By Kristin Boza
As an elderly family member ages, mental and physical changes can come on rapidly. Many senior citizens and their families want to do everything possible to avoid an assisted living or nursing home scenario –not only are those facilities expensive, but it takes some sense of self away from the senior citizen. With the aid of Health Advocates, families can hire experienced caregivers to provide housekeeping, meal preparation, rides to a doctor’s appointment, bathing and medication reminders so that the elderly person can still live and thrive in their own home. Health Advocates is active in caring for Beverly/Morgan Park residents, and many of the caregivers employed by them reside in the neighborhood as well.
“We help people keep their elderly family member at home, and our services take the stress off of the family,” said Colleen Hassell, community outreach coordinator for Health Advocates. “My boss [Health Advocates President/CEO Raj Ismail] says we’re out there to help people to save lives and save relationships.”
Hassell said it’s a sensitive issue for families to see their older family member age and become unable to do the things they once could. The elderly took care of the younger family members in years past, but it’s not always easy for the younger generation, often caring for their own young families and working full-time, to also care for an aging parent. The caregivers at Health Advocates are able to help the younger generation take the turn of caring for the older.
“Our caregivers are there to help do whatever they can to make the family and the patient comfortable to that no one feels that they must transfer their parents to a retirement home or nursing home,” Hassell said. “Some of our caregivers have even gone on vacations with our clients to provide additional assistance to the family when they’re traveling.”
Besides in-home care, Health Advocates goes into retirement facilities to provide additional assistance to the residents. “We also offer a Gentle Flow Fitness Program, which is a seated yoga program,” Hassell said. “We have a yoga instructor who is also a caregiver; she has everyone sit in their seats and she shows them different ways to stretch and get the blood circulating in their bodies. We offer this service free of charge to the facilities as our way of giving back.”
One thing Health Advocates’ caregivers cannot do is give medication. However, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) caregiver can remind their clients that it’s time to take their prescribed medications. When a family is in need of a caregiver, Health Advocates will send a nurse to the home to assess the care that’s needed. The nurse will then work with a coordinator to determine which caregiver would be best-suited for that client’s needs.
“Many of our clients are on a lot of medication; it can get confusing to remember when to take which medicine. It’s nice to know that you can leave your house and have someone there to tell your loved one when to take it,” Hassell said.
Giving back to the community, Health Advocates has donated reusable water bottles for the Ridge Run goody bags for the last two years. Health Advocates also recruits its clients to help give back. “We have a Crafting Caring Hands group that is comprised of a group of seniors who use donated yarn to create hats, shawls and blankets that we donate to children’s hospitals and cancer treatment facilities. Last year, we donated over 2,000 handmade items,” Hassell said.
“You want to be there for your loved one, but you can’t all the time. It’s nice to know that there’s someone who cares as much as you do to take care of your parents’ needs,” Hassell said.
To find out more about Health Advocates, visit AdvocatesAtHome.com.