The increased effectiveness of modern health care and the large population of the baby-boomer generation have combined to create new challenges for today’s physicians. Doctors who deal with this rapidly growing patient base are finding that their medical practices need to be adjusted and adapted to provide the best possible service and medical care.
However, identifying exactly what needs to be changed and improved can be challenging. Here are a few suggestions for getting a medical practice ready for the new generation of senior citizens.
Caring and Considerate Staff
The kindness and caring attitude of office workers, nurses, and other medical personnel is extremely important when dealing with people who are aging. It can be difficult to remain patient and considerate while handling the limitations and issues of older people who are ill or may be suffering from dementia. Not only are the patients experiencing the effects of illness, but they are also feeling the effects of aging, which can be very upsetting and disorienting.
Dealing with these personality issues on a daily basis can be demanding. Make sure your office and support staff have the right type of personality traits and demeanor for your aging patients.
Enhance Your Environment
Take a good look at the physical aspects of your office and make sure it can be adapted or remodeled to handle the senior clientele. All approaches will need to be wheelchair-accessible which requires ramps with a low degree of slant as well as textured surfaces to allow for better traction. Elevator panels may need to be lowered for those in wheelchairs, and they may need to be modified with larger print and buttons for patients who have eye problems.
Doors may need to be adapted, making them easier to open. People with arthritis or patients who have recently undergone hand, arm or wrist surgery may not be able to use a traditional door handle. Installing an ADA compliant door handle, like the SOSS Ultralatch, will allow patients with limited grasping ability or special needs to open any door.
Changes in Office Routine
Office routines may also be affected by your aging patients. Depending on your specialty or the fact that the majority of your patients are elderly, existing systems and processes may need to be updated or completely changed.
Scheduling office visits is one such aspect. Due to difficulties in comprehension and delays in communication, some older patients require longer office visits than younger patients. Because a patient may require more consultation time than the next, scheduling a longer appointment for each patient regardless of their medical condition may be necessary to ensure that waiting room times do not become excessive.
Adapting your practice for senior citizens is not a monumental task but it is one that demands careful attention to several aspects of aging. Small changes made with great consideration can make a big difference in how your aging patients experience your care.