Using Home Health Care to Facilitate Independent Living

When faced with the choice between living in an elderly care facility or aging as independently as possible at home, home health care is almost always the more desirable choice. Still, it’s not always easy to build a feasible support system for aging seniors who wish to retain as much independence and dignity as possible by continuing to live in their own homes.

Understanding the unique needs of an individual patient and the level of care required to help them stay in their own homes doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right assistance in place and a plan of action, it’s very possible to help your loved ones retain some semblance of an independent, healthy lifestyle well into their golden years.

Realistic Evaluation of Need

To create a plan for an extended aging-in-place arrangement, it’s imperative to objectively take stock of your loved one’s needs and requirements. Some seniors will require little more than a few hours a day of supervision, which includes assistance with housekeeping and management of medication or physical therapy. Others may require more intensive services and direct medical care, transportation to and from appointments with physicians or daily living task assistance like bathing and dressing, which will typically require several hours or even round-the-clock care. Whether your loved one falls at one end of the spectrum or the other, or somewhere in between, enabling them to maintain as normal a routine as possible will require you to have a clear understanding of their needs and the necessary level of care.

Benefits of Home Health Care

Data from current research indicates that seniors who are encouraged to maintain a high level of independence through home health care also show higher levels of mobility, bladder control and emotional well-being. These patients are also less likely to require urgent, unplanned care as a result of injuries, falls or accidental medication mismanagement. Transitioning to a residential care facility may often leave your loved one with less independence and less freedom, which has been linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety. In the vast majority of situations, aging in place with home assistance is the most effective and comfortable solution for all involved parties.

Facilitating a successful home health care plan will allow your aging loved one to retain more control over their daily activities, while helping to prevent injuries, medication mishaps and even problems like malnutrition. Living at home, even with a chronic illness, a disability or an age-related reduction in mobility, is often the best possible option for both the physical and emotional health of a senior citizen. Home health care also helps to stave off feelings of loneliness and social isolation, which are relatively common among seniors.

Creating a Feasible Alternative to Facility Living

Families committed to helping their aging loved ones to live out their remaining years in dignity and the best possible health may know how important aging in place is to their family member’s emotional and physical health, but not how to execute a feasible plan for facilitating such an arrangement.

After assessing your loved one’s level of need, it’s time to determine the best way of building a support system to meet those needs. Family care can be a far less expensive alternative in some situations, but isn’t always feasible. Unless someone is able to dedicate some time each day to the management of medication and nutrition, along with basic daily needs, it may become necessary to work with a professional care provider. For some families, an ideal arrangement may consist of primarily family-driven care, with supplemental assistance from a professional caregiver or home health care provider. Because every situation is unique, your plan for enabling your loved one to age in place must also be customized to fit the existing level of need. Maintaining an open line of communication with your loved one’s primary care physicians and other medical care providers is one of the best ways to determine the most effective course of action, especially when aging in place is the preferred option.

About the Author

Selwyn St. Louis is the Director and CEO of Better Living Senior Services, located in Tampa Bay, Florida. Since 2009, Selwyn has been on a mission to help those in need with home health care options for the elderly.

Making the Transition: Hospital to Home Health Care

For aging adults and their families, a lengthy hospital stay can be a frightening and confusing time. At the end of this particular long road lies another; the transition from extended hospital care to home health care. Making this transition can be a challenging experience, but it’s also one which can be handled deftly with the proper preparation and reasonable expectations.

When home health care is the preferred solution for an aging patient, having a transitional plan in place before hospital discharge is essential. Medicare data indicates up to one in five patients will be readmitted to a hospital within thirty days of discharge, and almost half of those cases can be directly attributed to lack of access to community services or social interaction. Keeping your loved one healthy and comfortable at home will require that they’re able to remember and attend all follow-up appointments with a primary care physician, maintain the appropriate medication schedule and have access to a reasonable level of in-home assistance.

Planning Ahead

For the greatest chances of a successful transition to home health care after a hospital stay, it’s wise to begin making plans for this transition as soon as possible. Depending upon existing medical conditions and the advice of an attending physician, you may need to make arrangements for the procurement of specific equipment and supplies. Hospital beds, oxygen supplies, assistive showering and toileting devices and even disposable items like adult diapers and gloves are commonly suggested. Adjustments to make room for these tools should be handled as early as possible, to ensure a smooth transition from hospital care to home. Having all the necessary supplies in place on the day of discharge can alleviate much of the stress of the transition, making it more manageable for everyone involved.

More often than not, an aging patient will be prescribed new medication in order to more readily address the condition being treated during a hospital stay. Medication management becomes another important aspect of the transition to home health care from hospital care. It can be confusing for a senior recovering from an illness or procedure to integrate new treatment into their medication schedule. It’s crucial for a home health care professional or knowledgeable family caregiver to understand the intricacies of medication management, especially if new medications are contraindicated with older ones or there are overlapping prescriptions.

Understanding Care Requirements

After being discharged from a hospital stay, regardless of the length, most seniors will require at least some assistance at home. Working with attending physicians and primary care physicians to determine the required level of home assistance is advised. Some patients may require as little as a few hours of maintenance and medication  management each day, while others require 24-hour assistance with necessary activities like toileting and routine hygiene. Recent studies suggest more than half of patients over the age of eight-five will require some level of assistance with basic daily activities after leaving the hospital, though the duration of this assistance will vary from one individual to another.

In order to create an environment which will facilitate successful transition, it is crucial for family members to have a realistic understanding of home health care requirements. Because there may also be as much as a full day’s gap between discharge from the hospital and the beginning of covered home health services, it’s also important to have a plan in place for the day of release.

With the right level of preparation and a clear line of communication between patients, family members and medical care providers, it’s entirely possible to facilitate a smooth and successful transition from a hospital stay to home health care. Properly executed home health plans can also reduce the likelihood of repeat hospitalizations, improve quality of life and help your loved one enjoy their golden years to the fullest.

About the Author

Selwyn St. Louis is the Director and CEO of Better Living Senior Services, located in Tampa Bay, Florida. Since 2009, Selwyn has been on a mission to help those in need with home health care options for the elderly.