Senior Care: Bringing Seniors the Aging Experience They Want
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Senior care empowers seniors to live their lives on their own terms. Most older adults want to age in place. Surveys show that 80% of adults over the age of 50 want to continue living at home. Also, most people want to spend their final days at home. Surveys show that only 20% of Americans die at home, while 80% of Americans want to die at home. Senior care enables seniors to remain at home throughout the aging process. Let’s take a look at some of the living situations for seniors.

Independent Living

Many seniors can live independently at home. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they need significant support. Many seniors are independent well into their older years. Sometimes support needs change, so it’s important to have a plan in place. If your loved one is living independently, start a conversation about their plans as they age.

Surveys show that 80% of adults over the age of 50 want to continue living in their own home. If this is your loved one’s goal, talk about support options. Let them know that you support their goal and want to help them remain at home. Sometimes seniors are afraid to discuss support needs. Some seniors fear that their only options are complete independence or leaving home.

Congregate care settings, such as nursing homes, are great options for some seniors. Other seniors, however, can continue to live at home until their final days. If your loved one understands their options, they’ll know when to ask for support.

In-Home Care Senior Care

Some seniors can live independently at home, but have some support needs. In-home caregivers are the perfect option for a lot of seniors. In-home care is flexible and tailored to individual needs. In-home care providers can help with almost anything! Some of the most common support areas are:

  • Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Light housekeeping
  • Transportation to medical appointments
  • Cooking and meal preparation
  • Help with hygiene tasks
  • Help with dressing

If in-home care would benefit your loved one, it’s important that they're comfortable with help. Many seniors are very independent and know how they like things done. Start with in-home care one or two days a week, for only a few tasks. As your loved one builds a relationship with their care provider, introduce new tasks.

In-home care has several major benefits. In-home care:

  • Empowers seniors to live in their own homes
  • Provides peace of mind for family members
  • Is tailored to meet the specific needs of each client
  • Adapts to changing support needs as time passes
  • Empowers seniors to direct their own care

When seniors have in-home care, they continue to be in charge of their lives. They show their care providers how to support them, and set expectations. This independence gives seniors great quality of life.

Memory Care

Memory care supports those experiencing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Memory care for dementia or Alzheimer’s can occur in a congregate care setting or at home. Nursing homes often have specialized memory care units. In-home providers can be specially trained to provide memory care. Memory care is different from other types of senior care in the following ways:

  • More structure
  • Set routines
  • Frequent check-ins
  • Supervision to prevent unsafe wandering
  • Mentally stimulating activities to encourage cognitive functioning
  • Emotional reassurance and support

Dementia has three stages. In the first two stages, in-home memory care is often enough to meet a client’s needs. If your loved one needs memory care, they may still be safe to live at home. The familiar home environment is often comforting to those with dementia. Some seniors in the final stage of dementia can also remain at home. Seniors in the final stage of dementia may need skilled nursing supports and 24-hour care.

24 Hour Care

Many seniors live at home even in their final days. Some seniors receive 24-hour care at home for days, months, or even years. There are many reasons someone might need 24-hour care. Some seniors have mobility limitations. They may need support transferring from their bed to their wheelchair. For these seniors, it’s important to have someone available in the event of an emergency. Even if they’re independent once they go to sleep at night, it’s important for someone to be home with them at all times.

Other seniors may have more intensive support needs. 6 in 10 people with dementia wander. Some wander at night. Caregivers may have alarms on exterior doors to prevent unsafe nighttime wandering. Other seniors have complex medical needs, which may need frequent monitoring. Seniors with mobility limitations may need repositioning every few hours for skin health.

24-hour care can take many forms. Some seniors live with loved ones, such as their adult children. Family can provide paid or unpaid support. This can range from hands-off companionship to more hands-on direct care. Seniors who live with loved ones can also have paid in-home care providers. These providers can come over to provide more formal support.

Some seniors choose to spend their final days at home, with the support of hospice care. Hospice services are robust and strive to help people pass away in comfort. Hospice care includes a team of providers. This team includes doctors, nurses, direct care providers, and social workers. The hospice team manages pain and meets support needs. Hospice care enables seniors to fulfill their wish of passing away at home. This allows them to live their final moments surrounded by loved ones in a familiar place.

References

2018 Home and Community Preferences: A National Survey of Adults Ages 18-Plus

Alzheimer’s Association: In-home Care

Caring for a Parent with Dementia at Home

Memory Care: Specialized Support for People With Alzheimer's or Dementia

Where do Americans die?

About the Author(s)

Ashley Krollenbrock has been a caregiver for her mom for 10 years. She has her Masters of Public Health and JD with a concentration in Health Policy & Law. Ashley has done legal work for two state protection and advocacy agencies for people with disabilities. She is passionate about disability justice, aging justice, health equity, and aging in place. Ashley blogs at themillennialmatriarch.com, and her goal is to empower families to keep their aging loved ones at home by sharing her story and practical knowledge. Ashley lives in Oregon with her wife and mom, and when she’s not writing or caregiving she loves to travel, garden, and hike with her dogs.

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