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An article in this weekend’s New York Times raised an important question: Is aging-in-place the right situation for everybody? While research shows that four out of five adults age 65 and older want to stay in their current home as long as they can, the article reports on the increased isolationism some people experience due to their decreased mobility and narrowing social circles (among other factors), and the increased depression that understandingly results as a consequence. For some, the writer concludes, staying at home is not a positive experience.

It’s worth noting, however, an important point that writer Paula Span makes: “…But it is clear that while physical and mental health play key roles, the difference between those stuck at home and those able to participate in life beyond their front doors also depends on their environments and on assistance.”

Indeed, and that goes to the crux of the current national debate on the future of elder care as the Baby Boomers advance further into their golden years: What does that “assistance” look like and who shall provide it?

More and more often, it will be provided by professional caregivers, such as those with CareLinx, who are properly trained to provide the array of personal care services required by an aging population. Recent research from AARP suggests family and friends will become less and less an option. Whereas in 2010 there were approximately seven caregivers for every person aged 80 or more, that number will be cut practically in half over the next two decades due to the significant uptick in the percentage of older Americans and the comparably smaller family sizes that have been the trend over the last few decades.

When an elder person’s assistance needs outstretch what the family can or should try to do, it’s imperative that loved ones recognize that in-home partial or full-time care is an option — and that it can be substantially less costly than turning to institutional care, both financially and in terms of the toll on their loved one’s mental and physical well-being. As some of the 250+ reader comments to the Times article underscored, living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has its own set of drawbacks, and the loss of identity, daily control, and independence that stems from their patient model approach to care can certainly “age” a person and “imprison” them in their own way.

We agree that home is not the best setting for every elder, particularly those attempting to live alone despite progressive cognitive deterioration and minimal structured support. For the vast majority of seniors, however, aging in place remains a viable goal. The companionship and services of a qualified professional caregiver can keep our loved ones comfortable and safe at home. Perhaps more importantly, it can also help them stay young
at heart.

CareLinx "hugging heart" logoCareLinx CEO Sherwin Sheik

Sherwin photo in CNBC April 2015

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