The other day I sat in with a group of older adults who had recently moved into a senior housing complex. They talked about the emotional dynamic of transitioning to a new living environment. They spoke of loneliness, fear of change, and sadness at the loss of their former homes.
A similar set of emotions is present when a person faces the last stages of a terminal illness. Hospice care is dedicated to helping ease these inevitable difficulties. The hospice team becomes a community within the community to accompany the patient and family during this difficult life moment.
Nothing can take the place of human touch when it comes to patient care. For those of us in home care, technology does not replace direct patient contact, but rather serves as a powerful ally. I like to say that technology known as telehealth enhances my team’s intelligence.
What is telehealth? Telehealth is defined as a means for exchanging health care information using communication technology. It can be as simple as a conversation between two providers discussing a patient’s status over the phone, or as sophisticated as performing robotic surgery between locations miles apart or even on opposite sides of the globe.
For nursing home residents with advanced dementia, managed care may mean equal or better outcomes
If a loved one of yours is a nursing home resident with advanced dementia, there’s a good chance that keeping him or her comfortable is your main goal--that’s the preference of more than 90% of family members in this situation. Yet many of these residents commonly experience stressful, aggressive interventions, like hospital transfers or tube-feeding, which don’t improve their quality of life or help them live longer.
Dr. Susan Mitchell is a senior scientist at Hebrew SeniorLife whose pioneering research focuses on decision-making, health outcomes and resource utilization for older people near the end of life, particularly those with dementia. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Mitchell about the motivation and vision behind her work.
Of the many medical specialties available, why did you become a geriatrician?
In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events.
It’s no secret that seniors are often taking more than one prescription medication. As we age, we are more likely to develop chronic illnesses – and frequently need medication to lead healthy and active lives. However, medications in older adults come with safety concerns, especially when multiple prescriptions are involved. There are more chances for overdoses, under-doses and dangerous side effects.
Do you know the difference between gerontology and geriatrics? Or understand what a gerontologist does versus a geriatric specialist? While both strive to improve life for seniors, and are clearly related, there is a difference between the two disciplines.
Gerontology is the study of the aging process including investigation of the physical, mental, and social changes that affect people as they age. Geriatrics is a branch of medicine that focuses on health promotion, as well as the treatment of disease and disability later in life.
As part of Hebrew SeniorLife’s commitment to change the way we view aging (the concept of ReAge), we have focused a lot of attention on maximizing the independence of our patients. We do this by offering personalized care that tailors a care management plan to fit the very specific needs of each patient. In a word, we are reengineering health care.
At Hebrew SeniorLife, care is delivered through a multidisciplinary team approach led by specialists, nurses, physical therapists, psychiatrists and spiritual workers—who all work to create an environment for each patient centered on achieving a maximum level of care. Our care transition model—which leads the way to redefining the experience of aging—serves to provide patients with care at the “right place, right time.”