Seniors are More Than Their Physical Needs

affordable home care, assisted home care, companion home care, elder care in Minnesota, eldercare at home, elderly homne assistance, elderly home care service, help for senior caregivers, taking care of elderly parentsIt is pretty much a given that when assessing a senior for assisted home care, the client will have medical problems or physical limitations brought on by medical conditions and just plain aging.  Assessments prior to the beginning of in-home supportive services many times focus solely on a client’s medical needs.  What most people fail to consider is that seniors have needs above and beyond physical or medical.  For this reason, as part of an initial assessment, we also take into consideration other needs that the client may or may not have.  We call this a holistic or psychosocial model of providing care for seniors.  Care in this model considers:

Mental Health: What are the clients mental health needs?  Does the client have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or some form of dementia?  Will these issues impact the care that is provided?  If so, how?  Is the client and/or the client’s family comfortable discussing these issues and how they manifest themselves in the client’s day-to-day life?

Emotional Health: Is the client grieving because of the loss of a spouse/partner/friend?  How about other losses (mobility, independence, home, driving, etc.)?  How will these losses impact the care that is to be provided?  How is the person dealing (or not dealing) with these losses?  Is the coping healthy or not healthy?

Social Support: What are the support systems, formal and informal, in place to help the client in addressing the physical, mental, and emotional needs he or she has?  How will that support, or lack of it, affect the client and the care that is to be provided?  Is there family involved?  Is the family helpful or hurtful?  Dysfunctional or supportive?

Spirituality: To what degree and in what form does the client find support and comfort from a spiritual source, or not, and how will that impact the care provided?  Where do they find their strength on a day-to-day basis?

Leisure: What kinds of hobbies, interests, and activities has the client enjoyed throughout his or her lifetime?  Is the client still able to participate in favorite activities?  What kinds of activities can be substituted if physical limitations restrict participation?  In what ways does the person have good old fashioned fun?

Financial Health: Are there financial stressors and concerns that could be addressed by family or by more formal means?  Are there threats such as eviction for inability to pay rent?  Is there enough money for food and utilities?

By addressing each of the above areas, both an agency providing in-home help for seniors and the at-home caregivers they assign can get a good picture of the whole person and the whole situation.  It is easy to define a whole life by the medical conditions, tests, and doctor visits scheduled on the calendar.  By focusing on other areas of the person’s life, however, the client is reminded that the medical condition is just one part of who that person is.  Putting attention on some of the other areas makes for a more balanced care approach and improves quality of life for our clients.



Julie Ellingson, LSW

February 11, 2013


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