According to gerontologists, the term “unmet needs” refers to the required help or care that is needed but not received. This can run the gamut from help with home maintenance to assist with maintaining health. It can include such things as assistance with finances, shopping, medications, and more.
The Larger Picture
Information from the Institute on Aging reveals some interesting statistics. Right now, more than 40 million Americans are 65 years of age or older. By 2030 when the last of the Baby Boomers turn 65 the country will have an aging population of about 20%. More people than ever are living longer. Millions are living longer than 85 years with the expectation that by 2050, nearly 30 years from now, 24 percent of older adults or five percent of the total population will be that age or older.
As technologies and medicine evolve to prolong life, the means of addressing quality of life in those later years is still sorely behind. For example, the death rates for heart disease and stroke decreased over 50 percent from 1981 to 2009. However, though more people survived those crises, more people are also living with the chronic consequences of heart disease according to statistics.
People are living longer, but not necessarily living healthier lives in their old age. This also translates into more seniors with unmet needs. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and a variety of other health concerns are following many seniors into their later years bringing along a host of challenges that must be met.
Long Term Services and Supports
Many seniors require or will require long term services and supports which, at this time, are not fully met by Medicare benefits. The cost of assisted living is high and for many with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, necessary. Companies like About Care Home Care help fill in the gaps for providing some of the services and support needed by seniors living in their own homes.
A growing population of senior citizens requires help with such matters as assistive devices. Grab bars in the bathroom is just one example. Walkers and canes are examples of others and oftentimes the need for these devices will come on gradually. Too often only after a fall or health incident is the person willing to admit that this type of help is needed. While some of these issues seem small, if not addressed, they can become serious challenges for the aged.
The Changing Landscape
Aging in place can be a great comfort to the senior citizen and his or her family when the right supports are in place. It is important to realize that even though your loved one seems to be doing fine, there may be unmet needs of which you are unaware.
For example, perhaps your parents always paid their bills on time. You have never questioned this, and all seems well. Then one day you notice a stack of unopened mail on the table and realize that many of those envelopes are delinquent bills. Without realizing it something changed and now your parents may need assistance keeping their finances on track.
Changes can happen on many fronts. You find your loved one is not attending to his or her personal hygiene. The refrigerator is packed with outdated or spoiled food, the home is unkempt. Essentially, your loved one now has unmet needs.
Identifying the Needs
Some of those unmet needs will be obvious, but it may still take time for them to manifest. Pride often gets in the way. Some seniors are fiercely independent and though they feel they can manage on their own, in truth, they need help. Offers of help may be rejected until a crisis of some kind makes it mandatory.
In other situations, your loved one may actually want help but not want to be a burden on you so the request will go unasked. You can offer your help, particularly when you recognize a need; for example, when your loved one’s home is in disarray, offering to help straighten things up.
There are also safety audits available for senior citizens living at home. Going through the home and making assessments of things that need to be addressed to the home will be safe and hazard-free will help keep your loved one safe and give you peace of mind.
In some situations, such as advanced stages of dementia, assisted living or a memory care facility may be the best resource to ensure your loved one has the care and attention required. However, in-home care is available and often a considerably less expensive alternative for those who are able to age in place.
Professional caregivers meet a variety of needs. From assistance with shopping, meal preparation, housekeeping, personal care and other needs to companionship, these dedicated professionals fill in the gaps for many senior citizens. Well-trained, certified caregivers offer respite for over-taxed family members and peace of mind to all involved.
About Care Home Care provides excellent in-home services to meet the needs of seniors requiring additional help. Contact us to schedule a consultation appointment so you can learn more about our services and what we can offer you.