About the Program

Many faith community nurses work with seniors who live in a senior community and who utilize the senior box programs through food pantries.

The initial and ongoing visits with the senior consist of:

  • health screenings/assessments
  • health education (healthy lifestyle and disease prevention, chronic disease management)
  • medication management, fall prevention and safety training
  • appropriate spiritual and social service referrals

Program by the numbers:

People served by the Senior Health Program in 2018:

  • The Senior Health Faith Community Nurse Program provides a registered nurse in six affordable or independent senior facilities to assist adults age 60 or older in managing chronic medical conditions
  • Deaconess Nurse Ministry served 1041 adults, ages 60 and older, living in St. Louis City and County, St. Charles and Jefferson Counties in Missouri, St. Clair and Madison Counties in Illinois who have one or more chronic medical conditions
  • Falls were reduced 17% for the seniors after visiting with the nurse and implementing fall prevention strategies
  • 76% of the seniors presenting with symptoms of depression improved with nurse interventions

Geraldine’s Story 

Geraldine is 89 and lives alone in a senior apartment in the St. Louis City.  She’s a quiet, reserved woman, and lives disconnected from any family, including her only child.

She has diabetes and struggles with high blood pressure. On several occasions in her past, she skipped meals and limited purchasing her blood pressure medication in order to save money for the electric bill. She also has spent years experiencing the mental anguish of severe dyslexia.

Timid and anxious, she came to the nurse at her senior residence. She sat, wary of what the nurse would say about her blood pressure and sugar. But, our nurse listened, not just to her blood pressure, but to her story. This was the first time she felt safe to share what was making her sick.

Our nurse taught her about an 1800-calorie diabetic diet and necessary medications. Geraldine listened to ways to combat her insomnia and practiced nurse-led exercises to cope with anxiety.  Perhaps most significantly, she confided in the nurse about her past emotional traumas caused by her dyslexia. The nurse assisted her in finding a place to get counseling.

Geraldine is now thriving because of our nurse’s whole-person approach to care.

Facts behind the program:

  • Nationally, individuals 65 years of age and older comprise 13% of the population but 37% of medical expenditures.
  • Two of three older Americans have more than one chronic disease condition, and treatment for this population accounts for 66% of the country’s health care budget.
  • Adults age 65 and older are more likely to use the emergency room and comprise 48% of hospital inpatient admissions for chronic conditions such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis.
  • High on the list of reasons for readmissions with older adults is problems related to medication administration.
  • One third of ‘community dwelling’ seniors have a fall that results in an emergency room visit. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional death among individuals 65 and older in St. Louis City and County.