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Challenges with Continuity of Care of Elders

Caregiving for the elderly is an difficult task. People typically see a wide range of doctors and specialists at various locations. As we age, mobility and transportation challenges only increase. Many prescription drug coverage policies fluctuate often and vary by insurance provider.

The most effective method for addressing such complexity is to receive help from a group of healthcare professionals, coordinated by a general practitioner or geriatrician. Continuity of care is of special importance for the elderly.

There is a term for the process by which a patient moves from one care location to another (called transition of care) and from one practitioner to another (each specialized in a different organ system or condition). Care could be provided by a number of different clinics, a hospital, a rehab center, and/or a nursing home.

1.   Numerous Professionals:

The elderly person’s continuity of care could be jeopardized if they saw multiple doctors. One doctor may not have the most recent, correct information regarding the treatment delivered or recommended by another doctor.

It’s possible that doctor won’t think to contact the other doctors involved or won’t know their names. Care information may be miscommunicated or misinterpreted if an elderly person has a disease that impairs their ability to communicate verbally, visually, or cognitively.

Sometimes the elderly will share information with one doctor but neglect to share it with the others. Continuous (and high-quality) care requires that all doctors and nurses engaged have access to correct and up-to-date information on previous procedures, diagnoses, and treatments.

2.   Multiple Settings:

Transitions in care, such as those between hospitals and nursing homes, are associated with an increase in the likelihood of medical mistakes. In the hospital, doctors may prescribe new drugs that may conflict with or even replace the patient’s current regimen. Medications that have been prescribed in the past but are still necessary may be forgotten about.

It is possible that health care providers, such as the patient’s primary care physician, will not be informed of necessary adjustments to a patient’s drug regimen. Medication reconciliation is a preventative measure that medical facilities in the United States are required to do if a patient’s care setting is altered, new medications are prescribed, or an existing prescription is revised.

Patients’ medication orders are reconciled with their complete medication histories to eliminate the possibility of medication overlap or omission. Elderly patients or their caregivers should inquire with their new care providers about whether or not medication reconciliation was performed prior to the transfer.

3.   Many Rules:

There are several regulations in the healthcare system that can disrupt patient care continuity. The government, health insurance providers, or medical associations may all have a hand in creating these regulations.

Some health plans, for instance, restrict its members’ choice of hospital. The individual’s primary care physician may not be able to treat them at that hospital if they are not on staff there. Additionally, many family doctors no longer visit hospitals or rehabilitation facilities to treat patients.

Therefore, a patient in such an environment may receive care from practitioners unfamiliar with his or her medical history. The individual or the caregiver should make sure that the new doctor has access to all relevant records.

4.   A Lack Of Medical Attention:

When people cannot get the medical care they need, continuity of care might be jeopardized. Without reliable means of transportation, elderly patients often cannot keep follow-up appointments with their doctors. If they don’t have health insurance or the money to pay for treatment out of pocket, they might not go to the doctor.

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