his/her healthcare team. We would like to share with you the stories of five older adults and how Iyashi Care has helped them.

Name: Sachiko
Condition: Nerve pain due to paraplegia
Iyashi Care support: Pain Management

Sachiko, a Japanese-speaking female in her 80s, was injured years ago when a natural disaster hit her city while she was living in Japan. This resulted in paraplegia, and Sachiko has suffered from nerve pain ever since the accident. For years, physicians have told Sachiko and her daughter Kazue that nothing could be done to treat the pain. Eventually, Kazue reached out to the Iyashi Care team, and during one of her home visits, Sachiko told the team, “Every day, I have sharp pain in my legs, but I was told that I have to gaman (tolerate the pain) for the rest of my life. But if you think you can help me, I am willing to try.” Dr. Yanami, the team’s physician, prescribed new medication to manage her pain. Kanako, the team’s social worker, and Joshua, the team’s registered nurse, called and met with Sachiko regularly over the course of several months to ensure she was responding to medication. For the first time since her injury, Sachiko’s pain was lessened.

Name: Elaine
Condition: Alzheimer’s disease
Iyashi Care support: Caregiving resources, preparation in case of emergencies

Jenny lives with her 90-year-old mother, Elaine, who has short-term memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease. As her mother’s primary caregiver, Jenny was required to learn and familiarize herself with her mother’s medical condition, which became overwhelming. However, Dr. Yanami assisted Jenny in understanding her mother’s condition by providing insight into Elaine’s condition and prognosis. Jenny says this allowed her to feel more confident in caring for her mother and improved communication with her siblings as she was able to better provide them with medical updates.  One day, Elaine began to feel ill. Not wanting to take her mother to the emergency department, Jenny called the Iyashi Care team for immediate assistance. With knowledge of the family’s goals of care, Kanako and Joshua then gave instructions on how to monitor the symptoms, when to call again, and what to expect in the event that her symptoms escalated. Jenny was grateful for Iyashi Care as the team’s involvement and availability allowed her to avoid the most uncomfortable situation for her mother: an emergency room visit.

Name: Joanne
Condition: Severe arthritis and pain, chronic lung condition
Iyashi Care support: Symptom management, caregiving consultation, careful watch during flu season

Joanne, living semi-independently in an assisted living facility, is in her 90’s. With a host of medical conditions, she has experienced years of suffering from chronic pain caused by major arthritis and a chronic lung condition. Because of her chronic pain, Joanne was unable to enjoy her arts and crafts with friends or spend quality time with her grandchildren or great-grandchildren. However, things changed once the Iyashi Care team began monitoring Joanne’s symptoms and managing her pain. Dr. Yanami and Kanako would visit Joanne and her family every month to provide consultation on the family’s caregiving concerns. During the last flu season, Joanne developed a persistent cough that did not go away. Dr. Yanami promptly ordered medications and equipment so she could heal at home while avoiding urgent care or hospital admission. Joshua also contacted the family by phone in the following weeks in between home visits to address any new symptoms she may have developed, including her worsening pain, breathing problems, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, and changes in mobility.

Name: Kiyoko
Condition: Diabetes, bladder problems, kidney disease
Iyashi Care support: Caregiving resources, 24/7 consultation via phone call, advance care planning

As soon as she entered retirement, Kiyoko was diagnosed with diabetes in addition to pre-existing bladder problems and kidney disease. With children who lived far away and none nearby who could commit to being her primary caregiver, the Iyashi Care team met virtually through phone calls and emails with all of Kiyoko’s children to provide timely updates about their mother’s condition and advance care planning videos to spark conversation about determining the best treatment in case of worsening kidney function.  The team also coordinated with Kiyoko’s nephrologist (kidney doctor) to arrange a tour of dialysis centers and nearby assisted living facilities to make it easier and more convenient for her to attend appointments. One holiday season, when the family was all gathered, Kiyoko’s kidney function worsened. Unsure if the situation required calling 911, her children called the Iyashi Care team and was able to get immediate assistance. Kiyoko was safely transferred to the emergency department without having to call 911, and the day after Kiyoko left the hospital, they were able to quickly schedule a visit with Dr. Yanami. The family now feels more confident in their ability to make a joint decision in the event that Kiyoko has a change in her condition.

Name: Paul
Condition: Advanced Parkinson’s disease, dementia, fractured hip and spine
Iyashi Care support: Consultation on living facility, advice for future care

Paul, a Nisei, has advanced Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and recently fractured both his hip and spine after a bad fall. Following intensive rehabilitation, he eventually returned to his assisted living facility. However, his dementia worsened and the Iyashi Care team consulted with his family members before they decided to transfer Paul to a memory care unit. With multiple conditions, the Iyashi Care team kept close communication with the family to provide frequent consultations as Paul’s conditions changed over time. The Iyashi Care team also had multiple conversations with both Paul and his family, to learn more about his life.  With a better understanding of his history, the Iyashi Care team was able to establish a strong, trusting relationship with the patient, and allowing the team to more candidly discuss planning for the future and Paul’s goals of care with his family. 

Call 213.873.5791 to learn more about how this program could help you.