Learning About Home Health Care

An unfortunate part of aging can be losing the ability to take care of yourself. Whether you are living alone or with someone at your constant beck and call, the complication of being able to do less is a continual hardship. There are many solutions to dealing with such a struggle. One in particular that is becoming increasingly popular is home health care.

Home health care is essentially receiving services you would at a hospital or nursing facility inside your own home. The advantages to this in-home care are numerous.

For example, think of some services your daily week requires: laundry, grocery shopping, cooking. Now think of work you have trouble doing that is even more basic in scope: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to the bathroom. This is where home health care spans and fills the gaps of your need.

Of course, we’ve all heard this routine before. So how does home health care outweigh that of a nursing home?

The first way is basic, but something on everyone’s mind and that’s cost of care. As individuals who need care, or as family members looking to provide care for their elders, the most important decision is cost. No one wants to feel like a financial burden on another, nor does a friend or loved one wish to deal with the guilt of paying less for care that provides fewer services, if need be.

With home health care, one doesn’t have to worry about sacrificing care for cost. Since any individual receiving these services isn’t having to worry about being charged for the utilities of a facility or on-hand resources, the costs instantly dwindle. That leads us to the next advantage.

Remaining in your own home keeps you one step ahead of the game. There’s no having to find a sterile room or apartment at a larger facility and trying to make it your ‘own.’ There’s no better advantage than feeling safe in your surroundings and that’s the foremost provision of this care: you’ll get to feel comfortable sooner and faster than anywhere else.

The next way is by individualized attention. A person doesn’t just get home health care, but they can received skilled health services like speech therapy or physical therapy.

While the latter can sound daunting, they’re generally not. Often speech therapy begins with practicing new words or word games to help sharpen the mind. Physical therapy as well as occupational therapy can be easy pinpointing of symptoms: from hand stretches to limited weightlifting with the feet. The upshot is it’s one-on-one directed.

Overall, it’s important to think about home health care in terms of who is the one receiving the benefits. If an individual is struggling and not able to perform everyday maintenance in their life, they shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or out of place to solve the issue. Home health care offers a reliable and personal treatment to the often expensive out-of-house care of nursing homes.

An Ounce of Prevention, A Pound of Primary Health Care

Health care. Very few phrases envelope so many different aspects of an area of discipline. It can be confusing to know where to go to and when, and this issue has led to a cascade of health problems for our population and our population’s health care system. Emergency room or primary care? And where does preventative care fit in? Here’s an overview of a few facets of the system, and how they differ from each other.

Why Not Just Visit Emergency?

Most emergency departments offer a wide range of services available at all hours, without the requirement of an appointment. However, many ER visits are avoidable as patients are seeking non-urgent care or care that could have been treated and even prevented by primary health care. These avoidable visits result in higher costs, longer emergency department waits, and fewer resources available to the patients who actually require emergency services. Interestingly enough, misuse of the emergency department is equally committed across all ages, regardless of whether or not they are insured. This population-spanning issue has even spurred an “Urgency or Emergency” ad campaign in New Mexico coordinated by the Albuquerque Coalition for Healthcare Quality and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It is essential to provide and spread education about appropriate times to facilitate emergency services, walk-in to an urgent care clinic, or wait to make an appointment with your general practitioner.

So when do you visit the emergency room?

Examples are incidences of:

- Difficulty breathing

- Uncontrolled bleeding

- Loss of consciousness

- Severe burns

- Chest pains

- Broken bones

When do you visit urgent care?

Any time that you experience a change in your health status which needs attention, but will not be an immediate threat to your health.

Examples of these incidents are:

- Migraines

- Back pain

- Earaches

- Sprains

- Rising fever

- Minor lacerations

Primary Health Care / Primary Care: The Same But Not!

Primary health care is an extensive and broad model designed to cater not only to the individual and their family but to their community as well. Primary health care is meant to be an accessible community based system, responding to the to social issues of the population it is serving.

