Nov 08th 2021

Four Ways to Leverage Home Health for a Healthier Lifestyle

Skilled nursing or other acute care settings, particularly when a patient's health status has changed dramatically, may be the best option for effective service delivery. But for many older adults, in-home healthcare can delay a premature transition to skilled nursing—and prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions and provider visits.

Home health services can also help address issues such as medication compliance challenges, hydration and nutrition concerns, and fall risks. Concerns such as these often prompt a patient's return to your care, but they can be mitigated by the presence of an in-home nurse and effective home health management. In-home healthcare is a way of extending provider support to the place where your patients spend the bulk of their time. Following are four ways to engage home health services for better outcomes and more informed care during in-person visits:

1. Understanding the patient's home environment

Consider the patient who presents as a fall risk. She's able to get to your office safely thanks to the support of a walker and a caregiver. But what does her home environment look like? And what happens when her caregiver is not with her? She may be climbing a flight of stairs to use the bathroom, something you'd discourage given her vision and balance issues.

From addressing clutter to inaccessibility and cleanliness, there's a host of home-based risks that could be prevented via home health services.

2. Grasping relationship dynamics

One of the greatest benefits of in-home healthcare is a better understanding of a patient's social determinants of health. Does the patient live alone and is he lonely? Is your patient a full-time caregiver for an ailing spouse? Perhaps an adult child lives at home and the stress of that relationship has impacted your patient's health.

Today's world can present a wide range of living situations, but some arrangements aren't always in the patient's best interest. Home health services can put a finger on the pulse of who's at home and how the patient's living situation may impact their health.

3. Gaining insight into daily routine

No matter how strongly and frequently providers recommend better lifestyle choices, a patient's daily routine may thwart their best intentions. Knowing your patient doesn't sleep more than 3 hours a night may explain why he is complaining of fatigue and anxiety during the day. Or knowing that a patient eats her heaviest meals in the evening may explain why she feels nausea upon waking.

An understanding of these patterns—and the support of a home care provider—can tip the scales and bring about a positive change in habit.

4. Securing information on how patients spend their days

A home health assessment evaluates patients' ability to successfully complete activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing and grooming, and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), like making appointments and balancing checkbooks. Advanced in-home healthcare provides the missing link between what your patient is able to accomplish on her own and where she needs support.

Home is where the heart is, and it's also where a healthier life starts.

We often think of in-home healthcare for seniors as a way to give “peace of mind" to the adult children who worry about their aging parents living alone. But when leveraged effectively by providers, home health services can better inform patient care and improve outcomes—both in your office and when they leave it.