Holidays are a Good Time to Check on Health

Getting together to share a meal and spending time with those we love is often the highlight of the holiday season. But if you notice a loved is having difficulty, there are things you can do to help.

Perhaps they have fallen, or they aren’t as steady on their feet as they once were. Maybe they are a little more forgetful than they used to be. They could be having a hard time navigating everyday tasks that used to be easy. They might not be managing a medical condition or their medications as effectively as they once did.

Taking care of potential issues before they become major problems can help to ensure your loved one can continue to live safely and independently at home.

It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to the needs of aging family members. A good place to start is to see if they might benefit from home health services which can provide a number of different types of support depending on a patient’s unique circumstances.

Home Health Indicators Checklist

  • Requires assistance to leave the house
  • Needs a mobility aid or special transportation to leave the house
  • Medical condition limits leaving the house or makes it very difficult to do so
  • A new diagnosis or complications of an existing diagnosis
  • A new or significantly changed medication
  • Difficulty managing medications
  • Difficulty managing health condition(s)
  • Recently diagnosed with a chronic condition
  • Frequent hospitalization in the past year
  • Frequent emergency room or urgent care visits
  • Contacts the doctor’s office frequently or needs frequent follow-up from the medical team
  • Functional or cognitive changes
  • Has fallen recently, is at risk of falling, or is afraid of falling
  • Changes in mobility
  • Has concerning weakness, endurance issues, or balance problems
  • Concerns with safety in the home
  • Changes in appetite or weight loss/gain
  • Difficulty with daily activities (bathing, grooming, chores, shopping, meal preparation, transportation)
  • Has a recent or scheduled surgery
  • Has a recent or scheduled discharge from a facility
  • Is having problems managing pain or symptoms
  • Has been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition
    Download the checklist.

How can SSM Health at Home help?

We offer a range of services designed to keep our patients as safe and independent as possible at home. Our range of care options allows us to provide our patients with more comprehensive care as well as a seamless transition should they need to move from one type of care to another.

Our home health services are designed to help patients remain at home as they recover from illness or injury, heal from surgery, or manage chronic conditions. Because each patient’s situation is different, we collaborate with their physician to develop an individualized plan of care and offer several specialty programs including chronic disease management, palliative care, telehealth monitoring, infusion and enteral therapy, wound and ostomy care, and more. Learn more.

Hospice is available for those with a limited life expectancy who have chosen to stop curative treatment. Most hospice patients prefer to remain at home and our team helps make that happen by managing symptoms, providing comfort, and supporting both patients and their families. Learn more.

We provide a variety of medical equipment, supplies, and services some of which include mobility aids, oxygen and respiratory therapy, home safety equipment, mastectomy fitting and supplies, and CPAP supplies. We have locations throughout the area and can assist customers with insurance requirements on prescribed equipment. Learn more.

Depending on a patient’s location, we may be able to provide additional support. VoiceCare is a personal emergency response system that establishes a connection to help should a fall or other emergencies arise. Meals On Wheels provides nutritious mid-day meals to residents of Madison, Middleton, Monona, and Sun Prairie. SAFE at Home can complete a home safety assessment for Dane County seniors ages 60 and older. Learn more.

Navigating the maze of health care can be overwhelming for patients and caregivers. We are here to listen to your concerns and work with you to help provide the care you or your loved one need. Whether you need care today or are planning for tomorrow, we are here to help.

Contact us to learn more about how SSM Health at Home services can help.

