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Signs That a Patient May Need Home Care and Tips for Approaching Them

Nov 27, 2018 12:00PM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

Providing care for elderly patients presents some unique challenges for healthcare providers. In patients facing physical or cognitive decline, the idea of “care” sometimes needs to reach beyond what can be offered in a clinic or hospital setting to include what is needed at home. The difficulty of broaching the subject can be compounded by the fact that deciding what to do about a parent or grandparent’s decline can be mentally taxing and emotionally draining for the patient’s family members.

But according to a 2016 article in Family Practice Management, the official journal of the American Academy of Family Physicians, “Collaboration with home care providers allows family physicians to extend their influence over patient outcomes and health care costs.” In an increasingly value-based payment environment, such collaborations can be key to influencing positive health outcomes.

Visiting Angels, a provider of senior home care services in Sioux Falls, offers the following list of signs that it may be time to consider home care for a patient or loved one. Although some suggestions may seem obvious, together they help paint a picture that can make a difficult decision a little more clear-cut.

  • If a patient poses a threat to his or her own well-being, care options should be considered immediately.

  • A recent hospital discharge can make it difficult for a loved one to undertake his or her usual daily routine.

  • Physical limitations in general can hinder daily activities.

  • Patients of any age might be in need of homecare if they are undergoing rehabilitation.

  • Memory lapses can impede daily functions and can lead to a potentially dangerous environment.

  • If a patient is having trouble preparing his or her own meals, home care should be considered.

  • Patients who cannot maintain their lifestyles independently might be in need of assistance.

  • If a patient often needs help in the middle of the night, caregiver assistance should be considered.

  • Patients who overburden the personal schedules of their loved ones are most likely in need of full-time care.

  • If a patient’s family member is exhausted by caregiving duties, it might be time to seek a professional caregiver.

Bringing up the possibility of homecare can be a touchy subject for patients and families as it can force people to confront their own age-related shortcomings. Patients should feel that their opinions are being considered if their mental capabilities are up to the task.

Below are a few tips to consider when discussing the option of homecare with a patient or advising family members who wish to do so.

  • Focus on the patient during discussions and keep him or her involved

  • Voice your opinions using “I” statements

  • Define a clear topic for each discussion

  • Be assertive but respectful

  • Keep in mind that it may take some time and multiple conversations for a family to come to a consensus

  • Involve others such as clergy, close family members, or a geriatric care manager

  • Don’t try to accomplish too much in one discussion

Reference:

Labson, M and Wyatt, R, “Home Care Gets a New Place in the Medical Neighborhood”, July/Aug 2016, Family Practice Management, https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2016/0700/p18.html