Senior Health in Omaha, NE 2017
When it comes to what is required of us in order to maintain our health and wellness as we age, much like the journey that is life, some things change while other things stay the same. One is considered a senior at the still-youthful-by-today’s-standards age of 65, and with many more fortunate enough to live to see triple digits than ever before, the diversity among this population is evident. That being said, there are commonalities, and we’ve consulted with the professionals to keep you informed.
“As the Baby Boomer generation ages we see an even more actively diverse population approaching,” says Connie Chisholm of Immanuel. “In our industry, we think of health and wellness from a body, mind and spirit perspective. One of the most important things anyone can do to positively impact their health and wellness is to stay active. Of course, staying physically active with exercise is always good. Remaining mentally active can be accomplished as easily as continuing to read, participating in a lifelong learning event or perhaps taking a role in a play where line memorization is necessary. Caring for our spiritual or emotional wellness might be as simple as joining a social group, scheduling time with friends or attending weekly worship services. Health and wellness choices are really up to the individual.”
She also notes, “Like all other significant life stages, retirement or selecting senior housing take special planning. It is likely that this next generation of seniors will be more apt to pursue senior living communities offering healthy-living services and programs that will complement their more active lifestyles. It is a good idea to begin searching for the right community while the need isn’t so immediate and prior to a health crisis. Having a plan for senior living removes much of the stress of downsizing or just making such a significant life change.
AgeWell by Immanuel offers programming and events designed specifically for seniors. From weight training, yoga and group fitness classes to lifelong learning programs and our Speaker Series events to music ministries, Bible study and worship groups. All created with the health and wellness of the senior in mind.”
Jim Laughlin of Home Nursing With Heart adds, “In the assisted living facilities we see a lot of activities available that seniors don’t take advantage of but would benefit greatly from doing so. Exercise classes, tai chi, gardening, dart league, Wii bowling league, shuttle trips around town, among many others. We strongly urge seniors to get out and enjoy these activities. Moreover, use these opportunities to build relationships with the people around you. Being engaged in your surroundings always equates to a better quality of life, just as maintaining a healthy diet and regular activity supports your health and wellness.”
He also makes note that home health services are a fantastic resource available for seniors to utilize, specifically detailing instances in which this service can be quite helpful in maintaining good health. “Home Nursing With Heart manages the critical process of the patient transition between the hospital or rehabilitation facility and back to the home, and then the continuation of skilled services in the home. We have a full transition process in place ensuring all communication, teaching, and skilled services from the discharging facility carry on to the patient in their home. Our mission is to make the transition seamless for all parties involved and continue skilled nursing and/or therapy services in the home, with constant contact with the patient’s physician.
The biggest challenge we see daily may sound simple but it’s very impactful: medication competency. Doctor’s offices and hospitals are very busy places so when a physician sends someone home on new medications, sometimes there’s little or no education on how and when to properly take them. Our skilled nursing services in the home spend a good amount of time handling med reconciliation to ensure what the doctors’ office, the patient, and the pharmacy have all match. Then we help the patient understand their meds, as well as how and when to take them.
That’s just one example, and Home Nursing With Heart has a very informative website in terms of outlining what different services include and why you’d use them. We have medical social workers on staff who are well educated on all of the resources available and we routinely match patient needs with these resources. I’d also recommend a visit to the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging at www.enoa.org to see a very thorough list of services available to seniors they may not know about and are very helpful.
When someone is exiting a facility to go home and continued skilled nursing and/or therapy services are needed, they can simply tell their social worker or doctor they want to use Home Nursing With Heart and the rest will be taken care of for them. Alternatively, you’re welcome to contact us directly.”
Going back to the importance of staying active and engaged, along the same lines, there are many things occurring later on in life that may lead to depression, particularly with isolation being such a common concern. “At CarePatrol we help and work with a lot of seniors and their families, and with that, we come across a good number of seniors who are experiencing depression,” says Theron Ahlman of CarePatrol of Nebraska. “The changes that often come later in life like retirement, the death of loved ones, increased isolation, and medical problems can lead to depression. Depression prevents seniors from enjoying life like they used to, and goes beyond mood and can impact energy, sleep, appetite and physical health. Many of the seniors who are experiencing depression are living alone, and are sitting in their house all day long doing not doing much or just watching TV. Socialization can really help with depression as it’s needed to keep their mind active like it should be, and it’s always nice to visit and talk with others during the day. Taking medication wrong and having your body thrown off by missing a dose, or taking it at different times each day can really mess up your body and once again lead to being lazy, out of it or just not feeling right to want to go out and live life.
