Not only do we know people want home-based care as they age, we now have more evidence of its benefits. A recent study of patients receiving home care from agencies using Clearcare shows that those receiving personal care interventions in the home had lower average healthcare costs (per patient per month, or PMPM) of $530. For those not receiving home-based care, costs went up $367 over the year. Meanwhile, the group receiving personal care interventions saw a $167 monthly decrease in costs.
Healthcare Costs: Driven by the 5%
The top 5% of patients drive 50% of healthcare costs. However, the causes of these healthcare costs are largely preventable and treatable. Right now, our system focuses a lot on the most expensive, complex, acute care. We handle those needs well and have some of the most sophisticated care for acute conditions. Yet, we do not focus much on primary and preventative care.
Functional Limitations Multiply Costs and Complications
While chronic conditions drive costs, functional limitations multiply costs. Having a functional limitation (challenges to self-care or ADLs), multiplies healthcare costs by three. $740 billion/year of healthcare costs are due to functional limitations.
Yet, our healthcare system is not designed to help with functional limitations. The focus on acute care means we are not addressing these key underlying issues. This is not only about costs, this is about the lives of individuals. When we don’t comprehensively address these needs, people suffer from isolation and their physical and mental health worsens, creating a vicious cycle.
Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)
Health has often been treated in isolation, in the realm of the hospital and doctor’s office. But, people spend 99.9% of their time in the community and at home, not in medical settings. What happens in those settings makes the biggest difference to health. Experts have begun focusing on this more, looking at what’s known as social determinants of health. These are all the social factors that have a significant effect on health status.
Medicine is not enough. How can someone be healthy without a safe home, if they’re falling all the time or cannot get any exercise? What about the person who can’t access or make meals to get proper nutrition? Without access to transportation and healthcare resources, people can’t get preventative screenings. And, they often can’t even get treatment or medicines they desperately need. More insidiously, many social factors contribute to isolation and lack of intellectual stimulation. Studies have shown social isolation and loneliness can be as harmful as smoking and twice as harmful as obesity.
Home-Based Care Solutions
This recent study clearly demonstrates the strong effects of SDOH, as well as how the right interventions can modify the risks.
“Providing evidence-based home care interventions means that we can help people stay healthier in their homes longer. Our team not only creates personalized care plans to address the underlying needs of each client, but also develops innovative solutions for common concerns,” shares Alex Chamberlain, EasyLiving CEO. “This includes ramping up telehealth offerings and forming greater collaboration within the community. Healthcare should not be done in silos. It should be person-centered and coordinated or we will never be able to keep people healthy. Through data and technology, we can create more efficient care that is also significantly more effective.”
Assistance with ADLs: Safety and Prevention
Having home-based care to assist with ADLs reduces the risk of falls. Caregiver assistance prevents crises such as unnecessary hospitalizations. Without home-based care, many elders will need to move to more expensive and less desired institutional care.
Just imagine you have difficulty getting a shower or bath and getting dressed due to limited mobility and dizziness. So, you start to take a sponge bath and stay in your pajamas every day. You may suffer from hygiene issues and infections. Perhaps you develop skin problems due to sitting and not bathing. Or, you try to take a bath and get stuck in the tub or fall. On the other hand, with just a little bit of home-based care, you could stay safe and healthy. And, you could maintain your dignity and feel better.
Download our free Aging in Place Home Safety Checklist.
Sign up for a complimentary Caregiver Coaching Call about how to keep your loved one safe at home and be prepared for any situation. Limited appointments available; call us at 727-447-5845 to schedule yours today.
Medications and Medical Monitoring
More than half of seniors make errors with their medications, causing hospitalization and even death. About ¼ of elders who get admitted to a nursing home have difficulty managing their medications. Meanwhile, home-based care can provide medication assistance to solve these concerns. A home care company like EasyLiving can create a custom care plan to help you manage medications. This might include a nurse visit to fill your pillbox and check on your medications, a home health aide to assist you in taking pills properly, and various technological solutions.
As stated above, we spend most of our time at home and in the community. While doctors’ visits are important, they can’t be the sole means of monitoring health. Home-based care, now aided by telehealth options, can provide the day-to-day monitoring to catch problems before they turn into a crisis. For example, we can monitor blood pressure and other vital signs in the home. We can check weight and provide a log to your medical providers, for conditions like CHF (cardiac heart failure). More and more conditions can be checked at home. This makes it easier to have a better handle on your condition. And, this has been especially helpful during the coronavirus crisis to help keep clients safe. We expect that the strides made in telehealth and home-based care due to the crisis will continue pushing innovation forward.
Nutrition and Wellness
We have become aware of how lifestyle factors influence health. So, we know taking medication will only do so much if we continue living an unhealthy lifestyle.
Nutrition supports wellness. And, dietary requirements are especially important to certain conditions and recuperation. At the same time, we understand how difficult it can be to prepare healthy meals, especially when living alone. For many of our clients, getting out to the store is difficult. And, all the steps to planning and preparing meals can be overwhelming. Time and time again, we find clients who mainly live on snack foods. Often, they have expired foods in their refrigerators and rely on frozen meals.
Both diet and exercise are essential to staying healthy. Learn more about how home caregivers can support your wellness at home with nutrition services and staying active.