By Claire Harlin
For the busy family that’s consumed with work, kids and maybe even kids’ kids, one of the most dreadful things to encounter is putting an elderly loved one into a nursing home or trying to decide what kind of healthcare plan they need for the rest of their years.
This is a common and often crushing predicament that Colleen Van Horn recognized decades ago, prompting her to start a business that would lift the burden, which is often fueled by the emotional attachment to the loved one and added tasks and stress on the family. In 1997 she opened the doors to Innovative Healthcare Consultants, Inc., which assists individuals and families in North County and greater San Diego with the challenges that come with aging.
Starting with an extensive two- to three-hour interview and evaluation of the client, a team of consultants put together a written report with extensive recommendations to fit the individual in need, whether approaching old age or well into it.
“We look at all their reports and what their doctors are saying. We know about their home set-up and what they physically can and cannot do. We know about the disease processes and how things progress or can keep from progressing,” said Van Horn, who worked as a registered nurse for years before starting the company. “Often times we get to know them better than their children know them, and we can make a good plan free of the emotional attachment family members have.”
A client’s long-term healthcare plan might consist of a variety of things, such as getting to and from doctor appointments, assisted living or scheduling home visits with particular tasks and goals in mind. The plan also seeks to fit the client’s financial flexibility, and deals with legal matters such as trusts and powers of attorney.
“It’s when people need someone to take control and manage every aspect of their life but also protect them and their independence,” she said.
Van Horn said getting started on the right plan early is beneficial in regard to disease progression. In diseases such as dementia, she said, proper care at the onset of memory loss can keep it from progressing as rapidly. She said some conditions can often be reversible when proper nutrition, hygiene and exercise are facilitated by home health aides, which the company coordinates.
“It’s good to not only help the family through the decision-making, but to have someone in the client’s home to guide them through the process,” she said, adding that even when a spouse is present, caring for a loved one can cause stress and lack of sleep. Often spouses are also battling their own health conditions.
“When adult kids are getting calls from their parents at all times of the day and trying to plan their healthcare and assistance, it’s hard to find the time,” Van Horn said. “For us, that’s what we do. We can get things taken care of in 15 minutes so you are not having to make calls on your lunch break.”
Van Horn has long had a passion for geriatric care — she’s a member of a number of professional organizations and has been a go-to speaker at eldercare philanthropic activities and organization events.
Innovative Healthcare’s staff includes an insurance specialist, business manager, administrative assistant and several consultants with education levels ranging from undergrad degrees to Ph.D’s.
For more information,
Call toll free (877) 731-1442 or visit www.innovativehc.com