Located on the banks of New River, 25 miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is the largest city in Broward County. Fort Lauderdale emerged on the ruins of a fortification built during the Second Seminole War in 1838 (“About Fort Lauderdale,” n.d.). The net of waterways creating spectacular views has earned the city the name of “Venice of America” (“About Fort Lauderdale,” n.d.). Favored by a semi-tropical climate and breathtaking natural scenarios, Fort Lauderdale developed a solid tourist economy before broadening its range of industries. The estimated population is 184,599 inhabitants, distributed on an area of about 36 square miles (“Fort Lauderdale, Florida population 2020,” n.d.). The average age is 42.8 years, while the percentage of the geriatric population, at least 65 years old, is around 15%. About 8300 seniors, 33% of the total number, live alone (“Fort Lauderdale, FL senior guide,” 2020).
The size of the aging population has increased extensively worldwide, and the care sector has broadened its perspective to improve the Quality of Life (QQL) for senior people. The QQL is a health indicator that involves physical, psychological, emotional, and social health (Goodarzi & Salehi, 2017). Both the city of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County provide a vast range of services and programs for senior individuals living independently. Club 55+ is a municipal program to involve older members of the community in various activities, including Zumba, yoga and chair yoga, line dance, and pickleball, among others (“Club 55+,” n. d.). The program aims at promoting an active lifestyle and social relations. Also, the municipality offers facilities to improve mobility among seniors through a half-fare program for public transportation (“Fare policy for community bus services,” 2013). Municipal services are integrated by several programs implemented by Broward County.
The Healthy Aging program includes different Health and Wellness classes. The Living Healthy education embrace techniques to tackle isolation and fatigue, suggest training to improve strength and flexibility, cover proper use of medication, nutrition, and effective communication with family and healthcare professionals (“Health/Wellness class,” 2020). Other services include meal assistance, free legal services, and transportation assistance. The Home Assistance program is useful for the elderly living independently (“Home assistance,” 2020). It offers support for minor home repairs, a consultancy for home-energy emergencies, and helps to navigate safely among the various Florida Power and Light (FPL) programs.
Fort Lauderdale offers several housing solutions for seniors who do not want to give up their independence. Independent living communities are tailored to meet different requirements. “Senior Apartments” allow more autonomy and are popular among elders who prefer a more retired lifestyle. “Retirement Communities” and “Congregate Living” are community-oriented formulas and offer several recreational activities, such as a library, swimming pool/spa, and clubhouses (“Senior independent living,” 2020). These communities offer facilities like laundry, meals, and transportation, among others. Subsidized housing programs help low-income seniors.
Acute Care Discharge
Discharge planning refers to dismissing patients from a hospital and moving them to other levels of care. A smooth move is crucial for the health of the patient and the proper administration of healthcare facilities. While the discharge can be authorized only by a doctor, a team approach is suggested, especially for complex clinical conditions (Family Caregiver Alliance, 2009). In Fort Lauderdale, several rehab and therapy opportunities tackle post-acute care. City healthcare facilities as Kindred and Holy Cross Hospitals feature rehab departments for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. Teams of specialists offer multidisciplinary programs that include physical therapies, occupational therapy to improve everyday activities, and speech therapy to enhance cognition and communication.
Fort Lauderdale Health and Rehab Center (FLHRC) and Broward Nursing & Rehabilitation Center provide further rehab options and offer a 360° approach to post-acute care. Physical, speech and occupational programs are implemented by nutritional, recreational, and respiratory therapies. Balance and fall prevention programs and diabetic education are some of the activities offered (“Fort Lauderdale skilled nursing homes,” 2018). Skilled nurses and interdisciplinary teams provide professional care, therapies, and education to post-acute patients.
Long-term care is an umbrella term to define various services aimed at improving the activities of daily living (ADLs) when seniors can no longer perform them independently. Bathing, dressing, and using the toilet are some common ADLs that may require support. Meals and transportation services can also be provided (“What is long-term care?” 2017). Long-term care is likely to be permanent and home-based in most situations. Fort Lauderdale adheres to the Florida Home Care for the Elderly (HCE) program, which confers a basic subsidy for the maintenance and some medical costs (“Home Care for the Elderly (HCE) Program,” 2011). Extra support may be granted for special equipment as incontinence and medical supplies, and wheelchairs. The Aging and Disability Resource Centers of Broward County monitor the program. Several skilled nursing facilities, home health care services, adult day-care centers, and assisted living facilities are available in Fort Lauderdale (“Fort Lauderdale, FL, senior guide,” 2020).
The family is the core of society, and relatives play several roles in assisting older family members. While providing emotional support, family caregivers deal with complex responsibilities, including making decisions that will impact the health and QQL of senior members of the family (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016). However, family caregivers are subjected to emotional stress and may suffer from depression and lowered well-being. This condition is called compassion fatigue and refers to the abuse of mental, emotional, and physical resources to care for others without recharging (“Caring for you, caring for others,” 2019). The Department of Elder Affairs of Florida supports families through the National Family Caregiver Support Program. The services offered include general information, individual counseling, respite care, and caregiver training. Based in Fort Lauderdale, the South Florida Institute on Aging offers the Respite for Elders Living In Everyday Families (RELIEF) Program, aimed at improving the capacity of caregivers to provide sustaining care to elders by offering in-home respite.
When there are no more chances to recover from a disease and death is the only path left, medical support accompanies patients through the last stage of their life. Usually, end-of-life care occurs in hospices, specialized facilities for patients whose life expectancy is no longer than six months (Gonzales, 2020). End-of-life care alleviates physical pain and provides support for psychological and spiritual needs. Several healthcare structures offer end-of-life care in Fort Lauderdale, including Visiting Angels, Atlas, Kindred Hospital, and the Catholic Hospice. Overall, they offer 24/7 certified care to patients and professional communication with family members.
The excellent combination of a mild climate and tailored services makes Fort Lauderdale a favorite location for seniors. Since elders constitute 15% of the population, the municipality has developed adequate programs to increase independent self-care, promoting physical activities, social relations, and transport mobility. Independent living formulas and home assistance programs ease the elder population to live independently. Numerous rehab centers offer certified and trained services for various conditions requiring short-term therapies. When long-term care is required, support is provided through easing access to professional services and tailored counseling to family caregivers. Despite the overall good QQL of the senior population, there are some areas of improvement. A recent community assessment (Verité Healthcare Consulting, 2013) has highlighted a minor lack of access to affordable care, inadequate physician supply, insufficient public transportation, and linguistic barriers. Summing up, while the municipality of Fort Lauderdale ensures the thriving of an active elder population, some efforts should be undertaken to optimize some of the services provided.
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