Elderly Living At Home vs Nursing Home:
What is The Best Option?

In an era where social isolation is rife, meaningful human relationships – and the environments that support them – are now more important than ever.

So it is that one of the most significant decisions facing the elderly population and their loved ones is the question of whether or not to opt for care in a nursing home.

A decision regarding the best option for elderly living depends on several factors, but in general, should consider the following concepts:

  • Independent living has the advantage of helping to maintain independence and is best for people who are able to live at home safely and who are able to maintain sufficient social contact via visits or video calling
  • Residential aged care has the advantage of catering for life’s needs under one roof, particularly with frequent visits or virtual video visits, and is best for people who are struggling to live independently due to declining physical or mental health.

When it comes to aged care globally, it’s widely acknowledged that the pace of population aging is much faster than in the recent past. Here are some similarly alarming statistics as shared by the World Health Organisation:

  • In 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries
  • In 2020, the number of people aged 60 years and older outnumbered children younger than 5 years
  • Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double from 12% to 22%

Critically, these statistics indicate that high-quality care for the older members of our community is fast becoming a public health issue that could – and should – be offered greater priority in the political realm.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the key considerations involved in whether or not you should choose aged care (e.g. a nursing home) or at-home care for the elderly people in your life.

As with many important life decisions, each option comes with its pros and cons.

What should I think about when it comes to accommodation for the elderly?

When working through accommodation and care options for the elderly people in your life, there are a number of things to consider – namely:

  • Location – where is going to be most convenient for your loved one, and you and/or carers?
  • Assistance requirements – in what areas of life does your loved one need most assistance (e.g. communication, shopping, general mobility, healthcare etc.)?
  • Communication requirements – what are the communication needs of the elderly person in your life (hint: communication devices like the Konnekt Videophone or Konnekt Captioning Videophone, designed specifically for the elderly, may be just the support they need)
  • Health status – what is the current physical and cognitive health status of the elderly person in your life?
  • Type of care – what type of care is going to be most appropriate for your loved one (e.g. retirement village with low-level care and supervision, or a higher-care facility such as a nursing home?)
  • Family roles – what role can other family members and friends play in the care arrangement?
  • Finances – what budget (if any) is set aside for the care of your loved one? What is a reasonable monthly or annual figure that is manageable?
  • Caregiving arrangements – is your parent or loved one in a current care arrangement? What care setting is going to best facilitate this in an ongoing manner?
  • Work/life balance – what kind of care setting is going to facilitate the best work/life/care balance for both you and your loved one?

Put simply, while the care options for elderly people are vast and varied, deciding on the best option is a decision that relies heavily on the conditions surrounding it.

Recently, the Medical Journal of Australia cited that the social system in Australia provides institutional, long-term care for almost 20% of the population aged 80+ years, and 6% of those aged 65+ years.

Not surprisingly, this places Australia in the position of the country with the highest proportion of older people living in institutional care, as compared with 11 other nations of a similar economic status including the USA and the United Kingdom.

But why is institutional care so popular in places including Australia, the United States, United Kingdom and most of Europe?

Firstly, let’s take a look at the two major options available:

  • Residential aged care (also known as nursing homes, care homes and care facilities)
  • Independent, at-home care

Benefits of residential aged care

Residential aged care can be a great choice for your loved one if:

  • They need extra support in terms of daily healthcare, mobility etc.
  • They are feeling socially isolated and are in need of more regular human connection
  • You plan on maintaining a shared care plan – e.g. balancing care between family and friends, and institutionalized care
  • You have funds set aside for such a care arrangement, or can afford to do so
  • For whatever reason, you are unable to be located close enough to your loved one to ensure sufficient at-home care

However, there are still some considerations of which you should remain wary.

For example, if the aged care facility is privately owned, it may not be subject to the increasingly stringent guidelines, codes and recommendations as laid out by the national bodies responsible for aged care such as the Australian Government Department for Health and the Care Quality Commission (United Kingdom).

In the United States of America, the proportion of nursing homes with for-profit ownership is known to be up to 69.3%, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent times, the privatization of aged care facilities has remained an important consideration for a variety of global organizations dedicated to improving quality of care for members of the aging population.

Of course, this should not be regarded as a generalized summary of all privately owned care facilities. When choosing a care arrangement for your loved one, ensure you take the time – if able – consider all needs, requirements and possibilities within the context of what’s available to you.

Benefits of the elderly living at home

Independent, semi-independent or at-home care can be a good option for the older person in your life if:

  • Their health status and desire for independence outweighs the need for (and availability of) daily healthcare
  • You’re open to the use of specially designed assistive communication technologies such as the Konnekt Videophone and Konnekt Captioning Videophone
  • Independence is a top priority for both you and your loved one
  • You and/or other friends and family members are able to provide a higher degree of care in lieu of institutionalized services
  • The availability of this type of care is greater than the availability of other care arrangements in your location or circumstances
  • You are able to secure the relevant financial support for select services to be provided to your loved one while they remain at home

It’s also important to note that a variety of government-funded “help at home” programs may exist and be accessible to you, based on your location.

Organizations such as the Australian Government’s My Aged Care network, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) list of registered charities and support services and the United States’ Caring.com resource are great places to start in terms of understanding the services available to you, and the eligibility criteria that ensure them.

Ultimately, no matter what care arrangement you decide upon for your loved one, we’re moved to end this article in the way that it began: by remaining aware of the importance of maintaining healthy human connections and relationships throughout every decision and life stage.

Devices such as the Konnekt Videophone and Konnekt Captioning Videophone are specially designed to make communicating with the elderly people in your life easier, more enjoyable and more fulfilling – for all.

In fact, Konnekt Videophones currently play a vital role in residential care facilities (care homes), providing essential social connection to family and friends, as well as in the home to support independent living.

With features such as extra large screens, captioning functionality, one-press connect, super-loud speakers and no training required, it’s no wonder Konnekt customers are so happy with this special product.

Are you curious about what Konnekt’s leading communication technology can do to support the elderly person in your life during their transition to assisted living arrangements?

We’d love to help! Contact our friendly and experienced team today or visit our website to learn more.

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