Caring for the elderly at home

2015-11-11 06:00

ONE of the features of growing older is the possibility of needing assistance­ in daily chores and tasks critical to maintaining quality of life.

Because families these days tend to be widespread and the home does not necessarily have the necessary support system, many older family members move into a retirement village or an old-age home where care is given at maximum convenience and affordability to the family.

Many such organisations have the support structure and funding to maintain around-the-clock surveillance and assistance and thus become crucial to fill the gap where it has otherwise perhaps been impossible to do so at home.

Home-based care is not a new concept and countries such as the United Kingdom have many agencies whereby care-givers take on a role of caring for the elderly in their own environment.

The concept has been developing in South Africa as the financial crunch sees families seeking an alternative means of providing care for their loved ones without compromising their status quo or dignity.

Caring for the elderly is far more nuanced than simply attending to their physical needs. In the home environment the carer is trained to deal with her client in a holistic way, focusing on the fact that it is the environment they must adapt to the client and not the client adapt to the environment.

Caring for your loved one at home is very flexible and allows for specific needs to be met that are best suited to the clients likes and dislikes.

In home-based caring, one has the freedom to choose a variety of "care packages" ranging from “pop-in visits” , grocery shopping, basic medical care to companionship.

The carer becomes the link between the extended family, the health-care team and the environment they are in. In effect, the carer closes the gap and supports independence and seeks to maintain the individuals best interests without compromising essential care.

At home caring is not exclusively for the elderly, but comprises care for the convalescing at home after surgery of any age group, care for the child who has specific needs that are difficult to meet in the public arena and care for those who are terminally ill and require or prefer a private setting at home where comfort is a priority.

In the instance where one-on-one 24-hour care is unaffordable, a trained domestic worker, for example, takes on the role of the home carer and is vital in ensuring certain standards are met that would otherwise be needed in a facility.

Areas of training can include home health and safety for the ageing, dietary implementation, basic psychological care (dealing with the emotions as he or she loses independence), clear communication with the family of the client, basic first-aid and emergency procedures in the event of a medical emergency.

Change for most is a scary issue and especially as one gets older.

Home-based care enables the client to minimise change while receiving maximum care. - Supplied.

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