Lessons Learned, Lessons Implemented, Better Days Ahead
One thing is clear. We are not alone as we search for answers to a better future for older adults and their caregivers. To answer the question, ‘How did we do?’ and to plan for the future, it is helpful to understand how the international community faced the pandemic.
A new report serves as a chronicle of the 2020 provider experiences, offers lessons and observations for next steps. It also exemplifies how providers cared for their older adults during this global healthcare crisis.
Also on the international front, a new study demonstrates that not only older age but also frailty, independently from one another, increase the risk of death from COVID-19 and also a subsequent increased need in care for survivors. This led the researchers to call for an improved global public health policy to encourage the identification of frailty as a means of protecting against illness and to prepare for the amount of health care likely needed as frailty increases.
Yet another study shows that patients who were older, more frail and had delirium, dementia, or mental illness were seven times more likely to require higher levels of care at home or in long-term care facilities after release from the hospital. The authors made the same recommendations as the study above: “Increased awareness of importance of measuring frailty alongside age and comorbidities in hospitalized [sic] patients will assist clinicians making holistic decisions involving treatment of reversible pathology, prevention of unwanted or burdensome treatment, and early rehabilitation.”
If we accept the recommendations of researchers and heed the findings of those working in residential facilities, there may be a silver lining to the pandemic. If we keep a spotlight on the plight of seniors and their caregivers and build public support for change – both here and abroad, we may see better days in healthcare,
Considering the recommendation made in the studies cited here is critical. From the earliest days of the pandemic, we have known that those with chronic illnesses, cognitive impairment, and/or functional decline were at the greatest risk of contracting the infection, have more complications, experience the longest periods of recovery, and at greater risk of death. This risk is best identified by measuring their degree of frailty. As this fact has remained constant, research continues to verify this and now recommends routine frailty measurement, implemented and applied to better care management and resource allocation.
Better Days Ahead
We still are facing some challenges and some new unknowns and questions, but now but science is guiding us. Those of us providing clinical care for vulnerable populations can lead the way by staying informed on the findings of peer-reviewed research, implementing feasible and validated recommendations, and advocating for change in this sector of healthcare whenever possible.
To start planning for better days in your setting, please contact us for a demonstration of our products for measuring frailty at patientpattern.com/frailty