Home is where the heart is, and memories lie close to the heart. Life in your own home is a beautiful thing, and we all know the joy of entering our own personal sanctuary after a long day. Most seniors agree that they’d like to spend their lives in their own home, rather than in a care facility; those who have debilitating or mobility hampering illnesses are no exception to this rule. This is often a matter of personal preference, and it’s important to try to accomodate a person’s desires and agency; there are also a wide array of social benefits when seniors live at home.

A study has shown that 1 in 5 Canadians living in a residential care facility could be accommodated at home with no reduction in care; in Winnipeg, the same study showed that about 1 in 3 people in residential care could be living at home.  This could have profound impacts on our healthcare system; if seniors could receive the same level of care at home, it would free up space in our care facilities for those with more dire needs. This will become more relevant as large cohorts like the Baby Boomers begin to age; the more space we can have for serious cases, the better.

Living at home also comes with serious reductions in cost. At home care is rarely needed 24/7, which means less staff need to be paid, alleviating a burden on our healthcare system. Plans for at-home care are also specialized to the person’s needs, and efficient care means less waste on processes that not everyone will use. At home care also limits the need to establish more residential care facilities; leveraging existing infrastructure is an excellent cost-saving measure.

None of this would matter if the care that can be provided at home wasn’t as good as the care in residential facilities; in many cases, at home care is actually better than other forms of care. Using video conferencing and other technologies, it’s easy for seniors to consult with medical professionals and other specialists who assist with their care. Neighbors and family are also more readily available to help when individuals continue to live in their own neighborhoods, and high social capital seems to create better health outcomes for the elderly. Finally, it’s worth repeating that most people prefer to stay in their own homes instead of going through the strain of moving to a new place and a new community; living at home may give a person more agency and dignity.

There are highly specialized home care professionals who can make living at home a viable option for many seniors; there are also government programs that may cover some of the costs of living at home. This is because living at home is less expensive and more efficient in many ways; it’s high time we as a society start taking this issue seriously, and restoring the independence and dignity of our senior citizens by encouraging the use of home care services.