Why excellent healthcare matters as you age – By Evergreen Health Managing Director, Elize Porter

No one can predict with certainty what the future holds as we age. There are steps we can take on certain matters to set the course but, when it comes to health, there are a variety of unpredictable challenges that come into play.

Age-related illnesses such as dementia, heart disease and strokes commonly occur after middle age, with genetic predispositions increasing the likelihood of developing diseases in even the healthiest of elderly people. It makes sense, therefore, to make sure that, as you age, you have quick and easy access to top-quality care from doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals trained to assist at every stage of the retirement journey. 

There are currently a range of healthcare solutions available in South Africa that offer healthcare support for older people whenever, wherever and however it’s needed. Broadly speaking, these are divided into three categories: home-based care, assisted living and in-patient care, each designed to meet the challenges and needs of aging.

Before embarking on any of these solutions for an elderly person, a doctor needs to conduct an assessment to determine exactly what level of care is needed, and tailor a healthcare solution to best meet their needs.

Home-based care is ideally suited for those who need discreet, personalised assistance for basic needs and everyday activities, such as getting out of bed, meals, bathing, dressing and walking. To bolster the home-based care bouquet, multi-disciplinary teams consisting of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists could also help with specialised requirements.

A second tier of care is assisted living – ideal for those finding it harder to manage at home. This long-term care option gives seniors the freedom to live independently, with their day-to-day needs fully supported by a team of carers seeing to meals, personal care assistance, administration of medication and occupational therapy.

In-patient care is for those needing 24-hour specialised care, such as frail care, palliative care, sub-acute care and memory care. By definition, such specialised care should be of the highest standard, offered by experienced doctors, registered nurses and therapists working in multi-disciplinary teams to meet each patient’s needs. 

For elderly people who become frail or require short-term recuperative care after an operation or hospital stay, an option exists to make use of frail care facilities at retirement lifestyle centres, without having to move permanently into the retirement village. 

Ageing is a time of some uncertainty, so it makes sense to avail yourself of the best care on offer. Whether you are in search of individualised health-care services for yourself or for a loved one, there is no doubt that getting the best level of care offers great peace of mind.