As individuals age, they are at risk of isolation and loneliness. Staying engaged and connected with family, friends, and the community is essential. Professional caregivers can play a critical role in facilitating this involvement. There are many ways that professional caregivers can help care recipients stay actively involved in life, including church, family activities, friends, community events, and the health benefits that older adults can benefit from by staying active in life.
Aging Becoming a Global Issue
According to the United Nations, an estimated 703 million people aged 65 or older worldwide. However, the number of people who turn 65 each year can vary widely depending on the country. Here are some estimates:
World: It is estimated that approximately 47 million people turn 65 every year worldwide.
United States: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 3.4 million people will turn 65 in the United States.
Canada: An estimated 310,000 people will turn 65 in Canada, according to data from Statistics Canada.
United Kingdom: An estimated 740,000 people will turn 65 in the United Kingdom, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
Australia: According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 160,000 people will turn 65 in Australia.
Aging Often Leads to Long-Term Health Care
The percentage of people needing help with daily living activities or supervision at some point in their lifetime varies depending on factors such as age, health status, and lifestyle choices. However, here are some general estimates:
United States: According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about half of those who reach age 65 will need some form of long-term health care in their lifetime.
Canada: According to a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 35% of seniors aged 65 and older who live in the community have some level of disability, and 14% require help with at least one activity of daily living (ADL).
United Kingdom: According to a report by Age U.K., 42% of people aged 65 and over in the United Kingdom have a limiting long-term illness or disability, and 20% of people aged 85 and over have difficulty with at least one ADL.
Australia: According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 49% of people aged 65 and over in Australia have a disability, and 24% of people aged 85 and over have difficulty with at least one activity of daily living (ADL).
Aging and Financial Impact
The consequences of declining health and aging can be costly to a family's income and assets, changing lifestyles and creating tremendous stress and burden on family members.
Quality of life is often one of the most important considerations when seeking long-term health care for a loved one. Access to quality care can improve the care recipient's overall lifestyle. Long-term care costs are rising sharply but will provide the best quality of care in someone's home or a facility like assisted living.
Untrained and unprepared family caregivers are not the best to ensure the quality of care, and the role of being an informal caregiver changes their lives and families.
Staying Involved in Life Despite Aging and Health Issues
Staying involved in life is essential for older adults as it helps to maintain their overall well-being, quality of life, and longevity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), older adults' active involvement in life has been associated with increased longevity, decreased rates of disability, and improved mental and physical health.
Participating in meaningful and fulfilling activities, such as church, family activities, friends, and community events, can enhance older adults' social, emotional, and physical health.
Older adults, or those with chronic illnesses, mobility problems, or dementia, often require help with activities of daily living (ADLs), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), or supervision due to memory loss.
The ADLs are generally considered to be:
The IADLs include:
Traveling outside the home
Using a telephone
ADL assistance can be described as hands-on assistance (direct human assistance with the care recipient) or stand-by assistance. Stand-by assistance is generally where most individuals start. The care recipient can still perform their ADLs or IADLs but need another person to be with them for their overall health and safety.
People often think of long-term care as an older adult in a nursing home with little quality of life. This is not the case, and quality home health care providers can help someone maintain a lifestyle that is meaningful.
According to Kinnon Fisher, owner of Amada Senior Care in Auburn and Montgomery, Alabama, facilitating connections between the care recipient and the outside world ranks high on the list of caregiving tasks. Amada is one of the nation's leading home health agencies.
Fisher says this can help support the mental and physical health of the care recipient and improve the overall quality of life.
Sharing news about family, friends, and current events is a great way to keep the senior client connected. A newspaper or magazine is a good source of current information. Another way to encourage the care recipient is to get a computer or tablet and help them get internet access to stay connected to loved ones, play games, and meet other seniors in similar situations, even if they cannot easily leave their home.
Professional caregivers can help older adults stay engaged by assisting them with transportation, accompanying them to activities, and helping them to prepare for and participate in events. This support is vital for those with mobility or cognitive limitations that prevent them from participating in activities independently.
If mobility issues prevent the care recipient from getting out into the community, a walker, scooter, or wheelchair could provide needed physical support for more activity.
Church and Religious Activities
For many older adults, church and religious activities are essential to their lives. Religious activities provide a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning, which can enhance an older adult's quality of life.
Spiritual well-being was defined by the National Interfaith Conference on Aging (NICA) in 1972 as
The affirmation of life in a relationship with God, self, community and environment that nurtures and celebrates wholeness.
