Nursing homes represent one area of healthcare that is becoming more and more important. According to the United Nations Population Fund and HelpAge International, the number of people over 60 will be around one billion by 2020. This shows just how important it is to focus on nursing homes.
To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by Adventist University’s Online Master of Healthcare Administration degree program.
Senior Care Progress has not Been Easy
The idea of helping the elderly is not a new concept. In the 19th century, many elderly people were housed in Almshouses. In addition to caring for the elderly, however, these buildings were also home to insane, homeless, and inebriated people. At the time, this kind of living was not only an awful solution to elderly care, it was often a social symbol of failure, despair, and poverty.
In 1880, only 33 percent of the population in Almhouses was elderly people. This number jumped to 67 percent by the year 1923. Conditions in these establishments were horrible. Seniors were at an age when their memory can fail, immune systems can be compromised, and many are prone to injury. Even though these disadvantages were known, they were forced to live in relatively dangerous conditions.
It was clear that the elderly were not provided with the best care, which was why the 1935 Social Security Act was put into place. This was America’s first step toward making policies that would ensure that people helped each other. Seniors had better options when they reached their Golden Years.
Starting in the year 1960, the number of nursing homes grew by 140 percent. Seniors no longer had to worry about spending these years with sick or dangerous people. Although this change was positive and full of hope, these nursing homes were not without their problems.
The Problems Still Plaguing Senior Care
One major concern that plagues nursing homes is that one in three people die within one year of being admitted. There are several theories regarding these tragic statistics, but no real answer exists.
One of the most common complaints seniors have in nursing homes is that help does not come when they press the ‘help’ button. This then leaves seniors at risk for a lack of timely care that could potentially cost them their own lives.
Another complaint that some seniors and advocates worry about is a lack of personalized care. Although seniors may suffer from different issues requiring specialized care, this option is not always available to them in nursing homes.
For example, a person dealing with dementia could benefit from a change of pace, yet most nursing homes stick to a routine. It could be that there are simply not enough personnel to assign one caretaker for each senior, or it may be a lack of training.
There are also problems with the way family members are being treated. For some nursing homes, family members are made liable for certain expenses that contradict federal law.
Additionally, seniors who are being taken care of by Medicaid are sometimes treated as second-class citizens in some of these nursing homes.
Senior Care is Moving Forward
Although these issues are complex and difficult to address, changes are being made. For example, independent living has become a popular choice for many families. Because of advances in user-friendly technology, seniors can install alarm sensors that detect if they fall, CO2 leaks, or even floods. Family members can also hire in-home care to take care of some of tasks that might be hard for some seniors.
Some seniors are starting to see the benefit of co-housing so that everyone can help take care of each other. Seniors can choose those they live with, and they get to share responsibilities. Co-housing can also make it more affordable to hire personalized care, especially if all the seniors share similar medical issues.
Technology is also taking steps to provide seniors with a lot more help than ever before. Smart wearable technology can help to monitor things like a senior’s heart beat while also reminding them of appointments or when to take a medication.
Seniors are also starting to use video-to-video services, which uses the internet to connect seniors to family members and doctors. These services make it easier for seniors to not feel lonely as it gives them easier access to family. It is a service that also gives seniors an opportunity to talk to their doctors about a particular issue before going to the doctor.
As technology and design advancements in the nursing home industry continue to emerge, it is important that seniors and their families be aware of all the available options in order to choose the right retirement lifestyle they deserve.