Home care and hospice are poised to play a key role in coming years. A wide range of forces is joining to push care away from nursing homes and drive it toward home and community-based care. Based on demography and dollars, experts agree that the destiny of health care lies in the home. The first of the 78 million baby boomers turned 65 last year, and the rest of the boomers will reach their golden years in the next two decades, making health care dollars grow even scarcer. As the silver tsunami sweeps on, the most important trend in health care is the shift from hospitals and nursing homes to home care, from treatment to proactive monitoring and care.
But they can count on home care combined with technology to help them age in place. Technology now helps the many U.S. seniors who live at home to stay independent, enrich their lives, and keep in touch with those they love. Telehealth and activity monitors promote out-of-hospital care for chronic patients and solutions for healthy aging. Digital consults with doctors and nurses help patients to self-manage their care. And online social networks empower people to keep learning, working, and staying engaged in the communities where they live.
Combining high tech with a warm human touch helps seniors stay in their homes even longer. So many agencies now allow patients and family members to choose their own home health aides. This growing trend helps patients and aides form genuine bonds, so families have peace of mind that their loved ones are in good hands. It helps ensure that caregivers can join fully in patients’ lives, whether this involves running errands, going with them to the doctor, or assisting them with medical conditions. It also means that someone is there to provide seniors with company and conversation. Many aides are more than caregivers for their patients. They also become friends, and almost family. They’re among the reasons why home care is poised to a key role in coming years as the center of health care in our country.