Long Term and End Of Life Care
The care in our facility focuses on differing populations of individuals. Many residents in our population are comprised of patients requiring several days or weeks of medical care and therapy before they can safely return home or to a lower level of care. The remaining populations are individuals who require long-term skilled nursing care (lasting weeks, months or even years) as they are unable to return home due to advanced age or illness. Most of these individuals will remain with us until they pass away. Based on each individual’s needs, some patients receive rehabilitation (therapy) services to either restore or, where possible, improve to prior physical functioning. For the individual needing long-term skilled nursing care, the attending physician and facility staff will do what they can to assist the individual with the activities of daily living and mobility based on each individual’s circumstance. It is important for you to understand, as a patient or the loved one of a patient, that advancing age brings with it the inevitable effects of aging that no medical care or treatment can change.
As the aging process advances, our nursing services will shift to end-of-life care. The staff at our facility will assist in making you and your loved ones as comfortable as possible as the end of life nears. Unfortunately, we cannot predict exactly when end-of-life care will begin; it very much depends on each individual’s ever declining health condition which is a part of every human being’s life. There are few greater certainties than the inevitability of death. It is important for both you and your loved one to discuss with your physician and facility caregivers the natural history of the aging process which results in unpreventable declines and bodily complications. This “natural history” refers to the expected progression of an illness or aging process based on vast medical studies. For some, these inevitable effects of aging will weaken an individual and may hasten the end of life. These events are routinely part of the natural history of the illness or death. This is commonly referred to as “death by natural causes.”
Unfortunately, due to the inevitable effects of aging, circumstances in declining health conditions often create incurable declines. It is important that we be totally candid with all of our patients and their families. For example, Individuals with advanced Alzheimer’s Dementia often succumb to an unpredictable or unforeseeable fall which may result in a major injury such as a broken bone, skull fracture, or even death.
Or perhaps an unpreventable serious disease stage sets in. These inevitable effects of aging are known as a “sentinel event(s)”. It is extremely important for patients and families to recognize that these “sentinel events” cannot necessarily be avoided. Consider the risk of falling in the facility. To guarantee the prevention of a fall with frail and demented individuals, all of the care would have to be provided in a bed or wheelchair with the patient strapped in or tied in; or the patient would have to have one-to-one caregiving 24 hours per day in order to monitor their ambulation. Our facility does not use physical restraints or limit patients in this manner; nor is the facility offering or required to provide one-to-one patient care on a 24-hour basis.
Your attending physician and our facility staff will help you understand the risks and benefits of care choices being made with you and your loved one. Please understand that in spite of compassionate care, attention, and treatment, you or your loved one’s chronic medical conditions will continue to progress. The inevitable effects of aging and the progression of chronic illnesses are the realities of life. We provide quality long-term care with compassion and dedication as the aging process continues.
Many public resources are available to assist you during these very emotional and sensitive times. We recommend starting with literature from the most prestigious sources, The American Medical Association and The American College of Physicians.