The Case for Senior Home Care: What Does the Evidence Show?

April 8, 2021 by Katie Davis

Cheerful asian senior man smiling.

Home care advocates argue truthfully that most people want to age in their own homes. But, if there’s one idea we want to impart at CarePods it’s this: the right place to age is in the environment of YOUR choosing. Is that settled? Good. 

The internet (and our very own blog!) contains many articles about whether seniors should choose to age-in-place with home care services or move to a retirement community. While these articles are well-meaning, they seek to answer the most obvious and easiest questions seniors face (i.e. how much care do I need, what’s nearby, and what can I afford). And yet, in focusing on the logistics of the matter at hand, we totally fail to address the root of the issue. 

Personal Autonomy, Choice and Senior Care

One of the things that gives us the most agency and happiness in our lives is the ability to make choices that align with our own belief systems and values. Without that basic dignity, many of us find it harder to adjust to new settings even if they’re ultimately what’s best for us.

(Quick pause: We recognize that cultivating choice and honoring independent thought while caring for an elderly loved one who appears to be in denial about their care needs isn’t easy. We won’t cover that topic on this post, but you can read more on the topic here and here.)

When any of us embark on something new, we do so because we’re typically motivated by a particular goal. Aging is no different. That’s why we emphasize the power of goal-setting and independent choice in driving positive caregiving decisions.

When you remove any sense of achievement or agency from any person’s life (including older people!), depression, resistance and every other nasty emotion you can think of surfaces. And for good reason!

Don’t believe us, keep reading… we have data!

Is Home Care the Right Setting?

A group of researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an overview of systematic reviews on home care versus community care settings. This was their conclusion:

“The evidence on the impact of home care compared to alternative care locations on elder health outcomes is heterogeneous. Our findings support positive health impacts of home support interventions for community dwelling elders compared to independent living at home. There is insufficient evidence to determine the impact of alternative care locations on elders’ health.”

Boland, et al.

Put in laymen’s terms, their conclusion was that when comparing living home alone with living at home with support, older adults did express a preference for and their health benefitted from the latter. But, the results were inconclusive in terms of whether alternative care locations (i.e. aging outside of the home in a care facility) resulted in similarly positive results.

The study’s findings support what we all know to be true: when it comes to senior care, it’s about personal choice and support. 

You Do You

If you were waiting on permission to take your aging journey into your own hands, consider this post your permission. If you feel guilty because your loved one is stuck in a no-win situation and you’re not sure which option is best for them, consider this your sign to involve them in the decision-making.

If you’re an overwhelmed caregiving fighting with a loved one who lacks support but desperately needs it, know this: a care SETTING does not equal care SUPPORT. Start where you are with what you have. You’ll be surprised by how much progress you’ll make along the way.

Until next time, we wish you a beautiful week and a meaningful journey ahead.

Your friends at CarePods.

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