As the Fourth of July approaches, we should all take some time to reflect on what independence really means for us, and for those in the home care business, to our clients and their families. For our forefathers, independence meant “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As we age, it means that for us, and for the home care businesses, it means all that for clients and their families too.
- Independence means life: A 2013 study of supercentenarians in Japan suggests that “maintaining physical independence is a key feature of survival into extreme old age.” While most people won’t live to be age 100 plus, maintaining independence helps to stay active, stay fit, and stay connected to familiar surroundings, quality-of-life issues that studies have shown help to prolong life. For dementia patients, a 2006 study from researchers at the University Memory and Aging Center at Case Western Reserve found that they lived longer when families delayed putting them in nursing homes. Further proof that independence is important and a consideration for longevity and quality of life.
- Independence means liberty: Nearly 90 percent of seniors 65 and older surveyed by AARP said they want to live in their own home as long as possible. A recent business story in The Atlantic, “Living, and Dying, At Home,” focused on the rise of aging care communities that have come about because seniors want to age in place. As an expert in the article states, by living in these communities in their own homes, or in senior apartment buildings, seniors are able to continue to make their own decisions about their life and daily activities, choosing when to get up and go to sleep, what to eat, and what activities they’ll do. They don’t need to follow a regimented schedule so common in nursing homes and even some assisted living facilities. But these aging care communities are mostly found in large, urban areas, such as Boston, New York, or San Francisco. Most seniors don’t have these options available, and even those who do may still need additional assistance to safely stay in their own home.
- Independence means pursuit of happiness: According to the eight key characteristics of happy people by Dr. David Myers, author of the Pursuit of Happiness, I feel two factors he cites can be greatly tied to seniors remaining at home: “Happy people feel a sense of personal control” and “Happy people have close relationships”. For the first factor, removing a senior from his or her home is probably one of the biggest ways—other than losing the ability to drive—that they lose control over their own lives. For the second factor, many elderly have lived in their own homes for years. They have developed close relationships with neighbors. Moving them to a place without familiar places and with total strangers may lead to depression (or worse) in some seniors who aren’t prepared to cut ties.
Folks who want home care in their private homes often cite the desire to remain as independent as possible and live independently. Home care provides them the safety net they need, and the peace of mind for their families that they are able to follow their heart’s desire with adequate safety nets in place.
corecubed’s marketing experts have a special knowledge and expertise in home care, home health care and hospice. Our services include high-quality, SEO-friendly aging care content which you then make available to your home care clients, such as blogs, newsletter, brochures, and website copy. Our content keeps anyone interested in aging care informed about the latest trends and findings, so that they, or their loved ones, can continue to live at home for as long as possible, and as independently as possible.
So let us help your business help your clients continue to celebrate independence well into their sunset years. And Happy Fourth of July! May we all remain as independent as possible for a long as possible.
Whether you are simply just aging yourself or are a frontline member of the aging care community, it’s important that we take every opportunity we can and share our stories, insights and concerns with those who can make a difference. And the annual White House Conference on Aging provides the ultimate chance for us to take what we know and our suggestions on the future of aging care straight to the top.
This year’s conference will take place on July 13. I’m letting you know about the conference now, not only so you’ll set aside that time on July 13, but also so you have time to participate ahead of time. The conference website, WhiteHouseConferenceonAging.gov, lists six different ways you can get involved, and I hope you’ll consider some if not all, of them. The following ways to get involved, however, may be particularly relevant to anyone in the home-centered care business:
Provide Your Thoughts About the Issues: The conference takes a look at four policy briefs related to caregiving, on retirement, about elder justice, on long-term services and support, and healthy aging. You can read the briefs online and are encouraged to provide your own online comments. If you read through what’s already there, you’ll see several caregiving organizations have already offered their insights and concerns.
