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Ask an expert
Q: My husband and I are concerned about my dad's ability to stay at home much longer. He has always been so strong and independent with everything, but when we visited him last week, he had pill bottles scattered all over the kitchen and his legs were very swollen. I noticed he was a little unkempt and was holding onto the furniture when he was walking around the house. Today he called to tell me he had fallen last night when he was getting ready for bed. When I asked him if this was his first fall, he said he had fallen a few days earlier, but that I shouldn't worry, he was "just fine." I am worried, and a co-worker told me I should ask about getting him some care at home. Can you help me?
Ask an expert: Colleen Hilton
Chief executive officer, VNA Home Health & Hospice
A: Absolutely. The first step is to talk to your dad about your concerns. Many seniors struggle with mobility and care issues, and he is not alone. Sometimes the fear of being forced to leave their home keeps a senior from seeking the services that can help them stay and age in his own home. So, it will be important for your dad to know that our aim is to support him in his own home safely. Once your dad is in agreement, we will need to contact his physician for more medical information and a formal “referral for care.” Just from what you are telling me, I would be recommending we start with an in-home evaluation by a registered nurse and a physical therapist. These professionals will create an individualized care plan and work with your dad to meet his health goals and may include other services such as occupational therapy, medical social work or home health aides. Should he need other supportive services, transportation or companionship, a referral to our private duty program can be made as well.
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