My past few columns have encouraged planning for your long-term health care needs. You might think uncertainty makes it easy to procrastinate, but instead it should be a powerful motivator. Start by embracing your own “person-centered care.” This means taking control of your own health: from proper diet and exercise to annual preventative care and a home environment that is conducive to safe living.
The state legislature recently concluded its 2012 session. Despite being a short session, it was an intense one. While you may recall there was much discussion on education reform, the subject of long-term care reform continued. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, the unbalanced state and federal budgets will not be able to sustain the social safety nets as they are currently designed. Nursing homes like Masonicare Health Center and Masonicare at Newtown will be caring for individuals with increasing severity and frailty. Home care companies like Masonicare Home Health & Hospice will similarly see increasing complexity in their caseloads. And, most important, you will see responsibility shift from the government back to the individual and families. Indeed, each one of us should expect to be involved in caregiving for elderly loved ones and in efforts to keep them independent in their homes longer.
This last point underscores an interesting development in senior living. The industry is buzzing about Beacon Hill Village in Boston in which neighbors voluntarily assist one another (e.g. with lawn care, driving, social events, computer repair) thereby extending seniors’ ability to live independently. Locally, the East Rock Village in New Haven is another example of people taking it upon themselves to take charge of one another and not rely on the government to do so.
May 10 was the twelfth annual Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing, and Masonicare was well-represented. Over the twelve years of its existence, I have observed that more and more of the nurses being recognized are not just from hospitals, but from long-term care, home care and hospice. Naturally, I was proud of each of our recipients, but I also paused to reflect on the insightful past leadership that positioned Masonicare to be ahead of its time. By that I mean to develop a system of care that is person-centered and has long encouraged each of us to take individual responsibility with the knowledge that the Masonicare “village” is here to deliver our “ageless commitment to caring” wherever you may be throughout the state.
To all the fathers in the audience, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day and encourage you to set an example by taking control of your health and thinking through your plans for your later years.