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What is eldercare and how do I decide what I need?

Eldercare has become an integral part of our society that ensures the wellbeing of senior citizens. The form of care provided for older adults varies greatly among countries and is changing rapidly.

For most of history, the children and the extended family have taken care of the elderly. This is still the general practice in many societies. However, in the 21st century, life expectancy, decreasing family size, and the geographical dispersion of families have changed this societal norm considerably.  

Today, the elderly are increasingly dependant upon government entities, charitable institutions, and private care facilities for their safety and well-being as they age.

What exactly is eldercare?

Eldercare is a broad term for older people’s specialized services that help them live safely and sometimes independently. The benefits are intended to meet their needs and requirements at different stages of their lives.

Eldercare is a broad term because it encompasses many similar terms. Some examples are:

  • Elderly care
  • Senior care
  • Aged care
  • Assisted living
  • Adult daycare
  • Long-term care
  • Nursing home care
  • Hospice care
  • Home care

Why is eldercare needed?

Although eldercare is extremely useful, many senior citizens never require it. They live independently throughout their lives. 

The need for eldercare arises when the elderly cannot perform the activities of daily living or ADLs

ADLs include cooking, bathing, toileting, taking medication, cleaning, driving, and other such activities. 

The reasons for the hampering of ADLs may be:

  • A decline in physical health like failing eyesight, hearing impairment, arthritis, etc.
  • A mental condition like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, etc.
  • An injury like a broken hip or limb.
  • Cognitive impairment because of a condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

What kind of eldercare is available?

Eldercare has come a long way in recent years. Moreover, through research and development, many different types of senior care have emerged over the years. 

Some more popular models of eldercare are:

Home care options for the elderly.

Home care is where the senior citizen gets supportive care at their home. The provider can be his family or a professional caregiver.

Other names for these services are:

  • Family provided home care
  • Domiciliary care
  • Social care
  • In-Home care

Adult daycare may be the perfect solution.

Adult daycare centers provide care and help to the elderly during the daytime hours. The operation takes place in an organized setting under the supervision of professional staff. Senior citizens get time for social activities while getting supervised medical attention.

This kind of eldercare is suitable for seniors who are mostly independent and require little supervision.

Independent living facilities allow for more privacy and independence.

Independent living facilities are living arrangements for the elderly. These facilities offer recreational, social activities along with transportation services.

These housing arrangements are particularly good for the mental health of senior residents.

Assisted living facilities provide supervision and care.

Assisted living provides housing arrangements for seniors. These seniors either cannot live independently or prefer not to do so. These facilities come with dedicated supervision and support. 

Retirement homes, adult foster care, and personal care are some other names for assisted living facilities.

In these facilities, seniors get help with the ADLs while still maintaining a somewhat independent lifestyle.

Nursing homes are for those who need more intensive assistance and health care.

Nursing homes are facilities that provide constant care to dependent seniors. These facilities hire licensed professionals for the job. Nursing homes are like assisted living facilities, but the seniors do not arrive here by choice.

Nursing homes handle the complete care of their residents from medical to psychological needs.

Continuum of Care Facilities

Continuum of care facilities will provide all the services included in assisted living and nursing homes. They take eldercare a step further by making it private for each senior living in the facility. This is the most thorough care a senior can get as compared to other facilities on this list.

Dementia or Memory Care Facilities

As the name suggests, these facilities offer care and medical help to patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The elderly patients usually get private or semi-private housing arrangements in these facilities. And professional staff with specialized knowledge of these disorders care for them.

How to determine suitable eldercare?

Knowing what kind of eldercare is available is one thing; determining what is suitable for your situation is another. 

You might be making this decision for yourself or for your loved one. It isn’t easy in either case. 

Initially, the realization that an individual needs eldercare can be overwhelming. Once you come to terms with this, the next step is to check out the options.

While making a choice, taking the following points into account can be helpful:

  • To what extent can the elderly perform ADLs?
  • How much help do they require physically?
  • Is the inability to perform ADLs temporary or permanent?
  • How are their cognitive abilities?
  • Do they suffer from an injury?
  • How is their mental state? Are they suffering from some mental illnesses?

Compare the pros and cons of the current living arrangement with those of varying modalities of eldercare to decide what’s right for you. 

The goal should be to provide enough care to the seniors to streamline their ADLs and other healthcare and safety needs. The best-case scenario is to choose a setting that helps maintain their independence as much as possible.

When looking at senior care, we tend to focus too much on the physical aspects of things; s a result, this can lead to overlooking the psychological effects. 

It may be helpful to get a professional opinion while deciding.

Knowing what eldercare is and all of its aspects is helpful in making the right choice for yourself or a loved one when the time comes.