Tahlequah Daily Press


November 14, 2008

Aging with grace

November is National Home Health and Hospice Month, and a time to learn what types of care are offered locally.

TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS — End-of-life issues and aging pose conundrums for even the closest family.

Questions abound. Should we find a nursing facility? How long will Mom be able to live alone? Dad wants to die at home with his family around him, but how do we make that happen?

Tahlequah has become a popular retirement area, and with that, the home health and hospice industry has grown by leaps and bounds.

The area is home to several different types of health care facilities, from nursing homes to retirement communities to home health care agencies and hospices.

One of the newest facilities is the Cherokee Nation Elder Care PACE program, a federal program designed to keep elders living in their homes, connected with their communities and out of nursing home facilities. The PACE center consolidates the services of an adult day health center, primary care office and rehabilitation facility into a single location.

“My catch-phrase to anyone who thinks we’re a nursing home or adult day center is ‘we’re similar, but different,’” said Ben Stevens, CNEC program director. “We provide team-based care management. The interdisciplinary team consists of a full-time physician, clinical nurses, physical therapist, occupational therapist, adult day center nurses, activities director, dietitian and transportation director.”

Cherokee Elder Care is the first PACE program in Oklahoma and the first to be sponsored by an Indian tribe.

For those who are either unable - or unwilling - to leave home, home health or hospice may be the better choice.

Carter Home Health Care has been serving the Tahlequah community 20 years and added hospice 16 years ago. Carter is the only Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) certified home health operation in the state.

Penny Gifford, hospice professional services coordinator for Carter, believes that, alone, is beneficial to those seeking aid.

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