Like children and differently-abled persons, the elderly have special needs that should be taken care of, whether they choose to stay at home or in nursing homes and other care facilities. With their frail bodies, failing memory, and behavioral changes, aging individuals are susceptible to misunderstandings with their family members.
Serious diseases and vulnerabilities to minor accidents aren’t the only main considerations in giving specialized, aged care to our grandparents. Individuals entering their twilight years need to spend the rest of their years with their dignity intact and some level of independence.
Despite the need for tender loving care, we, unfortunately, can’t provide their needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s when aged care services come in. The level of care and service inclusions for aged care services vary from country to country, as well as the older adult’s specific physical, mental, and overall health conditions.
Before deciding which services are best for your loved one, it helps when you understand how different types of aged care services work to help maintain a senior’s health:
1. At-Home Services
For elders living independently in their homes, aged care services may offer the extra help that an older person needs to function properly.
It’s a highly personalized service and a caregiver can perform various assistance activities. These activities are in no way limited to help seniors in at-home settings, as care providers would perform these in other aged care facilities.
- Assistance in bathing, showering, using the toilet, changing clothes, and communication.
- Feeding, ensuring proper nutrition, and meal preparation, especially for elderlies with special diets.
- They also help in cleaning, gardening, laundry, shopping, and home maintenance.
- Mobility assistance, particularly for older adults who use crutches, walkers, and other assistive devices.
- Assistance with bandages, dressings, or overall wound care.
- Management of incontinence.
- Transportation and personal assistance, for instance, driving around and attending social activities.
- Telehealth, or having the elderly checked via virtual means.
- Specialized nursing and clinical services such as those offered by Homenursingwithheart.com
- End-of-life care for elderlies with severe health concerns.
2. Short-Term Care
Some aged care service providers can offer short-term care to the elderly whose lives are temporarily interrupted by recent physical changes or an admission from the hospital. Aged care service professionals will dispense assistance activities mentioned earlier, as well as the following:
- Community and home support
- Food services
- Allied health support services
- Post-hospital care
- Paid and wound management
- Medication management
- Post-operative care
3. Respite Care
Respite care is also a type of short-term aged care provision. They’re available to older adults whose primary care service provider is on a break, thus the name. Respite care is also dispensed in emergency situations when the main caregiver is unable to attend to the needs of the patient.
Aged care service contractors typically keep a roster of professionals who can work flexible hours and in emergency situations.
4. Transition Care
Transition care is aimed at the swift recovery of an elderly patient following a stay in the hospital. These can be done either shortly before or after leaving the medical facility.
Older adults typically need this type of service temporarily, as they’re expected to regain their functions as soon as possible. The main goal for transition care is to eventually reduce the need for long-term care.
Transition support services are also highly personalized and can be done in various settings—meaning to elderlies who may be at home, in an aged care home, or in the community.
Therapy services may likewise be provided under transition care for older adults and this may include nursing and personal care, as well as physiotherapy.
In most cases, a patient will be eligible for transition care services for a few weeks, depending on professional assessment.
5. Short-Term Restorative Care
This type of aged care is provided by a bunch of health professionals and specialists, which may include a Geriatrician. This helps to prevent or reduce the risk of health complications of a senior citizen patient.
Providers can offer these additional services to an elderly patient under this program of care:
- Residential care accommodation
- Provision and use of aids and equipment (i.e hearing, visual, and mobility, etc.)
- Management of incontinence
- Nursing care and other allied health services may include podiatry, speech therapy, hearing services, etc.
- Nutrition and diet advice, as well as meal preparation
- Personal care and assistance
- Medication management
- Emotional support
- Transport services
6. Live-In Care
This type of aged care service requires a caregiver’s round-the-clock availability. However, these services are all dispenses in the comfort of a patient’s home. This means that the caregiver will spend a great deal of time accompanying the elderly –which is said to help improve the latter’s mental well-being.
Having someone to spend time with is extremely important to enhance seniors’ mood swings and loneliness, with many suffering from isolation and depression.
With this arrangement, the senior can receive the needed care and companionship, which could help extend his or her life span.
7. Overnight Care
This type of aged care, as you may have guessed, is similar in principle to live-in care, where a caregiver should be capable of assisting a senior who, whether out of habit or because of a specific health condition, would wake up in the middle of the night or in the wee hours of the morning.
Overnight care can give the elderly’s family peace of mind that a caregiver is available in assisting their loved one’s personal needs such as using the toilet and avoiding potentially fatal accidents such as accidental slips or falls.
8. Dementia Care
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts a person’s memory and other mental functions. Because of this, most of those who have dementia find it hard to perform most of their daily activities, hence the need for care and assistance. Additionally, difficulty controlling emotions and speech problems are also hallmark symptoms of dementia.
However, do note that each type of dementia is triggered by various causes and may have varying symptoms. Dementia also advances differently in patients. That being said, the families of elderlies suffering from this condition should look for a specially-trained or experienced dementia caregiver.
9. Alzheimer’s Care
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. And most think that the same care should be provided for seniors suffering from both. This is a misconception. Even dementia sufferers need different types of care, being that the disease causes different symptoms and progresses differently from one person to another.
Generally, a caregiver should be able to reduce various challenges for a patient. For instance, a care professional could take it upon himself to plan strategies to make a sufferer’s life easier.
