As seniors grow older, life changes, and there’s no getting around it.
Spouses get sick and die, children grow and move away, diseases come and go (or come and stay) and often, it gets difficult for the senior to do the things he or she once did.
In these situations, many seniors and their families begin to consider home health care.
Unfortunately, many people view home health care as a synonym for hospice – care that only very sick or dying people receive.
Because of this, many seniors, friends, and family members have a difficult time swallowing the concept of in-home care, and accepting that it may, in fact, be the wisest idea for a senior at a given point of life. In the end, though, this viewpoint only harms the senior and all of the people who love him or her.
In reality, home health care is a great opportunity for both seniors and their relatives to live freer, happier, more dignified lives. By switching the perception of home health care from something disastrous to something wonderful, seniors and their family members can begin to see how beneficial and helpful these programs can truly be.
What is Home Health Care?
Home health care is a broad term, but it is used to refer to any health care that is carried out in the home. This care could be minimal (light housework and occasional medication assistance) or intensive (nighttime care and full-time, live-in help).
Contrary to what many people believe, home health care is not only available to seniors who are very ill or dying. In fact, many seniors who are still active, healthy, and spry utilize home health care as a way to stay independent and mitigate certain diseases or conditions.
For example, a woman who suffers from severe arthritis but is not cognitively impaired in any way may utilize home health care simply because her family lives far away and she finds it difficult to do her laundry and prepare meals.
Likewise, a man in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease may receive home health care that provides medication assistance, house cleaning services, assistance with the activities of daily living, and nighttime care. The services of home health care vary widely, and the form it takes in any given situation will depend largely on a person’s unique needs, requirements, and desires.
What Does Home Health Care do?
Again, the benefits of home health care depend largely on a person’s situation. For some seniors, home health care may amount to nothing more than some light housework and an occasional check-in. For others, home health care is critical maintenance care that allows them to maintain a level of independence and dignity. As a general rule, though, home health care offers the following benefits:
- It helps to decrease loneliness. Seniors who live alone are at elevated risk of isolation and secondary symptoms, like depression, hopelessness, increased risk of mortality, and feelings of sadness or abandonment. Because not all seniors’ families can be nearby, home health care helps to fill in an important gap in many seniors’ lives, and can provide the companionship and attention needed to prevent a senior from feeling isolated.
- Home health care helps seniors stay independent. If friends and family aren’t available to help a senior around the home, many seniors find themselves moving into assisted living facilities simply because they can’t do small things like cook or clean for themselves anymore. A difficulty with life’s little responsibilities doesn’t always necessitate assisted living, though, and seniors who are otherwise fit to live on their own can extend their independence for months or even years with the help of home health care.
- It can decrease the cost of care. In many cases, assisted living is much more expensive than home health care. Because of this, it’s a popular option among seniors who need a bit of extra assistance but don’t want the expense or changes associated with leaving their homes for assisted living facilities. This is one of the largest perks of home health care, and is one of the most common reasons seniors and their families choose to use it.
- Home health care can help spot or prevent certain diseases. In many cases, seniors who live alone may not curative critical symptoms of developing diseases. While this may sound impossible, it’s not at all uncommon for a senior to write a reoccurring symptom off as a normal sign of aging. Unfortunately, this can have disastrous outcomes. With the help of home health care, though, seniors can catch early symptoms of new diseases or conditions. This, in turn, allows time for corrective treatment and can help the senior maintain his or her health in the long term.
Home Health Care is the Beginning of a Better Life
While it may be tempting to regard home health care as the sign that a senior is declining beyond reach, it’s a wonderful way to facilitate quality care for the elderly without requiring them to sacrifice their independence or dignity. By allowing a senior to remain in his or her home for as long as possible, home health care supports freedom and can help seniors maintain their health and enjoy happy, independent lifestyles for much longer than seniors without any in-home help.
While the applications of home health care vary depending on needs and individual requirements, it’s clear that there are many ways for home health care to assist seniors. From medication management to intensive, round-the-clock nursing, home health care adapts to a unique senior’s needs and requirements rather than the other way around. This, in turn, allows the senior access to skilled, quality, tailored health care at a fraction of the cost of assisted living or similar services.
Because of all of this, it’s essential for friends, family members, and seniors themselves to stop regarding home health care as a sign of the end. In fact – it’s a sign of great things to come! With the help of in-home care aides, most seniors report feeling younger, healthier, more alert and independent, and better equipped to participate in all of the activities of daily life.
Because of this, home health care can go a long way toward making seniors feel more optimistic, happier, and better equipped to walk into their golden years happy, healthy, and excited about all of the great things that lie down the road!
Whether a senior is suffering from a chronic condition or simply needs some additional help around the house, home health care is an excellent way to promote independence while also ensuring that the senior gets all of the quality medical care and attention he or she needs to thrive.