According to a study published in the Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, older adults who participate in religious activities have higher levels of life satisfaction and overall well-being (Krause, 2010).
Spiritual needs that people, especially as they age, include:
For Meaning, Purpose, and Hope
To Transcend Circumstances
For Support in Dealing with Loss
For Validation and Support of Religious Behaviors
To Engage in Religious Behaviors and Spiritual Needs
For Personal Dignity and Sense of Worthiness
For Unconditional Love
To Express Anger and Doubt
To Feel that God Is on Their Side
To love and Serve Others
To Be Thankful
To Forgive and Be Forgiven
To Prepare for Death
According to research, religion, and spirituality have demonstrated benefits for older adults, especially as they become more dependent on others for everyday activities.
Religiosity and spirituality among elders is a consequential component of global health.
Professional caregivers can help older adults stay involved in church and religious activities by accompanying them to services, assisting with transportation, and providing support with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Additionally, caregivers can assist with communication and help older adults to participate in discussions and activities during religious gatherings.
Family activities are another critical aspect of older adults' lives. Spending time with family members can provide a sense of belonging, love, and support, enhancing an older adult's mental health and well-being.
According to a study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, family activities have been associated with decreased rates of depression and improved overall well-being in older adults (Hogan, Haley, & Biermann, 2016).
Professional caregivers can assist older adults with participating in family activities by providing transportation, accompanying them to events, and assisting with meal preparation and other tasks. Additionally, professional caregivers can help older adults communicate with family members and participate in activities they may not be able to do independently.
Friendship and Social Activities
Friendship and social activities are essential for older adults to maintain mental and emotional health. According to the National Institute on Aging, social interaction can help to decrease the risk of cognitive decline and improve mental health.
Additionally, social engagement can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, negatively impacting an older adult's overall well-being.
Professional caregivers can help older adults to participate in friendship and social activities by accompanying them to events, encouraging them to engage with others, and assisting with transportation. Caregivers can also help older adults communicate with friends and family through phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication.
Community events such as festivals, concerts, and other local events provide opportunities for older adults to engage with their communities and participate in fun and enjoyable activities.
According to a study published in the Journal of Aging and Health, participation in community events has been associated with increased levels of life satisfaction and overall well-being in older adults (Phillips & Blieszner, 2005).
Professional caregivers can help older adults to participate in community events by assisting with transportation, providing support during the event, and encouraging engagement with others. Additionally, caregivers can help older adults to find events that align with their interests and preferences.
Quality of Life and Health Benefits
Staying involved in life can significantly benefit older adults' quality of life and overall health. According to the American Psychological Association, social interaction has been associated with decreased rates of depression, cognitive decline, and chronic diseases. Additionally, social engagement can enhance an older adult's sense of purpose, meaning, and overall well-being.
Participation in church, family activities, friends, and community events can give older adults a sense of belonging and connectedness, which can positively impact their mental and emotional health. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, social support and participation in leisure activities have been associated with decreased rates of depressive symptoms in older adults (Kim, Kim, & Han, 2015).
Participation in activities can also have physical health benefits for older adults. According to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, participation in physical activity has been associated with improved physical function and decreased rates of disability in older adults (Choi et al., 2016).
Professional caregivers can help older adults participate in physical activities such as walking, exercise classes, and outdoor activities, improving their physical health and overall well-being.
Aging Doesn't Mean Quitting Life
Staying involved in life is essential for older adults' overall well-being, quality of life, and longevity. Family members should encourage their loved ones and caregivers to stay engaged.
Professional caregivers can play an essential role in helping older adults stay engaged in life. This support can enhance older adults' social, emotional, and physical health and give them a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.
As the population of older adults continues to grow, it is essential to prioritize their social and emotional needs and ensure that they have the support and resources necessary to stay engaged in life. By working with professional caregivers, older adults can continue to participate in meaningful and fulfilling activities, which can positively impact their quality of life and overall health.
As long-term health care costs continue to rise, the need for planning for the costs and burdens of aging becomes even more critical to retirement planning. There are limited ways to provide quality care when a family is in the middle of a crisis.
Planning for the consequences of aging should be part of your retirement plan. For many people, this includes Long-Term Care Insurance. With a policy, you will be ensured your family won't be burdened with dealing with your long-term care, finding caregivers -- or even providing care themselves, or draining income and assets to pay for quality care.
Long-Term Care Insurance will help you maintain a level of independence and ensure a better quality of life as you will have access to your choice of quality care options, including in-home care.
