Newswise — BEDFORD, OHIO – University Hospitals (UH) Bedford Medical Center, a campus of UH Regional Hospitals, has launched a new program to help older adults live healthier, more independent lives. The Center for Healthy Aging expands the wide range of services the hospital already offers to the senior community in and around Bedford and can serve as a model for managing the complex medical and social issues facing older patients and their families.
“Healthy aging is successful aging,” says Anne O’Neill, LSW, manager of the new center. “Our primary goal is to provide clinical expertise and education to older persons and their caregivers in a collaborative health care environment to ensure that they are active and informed participants in their own unique aging process.”
A critical dimension of the Center for Healthy Aging is the new Senior Assessment Program. It offers people over 65 and their families a resource to identify and manage complex health problems as well as social, emotional and practical living issues. “Our Senior Assessment Program evaluates current and future health concerns an older person might have, as well as their overall wellness,” says Taryn Lee, MD, Medical Director, Geriatric Medicine, UH Bedford Medical Center.
The assessment is a consultative service which primary care doctors are encouraged to use on behalf of their older patients. Dr. Lee and the team of geriatric specialists at the Center for Healthy Aging provide detailed recommendations for the patient, family and physician to consider and follow up on as they see fit. “Common concerns we assess include memory; mood; decision-making; mobility; sleep and nutrition issues; medication evaluation; safety; and future care planning” says Dr. Lee.
Each senior’s assessment is customized to fit his or her unique circumstances and medical history. It encompasses cognitive and physical function and, if needed, a home environment evaluation. “For the cognitive component, a person is assessed by a board-certified geriatrician, or nurse practitioner and social worker,” says Kimberly L. Kinder, CNP, CNS, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner at UH Bedford Medical Center. “On site at the Center for Healthy Aging, a physical therapist can evaluate a patient’s balance, fall risk and need for assistive devices.”
If a home assessment is needed, members of the hospital’s occupational therapy team will conduct an evaluation of the older adult’s living environment. “They will recommend possible modifications to their living situation or physical setting to better ensure their safety,” says Kinder. “In many cases, home modifications can be made easily and inexpensively.”
The new Center for Healthy Aging will add more inpatient and outpatient clinical services in 2014, including an older adult fracture program; a palliative care program; an inpatient unit devoted to the care of older adults; and a senior health clinic offering same-day appointments for minor health concerns. The majority of these senior services are available within the University Hospitals system only at UH Bedford Medical Center.
In addition to its clinical and educational components, the Center for Healthy Aging also will launch Age Well Be Well, a free membership program, in early 2014. “Age Well Be Well will be designed to encourage and empower older adults in our community to socialize and remain connected,” says Lori Robinson, Membership and Outreach Coordinator, UH Bedford Medical Center. “We will offer seniors discounts at local businesses, social events, fitness programs and opportunities for local travel.”
“The decision to launch a Center for Healthy Aging on the Bedford campus was a strategic one designed to meet a growing need for senior services in our community,” says Richard Hanson, President, UH Community Hospitals and Ambulatory Network. “Nationally and locally, patient populations are aging and we want to be prepared to meet the challenge of caring for them – mind, body and spirit.”
About University Hospitals
University Hospitals, the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians in 16 counties. At the core of our health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, one of only 18 hospitals in the country to have been named to U.S. News & World Report’s most exclusive rankings list: the Best Hospitals 2013-14 Honor Roll. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. UH Case Medical Center is the 2012 recipient of the American Hospital Association – McKesson Quest for Quality Prize for its leadership and innovation in quality improvement and safety. For more information, go to www.uhhospitals.org