Aging in America is dramatically reshaping society and creating an ever-increasing dilemma: Nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will at some point need assistance to care for themselves. Professional home care is emerging as an invaluable health partner for U.S. seniors.
The Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) and the Global Coalition on Aging (GCA) notes in its “Caring for America’s Seniors: The Value of Home Care” report that in-home caregiving offers a number of health and financial benefits including:
- Reducing common injuries and falls. In-home caregivers complete everyday tasks for seniors (e.g., cooking, light housekeeping and laundry), which protects older adults from muscle strains, burns, falls and other injuries.
- Keeping seniors connected and engaged. Professional care specialists can help with transportation to social functions and can assist with computer and phone connections to keep seniors in touch with family and friends.
- Protecting everyday health. Up to 75 percent of seniors make some type of medication error. In-home caregivers provide medication reminders and prepare nutritious meals to keep elders healthy and energetic. Professional caregivers also assist with personal hygiene and can spot changes in a senior’s condition that could lead to a possible health issue.
- Decreasing overall healthcare costs. Home care reduces hospital admissions and readmissions, keeping down the cost of government-funded healthcare including Medicare and Medicaid. One study finds that paid at-home care decreased doctor visits by 25 percent annually.
Besides the benefits noted above, the assistance of a professionally trained caregiver provides families with peace of mind knowing their aging loved ones are safe at home. One of these professional caregivers is Mary Hartsock, age 91, who is featured in “The Value of Home Care” report and is a senior advocate for Right at Home’s Frederick, Md., office owned by Steve and Carole Luber. The Right at Home 2014 Caregiver of the Year, Hartsock spoke at a June 2016 congressional briefing on “The Value of Home Care” report. The briefing also highlighted a bill supported by the HCAOA and Right at Home to provide a tax credit for family members caring for their elderly and/or disabled family members.
“I haven’t missed a shift in 10 years,” Hartsock shares. It’s dedicated caregivers like Hartsock who help many of the 46 million Americans over age 65 add another birthday candle to their cakes this year—the majority wanting to enjoy another year living in the comforts of home.
How has at-home care assistance benefited seniors you know?