18 posts from November, 2011

Is Today the Day You Quit Smoking for Good?

Posted November 17th, 2011 by

Join the Great American Smokeout and Reduce Your Risks of Cancer

That’s what the American Cancer Society hopes.

Today, November 17th, is the Great American Smokeout, now in its 36th year.  It’s a day for quitting smoking or making a plan to quit.  The reason for doing so is pretty compelling:  tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US.   Despite that, there are still more than 46 million American smokers, which is approximately 21% of the adult population.

Have you tried to quit smoking in the past year?  So did at least half of the current smokers in this country.  Quitting isn’t easy, but it’s easier when you have support.  Take the “Do You Need Help Quitting?” Quiz to determine your level of nicotine addiction as well as the kind of personal cessation plan you’ll need.  For extra motivation, check out the health benefits of quitting over time (which start as soon as 20 minutes afterwards!) as well how much money you could save by quitting.

A Snapshot of the Tobacco Addiction Community at PatientsLikeMe

Another way to find support is to connect with other smokers who are trying to quit.  PatientsLikeMe considers tobacco addiction a health condition, which is why we include it in our platform.  3,914 of our patient members say they are addicted to tobacco, with 1,263 of them officially diagnosed.  What are their methods of quitting?  Two commonly reported treatments are Buproprion (Wellbutrin), an antidepressant used as an adjunct for quitting smoking, and Varenicline (Chantix), a drug that blocks the pleasurable effects of nicotine on the brain. (Click each name to read our patients’ evaluations of effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)

The bottom line is you don’t have to quit alone.  Join PatientsLikeMe and do it together.

Giving Caregivers the Recognition They Deserve

Posted November 16th, 2011 by

“The true strength of the American family finds its roots in an unwavering commitment to care for one another.”

– President Barack Obama

November is National Family Caregivers Month, “a time to thank, support, educate and empower family caregivers.”  There are more than 65 million family caregivers in the US who day in and day out fulfill a vital role on the care team for a family member.  They also tend to be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to daily treatment, diet and exercise regimens for the person they love.

November Is National Family Caregivers Month

The theme for National Family Caregivers Month 2011, sponsored by the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), is “Identifying Family Caregivers.”  The goal is to encourage both caregivers and medical providers to ask for a designated space on every medical intake form for a caregiver name.  Otherwise, the NFCA argues, caregivers are “invisible in American healthcare.”

In contrast, caregivers play an important and prominent role in PatientsLikeMe’s “CareTeam” concept, which was developed to include everyone who is actively involved in the care of our patient members.  That could be a spouse, partner, parent, child, doctor, home health worker, relative or friend.  Patients can invite anyone on their real-life CareTeam to join PatientsLikeMe and be linked directly to their profile.

Currently, there are more than 7,000 caregivers using PatientsLikeMe.  (Browse their profiles.)  Here is a sampling of their stories and situations:

  • “I am a mother who would like to know more about bipolar disorder and know how I can help my daughter, and let her know I care.”
  • “I am a caregiver for my wife, who has generalized epilepsy. I have allocated a big part of my life to help my wife become more stable.”
  • “In 2005 my husband was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease and through my desire to be the best caregiver possible I forgot about me.”
  • “My husband was diagnosed with ALS at age 47 in June 2007 on our 25th anniversary.  It’s hard to see not only his body deteriorate but his spirit too.”
  • “For decades, I have been caring for members of my family and community regarding mental illnesses and life challenges, mostly my beloved auntie.”
  • “On July 6, 2008, my partner got results saying he was HIV positive. It was a hard night for us, we cried and talked and cried some more.”
  • “I am 30 years old. I am one of the caretakers for my father who was diagnosed with ALS when I was 8 years old.   I try to be there for him as much as he needs.”

Are you a caregiver?  We encourage both you and the patient in your life to join PatientsLikeMe to share your experiences, find support and learn from other patients and caregivers.