Care Need Indicators

Could you or a loved one benefit from additional care or supportive services? There are underlying issues that may indicate the need for more care. Some things to look for include:


□    Medication management

□    Acute, chronic or terminal health condition

□    Chronic Health Condition

□    Functional or cognitive decline

□    Frequent Hospitalizations or ER/urgent            care visits

□    Pain control management

□    Frequent falls or fear of falling

□    Home safety concerns

□    Adaptive equipment needs

□    Incontinence concerns/odors

□    Changes in mobility

□    Weakness and endurance concerns

□    Shortness of breath

□    Swelling

□    Weight loss/gain


□    Isolation

□    Sleep pattern changes

□    Incontinence

□    Depression

□    Doesn’t participate in activities


□    Depression

□    Fear

□    Loneliness

□    Overall loss

□    Anxiety

□    Limited social network

□    Lack of family support

□    Recent deaths and grief

Physical/Mental Activity

□    Exercise

□    Range of motion

□    Cognitive changes


□    Change in appetite

□    Lack of food preparation

□    Diarrhea

□    Fatigue

□    Need for dental care

□    Weight loss/gain

Activities of Daily Living

□    Safety concerns

□    Home chore needs

□    Companion care needs

□    Financial/benefits assistance

□    Errands/shopping assistance

□    Transportation needs

□    Personal emergency needs

□    Medication assistance

□    Meal preparation assistance

□    Bathing assistance


□    Need for closure

□    Fear of dying

□    Need for forgiveness

□    Worry/concerns about loved ones

□    Sense of abandonment

□    Suicidal ideation

□    Spiritual distress

Once you have identified a need, the next step is to determine the level of care that can best meet your needs. While the goal of each type of home health care is the same – to help keep people at home – the level of care provided depends on the unique needs of each individual.

Non-medical home care provides assistance with personal care like dressing, grooming, bathing and other activities of daily living. This type of care can also assist clients with meal preparation, transportation or medication management. Non-medical home care can benefit people who do not qualify for skilled home care services, but who require increased day-to-day support due to their physical or cognitive needs.

Coverage for non-medical home care services depends on each individual’s specific circumstances and coverage. You can contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) for assistance and additional information.

Skilled home care provides patients with medical care in their home. It is provided by a licensed home health agency and must be “prescribed” by a physician. Most skilled services are covered by Medicare. There are a number of types of skilled care available and which type of care a patient receives is dependent on their individual condition(s) and needs.

Skilled home health care helps patients remain at home by providing medical care such as nursing, physical, occupational or other therapies, and medical social work. This type of care can benefit those who are recovering from an illness or injury, people who have recently had surgery, or those who are dealing with a chronic health condition. The goal of skilled home health care is to help the patient recover or manage their chronic condition(s) at home.

Palliative care is available for people who are having difficulty dealing with the symptoms of their chronic and/or terminal condition(s). Patients receiving this type of care are still able to receive curative treatment and do not have to have a limited life expectancy. The goal of palliative care is to manage symptoms in order for patient’s to live the best quality of life possible, all while remaining at home.

Hospice is a special type of care for those dealing with a terminal illness and whose physician estimates they have a life expectancy of six months or less. Care is focused on managing symptoms, keeping the patient comfortable, and providing emotional and spiritual support to both the patient and their family. Hospice is a type of care, not a place. In fact, the vast majority of hospice patients remain at home.

Many people know they need help but don’t know where to start. Navigating the maze of care options available can be stressful. While many people know that they or a loved one needs additional help, they may not know where to find it.

Your local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) is a great place to start. You can find the ADRC nearest you at or by doing an online search for ADRC Wisconsin. You can also visit Medicare’s website at to search for services from doctors, to home health care, to nursing homes. Talk to your doctor and ask for recommendations from people you trust. Learn more about agencies that provide additional care and support. Medical social workers are a great resource. Contact area care providers to see what is available.

SSM Health at Home is a nonprofit organization providing a variety of comprehensive home care services, including home health, hospice, medical equipment, infusion pharmacy, and community health. If you are interested in learning how our programs and services can help you or a loved one, please call 800-924-2273 or click here to request more information.

SSM Health at Home will support your recovery

SSM Health at Home can support you as you recover from orthopedic surgery. We work closely with you and your physician to coordinate an individualized treatment plan focused on the highest quality outcomes – and your satisfaction and comfort.

