Guest Post: Think Like a Home Care Professional

By: Patricia O’Brien, MBA, MS, RN, Executive Director of Hebrew Senior Life.

Re-posted with permission from Hebrew SeniorLife Blog.

The Five Minute Assessment Families Can Do

Elder At Home A loose railing. A dusty table. Expired milk in the refrigerator. These can all seem like simple problems, but may actually be signs of bigger issues for seniors. That loose railing can mean difficulty making it up stairs. Ignored dust can hint at eye sight trouble or that house work has become too strenuous. Expired food can mean a senior is not getting the right nutrition or simply needs help getting to the store more often.

It’s these small things that affect a senior’s quality of life in a big way. I’m proud that our staff at HSL is trained to immediately notice issues, big and small, and offer advice to improve a myriad of situations relating to senior home health care. Within five minutes of visiting a senior, home care professionals have completed an environmental assessment that includes potential safety risks or signs of potential problems.

I often tell families of seniors they can learn a great deal about their loved one’s needs by completing a similar home health assessment, if they know what to look for. This type of assessment can be a way to start a conversation about new needs in a senior’s life, especially when families are experiencing a gnawing feeling that something is off.

By applying strategies utilized by professionals during home health assessments, families can also help identify problems and catch issues early on. With the right approach, families can complete a home health assessment in five to ten minutes. The key is to examine the setting with fresh eyes and think like a home care professional.

Since it can be challenging to look at a familiar environment in a different way, we have compiled issues and specific questions to consider during your own home health assessment.

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Author: Tom Meyer

Tom Meyer is the Alliance's Membership Coordinator and Webmaster. His email address is

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