Today’s seniors face many challenges, though not so different from those faced by their parents, nonetheless, they require a very different toolbox of resources to accommodate. Many of us remember the time when families provided the long term care needs of their elders. The family was the principle tool and engaged asset for the senior of that era. The average life expectancy remained static during the 1960s and early 1970s at 67 and 74 male and female, respectively.
The society and culture have notably changed, as have the expectation of a longer life, requiring planning to accommodate the lifestyles and challenges of families today. The advent of an explosive growth in pharmaceuticals in the management of chronic diseases of age is inextricably responsible for both a longer life expectation, and many unintended circumstances. The difficulty posed to the senior population attempting to maintain independence is profound. A December 2009 research survey by the Kelton Research for Medco Health Services demonstrated credible evidence of the struggle of the elder population and a strong need to provide effective interventions to avert greater costs associated with hospital and nursing home stays.
● 57% of seniors forget to take medications
● 23% neglected to fill a prescription on time
● 40% of seniors (taking 5 or more drugs regularly) are worried about their ability to afford their medications
● 49% of those enrolled in Medicare Part D would like to know how to delay or avoid entering the Medicare Coverage Gap (the “Donut Hole”)
● 40% of seniors (taking 5 or more prescription medications daily) are concerned about their drugs’ side effects or worry about interactions with other drugs
Medicare part A home health benefits (and some replacement insurances) offer effective interventions in chronic disease state self-management and the complex medications regimen often associated with these chronic diseases. It is the goal of skilled home health care to foster independence through planned interventions commonly referred to as the Physician Certified Plan of Treatment. It is the most cost-effective utilization of a no co-pay Medicare benefit available to seniors today, and is available in the senior’s home. There are qualifying factors that are determined both by the primary care physician and the assessing professional clinician. It should be considered a frontline tool in the care of our seniors and in the maintenance and preservation or their independence.