At 97, Louise is fortunate to be in relatively good health. She attends regular exercise classes at the YMCA, walks in her yard, and gets around on her own with the help of a walker that she calls "Red Rider."
But her son, Marc, has noticed that in the past few years, Louise has slowed down. So he decided to take a fresh look at her medical care. "I contacted the Senior Health Center because we were interested in a holistic approach to care," says Marc. "We wanted a medical practice that looks at the whole person--and that is what we've found here."
Marc learned about the Senior Health Center from talking to a friend on the nursing staff at El Camino Hospital. As longtime Mountain View residents, Marc and Louise knew the hospital well but had not yet visited the Center, which is new. (The Senior Health Center represents a new model of care; as a patient-centered "medical home," it offers adults 65 and older a more comprehensive program to fit all of their medical needs.)
Marc says they liked the Center right away. "They ask lots of questions and they really listen to your answers," says Marc, describing his family's experience with the staff. "Simply by asking my mom what a typical day is like gives them a wealth of information about her."
Unhurried conversations with their senior patients allow the medical team to fully understand all of the issues that affect someone's health. For example, the question about daily routines provides many kinds of information--including whether an elderly person is isolated or depressed, or surrounded by family and friends on a daily basis.
One of the areas Marc has found most helpful is the attention paid to his mother's medication schedule. "My mom takes 12 pills a day--some are prescription medications and others are vitamins and supplements. Dr. Patrick Kearns, our physician, has helped us think through the medications and has even used his expertise to experiment with reducing one medication and trying an alternative for another. The whole team works from a 'what is needed, what is possible?' attitude."
Louise agrees that the Senior Health Center is meeting her needs as a patient. When asked about her visits to the Center, Louise responds enthusiastically. "They are very fruitful," she says. "Even at my age, I still have questions. When I can present them to the doctor and have them answered right away, it is so rewarding. It puts my mind at ease."
Louise and Marc both believe that the Center meets a growing need for better overall care for older adults. "Our whole nation is aging," says Louise. "People are living beyond 90, 95 and even 100 and still feeling well at the same time."
"What we like most about the Senior Health Center is that they are re-imagining what wellness is," says Marc, who hopes the Center's new model of care will be replicated in other areas of the United States as well.