Without a doubt, home health care for seniors is an overlooked benefit for reduced hospital readmissions, improved management of chronic diseases, and most significant mental health.  The suicide rate among elderly men ages 80-84 is twice the national average, but a small percentage actually receive treatment for the symptoms. This is in large part due to family caregivers not being aware their loved ones are struggling. This is where home health care providers can be helpful and identify the signs and notify the family before they become serious.

Five Ways to Prevent Loneliness and Social Isolation with Home Health Care

  1. Read with patients who have visual issues which can help stimulate brain activity.
  2. Share a meal with a patient as it encourages them to eat better and engage in conversation
  3. Converse with clients about books, TV, memories, or movies to promote memory recall.
  4. Encourage physical activity by perhaps just a short walk outside to help change perspective and health.
  5. Play word games or work on a simple puzzle to boost mental health and have fun at the same time!

The Covid-19 Urgency

Just one month into the pandemic, 73% of older adults reported feelings of loneliness. Depression, social isolation, and anxiety worsened. Chronic loneliness can also exacerbate existing health issues and lead to other risk factors like impaired well-being, cognitive decline, higher risk for developing diabetes or heart failure and higher risk for hospitalization and premature mortality. “Three in five participants reported loneliness and loneliness was twice as prevalent in those living alone than those living with spouses or other family members,” according to QJM: An International Journal of Medicine.

Mental Health Awareness Training for Home Health Care

One in three adults in the U.S. ages 50 to 80 lacked regular companionship while 43% of community-dwelling older adults self-reported feeling lonely. As the symptoms of a medical condition can mimic signs of mental illness, it is important the caregiver notes the changes in the patient files and communicate such changes to the family members. This can potentially save a life. Ensuring not just physical health but mental health is of utmost importance to caregivers providing service to a client in an elderly home.

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Sources:

https://www.mcmasterforum.org/docs/default-source/product-documents/rapid-responses/identifying-the-effects-of-home-care-on-improving-health-outcomes-client-satisfaction-and-health-system-sustainability.pdf?sfvrsn=2

https://www.healthyagingpoll.org/

https://ghrp.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41256-020-00154-3

https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-016-0395-y#Sec10