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Emerald Home Health Care Offers Steps to Explore When Elderly May Need More Care
By Andrew Wilson

For many people, gatherings with family and friends around the holidays is an annual tradition, but sometimes the anticipation of a joyful celebration turns instead to concerns about the well-being of elderly relatives or friends.

“Our elderly are precious and proud people from generations that were very strong and independent,” said Dana Derosky, R.N., the clinical director of Emerald Home Health Care. “They just don't like to ask for help because they don't want to inconvenience anyone.”

The difference can be particularly noticeable if it has been some time since the last visit with that person. While it may seem easy to dismiss those concerns as “just my imagination” or maybe not wanting to cause a fuss, it may be worth asking some additional questions.

Derosky says that there are subtle things that can alert you that there may be an issue like wearing the same clothes for several days, weight loss, and sudden confusion.

“With early onset of dementia, the obvious signs like forgetfulness are helpful, but sometimes they just don't connect body cues like hunger and thirst as a trigger to eat and drink,” Derosky explains. “This will often manifest in unexplained weight loss, even though they say they eat when they are hungry. They will not remember to keep water handy to sip on and will end up dehydrated, which can lead to physical problems with blood pressure and urination, but also confusion. Confusion is sometimes also an indicator of an infection.”

So what should you do if you find yourself believing that a loved one needs additional help to be healthy and safe? She recommends starting with the primary care physician (PCP). Most doctors have agencies that they have worked with and trust to do a thorough, comprehensive evaluation.

“It is a fine line to walk because you want them to have that right to self-determination, but you also want them safe and protected,” said Derosky. “Involve them in the decisions as early as you can even before they show any signs of needed help.” 

She added that while home health agencies cannot self-refer, most are willing to answer your questions when you call and can point you in the right direction. All counties also have Area on Aging contacts that provide resources for our aging population such as transportation, in-home direct care workers through waiver services, and lists of Meals on Wheels providers, to name just a few of the available services.

Emerald Home Health Care, a small family-owned home health and home care company founded in 1996 by Bill and Margaret Erb, began business as a franchise of Nursefinders, a large, national company. The Erbs wanted a company with that family feel, and renamed it as Emerald Home Health, a nod toward the “Wizard of Oz” phrase that “there’s no place like home.” In addition to the standard home health care, which is short-term nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work and home health aides, Emerald has private duty nursing services and home care direct care workers for longer term care and treatment. 

If some sort of short-term or longer-term care is needed, Derosky recommends asking for recommendations from the PCP as well as friends and family who have been in a similar situation.

“The best thing to do first is the PCP as well as to ask friends and neighbors about their experiences with home health care, and home care,” she said. “A good clinician who gave exceptional care will be remembered.”

Emerald also encourages people to use "Home Health Compare" (www.medicare.gov), a website provided by Medicare, where you can compare agencies side by side for their scores in various categories, such as how well they heal wounds, how well they manage pain, how well they did at getting patients mobile again and other typical issues that may require special attention.

Because it can be tough to think of all the questions that one might want to ask when looking for a home health agency, Derosky recommends starting with the following:

  • Are you well staffed where I live?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you accept my insurance, and will there be a copay?
  • What do I do if I need help after business hours?

“The really great home health, and home care companies don't set out to be the leader, they set out to make a difference,” Derosky says. “It's never about the agency, it is about the patient. We want to be that kind of agency, patient first always. We listen to our patients' and clients' needs and adjust accordingly, we want them to be a part of their plan to get well and we want to make a difference in their lives.”

Emerald Home Health provides in-home personal care. Let us help you take care of the people you love. Emerald Home Health services Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. For more information, visit www.emeraldhomehealthofficial.com, email info@emeraldhomehealthcare.com, or call (412) 429-5880.

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