Modern medicine enables people to survive with multiple chronic ailments into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s. Such people aren’t at death’s door, but neither do they have much chance of being cured. Physically (and sometimes cognitively), they are on a gradual and often medically complicated downslide. This “frailty course” is now the likely path for many of today’s elderly citizens. However, there is an alternative to ending up in the hospital – home-based primary care.
Hospital treatment for elderly, chronically ill patients is often ineffective and inhumane. Once in the hospital, patients who are near the end of life are administered treatments with little regard to whether they are beneficial – they are literally treated to death. Figures show that over twenty-five percent of Medicare’s budget is spent on people in their final year of life, and much of that expense is attributable to hospitalization. Worse, many dying patients end up in the intensive care unit during their last month where they are still given unnecessary treatments.
Is There a Better Way?
Fortunately, there is a fundamental change underway represented by a growing movement advocating home-based primary care for the elderly. The premise is simple: rather than wait until a person needs hospitalization, a multidisciplinary team is organized to visit them at home and coordinate health-related services.
Each patient is assigned to a group consisting of nurses, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, and others. This team works under the direction of a primary-care physician and meets weekly to discuss patient and family problems – anything from depression to a stroke, an unexpected turn for the worse or an unsafe environment. In this way, a person remains at home for as long as possible until hospice care is needed. The aim is to avoid that end-of-life stay in the hospital.
Contact us for information on how we can help you or a loved one. Our healthcare professionals visit the elderly and infirm in their homes. Our goal is to keep them there and out of the hospital.