Senior Health in Omaha, NE – 2018


Senior Health in Omaha, NE – 2018

What it takes to be in good health changes as we age, a process that is different for us all. In our senior years, just as in our childhood, teens and throughout adulthood, there are things that we can do to set ourselves up for the best outcome, whether it’s maintaining or improving our health and overall wellness.

{Do You Know?} Your Options & Resources

Here in the Omaha Metro, we have an abundance of resources for the aging population, who are valued members of our community. It’s all a matter of knowing who to contact based on what’s needed, and then what the next step should be moving forward.

Kyle Johnson Care Consultants for the Aging - Headshot

Kyle Johnson
Care Consultants for the Aging

There’s no better place to find resources locally than in Care Consultants for the Aging’s ElderCare Resource Handbook. Updated every two years, there are separate editions for here in the Omaha Metro and its neighboring city, Lincoln. They are divided into five tabbed sections, listing options for “Government, Financial & Legal,” “Medical Support,” “Home Health Care & Support Services,” “Living Options,” and “Senior Services.” Kyle Johnson with Care Consultants for the Aging notes, “By understanding the services, resources, and options which are available locally, we hope seniors and their families can make informed decisions which have the potential to enhance their quality of life and independence.” You can stop by and pick up the ElderCare Resource Handbook at your local office (7701 Pacific St., Omaha, NE 68114), send a check or money order or use a credit card over the phone to have one mailed to you, or log on to and click on the “Resource Handbook” tab to view for free or pay through PayPal.

Care Consultants for the Aging also serves as a home care registry, referring qualified, screened caregivers to the elderly. Johnson adds, “Seniors have options, and we can help point the way.”

There are many instances when in-home care would be beneficial for seniors to utilize. For example, falls are one of the most common sources of injury among seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans age 65 and older falls every year, and falls are the number one cause of injury-related death for older adults. Following a fall (or any other accident or illness) when a senior is being discharged from the hospital, outpatient surgery center, or rehabilitation facility, an in-home care provider can prepare a safe home environment and set up post-hospitalization care in the senior’s residence to provide whatever is needed for a speedy recovery.

Let’s say you have to undergo a medical procedure and/or recovery process that requires hospitalization or a temporary stay in a rehabilitation or skilled care facility. When it’s time to go home, you’ll likely have discharge plans and instructions that will need to be followed closely for a period of weeks or months, including dietary restrictions, fluid intake, medication, stretching and/or exercises to perform, regular check-ups, and so on.

While between you and your family you may be apt to handle those things, for some seniors, it can be difficult to manage. However, not following this protocol can have dire consequences. That being the case, it could prove to be incredibly beneficial to bring on an in-home skilled care provider.

Jim Laughlin-Home Nursing With Heart

Jim Laughlin
Home Nursing With Heart

“At Home Nursing With Heart, we manage the critical process of the patient’s transition from the hospital or rehabilitation facility back to the home, and then the continuation of skilled care services in the home as he/she recovers,” advises Jim Laughlin with Home Nursing With Heart. “When someone is being discharged from a facility and released to go home, oftentimes they will need continued skilled nursing and/or therapy services there. That individual can simply tell their social worker or doctor they want to use Home Nursing With Heart and the rest will be taken care of from that point on.

With a full transition process in place, we ensure all communication, instruction, and recommended skilled services from the discharging facility are relayed, reinforced, and carried out as directed when the patient returns home. Our mission is to make the transition seamless for all parties involved, continuing skilled nursing and/or therapy services in the home and remaining in constant contact with the patient’s physician.

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. Furthermore, when there’s several, it can get confusing and be difficult to remember everything you’re supposed to be doing. That can present even more of a challenge for seniors, particularly those with mobility or memory issues. Our skilled care nursing team spends a good amount of time handling medication reconciliation to ensure what the doctor’s office, the patient, and the pharmacy have directed all match. Then we help the patient understand their meds, as well as how and when to take them, and can even schedule visits to administer them as directed.

That’s just one of the many instances when our services would be beneficial for seniors to utilize. 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 also recommend a visit to the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging website at to see a very thorough list of services available to seniors that you may not know about and are very helpful. As far as having the finances to cover the care and support services you may need, I always recommend the family get together and understand what insurances policies are held and where they can be utilized in the future. The key ones to look at are long-term insurance policies, Medicare, Medicaid, and any other insurance plan you’ve paid for that can help.”

A local resource with an abundance of offerings, the Douglas County Health Center has proudly served as a resource for many seniors in the Omaha area for over 100 years and continues to be a leader in healthcare in our community. It is nestled in the Historical Field Club neighborhood, centered between two of Nebraska’s best-known hospitals and national leaders in acute care, the Nebraska Medical Center and the Omaha Veterans Medical Center.

Whether your health-related needs are temporary or permanent, Douglas County Health Center provides excellent options for both short-term post-acute rehabilitation and long-term care, with RN coverage 24/7 and deluxe private and semi-private suites. This includes memory support care; occupational, physical, respiratory and speech therapy; IV infusion therapy; orthopedic rehabilitation; prosthetic rehabilitation therapy; cardiac and respiratory rehabilitation; post-acute surgical recovery care; chronic disease and pain management; post-dialysis care; ostomy care and education; and additional on-site healthcare services, including podiatry, vision, and geriatric psychiatry. Admissions are accepted 7 days a week, including patients with Medicare and Medicaid. Patients and residents have access to regular scheduled on-site physician visits and there is also an on-site pharmacy and dietician on staff who is available for nutritional consultations. If something is needed outside offsite, transportation is available. When it comes time for discharge, there is planning and coordination done to ensure the proper steps are taken once the patient returns home.