Orthopedic care is available after:

  • Total joint replacements
  • Fractures
  • Spine injuries
  • Orthopedic surgical repairs

You can also expect continuity of care by our nurses and therapists. Trained in the latest orthopedic techniques and protocols, our highly experienced orthopedic staff includes registered nurses, physical therapists, social workers, and occupational therapists.

Benefits of our orthopedic program

  • Continuity of care as you recover from surgery. We make every effort to ensure you will have the same nurse and/or therapist providing care throughout treatment.
  • Close communication between our clinical staff and your physician.
  • Proven orthopedic expertise provided by a team of experienced clinicians.

Not only does SSM Health at Home provide high-quality care to help you get back on your feet after an orthopedic procedure, we also offer a variety of other services designed to help you heal at home. Our medical equipment stores have a wide range of patient equipment and supplies and depending on your location, our community health services like Meals On Wheels may be available to help.

If you or a loved one are having an orthopedic procedure and would like to learn more about how SSM Health at Home can help, contact us for more information.

Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease causes one in four deaths in the United States every year – that’s about 610,000 people who die every year because of heart disease.

Coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States, is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of arteries that supply blood to the heart. Too much buildup and blood cannot flow effectively. When plaque buildup limits blood flow to the heart too much, a heart attack can happen. For many people, the first sign they have coronary artery disease is a heart attack.

It is important to know the early warning signs of a heart attack. Major symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, upper body pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack – call 911 right away. The chances of surviving a heart attack are greatest when emergency treatment begins immediately.

Whether a heart attack happens or not, over time coronary artery disease can weaken the heart muscle. This can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood effectively throughout the body. About 5.7 million adults in the United States are living with heart failure, and the majority of cases are chronic, or long-term. The only cure is heart transplant; however, heart failure can be managed.

Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the quality and length of life for those living with heart failure. Treatment usually involves taking medications as well as lifestyle changes. Many people living with heart disease can benefit from chronic disease management and home telemonitoring programs.

Chronic disease management programs assist those with chronic conditions like heart failure to best manage their conditions through education, lifestyle changes, and medication management. This helps enable those dealing with heart failure to self-manage their condition and stay out of the hospital.

Home telemonitoring helps patients manage chronic conditions through daily monitoring, so interventions can be made before a small change becomes a big problem. For patients managing chronic diseases like heart failure, a change in condition can mean the difference between an ER visit or hospital stay versus remaining as healthy as possible at home. Telemonitoring patients use monitors in their homes to track vital signs and symptoms. Each day that information is analyzed and appropriate healthcare professionals are alerted if a change in medication or treatment is needed.

While it is important to properly manage heart disease once it has occurred, there are many things you can do to protect yourself and reduce your risk.

Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes? Keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level, lowering your blood pressure, and managing your diabetes help to reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle today can pay off through a healthier tomorrow free of heart disease.

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

  • Control your cholesterol
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Manage diabetes
  • Take your medications
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity every week
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit your alcohol consumption

For more information on heart health, heart disease, heart attack, and symptoms to watch for, visit the American Heart Association’s website at

SSM Health at Home nurses are certified by the National Association of Home Care in Chronic Disease Management. We also offer home telemonitoring for patients with certain diagnoses who meet certain criteria. For more information, please contact us online or call 1-800-924-2273.

Who we are

October 2018

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Vote SSM Health at Home for Best of Madison

For the past three years, SSM Health at Home (Home Health United) has been named a Best of Madison Gold Winner. Help us make it four in a row!

We are listed under Home & Lifestyle – Home Health Care Agency. You can only vote once in each category, so make your vote count.  Voting is open until October 31.


Grief through the holidays

If you or someone you know is experiencing the holidays for the first time without a loved one, it is important to remember it is going to be challenging. Even for those whose loss happened long ago, the holidays can bring grief back to the surface.

Because SSM Health at Home recognizes the holidays can be difficult for those who are grieving, we hold “Grief Through the Holidays” support groups in many of the communities we serve. These groups are offered at no cost and are open to adults. Find a group near you.

