Community Home Care: Hope & Reality on a collision course?

Part 1: Sorting Definitions, Medical & Accommodation Factors

Community home care for an aging demographic; what does it mean? The term “community home care” s bandied about as though it has a specific meaning and that we should all know what it is – but it can mean:

Aging in place: remaining in your own traditional home, supported by housekeeping and healthcare services, until you are no longer able to cope

Purpose built or adapted housing residences: for those who want to be part of a “community” of people that might be comprised only of older seniors, or a mixture of people of various ages, as in a neighbourhood, with housekeeping and healthcare services available.

Care residences: where older seniors are the main residents because they require dedicated care provided by community members, volunteers and professionals; paid for by residents or by government, non-profit or charitable organizations or a combination of these. This is where Long Term Care facilities enter the discussion.

Essentially, there are four major factors to consider in this mix: Medical, Accommodation (housing), Demographics and Funding. Here are the first two.

Medical. There are risks to the “aging in place” model. Many older seniors become trapped in the “tea and toast” syndrome wherein they do not eat properly or take care of themselves physically and mentally. Loneliness and depression and physical injuries, which may be undiscovered for hours or days, can occur.

Accommodation. Moving to a smaller home, whether purpose-built or in the broader neighbourhood can be a daunting prospect. Most people rightly dread moving, with its stress and upheaval. Sometimes, too, family members pressure their elders into staying put since the home is “the family home” and repository of happy memories (and increased, non-taxable capital gains over time.) In terms of their housing, many older seniors are house rich but cash-flow poor.

Hope and reality on a collision course? Should government direct scarce resources into caring for seniors in need at home when the logical solution is for them to sell their valuable house and downsize, and then use the surplus to pay for the help they need?

This sets context for the next blog post on demographics and funding. In brief, Boomers looking forward should consider their assets owned as well as their income streams; as their hope and reality for community home care for themselves may be on a collision course.

 

Marie Howes

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