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A Letter from Ross Dickmann: Staying Independent by Reducing Risk

Oct 4, 2016 | Community News

If you’ve attended my monthly town hall meetings on a recurring basis, no doubt you have heard me harp on the value of outpatient therapy services; particularly since we’ve added our new physical/occupational clinic at Terraces. I also speak frequently on the challenges with long-term care delivery systems and how it is considered unsustainable in light of future demographics. Don’t misread my comments; life care residents are, in fact, secure under their agreement. But in general, increased health care spending, a rapidly rising population of Medicare eligible adults and growing complexities in health care, make traditional hospitalization and post hospitalization events more difficult by the day. It is inevitable that nearly everyone will eventually require some level of acute care support, combined with a defined rehabilitative/recovery period. But just how does the average 80 year-old reduce the probability for hospitalization? Answer: live healthier, eat and drink in moderation, exercise often, engage other people, continue to learn and above all, have fun and follow the guidance of your physician.

Even with practicing these cornerstones of healthy aging, we are still vulnerable to short-term disability resulting from falls and fractures as we grow older. In fact, each year over 300,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures. More than 95% of all hip fractures result from falling sideways and women experience 75% of all hip fractures; often due to osteoporosis. The simple fact remains; the older we become, the greater chance we have of falling and fracturing a bone. Unfortunately, all too often older adults and their adult children view such episodes as the beginning of the end or a catalyst for pursuing assisted living.

While more supportive care may certainly be appropriate when other health related factors are involved, balance and fall risk alone do not necessitate a move to assisted living or nursing care. If you are having difficulty with balance or have experienced occasional episodes involving falls then you need to be evaluated by a specialist. Either contact your primary care doctor directly or connect with our in-house therapy staff to evaluate your risk for falling. Talk with them about specific interventions that can be done. A request of your doctor can be made for Medicare part (B) therapy services to help regain strength, increase range of motion, improve balance, assess for a walker or to reduce pain and inflammation through ultrasound and electric stimulation therapeutic treatments.

The goal is simple; to keep you living independently as long as possible. Taking the initiative to prevent falls is part of the value based health care approach. In other words, you are taking preventative measures to reduce or eliminate hospitalization by simply assuming personal responsibility and reaching out for help. Too often, we wait until a debilitating event occurs; often resulting in surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation and so on. Continuing with the theme of personal responsibility, get rid of things in your home that you can easily trip over. If necessary, add grab bars outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet and make sure you have plenty of lighting in your home, particularly in the bedroom when getting up at night to toilet.

The Terraces offers out-patient therapy Monday-Friday by appointment. Simply contact the therapy department, informing of your challenges and concerns as they relate to mobility. Don’t hold back vital medical history or general information regarding your overall health. Inform the therapists as to the name of your doctor and their contact information. The typical process involves a brief visit by a physical or occupational therapist in your home. If appropriate they will seek authorization to contact your doctor and obtain a treatment order. This can also be requested by the patient, however, therapists are trained to discuss all aspects of the muscular/skeletal system with your doctor and make treatment recommendations. If approved, one of our therapists will contact you for scheduling treatment. It’s really that simple! Be well and be safe…

Best,
Ross

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