Living American | Your Guide to Life in the U.S

The Many Shades of Adult Care

It is apparent that people are living longer these days, and in many cases our bodies last longer than our abilities to function properly either physically and mentally. Consequently there have sprung up various levels of adult care depending upon the manner of disability with which people have to become accommodated.

Many families will take care of their elderly relatives themselves for as long as possible, but with commitments of careers and raising families, it is not as easy or convenient when families in years past looked upon that situation as normal.

As people age, their conditions can become acute and the level of care that our elderly relatives need goes way beyond what a typical family can do as well as going way beyond their economic abilities.

The difficult thing about the whole scenario of adult care is that it doesn’t happen all at once. One moment we see our parents living independently without any need for care, as they go about their lives just like anyone else. Then an incident occurs, which might be a fall, a heart attack or some other major or minor event that changes the dynamics nearly overnight.

Now, it may be more difficult simply to get around so assistance with walkers, wheel chairs and limited mobility assistance may be the first indications that different living accommodations may be in the offing.

Families are usually not really prepared for the stark difference in lifestyle that has suddenly entered the picture, because it is a very subtle and slow moving path from one of slight inconvenience to total dependence.

When Mom or Dad have to start using a cane or a wheelchair, that is not the end of the world, and in most cases it is not a big deal to stay put, or even move in with the family. But when an elderly person becomes more dependent either from a mental or physical standpoint, the situation can become very difficult in a short span of time.

The levels of adult care can range from in-home care which consists of periodic visits from home health care services, both private and public, to check up on an elderly patient. These services are frequently used after surgeries and hospital stays to help bridge a patient back into their home from the hospital.

Home health care is a very needed and productive level of adult care as visits can be as little or as much as needed. Visits can occur a couple of times a month, weekly, several times a week or even daily. It all depends upon the needs of the patient.

Such situations as helping to give medications, physical therapy, assistance in bathing, light housekeeping and evaluation duties are all duties that home healthcare giver are involved with. There are private and governmental agencies that provide home health care, and many forms of insurance covers this portion of adult care, particularly when the individual has just had surgery or a stay in a hospital.

The next level of adult care would be the assisted living phase, where the patient is ambulatory and mentally capable, but not strong enough to really be on their own. This typically is a situation where an individual has lost a spouse and their mental condition is good, but they have lost a step or two physically and cannot keep up with the responsibilities of maintaining a residence with a yard and a larger house to clean.

Many times assisted living residents are still able to drive, and many have their own vehicles. There is generally a facility for the provision of meals which are taken in a dining area. Each resident will usually have their own room and are independent to that level.

There is usually a nurse on staff who is on site in order to take care of any minor medical situations. Residents are usually responsible for their own medications, as they have been deemed capable of handling that.

The next level is the nursing home where individuals who reside there have lost much of their ability to function safely on their own. They may be too frail to be responsible, either from a physical or a mental capacity and they need to be under a fairly constant supervision.

Here they would not be capable of taking their own medications and their dining capabilities may entail eating in the dining room, or even in their own room if the situation requires that. Nursing care at this level will vary to routine to the more acute where the bathing, feeding, taking of medications, toileting and ambulatory functions require dependency on others.

This is the most difficult of all the levels of adult care, perhaps with the exception of the Alzheimer’s patients who have forgotten everything and perhaps have lost their physical abilities as well. These levels require dedicated medical staffs that selflessly give of themselves to take care of their fellow human beings in very difficult situations.

The costs for these services are not inexpensive at all. The earlier stages can be borne by out of pocket cash-flow types of support, but the farther along the patient goes with the adult care path, the more expensive it becomes.

This care becomes largely unaffordable by most families’ standards somewhere in the assisted living phase to the nursing home phase. If people have long term care insurance coverage, that can help, but the large majority of cases rely on government funding and donations for their care.

Categories:   Healthcare


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