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COVID-19 Update: Click here for more information on senior safety.

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Since the onset of COVID-19, millions of people have been concerned about their financial situation, rightly so with a tanking stock market and hundreds of thousands of businesses shuttered nationwide. And, for your clients who are seniors, reasons for serious trepidation are twofold: They have well-founded fears for their health and wellbeing, as well as their finances and retirement savings.

A large portion of the money these older adults had saved was likely earmarked for the care they’ll need as they age. In this post, we’ll cover what your clients are facing financially, and also expand on why staying home (when possible) is their best option for mitigating the uncertainty and instability surrounding them in the short-term, and even the long-term.

The Economy, Your Clients’ Savings, and the Ramifications

In 2016, the Federal Reserve System’s Survey of Consumer Finances found the 75+ age group held the highest percentage (19.6%) of stock ownership over every other age group. The 50- to 65-year-old age group owned 15.5%. Those savings took a big hit; during the week of March 30, 2020, the S&P 500 experienced its biggest decline since 2008, and the Dow reached lows greater than those in 1987—the year of the Black Monday stock market crash.

These lows could translate into devastating financial blows for many of your clients. For instance, a CNBC article explained that the Dow market index encountered a loss of about 15% between the start of the year and March 9th. What this means is that an individual who had invested all of his or her money in a mutual fund tracking the Dow index could lose up to 15% of his or her retirement savings.

There’s also been an uptick in scammers who are preying upon the fear, panic and uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Seniors are often a target for these scammers, and furthermore, they may be confused as to which benefits they’re entitled to and how to apply for them.

While they’re thinking about their finances and savings, your clients may also be rethinking the type of care they’re looking for as they age, given the current climate. It’s important for them to understand that long-term communities are far from the only—or best—option.

Why Home Care Is a Viable Option at This Time of Sheltering-in- Place and Social Distancing

During this pandemic, members in assisted living communities have been relegated to their rooms, without family and friends to visit. Usually the staff can only pop by for the occasional short visit or medication delivery. Under such conditions, seniors must take the initiative to entertain themselves. Their level of activity may depend on their ability to self-initiate or their mood.

Additionally, while technology has been a boon to younger generations in these times, those in communities may struggle with using technology to communicate with loved ones. If they’re in memory care, they may not even have access to phones. For seniors who are confused or have trauma or PTSD, being confined to their room may also be a frightening experience. This, in turn, can fuel delirium and/or behavioral issues.

Because living in a community setting comes with these drawbacks, it’s important that your clients know they have another option: living at home with home care services.

Home care can also accommodate for sheltering-in-place and social distancing measures.

Caregivers are available around-the-clock, ensuring their clients are not left to fend for themselves, helping them maintain routines and stay safe at home. Since they’re not subject to the limitations of assisted living communities, throughout the pandemic (or other emergencies), seniors can have greater access to family and friends. Caregivers can do the grocery shopping, meal preparation, light house cleaning, errands, and more, making sure they keep their social distance from others.

When Home Care Assistance Is the Right Choice

Home Care Assistance (HCA) provides home care geared towards supporting our clients’ mental and physical wellbeing as well as everyday needs in these times of uncertainty. While other home care services offer short-term home care services, we cater to the long-term needs of your clients, so that they can age in place.

We have met the novel coronavirus head on with our caregiving protocols and strategies.

Firstly, we have a process in place for conducting virtual assessments for our new clients. Here, we discover what these incoming clients need as individuals and then develop a personalized care plan to ensure optimal quality of life at home. HCA’s care plans not only include assistance with essential daily life activities, but can also consist of basic house cleaning, grocery shopping, and medication pickups. These all help seniors seamlessly adhere to social distancing measures. Then, as usual, we match them with a caregiver who will be best attuned to that client’s personal preferences and needs.

We are also keeping pace with the rapid influx of information about COVID-19 with our specialized COVID-19 response efforts. Our Rapid Response Team communicates updated protocols and best practices to caregivers, often delivered through our caregiver app.

We have also reinforced the amount of support our clients receive by assigning each client to a care team. Your clients can be assured that, not only are our thousands of caregivers thoroughly vetted and qualified, they also have the support of a remote Care Team led by a Client Care Manager.

Other Reasons Your Clients May Prefer to Stay Home

There are many reasons your clients may want to stay in their homes as they age. Here are several reasons.

Living at Home Is More Comfortable

Staying in the same place can give seniors a sense of stability, especially in times of uncertainty.

Our Client Care Managers often counsel clients and families on how to budget to maintain that comfort. For instance, they may want to modify their homes (railings, grab bars, improved lighting, etc.) to accommodate their ever-changing needs.

Costs of Living at Home May Be Less Than Staying at a Senior Community

Living in a senior community can sometimes be more budget-friendly than hiring a home care service; other times, the opposite is true. We compared the costs of community living with at-home care in a previous post.

Nonetheless, there are also some financial perks to staying at home. For example, your clients won’t have to pay extra mortgage fees to secure another apartment.

Living at Home Lowers a Senior’s Risk of Becoming Ill From Exposure to Others

Seniors in assisted living communities are a lot more susceptible to catching viruses such as the flu, norovirus, and COVID-19. Seniors generally have lower immunity as they age.

They’re also more likely to have conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which heightens their risk for developing more serious conditions from contracting COVID-19.

When they live in close proximity to one another as they do in assisted living communities, this vulnerability is heightened.

Living at Home Allows for a Greater Sense of Independence

At an assisted living community, the activity flow is based on the needs of a group. Staying at home allows your client to continue following the routine they know and love.

Seniors Living at Home Can Still Access Care Services

Your clients can access most anything they need from their homes. Personal care, household chores, meal services, and health care can all be accessed and supported by a caregiver.

Of course, there are cost considerations involved here that you and your client will need to discuss.

Living at Home Helps Maintain Established Community

It’s a myth that seniors need to go into a community setting to keep socializing. In an assisted living community, residents often go with the flow of the activities the community has to offer.

If they live at home and receive home care, seniors have some control over their social life. The caregiver can take their client out to socialize or host family and friends in their own home.

Conclusion

In these times of financial uncertainty, seniors are bound to think about where—and how—they will keep getting their needs met and maintaining their health as they age and their needs evolve.

HCA offers personalized services that can address those needs in your clients’ homes. We’re committed to adjusting to these uncertain times so that our—and your—clients can feel safe, comfortable and cared for while staying at home.


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About the Author(s)

As the Director of Business Development for Home Care Assistance, Deanne Belcher coordinates home care services for seniors, educates the community about Home Care Assistance’s innovative approach to in-home care and works with other elder care professionals to help seniors in Palo Alto and the greater Peninsula thrive.

Deanne brings over 30 years of experience in the Bay Area to Home Care Assistance and is a highly-acclaimed home health and home care expert. She has worked in both clinical and management roles in home health, starting her career as a Registered Nurse before moving into the home health care arena in 1991, where she discovered her passion for home care and sales.

She went on to assist with the creation and development of AdvoLIFE, a successful geriatric care management and caregiving company. As a company leader, Deanne helped with AdvoLIFE’s expansion and acquisition by LivHOME until 2011, when she became a key member of the start-up team for Agility Health, a licensed private duty home health agency.

Deanne’s commitment to exceptional customer service along with her entrepreneurial spirit makes her a perfect champion of the company’s mission to change the way the world ages.

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