Tag Archives: aging in place

Advances, policy shifts offer more encouragement for aging-in-place movement

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Image by David Illig via flickr.

Given a choice, most older adults prefer aging-in-place rather than moving to a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Unfortunately, older homes and apartments frequently pose safety hazards for seniors – from lack of grab bars in the bathroom to shelves too high to reach without a ladder.

Associated Press Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard describes this scenario – and what can be done about it – in her recent piece, “Home repair for health? Simple fix-ups may keep low-income seniors independent.” Although I first read the article on The Christian Science Monitor website, (with an AP credit), this is an issue that strikes a chord in communities throughout the United States, and in Canada, too.

Aging-in-place presents numerous challenges for seniors. Something as routine as traveling to a doctor appointment for chronic disease management becomes burdensome if there are difficulties with activities of daily living and transportation, poor understanding of care plans, confusion about prescriptions, or mild cognitive impairment which affects ability to follow a plan or care or remember instructions. Visits by nurse practitioners and home health care nurses are important elements for successful aging in place. Medication reconciliation, monitoring of vital signs, nutritional and mental health checks, and a friendly face can sometimes mean the difference between living at home or an institution, especially if caregivers are not nearby. Continue reading

Seniors have special concerns in natural disasters like Sandy

About Judith Graham

Judith Graham (@judith_graham), is a freelance journalist based in Denver and former topic leader on aging for AHCJ. She haswritten for the New York Times, Kaiser Health News, the Washington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association, STAT News, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.

It’s well known that older adults are more vulnerable in times of natural disaster. But there’s nothing like a storm the size of Sandy to drive this point home.

In the past week, we’ve read about New York City hospitals and nursing homes that decided to wait out the storm rather than evacuating. Sheri Fink, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her report on decisions made at Memorial Medical Center in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, got out ahead of Sandy and talked to city and state health officials as well as facility executives. Her ProPublica story is must-reading for anyone who wants to understand the thinking of officials responsible for preparing for the storm.A take-home point: Evacuations can be extremely difficult for frail seniors living in nursing homes. Balancing the potential impact of displacing residents against the potential impact of sheltering in place during a storm isn’t easy.

I hope that reporters writing these kinds of Sandy-related stories take this into account. For another look at decisions made by city and state decisions vis a vis nursing homes, see this piece by Ben Hallman in the Huffington Post. Kudos to this reporter for going out during the storm and going to a site where nursing home residents were being sheltered. Continue reading