Ten years ago, Americans over the age of 65 made up about 13% of the US population. By 2030, this number will increase to over 20%. As more people enter their golden years, we can prepare for ourselves and our family members to have access to the best possible home care services and in-home assistance for the elderly.
When people age, their needs change — and everyone’s needs are different. Some seniors require 24/7 care, but many older adults live independently. In fact, over 11 million older (65+) American adults live alone. Independent individuals might only require an occasional check-in from their neighbors.
Regardless, having other resources handy if and when they become necessary is always a good idea. This list contains four of the most important things to know when deciding if you or your family member would benefit from in-home assistance for the elderly.
1. Isolation Is Worse than Obesity For Your Health
Loneliness may not seem like an important concern when considering basic necessities like food or safety precautions. In fact, loneliness and extended social isolation are as bad for our bodies as obesity or chronic smoking — and maybe even worse.
Basic needs are certainly important, but companionship or even a short face-to-face check-in can ensure older adults’ social and physiological needs are fulfilled. Knowing the available resources for preventing isolation are crucial to the 59% of elders who live alone.
2. Food Delivery Keeps Elders Healthy and Limits Hunger
Seniors who are homebound, unable to cook for themselves, or living on a fixed income may not be able to provide healthy meals for themselves. Connecting seniors with organizations like Meals on Wheels ensures older Arkansans who need assistance receive it, and offers volunteer opportunities to more active older adults.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels has been a nonprofit for nearly 70 years. They do incredible work feeding and supporting millions of seniors across the country.
Meals on Wheels is more than just a food delivery service; they offer both nutritional support and social support with their “Let’s Do Lunch” program. Volunteers can drop off food and enjoy a short visit with seniors during lunch breaks or after work. For many seniors, this is the only social interaction they encounter all day. A short meal or check-in with a volunteer can be extremely effective at combating isolation or loneliness while making sure your senior gets healthy meals.
Meals on Wheels offers a way for members of the community to serve and support their elders. They emphasize bonding and helpfulness while cultivating relationships and trust. While the services they provide are essential, do not be surprised to find the social connections are equally important. Furthermore, these programs illustrate how multiple aspects of care come together to create a healthier whole.
3. Safety should always be a consideration
Health and safety often become a concern for individuals who live alone — even more so for older populations. A Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) provides protection for times when you faint, feel ill, or even fall.
These simple buttons alert first responders to the location of the call so elderly individuals are able to feel safe and secure while remaining independent in their homes. One in four Americans — twenty-five percent! — over the age of 65 fall and need medical treatment every year. A PERS or medical alert system makes sure people who fall get the treatment they need right away.
PERS is especially helpful for people prone to falling, and it can be used for other emergencies too. Firefighters, police, and EMTs can all be on the way with the push of a button. In addition to first responders, PERS can also notify family or neighbors as needed. Additionally, bilingual services are available 24/7. With these services, you do not have to worry about older Arkansans being at home alone.
4. Resources for Caregivers Are Also Essential
Caregivers of elderly adults are often unpaid family members or friends. These generous individuals often experience a decline in health, and 27% of caregivers experience financial hardship as a result of their caregiving. For this reason, caregivers must have access to the resources they need. Without support, caregivers are likely to show increased stress, depression, or anxiety.
However, with the right resources and support, fulfillment and satisfaction can also increase. Caregivers act as the foundation or backbone of long-term care and should have multiple resources available to them at all times. The National Alliance for Caregiving is a website dedicated to supporting caregivers. Additionally, AARP has put together a list of organizations whose goal is supporting caregivers.
5. Local Programs May Be the Most Helpful
Federal and state government programs can be very helpful, especially for long-term financial and medical support. Local programs, however, are better able to support and serve in the day-to-day lives of elders. Many areas have a robust senior citizen program run by local organizations or programs. Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging (5A) is the parent organization for programs that provide these services across Arkansas. For elders or families of elders in Arkansas, Area Agencies on Aging can be that program.
Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Programs like 5A support senior citizens by organizing services and events for the elderly. These services range from practical help (such as food delivery by Meals on Wheels or daily tasks from HomeCare) to more legal matters (such as filling out legal forms or getting seniors the best coverage for their medications).
Some seniors find it difficult to arrange automatic bill pay or complete taxes entirely online. Area Agencies on Aging help seniors get the care and support they need. The appropriate Area Agency on Aging for your family depends on which part of the state you live in. Each Agency ensures senior members of their community get the required care and create a strong sense of trust and value.
For More Information
Many resources are available for in-home assistance for the elderly. Organizations like 5A and the regional Agencies provide peace of mind and security for Arkansas seniors and their families.
As the average number of older people doubles over the next decade, a solid plan to ensure safe and happy seniors is vital to a thriving, older community. Get involved to help make and implement those plans to set a precedent of support. Get in touch with 5A today to find home care services and other means of elder support in your community!