Senior Health in Omaha, NE – 2019
For seniors and their families, health is about much more than simply living longer—being healthy means living life to the fullest and staying active. To learn about ways seniors and their families can stay healthy, and identify health risks seniors face, we reached out to local professionals in the senior health care industry.
First, we spoke with Dr. Kelly Schroeder with Venus Vein Clinic, the only female board-certified vein doctor in the greater Omaha area. Incidence and severity of both deep vein thrombosis and chronic venous insufficiency are increased with age. Today, however, the significance of these diseases in the elderly patient population, and in general, are still poorly comprehended. Dr. Schroeder decided to become dually boarded in venous disease because she recognized that vein diseases are largely perceived by many in the medical community as merely cosmetic. However, vein disease can cause leg swelling, wounds, and infections, which lead to difficulty with mobility and this threatens independence.
“By treating vein disease earlier, this prevents the worsening of the conditions that lead to falls and hospitalizations,” Dr. Schroeder noted. “Age, immobilization, and obesity are the main risk factors for the development of chronic venous insufficiency in the elderly. Patients present with complaints such as pain, edema, burning, bloating, weight sensation, restless leg syndrome, night cramps, varicosities, color change, and open wound in the legs. These symptoms can be severe and are 100% avoidable. Every day I hear people tell me how they should have treated their vein disease years ago because they feel so good after treatment. No one needs to suffer with a venous ulcer, but it happens all the time. In addition, without swollen and achy legs, people feel lighter and more energized to get out and be active.”
“Many people are recommended to wear compression stockings by their primary care physicians,” Dr. Schroeder continued. “But as we all know, compression stockings can be uncomfortable; too tight, too loose, too hot, and difficult to put on and take off. At Venus Vein Clinic, we have a vast repertoire of compression garments. We will fit you specifically, and make sure you can wear them comfortably and apply them yourself.”
When we asked Dr. Schroeder what health-related issues she sees commonly affecting the seniors she serves, she shared that she often finds that seniors think their achy, swollen, or restless legs are a consequence of aging, but that is not the case.
“At the end of the day, your legs should not feel any differently than your arms, no matter your number of birthdays,” Dr. Schroeder addressed. “Many times, seniors are placed on medications such as water pills, restless legs therapies, or pain medicines to treat the symptoms of vein disease, but treatments for vein disease are safe, effective, and covered by health insurance. I also advise staying active by walking and including regular exercise into daily routines to keep joints and veins healthier.”
Venus Vein Clinic is unique because they are lead by a board-certified vein specialist. Many other kinds of specialists dabble in vein treatments, but at Venus Vein Clinic, you are being cared for by Dr. Schroeder who is an expert in veins specifically. She is established in the Omaha community, carrying out vein surgeries for the last five years. Dr. Schroeder decided to open Venus Vein Clinic to provide a better experience for patients, proving how quick and easy correcting vein disease can be.
A tragic aspect of the aging process is the feeling of loneliness and isolation, which may trap an individual in a cycle where things steadily grow worse. As the director of training and staff development for Bridge to Better Living, Robbie Nathan describes this as a “domino effect.”
“Seniors who are healthy are more positive and have improved attitudes toward maintaining an enjoyable quality of life,” Robbie said. “Exercise is always the first recommendation, and physical therapists and geriatric physicians have many options for those who are mobility challenged, such as engaging in discussions with peers; making new friends; attending church; attending family events; picking up the phone and calling others; reading books, periodicals, and magazines; and staying interested in the world.”
The time to call Bridge to Better Living is when medical appointments, social activities, and family events become difficult for you or your loved one to schedule and attend. “I want seniors and their loved ones to know that Bridge to Better Living offers a free transition service to assist and guide them through the difficult navigation of senior living,” Robbie shared. “There are many options to consider—independent, assisted, memory assisted, long-term care, etc. Attempting to manage this decision alone without any experience is extremely difficult, stressful, and confusing. It is emotionally healthier to have an expert, such as a consultant from Bridge to Better Living, ready and on call to help. We are unique from other transition services. Our philosophy of Placement with Passion means our services are about the client, first and foremost. We are with seniors from the first consultation and by their side during tours. The relationships we build continue even after the move. Bridge to Better Living is not about technology, it is about real people.”
