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Why a Philadelphia professional care management company is uniquely poised to help you plan for your future needs

December 19, 2018 by Etta Hornsteiner in Care Management, Crisis Intervention, For Individuals, For Professionals, Guardianship

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As 2019 approaches, businesses are setting goals. You may be planning your own personal goal, and if so, have you considered advance care planning? According to the Centers for Disease Control, 70% of Americans do not have an advance care plan.  Celebrities like Aretha Franklin and Prince died without a will and likely did not have a living will either. This left their heirs in a difficult place which did not need to occur if they had planned well for their futures. A living will is another name for an advanced care plan which ensures that you receive the health care treatment you want in the event you are unable to speak or make decisions for yourself.  With approximately 80% of older adults having at least one chronic disease and 77% having at least two, the need for advanced care planning is extremely important.  Because this area is complex and difficult for some, there is a need for patients or clients and professionals to become involved in the discussion and process as early as possible. Though your doctor is likely to be a part of your planning, you might want to consider and become familiar with professional geriatric care management and how it can support you through this process. Here are a few important reasons why.

Reason 1-Experience in end-of-life conversations

Like the rest of the world, the population in the United States is aging. Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people over 65 is projected to increase by 135%. Moreover, the population aged 85+ (which is the group most likely to need health and long-term care services) is projected to increase by 350%. This is largely due to significant improvements in healthcare services, investment in medical research, and universal health coverage. Based on a United Nation’s report, older women aged 60 and over will likely experience depressive disorders, which are the leading cause of disability for them, followed by hearing loss, back and neck pain, Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and osteoarthritis.  For men, hearing loss is the leading cause of disability, followed by back and neck pain, falls, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes A growing aging population will bring an increase in physical disabilities and issues related to cognitive loss as part of the aging process.

Encouraging conversations about advance care planning is one way to address these looming issues. Professional care managers like Lisa Rogers from Intervention Associates are trained, experienced and ready to have these conversations. Rogers says it is her “passion to try to normalize those conversations” because the world has changed. She adds that she can “see how beneficial it is to get those supports sooner than later, and even if it’s not hospice directive care or palliative care.”

Reason 2-Experience in building trusted relationships

Many people who have supports in place such as an advance care plan have done so because they have had an experience with a loved one’s death. Dr. Deborah Carr of Rutgers University recently conducted a study examining the impact that experiences surrounding a loved one’s death have on an individual’s likelihood of making advance care plans. Most participants “cited negative aspects of death—pain, connection to machines, coma—as responsible for triggering their own advance care planning.” Dr. Carr recommends practitioners encourage older adults, particularly terminally ill patients, to talk about their experiences with a loved one’s death that was distressing or comforting to them. She feels that this would encourage planning, resulting in “better quality death experiences.”

Though Dr. Carr’s recommendation is noteworthy, it is also challenging:

  • Health practitioners such as doctors may feel they do not have the time to talk with families, especially since familial disagreements can occur.
  • Patients and families prefer to talk to professionals who have taken the time to build relationships with them. Several authors have shown that patients and families respond more positively to advance care planning when initiated by a professional they know.

Many of the professional care managers at Intervention Associates take the time to build such relationships with their clients. Rogers in a podcast says she has become extremely close with her clients in a way that she sees them as family. Her colleague, Judy Siderer, Senior Care Manager and Geriatric Care Manager at Intervention Associates, describes her relationship with her elderly population as a surrogate family.  Intervention Associates’ unique family model, influenced by their Quaker tradition, makes them uniquely poised to take on this growing need within the Philadelphia area, where the elderly population is 13.4%.

Reason 3-Can bring additional support

An advance care plan needs to become an important health care goal in order to ensure “quality of life and comfort and to avoid burdensome treatment that do not necessarily improve comfort.” It is significant to put it in place before or at least at the time end-of-life care begins. In the case of a terminally ill patient, hospice care is offered, whether the person has insurance or not. Hospice care provides a medical team, which consists mainly of the medical director, nurse and social worker. Other members of the team can be alternative therapists in art, music or massage. Working with the family and keeping all these team players on the same page can be akin to directing a cacophonous orchestra. But a professional care manager who is also a social worker can help bring harmony.

Reason 4-Available 24 hours

Patients and families need someone available to them 24 hours. However, a medical team is not; they are available to patients and families but only at set times during the day. So, when things break down or are going wrong, you need someone already present and on the ground to take charge. Rogers says she has had to be that someone numerous times. “As a trained professional, there have been times where I’ve gone into visit someone and I’ve noticed that there’s a change in condition or concern, and I have had to notify the nurse or the team to make sure that they come out. You just want to…provide as much support to the family and patient.”

End-of-life care is difficult. Patients and families need not just anyone but a professional who is continuously available, a study involving patients with dementia has shown. Having that advanced care plan in place can mitigate the pain.  It is always better to be prepared rather than have something serious take you by surprise.  Having an Intervention Associates care manager available to help you put these critical planning tools in place can make all the difference.

Intervention Associates is uniquely poised to help you plan your care for your advanced years.

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