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Sunday, Sep. 25, 2016

Independence, It's a Precious Thing

Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 11:28 AM

Those of us who live in the United States of American know our independence is precious. This is true whether we are talking about something as powerful as our independence from being ruled by a foreign country or something as personal as independently living in our own home. No matter what our age from 5 to 105 we want to be independent.

My granddaughter, Melanie, was about 5 years old when she begged her Daddy to let her stay home alone while he went to pick up her sister at the daycare around the corner. He told her no, she was too young to leave alone, and she begged him to let her. "I'm big enough," she said. "You let Megan stay here by herself while you pick me up!" The daycare was only around the corner and he would be gone less than 5 minutes. She begged and pleaded so finally he gave in. "O.K." he said, "You can stay here but don't answer the door and don't answer the phone." "O.K." she said, "I'll be in the closet!" "Why will you be in the closet?" he asked incredulously, "Because, I'll be scared," she replied. That's how important our independence is, we want to be independent even if it's a little scary at times.

People want to remain independent and in their own homes as long as possible. Fortunately there are agencies that provide assistance for many of them to do that. The main question is how to find the one that best serves their needs. One way to learn about Home Health agencies is to go to the website www.medicare.gov . At this site you can get most of your questions answered about home health care.

Medicare has a program to compare home health agencies. This site will give you information on the agency, its location and the services offered, showing you how the agency compares to state standards in eleven quality measures. The measures include how well patients improve in walking, toileting, bathing, and upper body dressing. Also compared are improvement in the pain a patient suffers, improvement in managing medications and improvement in confusion frequency. You can also check out the Hospital Compare @ www.Medicare.gov to check out local hospitals, the site also has a Physician Compare that gives you the name and location of physicians who are Medicare providers.

This comparison is only one tool in making a decision regarding home health care however. One should also ask their doctor and perhaps other family or friends who may have used certain agencies. On the website are answers to other frequently asked questions. If you don't have access to the internet most local libraries do, or alternatively you can call 1-800-MEDICARE and ask them your questions.

There are other agencies that offer other types of assistance to people wanting to maintain their independence and stay in their own home. For example, our agency has a program called EVE (Elders Volunteer for Elders.) This program has volunteers that visit with elderly people in their home offering friendship; they also provide information about other services and assistance in accessing those services. They act as an advocate and help prevent fraud, abuse, and neglect.

Missouri Rehabilitation for the Blind offers training, not only for people who are blind but also for people who have major vision loss. This Older Blind Service offers training in dressing, cooking, and taking medications. Basic living skills are taught with the help of adaptive aids and techniques. They can give financial assistance to an individual to purchase the assistive devices needed to stay independent in their own home. To see how they can help call 1-800-592-6004.

These are a few of the agencies that offer assistance. To find out about these agencies call me SEMO Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-392-8771.

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Age Spots
Ruth Dockins
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Ruth Dockins is the Public Information Director for the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging and author of 'Age Spots,' a column/blog which is featured in several Southeast Missouri newspapers and is devoted to seniors and senior lifestyles.
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