Aging is NOT Easy. In our technological age the medical community and its surrounding partners have become very adept at prolonging life. The docs know through various tests what medical situation might be taking place and the best medical solution to handle this illness or condition. Therefore we have extended lifespan in most instances. There are feeding tubes, infusion devices, additional oxygen, walkers, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices that make the process less difficult, but of course it is not easy either. We live longer but not necessarily stronger and the last years of our lives are often the most difficult. They are also oftentimes the most expensive.
The medical community has borne the burden of increased hospital costs because of our aging population. This is thus passed on to the consumer or Medicare in one form or another. Because of this, and because hospitalizations are one of the most serious threats to an aging body there are increasing efforts to Avoid Readmissions. There is an actual organization called Avoid Readmission Commission. Hospitals face a stiff penalty if they readmit someone too frequently. They are under a great deal of pressure to keep hospital stays to a minimum and to avoid readmissions. Therefore appropriate placement after a hospital stay or appropriate home care is critical.
The increased time taken up in a hospital bed is not only extremely expensive, but it is also very difficult to bounce back from when returned home. The mere fact that an aging body is in a hospital bed for any length of time makes it very difficult to retain the strength and mobility and muscle tone that the senior may have had before becoming hospitalized. Not only must the person deal with an illness or condition that may or may not be chronic, he also needs to try and maintain his strength, balance and mental acuity when he returns home. In many instances there are definite regressions after a hospital stay. There is also the threat of exposure to a variety of germs, viruses and bacteria in a hospital setting.
Many times the frail elder is sent to rehab where they are encouraged to walk and move about to increase their strength and agility. Sometimes they are able to respond and resume their lives. At times it is just not possible either because they are unwilling or unable to respond.
We do NOT have choices in how the end of our lives occurs. We all, however, do have choices in the approach that we take toward this end phase of our lives. Making choices earlier and recording them via a legal document is essential. Also, avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations is critical toward maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Judy Horvath, CSA, Certified Senior Advisor, is the founder/Director of Tender Heart Home Care. They would be happy to assist with any needs for Seniors. Tender Heart is an In-Home Caregiver Referral Agency established in 2003 and headquartered in San Ramon. Please call 925-838-4444 or visit website www.atenderheart.com for further information.