Friday, January 21, 2011

Marki Flannery: Home Health Aides: On the Front Lines of Caregiving

by Marki Flannery

Although home health aides provide assistance with all the "stuff" of daily life, the job of a home health aide cannot and should not be done by just anybody -- contrary to all-too-popular belief. Trained home health aides are highly skilled, compassionate caregivers; every day they man the vital front lines of healthcare for vulnerable seniors and others who are not stable enough to be on their own. These talented aides are the best offense for keeping at-risk individuals out of the hospital and living safely and as comfortably as possible in their own homes.

A good home health aide knows that daily activities -- bathing, dressing, eating, sleeping -- are really barometers of health. Subtle changes may indicate deteriorating health or issues with medication.
  • If a patient is eating less or sleeping more than usual, do medications or dosages need adjusting?
  • If the patient did not previously need help dressing and now does, has his or her condition degenerated?
  • If a patient is refusing to bathe, are there emotional issues that need addressing?
A well-trained home health aide is much more likely to notice changes in a patient's behavior or well-being and act immediately and appropriately.
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