Noteworthy: Plan for Aging, Advance Directive Vital for Seniors

News from the Noteworthy: Helios Care

Plan for Aging, Advance
Directive Vital for Seniors

Over the last couple of weeks, two well-known public figures have selected to seek hospice services. One is former President Jimmy Carter and the other actor Tom Sizemore. Sadly, Tom Sizemore just died with a relatively short hospice stay, while President Carter remains on hospice. We at Helios Care believe that the longer one is on hospice, up to six months or more, the greater the benefits of the multidisciplinary approach to the patient and the family. We provide nursing, social workers, chaplains, and home health aides to support patient and family, as well as bereavement support for the family following the passing of their loved one.

Probably the greatest benefit to the family and friends who are the caregivers to the patient is the support we provide them while caring for the terminally ill, such as 24/7 on-call nursing support and home health aide support in the home.

Predominately, our services are provided in the home and most people prefer to pass away in their homes as opposed to a healthcare facility, be it a hospital or nursing home. It is very important that everyone have an advance directive outlining how they want to be cared for before the need for a decision becomes an immediate. We offer a simple guide called “Five Wishes,” which helps direct you through the process and is a legal document.

Governor Hochul just recently signed an Executive Order to create a Master Plan for Aging, which has the goal of improving care to allow individuals to age in place rather than be forced into an institutional setting. It states there will be new programs to address communication, coordination, caregiving, long-term care financing, and innovative care models, with the overarching aim of furthering the ability for more to age with dignity and independence.

Helios Care is actively engaged on this front, having met with the New York State Department of Health’s Deputy Commissioner leading the Office of Aging and Long Term Care. Helios Care is also working collaboratively with Bassett Healthcare Network, At Home Care, and other community-based organizations such as the Otsego County Office for the Aging to close the gaps in care for those who could benefit from hospice and palliative care services. This effort includes applying for a federal grant to plan for aging in place. The goal is to make the process more streamlined once someone is identified with a chronic debilitating condition. Today those services, while available, are fragmented and often leave the patient and family uncertain how to connect to those services.

This is increasingly important, as New York State has the fourth largest population of older adults in the U.S., with 16 percent of the population over 65—and the population of those over the age of 60 expected to grow to 5.3 million by 2030—and those over 80 years of age exceeding 1.2 million. And sadly, New York State ranks last in hospice utilization in the country.

We are working hard to provide the care that is needed when and where it is needed. Do your part and talk to your healthcare provider and your family, and fill out an advance directive today.

Dan Ayres is president and chief executive officer of Helios Care.

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