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The numbers regarding the need for senior care in my home state of New Jersey and the US in general are astounding. For starters, in 2020 just five years from now, the number of Americans 65 years of age and older will reach 55 million and the number who are 85 years of age and older will hit 7.3 million.
People, without question, are living longer. That’s the good news. However, on the other side of that coin, is the reality that many people become more infirm as they age. Consider the results of one study: 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries – those 65 years of age or older – suffer from three or more medical conditions and 20 percent of these individuals have five or more conditions.
Why there has been an increasingly greater need for senior care, or elder care.
People today are less and less likely to spend their entire lives living independently. Add to this the results of an AARP survey that report that nearly 90% of people age 50 and over want to stay in their homes as long as possible. If the home can be made a safe environment, it offers the best option.
Perhaps the primary reason people prefer to receive care at home is psychological.
The perception is that home care provides people with a degree of independence and a sense of control over their lives they lose when they are institutionalized. According to one social worker who works with geriatric patients, “You simply cannot put a price on being able to remain in the home…especially for those who have lived in their homes for many, many years.” Many seniors look at the advantages of senior care at home as more than just psychological.
They feel the level of care received at home is better, preferring care that is one-to-one. They believe they heal better when they get to sleep in their own bed, surrounded by the things that are familiar and particularly meaningful to them. They also believe they have more control and their needs are responded to more quickly – as opposed to being in a nursing home or assisted living care facility where they may share a room or have caregivers who are not only responsible for them. As such, the perception is that they will have far less say in their own care.
A family support network is often the best case scenario when it comes to senior care. Having a family member available to care for an aging relative, however, is not always practical for any one of a number of different reasons. Yet, as a result of the growth of the senior care industry, having a family member who can act as a caregiver is no longer required for one to receive quality care at home.
Many home health agencies provide support today for seniors in their home who have mild to moderate dementia or have recently returned home following a hospital or rehab stay. In other cases, family members may suddenly come to the realization that it is no longer safe for their loved one to be home alone.
Unfortunately, some families panic when their loved one experiences a setback. They convince themselves that mom or dad needs to be institutionalized. This may be the case, but then again it might not, depriving a loved one the chance to remain at home as long as possible. The fact is that unless around-the-clock skilled care is needed, most patients can be managed effectively at home.
New Jersey Senior care agencies provide companionship and help clients with their activities of daily living (including bathing, grooming, feeding and toileting). They can provide light housekeeping and meal preparation, run errands and offer medication reminders.