As we continue to live longer lives than the generations before us, quality of life issues for an aging population become more pressing than ever. AARP reports 90% of seniors wish to remain in their own homes, rather than move in with their children, or to an assisted living facility. In the case they begin to need daily assistance, the number wishing to stay in their own homes still remains high at 82%.

Portrait of happy senior woman in a kayak holding paddles.

Staying at home

Back in 2015, JAMA Internal Medicine researchers found that almost 2 million seniors over the age of 65, or nearly 6% of Americans in the age group (excluding nursing home residents), rarely or never left their homes. This is a greater number than the total population of residential nursing homes at 1.4 million. There are seven key risk factors for loss of independence including poor mental or physical health, social isolation, unsuitable environment and unsuitable living conditions.

For those defined as housebound – not leaving home in the prior 30 days – 80% have dementia. For the semi-housebound – those who don’t go out alone – this figure remains high at 60%. In these cases, telephone services such as teleCalm are useful in providing peace of mind for seniors, their families and caregivers. Maintaining regular contact strengthens networks and combats isolation.

Senior care communities

Independence means many things. For some it’s the freedom to continue to enjoy life with some adjustments. Suburban living can be a lot of effort with many amenities only reachable by car. Senior care communities in cities, with access to public transport and more facilities nearer to hand are becoming very popular, with many being developed in the affluent and cultural areas, for example. Staff can then cover the basics such as chores and catering to allow residents to spend more time on more fulfilling activities that the community in them and the city around them provide.

Assisted living

For seniors living in assisted living facilities and their loved ones, maintaining open lines of communication with carers and facility managers is vital in helping seniors maintain their independence. As part of their healthcare management education they will have undergone specialized training in running senior living facilities and their expertise can help shape positive outcomes.

It’s common for carers to organize social events, both within and outside the care home and assist in things like running small errands. By creating a suitable environment and living conditions whereby seniors in assisted living facilities are treated as individuals, research shows they’ll stay more independent for much longer. Seniors may need help, but their own preferences being acknowledged and supported by care staff can help people stay more autonomous for longer and increase quality of life commensurately.

Specially written for teleCalm
By: Razia Jacine

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