All of our local resources, many of which do have similar offerings, are also unique and have their distinct differences. These might be a big deal to you or may end up being minor in nature, but will impact your decision all the same. Be sure to learn more about the ones you’re considering so you can be confident that it’s what’s best for you personally and for your family.

{Do You Know?} Your Future Plans

Mary Ann Stallings-Bridge to Better Living

Mary Ann Stallings
Bridge to Better Living

The importance of open dialogue when making plans for the future, in the event of an emergency or just to be sure that a person is keeping up with what’s needed to stay healthy and happy, is not to be underestimated. According to Mary Ann Stallings with Bridge to Better Living, a service working primarily with seniors and their families, “We have always felt when someone begins to wonder about senior living options it is time to open the conversation and take the ‘first step.’ If one waits and a medical crisis occurs, Bridge to Better Living is available to help but realistically there are more choices when planning ahead. Bridge to Better Living’s staff is well-versed in the healthcare field and understands the importance of researching options and making informed decisions. There is no cost to the client when working with our experts. BBL believes in Passion with Placement and a good quality of life.

It is very difficult to move from a home lived in for decades. A living change combined with downsizing often affects health mentally and/or physically. Depression may occur when a senior considers leaving a familiar environment. Seniors, even when they realize a change in living style is needed, may not be in a rush to make a decision. A third party such as BBL is helpful in opening difficult conversations and pointing out the positives. Bridge to Better Living easily converses with families and clients about changes brought on by aging and the choices to be considered both present and future. We recognize the importance of having support both medically, emotionally and avoiding social isolation. Quality of life is a long-standing priority.

Retirement living options should be approached in a positive manner. Bridge to Better Living will take as much time as is needed to discuss the differences of amenities and services in each type of community: Independent, Assisted, Memory Assisted and Skilled Care. If a client is needing time to acclimate to changes, we work with their schedule.

The only certainty in life is change. Everyone, not only seniors, should plan to have their finances secure. It is important to know if insurance will pay for medical care either at home or in a community. Nutrition and exercise are not thoughts for another day. They make significant differences in the life we hope to live.

Bridge to Better Living encourages everyone, especially seniors, to take advantage of the free classes offered in the community to improve health and to increase awareness of resources to live a good life. At Bridge to Better Living the consultants have ‘walked the walk’ and have extensive backgrounds in health, home care, medical oversight, administration and an abundance of resources in legal, financial and senior services. There are no boundaries where quality of life is concerned.”

Jim Janicki
Hillcrest Health Services

In agreement, Jim Janicki with Hillcrest Health Services further emphasizes, “We can’t stress planning enough. Aging adults should take time to visit various care facilities, work closely with their financial planners and make a living will and estate plan with their elder law attorney. If preparations aren’t in place when an unexpected health event occurs, then family members and spouses struggle to find care and rush to make preparations that could’ve been done far in advance. This is the best way to respect the wishes of the senior. They can contact us at Hillcrest and we can help.

Hillcrest Health Services has the widest continuum of services for aging adults in Eastern Nebraska. We have almost everything seniors may need, from independent living to assisted living, nursing care, and post-acute rehab, to home care, hospice, in-home personal care, and even outpatient therapy and adult day services. With so many options, we often find it helpful to simply have aging adults or their caregivers to call us at (402) 682-4800 and have a conversation about their needs. We likely have some way to help. And if we don’t, we can make a referral to an organization that can.”

He also brings attention to the importance of staying active, noting, “Often aging adults who aren’t very active think it’s too late to begin exercising. Well, it’s never too late to begin exercising. Staying active and moving around are the keys to successful aging, both mentally and physically. Hillcrest Physical Therapy can provide seniors with their annual wellness assessment that is completely covered by Medicare. This assessment can help seniors know what they need to do to stay healthy and fit, and may even identify some potential needs for therapy to help improve their mobility. Contact HPT at (402) 682-4210 to schedule a covered appointment.”

{Do You Know?} The Warning Signs

Along with taking preventative measures to stay healthy, it’s also important to be aware of the cues your body will give you to alert you something is wrong. Ignoring them or hoping they will pass could be to your detriment. The same goes for paying attention to your loved ones and noticing any changes in their health and wellness.

If you notice any of the following situations, don’t ignore them. Instead, call someone who can offer guidance and help.

1. Frailty and/or arthritis

2. Visual impairment or macular degeneration

3. Confusion and/or forgetfulness

4. Hesitation or inability to drive

5. No desire to cook, fresh food has been replaced with processed and TV dinners

6. Loneliness

7. Difficulty with housekeeping

8. Instability and/or fear of falling

9. Needing help with medications

10. Change in cognitive abilities

There will be many different kinds of changes in life linked to health and wellbeing that are all a part of growing older. This, in turn, will impact one of the biggest decisions a person will face–when and where to move from their homes to independent or assisted living communities. There are a lot of factors at play and everyone’s journey is different. For some, it’s a better fit to move in with children, siblings or other relatives, or to utilize the services of an in-home care provider. For others, the transition to an apartment in a retirement community makes more sense. Both have their benefits and perhaps some drawbacks, so it’s important to weigh your options thoughtfully.

Now that our local experts have given you plenty of information on a wide variety of topics to digest, it’s up to you to make the most of it, whether that’s doing what’s in your best interest to stay healthy and happy as you age or supporting your loved ones as they age. Since health is inextricably linked to quality of life, being in good health throughout one’s golden years is the key to fully enjoying them!