The Boomer generation is reaching retirement, and many of them have to make decisions about long-term care. While there are many options, an overwhelming number prefer to stay at home. To meet this demand, the senior care industry will need to go through some big changes over the next couple of decades.
Non-Traditional Long-Term Care Options
As retirees prefer to maintain as much independence as possible, more care options become available that fall outside the traditional nursing home, including independent living communities, assisted living communities, cohousing, and in-home care.
A recent study by Merrill Lynch found that about 85% of seniors want to age in their own homes. While this might not always be possible, retirees still want to stay out of nursing homes. Accordingly, the number of staff required for nursing homes will decrease while new job opportunities will open up in other areas, such as home health care.
Meeting the Needs of Seniors
The care options listed above each provide different levels of care to seniors. For caregivers assisting retirees at home, the duties vary from person to person. Light chores around the home, checking vitals, and helping with errands all fall under the umbrella of home health care.
If a home health care worker can no longer provide the quality of care that the senior needs, caregivers should discuss options with the seniors and their families. There may be options other than nursing homes that can meet the senior’s needs. For example, some minor renovations to the home — guardrails in the bathtub, lever-style handles on faucets and doors, or more accessible cabinets — may be all a family needs to continue to support a senior living at home.
Using Technology to Provide In-Home Care
Technology is an excellent tool that health care providers can use to improve the efficiency and the quality of in-home care. Apps for tablets and smartphones can do everything from setting medication reminders to monitoring heart rate and blood pressure, and even creating motion sensors to send an emergency alert if the person falls.
In addition, face-to-face chat tools like Skype and FaceTime make it easier for patients and medical providers to communicate more effectively without the need for travel.
Aging in place is important to the majority of seniors, and it is up to health care providers to honor seniors’ preferences as long as possible. Innovation in both technology and living facilities may take some time for caregivers to get used to, but ultimately in-home care is beneficial for the patients, as it allows them to have much more control over their long-term health care.