Health Care Tips at Home For the Elderly

The number one reason for needing home health is when care of an elderly person becomes too much for family members to bear alone. This is especially true with those patients that need special care due to illness.

Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic slow deterioration of someone’s mental faculties. With this disease people often lose the ability to care for themselves. It quickly overwhelms family members and they turn to help. Home health care for the elderly is one of the answers to this problem. A home health care nurse can help with daily monitoring of these patients. Often an Alzheimer’s patient will tend to wander and get lost. Home health nurses are able to be an extra pair of eyes in this event.

Many times elderly patients don’t want to live in nursing homes or retirement communities. This is another reason for home health care for the elderly. It gives the patients a sense of self to know they can stay in their home instead of an institution. It’s common for these people to have living wills and instructions for their final times. Home health nurses are often saddled with the responsibility of making these difficult decisions when the time comes. From that moment on they stay in the home full time until the death occurs.

Aside from physical care, home health care for the elderly can provide emotional support for the entire family. This is a trying time for all involved and it’s not unusual for it to be the first experience with death for many. Add the fact that it’s a parent and the family is often grieving before the actual death. Home health nurses have been trained in grief counseling and emotional support. They’re by no means professionals in that field but they certainly understand how to handle someone going through these tough times. They often get emotionally involved in their patients as well, so they mourn the passing with the family.

Home health care for the elderly has no set time limit. Usually the nurses are called in for the last weeks or months of someone’s life. Sometimes this assignment can last for years. Nobody can definitely pinpoint how long a disease will last or when someone’s time is up. This is why dedication is extremely important. People who can’t handle it are weeded out quickly, leaving only the best in the field. Families depend on their home health nurse for guidance and support. It takes a truly special person to be able to shoulder these responsibilities.

Home Health Care History

The early nineteenth century witnessed the initial stages of the home health care industry that offered qualified nurses to take care of the poor and sick in their homes. In 1909 when Metropolitan Life Insurance Company started to write policies that comprised of home health care, this industry became very popular. This company is credited for paying the first compensation for home health care industry. This gave rise to the birth of organized home health care.

The Great Depression in 1929 caused several businesses along with home care industry a lot of hindrances and struggle. This went on till the follow-up visits made by nurses after hospital discharge became reimbursable by the Medicare Act of 1966. The home care industry became most feasible and practical when Medicare in an attempt to reduce hospitalization costs set up DRG’s program (Diagnostic Related Group). This laid down that some disease or hospital practice needed a certain stay period. So the discharged patients were more sick compared to their DRG counterparts.

The story does not finish with DRGs. This in fact was the commencement of patient care vs. medical ethics debate. This subject shall be soon addressed in the present health care reform segment. The price of health care is the issue. Questions like how much does a human life cost and how long one should pay for keeping alive a person after he ceases to be a contributor to the society need to be addressed.

Home health care industry needs to answer these questions. The main intention of the DRG programs was to cut down the hospital stay in order to lower hospitalization costs. Thus this becomes a challenge to the agencies. But gradually home care started becoming expensive. The Balanced Budge Act of 1997 hand one major side effect. It limited the benefit days to the patients under home health care thereby lowering the compensations to the various home health care agencies. This resulted in many of these agencies going out of business.

The price to take care of a patient will always stay an issue. There was a growth of nosocomial diseases in hospitals that lead to heavy health care costs. Patients started getting discharged in a much sicker condition than before. This put additional burden on the family of the patient to make available good care once the family member is home. Also majority of the people were working. Home health care agencies that provide services were unable to discharge patients when they exceed their Medicare days if they are in a bad condition or its not safe to depart from them without any nursing services.

In case the home care agency declines admission of a patient who seems sicker than the number of reimbursement days allowed by the government, the patients’ family does not have too many choices. In case of the patient being discharged without any adequate follow-up care, the patients’ family can seek services of a qualified agency that could strain on emergency room visits and re-hospitalization leading to more compensation issues. Such questions are difficult to answer more so in cases where cost is to be taken care of. But, as time passes, such questions will continue to haunt till there are satisfactory answers to them.