Guest Blog: Making a Positive Difference in the Lives of Your Aging Loved Ones—Talk with Them about Their Health Care Wishes

Posted by Jessica / on 11/20/2009 / 0 Comments


By Jeffrey House

President and CEO of Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan

Did you know that Americans are more likely to talk to their kids about drugs and sex than they are to talk with their parents about death? According to the National Hospice Foundation,  fewer than 25% of us have thought about how we would like to be cared for at the end of life and have put it in writing.

Some conversations are more difficult than others, but addressing the difficult subjects tend to make the most difference in our lives. November is National Home Care Month, National Hospice Month and National Family Caregivers Month. It is also a perfect time to start talking about long term care needs with your aging loved ones as you gather for the holidays.

Home health care services make a positive difference in people's lives by helping them to have dignity, restore their health and reclaim their independence after illness or injury. Hospice helps the person at the end of life and his/her family to find comfort and peace on this final journey. Both homecare and hospice are provided at home where people feel most comfortable.

How do you know if your loved ones would benefit from home health care or hospice? There are some warning signs that they may benefit from some extra help.

Pay attention to your loved ones' physical health. Are they coping with a chronic or terminal illness? Have they recently experienced a sudden change in health, such as cancer or a stroke? Are they eating and sleeping regularly?

Also consider their mental status. Do they seem happy, or do they feel isolated and depressed? Have they become noticeably more forgetful or more easily confused? Have they been diagnosed with any psychiatric condition, such as Alzheimer's or dementia, which makes living independently a cause for concern?

Notice how they handle their activities of daily living. Are they bathing regularly without any problems? Are their clothes clean? Are they remembering to take their medications in the correct dosage, at the correct time?  Are their bills paid? Have newspapers stacked up without being read?

If you notice any cause for concern, address them with your loved ones.  Ask them what they believe they need, and what their hopes and fears for the future are and explain to them how homecare or hospice can help them.

To learn more about home health care and hospice, you can visit the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan website at or call us at (800) 882-5720 and ask for a free consumer's guide to home health care. The more information that you have, the better able you will be to start the conversation that will keep your aging loved ones healthy, safe and independent.


About the Guest Blogger:

Jeff House is the president and CEO of Visiting Nurse Association of Southeast Michigan, the largest independent nonprofit home health care and hospice provider in the state.




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