As we age and watch our loved ones grow older, we may often wonder how we and our loved ones will be cared for. Many older adults dread the thought of being placed into a nursing home or other assisted living facility. Our culture has attached a stigma to nursing homes, and there are other negative consequences that institutionalization can have on an older individual. Therefore, it is very important to consider alternatives and choose the option that is best for you or your loved one.
The Alternative to Institutionalized Care: In-Home Care
Instead of moving to a facility to receive care, many seniors choose to have the care come to them. This is called home health care. There is an increasing utilization of in-home services by older adults to supplement their own abilities to perform the activities of daily life and as an alternative to institutionalized care. Seniors are beginning to utilize in-home care as they discover that it is healthier and more cost effective than entering a nursing home.
When people enter nursing homes, they abandon the lives they have known for decades. Older people in nursing homes might cease to feel like individuals since the staff has many people to care for and thus may not be concerned about them personally. They may feel as if they are defined by their medications, blood pressure, etc. rather than by their character or accomplishments. Many nursing home residents see themselves as ill and unable to make decisions on their own. To an older adult, living in a nursing home can feel like mental and physical imprisonment since they lack the power to make decisions for themselves. If possible, keeping elders out of institutions may be the most sensible choice when considering their levels of functioning, social and mental conditions, and the costs associated with different types of care.
Older adults and their families can benefit financially by avoiding placement into a nursing home or similar facility. If someone is simply in need of some sort of assistance around the home, home health care is about half the cost of care in a nursing home, and it allows the person to retain many of the day-to-day abilities he or she might lose as a result of having fewer responsibilities and less power within a facility. Essential in-home care services can be combined with free community services to develop a care plan for the elder, therefore reducing overall costs for the individual.
When a senior remains in the home, his or her ability to function and perform the necessary activities of daily living is prolonged. At home, the pace and manner in which elders choose to function can be respected. They are not hurried to complete simple tasks, and the home health
aides or family members know them more personally and are more likely to care about the individual’s level of functioning. These caregivers can work with them so they can remain as functional as possible. Elders generally feel more comfortable within their own home environment since they can live according to their own schedules, and their independence is determined only by their ability to perform the activities of daily living. If elders continue to be active and complete the activities of daily living on their own, this will prolong their state of independence in their own homes. This freedom, along with many other facets of home care, can lead to a happier, healthier way of life for us and our loved ones.