Senior Services for Frail Elderly
Being alone never bothered 78-year-old Harriet Spree until constant bronchial infections left her so weak she couldn't even fix herself something to eat. "I'd lay awake at night feeling so afraid, knowing there was no one I could ask for help," Harriet explains. Finally, a neighbor grew alarmed over Harriet's deterioration and contacted St. Jude Medical Center's Caring Neighbors Program, a unique community service that provides volunteers to help frail and homebound elderly
With a goal of helping seniors maintain their independence and improve their quality of life, volunteers assist in a variety of ways: home repairs, grocery shopping, errands, laundry, even light housekeeping. But for many seniors, it is the companionship – having someone to laugh with – that is the most important benefit of this innovative program.
A volunteer began visiting Harriet each weekend to help with laundry, errands and to be a friend. A volunteer handyman in the program made badly-needed repairs to Harriet's house, fixing broken lights and leaky faucets, while some high school volunteers cleared the overgrown weeds and bushes from her yard. The effect of the regular visits and the new friendships is obvious in the almost miraculous change in Harriet. "Just knowing there's someone who will check on me has taken away the terror," she says.
If you know someone who might benefit from the Caring Neighbors Program or would like to volunteer, please call (714) 446-7064.
Nationally, about 20 percent of frail older adults who are discharged from a hospital will end up being readmitted within weeks. Often, the readmission is not medically necessary but is prompted by a simple and preventable issue, such as confusion over medications or a failure to follow discharge instructions.
To help the frail elderly improve their health, maintain their independence and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, St. Jude Medical Center created a new program called Care Navigation. Trained staff follows up with discharged patients through phone calls and home visits to help ensure they successfully complete key tasks, including: making and keeping an appointment with their primary care physician, filling and taking needed prescriptions, as well as understanding and following discharge orders. For up to two months after discharge, Care Navigators help patients overcome any obstacles that might prevent their progress toward better health: for example, resolving confusion over what medications should be taken, arranging transportation, and preventing delays in needed therapy or appointments.
The program targets three common but serious diagnoses: congestive heart failure, heart attack, and pneumonia. Remarkably, the readmission rate for these diagnoses has dropped significantly.
"By preventing unnecessary hospitalizations, this program has improved these patients' quality of life, helped them maintain their independence, and helped protect their emotional and mental well-being," explains Barry Ross, Vice President, Healthy Communities, St. Jude Medical Center.
For more information, please call (714) 446-7035.
A lack of transportation is a significant barrier for many frail elderly, causing doctors' visits and medical care to often be missed or delayed. St. Jude's Senior Transportation Program provides non-emergency transportation to and from medical appointments at the medical center and affiliated physicians' offices.
Low-income seniors can take advantage of this service by calling (714) 446-7160.
Caregiver Resource Center
The Caregiver Resource Center (CRC) is a trusted partner for Orange County families who are coping with the physical, emotional, and financial responsibilities of caregiving. By providing families with individualized supportive services, CRC stands apart as the only Orange County agency focusing specifically on the needs of caregivers who are coping with a loved one's chronic illness, and since 1988, CRC has assisted thousands of families and professionals who care for an adult with a brain-impairing condition such as Alzheimer's, stroke, Parkinson's, head injury, or Huntington's disease, or who is over the age of sixty and requires daily assistance. For more information call (800) 543-8312 or (714) 870-3530 or online at caregiveroc.org