Today, this rapidly expanding population is probably the largest it has ever been. Traditionally, women are a disproportionately large percentage of the caregivers. According, to “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes On Alzheimer’s,” women account for 65% of the Alzheimer’s population and up to three-fifths of Alzheimer patient caregivers.
The term “sandwich generation” was coined by Dorothy Miller in 1981 and refers to the group of adults whose dependents include both their own children and their aging parents.
Frequently adults, especially women, are caring for their elderly parents while simultaneously raising tweens and teenagers. Pulled in two opposite directions, it may often seem overwhelming and as though both parents and children are not getting what they need. Thus, many caregivers eventually seek out either a home health aide or senior care facility as their loved ones’ needs become more than they are equipped to handle.
Home health agencies partner an aide with an elderly patient. Home healthcare is ideal for clients who want to keep either themselves or their loved ones at home with family. Depending on a patient’s needs, the aide may be required to work either during the day or night, or live with the client for 5-6 days at a time. These aides may offer both companionship as well as custodial and medical care, helping with personal hygiene, daily medications, meals, etc. In home healthcare is minimally disruptive to a patient’s routine, allowing him or her to remain in an environment in which she is familiar. This service allows the elderly to either maintain their own residences or continue living with their families, which may actually preserve their mental and emotional health. Dementia patients, for example, benefit from a consistent environment as it helps stave off the disease’s progression. Medicare generally only pays for a small portion of home healthcare; the rest of the cost is covered by private insurance and funds.
Senior assisted living facilities allow residents to maintain some independence within a controlled environment. Seniors may bring their own furniture and other mementos from home. Generally these residences consist of little apartments that are outfitted with kitchenettes, an environment that enables residents to host family and friends in a more private setting. Main meals are generally served at set times in a large dining area and more individual care is available to those who need it. Certain senior assisted living facilities are authorized to dispense medication or reminders to take medication.
Assisted living centers also offer outings and other day trips for seniors who are able to participate. Senior assisted living is a compromise between a nursing home, which has more comprehensive medical care, and living completely autonomously. Although assisted living is normally paid from private funds and assets, certain long term insurance policies will cover licensed assisted living facilities. A few states offer Medicaid funds and waivers to help foot the bill. Assisted living is regulated by the state, so policies and practices vary.
Nursing homes offer the most extensive care, providing full custodial and medical care. For the elderly who require consistent, round the clock medical attention, this choice can be a viable option. Nursing homes provide occupational and physical therapy. Some nursing homes also offer physical rehabilitation programs, which are required after a major procedures, such as hip surgery. For sufferers of advanced dementia, nursing homes provide the round-the-clock care and attention they require.
Although nursing homes cost more due to the level of care they provide, they are also more frequently covered by Medicaid and Medicare. Some nursing home facilities have the air of a hospital and are run like one. Others try to be less austere and more homey and offer many of the same amenities as assisted living facilities.
Choosing the right solution to meet the needs of the elderly is a laborious process that requires individual case-by-case assessment. At home care, assisted living centers, and nursing homes all have their strengths and weaknesses. Each serves a dual purpose: to care for an aging population and ease the burden for familial caretakers. These services provide patients and their families with peace of mind.
www.KennethRozenberg.com operates the Centers for Specialty Care Group, a collection of prominent healthcare organizations offering short- and long-term care, as well as home health services. Learn more at www.KennethRozenberg.com.
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