FOR RELEASE: 8/16/2011Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Family of Shelton couple: Geriatric medical expertise can help maintain quality of life for seniors

As the family of Shelton couple Frank and Eleanor Olenski can attest, the help and guidance of a team of geriatric medicine experts can help ensure quality of life for older adults—and peace of mind for their family members.

When Frank Olenski’s personality changed as he entered his mid-80s, and medication prescribed by his doctor for depression and anxiety proved ineffective, Frank’s family took the doctor’s advice and sought a geriatric assessment from Bridgeport Hospital’s Center for Geriatrics.

Bridgeport Hospital was recently recognized as best in Fairfield County for geriatrics in U.S. News & World Report’s 2011–2012 Best Hospitals metro area rankings.

“A geriatric assessment is the first step in figuring out the right care for an older adult,” says geriatrician Vivian Argento, MD.

Dr. Argento and her team evaluated Frank, adjusted his medication and set up a wellness plan for him that included doctor visits and activities at a local adult day care center.

“I call them the Magic Team,” says Frank’s daughter, Gloria DeBernardo. “They found the right regiment for Dad and brought the sparkle and smile back to his face.

Later, when Frank became homebound by a loss of muscle coordination and balance known as ataxia, making visits to the doctor’s office impossible, he qualified for the Center for Geriatrics’ Home Visit Program. Through this program, the Center’s physicians and nurse practitioners visit the patient’s home, take care of nay health issues, provide basic tests, coordinate care and gauge home safety.

“By receiving care at home, many of our patients get healthcare earlier,” says Chief of Geriatrics and Palliative Care Beata Skudlarska, MD. “And getting care earlier can help avoid a visit to the Emergency Department or prevent a serious medical condition.”

“To have Dad cared for at home was a godsend for all of us,” Gloria says. “He was able to stay where he and my mother wanted to be.”

When Frank died in 2008, his wife Eleanor also sought in-home care from the Center for Geriatrics and was able to stay in her home for three more years, until she was 90, before moving to an assisted living facility. When questions arose between visits, Gloria or Eleanor called Geriatric Nurse Case Manager Dori Rogers for answers and guidance.

“That’s what makes this program golden,” says Gloria. “The help of the Center’s entire team is just a phone call away. If it hadn’t been for the Home Visit Program, Mom would have been in a hospital or nursing home much sooner.”

NOTE: More information will be available about caring for seniors at the free Bridgeport Hospital lecture, “Dementia Can Be Treated—And Maybe Even Delayed!” Thursday, Aug. 25, 7:00 p.m., at the Trumbull Marriott, 180 Hawley Lane. Speakers include geriatrician Marina Blagodatny, MD and psychiatrist Mihaela Nedelcuta, MD. Reservations are required. Call toll free, 24/7, at 1-888-357-2396.

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Part of Yale New Haven Health System, Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually.