Essential Steps to Help Seniors Get Motivated to Improving Their Health
So, you have been looking around trying to figure out the best ways to help your aging loved one as they start to need more help from you and others. You may have talked to assisted living facilities, home care, or group homes to consider the options. You know their wishes are to stay at home but you worry about their safety. These are all very normal concerns and thought processes that go on during this stage of aging and working with our senior loved ones. The one thing that may have stuck out in your mind is--this is really expensive! One of the things we sometimes overlook is the ability for people to actually thrive on their own if given the right opportunities. Just like children and younger adults, seniors can improve their health especially if they are motivated and see a path forward.
If you Motivate the Mind, the Body will Follow
If you do further research, you may start to see a trend that motivated people across all phases of life do better than people that just let life happen. This is pretty much common sense--but then why do we think seniors can’t or won’t thrive? The answer often is motivation and if seniors feel like they have nothing to look forward to, they start to feel hopeless. When this happens, other facets of their life can fall apart like proper nutrition or medical care. This is why Comfort Keepers focuses on 4 major factors of Interactive Caregiving. If your loved one is reluctant to to try and improve their circumstances, it’s often because they are not getting one or more of the key aspects of their life met.
- Mind--think social and mental activity
- Body--Physical activity like walks, cleaning, and even cooking
- Nutrition--Making sure we are getting the proper balance in the diet
- Safety--A safe home environment with adequate emergency protections
Getting these key factors met is often the reason family caregivers burnout. One suggestion to reduce the workload and increase the chances of success is following a process that starts with the mind. For example, start with something simple like your loved one's favorite meal. The aroma of a favorite meal has a powerful impact on the senses and often starts people thinking about the past, hopefully opening up conversation and reminiscing. Sharing the meal and chatting usually creates an easy environment to eat and can start the process of improving nutrition. Other people mention they started asking questions about people in old photos and that opened up communications with their loved one. Further, there are really nice tools available today to help our seniors get involved in technology without having the need for you to constantly fix problems. GrandPad is a senior friendly device where they can start communicating to selected friends and relatives in a safe environment and join a family social network. Best of all, its relatively easy! When people have a better mental outlook, they tend to want to work on the other aspects of their life like exercise, taking medical advice, and so on.
Following through on Motivation
Once we have made an impact on our loved one to get the mind motivated, it may not be a simple process for them just to start improving. Often, seniors have multiple diseases they are dealing with that impact their ability to thrive. Being hospitalized and coming home to the same environment can lead to re-hospitalization if nothing changes. Each time seniors are re-hospitalized, they can get weaker and the likelihood of them being able to live at home starts to diminish. This is considered by many the spiral down that can lead to losing the choice of where one can live safely. So, how does a family caregiver work with medical professionals to make sure their loved one makes headway to better health? We already know there is heavy burnout among family caregivers and as lay people, following the complexity of multiple diseases, medical terminology, and meeting with doctors and specialists just adds to the fray.
Insurance Companies rely on Nursing Professionals
For most family caregivers, trying to add the complexity of being the medical expert and advocate is a heavy burden. Insurance companies long ago started looking at having RN Care Managers follow complex cases to see if it helped with the outcomes. Now, insurance companies regularly will assign a nurse to oversee cases where the insured has been re-hospitalized for the same illness. Because Medicare is quite interested in lowering cost and is the primary payer for senior care, they have authorized many studies for ways to reduce cost and improve results for seniors. The data we used here is from the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders which looked at several different diseases:
- Heart Failure
- Coronary Disease.
The report looks at both qualitative and quantitative results that help us understand that in most instances the patient both felt better and had better results overall. We like the fact that it looked at how the patient felt and not just what the numbers were! Results were not always positive but overall, the study demonstrated
“Nurse case management is widely practiced, in providing good quality care for the patients with non-communicable diseases. The review shows that the patients with Non-communicable diseases (NCD's) such as diabetes, Coronary heart disease, COPD and cancer receive a better form of care by applying this nurse case management model with the available resources for the patient care. There is a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with the NCDs. Patients’ satisfaction has significantly improved and also become cost effective. Further, this model paves way for integration of different level of health services that results in increasing competency of nurses involving in case management.”
We’ve made this report available to you as you consider your options for keeping your loved one at home.