By Suzanne Modigliani, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and
Fellow of the Leadership Academy
Geriatricians have a special understanding of the aging process and chronic illness. Aging adults in the care of a geriatrician are fortunate to have that focused knowledge and skill set working for them. But once a patient walks out of the clinic or hospital, medical providers lose some control of the patient’s health outcomes. Below are ways geriatricians can support the success of their patients outside of their office door.
Shopping and cooking can be a challenge, and dietary needs change over time. A person may benefit from home delivery of prepared meals, or a helper to shop and assist with cooking. This may improve patient compliance with special diets
Every physician would like to know if patients are taking their medications as prescribed. In many areas there are pharmacies which deliver medications in bubble packs. There are automated medication delivery systems. Or, a patient may have a home helper who ensures medication is taken at the proper time and provides documentation that the doctor can review.
Personal Emergency Medical Response System
Many patients live alone and are at risk of falls. A Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) can help them summon help in the event of a fall or some other medical emergency
Home Safety Check
For those with limited mobility, sensory impairments, or cognitive issues, a review of the home for safety issues is essential. Simple changes such as adjustments in toilet seat height or the installation of grab bars or ramps may improve safety and mobility in the home. Clutter is another important safety hazard that frequently needs to be addressed.
Getting to and from medical appointments is essential, but shopping and engagement in social and community life is as well. If a person no longer drives, alternatives such as paratransit, volunteer driving services, or the hiring of private drivers need to be explored.
Home Care for help with Activities of Daily Living
Decisions about what amount of home care may be needed, and determining how to obtain it is a large decision aimed at enhancing overall functioning.
Bill paying service
Patients may be overwhelmed by daily financial tasks and need bill payment or mail management assistance.
Change in functional ability may make keeping a living space clean more challenging.
Communication with family
Many geriatricians have the time and inclination to communicate with family members, but talking about the implications of their patients’ situations is frequently time-consuming. It is helpful for someone to be in touch with them on an ongoing basis, and to work with them to continually assess changing needs.
Consideration of Alternative Living Situations
If the time comes that a patient’s current living situation is not working, current knowledge of the local alternatives is important.
Legal and HealthCare Planning
Having Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxies in place may preclude problems down the road if the patient is unable to express his or her wishes.
Long Term Care Insurance
More patients have long-term care insurance policies to cover services that are not covered by health insurance. They may need an advocate to help them access benefits and deal with claims paperwork.
Expecting a geriatrician or any other medical provider to offer this broad scope of care planning is impossible. That’s why geriatricians call on the support of Aging Life Care Professionals™ to work with their patients. Aging Life Care Professionals are a perfect complement to a medical practice. They extend the reach of the office into the home. All domains listed above are ones they are familiar with in detail. A thorough evaluation lets the Aging Life Care Professional bring resources to bear on a particular patient’s situation, and support their maximum function.
To find an Aging Life Care Professional in your community, search our directory of experts.
About the author: Suzanne Modigliani, LICSW, CMC is an Aging Life Care™ Specialist in Brookline, MA who works with families to find solutions to complicated elder care problems. She has been a leader in the Aging Life Care Association™ and quoted extensively in the media as seen on her website modiglianigeriatrics.com.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.