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Thank you for subscribing to "In Great Health," an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle.  In conjunction with May, "Older Americans Month," this issue we discuss health care needs for older adults, including options in long-term care. To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit

To your health,

The Avera staff


Physical and emotional needs change throughout your life. Many Avera facilities offer special services, both at the hospital and at outreach locations, to help meet specific needs of older adults.

At Avera, we recognize that 80 percent of older Americans are healthy enough to engage in normal activities, and much of our focus is on helping you and your loved ones maintain an active lifestyle at every age. In fact, 64 percent of persons ages 65 and older report no limitation in major activities, and rates of disability continue to decline. Studies show that people who continue to learn and regularly exercise are more likely to stay mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.

Because behavior and environmental exposures throughout life are the causes for decline at any age, Avera's approach is to promote wellness throughout life for the whole person - body, mind and spirit. Should disease manifest itself later in life and cause physical decline in you or a loved one, Avera facilities offer services that can help. Needs may include routine screenings, assistance or treatment for chronic illness, depression, stress management, maintaining independence and more. Available services include:
  • Assessment and referral to appropriate services
  • Caregiver support
  • Home health care
  • Professional case management
  • Counseling
  • Therapy
  • Behavior management
The following Avera regional hospitals offer special services for older adults who may be facing health issues:

Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen, S.D.
Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Marshall, Minn.
Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell, S.D.
Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton, S.D.

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For many people, the idea of moving into a long-term-care facility (nursing home) can cause anxiety and stress, especially when the move is necessary because of an unplanned event such as a fall or stroke. Knowing the different types of care available can make life changes more palatable as you are considering a higher level of care for a loved one. 

First, talk to a physician or social worker about the levels of care available in your or your family member's community. They can help you determine the best living situation to meet your loved one's needs. A person with chronic confusion, for example, may need a higher level of care than someone who needs help monitoring cholesterol or blood sugar levels. A social worker can give you more information on these types of services and housing, which offer different levels of care:

Adult Day Services: These programs help provide medical and other assistance for adults to give a caretaker, such as a spouse or adult child, time to themselves during the day.

Independent or Senior Housing: This is typically apartments, townhouses or duplexes designated for seniors. Often, residents do not need daily assistance with health care but may enjoy the fellowship of a caring community. Services available may include meals, transportation, social activities and housekeeping.

Assisted Living: In this type of housing, residents need some help with personal care. Staff members are on hand 24 hours a day to help with health care needs and emergencies.

Long-Term Care or Skilled Nursing Facility: This housing offers the highest level of care for residents' medical, spiritual and social needs. Licensed and certified health care providers are on duty 24 hours a day to provide care.

Note that many facilities offer several levels of care, so a person can move between those levels when their health care needs change.

Read a story about a family that uses adult day services at Avera Morningside Heights Care Center in Marshall, Minn.  

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If you have a loved one who may need a greater level of care, here are some ideas on making the move smoother.

Keep the whole family involved. It's important to include the entire family in the decision-making process. Change is hard for many people, and often people who need a greater level of care will try to deny that a move is necessary. Use the resources of a social worker to help you and your family members have discussions on types of living situations. 

Talk to the family physician. If your family member has an upcoming appointment, speak to the physician beforehand. It may be helpful to have the physician talk to your family member.

Offer reassurance. Dr. Daniel Megard of Yankton Medical Clinic, P.C., in Yankton, S.D., says that 95 percent of patients are happy with the transition to a long-term-care facility in a fairly short amount of time. "They will enjoy this change if they give it a few weeks. Most are comfortable in their next living situation," Dr. Megard notes.

Research different options. When you first start to notice a decline in your family member's abilities, start looking at and touring alternate living situations, such as assisted living or long-term care facilities. Many assisted living or long-term-care facilities have a waiting list, so it's best to be prepared long before a fall, stroke or other health event necessitates a sudden move. 

Read more  about a Mitchell resident who made the transition to Avera Brady Health and Rehab in Mitchell, S.D., after she fell in her home.

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In Great Health online archive.

"In Great Health" is one in a series of Avera eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.