home health care

For today, there are no doctor's visits. No long afternoons with nothing to do. No struggles over bathing.

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., a group of older adults — some in wheelchairs, some with Alzheimer's — sit with their caregivers in a semicircle around a haunting portrait of a woman in white.

Phyllis Petruzzelli spent the week before Christmas struggling to breathe. When she went to the emergency department on Dec. 26, the doctor at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, near her home in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, said she had pneumonia and needed hospitalization.

Then the doctor proposed something that made Petruzzelli nervous: Instead of being admitted to the hospital, she could go back home and let the hospital come to her.

On a rare rainy night in Albuquerque, two dozen students are learning the proper way to care for older people. Teacher Liliana Reyes is reviewing the systems of the body — circulatory, respiratory and so on — to prepare them for an upcoming exam.

These students are seeking to join a workforce of about 3 million people who help older adults remain in their homes. They assist these clients with things like bathing, dressing, and taking medication on time.

Hal Yeager for Kaiser Health News

When 86-year-old Carol Wittwer took a taxi to the emergency room, she expected to be admitted to the hospital. She didn't anticipate being asked if she cooks for herself. If she has friends in her high-rise. Or if she could spell lunch backward.

Colin Campbell needs help dressing, bathing and moving between his bed and his wheelchair. He has a feeding tube because his partially paralyzed tongue makes swallowing "almost impossible," he says.

Campbell, 58, spends $4,000 a month on home health care services so he can continue to live in his home just outside Los Angeles. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, which relentlessly attacks the nerve cells in his brain and spinal cord and has no cure.

Telemedicine isn't just for rural areas without a lot of doctors anymore.

In the last few years, urban areas all over the country have been exploring how they can connect to patients virtually to improve access to primary care and keep people from calling 911 for non-urgent problems.

Florida is the second worst state in the nation at providing home- and community-based health care options for seniors and the disabled, a new report says.

Carol Gentry/WUSF

In an ordinary house on an ordinary street near Orlando live some extraordinary children. To stay alive, they depend on machines and tubes and the caregivers sent out by an agency called Children First.

Registered nurse Maria Schiavi, co-owner of Children First, says some of the kids they care for were injured in an accident, such as a near-drowning. Others were born with life-threatening problems that modern medicine can’t fix.

The owner of a Miami home health care company pleaded guilty for her connection to a $74 million Medicare fraud scheme.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Elsa Ruiz, owner of Professional Home Care Solutions Inc. and administrator of Miami’s LTC Professional Consultants Inc., admitted in federal court on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Kaiser Health News

After three years and $8.5 million, a team of economists has come to the conclusion that geographic differences in health-care spending are real, both for Medicare and commercial insurers. 

In other words, the gap can't be explained by variations in income, the level of illness, or some other rational factor, the report says. For example, Medicare patients aren't sicker in super-expensive South Florida than anywhere else.  There are just more bills being sent to Medicare from South Florida than most places.

In a three-part series, The Sarasota Herald-Tribune takes a close look at how people are cared for as they age. They begin with a couple who embody the once-common pattern: spouses who care for each other as they age.