Elderly people against nursing homes

ELDERLY people must be given every opportunity to remain in their own homes, it was argued yesterday after a survey revealed only a tiny number would ever want to move to residential or nursing homes.

Only 2% of elderly people living in their own homes but who need some monitoring expressed an interest in moving to residential care accommodation, the survey revealed, with a staggering 83% stating they were totally against nursing homes.

One in two of hundreds surveyed said even if they wanted to move to residential care, it would not be affordable.

The survey was carried out by a private emergency response company with a commercial interest in further developing its market share.

Managing director of Wexford-based Emergency Response Mary Lou O’Kennedy said there are compelling arguments for greater co-operation between the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and private monitoring companies to keep elderly people out of residential care for as long as possible.

“Older people do not want to move to residential homes if they can avoid it at all... technology is very cost effective, if used widely with a home help care package,” said Ms O’Kennedy, whose company has close to 24,000 customers.

Emergency Response’s basic panic alarm package, linked to the telephone system, cost €390 to install, including the initial e80 annual fee. Many of the customers pay for the equipment themselves, though some are paid for by community groups.

More than 350 people, 73% females, 27% males, responded to a questionnaire sent out by the company. Over half of the respondents were aged between 76 and 85, 29% between 65 and 75.

The majority rated their health as good, though one in four said they had poor health.

Of those living with a family member, 69% said they spend at least seven hours or more alone every day.

Women spend more hours alone with 44% spending 11 hours or more alone compared to 26% of men.

Eighty-five percent of respondents said they wished to continue to live at home with only 2% expressing an interest in entering residential care, although 4% said they would if it was financially possible.

Nearly 85% were totally against the idea of nursing homes. One in two respondents said they are not in a financial position to support themselves or their partners in a nursing home.

Only one of 352 respondents said they could realistically afford to enter a nursing home.

Most retain a moderate to high degree of independence, though fears were expressed about the possibility of accidents, loneliness and threats or violence from callers.

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