Join the Twitter Chat: By now you may know what a firm believer I am in the intrinsic value of social media. Well, the White House Conference on Aging knows it, too, and that’s why they have a Twitter page dedicated to the conference. The White House encourages members of the caregiving community to Tweet their questions on caregiving using the hashtag #WHCOA. Your question may be chosen to be one answered by the panel of experts during the conference.
Host a Conference Viewing Party: The White House provides detailed information on how you can host a viewing party, including questions you can ask your viewers to facilitate and further the discussion of caregiving. Consider this part of your staff training, or part of a neighborhood or family event.
Don’t waste another minute. You can sign up now via email to receive regular updates on the conference as it approaches. This link also provides a wealth of other communication options in case you are interested in any sort of specific information on aging-related and disease related issues.
At corecubed, we’re all about getting you the latest information to move your business forward. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is not one to be missed, and we look forward to learning from it and applying what we learn as we work with our marketing partner clients to grow their businesses.
Our experts specialize in the latest tools and information in aging care and marketing, to help your homecare and aging services business stay current and at the forefront of our field. We can help identify and bridge your knowledge gaps and provide an action plan for addressing the issues your business faces now, and in the future. To learn more about our various marketing services, contact us today.
A new joint research study conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, released on June 4, highlights the challenges unpaid family caregivers and their loved ones face, and the caregiving solutions needed. Not only does this study build on previous such studies conducted by NACS and AARP in 1997, 2004, and 2007, these advocacy groups say this new research provides an even better baseline for identifying today’s family caregiver and changes to caregiving in the future.
Here are several emerging trends in family caregiving highlighted in the report, along with my insights on why your homecare business should keep these in mind:
Changing caregiver demographics: While women still carry the bulk of caregiving duties–the average caregiver is a 49 year old woman who takes care of an elderly relative—men now make up 40 percent of family caregivers, providing 23 hours of care weekly. And middle age caregivers no longer have a monopoly. As the parent-child age gap continues to rise, Millennials, those between 18 and 34, now make up 25 percent of family caregivers. And as we continue to live longer, though not necessarily healthier, there has been an increase in caregivers age 75 or older, usually caring for an ill spouse. These seniors often go it alone or seek help from friends and family.
Caregivers aren’t a single demographic and their needs aren’t a one-size-fits-all, which is why it’s crucial for your home care business to showcase the depth and breadth of services it offers, for both the caregiver and their loved ones.
The rise of higher-hour caregivers: This growing category encompasses caregivers who provide at least 21 hours a week of unpaid care, have been doing so for an average of 5 ½ years and are expected to continue providing such care for another 5 years.
Higher-hour caregivers can easily suffer caregiver burn out much more quickly than the occasional family caregiver. The study found 46 percent of higher-hour caregivers report high emotional stress. Home care agencies provide valuable services to these caregivers, in terms of not just daily task management, but also respite care. In order for family caregivers to continue clocking in these hours for the next five years, they need to all focus on themselves. The support of a respected home care agency and its well-trained staff can help these caregivers see that they should put themselves first, and give them the tools to do so, without compromising the level of care they expect for their loved ones.
Growing financial strains: The financial strain of caregiving continues to be a major factor in caregiver stress. Caregivers reported an average household income of $45,700. Higher-hour caregivers, specifically, reported difficulty finding affordable options within their communities, including affordable in-home health services. In addition, four out of 10 long-distance caregivers use paid services to care for their loved one, but 21 percent of those who lived more than an hour away reported feeling a financial strain.
It’s our job in home care to be seen as an ally on this caregiving journey, demonstrating that the benefits of our services far outweigh the costs. If a caregiver doesn’t feel she is getting what she paid for, that could compound her feelings of financial strain.
Home care reduces some of the burdens these family caregivers face. At corecubed, we help you market your homecare business more effectively to reach out to caregivers and meet their needs. We can also help with staff training, to help your business attract and retain the best and brightest so that your services are seen as a benefit, not just a cost. It’s not about lowering costs or offering the cheapest option available, but the best options and services available to assist these families where they are at, both financially and emotionally.