We are entering a very exciting time of the year. A time where friends and loved ones gather together, even if only for a few days. Much of this season is filled with sharing happy memories and creating new ones. We so enjoy being together with the hustle and bustle that we may fail to notice hidden ailments or critical needs of our senior loved ones right in our midst. Being surrounded by family and activity can help seniors to escape their daily struggles, and quite possibly find every reason not to talk about their critical needs. So how can you be astute at identifying these needs and making a plan to address them? Keep reading.
On the flip side, there’s another common scenario. Perhaps you come home for the holidays, and the critical needs of your loved one are immediately apparent and blindsiding. You may wonder how these needs have been so easily overlooked or possibly even internalize a sense of guilt for not being supportively aware of your loved one’s needs over the year. This scenario can also cause a similar sense of confusion or unease of where to turn, which is where Caprock Home Health can immediately help.
Start by asking your loved one a few questions as part of a bigger conversation, so they don’t feel interrogated, such as:
- Are you taking multiple medications these days?
- Do you understand how they interact, or would it be helpful to learn more about the medications you are taking?
- Have you gone to the emergency room or been hospitalized recently?
- Are you currently using a cane, walker, or wheelchair to get around your home?
- Have you fallen recently?
- Do you experience shortness of breath?
- Do you feel you need better caregiver support?
This list of questions could go on and on, especially if you start to focus on the individual needs of your loved one. Evaluating with a few strategic questions should help identify any current care concerns, but the most important thing to remember is that help is only a phone call away. If an emergency room visit is not warranted, the primary care physician should be the main point of contact for any immediate concerns. We recommend that physician visits are thorough and routine for aging loved ones.
Asking these questions and evaluating the situation for your loved one can be a great preventative practice, reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and avoidable events such as falls or mismanagement of medication. Either scenario can have a significant negative impact on the well-being of any senior, and can even be fatal.
Below are a few areas to be aware of when evaluating environmental and individual scenarios.
Top Reasons for hospital readmissions:
Chronic Disease Management – Many risks come with managing a chronic disease, and this is multiplied when an individual has multiple chronic conditions. The first thing to establish is a strong understanding of the chronic illness alongside developing a plan to best manage that disease through education and installed systems. The place to start this conversation is with a physician.
Medication Management – Seeing multiple prescription bottles on top of a nightstand, or scattered throughout the house is intimidating. Though many individuals claim to have a system in place to assure they take their medicine appropriately, it is still a good practice to evaluate that system and eliminate as much human error as possible. This process needs to begin with reconciling a complete and accurate medication list, and then implementing a system for taking the medication as prescribed.
Falls – Falls for a senior may not only cause a hospital admission from serious injury but can also be fatal. Falls can be caused by the combination of several risk factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic. The bad news is that falls are very common for people over the age of 65, but the good news is that many of these risks can be eliminated. Below are a few things to look for:
- There are numerous common environmental hazards such as clutter, ill-placed furniture and throw rugs, dim lighting, loose handrails, slippery bathtubs, etc. The CDC is an excellent reference for necessary information on what to look for and how to eliminate many risks within the home.
Weakness and Lack of Balance
- As you observe an individual walking around any environment, evaluate a few things about them. Do they become short of breath quickly, or do they use the walls and furniture to get around the house for balance? Though it may look like they can get around without assistance, these practices are signs of a decreased ability to navigate one’s environment.
New Assistance Devices
- Watch the individual as they use their assistive device, such as a cane or walker, and evaluate how they get around safely. Many of us are not trained physical therapists to give a scientific evaluation of mobility but we should be able to notice signs of improper use. However, notifying a professional to properly evaluate if the device is appropriate for the individual’s needs is always a safe practice.
Though this is a simple list of questions and observations, it can all still be overwhelming. Remember, you do not have to do any of this alone. The primary care physician should be your first point of contact when it comes to an understanding of the needs of your loved one.
Caprock Home Health can also assist in evaluating the needs of your loved ones in their own environment, and our team is well experienced and eager to help you with any questions.