At every stage of life, our health remains critically important.
To stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, experts with The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society say it's important to be proactive rather than reactive.
It sounds simple, right? But, sometimes being proactive forces us to make difficult decisions: realizing we're in need of help.
"If you wait too long, a health issue can turn into a health crisis," said Good Samaritan Society regional vice president Dustin Scholz.
The good news? The Good Samaritan Society offers a wide variety of services including senior living, home health, and therapy/rehab. But, before deciding which service is the best fit, it's important to know what each service is, and isn't.
Dustin says one option is senior living, which is an apartment or residential style setting. This setting is a good option for prospective residents who are still very independent.
"What's unique about our organization is we can layer on a continuum of services. Whenever, wherever, however someone might need it," he said.
Scholz says as more needs arise, more services can be added while you're still living in the same community. And, it's up to the resident which services those are.
Senior housing, also called independent living, would be a good fit for someone who's looking to downsize, says Dustin.
"A lot of times we see people deciding maybe it's a little bit more than they want to manage to live at home on their own, take care of their own home, and all that comes along with that. Maybe it's a big house and they no longer need the space.
"That's a challenge that sometimes is the tipping point for folks to come and live in those communities where they have a little bit more availability of services, should they need it," he added.
The Good Samaritan Society also offers assisted living.
Julie Smith is the director of nursing and clinical services for home and community based services at Good Samaritan Society.
She says there are three components that make up home health services.
The first is skilled nursing and therapy services. Smith says physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy are the most traditional services.
"You might think of those services as something people receive after a procedure, maybe an injury or an acute condition, but also for chronic disease management. These are services that go out into someone's home," she said.
Smith says other services that fall under home health include:
- Nursing therapy
- Social work
- Wound care
- Intravenous therapy (IV)
- Medication management and education
- Management of chronic conditions
- Restorative therapy
"We're really looking at the person altogether, from a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspect," said Julie.
The second component is hospice care.
Smith says most people associate hospice care with a terminal diagnosis. However, hospice care through Good Samaritan Society reaches even beyond the immediate patient.
"Most people associate hospice with a terminal diagnosis. But, it's really that holistic care focused not only on the patient, but also their family members or their caregivers — comfort care, end-of-life care, for the patient, but also bereavement services that can last up to a year after a patient might pass away. Those services can be provided in the home setting, wherever that is," she said.
The final component of home health is Services@Home. This service is geared toward extending patient's ability to live independently in their home.
"Those types of things can include household chores, transportation, laundry, meal preparation is a big one, and some assisting with bathing and grooming," she said.
Therapy & rehab
The Good Samaritan Society also offers therapy and rehab services. These services are a good option if it's become harder for someone to manage daily tasks, or has a decrease in strength, says Martha Frohwein, director of clinical services for therapy and rehabilitation at Good Samaritan Society.
She says after surgery, an injury or illness, patients come to Good Samaritan Society locations for therapy.
"An individual might need some medical intervention with the skill of a nurse, depending on what their needs are. But, then they also might need the skill of a therapist depending on multiple factors," said Frohwein.
A telltale sign that someone could benefit from therapy and rehab is if they "noticed that things are more difficult," says Frohwein.
"Maybe they're having a hard time buttoning their clothing, having some challenges with getting their shoes and socks on, maybe they're finding that they're just not as steady on their feet. Or, they're forgetting things that are part of their normal everyday functioning. It might be something that's identified by a family member, physician, or health care provider."
If a patient needs additional services, another option is skilled nursing.
How to get help
To learn what housing options may be the best fit, answer questions on our interactive senior housing tool.
If you or a loved one could benefit from any of these services, Smith says the first step is to talk with a physician or medical provider.
"They can ask for a referral to a Good Samaritan Society location. See what services are available to you and where you live.
"But you can always call us up. You don't have to always go through a physician, but you can give us a call and we'd be happy to talk you through what things you might be looking for right now, what you might need, and how we can help you."