5 Ways Home Care Can Improve Quality of Life

In its report, “Caring for America’s Seniors: The Value of Home Care,” the Home Care Association of America lists several statistics:

  • 40 percent of adults aged 65 and up need assistance with activities of daily living
  • 70 percent of adults aged 65 and up will eventually need assistance
  • The average distance between adults aged 60 and up and the nearest child is 280 miles

The report also indicates that nine out of 10 Americans aged 65 and up want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. But who will care for them and ensure their safety?

Home care agencies offer a myriad of services that enable older adults to remain in their homes and to live independently and safely, with dignity and respect.

Home care reduces social isolation. It’s not uncommon for an elder’s primary “companion” to be the television. In addition to providing critical supports for daily life, caregivers often become an extension of their clients’ families. They provide companionship and help to reduce social isolation, which can be dangerous for older adults who live alone. In fact, “isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent,” according to the New York Times article, “How Social Isolation is Killing Us.”

Home care is local and provides a necessary extra set of hands for family caregivers. The “typical” family caregiver is the eldest daughter. But what happens when she has school-aged children and a full-time job? She has her own life to manage, her own responsibilities to meet, and she lives an hour away from her parents. It’s not practical to think that she can be there for every doctor’s appointment or to remind Mom or Dad to take their medications. A professional caregiver from a home care agency can be with your loved one for as little as a few hours a week; during the overnight hours; and up to 24 hours a day.

Common outings such as grocery shopping, picking up medications at the pharmacy or a feel-good trip to the hairdresser, can quickly become the responsibility of a child when these outings start to pose a safety risk for an elder. Home care agencies employ professional caregivers who support activities of daily living (ADLs) – these encompass personal care like showering, toileting and walking. But caregivers also provide supportive care long before personal care is needed. Preparing meals, providing medication reminders, running errands and helping around the house are critical activities that can also be supported by a home care agency. Providing this assistance is not just about completing a task. The engagement and presence of a professional caregiver promotes independence and safety while alleviating the responsibility from loved ones.

It also reduces family stress. The Home Care Association of America says that family caregivers utilizing home care services “report better overall health, better ability to hold jobs, and fewer lost wages than those without home care.” Home care leaves more time for family caregivers to focus on themselves and on their own well-being. Home care agencies employ caregivers who are specially-trained to care for people with a wide range of conditions that vary in levels of acuity. Knowing that Mom and Dad are in the hands of professionals who understand their conditions, who are trained to manage those conditions and who have the support of an experienced agency can provide peace of mind for families.

Home care can help older adults to follow their medication regimen. Approximately 75 percent of older adults make mistakes when it comes to taking their medications. In a previous blog post, we addressed why medication errors can be detrimental. Read the full blog post here. By reminding older adults when they need to take their medication and under what parameters, caregivers can help to reduce the risk of medication errors.

One to one care enables older adults to live on their terms in their preferred environment. Whether that care involves medication reminders, support for activities of daily living, specialized disease management, or companionship, being the center of a caregiver’s attention can add significant meaning to one’s life. A professional caregiver’s focus is solely on the individual in his/her charge. That focus, the care and time together can result in a deep, meaningful and trusted relationship. Care in one’s home enables older adults to be with their pets; to be surrounded by a lifetime of memories; and to live among familiar and comfortable surroundings – safely, independently and with dignity.

There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to home care. It’s a highly-customized solution for individuals and their families, who can opt for as little or as much care as is necessary for the safety and well-being of their loved one. As such, it’s also more flexible and affordable than some of the alternatives.

Lauren Schiffman
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