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Informational

Home Healthcare for Older Adults: What You Need To Know

05/01/2023

Aging in place is the act of living independently in your own home as you age. This choice, when considered over other options such as assisted living facilities, has been preferred by most American adults for the past decade.

According to the AARP Home and Community Preferences Survey, 77% of adults ages 50 and older plan to continue living in their homes as they age.

If you’re one of the older adults planning on aging in place, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of home care services. These services can go beyond home healthcare for older adults. You can receive help with cleaning, transportation, and personal care as you age to maintain your independence and quality of life within your home.

What Is Home Care?

Home care services involve hiring aides and nurses to assist you with various tasks as you age. Home care is a vital part of aging in place. As you age, your ability to care for yourself and move around on your own may diminish. If you want to age in place in a safe and healthy way, then working with a home care professional or team is important.

Home care services can be helpful for older adults who have family far away or nearby. Home care professionals can care for you in the absence of your family, or they can provide assistance and support for you and your family and create care plans that help everyone involved.

Home Modifications for In-home Care

One important factor to consider if you plan to age in place is what home modifications will be necessary. The purpose of these modifications is to create a place where you can move around easily and independently for as long as possible. Some of these modifications include:

  • Wheelchair ramps: Wheelchair ramps help older adults with limited mobility maneuver around their homes. Additional ramps, such as threshold ramps, can also be beneficial.
  • Handrails: You can place handrails all around your home, but they are especially helpful in the bathroom, where water spillage can contribute to falls.
  • Lifts and carriers: If you’re modifying your car to be wheelchair accessible, then lifts and carriers can provide you with the tools you need to travel more independently.

Some service providers may consult or assist you as you plan out the necessary home modifications.

What Do In-home Care Services Provide?

There are many different types of in-home care services available for those who wish to age in place. The costs involved with in-home care will vary depending on the type of care and the service provider.

Healthcare

In-home healthcare services are provided by nurses and physical therapists. These healthcare providers will visit your home, administer medications, and check your vitals.

If you’re living with a chronic condition, or if you are suffering from injuries after a fall, in-home healthcare services can be greatly beneficial to you. This service gives you the regular care that you need and may reduce your visits to the hospital or doctor’s office.

Those with limited mobility can receive help with physical therapy and assisted exercise to increase comfort and improve mobility.

Personal Care and Assistance

Personal care and assistance services are for older adults who need help with daily tasks for personal hygiene and maintenance. These services include bathing, grooming, and dressing.

Hiring someone to provide personal care for you as you age can help you stay healthy and clean.

It is important to note that the professionals who provide this service are not normally allowed to provide healthcare services. If you need someone to administer medications, you will need to coordinate with a healthcare provider.

Home Cleaning and Maintenance

Even older adults with good health and mobility often choose to hire help for home cleaning and maintenance. This service involves cleaning the inside and outside of your home, including tasks such as:

  • Deep cleaning: Some people choose to hire cleaning staff to deep clean their homes once a month. This lets them focus on lighter cleaning tasks that require less energy.
  • Daily cleaning tasks: These tasks include dishes, laundry, or taking out the trash.
  • Patio and lawn maintenance: Maintaining a lawn and outdoor space can be a lot for a person with limited mobility. Outsourcing these tasks can save you energy and time and improve safety.

These services can also prevent you from being in situations involving slippery floors or high climbs.

Transportation

Part of aging in place involves being able to leave your home and interact with your community. However, some older adults can no longer drive or live in areas that do not have accessible public transportation.

There are transportation services you can hire to help you go to the doctor, the grocery store, and even the community center or local library.

These services may involve a vehicle that is accessible to those with disabilities picking you up for errands, excursions, or tours. It can also involve someone coming to your home and driving a vehicle that you own and assisting you with maneuvering ramps and lifts.

Socialization and Companionship

While hired caretakers can be valuable members of your support system, it’s important to also maintain friendships within your community.

Some home care services provide transportation to social events, clubs, fitness classes, and other group activities geared toward older adults. These activities help older adults combat the negative effects of isolation and loneliness.

Who Can Benefit From Home Care Services?

Home care services can help a wide variety of people with different needs. For example:

  • An older adult whose family home has a large yard may benefit from hiring a cleaning and yard maintenance service.
  • An older couple may hire a personal care assistant to help with showers and dressing. This is normally necessary even if only one spouse needs assistance because lifting the immobile spouse and helping them in the bathroom may be unsafe for the other person.
  • An isolated person who wants to make new friends may hire a transportation service to help them get to different community events, such as a weekly poker game at the local recreation center.

Some individuals and families hire one type of home care provider, while others have a team of providers who help with different tasks throughout the week.

When Home Care Isn’t the Right Option

While home care services can provide a wide range of services, there are some instances in which alternate arrangements need to be made. For example:

  • A patient with a chronic medical condition has been receiving in-home medical care for years. However, after surgery, they have to stay at the hospital or a nursing facility to receive around-the-clock care as they recover.
  • An older adult with a large yard and a big house has injured themselves several times trying to make repairs and clean. They cannot afford the cleaning and maintenance services to upkeep their large property, so they instead choose to move into a smaller apartment and hire a cleaning professional once a month to help out.
  • An older adult with dementia begins to repeatedly wander and get lost in their neighborhood. A daily visit from a healthcare professional is not enough to ensure their safety. If family members aren’t able to relocate to care for them, they may need to move into a nursing home.

These are just a couple of examples of situations where an older adult may not be able to age in place. It is important to keep an open mind and make decisions that are best for your health, safety, and happiness as you age.

Is Aging in Place Right for You?

Every person is different, so every person has to consider different factors when deciding whether or not to age in place. Some factors to consider include:

  • Budget: If you’re trying to choose between aging in place and living in a retirement home, conduct thorough research into the costs of each option.
  • Family caretakers: Individuals with family members nearby may choose to age in place if their family is willing to help them.
  • Social preferences: Everyone has different social preferences. Some people want to live in retirement homes to make new friends and maintain a busy social calendar. Others prefer to age in place so they can stay connected with their neighbors and local friends.

Is aging in place right for you? With the right equipment and support, this option is doable for many older adults, but the decision is unique to each individual.

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