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Keep Well Clinics Support Seniors in Maintaining Good Health and Independence

Before Joan Fitzpatrick, RN, unpacks her nursing bag, a line has already formed for VNA Care's Keep Well Clinic for seniors. It's no wonder, since Joan's been called a lifesaver. 

Joan recently noticed a regular client's weight was up and feet swollen. The changes were troubling. Joan sent the woman to her doctor, who diagnosed her with congestive heart failure. 

VNA Care's Keep Well Clinics give seniors the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a wellness nurse. The clinics are free, thanks in part to charitable support, and held throughout Eastern and Central Massachusetts. 

Wellness nurses offer a variety of health screenings, including blood sugar levels, bone density, and blood pressure; link seniors to community resources like Meals on Wheels; provide health education; and offer support in making lifestyle changes. The goal is to help seniors be as healthy and independent as possible.  

Those eager to see "Nurse Joan" (pictured with a client) on this day included a man who began attending the clinics regularly two years ago after a heart attack. He asked Joan to check his lungs in case his cold was turning into something far more serious. "She's really good. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give her a 10," he said. 

Gloria Carter likes being able to stop by the Keep Well Clinics between doctor's visits. She's managing asthma, and asks Joan to make sure her blood pressure and weight are on track. 

"Joan is easy to talk to. It's almost like I've known her my entire life," said Gloria. "She thinks of things others don't. She gives you time to ask questions. You never feel rushed."

Nancy Jalbert, who has anemia, faithfully attends the clinics once a month. Joan is able to administer a B12 shot, saving Nancy the drive to her doctor's office in bad weather and a $40 copayment.

Joan said, "VNA Care removes barriers to wellness for seniors. For some, copays can really add up and transportation can be a problem. Others might not want to 'bother' their doctor with something they think is minor. We have the clinics at easily accessible locations. It's very relaxed, and we can take our time with each client. People are more likely to say 'This is probably nothing, but...' It helps us catch possible problems early and put people at ease if everything is just fine." 

More seniors than ever before are living with chronic health conditions. The National Council on Aging reports that approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and 77% have at least two. 

Beverly Salate, RN, preventative health director, oversees the clinics. She said, "Chronic diseases can bring some very big lifestyle changes. People may need to overhaul their diet, start exercising regularly, or learn how to give themselves insulin. It's a lot to take in during a doctor's appointment. Seniors can attend the Keep Well Clinics to have their questions answered, progress monitored, and have a cheerleader in their corner."

Keep Well Clinic Schedule

View VNA Care's Keep Well Clinic schedule

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