Nowadays more and more senior people prefer staying at home when they reach an older age. Being surrounded by their loved ones offers them more comfort, peace, and safety than being in a homecare facility surrounded only by healthcare professionals. There are many reasons they prefer their retirement years to be in a familiar place rather than in a care home, one of them being the certainty and consistency it offers them. Indeed, there are situations when someone’s parent or grandparent requires special attention and care if their health is in very poor condition. However, in this case, there is another alternative. Hiring professional help to aid you is a great option, and you wouldn’t have to worry about them being home alone. And, if they require special care, you know that they are well taken care of while staying in a place they are familiar with, at home with family.
Another effective alternative is using telehealth services. The use of this type of healthcare service, providing consultations virtually without the patient having to leave home, has started to increase. Since the coronavirus pandemic has forced individuals to stay at home and only leave their houses for emergencies, the telehealth industry has constantly been growing. Many people, healthcare providers, and patients alike are seeing the benefits of using telehealth services. Regardless of a patient’s age or health condition, telehealth services can save them from unnecessary hospital visits. Plus, for senior persons who prefer staying at home, this service is a tremendous advantage that can support their decision to spend their retirement years with family while still following their treatment courses. This also gives their children and grandchildren peace of mind, as they aren’t as worried that their senior relatives wouldn’t be adequately cared for.
There is, however, a downside. Although seniors who wish to stay at home have the opportunity to use telehealth services, or other digital tools to ensure a feeling of independence, most elderly individuals are not so tech-savvy. In this situation, it is crucial they are properly taught how to use all these digital services and tools.
Usually, gaps in generations create discrepancies and differences in mentalities. Nevertheless, this is a circumstance where an opportunity arises: younger people are the most suitable teachers. They can help their grandparents use technology and get them acquainted with all kinds of digital tools. This also brings the opportunity of nurturing a closer relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. More often than not, their grandchildren are old enough – such as already attending university – to be highly confident in using digital devices and new technologies.
Why do seniors wish to remain at home?
According to the American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, 76% of U.S. citizens aged above 50 years old have stated that they would like to remain in their current residence, while 77% would prefer staying in their communities for as much time as possible. The number of people who wish to remain at home during their retirement years is undoubtedly high. However, in reality, not so many anticipate this will happen. More specifically, only 46% of Americans believe they will remain in their current home, and as little as 13% think they will stay within their community but in a different house. This shows that the future plans for most of the seniors are to spend their life at an older age in a familiar place, but not so many do so or believe this will be happening.
This discrepancy is worrying. The reason why many senior citizens reallocate might be that the changes needed to ensure easy living are yet to be implemented. For instance, families need financial support to adjust their homes to accommodate an elderly relative who needs special care. Given that so many wish to remain at home, it is necessary to facilitate the aging-in-place process. Some of the reasons why seniors want to be able to age at home are as follows:
- Familiarity of the place: In contrast with a care facility, living in their home or with their children gives seniors a sense of security given that the place is familiar.
- Closer relationships with loved ones: Given that the senior’s living arrangements are per their wishes, it makes them happier. This way, they won’t become distant from their family but instead, nurture closer relationships.
- Less uncertainty for the future: When they reach an older age, individuals are more likely to develop feelings of uncertainty, especially if they live in a place different from what they know to be home. So, with a specific living arrangement that matches their desires, seniors will feel more appreciated.
- Keeping their independence: Being able to stay at home at an older age makes seniors feel listened to and appreciated. This will also make them keep their sense of independence and increase their confidence.
A noteworthy mention would be that allowing your elderly relative to stay at home doesn’t mean it will be unsafe for them to do so. Nowadays, various in-home resources and technologies can facilitate their decision to age in place.
Easier access to care with telehealth services
One of the in-home resources that can facilitate an older adult to stay at home during retirement is telehealth. Such healthcare service has been improving recently, and more facilities are adapting to the demand and implementing this technology. For instance, Medicare has recently adopted a better telehealth strategy and improved its consultations. The coronavirus pandemic, and the social distancing restrictions that were enforced, have pointed out the advantages of using telehealth services.