Early admission to hospice can improve quality of life

Many people at end-of-life wish to stay at home surrounded by the people and things they love. Hospice can help make that wish a reality, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to both patients and their families.

However many potentially eligible patients never have the opportunity to experience this special type of care either because they do not seek hospice services at all or because they do not seek them soon enough.

Early admission can help patients maintain their best quality of life and help them remain at home. Learn more.

Flooding response

Like many of our employees, patients and neighbors, SSM Health at Home was affected by the recent flooding. Due to the rising water, our Reedsburg office was closed to the public from August 30 to September 4, 2018.

When an event like this occurs the well-being of our patients becomes our focus. We have emergency preparedness plans in place to make sure our patients continue to receive the care they need. Patients in affected areas were identified and contact was made to ensure their safety. Staff continued to make home visits and deliveries to everyone they were physically able to get to, navigating road closures and detours as needed.

Our team did incredible work to provide assistance to our patients and each other. We would like to thank everyone involved for the resilience and compassion demonstrated across our organization.

The images below were taken outside our Reedsburg location (164 Second Street) in the days following the flooding.

SAFE at Home

Preventing falls is much more effective than treating their results. The goal of SAFE at Home is to help people live falls free at home. Learn more.

Get your tickets

Spirit of Life 2018

Mark your calendars for December 6, 2018, and plan to join us at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells for Spirit of Life. All proceeds from the event support the SSM Health Hospice House Resident Fund which provides assistance with room and board fees for patients staying at the House. Buy your tickets now!

Heels for Meals

On August 23 guests joined us at the Discovery Center in Madison for an elegant evening of dining, dancing and donating in support of our Meals On Wheels program.

The event, hosted by NBC15’s John Stofflet and Amy Pflugshaupt raised more than $21,000 which will provide about 2,600 meals.

Check out the photos from the night.

Join our crew of volunteers!

Hospice volunteering

Meals On Wheels volunteering

SAFE at Home volunteering


Grief support groups

We offer grief support groups throughout our service area to anyone has experienced loss, regardless of whether your loved one was our patient or not.

Groups are offered throughout the year and across our service area. If you would like more information please contact us at 877-356-4514 or visit our website to find a group near you.

June 2018

June 2018

Make sure you don’t miss out on future issues. Sign-up now to have News from SSM Health at Home delivered straight to your inbox!

SSM Health at Home’s hospice helps keep patients at home

Thinking about hospice can be overwhelming for patients and their families. However the sooner an eligible patient is admitted to hospice, the sooner our care team can begin treating symptoms, managing pain and providing support.

Most hospice patients prefer to remain at home surrounded by the people and things they love. SSM Health at Home helps make that happen, helping patients achieve the best quality of life possible for however long they are in our care.

Sharing Helen’s stories

SSM Health at Home provides so much more than physical care to our patients and their families. It is an honor and privilege to be allowed to join an individual’s end of life journey. Each person’s journey is as unique as they, and so our care is tailored to each and every patient. For hospice patient Helen, sharing stories was a way for her to connect with caregivers and our staff.

Read more about Helen and the stories we were lucky enough to hear on her hospice journey.

Helping you heal at home

At SSM Health at Home we are proud to offer our patients a selection of home-based health services designed to keep people at home. From skilled nursing to telehealth monitoring, chronic disease management to post-surgical care, our home health services are here to help you heal at home.

Our dedicated team coordinates with physicians, nurses and specialists to create individual care plans for patients that help treat and improve chronic conditions, support those recovering from an injury or illness, or assist people healing from surgery.

SSM Health at Home provides support to patients of all ages, providing compassionate care that travels from our home to yours.

Don’t let sleep apnea keep you awake at night

A good night’s sleep is important not just for our mood, but for our overall health. Sleep apnea is a relatively common condition that impacts not only a person’s quality of sleep, but left untreated, can have detrimental effects on their health.

