The Aging at Home Association knows a significant portion of its membership devote their time, energy and resources to support loved ones who are aging at home. Indeed it’s estimated by AARP that nearly 40 million Americans are ‘caregivers’ to someone over the age of 50.
The tools and resources we provide to help Americans develop their own plan to age at home are equally appropriate for caregivers to use to support their own plans of care.
Every caregiving situation is unique, and the information provided here is likely only a portion of what may be needed. However, the Aging at Home Association believes a universal principle which should be present in any plan for supportive care must recognize the concept of ‘autonomy’ or ‘one’s feeling of independence and control over their care supports.’
We raise this because those who require supportive care, whether short-term or longer-term, need it because a decline in physical, medical or clinical condition means they are no longer ‘self-reliant’. This can be a hard truth for many and can raise the risk of depression and associated health risks. Plans of care should focus on what someone CAN do for themselves versus what they can’t.
A good example is dressing. If someone is challenged, start with cueing and encouragement. Then introduce assistive devices like a clothes hook. Hands on help should be the last step.
Perhaps equally as important, it is important to recognize the stresses, strains and demands placed on family and other unpaid caregivers. Any plan for care must build in validations, respite and supports to lessen caregiver burden.