April 30, 2014

Yesterday was a tough day at work. Two of our patients who were discharged a few weeks, were readmitted due to another fall at home. This made me wonder about the safety of elders after they are discharged to return home. The patients are assured with the prospects of home health services or a caregiver, however neither those resources are everlasting. Without family support or the inability to hire a full-time caregiver, the patient is eventually left to take care of themselves. As much as we promote independence in our patients and teach them compensatory ways to increase safety awareness, ultimately they require ongoing attention. A typical patient will spend a few days at the hospital, then approximately another month at a rehab facility where they're provided with a structured schedule and more importantly, a safe environment. Most of the patients I have seen in my short time as a therapist, I have noted that as  much as they look forward to being in their own home, they are just as apprehensive about being on their own and taking care of themselves. Granted, not everyone feels this way. There are many patients that are able to fully manage on their own and also take care of others. However, in the case of the two patients who lived alone and had yet another fall, I wonder if there was something more that could have been done to assist them in remaining safe in the home, all the while promoting as much independence as possible. Both patients were trained on safety awareness, safe and proper management of adaptive devices, safe transfer techniques, falls recovery techniques, etc. Ultimately, I feel that not having frequent family support or increased social interaction can greatly decrease a person's quality of life.

The Administration on Aging reports there will be 72.1 million older persons by 2030, more than twice that of year 2000. In 2010, approximately 29.3% (11.3 million) older persons lived alone. The figures are staggering for a population that is reporting increased disabilities with increased age. Would it be invasion of privacy if video monitoring systems were placed in homes of residents to monitor them on a regular basis throughout the day, every day? 

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