Learn more about sleep apnea, signs, symptoms and treatment.

Doing all the good we can with the help of our donors

Every day, through every gift that is given, our donors help our Foundation do all the good we can.

Last fall, a donor wanted to give her Green Bay Packers tickets to a patient in our care. Due to her generosity, we were able to grant a wish for a hospice patient and his family. When we asked the donor why she had chosen to do this, she quoted John Wesley.

“Do all the good you can, by all means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

We later learned the patient’s family chose to share the sentiment with all who knew him by printing the quote on his funeral program.

Through your gift to our Foundation you can help us to continue to do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can.

Our donors impact the lives of every senior who receives a noon meal through our Meals On Wheels program, to every family who spends final days together at our Hospice House, and to each hospice patient who plays cards with a fellow veteran volunteer through our We Honor Veterans program. Every day, through every gift that is given, a life is touched by the generosity of our donors.

Please join us in doing all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can. Donate today.

Save the Date – Heels for Meals

Save the date on August 23, 2018, and join us for the inaugural Heels for Meals event in support of our Meals On Wheels program.

Held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery in downtown Madison, the evening will feature a four-course meal, music, dancing and much more.

Learn more.

Join our crew of volunteers!

Hospice volunteers are needed in both administrative and patient-interactive areas.

Meals On Wheels volunteers deliver mid-day meals, Monday-Friday in Madison, Middleton, Monona, and Sun Prairie.

SAFE at Home volunteers conduct in-home safety assessments for Dane County residents 60 or older.

Grief Support Groups

We offer grief support groups throughout our service area to anyone in the community who has experienced loss, regardless of whether your loved one was our patient or not.

Groups are offered throughout the year and across our service area. If you would like more information please contact us at 877-356-4514 or visit our website to find a group near you.

Employee of the Month

Congratulations Wendy S.

Wendy has been with SSM Health At Home for almost 28 years and has held various positions within the company. In her current role as Scheduler at our Madison East office, Wendy meets challenges head-on and solving problems quickly to ensure her co-workers have a positive day. Wendy brings a cheerful and positive attitude to the office and is always willing to go above and beyond for everyone. She is a team player and a great asset to SSM Health At Home.

What do you enjoy most about working for SSM Health at Home?
My co-workers. I work with a great group of people who are always willing to work together and help each other out. I also enjoy helping our patients over the phone when they call.

What does employee of the month mean to you?
To me, it means a lot. It means my co-workers feel I do my job the best I can, that I listen to them and work with them to make everyone’s job easier. That they know I’m a team player. That I’m here to help in any way I can.

When you’re not at SSM health at home, what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my family and my ten grandkids. Reading, photography, crafts, gardening, going to zoos or anything with animals, and going places I haven’t been to and seeing new things.

Past Winners

September 2018 – Kari G.

August 2018 – Gina R.

June 2018 – Maureen K.

May 2018 – Janet B.

April 2018 – Christina W.

March 2018 – Jim T.

January 2018 – Linda W.

December 2017- Renee K.

November 2017 – Layna H.

September 2017 – Sue W.

August 2017 – Nancy J.R.

July 2017 – Sean M.

June 2017 – Mike G.

May 2017 – Laura A.

April 2017 – Paulie S.

March 2017 – Cyndy T.

January 2017 – Julie W.

December 2016 – Kay F.

November 2016 – Jean B.

October 2016 – Jody S.

September 2016 – Alecia C.

August 2016 – Krista B.

July 2016 – Ben C.

June 2016 – Joy N.

May 2016 – Sally Z.

April 2016 – Ray F.

Grief Through the Holidays 2018

When we lose a loved one each of us embarks on our own personal journey through grief. Although we never stop missing the person we have lost, over time we learn how to live without our loved one physically in our life. Certain days, however, can elicit stronger emotions than others. Special days like birthdays, anniversaries, and of course holidays can make us feel our grief more acutely.

Making it through the holidays without a loved one can be difficult, but there are some things you can do to manage your grief more effectively.