For senior citizens, this means being able to get care from their healthcare provider without having to leave their home. From discussing any new health matter or worry without being in contact with sick people in the doctor’s office waiting room, to overseeing treatment progress and having regular health check-ups, seniors can benefit significantly from telehealth services. MedicareWire is a company that helps seniors find the best Medicare plan for their personal budget and health situation, including plans that offer telehealth services.
If an older person is looking to use telehealth services, it is vital to ensure they know how to use this technology. This will allow them to make the most of it and learn to contact their healthcare provider whenever needed. With this opportunity, seniors staying at home will feel less anxious regarding their health situation. In addition, their families will also have more confidence knowing that even though their parents or grandparents are living at home, they will be appropriately taken care of.
Students can help their grandparents with technology
The old saying “the student has become the master” takes an entirely new meaning when referring to how millennials or generation Z individuals can now impart their wisdom on their grandparents. It is usually the other way around, and while this remains true, there is no denying that the younger generation holds vital information that can be extremely useful to the older generation.
For instance, grandparents have stated that spending time with their grandchildren makes them feel younger, while they also learn interesting facts that are relevant nowadays. When it comes to using technology, an area where youths are experts, 75% of grandparents learn all the valuable details from their grandchildren. There is no denying that students can help their grandparents navigate better a world that relies almost entirely on digital tools and new technologies: from learning how to stream music or movies, using digital communication tools, to using other technologies that benefit seniors, such as telehealth services.
The fact that grandchildren can teach them how to use various digital tools, and not just the telehealth technology but other ones that can facilitate the lives of their senior relatives in smaller ways, strengthens their relationship. A close grandchild-grandparent relationship benefits both parties in many ways. When it comes to seniors, their lives can be improved if they learn how to use technologies such as:
- Visual communication tools: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown everyone how important it is to keep in touch with your family and friends. While many of your loved ones probably already know how to use tools such as Facebook, Skype, Zoom, chances are your grandparents are not so confident with using them. So, teaching them how to use at least one of these communication tools will benefit your relationship. Plus, seniors will become more confident in themselves when they acquire the ability to communicate virtually with their loved ones or even their healthcare providers.
- Home automation: This type of system, like Amazon Alexa, gives individuals automatic and remote control of their households. Such a home automation technology offers homeowners the ability to control the utilities of the house or various other features. Students teaching grandparents to do this will increase their sense of independence, bringing the two individuals closer together.
- Transportation apps: Uber, Lyft, Instacart are transportation apps that can make someone’s life easier. Whether you use Uber to get from one place to another more safely and comfortably or use Instacart to deliver your groceries at home, they are beneficial. When seniors who wish to remain in their homes during retirement years learn how to use such apps, they won’t feel as dependent on others. Being able to order your groceries without having to carry any heavy bags is beneficial for older people who find it challenging to go to the store too often.
- Telehealth services: As mentioned above, telehealth services are highly advantageous to seniors. With this, they will be able to have regular check-ups, as they won’t have to travel to the doctor’s office for prescriptions or when they are worried about a health issue. Students can teach their parents all the particularities of this technology, such as making appointments or scheduling a phone call with a healthcare professional.
Other benefits of a close student-grandparent relationship
There is no denying that students and their grandparents can both benefit from a closer relationship. With the help of their grandchildren, grandparents can learn how to use various digital apps and technology, which can certainly improve the quality of their lives and help them with their decision to age in place. On the other hand, their grandchildren also have much to learn from their elderly relatives. Undoubtedly, grandparents can impart their own wisdom to the younger generation. Going through all the stages of life gives them a different perspective, even though the current times are incredibly distinctive. So, students can receive valuable advice from their grandparents when it comes to making important decisions in life, such as choosing a career, saving for retirement, or having their own families.
A close relationship with your grandparents can teach a younger person never to stop learning and always be curious to acquire new information. The fact that many seniors have a desire to learn how to use technology shows the younger generation that you can constantly adapt and learn new things, regardless of your age. Plus, with grandchildren teaching their grandparents to use digital tools, their relationship will be stronger as they can remain connected irrespective of location.