Although it’s common for elderly adults in assisted living to have one or more chronic health conditions that requires regular medical attention, it’s not often that you find a doctor on site to care for residents. But a new kind of medical practice that provides care specifically for nursing home residents is having success keeping seniors out of the emergency room and reducing the need for hospitalization.
According to a recent New York Times report, Doctors Making Housecalls is just one of several new care models that provide assisted living facilities with visiting nurse practitioners, physician assistants, doctors and social workers. By bringing medical care to elderly residents, long stays in the hospital that can lead to bouts of delirium or exposure to infection can be avoided.
Assisted living facilities often care for elderly adults with dementia and sending these vulnerable residents to the hospital without someone to accompany them and explain the details of their history can lead to confusion, stress and anxiety. With more careful and consistent medical supervision, seniors who receive health care in their nursing home have better outcomes, reducing the need for hospitalization.
Other assisted living facilities are integrating medical care into their services to better care for their residents. Some have a doctor or nurse on staff with regular office hours or someone who is on call to deliver medical care at at home rather than transport residents back and forth to the emergency room. As the population of nursing homes trends toward the very elderly, the role of assisted living facilities will necessarily change. Rather than providing meals, housekeeping and social activities, assisted living homes will be caring for more very old residents with complex medical needs. Many will require medication management, assistance with bathing, dressing, toiling and help eating meals.
Stay tuned as we learn more about the changing ways the rapidly growing elderly population will be cared for in the years to come.