Accept the holidays will be painful. Just acknowledging it is going to be difficult can provide you with the strength to cope.

Prepare and plan ahead. Think about what you are and are not capable of this year. It is okay to lower your expectations and skip certain activities or traditions that are too painful. Consider starting a new tradition, perhaps something to honor your loved one. Whatever you decide, do what feels best for you.

Ask for support. While family and friends can be a great resource, there is value in talking to others who have experienced a loss similar to yours. Grief support groups offer you the opportunity to connect with people who are standing in your shoes, talk about your feelings, and hear stories about how others are handling their grief.

Because SSM Health at Home recognizes the holidays can be difficult for those who are grieving, we hold “Grief Through the Holidays” support groups in many of the communities we serve. These groups are offered at no cost and are open to adults.

Grief Through the Holidays
Single session group focused on dealing with grief through the holiday season. Group is intended for adults. No registration required.

Richland CenterPeace United Methodist Church
October 29, 2018

Janesville – Janesville Senior Center
November 7, 2018

Waunakee – Waunakee Senior Center
November 8, 2018

Sun Prairie – Hyland Park of Sun Prairie
November 9, 2018

Janesville – SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital
November 12, 2018

Madison – Rosewood Villas
November 15, 2018

McFarland – McFarland Public Library
December 4, 2018

Cottage Grove – Aster Assisted Living
December 5, 2018

Milton – Milton Public Library
December 10, 2018

Beloit – Scoville Center Apartments
December 12, 2018

Safety is No Accident

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospitalization in people 65+.  In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control more than a quarter of older adults fall each year. Of those falls, one in five causes a serious injury. While many falls don’t cause injuries, falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and fear of falling may lead people to cut down on everyday activities. However, a decrease in activity can mean an increase in weakness which actually increases future risk.

The best thing you can do to prevent injury is to avoid falling in the first place. There are many steps you can take to help prevent falls.

Talk to your doctor. Less than half of people who fall every year tell their doctor. Being open about falls or the fear of falling with your health care team gives them the opportunity to evaluate your risk and recommend specific things you can do to decrease it.

Mind your medications. Some medications, or combinations of medications, can have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness making falls more likely. Make sure each of your providers know about all the medicines you take including prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications for side effects or possible interactions.

Get some exercise. Lower body weakness and balance problems both contribute to falls. Work on increasing your strength through activities like walking and water aerobics. In addition, choose activities that can help improve your balance such as tai chi, chair yoga, ballroom dancing and exercise classes that include balance specific exercises.

Keep your vision sharp. Have yearly eye exams and wear glasses or contact lenses with your most up-to-date prescription. Being able to see clearly will help you get around much more safely.

Eliminate hazards at home. Because half of all falls happen at home, a home safety check can go a long way in reducing falls. Fixing potential issues such as tripping hazards, clutter and poor lighting can all help lower the chance of falling. Installing grab bars in the bathroom or railings on stairs is also a great way to decrease your risk.

Don’t be that one out of four who falls this year. Take steps today to reduce your fall risk so you can stay safe, secure and independent tomorrow.

Because preventing falls is much more effective than treating the results of them, SSM Health at Home, in partnership with United Way of Dane County, developed the SAFE at Home program. SAFE at Home provides home safety assessments and medication reviews for Dane County residents ages 60+.

SAFE at Home participants receive:

  • Basic in-home safety assessment
  • Medication review by a pharmacist
  • Safety aids including a pill box and nightlight
  • Home safety recommendations
  • Information about community resources
  • Six months of follow-up by a medical social worker


The program is designed to help participants identify risk factors and advise them on ways to change or modify their environment to decrease fall risk. Our goal is to reduce falls, helping people live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

SAFE at Home is available for Dane County residents ages 60+. Learn more about the program.

Not a Dane County resident or younger than 60? Contact us to set-up an informational visit where we can talk with you about how SSM Health at Home can help.