In just a little more than a decade, seniors are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Even more consequential, one in five Americans will be retirement age by 2030.
With a rising number of seniors entering retirement each year, most of whom prefer to age in place, the home healthcare industry is set for impressive growth in 2019.
Here are some of the top priorities for seniors in 2019 driving the shift toward home healthcare, and how providers like BrightStar Care deliver:
Not surprisingly, financial wellness becomes a growing concern for post-retirement seniors, who can no longer depend on the steady income they’ve become accustomed to. With the mounting health concerns that coincide with age, and the hefty price tag that typically comes with quality healthcare, the cost-effectiveness of a given health plan usually tops the list of seniors’ concerns.
Skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities are very expensive. And, when you consider that many seniors have almost or already paid off their home mortgages the prospect of aging at home becomes even more attractive.
Nevertheless, the popular misconception that in-home care is less cost-effective continues to hold steadfast. Particularly for seniors who don’t need around-the-clock care, home caregivers are a much more affordable option. Semi-private rooms in assisted living facilities cost, on average, nearly four times as much as a part-time skilled home caregiver.
Comfort, Privacy and Socialization
The comfort and familiarity of continuing to live in one’s own home is another factor behind many seniors’ desire to age in place. This becomes particularly important for seniors who suffer from memory loss or other progressive cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Maintaining a familiar environment and routine has been shown to improve memory recall and even slow the progression of memory loss in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s. Allowing seniors to continue living at home, instead of uprooting their lives and putting them in a new environment, can make a marked difference in memory retention.
Aging in place also offers seniors the comfort of privacy that isn’t available in many live-in facilities, but that’s not to say they’ll feel isolated or alone. In addition to skilled home caregivers, there are many non-skilled services home health aides provide, including companion and personal care.
With a closer proximity to friends, family, community groups and long-time neighbors, seniors aging in place typically also have a large network of loved ones in their life, and they don’t necessarily need the socialization that comes with communal living environments. In fact, with some assisted living and nursing facilities only allowing visitors during designated times, aging in place actually allows seniors more freedom and flexibility in socializing and seeing loved ones.
Quality of Care
The healthcare journey can be particularly complex and fragmented for older adults, 80 percent of whom have at least one chronic condition. From making it difficult to perform daily tasks like walking up steps or bathing, to causing significant physical, emotional and financial strain, these diseases can take an extensive toll on seniors.
While more seniors prefer the independence, autonomy and familiarity of aging in place, their families are often understandably concerned for their loved one’s wellbeing and ability to live outside of a 24/7 care facility. In-home care provides seniors and families alike with the perfect middle ground that affords them the benefits of aging in place, while giving family members the peace of mind their loved one is still being taken care of.
Because managing chronic conditions requires ongoing effort from patients, families and providers, care coordination, along with quality ongoing and preventative care, become even more critical. At-home caregivers, with RN oversight, are able to help to ensure medication is taken regularly as prescribed and monitor their patients’ everyday conditions, allowing for much higher-quality preventative care.
And, since patients who age in place don’t need to worry about diseases and infections spread in communal living environments, or the strain from constantly transitioning living environments, home healthcare brings with it many physical health advantages as well.
Why the Future for Home Healthcare Looks Bright
Home care could become the primary source of medical care as soon as 2024.
Not only does home healthcare provide seniors with various physical and mental health benefits, aging in place can also be much more comfortable than skilled nursing facilities and other senior living care options.
Whatever their reasons for choosing home healthcare, record numbers of seniors – 90 percent of them, in fact – are now opting to age at home. And, during a time when there is a much larger retirement-age population than ever before, there’s also never been greater demand for high-quality in-home care.
For BrightStar Care franchisees, this shift toward quality in-home care just adds renewed importance to their mission, while signaling growing demand for their fulfilling and successful business.