As people age, it becomes more common to have a number of health issues at the same time, and to be taking several medications to deal with those problems. These diseases and medicines can have a different effect on older people.
That’s why it’s so important to have access to health care services focused on medical issues and diseases of aging, and of old age.
Patient-centered care for older adults
At Kent Hospital, the Care New England Geriatric Medicine Program delivers direct care and infuses education about older adult needs and best practices for care throughout the hospital. Kent Hospital’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) inpatient unit ensures that patients have access to a broad interdisciplinary team including hospitalists, social workers, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists, nurses, and geriatricians, medical doctors who most often treat people over the age of 65 who are either healthy or have multiple medical issues.
“Our team manages all the health issues of an older patient, designing care plans to deal with the whole person with ‘what matters to you’ at the core of this care plan,” said Ana Tuya Fulton, MD, FACP, AGSF, executive chief of geriatrics and palliative care at Care New England, medical director of Integra Community Care Network, LLC, and a member of the Care New England Medical Group. “We provide consultation to patients admitted for medical, surgical, and other conditions, and focus on improving coordination of care, and communication with families, outside providers/caregivers, and the primary team.”
At Butler Hospital, the Senior Treatment Unit provides care and support for adults ages 65 and over who have a variety of psychiatric conditions that may include memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, and other cognitive disorders that may cause behavioral difficulties. The care team on this unit is multidisciplinary and includes social work, occupational therapy, and nursing, and geriatric psychiatrists. Consultation support is provided by the CNE geriatric medicine program to assist in the management of medical conditions and for participation in team meetings and case conferences.
At Women & Infants Hospital’s Program in Women’s Oncology, we offer an outpatient geriatric medicine consultation clinic for older women with cancer. This care incorporates the special needs of the older adult into the treatment of cancer. Because many cancers are linked to the aging population, the goal of this program is to assess the patient’s risk and help with decision-making. Recommendations will be shared with referring provider, the patient, and her family so they can decide how they wish to incorporate recommendations into the treatment plan.
Ensuring a smooth transition into the community
Once a patient is ready to leave the hospital, our social work liaison will work with the patient, his/her family, and area skilled nursing facilities to ensure a smooth transition back into the community.
The VNA of Care New England is consulted for such services as skilled nursing, wound care, rehabilitation services, advanced illness management, palliative care, and hospice care, as appropriate.
Care New England’s Palliative Care program provides services for patients who might benefit from additional symptom management or enrollment in hospice services. The geriatric medicine and palliative teams collaborate on maximizing the quality of life for each older adult and to understand what matters most to each individual to create a care plan to meet those goals of care. As a Conversation Ready sponsor organization, Care New England puts patient-centered care and quality of life front and center.
Whether you are a caregiver of an aging loved one or seeking care for yourself, Care New England has the resources to provide you the specialized care you need.
For more information visit carenewengland.org/older-adults/.