How In-Home Elder Care Can Help Seniors and Caregivers
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Family caregiving is the backbone of caregiving in the US. Taking care of a loved one is a time-honored tradition that most people consider to be their duty and responsibility. Unfortunately, due to longer life spans and a rapidly aging population, family caregiving is at a breaking point. The financial, health, and psychological consequences of caregiving have taken a toll. Federal and state assistance doesn’t begin to touch the need for caregiving resources. The in-home caregiving industry is filling in for families and providing much-needed respite and ongoing care.

One of the benefits of elder care in the home is the ability to keep your loved one where they want to be, which is at home. Safety, independence, and mental and physical well-being are the hallmarks of exceptional elder care.

What is In-Home Elder Care?

In-home elder care is like having the most compassionate and skilled family member taking care of your loved one, who also has extensive training. But there is one caveat. Whereas a family member can perform whatever tasks they are comfortable with, a professional caregiver is constrained by state requirements. In other words, a caregiver can provide complex medical services in one state, whereas in another, they can’t. Regardless of the state you live in, let’s look at the assistance available to help your loved one stay safe and independent:

  • Transportation to shopping, parks, movies, doctor’s appointments, etc
  • Cooking nutritious meals
  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, and hygiene
  • Companionship
  • Medication reminders
  • Laundry and light housekeeping

How Can Elder Care Help My Parents Stay Happy and Healthy at Home?

It is one thing to keep someone safe and help them with activities of daily living. It is another to improve the quality of life, promote independence, and enhance someone’s lifestyle. Ideally, isn’t that what you would want for your loved one? Empowering people to be in control while gently reinforcing healthy behaviors is the goal of caregiving. Let’s take a look at how professional caregivers accomplish this.

Understanding Who the Person is

Even as a family caregiver, it is normal to start to view your loved one in the context of what they need, instead of who they are. For in-home caregivers of older adults, getting to know someone is crucial to helping them stay independent and happy. If someone is consumed each day with functional activities, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to think about what brings joy and contributes to a rich life. Elder care is about bringing out the best in people and encouraging and facilitating activities that they enjoy. Caregivers are also trained in providing activities for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other forms of cognitive impairment.

Support with Technology

Social isolation and loneliness in seniors due to the pandemic has left many seniors without connection, purpose, and companionship. The potential of elder care to bridge the digital divide for older adults is enormous and the impact is lasting. Caregivers help older adults learn to use social media platforms like Facebook and video platforms like Facetime or Zoom. Caregivers can help seniors with technology by navigating smartphones and tablets so that seniors can participate effectively in telehealth and teletherapy.

The beauty of in-home caregivers is the consistency that they bring to teaching these technologies. Many seniors need and want repeated exposure to technology so that they can feel comfortable using it independently.

Reinforcing Healthy Habits

We could all use a personal coach! That is exactly what a good elder care caregiver is, someone who knows the client well enough to know when and where they need a nudge in the right direction. Healthy habits include good nutrition for seniors, safe movement, hydration, and anything else the client feels is essential to their health and well-being.

Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s)

You may have heard this term before. IADL, or independent activities of daily living, refers to all of those tasks and responsibilities that we do every day to keep our households and lives in order. Elder care professionals can assist with these activities in several important ways:

  • Finances and bill paying. Caregivers can help clients keep track of paying bills and assist with making phone calls to take care of any financial problems.
  • Keeping track of appointments. Managing healthcare these days can seem like a full-time job. Caregivers can help their clients organize and keep track of healthcare appointments.
  • Home maintenance. Professional caregivers don’t do home maintenance, but they can certainly help by notifying the family of any issues and assisting the client with making calls to arrange work.
  • Avoiding scams. This is more vital than ever since scammers are taking advantage of even the savviest consumers. On a practical level, elder care caregivers can assist with managing phone calls, sorting through junk mail, and assessing door to door salesmen.
  • Facilitating leisure activities. People don’t lose the desire to participate in hobbies and activities that they have always enjoyed. It just may be more of a challenge now due to physical or cognitive impairment. Elder care professionals can help your loved one decide what they want to continue to participate in and facilitate that activity.

Elder Care Can Help Your Loved One

Elder care is about giving you much needed relief, but it is also about honoring and empowering your loved one. Aging doesn’t have to be all about decline and disability. The challenges your family member faces are real, but physical and psychological improvement is possible with enough positive and proactive help.

About the Author(s)

Amanda Lambert is the owner and president of Lambert Care Management, LLC which provides care management for older and disabled adults. She is the co-author of Choose Your Place: Rethinking Home as You Age (November 2020) and of Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018). She has worked for over 20 years in the senior-related industry including mental health, marketing and guardianship. She has a passion for topics related to health, wellness and resilience as we age.

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