ReadersMagnet takes a look at the latest trends and updates in the caregiving industry.
Eleanor Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’sJourney provides a snapshot of the reality of changes and challenges of caregiving which she experienced over 9 ½ years. Through her memoir on her experience caring for her beloved mom, we get a glimpse of the nature and challenges of family caregiving. Today, we will talk about the recent trends in caregiving that are affecting the industry. Below are five trends and situations in the caregiving practice.
The Latest Trends in Today’s Caregiving
The number of caregivers is decreasing. The one trend that is a cause for concern today is the decreasing number of family and professional caregivers. According to a study, interest in caregiving as a career choice has declined rapidly in the past few years. There is a huge challenge in finding ways to encourage individuals to enter into a career in the caregiving industry. There is also a change in the diversity in caregivers. In one study, AARP reported that approximately 40% of caregivers are now males. Although there is a rise in Millenials as caregivers, still the numbers are far fewer than the demand.
Tasks for caregivers are increasingly complex. There was a time when caregivers’ primary tasks only involved assisting patients with daily living activities.Those activities include helping patients bathe, dress, eat, and assisting them in transport. Today, caregivers perform also provide day-to-day medical tasks which historically were left to nurses and medical personnel. These include monitoring blood sugar, administering medications, dressing wounds, dealing with catheters and other medical equipment. The responsibility and technical expertise required do increase with each passing year, making them more valuable and flexible.
The demand for well-rounded caregivers. The idea of a holistic approach to caregiving is continually studied and researched by experts to provide the best possible care for elderly and infirmed. Caregivers have always been at the forefront in providing care for elders. Still, the recent years saw the need for more interaction and cooperation with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and other pertinent healthcare professionals in ensuring the quality of service for the elderly. Hence, the demand for well-rounded caregivers who can work well with other medical personnel and even perform their specific tasks.
Many caregivers now are also employees. Another increasing trend today is that many caregivers are also working other jobs. Many companies are learning that their full-time employees also provide care for an elder relative or a child with special needs. This setup where caregivers are juggling with other responsibilities can undoubtedly affect the quality of service provided for the sick and the elderly. These working caregivers are generally deprived of adequate rest. They also cannot perform extra tasks related to caregiving responsibilities to a career may result in missing other advancement opportunities and further training.
Technology for caregiving is upgrading. Technological progress is always welcome in any industry. In caregiving, new and advanced technologies are being designed to aid, if not replaced, caregivers. Digital apps such as Medisafe, Google Maps parking space reminders, HomeAway, and Lumosity are intended to enhance physical and mental abilities and make life easier for the elderly. Technology is taking over and will be vital in keeping patients and the elderly safe and well cared for. But in the end, technology will still rely on human caregivers. Caregiving will have to be a combination of human and technological effort.
Caregiving: Possible Future Scenarios
According to Forbes,
“Expect a caregiving environment rich in technology in the not-so-distant future. But along with that, there’ll be an emphasis on the human connection to counter the devastating health effects of social isolation on older people.”
Aside from technology slowly replacing some caregiver tasks, we can also look forward to feeling the gap between lifespan and “healthspan.” For many years now, caregivers have done a remarkable job of extending people’s lives. However, adding more years to an old or sick patient’s life does not necessarily equate to quality and healthy living. In Gaccetta’s book, One Caregiver’s Journey, her mother lived to the age of 102. Although her quality of life had diminished, her life was enriched because her caregiver employed faith, humor and love. Technology cannot replace basic human connections.
In the next five or ten years, some of the scenarios foreseen include next-generation sensors that will support caregivers and patients who want to continue living at home. We also expect better environment designs that will not drive seniors into dependency. Finally, mapping out a highly individualized “care pathway” is deemed highly possible in the near future.