If you've ever watched football, you may have heard the term "prevent defense". In the world of helmets and tackles, this phrase essentially means defending in order to run out the clock, rather than to get back the ball for your team. In the world of caregiving, prevention might be the most important defense of all. It is the defense that keeps you from running out the clock, and allows you to stay on the field as long as possible. It is the defense that is an offense.
Many times, people will wait for the fall, the dehydration, the vitamin deficiency, the UTI, or the car accident, to enlist a little help. If you think about it, many of those things can be prevented if defense against them is employed just a little earlier in the game. Just a few hours a few times a week can mean better hydration, nutrition, and hygiene. It can mean someone else driving to the store or the hairdresser or the doctor. It can mean making sure the home is safer and outfitted appropriately for easier mobility. It can mean staying in the home longer, healthier, and with fewer or no hospital stays.
Many physicians and other medical professionals are now recognizing the importance of preventive care in terms of personal care. They understand that the push for fewer readmissions to hospitals will succeed if people are taking better care of themselves at home, and if they are able to get to their regular doctor's appointments more easily. It's really the old "the best defense is a good offense" argument. In order to prevent and defend against, you have to be proactive and aware of what is safe and smart.
I often have this conversation with families, including my own mother. It's not always an easy sell, but man, are the results worth it! If you can keep running on the field, or moving the chains, or just cheering from the sidelines, the clock doesn't have to run out before you want it to. Let me hear it: D-E-F-E-N-S-E! It matters!