It is widely believed in society that home help is only available to extremely weak seniors who cannot get out of bed. This myth is refuted by Rugilė Bitautaitė, the head of the Senior Program of the National Institute for Social Integration. According to her, social assistance is also very useful for independent seniors who simply lack a helping hand in managing their household or eventually finding a partner.
"Nowadays, the care of seniors is much more universal than it was many years ago. Today, it’s not just about helping a senior in the household or worrying about their daily hygiene. In most cases, most seniors need help with day-to-day activities, such as being escorted to a medical facility, going shopping together, using smart devices or handling paperwork. In the same way, emotional help or just a company is not forgotten, when the social worker's assistants with the senior pursue his favorite hobbies, look for new hobbies, exercise and, most importantly, immerse themselves in sincere conversations, "says the senior program manager.
Due to outdated myths, social services in seniors' homes are often equated with "luxury goods". However, according to R. Bitautaitė, they are much more accessible than most people know.
"It is very unfortunate, but this myth is one of the strongest in the field of social services. Because of it, people often reject this form of senior care without even being interested in the possibilities. Most of them and their loved ones are not even aware that the city council can fully or partially fund social care in a senior home. Also, if the municipality cooperates with more than one organization, the senior may choose the most acceptable social service provider for him or her, ”says the head of the senior.
R. Bitautaitė notes that sometimes seniors and family members fear that social care may deprive them of their independence. However, the interviewee suggests a change in attitude: it is better to look at these social services as an opportunity to preserve the independence of the senior while avoiding more intensive care in the future.
"The loss of independence is frightening, but a rescue assistant is not really ready to take it away. On the contrary, his goal is to give the senior the opportunity to become independent of relatives and to help him get involved in community activities, foster friendships, and live healthier and more active lives. And there is no coercion here: for example, a social worker can give recommendations on how to improve the quality of life, but the word of the senior and his family will still be final regarding the home care plan, ”says R. Bitautaitė.
Family members and relatives are a very important pillar for the elderly. A loved one can sincerely help a senior in her daily activities - taking care of the household, taking care of hygiene, preparing food, tidying up the house, taking her to a shop or outpatient clinic. However, the interlocutor urges the senior family members not to forget: it is important to take care of others, but it is also important to take care of yourself.
"Social services provide an opportunity for a senior with loved ones to spend time not only while at home, but also to pay more attention to quality rest together - whether it be a trip, a weekend lunch, or maybe a longer conversation over a cup of tea. As a result, those who are not alone can also receive social care financed by the municipality. One of the reasons is the possibility to dedicate time to the relatives caring for them in parallel. This is very important, because a relative who has taken on the responsibility of caring for a senior often gives up his or her hobbies, work, sleep, exercise, and health care. In the long run, it causes anxiety, burnout and can have more emotional and physical consequences, ”says the senior program manager.
Sometimes seniors or even their loved ones are ashamed to seek help because they think it is a sign of weakness. Seniors, for example, fear that accepting help will make them dependent on other people, while their loved ones will experience disappointing their older family member by asking for help. However, the senior program manager says that asking for help is one of the strongest and most daring things a person can do.
"Others are sometimes ashamed to ask how much such social services cost, but in reality, care in a nursing home is a flexible and affordable option. "Senior care at home is an affordable way to give an older loved one the help he or she deserves, as well as an important step towards devoting time to oneself - work, health and hobbies that help to relax and calm thoughts," says R. Bitautaitė. .
R. Bitautaitė, the head of the Senior Program, reminds that persons or families caring for elderly relatives at home can turn to the municipality of residence or eldership for social services for their relatives and themselves. If necessary, seniors can also choose from the social services of the National Institute for Social Integration's "Senior" program.