In 2016, The Home Care Association of America and Global Coalition on Aging collaborated to create the report, "The Value of Home Care." This is the first study that sheds a light on the critical role home care plays in the lives of many seniors, families, the healthcare system, and the nation's economy as America continues to gray.
"The Value of Home Care" emphasizes the importance of home care by helping us not only understand the needs of our aging population, but also by forcing us to recognize our American seniors' desire to age in the comfort of their own homes and in the communities with which they are familiar. Here are a few key takeaways from the report, as well as some insight as to how home care is a key component of the senior care continuum.
The Graying of America
- By 2020, 56 million Americans will be 65 and older.
- By 2050, that number will reach 84 million
- By 2040, the number of adults older than 85 is expected to triple.
Americans (and much of the world) are aging. There are now more adults over the age of 65 than ever before. The percentage of Americans over 65 will continue to increase as baby boomers age, and improvements in healthcare extend our average life span.
While this is certainly something to celebrate, our "bonus years" don't come without a price. An increase in age often leads to an increase in the likelihood you will need care. In fact, nearly 70% of Americans who reach 65 will be unable to care for themselves at some point; as a result, they will need some form of assistance.
Who is Going to Provide The Care?
It's no secret that our current government healthcare programs and institutions are insufficient when it comes to meeting the needs of our rapidly aging population.
This begs he question, "Who is going to provide that care?"
The answer lies in home care - more specifically, private-pay home care.
Home care allows seniors age in the comfort of their own homes while maintaining their health and prolonging their active lifestyles for as long as possible. This service is provided by home care professionals referred to as caregivers.
Although caregivers are typically not medically certified, they do receive professional training that allows them to assist seniors with the activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs include:
- Meal preparation/feeding
- Medication reminders
- Walking/exercise assistance
- Light housekeeping
Arguably more importantly, caregivers provide seniors with the companionship and mental stimulation many older adults fail to receive. These caring professionals have various ways of doing this, including engaging seniors in conversation and accompanying them in other activities. Caregivers also give families peace of mind by recognizing and alerting loved ones to any signs they feel may indicate a decline in health.
Home Care Allows Seniors To "Age in Place"
It's no secret why older Americans want to stay at home. There is a sense of pride that comes with owning your own home and it is often part of the American dream. Over 80 percent of Americans in their early 70s own their own home, and as you can imagine, many of them worked hard to do so. Owning a home is something they are proud of, and it can be devastating for them to leave simply because they need a little (or a lot) of help. Home care often provides seniors with the option to live where they choose.
Home Care Reduces Long-Term Care Costs
Not only does home care allow seniors to age where they want, but it does so while reducing the overall financial cost of health care. Home care is a far more cost-effective option for long-term care than traditional methods. Here is a snapshot of the current annual cost of long-term care.
It costs about $91,250 for a private room at a nursing home, while a semi-private room cost an average of $80,300. $43,200 is the average cost to live in an assisted living facility. It costs an estimated $45,000 to receive in-home care services.
Home care has also been shown to...
- Reduce hospital readmissions
- Reduce the need for a doctor
- Reduce senior falls (which often result in a trip to the doctor)
Private pay home care complements our existing health care services by alleviating some of the pressure on the healthcare system and simultaneously allowing many seniors to age where they want to - in their homes. Not only does home care fill a critical gap for seniors in between hospital stays, nursing home facilities, and care provided by loved ones, home care provides seniors with a choice about how and where they age. Furthermore, home care gives family members peace of mind knowing their older loved ones are safe.