By Loli Ramezani, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)
By 2040, 1 in every 5 Americans will be 65 years or older. Moreover, advancements in medicine and technology have allowed us to live longer than ever before. Consequently, we're witnessing the biggest and quickest aging of the US population in history.
Our lives have not been normal during the past few months due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has made two things clearer than ever before: our country is aging, and our aging population needs care. The coronavirus is not only hitting hard the most vulnerable and those with underlying health conditions, but also the elderly. The disease is spreading within nursing homes because they are a congregation of those with illnesses, including many elderly who were otherwise healthy but, due to a fall, were admitted to a nursing home for rehab. According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every three older adults falls each year. Many are admitted to the hospital, some to nursing homes, and unfortunately for many the nursing home becomes their final home—they never leave due to added complications, infections, etc.
This leads us to our main topic. As we age, even the healthiest amongst us will face deterioration of our physical and possibly cognitive capabilities. That is when various options for caregiving need to be considered. A caregiver will help the elderly with any of their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), such as bathing, going to the bathroom (continence), getting dressed, eating, transferring, mobility assistance with walks in order to avoid risk of fall. The assistance a caregiver provides, is on an as-needed basis, allowing the individual to live safely and healthy longer. There are two major caregiving options available that can not only allow us to live a safe and healthy life but also maintain and improve the quality of our lives in our golden years and beyond.
1. Age in place.
We continue to live at our own home where we can receive assistance with our daily activities through two types of resources:
- Family members or friends live with the elderly person or visit on a regular basis and attend to the elderly’s daily care needs. Note that sometimes family members may not be available regularly or for the schedule that is needed due to their own personal lives and activities. In other cases, family members may not be equipped with all the right tools or experience to manage the care and the communication in a proper and consistent manner.
- A professional caregiver is hired to do the same. In this case, an agency schedules the caregiver based on the individual's care needs and can provide a back-up for the primary caregiver, if necessary, addressing all the financial and employment requirements.
2. Home might no longer be the best place to live.
The home might not be the ideal place to stay anymore due to health or safety reasons, financial burden, or risk of isolation. That is when we make arrangements for living outside the home. The two options for this are:
- Medical facilities, including nursing homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs)
- Non-medical facilities, including independent living communities, assisted living communities (sometimes including memory care), and residential care homes that provide different levels of board and care
To learn more about elder care options, check out the August 2020 Smart Women/Savvy Money Club® podcast. I chat with Derenda King about these options as well as how to finance them.