Is Community-Based Care the Future of Senior Care?
Is Community-Based Care the Future of Senior Care?
The world’s fastest-growing age group is seniors 65 and up. And yet, even today, senior care needs are woefully unmet by the current healthcare system. Luckily, local staff and volunteers have been pushing for more robust community-based services. Instead of moving seniors to facilities, community-based care advocates for seniors to age in place while also receiving key services.
Perhaps you’re researching care services for your loved one and want to know more. You may not like the idea of a care facility or you’re worried it will uproot your loved one’s routine and comfort. Could community-based care be the solution? Let’s go over the possibilities of community-based care as well as new home care trends in senior living.
Defining Community-Based Care
Community-based care refocuses how we provide senior services. Instead of relying on facilities, seniors can live at home and get community-based services that fit their needs. This type of care lets them keep their current community as they get much-needed services.
In fact, many local organizations have been providing senior care for years, whether through non-profits, faith-based organizations, senior centers, or community-led volunteer initiatives. The idea behind promoting community-based care is to better fund and support these groups.
Types of Community-Based Care
As you can imagine, community-based comes in many shapes and sizes. Often these programs depend on local and state funding. Some common programming today may involve:
- Adult daycare centers: Adults can get recreational and medical services during daytime hours. Like child daycare, it runs from Monday-Friday so that caregivers have a respite to work or take a break.
- Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE): This program provides interdisciplinary medical and social services for seniors (most of whom are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid).
- Home and Community-Based Waiver (HCBS waivers): Some states offer waivers to families who prefer long-term care at home or in the community, instead of in a facility.
- Community respite care: Some local programs are offering respite care, including at home or in a senior center. The idea is to maintain the care receiver’s level of comfort with familiar environments.
Depending on your community, care services might even be more extensive, including health-adjacent issues such as a food pantry, mental health services, housekeeping help, and legal counsel.
Benefits of Community-Based Care
The idea of locally designed and provided services is highly beneficial for seniors. Overall, it protects seniors’ preferences to age in place, which may be more comfortable and less lonely for them. Specifically, community-based care is advantageous because:
- It fills senior-care gaps specific to that community and takes the onus off caregivers.
- It allows for a continuum of care between independent living and nursing homes, which can improve senior quality of life.
- It’s not as expensive for families and may be covered by local or state programs.
- It’s provided by local community members, who may better understand seniors’ culture and needs. In turn, this can improve senior satisfaction with services.
- It has potential for long-term relationships between seniors and staff/volunteers.
- It may reduce hospitalization.
These are just some of the benefits that could significantly improve the quality of life for both the senior and the caregiver.
2021 Home Care Trends
Americans have always had a preference for home care. Nowadays, that preference has become stronger with the possibility to combine or enhance it with community services. This may be an increasingly popular trend for several reasons:
- Community-based services weren’t available or well-funded in the past. Seniors are more aware that they have other options, and it’s not just all-or-nothing for living at home.
- Home care was once considered more expensive than care facilities. These days, that’s just not the case. The expense of traditional health care has increased significantly, often leaving residential care beyond families' means.
- COVID-19 has highlighted downsides to care facilities, such as distance from family and friends. Many seniors are planning to close that gap by choosing home-based or community-based care that gives them more leeway during quarantine. By aging in place, they can more easily stay close to keep and maintain their communities in their own way.
Thankfully, seniors have more choices in their living situations today. With community-based care, seniors can get the services they need, while retaining their independence too.
Is community-based care the future of senior care? We believe it will play a major role in providing key services to seniors and protecting their wish to age in place. Not only are these services beneficial for seniors and communities, but they’re also significantly more cost-effective.
As COVID-19 has taught us, home care and community care can also reduce loneliness and ensure seniors maintain connections to their loved ones. In this way, seniors will have greater control over their golden years now - and for years to come.
- Ageing, United Nations, https://www.un.org
- Home & Community-Based Services, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, https://www.n4a.org
- Community Based Care, HealthinAging.org, https://www.healthinaging.org
- How Community-Based Organizations Can Help, American Academy of Family Physicians, https://www.aafp.org
- Elderly People Recuperate Better in a Community Hospital, British Medical Journal, https://www.bmj.com
About the Contributor
Daniel Morris is the founder of My Caring Plan which has a list of resources to help guide you through the questions you may have as a caregiver. Resources include financial, legal, and health information.
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