As our population ages and people live longer independently, often with multiple chronic conditions, we need to consider how to help them do that well.
Working alongside primary care providers, home health services and the hospital, the clinic team provides wrap-around care that addresses the individual’s unique needs, explains geriatrician Dr. Joy Liao, whose team includes two additional geriatricians, three RNs, an RN clinic co-ordinator, occupational therapist, physical therapist, social worker and pharmacist.
Enhancing the care provided at outpatient visits and giving mobile seniors a space to receive care, the clinic will allow the team to see more seniors and reduce the waitlist for services, Dr. Liao says, noting the team will continue providing home visits for home-bound seniors.
That full-circle of care is vital, and typically begins even before seniors see a geriatrician.
If the person is experiencing cognitive problems, for example, and not remembering to take their medications, the pharmacist can work with family and the primary care provider to find a solution. If mobility and falls is a challenge, the occupational or physical therapist designs an individualized care plan to help an individual improve their safety, mobility and overall function.
“Despite our wait list to see a geriatrician, if urgent needs are identified by our team, they are triaged to be seen by the physician earlier,” Dr. Liao says. “Our interdisciplinary team is really the backbone of our service – they are our eyes and ears in the community and work collaboratively with all health care providers to provide timely and specialized care.
Beyond older adults themselves, the team’s approach recognizes that the care circle also includes family caregivers, so giving them tools and strategies increases and maintains resilience and protects against physical and mental burnout.
For seniors and their caregivers, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to take steps to improve both physical and mental wellness.
Keeping active is essential – in addition to maintaining your mobility, activity provides significant benefits for mood, sleep, many chronic diseases as well as ensuring optimal brain function, Dr. Liao notes.
Being social is also key. “We’re made to be relational; interacting with others regularly, building those social connections and avoiding isolation not only benefits cognition but improves overall quality of life, especially in our senior years.”
With Fraser Health forecasting the population of individuals 75 and older in the Fraser Valley will grow by about 30 per cent by 2025, and by 149 per cent in 2040, more support for seniors is needed. “We need to build today what we need for tomorrow,” Dr. Liao notes.
The opening of the new Seniors Clinic shows the community can make a vital difference for seniors.
“The residents in our community deserve to have the resources to live well, independently, long into their senior years, and care like that provided at Langley’s Specialized Seniors Clinic is essential to making that happen,” says Heather Scott, Executive Director of the Foundation.