Providing Senior Healthcare is Like Hitting A Moving Target

Choosing the correct home healthcare provider

By Tom Mathei

Aging is a process that begins at birth and simply never stops. All through life we mark some of the more notable moments of aging with birthday parties, celebrating anniversaries, even buying bigger shoes. We accept it all without a second thought. When we are young we really aren’t bullet proof, which is just a state of mind. If you break your arm at the age of 16, you take a few months to recover while sporting a brightly colored cast that all your friends autograph for the fun of it. That euphoria surrounding recovery, at some point in the aging process, turns to trepidation as we slowly glide into the classification of Senior Citizen. Subconsciously we start making adjustments to our behavior based on our age. No more taking two or more stair steps at a time. “Wait a minute. Didn’t I just get new glasses last year?”

I think we can all understand there is a certain amount of denial in Seniors, when it comes to health matters. This makes it more difficult for those who love Seniors, to assist them in ways they need, but are too afraid, or too stubborn to admit. The issue becomes more acute when something “bad” happens. Surprise!! Drop everything and run to the aid of your senior. My dad always used to say, “If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail.” As a loved one, or family member allowing yourself to get surprised by a senior emergency is not a crime, but it can stain your heart with unnecessary guilt. Prepare yourself by getting some help from professionals that can assist you in avoiding the many pitfalls of the aging process.

Start by understanding that change is difficult for Seniors. Also understand familiar surroundings, most importantly their homes, provide comfort and confidence for Seniors. With all that being said, it becomes evident very quickly that there are a ton of things to consider. That is where choosing the correct home healthcare provider becomes the most important “moving target” you will encounter. Thinking about the entire journey of aging on the down slope, the things that change become more important, as in more serious. Over the long haul, Seniors staying safely at home with a kindly assist will take more attention as time marches on. The issues can also become more serious and eventually require more skilled home healthcare providers. The best solution is to find a healthcare provider that can transcend the different stages of the aging process.

Identify the services that historically have filled the needs of Seniors. Understand that companionship and help with chores, although very important, only cover the beginning stages of the aging process. To save time and provide seamless professional home healthcare, it would be wise to seek a long term relationship with one trusted provider that can, in laymen’s terms, “do it all”.

Identifying the services a Senior will, or ‘may’ need, can present itself as a daunting task at first blush. Not so, given the technology today. If you break things down to the stages of aging there is a beaten path to the most common needs of Seniors. When you realize you need some help with what is known as “Home Services” there are plenty of lists to consider. Here are just a few:

o   Light house keeping;

o   assistance with meal preparation;

o   companionship;

o   monitoring diet and eating;

o   getting ready for bed;

o   laundry;

o   pet care;

o   attendant and/or driver services for appointments;

o   respite care to give a constant care provider a break

 

Most in-home healthcare providers are prevented from doing much more than the above services by license requirements designed for the well being of the Senior. However, as the aging process progresses there may come a need for more comprehensive in-home care. Things get a little more complicated as a Senior may need more comprehensive services such as:

 

o   post surgical in home care;

o   wound treatments;

o   medication alerts and management;

o   short or long term rehabilitation;

o   memory care;

o   skilled nursing;

o   assisted living services;

o   palliative care for loved ones whose prognosis is grim(one of the most sensitive areas in health management)

If you are lucky enough to find an in-home healthcare provider that can deliver all the needed personal services mentioned above you will have found the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Start your search by asking prospects what type of healthcare provider license they hold. If it is not a COMPREHENSIVE license, I strongly suggest you keep searching for a provider that has the Comprehensive license. This will allow you customize your care plan to fit your Senior’s needs as they change, without having to go on another quest to find a competent provider. If you are lucky, you may even find a Comprehensive licensee that can assist you in modifying the home for the safety, security and convenience of your loved one.