CASA, Oakwood students partner for seniors' health - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

CASA, Oakwood students partner for seniors' health

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)

Norma Fennell, 73, does what she can to keep her home clean and her body healthy.

She has Fibromyalgia, arthritis and high blood pressure. But she is lucky enough to be a client of CASA (Care Assurance System for the Aging and Homebound) of Madison County, which is partnering with the Oakwood University Nursing program.

They send out nursing students to help evaluate and counsel elderly clients, like Fennell.

Dr. Karen Anderson is an associate professor in the nursing department at Oakwood University.

"We feel that promoting health in the older adult is extremely important because they are a population with a lot of challenges," she said.

During a hospital stay, Dr. Anderson said nurses have limited one-on-one time with patients.

"They only have very short interactions with the older adults.  And they see them after, maybe, they've fallen broken a hip or something like that.  So we need to focus on prevention," she said.

Organizers say this is a win/win situation. Not only is the patient benefiting from extra medical care, but nursing students are also learning.

And it's much more than they can get in a textbook. Marissa Robinson is an upperclassman and loves the program.

"It's important to learn these life skills out of the classroom setting or hospital setting because you don't get a chance to develop your intra personal skills, as you would visiting a home health nurse," she said. "I had a chance to visit Mrs. Fennell, develop a rapport with her, get to know her and then help her manage her health and medication better so she can improve her life. "

One way to do that is to prevent falls.  Dr. Anderson says there are four risk factors:  Poor vision, Home Hazards, like area rugs and narrow pathways, Inactivity and poly-pharmacy involving the proper use of prescribed drugs. That means preventing a bad combination, overuse or underuse of prescriptions. 

Fennell says she also loves the program.

"I would say that CASA comes out and makes you aware of your health and the taking of your pills and the exercising and eating the right foods. So it's very helpful in that way," she said.

Fennell says she hits the gym and is eating a more balanced diet and her blood pressure is falling.  All thanks to careful monitoring and good advice. 

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