The year is 2015.
How long have we come in keeping our loved ones safe in their own homes? Not that much. Annually over 8.4Million Americans received long-term care in the form of home-health agencies, nursing homes, residential care communities, and adult day care centers. Nearly a fifth of these adults incurred more than $25,000 in out of pocket expenses.
Whether you’re young or mature, the ability to live safely and independently in our homes is of paramount concern to us all.
The cardinal virtues of Empowered Living for the old and young are:
Health & Wellness
No point of empowerment, if we do not indulge in healthy behaviors. Health & Wellness is the first prerequisite to empowered living.
This goes hand in hand with independence. Money is the fuel of choices. And a lack thereof, deprives us of many of the benefits of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Having plans in place that take care of your financial well-being, as well as save you considerably (Case in Point: Energy retrofitted grids for your homes, Smart gardening tools)
In 2012, total spending (public, out-of-pocket and other private spending) for long-term care was $219.9 billion, or 9.3% of all U.S. personal health care spending. This is projected to increase to $346 billion in 2040. [National Health Policy Forum (2014) The Basics: National Spending for Long-Term Services and Supports. Retrieved (February 2015) from http://www.nhpf.org/library/the-basics/Basics_LTSS_03-27-14.pdf]. Over 2/3rd of these expenditures is spent on treating chronic conditions. The silver lining in this news is that most chronic conditions can be managed by practicing preventive care practices.
The hyper-connected smart homes of the future are going to raise substantial issues of digital privacy in the residential space. That’s the payoff with the substantial benefits we stand to gain from these devices. So it’s a smart idea to be aware of these issues now and know how to confront them.
When old age sets in or due to disabilities, an important right of privacy is usually sacrificed. Caregivers take charge in the house, or cameras are set to track your every move. The intentions of safety may be noble, but the consequences and feelings of violation are still the same.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. No matter what the condition or disability, we live in fortunate times with the tools that give us control. We continually track non-invasive systems that can keep your home and health secure.
All human beings should have the dignity to live and age in place. Dignity comes in all shapes and sizes. But the essence is almost universal: a desire to be belonged and loved, and never be seen as a burden onto others. Whether we provide care to our loved ones, or receive it in return- both parties owe it to each other, to select tools that make each others jobs easier and remove the strain on the relationship.
The cornerstone of independence is self-sufficiency. When residents of a home have all the necessary resources available to them can they truly be said to be independent. Food, clothing and a sturdy roof over your heads is the prerequisite. But home maintenance and security, financial security, health & wellness & spiritual fulfillment are all other factors that need to be taken care to protect your independence from being curtailed.
Being social just doesn’t entail mostly being active on Facebook. No man is an island, despite how cool it seems. Even the staunchest hermits need to connect with people from time to time. Being super independent is fine, but without a way to share our experiences with the world or allow others into it, we would be deprived of meaningful moments that inspire and empower our lives.
A trend towards community-based services as opposed to nursing home placement was formalized with the Olmstead Decision, a court case in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of individuals to receive care in the community as opposed to an institution whenever possible. Despite that only 18.2% of long-term expenditures for the elderly are for community based programs.
In 2015, the trend to bring care into the consumer’s home is becoming more material. A place where one has voluntarily chosen to call home, developed relationships with friends and families nearby. With access to sophisticated communication tools we can all be conveniently connected with inter-dependent relations.
Knowing that whether our loved one lives across the street or a thousand miles away, help is readily available. There is absolutely no reason in this day and age to have it otherwise. Keeping our homes, loved ones and dependents safe is an important obligation. And one which we can easily maintain.