The following article appeared in the Sunday Grand Rapids Health section on April 8.
According to a recent survey by the AARP, 95 percent of people aged 75 and older want to remain in their own homes as long as possible.
However, after age 65, a report by the American Society on Aging found that seniors had a more than 70 percent chance of needing help with the activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing and using the bathroom.
“Those facts have been the thrust behind our creating services that will help seniors remain independent for as long as possible,” said Carolyn Flietstra, vice president of home and community-based services at Holland Home.
“Within the last few years, we have inaugurated Helpers of Holland Home and Telehealth Monitoring, which is a service available to clients of HomeCare of Holland Home. Both of these programs have been designed to make it safer and easier for elderly adults to remain independent longer.”
About Telehealth Monitoring
“My husband always said, ‘It feels like I have my nurse right here in the room with me,’” said Edith Bauman, a resident of Holland Home’s Breton Woods campus.
Her late husband, Carlton, was one of the first users of Telehealth Monitoring. Telehealth gives literal meaning to the expression “phoning it in,” because that’s precisely what its users do each day.
The Telehealth monitor, approximately the size of a small book, hooks up to devices that measure blood pressure, heart rate, weight, pulse rate, oxygen levels and blood sugar levels. The data is transmitted over a phone line to a nurse manager at HomeCare of Holland Home, who monitors the numbers daily.
Edith said it took her husband about seven minutes each morning to perform the various tests and transmit the results. They both found the monitor easy to use; every morning, Carlton was greeted with a cheery “good morning” before the device would “talk” him through the process.
The monitoring system alerts the nurse to changes that could signal an impending health crisis or the need for a change in medication. After seeing the numbers, the nurse can relay any concerns to the client’s doctor.
Flietstra said the monitoring system has been shown to prevent crises and help keep clients out of the hospital.
“It also provides a source of comfort for our clients’ spouses and their adult children,” she said, “and that enables them to stay independent longer.”
Independent, with some help
Katie and Jack Van Eerden have been in independent living at Holland Home’s Breton Terrace since 2002. When Katie’s back problems started in 2009, they feared it would threaten their independence. That’s when they called Helpers of Holland Home, a program providing a wide array of services in the client’s home.
Katie and Jack were able to choose from a menu of services that includes assistance with showering, medication set-up, meal preparation, laundry and cleaning. They picked which services would help them maintain their independence
“We want to stay in our home as long as we can,” Katie said.
“Many seniors require some help in order to stay in their own home and maintain their independence,” said Flietstra. “This puts a huge burden on their adult children, who may be working and/or raising children of their own. Services like Helpers of Holland Home can provide that extra assistance that makes all the difference.”
Some of the many services provided by Helpers of Holland Home include personal care, licensed nursing, home chores and maintenance and care coordination.
“We can even provide ongoing assistance 24 hours per day, seven days per week, if necessary,” said Flietstra.
Flietstra said outside services are an increasing part of elder care.
“According to a survey by the AARP, almost half of all caregivers are using at least one outside service to supplement their caregiving,” she said. “It is possible for seniors to continue to live safely in their own home. There are many services out there that can provide assistance to complement or substitute for caregiving by a family member.”
Flietstra urges seniors and and their families to choose qualified outside service providers.
“The important thing,” Flietstra said, “is to be sure to contract with an agency you can trust. Helpers of Holland Home, for instance, is a member of the Michigan Home Health Association, which promotes high standards of patient care in the delivery of home health services.”
— Information provided by Holland Home