Depression may be able to be helped by a move to an Independent Living or Assisted Living community where there are many activities for the senior to take part in, and many people to visit with during the day. The assisted living community will make sure they are getting three meals a day, taking medication correctly and encourage the senior to take part in activities that are being put on by the community. CarePatrol helps the family or senior for free find the safest and best fit Independent Living or Assisted Living community and can give the family the answers as to what community is more active, offers quality food, has medication kept in the room or on a cart, and who offers the highest levels of care as assisted living communities offer a range of care levels.
For the senior or their families that are worried about depression, they can always contact us at (402) 785-2262 as we have CarePatrol educational cards that we are happy to send out, and can talk with them about the different options available to them. We also offer a live call medication reminder program where seniors can receive calls during the day to talk to them and make sure they are doing good. At CarePatrol we don’t care where a senior wants to live, as long as they are safe and enjoying life as much as they can.”
In agreement, Michael Robinson of Notre Dame Housing further advises, “At NDH, our goal is to help seniors remain independent, healthy and stable. We strive to ensure that seniors have choices about how and where they age. No one chooses to be in the position of depending on the compassion of others to meet the basic need of shelter. However, due to widespread poverty and the severe lack of safe and affordable housing, many in our community must seek assistance or face homelessness. This is one of the great challenges of our time with an aging population who is faced with the tough decision of paying for either housing or healthcare.
Since 1997, Notre Dame Housing has provided service-enriched affordable housing that fosters independence and dignity for seniors. As one of the largest affordable housing providers in Nebraska, we offer a stable foundation that allows seniors to explore their potential, supported by programs devoted to maintaining and enjoying independent and healthy lifestyles.
Our programs and services include: *Affordable Housing *Case Management *Money Management *Nutrition Education *Community Food Pantry *Wellness Services *Computer Classes *Rental Education *Community Lunch Program *Medicaid/Medicare Assistance *Educational Outings.
NDH provides wellness services billed via Medicaid and Medicare to low-to-moderate income seniors, helping them to age in place. Services range from blood pressure checks and podiatry to mental health and substance abuse to nutrition and health education.
Senior health complements housing in so many ways. Service-enriched affordable housing provides many seniors with the ability to pay for their necessary health needs and maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Our senior population is growing, and more than ever seniors are interested in aging safely in their own homes and communities.”
He concludes with the following general advice for seniors as it relates to maintaining good health and wellness as they age: “The health-related issues that commonly impact the lives of the seniors we serve range in severity, from a lack of proper nutrition, dementia, and need for in-home health services to preventative dentistry care, falls and diabetes.
Some of the key lifestyles adjustments that seniors can make that will positively impact their health and wellness include nutrition and health education, volunteering, exercise, downsizing possessions, budgeting, and increasing social interaction.”
At the national level, America’s seniors are seeing improvements in clinical care but are facing significant economic barriers to better health, according to the key findings from United Health Foundation’s fifth annual America’s Health Rankings Senior Report. This report is one of several that United Health Foundation will release throughout 2017 to provide greater insight into health care modernization needs and opportunities at the state and federal levels. Accompanying the report is new survey data, released in partnership with the Alliance for Aging Research, highlighting risks of health savings shortfalls among current and future seniors and uncertainty about future health care savings needs.
Fortunately, seniors are seeing improvements in key clinical care measures. The report finds continued notable improvements in care quality and outcomes since 2013, including:
- A 25 percent reduction in preventable hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries age 65+;
- A 30 percent decrease in hospital deaths among Medicare decedents age 65+;
- A 7 percent decrease in hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries age 65+, and;
- A 9 percent reduction in visits to the ICU in the last six months of life among Medicare decedents age 65+.
Notable health savings shortfalls among current and future seniors highlighted in the new survey data includes:
- 62 percent of retired seniors age 65+ and nearly three out of four non-retired adults age 50 to 64 have less in total retirement savings than what experts recommend saving for health care costs alone.
- Current and future seniors with retirement savings of $20,000 or less are more likely to be in poor health and have chronic disease compared to those with higher rates of retirement savings.
It also shows that a high percentage of current and future seniors are unsure about how much they need to save to cover anticipated – and unexpected – health care costs in retirement
- 50 percent of retired seniors and 36 percent of non-retired adults age 50-64 don’t know or have no opinion of how much money their households will need for both anticipated and unexpected health care costs during retirement.
Thus, it’s more important than ever to be prepared to meet rising health care costs in retirement, to have a solid understanding of your future health care savings needs, and to begin saving early.
Fortunately for those in the area, the Omaha Metro is resource-rich when it comes to health and wellness partners for seniors. Supporting the various needs of seniors in our community, we encourage you to connect with them to learn more well before you may need them.