It can be hard to think about giving up the comforts of home at any age, much less as we grow older. But there can come a time when the familiar is not only no longer a source of comfort, it can actually pose a threat to wellness and safety. Receiving at-home care is an option that requires considerable thought and planning, as well as the realization that it might not be the best choice for helping a loved one live a life filled with dignity, fulfillment, and peace of mind.
At-Home Care: Opting For the Familiar.
Home care covers two main types of non-medical care delivered in the client’s home.
The first is help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, keeping track of medications, and mobility. The second type of at-home care is focused on essential tasks that aren’t directly related to physical needs, like preparing meals, light housekeeping, and other household chores. Many home care companies will separate these two categories into personal care and companion care or housekeeping.
There are some older adults who prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, because it is where they feel at home, it is familiar to them, and they feel that receiving care from one or two people will result in more personalized, one-on-one attention. They also may have the idea that moving into a senior living community with assisted living and memory care would rob them of their privacy or freedom. For them, and in some cases, their caregivers, receiving at-home care just feels safer and better.
Unfortunately, the facts may not support this conclusion, and over time, the risks of staying at home may become too great.
When is At-Home Care Not a Good Option?
• When the home needs modifications for safety. As a person ages, many changes can occur that can pose a concern for physical safety. For example, poor vision. Lack of good balance. Loss of mobility. These concerns call for modifications to the home environment, such as a no-step entry, ramp instead of stairs, bathroom grab bars and raised toilet seat, no throw rugs or other tripping hazards, wider doorways and halls, and more. Some of these can be easily done, while others may be cost-prohibitive or difficult to accomplish. However, if these changes are not made, the environment may not be safe enough for an older adult to continue to benefit from at-home care.
• Cognitive decline. Everyone’s memory falters a bit as they age. Forgetting a name occasionally is not a danger sign. But leaving a pot burning on a stove, skipping a dosage of medicine, or wandering away from the home and getting lost can be. When signs of dementia begin to appear, it could be time to consult with a physician to determine the causes and discuss next steps. One viable option would be considering a dedicated memory care setting that is purposely designed to meet an individual’s cognitive, social and emotional needs.
• Little or no contact with friends or neighbors. Being alone most of the day can be quite harmful to an older person’s health. No longer being able to visit with familiar people from the past is isolating and can lead to depression, mental decline and health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety and more. And even when an at-home care plan includes a full time caregiver or several home health aides, it’s not the number of people that count, it’s the quality of the relationship—the perception that you are lonely—that makes the difference.
• Lack of physical activity and mental stimulation. Often when an older loved one has been living on their own for some time, it’s easy to forget that they most likely have little opportunity to exercise or to stimulate their brain. Both are so important for healthy aging. In a wellness-based environment such as you’ll find in senior living, even a person with mobility issues can participate in safe, therapeutic physical exercise, often with a group of fellow residents which adds the benefit of socializing. It’s not only good for the body, it’s something to look forward to each day.
In addition, classes, events, activities, and outings in an assisted living or memory care setting offer life-enriching experiences which can help slow cognitive decline and lift a person’s mood.
Making the Right Decision for Your Loved One.
At New Perspective, our communities support physical, mental and emotional well-being to help residents live their best life. We believe that older adults deserve to live joyfully, affordably, and with purpose. We invite you to learn more.
New Perspective can help you find the right fit for your family. Download our free “Complete Guide to Choosing Between Senior Living Options.” Or contact us today.