Improving The Quality of Healthcare for Successful Aging

What does successful aging mean? Using the word “successful” by itself implies that one is financially prepared, has family and friends to visit with or care for, feels well both mentally and physically, remains as independent as possible, enjoys life, and looks for ways to have fun and to help others. How are we improving the quality of healthcare for successful aging?

Challenges for Improving Successful Aging

For many, successful aging is discounted as a possibility because health becomes a reason for wanting to die, as does age. Successful aging in America is a subject yet to be truly defined because it involves so many things, like location, customs, and values of a given part of the United States. Look at the Alaskans and Hawaiians and their subcultures, with multiple differences within. Successful aging in a particular culture with vast differences may also be viewed as not necessarily being related to that culture due to Americanization–assimilation of American values and customs. In other words, it is difficult to predict based on country of origin or any other combination of factors. But one thing is for sure, aging successfully is largely dependent on how an individual chooses to age.

Are the challenges too large for us?  Older people have to be willing to speak up for themselves, rather than being willing to settle for what our family wants.  What we want and what they want may be different things. We are still important, and it is imperative that we express that.  Unfortunately, we don’t always realize that we have rights and that we can protect those rights by seeking assistance if we suspect we are being threatened, abused, or railroaded into doing something we should not have to do.  You have the right to find out what your options are.  Look for the Department of Elder Affairs in your nearest city for direction.

 

“How many of us stop short of success on purpose? How many of us sabotage our own happiness because failure, while miserable, is a fear we’re familiar with? Success, however, dreams come true, are a whole new kind of terrifying, an entire new species of responsibilities and disillusions, requiring a new way to think, act and become. Why do we REALLY quit? Because it’s hopeless? Or because it’s possible…” 
― Jennifer DeLucy

 

Health Information Technology

Aging in a rural area can be more difficult than aging in a highly populated area, due to the increased number of healthcare facilities in larger areas and the much lower number or lack of the same in rural areas. On the other hand, those that have lived in rural areas for most of their lives tend to live longer and may require even more services. Today, there is more hope for those living in rural areas to stay there due to health information technology which is currently being implemented primarily under the Department of Health and Human Services. According to Wikipedia, health information technology is defined as

Health information technology (HIT) is information technology applied to health and health care. It supports health information management across computerized systems and the secure exchange of between consumers, providers, payers, and quality monitors.

In short, this is a system designed to connect and exchange all aspects of health care, using monitors and  computers with improved delivery of health care. Implementation is difficult due to the many obstacles involved, such as HIPAA and the hacking of computer systems.

Sick or disabled older people will be fitted with devices to monitor their vital signs, check their blood sugar, and acquire many other pieces of health information necessary to determine their state of health at any given time. This information is transmitted then via computer to health care professionals. Some of this has begun.  A doctor will not only be able to monitor you but can provide treatment where you are by sending a health care worker or an email, advising of a prescription, or by making phone calls. The doctor will also know when to bring his patient in. This will improve quality of life, increase longevity, and allow you to age where you are.

If we can reduce the cost and improve the quality of medical technology through advances in nanotechnology, we can more widely address the medical conditions that are prevalent and reduce the level of human suffering. Ralph Merkle                                 https://www.brainyquote.com/qu…

Aging in Place

I see successful aging as the ability to age-in-place or better stated, to age where the person wants to age. Aging-in-place allows an individual to age where he or she is rather than move to a large town, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, a retirement home, etc. Only a small percentage of aging adults today have to age-in-place in a nursing home.

We have the greatest hospitals, doctors, and medical technology in the world – we need to make them accessible to every American. Barbara Boxer             https://www.brainyquote.com/qu…

How do we assist older adults to age-in-place? We care for them. We allow them to have their wish. We have in place a number of government-directed services that assist them to stay where they are. These services include in-home care by nurses, physical therapists, meals, housekeeping assistance, etc. Successful aging for those who don’t have a particular place to stay allows those with the financial resources to age in multipurpose-residence communities where one can rent an apartment, buy a home, stay in a room where he or she can acquire health care, or move into a hospital-like environment for close monitoring. Meals in these communities are served either in the residence or in a dining room where all who want can meet for meals and conversation. Most of these communities also include a chapel for worship, a library, a bus to take residents shopping, on trips, or to a doctor’s appointment; a beauty shop, gift shop, and recreation areas.

Those challenges in this country primarily reside with those who did not plan, those who lost their fortunes, those who got sick and became disabled, and those who fall somewhere between having access to government assistance and having a substantial amount of money. By staying informed, we can help those who need it or refer them to someone who can help, e.g., government organizations. We can also encourage them to help themselves by doing their part, meaning everything that is within their capability.

 

“If you don’t keep challenging your mind and your self, you’re going to lose the ability to grow as a human being both physically and spiritually.”
Lateef Abader


4 Replies to “Improving The Quality of Healthcare for Successful Aging”
  1. Very interesting article! As someone who’s parents were older, I can attest to the importance of being informed and prepared. We had a steep learning curve in some areas. We do live in a rural area where there are healthcare issues because of distance. I think one of the most important lessons was to be prepared. We sat down and prepared. We discussed end of life choices. We discussed quality vs quantity of life. We found out what choices where available, and talked about them with each other and with doctors and extended family. They lived out their years with quality, and died with dignity according to their own choices.

    • That is beautiful! It would be wonderful if everyone did that. It would certainly ensure that parents age-in-place, that they have a say in the matter, and that there are no guilty parties after it is too late.

  2. Tanya, your article is very informative and also timely. I recently lost my dad and we were prepared in some areas but could have improved our options in other areas. Dad was able to remain at home for the most part; however after his stroke, he had to remain in various medical facilities near home. We allowed him to make the medical decisions he most felt comfortable with.

    We are currently using the Health Information Technology (HIT) system that was provided with some of the hospitals and rehabilitation centers. This facilitates obtaining all of dad’s medical records and we have options as to whether we want to receive them on CD/DVD or paper, mailed directly, or pickup. This system was very easy to use, cost effective, and prevented us from making several trips to the various facilities to obtain all medical records.

  3. I am happy to hear from someone with firsthand knowledge of HIT. It is a long way from being fully implemented but appears to be doing very well in certain locations. Thanks so much for your comments. I am sure that other readers will benefit greatly from them.

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