As the owner of Care Consultants for the Aging, Kyle Johnson agrees that finding an advisor is one of the key beginning phases for families exploring their options and learning about senior care. “Clients that we begin services with are typically just starting to notice the difficulties of living independent in their own homes, and are starting to need assistance with their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living),” he pointed out.
Kyle concurs that an isolated, indolent lifestyle can lead to many physical and mental health risks: “Seniors need to stay active, both mentally and physically. Watching TV and sitting in a recliner all day doesn’t lead to a healthy lifestyle. Getting involved with a local senior center will help with socialization, and going for short walks will help to maintain leg strength. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ is something I commonly say when working with families who are noticing a recent decline in their parent’s health.”
Kyle firmly believes that when families procrastinate on considering the need for senior care, they only add unnecessary financial and emotional burden to their lives. “We typically see seniors have waited too long to accept help for fear of losing their independence,” Kyle told us. “Adult children are noticing these signs before the senior does, but hesitant to get outside help for fear of upsetting their parents. This is a dangerous scenario of waiting for the ‘major incident’ to happen before getting help in the home. Typically, this results in a hospital stay that could have been avoided with a couple helping hands.”
All of Care Consultants’ caregivers are licensed CNAs and work as independent contractors for their clients. Before any caregiver is allowed to work with a client, they are run through all background checks, criminal history reports, work authorization in the United States, CPR certified, must carry their own professional liability insurance, and are bonded through the company.
In addition to his work with Care Consultants for the Aging, Kyle Johnson also assists seniors as an advisor for Oasis Senior Advisors in Omaha: “I take the job of helping you find the home that fits your needs very seriously,” Kyle assured us. “I will help you navigate the maze of senior housing throughout the entire process, to help you make an informed decision that works for you and your family.”
When families procrastinate until a health crisis forces them to consider a move, they add risk and stress to their own lives. “If you wait until an accident or illness forces you to consider housing, you are severely limiting your options and adding to everyone’s stress,” warned Kyle. “Then placement becomes more urgent. Many homes have waiting lists, creating a gap before you’ll be able to move in. People assume that all care options are equally expensive, but some options exist which could help protect seniors from costly accident and allow them to live independently for much longer. There is a hidden cost to procrastinating.”
In addition to providing advice and helping seniors find the right home, Oasis offers services on a range of topics that affect seniors, including estate planning, Veteran’s benefits, long-term care insurance, right-sizing, in-home care providers, and Medicare and Medicaid.
We also spoke with Jim Laughlin, chief operating officer of Home Nursing With Heart, about the topic of senior health. He emphasized that health is the most personal thing there is. That’s why he thinks personalization should be at the heart of home health care—based on getting to know the senior as an individual.
Home Nursing With Heart’s mission is to provide the highest level of medical care possible for their patients to improve their overall health and well-being. From the very first meeting and every visit after, their team will build a relationship that is focused on you or your senior loved one. Through Home Nursing With Heart’s nursing and therapy services, they will work closely with your physician and medical team members to ensure that the care they provide meets the requirements outlined in your personal care plan. Jim also made a good point about what to consider when addressing the health of a senior loved one, or analyzing your own health situation. “When people are working or raising kids, there is a lot more activity during the day,” he noted. “People who aren’t used to having an empty nest or the retirement lifestyle might not know how to fill that time that used to be dedicated elsewhere. This kind of life adjustment can make a big impact on both mental and physical health. I would encourage seniors to connect with their family and community during this time. Having a support system is crucial, and finding activities to participate in gives our life purpose. Strength is something you have to use or lose, so use it while you are still able.”
No matter how old we are, we need to make our health a priority. For seniors, health concerns are ever more prevalent. That is why we want to encourage our senior readers to stay active and get to know the professionals in the community who are passionate about helping people throughout the aging process.