While aging in place strategies and solutions can apply to almost any age group or physical needs, there are many ways that CAPS professionals can be involved in working with seniors in particular.
Aside from the most visible ways of helping the elderly to identify improvements that might be advisable for them and then implementing those changes and working with our clients to help them adjust to their modified surroundings, there is a more subtle way that you can be involved – especially for medical professionals such as OTs, PTs, COTAs, and PTAs. Social workers, companion sitters, and other caregivers can help also.
Of course addressing and providing for safety, accessibility, comfort, and convenience in their homes are still keys objectives, but a rising concern is helping the elderly to remain in their homes when family and other outspoken professionals feel that they shouldn’t.
There have been many recent articles by social workers, professors, and medical professionals who have suggested that there comes a time in the lives of most seniors when they can no longer remain at home and that they need to move into a facility. They cite cognitive impairment, sensory concerns, and other safety-related issues in their presentations.
While some of their points have merit, the conclusion can be very different. Rather than say that people reach a point when they can’t take care of themselves well (or shouldn’t even be allowed to remain in that position) and need to be under the supervised care of a retirement home or nursing facility.
This suggests a huge opportunity that some of you may like to consider. This is inspired by those who provide concierge service – shopping, running errands, or driving people to doctor appointments – but it is much more specific and more serious.
One of the chief arguments given by people’s families as they grow older, particularly when those extended family members live in other areas not particularly close to their loved ones, is that they don’t believe that they are caring for themselves well or have lost the capacity to do so. This includes meal preparation, eating, general cleaning and maintenance of their dwelling space, grooming, personal hygiene, and physical safety (cuts, bruises, falls, and so forth).
So, the challenge – and the business opportunity – is to perform a check-in service with people to monitor their daily activities and overall health. Distant family member who rely on phone conversations and reports from friends and family that may live near the senior relative may sense that they are just being told that everything is OK when they feel that this really isn’t the case.
This relationship would involve making contact with the seniors – mostly living alone and on their own in their present home, and selling them on the idea that you would be checking in on them on a regular basis (that you would mutually determine) and that you would be a go-between with their relatives. You would have the trust of both sides, and this would shelter the senior from being second-guessed by their well-meaning relatives.
There could come a time when you and your senior client determine that they need to cease living on their own, but there also could many improvements in the way they live that you will notice, recommend, and be able to implement.
The families are likely going to want to control this, but the only way it works – subject to cognitive ability – is for your client to trust you explicitly by maintaining a fiduciary relationship. The family can help pay part of your fee, but the client needs to take precedence over the family.