Gaps in health care limit options for older adults, expert says

Mar 22, 2011

There are 50 million family members providing care to older adults in the United States, according to the MetLife Foundation and national caregiving associations. When older adults are hospitalized and discharged, their families face numerous choices about where they will go and how they will receive care. A University of Missouri nursing expert says the complexity of this process will intensify with increasing demands for health care and workforce shortages.

"Coordination among families, patients and is essential to providing effective care for the in the next few years," said Lori Popejoy, assistant professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "Stress, fear and lack of understanding often complicate the decision-making process for families and patients. Open communication is needed to support end-of-life care and decision making."

Hospital visits and discharge processes are often complicated; family members have to communicate with each other and health care team members (HCTMs), which include physicians, nurses and , about treatments and make decisions with limited resources. Popejoy identified common concerns about the process: going home, advocating for independence, making decisions and changing plans.

"A new approach to the process should further consider the rights of patients and families – to be fully and accurately informed of older adults' conditions and realistic care options, including home care, personal care and nursing homes," Popejoy said.

Popejoy says decision making should be an interactive and incremental process that occurs among patients, families and HCTMs. A HCTM can be designated to communicate information among care providers, patients and their families. In previous research, Popejoy found that families and patients who worked with a nurse communicator reported less stress and better overall care.

Explore further: Study recommends inmate immunity test

More information: The study, "Complexity of Family Caregiving and Discharge Planning," was published in the recent issue of the Journal of Family Nursing.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Guided Care participants rate quality of health care high

Jan 19, 2010

Chronically ill older adults who are closely supported by a nurse-physician primary care team are twice as likely to rate their health care as high-quality than those who receive usual care, according to a study by researchers ...

Withdrawal of life support often an imperfect compromise

Oct 07, 2008

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) doctors seeking to balance the complex needs of their patients and the patients' families may make an imperfect compromise, withdrawing life support systems over a prolonged period of time. This ...

Improving end-of-life care

Oct 04, 2010

Better psychological and spiritual support, better planning of care and stronger relationships with physicians are necessary to improve end-of-life care in Canada, states a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Associati ...

Recommended for you

Study recommends inmate immunity test

9 hours ago

(AP)—Federal experts are recommending that California test inmates for immunity to a sometimes fatal soil-borne fungus before incarcerating them at two Central Valley state prisons where the disease has killed nearly three ...

Down syndrome teens need support, health assessed

16 hours ago

Young adults with Down syndrome experience a range of physical and mental health conditions over and above those commonly reported in children with the condition—and these health problems may significantly ...

Time out for exercise

16 hours ago

University of Queensland researcher has found that restructuring our daily routine to include exercise can have unexpected effects on health.

User comments : 0