Home care, assisted living, or nursing home: What is the best option for your elderly?

May 21, 2020


2 years ago, Chen Liyuan’s family faced a difficult decision when they considered bringing their sister home after her cerebral haemorrhage to recuperate in a familiar environment. They were hesitant and worried that the lack of immediate medical care could impact her recuperation. Home care services coupled with 24/7 continuous monitoring by Ninkatec allayed the fears of Chen Liyuan’s family. They were able to bring her home from the hospital with peace of mind. 

Similarly, many families are concerned about providing timely and appropriate medical care when they consider bringing their elderly home from the hospital. They can hire domestic helpers to tend to the elderlies. But the helpers may not be comfortable or familiar with care of elderlies who require constant supervision. Hospitalisation care provides families with the assurance that their loved ones are in the competent hands of medical professionals. However, it may create a financial burden for the family. The elderly may also prefer to be cared for in the familiar environment of their own home. Therefore, there is a constant dilemma of ensuring appropriate medical care, maintaining financial viability and the elderly’s wish to be at home. 

In Singapore, elderly care needs at home vary broadly. Some need transitional care after being transferred from hospital to home, or nursing care such as catheter replacement, or physiotherapy such as Liyuan’s sister. Some need respite care or elder-sitting due to dementia. Others need medical care at home due to immobility. Regardless of specific needs, the common factor is constancy. Families seeking home care for elderlies need sustainable home-based medical solutions. Ultimately, both elderlies and families need a peace of mind.

According to experts, healthcare for the elderly requires a totally different approach as compared to healthcare for the younger population. Dr. Choo Wei Chieh, Ninkatec homecare physician shared, “The focus for elderly care is patient-centered, preventive and long-term care. For example, elderlies have a higher risk of falling. They often require a longer recovery phase. Recovery again may be extended due to surgery related complications such as infection, bleeding, etc, especially at home. Therefore, prevention in elderly care is crucial. When I see an elderly patient, I often try to understand their medical history, their existing medical conditions, the medications that they are currently taking so as to form a comprehensive overview of the care they require. So I always recommend elderly patients have regular follow up by a doctor familiar with their medical history.”  

Compared with options such as assisted living or nursing home, elderly home care or “Aging in Place”, which means remaining in your own home for as long as you can in the later years of life, is often preferred and the desire of most elderly patients. There are a few advantages to “Aging in Place”. Firstly, elderly care at home is less costly in the long run. Typical nursing home rates in Singapore range from $1200 to $4500 monthly, depending on location, available facilities, room type, as well as subsidies. Home care involves higher initial costs such as home modification, engagement of caregivers and training of helpers to ensure care and safety of the elderly. However, in the long run, elderly home care often turns out to cost less. You can also apply for caregiver’s financial support schemes and grants to allay the cost. Secondly, most seniors prefer staying at home. It is a healthier and safer environment where they feel they can maintain their daily and social routines, be close to friends and family, and maintain a sense of personal dignity. 

Development in medical technology has enabled big progress in elderly home care service. In Singapore, companies such as Ninkatec use medical technology to remotely monitor the elderly patient’s condition at home. This continuous monitoring helps to relieve the strain on family members and caregivers. It also allows doctors to provide timely and preemptive prevention of medical crises, potentially reducing the need for hospitalisation whilst ensuring elderlies receive the care they require. 

You can get a headstart in caring for your elderly at home with the right knowledge and prevention. Below is a list of steps you can easily take to be prepared and provide better home care for your elderly family members.

  • Equip yourself with caregiving skills: You can attend courses such as those listed on the AIC website, in class or at home, in specific topics relevant to the home care needs of your elderly. Ninkatec can also help to arrange for caregiver training personalised to your needs. 
  • Create a senior-safe home: Falls are a leading cause of injury amongst the elderly population in Singapore. Many of these falls occur at home due to the gait, poor balance or affected vision which most elderly patients experience. Steps to improve home safety for the elderly include properly fitted footwear, installation of grab bars in the toilet and anti-slip treatment of bathroom floors. In addition, you may apply for a 95% subsidy for retrofitting your home for seniors’ safety from the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) program
  • Help seniors get screening and checkup: An early diagnosis can vastly change the outcome of treatment. Seniors can now do screening conveniently at community care centers instead of making a trip to hospital and joining long waiting lines, for less than $5. It is important for elderlies to get screened and checked up regularly for both chronic conditions, general health and high-risk conditions such as colorectal cancer or breast cancer.
  • Encourage seniors to stay active: Maintaining an active lifestyle physically and socially is a big part of a healthy life. Seniors need support to stay active, more so when they suffer from reduced mobility as a result of stroke or other illnesses. Find ways to exercise as a family, or encourage your elderlies to join community wellness programs, interest groups and lifelong learning initiatives in the neighborhood. Consult doctors for the right type of physical exercise and assist them while exercising if the elderly is recovering from injury, operation or treatment. Here are useful and simple exercise ideas for seniors you can introduce to your elderly loved ones.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and take supplements as necessary: Diet for elderlies needs a higher portion of calcium and vitamin D, due to the loss of bone density with age. As some individuals above 50 may have absorption difficulties, Vitamin B12 deficiency is also a common issue. In addition to supplements, it is important to select food that is rich in calcium and vitamin D such as fish with soft bones, salmon, egg and milk. It is important to pay attention to the amount of saturated fats and trans-fat in the diet, to reduce the risk of heart disease. Elderlies may also experience loss of appetite due to medication or hormonal changes. Check out our food guide for seniors with poor appetite for ways to keep your loved ones nourished and eat better.
  • Know where to get medical help when it is needed: For emergency situations, always have a 24-hour number to call for home care support, such as a regular doctor who is familiar with the elderly’s condition and medical history, an ambulance number, or a home care service provider such as Ninkatec. For chronic cases such as elderlies suffering from dementia or stroke, you may consult us at Ninkatec for the recommended elderly care services through Whatsapp, call, email or online form. 

Home is where the heart is and where most elderly patients want to be recuperating. Take reference from the experience of Chen Liyuan’s family and start elderly home care planning and preparation in advance!


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