Aging comes with many challenges. It may seem unfair that we are often alone as we reach the end of life and need help and companionship the most. And yet, that is the reality many elderly people face. Spouses may be frail or already passed away. Family members are scattered across the country and not always available to give as much assistance as they’d like. Most senior citizens prefer to stay in their own homes, or “age in place,” as it is often referred to, because they hear of so many problems the elderly face in nursing homes. But their loved ones may mistake that living at home is unsafe, and nursing homes are preferable.
If you are at the point of contemplating care options for yourself, your parents, or other aging relatives, there is much to consider. In some cases, cognitive deficiencies or advanced physical illness make it unsafe for seniors to stay at home, especially if they live alone. But that is not true for everyone.
Aging in place can be a safe and healthy option with the right support system. Home care services allow the elderly to remain independent by receiving the assistance they need at home. Whether it is daily help with personal care or occasional assistance with housekeeping and errands, home care providers have a wide array of training and experience to share.
Moving to a nursing home may be the right choice for some, but before making your final decision, consider the problems elderly face in nursing homes.
4 Common Problems Elderly Face in Nursing Homes
You may automatically think that a nursing home with professional staff, provided meals and housekeeping and other seniors to interact with is the best choice for your loved one. While care facilities do offer benefits to those who need them, several disadvantages may lower an elder’s quality of life.
Nursing homes are costly. Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance may cover some expenses, but you may still find the monthly fees are not affordable for yourself or your loved one. In some cases, seniors have to sell their homes and “spend down” their hard-earned financial resources to qualify for assistance. Seniors who don’t need 24-hour access to nursing care may especially feel the price of living in a care home is too high. In-home care is much more affordable and more flexible, allowing each person to choose and pay only for the services they truly need.
2. Unfamiliar Environment
Moving from your own home with a private bedroom and bath (and perhaps a garden or workshop to tinker in) to a one-room living space—sometimes shared with a stranger—would be a difficult transition for anyone. Think of how much more challenging it must be for a person who has spent decades in the same home, filling every room with happy memories.
If keeping up with home or yard maintenance has become too much of a burden, hiring in-home care services to take care of those chores allows seniors to stay in the home they love for as long as possible.
Nursing homes make great strides to provide fun and stimulating activities seniors will enjoy. But not every senior wants to participate in group activities, or they may already have clubs and hobbies to fill their spare time. Taking a person away from their familiar friends and social connections can trigger a sense of grief (See Senior Loneliness and the Effect on Mental Health). That is especially true for older adults who have already lost friends and loved ones. Losing the social network they do have may end up making them feel completely alone—even in a nursing home filled with people.
4. Loss of Control
What adult want to feel they have no control over their own life? In order to care for large numbers of people, nursing homes must keep to strict schedules. Mealtime, bath time, bedtime, and recreation time are all scheduled by someone else. This can be understandably frustrating for seniors who are used to living autonomously and may prefer to sleep in or eat dinner late. Staying at home lets older individuals control their day-to-day schedule and helps them retain a sense of dignity as they age.
Benefits of Aging in Place
Cost is understandably a major concern when deciding the best living situation for your loved one. Even with the cost of in-home care, staying at home is typically less expensive than living in a nursing home. A little breathing room in the budget can mean all the difference in the quality of life for independent seniors who still long to travel or visit family.
Aging in place fosters a personalized approach to growing older that nursing homes can’t provide. In-home care is flexible一as needs change, so can the level of care. Home care providers can be present as much or as little as needed, leaving capable seniors to spend their day as they wish (on their own schedule). Living in a familiar place with intimate surroundings while receiving only the customized assistance they need is an empowering experience for older adults.
It’s not easy to decide on your loved one’s care, especially once you understand some of the problems elderly face in nursing homes. The best advice is to have an honest conversation with your family members to learn more about their preferences, needs, and concerns. The most important thing is that your family member is safe, happy, and feels secure in their home—wherever that is.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.