Most people get coverage in their 40s or 50s before health issues make getting coverage more difficult or expensive.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
Despite common sense, too many of us ignore the consequences of aging as we plan for retirement. Most reasonable people understand that a retirement plan needs to include longevity. Yet, while making arrangements to help ensure we don't run out of money once we retire, we fail to consider the biggest risk we face -- aging and long-term health care.
Perhaps some people ignore this is their perception of what long-term care is or even their misperceived belief they are immune to aging and declining health.
There are several reasons why some people may perceive aging and long-term care as the end of their life as they know it. These include fear of losing independence and control, concerns about declining health and physical abilities, anxiety about the future and the unknown, and negative stereotypes and societal attitudes towards aging and elderly individuals.
Additionally, some people may have had negative experiences with aging and long-term care, either personally or through others, which can contribute to their negative perceptions.
Yet today, there are easy and affordable ways to protect your retirement accounts (including 401(k), 403(b), IRA, SEP) from the high cost of long-term health care and ensure that not only will you have access to quality care, but this quality care can also help you maintain a better quality of life without burdening your spouse or adult children.
The solution for many families is Long-Term Care Insurance. Quality care takes money, so you can fund your choice of quality care services, either at home or at a facility. Your retirement savings is intended to fund part of your retirement so you can maintain a quality lifestyle. The unexpected and usually unplanned cost of long-term care can change that, adversely impacting lifestyle and legacy.
Most people have plans for their money. Usually, people want to maintain control and independence. The thought of being dependent on a son or daughter for their every need is abhorrent for most people. The better way is Long-Term Care Insurance.
Part of the problem is the misperception that Long-Term Care Insurance is very expensive. The truth is many people find an LTC policy to be very affordable in addition to providing them with peace of mind knowing their loved ones will have the time to be family instead of being burdened with becoming caregivers.
LTC Specialists are Key to Shopping for Best Coverage
LTC Insurance is custom designed, but premiums vary dramatically between insurance companies. Every insurance company must file its products and pricing with the state's insurance department prior to being offered to consumers. What that means is no insurance agent or agency can offer special deals.
Seeking professional help is vital when shopping for Long-Term Care Insurance. There are not many Long-Term Care Insurance specialists who work with the top companies and have a complete understanding of underwriting, policy design, pricing, claims, partnership, and other important aspects of LTC Insurance.
Look for some of these factors in finding an LTC Insurance specialist:
An LTC Specialist will usually have helped at least 100 people or more with LTC Insurance. Be sure to ask; some specialists have helped thousands nationwide.
An LTC Specialist will typically work with most of the major insurance companies offering these products, not just one or two.
An LTC Specialist will typically have years or more of experience and hold a Certified in Long-Term Care® designation (CLTC®).
An LTC Specialist will understand the current and future cost of long-term health care and how most care is delivered so they can make professional recommendations without "over-insuring" the individual.
An LTC Specialist will offer all types of long-term care solutions, including traditional (including Partnership plans), asset-based "hybrid" policies, and short-term cash indemnity policies.
An LTC Specialist will typically have firsthand experience helping a client's family in the claim process.
Most people obtain coverage in their 40s and 50s.
Resources on LTC NEWS
LTC NEWS offers news, guidance, and resources to assist you in long-term health care planning. Additionally, LTC NEWS provides reviews of various Long-Term Care Insurance plans.
Here are some of the resources that are available on LTC NEWS:
Parent’s Health Declining? Do They Need Care Now?
Get quality care for your parent or parents if they require it. LTC NEWS can assist. We've put together a few comprehensive guides to help you along the way.
Find help locating quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim.
Make sure your loved one uses their Long-Term Care Insurance if they are fortunate enough to have it. Families sometimes postpone taking advantage of the benefits thinking family members can provide care, saving the benefits for later when it is deemed "more necessary."
Delaying the use of available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a good idea. The policy provides you with access to quality care when someone needs it. It also gives loved one’s time to family instead of caregivers.
These four guides can be very helpful as you try to find appropriate long-term care services for a loved one:
Today's Reverse Mortgages Can Benefit Older Families
Some people have a large portion of their savings in their homes. With the help of reverse mortgages, you can find ways to pay for quality in-home care, pay for LTC Insurance, and even assist with cash flow during retirement.
Yes, today's reverse mortgages may be the perfect way to pay for a Long-Term Care Insurance policy or even cover the cost of in-home care if you or a loved one is currently in need.
Asking an expert with your questions will help you learn more. Mike Banner, a columnist for LTC NEWS and the host of the television program "62 Who Knew," will respond to your inquiries about long-term care, reverse mortgages, aging, and health.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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