With the population of baby boomers continually aging, the number of elderly people increases across the United States. Consequently, the need for long-term care surges with such individuals requiring assistance to function optimally at their vulnerable ages. Long-term care thus provides aid for both medical and non-medical needs of the elderly population (Wilensky & Teitelbaum, 2020). Such services include companionship, aspects of hygiene such as bathing, dressing or using the bathroom and other medical procedures that a person may not complete on their own. Therefore, long-term care provides a viable solution that improves the quality of life for aging individuals over a set period by enhancing their living environment.
Role of Long-Term Care
Aging populations can cause significant challenges for families and communities at large in instances where such individuals overwhelm their caregivers. Furthermore, the level of care increases with the deteriorating health of the elderly since they continually require full-time attention. As a result, most of the long-term care provided in the United States relies on unpaid family members (Wilensky & Teitelbaum, 2020). However, in cases where families can afford professional caregivers, the services are adopted either at home or in specified locations that cater only to elderly patients (Magruder, 2020). This shows that taking care of the elderly takes a huge toll on family members, both emotionally and physically, where they are required to constantly attend to the needs of their parents or relatives. In some cases, it may lead to abandonment of an aging individual that ultimately affects their quality of life, possibly leading to immature death.
Types of Long-Term Care
The different types of long-term care include independent living, assisted living, nursing homes, memory and hospice care, each with a specific target group. This division forms a critical part in ensuring that the situation of each patient is individually assessed to determine the severity and needs of the person (Magruder, 2020). Furthermore, the requirements for each elderly person differ significantly based on the level of health and the ability to complete daily tasks.
Independent living offers a relaxed environment for the elderly to live in housing arrangements that exclusively serve them and offer the highest form of autonomy. Such facilities offer a significantly better quality of life for them since they have opportunities to move and interact freely around the area with little to no supervision (Magruder, 2020). While this mode of long-term care offers benefits, it may however create an emotional detachment since the residents only see their family and relatives during visits. As a result, the development of depression can likely occur in cases where an individual may not participate in recreational activities aimed at keeping them busy during their stay.
Apart from that, assisted living offers a different form of long-term care that provides independence but focusses on meeting the needs of individuals on a need basis. The degree of autonomy experienced in these facilities enables the elderly to enjoy a peaceful life since the effort is not on medical or health issues but rather the maintenance of a safe environment (Wilensky & Teitelbaum, 2020). The level of personalization in this case is also significantly higher since it is expected that individuals in the program can make sound decisions. Consequently, assisted living greatly correlates with independent living with their emphasis on community related activities.
Nevertheless, nursing homes have a significantly different environment that creates a blend of hospital and home care. In this case, these homes have professional nurses and caregivers that pay special attention to patient’s requests full-time to ensure their personal and medical needs are accomplished (Wilensky & Teitelbaum, 2020). In most cases, individuals who end up in nursing homes have medical issues that require constant supervision or are unable to perform personal care activities on their own.
Moreover, memory care involves assisting elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in a specific environment with a set routine. Due to the risk of stress caused by differences in daily activities, caregivers frequently supervise and check patients regularly to ensure they stick to their habits and support them to navigate throughout the day (Magruder, 2020). Ultimately, memory care requires the full attention of a professional because simple situations can escalate into life threatening ones, especially when a patient wanders to a dangerous environment.
Lastly, hospice care focusses on providing palliative care for patients who are not expected to live for more than six months. In this case, the efforts put in place by caregivers in a home environment ensure that the individuals can enjoy their remaining time living comfortably (Magruder, 2020). Therefore, the role of hospice care lies in eliminating pain since at such stages, possibilities of a cure are extremely minimal. This, however, is not limited to the elderly since a number of chronic illnesses or conditions can affect individuals of all ages at any point.
Long-term care forms an essential part of assisting the elderly and vulnerable in society. Such solutions offer viable options for the elderly to live comfortably despite their limited capabilities, with a number of facilities geared towards enhancing their quality of life. These services include independent living, assisted living, nursing homes, memory and hospice care, that target different individuals with specific mental and overall health challenges. Ultimately, in cases where family may be unable to provide the best environment, long-term care offers options with professionals capable of dealing with the elderly.
Magruder, K. (2020). Long-term care explained – Independent living, assisted living, nursing homes, memory care, hospice [Video]. YouTube.
Wilensky, S. E., & Teitelbaum, J. B. (2020). Essentials of health policy and law (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.