Hospital Services Designed to Meet Aging Populations Health Care Needs

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Oct 27, 2015

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The concept of aging is one that is often not easily accepted or understood. This is true whether you are personally experiencing the effects of aging or watching it occur in a loved one. Recognizing that there is a growing elderly population in the north/west community in need of specialized healing and health care, Exempla Lutheran has developed services dedicated to older members of the community.

Senior-focused services must take account the physical, emotional and mental needs of older patients. A new philosophy of care for the geriatric patient is at the heart of these programs. By design, clinicians perform a variety of screenings relevant to the senior patient and follow up with every patient after they have returned home. This extra contact is intended to help lower readmission rates and reduce the risk of harmful drug interactions, which provides higher quality and more cost-effective care.

Over the past 18 months, senior-specific care has been implemented in three areas of the hospital.

Lutherans Senior ER, which was the first in Colorado, is a designated area in the emergency department designed with many physical enhancements to ease both stress and communication with patients who are seen there. The unit has non-skid flooring; beds with thicker, pressure-reducing mattresses; softer room lighting; hearing and visual aids, and above all, a quieter, calmer atmosphere than a traditional ER can provide. Additionally, the nurses dedicated to a Senior ER typically go through specialized education and physicians and nurses take workshops in sensory appreciation and ageism to learn how to better communicate with older adults and their caregivers.

In recent months, a Senior Behavioral Health inpatient treatment center opened, where evaluation and treatment of mental illnesses associated with aging are achieved in a safe and private environment. Most patients that need inpatient care have other physical illnesses that must be considered and that are often a result of life changes that can bring on serious mental challenges in the elderly.

Seniors also benefit from a dedicated surgery program that focuses on pre-surgery preparations, special precautions to protect fragile skin, and a more seamless transition to post-surgical home care. This service became available to the community in December.

The combination of both a new practice philosophy and senior-focused amenities provides a much needed service to our unique senior population.

Editors Note: This article was submitted by Sarah Ellis, communications director at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center. For more information on Lutherans Senior Services, call 303-425-4500

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