The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 80 percent of seniors in the US have at least one chronic illness. More than 50 percent have at least two chronic conditions. Older persons’ quality of life can deteriorate due to many chronic conditions to manage and complex healthcare systems to navigate, not to mention care and treatment to afford. For most people, in-home care is better than institutional care. Here is how at-home care alleviates suffering and boosts the quality of life of older persons with chronic illnesses.
Globally, there will be over 400 million persons aged 60 and above by 2050, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The US expects the number of 65 year-olds and above to hit 80.8 million by 2040, a significant increase from the 2019 figure (54.1 million).
The ever-increasing life expectancy, coupled with the associated vulnerability of seniors to various chronic illnesses, will strain the healthcare system. Additionally, the social burden resulting from hospitalization and personal care (or lack thereof) will also increase. The most prevalent age-related chronic illnesses are dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular conditions.
A vicious cycle will ensue, which, left unaddressed, will affect older persons’ quality of life and dampen their health outcomes. Older persons with chronic illnesses need help navigating everyday tasks, such as taking a bath, cooking, or moving around. The extent of care depends on the condition. Some seniors might need specialized care and assistance from trained caregivers. In some cases, help from family and friends is enough.
Continuous provision of in-home care can significantly improve seniors’ quality of life and health, thus increasing life expectancy. Institutional settings, such as independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and continuing care retirement communities, offer alternative care services for older persons. But most do not offer the kind of attention some residents need and receive.
At-home care is more intimate and compassionate. And given that isolation is a leading cause of depression and other mental health challenges among older persons, some would benefit more from in-home care than at a care facility. When cared for by friends and family, older persons may feel less isolated or neglected. This sense of connectedness with loved ones, coupled with the homely feel of the care environment, has been shown to help persons with chronic illnesses thrive.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to anticipate the kind and level of care a senior with a chronic illness will require down the road. What’s more, taking care of a person with a chronic condition can be challenging.
For one, there are mobility concerns to consider. If one needs help with getting on and off the wheelchair, the in-home care team must have physically capable persons. But then again, help from loved ones and friends is not guaranteed. This, coupled with the persistent nature of most chronic conditions and the huge toll it can take on caregivers, in-home can become challenging.
A team of dependable, consistent caregivers is vital for ensuring seniors never feel like a burden. Hiring respite care might also help. Trained respite caregivers can step in occasionally to relieve at-home caregivers. They can also offer specialized care through routine checks, diet, exercise routine planning. Professionals can also offer insights into a condition’s diagnosis and progress.
Old age comes with unique challenges. There is the inevitable dependency due to the loss of functional abilities. Then there are old age-related chronic illnesses. The two combine to hurt seniors. Thankfully, with proper planning, many older persons can receive at-home care. In-home care will reduce healthcare costs for families. It’ll also ease the burden on the healthcare system while improving health outcomes, quality of life, and life expectancy of older persons with chronic illnesses.
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