Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Elder Care

Elder Care

What is elder care?

Americans are living longer and living well for longer periods of time. This has created a relatively new and growing area of health care and provider services, known as elder care. Elder care encompasses a wide variety of issues, including choosing an appropriate physician to care for an aging patient, and making decisions about moving an elderly person from the home environment to a residential care setting. People age 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of America's population. Many elderly people are living healthy, active, and independent lives. However, as more people reach their 80s and 90s, the number of elderly needing assistance with daily living increases, along with the responsibilities of those who provide care for them.

Elder care statistics:

According to a 2009 report -- the latest statistics available -- the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration on Aging:

What is involved in choosing a physician for the elderly patient?

Different stages in life can require different health care providers. For elderly adults, it is important to have a personal physician, or primary care physician, who understands the special needs of older patients.

Many types of physicians, including family practitioners, internists, and geriatricians, care for elderly patients. A family practitioner provides health care to all family members, regardless of age. An internist specializes in internal medicine generally for adults. A geriatrician is specially trained in elder care.

Choosing the right primary care physician is an important decision. Generally, you want a physician who is competent and well trained, and cares for and about the patient. Other considerations include:

What is involved in interviewing the physician?

Once you have selected two or three possible physicians, it is a good idea to visit their offices and ask them questions about office policies and their approach to elder care. For example:

What is involved in getting ready for the appointment?

To make the most of each visit to the physician's office, it is best to plan ahead. The following guidelines may help you to prepare for the appointment:

When visiting your physician, it is best to have the following basic information available to help your visit be as productive as possible. You may use this Basic Information Form to help you prepare for your next medical appointment.

Basic Information Form

Phone No.
Date of birth
Social Security No.
Medicare No.
Medicaid No.
Additional insurance provider
Policy No.
Primary physician's name
Phone No.
List diagnosed medical conditions:

List past surgeries and year performed:

List all medications:
(Name of drug) Prescription or other? Dosage

Selecting an elder care facility:

Knowing if and when the time is right for an elderly person to move from the home to a residential care setting can be one of the most difficult decisions a family must make. Many people continue to care for the elderly adult at home even though it becomes physically and emotionally exhausting for them to do so. Sometimes, moving to a residential care setting may become the most realistic decision to ensure the best care for the elderly person.

Moving from home and into residential care facility should be considered when one or more of the following situations applies:

Types of out-of-home options for the elderly:

There are many types of out-of-home care options for elderly adults, depending on the level of care required. These may include:

What to consider when selecting an elder care facility:

In general:

The facility:


Respect for the elderly individual:


Nursing care:

Licensure and certification:


Medical considerations:


Nutritional needs:

Additional services:

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Home Health, Hospice, & Elder Care


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