A patient with Alzheimer’s disease often experiences memory gaps, confusion, and a drastic change in behavior, personality, and emotional state. As the disease progresses, a patient may have difficulties with mobility and would need assistance with personal care and other daily activities.
10. Parkinson’s Care
Another degenerative disease is Parkinson’s disease which affects a high number of seniors. Special care is needed as the condition can manifest in various ways on a daily basis. On some days, a sufferer can be functional, while often, the patient will become extremely dependent.
A caregiver should be able to understand that it’s the nature of the disease to cause unpredictability, unreasonable thinking, trembling, and erratic muscle movements. Depression is also part of the symptoms. Hence, the elderly suffering from Parkinson’s will have unique needs.
11. Convalescence Care
The recuperation period may be critical to seniors, they also have less resiliency to the threats of infection and other complications. That’s why care providers offer convalescence care to improve the success and fast-track of the elderly patient’s recovery from injury or illness. But more than physical recovery, this type of care covers psychological preparation.
Doctors typically create a treatment and recovery plan, that the caregiver should be fully aware of what these programs entail. Convalescence care may entail the caregiver lifting and moving the patient, as well as reminding them or assisting in medication.
Depending on the needs of the patient, a care provider may dispense the following services: counseling or psychotherapy services, physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
12. Multiple Sclerosis Care
Having a balanced diet and nutritious diet is extremely important for the elderly suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Another degenerative condition, MS causes your immune system to attack your brain’s nerve cells and fibers. As a result, your brain can no longer send messages to your body, causing erratic movement and mobility problems.
A care provider should be able to push the elderly to maintain and keep a healthy lifestyle, by staying active and eating the proper brain and nerve function-boosting foods.
13. Spinal Injuries Care
A senior who had spinal injuries may often need lifting and mobility assistance before they could regain their functions. Hence, a caregiver who meets this physical demand, as well as experience in caring for others with the same condition, is necessary.
Apart from mobility and movement assistance, care for the elderly who sustained spinal injury involves personal care aid, transportation aid, and home management activities.
14. Bariatric Care
An obese older adult may need specialized bariatric care. Severely overweight seniors would require a tailored plan to address mobility and other issues resulting from the condition. Aside from properly trained staff, a caregiver or a facility should have access to bariatric equipment, to further aid in the patient’s mobility.
Consider having two caregivers for seniors suffering from this condition. Look for a center with a space wide enough for seniors to move around if they’ll stay in a long-term care facility for seniors.
15. Physical Disabilities Care
An elderly patient suffering from any type of physical disability would need constant supervision and assistance in moving around. If the senior chooses to maintain some level of independence in her own home, structural modifications are needed to ensure that assistive devices for mobility such as walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs, aren’t impeded.
Installing handrails, ramps, making fire alarms, and safety equipment within the senior’s reach would have to be considered, too.
A senior with physical disabilities, apart from accessing specific care and assistance plan, should still maintain some level of independence and physical activities.
16. Learning Disabilities Care
Older people with learning disabilities have far more special needs and require extra care. They have specific vulnerabilities. A care plan should be created especially on a case-by-case basis, to suit the complex needs of the senior.
Ideally, the patient should’ve had proper care through the years from professionals from special disability service facilities. These professionals should work in tandem with the caregivers and medical specialists of the care facility in order to provide a more comprehensive and tailor-made care plan.
17. Palliative care
This type of care is focused on providing an elderly patient with improved quality of life by proper management of pain, stress, and other potentially debilitating symptoms.
Palliative care aims to provide comfort to individuals who suffer from serious illnesses such as:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Disease
Often confused with end-of-life care services, both are provided to elders with terminal diseases. However, while end-of-life care may be centered on fulfilling the dying wishes of the patient and the family members for a “less painful death”, palliative care can be provided whether the patient is dying or not.
Aged Care Facilities
While most older people prefer to stay in their homes, it may not be possible anymore, especially if the individual would need more complex and specialized care or they have other reasons.
Sending them to care facilities may be the best option, as care and assistance are provided by professionals round-the-clock. These are the options for outside of home aged care facilities:
• Board and Care Homes: They’re also known as residential care facilities or group homes. These private centers are small and typically a house only with a few residents. While personal care and other basic needs are provided, residents don’t have on-site access to nursing and medical care.
• Assisted Living: Elderly patients in this facility also need assistance in accomplishing their daily activities but generally on a lesser scale as compared to nursing homes. Assisted living centers may house from 25 to 120 or more seniors, who require different levels of care. An assisted living facility would assess the needs of the elderly and the care package needed prior to admission.
Older adults in this set-up have their own rooms and share common areas. Depending on the state, assisted living center residents typically enjoy basic services and care packages, as well as access to social and recreational activities.
• Nursing Homes: Senior residents found in nursing homes enjoy a wider range of health, personal, and medical care. Most center occupants have existing physical and mental conditions that make daily movements challenging. That’s why these centers are also known as skilled nursing facilities. Apart from aiding the elderly’s daily activities, nursing homes also offer rehabilitation services that include physical, speech, and occupational therapies.
The Bottom Line
Understanding the elderly’s need for continuous care and assistance while maintaining full compassion and patience is what makes professional caregivers different from the rest.
Whether working to aid a senior citizen at home or in aged care facilities, families can rest assured that their loved one is being accompanied by and cared for by professionals who can help them with their physical, emotional, and mental well-being.