At home care for an aging loved one is not an “appropriate” or “suitable” alternative to either assisted living or nursing home care. To the contrary, any and every option other than remaining at home should be viewed as an alternative to what the vast majority of people desire.
Dorothy had it right. There’s no place like home.
In fact, remaining at home with appropriate services and supports can truly be empowering. Home care can empower the person receiving care to remain as independent as possible in the setting of their choice. It can empower family and friends, transforming time with their aging loved one into quality time, largely free of the daily concerns and worries. And it can empower health care professionals in that it gives another perspective and recorded notes on how their patient is doing. This can be a tremendous resource as their patient’s physical and cognitive health is evaluated or treated.
There are countless reasons why home care is off the charts and institutionalization barely registers when older adults are asked where they want to age. The following are just a few.
Who doesn’t want independence? This is, perhaps, the greatest advantage for receiving care in one’s own home. It can be difficult to adjust to a regimented lifestyle in a facility, but at home you can set your own schedule, choose what and when to eat, and how and when to bath. Even those with the greatest need for assistance report that home care can empower continued independence.
Being at home is simply more comfortable for most people than being in an unfamiliar place. At home, we have our photographs, books, bed, bath, kitchen, telephone, pets and all the things we’re accustomed to. Everything is in its place, which in studies has proven to be an effective emotional healer. Even if you can take a few select items from home to a facility, and even if it is made as “home-like” as possible, it still cannot provide the comforts of your real home.
Unlike the sometimes restricted visiting hours at hospitals and nursing homes, home provides a place where family and friends can be close to the person at all hours, whenever needed. It isn’t necessary to schedule a side room for Thanksgiving; you can sprawl out in your parent’s home as you please. Nothing says “I’ve been institutionalized” like having to tell family and friends that visiting is limited to such and such hours. This isn’t the case in your home.
Research has shown that recovery can be faster at home than in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, particularly if there is good quality, skilled home health care available. Many occupational therapists prefer home settings as compared to the artificial settings in an institution because that is where the normal activities of daily living will take place. Faster recovery can mean a quicker return to normalcy.
Older adults enjoy a much better quality of life which many families have said helped to extend the lives, health & happiness of their loved ones. They are in a familiar environment around their family in both their home and community in which they’ve lived for many years. This is particularly true with individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other related dementia.
Is home care a suitable alternative? Absolutely not. Home care is the first choice of most older adults. Assisted living facilities or institutionalization in a skilled nursing facility are the alternatives.