The impact of home care on seniors’ mental health
As you enter your senior years, maintaining your health becomes more and more of a priority—and your mental health is no exception. Mental health decline isn’t inevitable and there are things you can do to stay mentally fit for longer.
For seniors who live independently, studies show that visits from a high-quality caregiver a few times a week provide enrichment, stimulation, and companionship. All things that improve mental health.
With that in mind, let’s talk more about the impact of high-quality home care on the mental health of seniors.
Home care has better health outcomes
Where you live greatly influences your health and wellbeing. Your home is where you create memories and where you spend time among your treasured belongings. Leaving your home when your health begins to decline can cause a lot of emotional and mental stress to elderly adults.
Home care services might be the right compromise. They allow seniors to stay in the place where they are happiest, while still receiving care for the issues that come along with aging.
The research seems to agree. When the McMaster Health Forum in Canada looked at research around the topic of homecare, they came to a few conclusions:
- While evidence was mixed, most preferred home care support over other locations of care.
- Hospital-at-home model improved patient satisfaction and may have reduced the likelihood of living in residential care (after six months).
- Home care may be less expensive than admission to an acute care ward in a hospital.
- Home care improved function and medication management, while increasing the use of community services.
A separate study on home support also showed reduced nursing home and hospital admissions, a decrease in falls, and an improvement in physical function for seniors.
Home care helps seniors remain independent
It’s important to create secure living conditions that support seniors’ health and wellbeing, while still accounting for their personal freedom and independence.
Staying at home as you age lets you continue to do the activities that make you happiest. But for seniors with deteriorating mental health, activities like bathing, meal management, and getting enough social interaction sometimes falls by the wayside.
Home care services can:
- Enhance a senior’s day-to-day life, without sacrificing their freedom
- Ensure they have adequate housing that meets their needs as they age
- Monitor their health and ensure their mental health is in good shape
Qualified caregivers help with things like household chores and driving to social activities, lessening the burden of taking care of themselves.
The global population is aging. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will nearly double, from 12% to 22%.”
Helping seniors stay at home for as long as possible has the added benefit of making sure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.
Home care ensures seniors stick to their care plan
Mental health disorders like depression and anxiety require specific medications at specific doses. And a senior’s doctor or medical team will usually let them know exactly which medications to take and when to take them.
But if your treatment plan is complex, it doesn’t take much to go off track and miss an important prescription.
A home care specialist can help you stay on top of your medication schedule, communicate with your medical team, and monitor your symptoms to catch any improvements or declines in your mental health. For more severe mental health cases, your caregiver can provide around-the-clock care and support.
Home care encourages healthier habits
Living independently has many upsides. You can do exactly what you want, when you want to do it and don’t have to answer to anyone. At the same time, this attitude can lead to some bad habits—namely, decreasing your activity level, indulging in poor eating behaviour, or consuming too much alcohol.
Having a qualified caregiver to encourage the habits that will improve your lifestyle has countless benefits on your state of mind.
Here’s how caregivers can help:
Prepare healthy meals: Skipping meals, poor appetite, and cravings for sugary foods can be signs of depression. Nutrition plays a key part in managing mood disorders like depression. On the other hand, foods high in vitamins and nutrients like vegetables, whole grains, and fatty fish have been shown to increase serotonin, the happy chemical in your body, and can elevate seniors’ mood. Your caregiver can help you shop for groceries and prepare nutritious meals for you.
Help seniors stay active: There’s a large connection between physical activity and good mental health. Your caregiver can accompany you on walks, help out while you garden, and can bring you to group fitness classes—which have the added benefit of providing positive socialization.
Provide entertainment and connection: As you age, it gets harder to maintain quality social connections. Your caregiver should be chosen because you share the same interests or have the same outlook on life. Spending a few hours with a companion while playing a board game or watching your favourite TV show can bring joy to a senior’s heart and maintain their overall wellbeing.
What to look for when choosing a home care service
High-quality home care is hard to come by. That’s why it’s important to find a reputable agency that considers the following:
Care should be client centred: Seniors with mental health issues need tailored home care support. Certified Nursing Aides, Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses come with years of medical experience and training. The right agency will ensure seniors are matched with caregivers that have experience dealing with mental health issues.
Care should be goal orientated: A quality home care service starts with the goals of their clients. At Nurse Next Door, we look at goals through a “Happier Aging” lens and ask clients to tell us about the activities that will bring joy to their life—however small or simple.
Care should ensure continuity: Avoid agencies that send different caregivers on each visit. High-quality home care services will always strive to give their senior clients a perfect caregiver match so they can form a relationship and look forward to caregiver visits.
Nurse Next Door helps seniors maintain positive mental health and wellness. Learn more about our senior home care services here.