Surveys have shown that most seniors prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible. One way to accomplish this is home renovation, or at least home upgrades that include bathroom grab bars, high toilet seats and sometimes walk-in tubs or showers. Other home upgrades such as levers on doors rather than traditional knobs, getting rid of fall hazards such as throw rugs and using ramps when necessary can help people stay in their own home. Hired in-home caregivers and the use of home care software also improve the chances of elders staying in their homes.
In the past, one downside of hired in-home caregiving was that many agencies had problems with scheduling caregivers for preferred hours, especially when there is a sudden change in a client’s needs or when a caregiver is ill and must be replaced. This is one of many areas where technology has multiplied caregiving options.
Cameras, movement sensors, alerts when medications haven’t been taken and many other technical advances has made it easier for family caregivers, as well as agencies, to keep an eye on vulnerable elders. Personal alarms can be a fantastic way to help elders maintain contact with emergency help during the times that family or in-home caregivers can’t be around.
People need people, so technology only goes so far. Having a human being available to check in on the elders, take them grocery shopping or simply spend a few hours around the house with them can make the difference between the need to move to an assisted living facility or staying home. Finding a reputable in-home care agency to provide caregivers for these tasks can ease the elder’s minds, as well as the minds of family members who can’t be available daily.
When looking for in-home agencies, first ask how they go about doing background checks on their employees. Then ask for references. Ask the references about the personalities of the caregivers, their training and their reliability. If the agency frequently calls to say that a caregiver isn’t available on a certain day, look for an agency who can schedule properly so that you or your loved one are not left without backup.
As with most things, aging-in-place is about balance. A combination of human warmth, good training, reliability so that elders can be confident that their caregiver will be on time to take them to a medical appointment or simply give them a bath, as well as technology to back up the process, can go a long way toward helping elders age-in-place.