Primary health care works to:

- Prevent illness and be promotive of health (as opposed to working solely in a curative manner as seen in primary care)

- Focus on maximizing individual and community involvement in the planning and operation of services as well as in the integration of health development with social and economic development

- Integrate rehabilitative and therapeutic care into patient’s daily lives

The presence of primary health care is essential to building healthy public policy and strengthening community action. This also allows for an equal distribution of care available to the local public. Individual and community involvement can also be seen through their participation through building beneficial public policy, creating supportive environments (such as in programs at community centers), and strengthening community action. It is the action of the local individuals as a group, which encourages increased community participation and support for each other, furthering positive health habits at the local level. Not only can primary health care’s focus on health promotion be seen on an external level through community action and public policy, this can also be seen on an internal level via the promotion of personal skills through education by medical professionals.

Primary care emphasizes the curative focus of medicine and mostly occurs in the clinical setting (i.e. your GP’s office, the local walk-in urgent care clinic, or the emergency department).

Primary care:

- Often is the initial point of contact between individual and medical personnel when the individual experiences a change in health status.

- Is not as comprehensive as primary care due to the acute nature of clinical visits

- Refers individuals to the services available through primary care as well as to home health care

The Take-Home, Part 1

There is a time and a place for preventative care, just as there is a time and a place for emergency medicine. The bottom line is that health statuses will always change. And when they do, stop and think. Is this something which requires long term care in my home? Can I wait until tomorrow to make an appointment at my doctor’s office? Can I drive to a walk-in urgent care clinic? Or should I call 911 and go straight to emergency? Your decision impacts not only you, but your community as well.

The next article will continue this discussion on the different varieties of health care in a review of preventative and home health care. In the meantime, stay healthy & hearty!

Top Countries For Health Care

While many Americans believe we are in one of the top countries for health care, the truth is we are not. While the United States’ healthcare is the second-most costly in the entire world, we rank a distant 37th in quality! While it may not shock you to learn that America is not the top country where health care is concerned, the fact that we are not even in the top 10 should certainly give you reason for pause.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), France leads the world in quality health care. France is followed by Italy, Spain, and Oman, with Austria and Japan rounding-out the top 10. It must be noted that these “rankings” by the World Health Organization are actually some 10 years old now; this study was done in 2000, based on information compiled in 1997-1999. The World Health Organization no longer produces such studies due to the work involved, though it releases a new world health report every year.

Just to put things in perspective, the data, which the World Health Organization used to compile this ranking order, was most likely formatted on computers running Windows 98 – maybe even Windows 95! MP3 players were still relatively new and the entertainment industries were in an uproar over an upstart site called Napster. Bill Clinton was still in office as President. In many ways, 1998-2000 seems longer than 10 years ago.

In the last nine years, technology has advanced greatly, both in and outside of the medical field. As we all know, the United States is unquestionably a leader in technology. However, it does not necessarily follow that, because we are a world leader in technology, we are also a leader in health care – just as it does not follow that because we spend more on health care than almost any other country, we are a leader in the quality of that care. These statistics can be confusing, as the amount of money spent also reflects the fact that medical care in the United States is the most expensive in the world. Still, WHO found that access to healthcare in the United States has actually declined in the intervening years, meaning that, if anything, our ranking has probably slipped!

But it isn’t all doom and gloom: worldwide, health care has improved and improved the lives of millions. Fewer children (ages five and under) are dying, and Malaria rates have gone down. More people today have access to clean drinking water, which helps cut-down on disease and parasitic infestation, as well. All told, the worldwide health care outlook is very good, and much of this has to do with technological advancements made in the last decade.

The top five countries for health care are (in order) France, Italy, San Marino, Andorra, and Malta. The United States is a distant 37th, despite the fact that it spends more than any other country (save one) on health care. While technological advancements have continued at a staggering rate and improved health care globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that access to medical care has actually declined in America since this report was made! Like all statistics, the results can be misleading without further information, and the information presented in this article is actually some 10 years old now, however it is the only information available to us, as WHO quit ranking countries for their health care due to the amount of resources it requires.