As Ireland’s population continues to age, ensuring the wellbeing and quality of life of our elderly loved ones becomes an increasingly important concern for our society. In Ireland, a country known for its rich history and warm hospitality, the elder care landscape has evolved significantly to extend this sentiment to our older people. While institutionalised care was for many years the prevalent option for those who could afford it, there are now a range of options available nationwide to support our country’s ageing individuals. From private homecare to governmental supports and tax reliefs, families now have an array of choices to make informed decisions about the care of their elder loved ones.
Demographic Shift and the Need for Elder Care
One of the greatest achievements of mankind over the past 100 years is that average life expectancy in the developed world has increased by several decades. This means that people are living longer lives than ever. While this is to be celebrated, it carries with it the challenge of making those extra years as healthy and disability-free as possible for all. As we continue further into the third decade of this new millennium, this will become an increasingly prominent issue for Irish society. Experts project that Improvements in life expectancy will continue over coming decades.
Ireland, like many other nations including most European countries, is experiencing a demographic shift characterised by an ageing population. According to a recent HIQA report, since the early 2000s, Ireland’s population has increased by 1.3 million people in general, and by 2039, there will be a 75% increase in the number of people in Ireland aged 65 and older. As families grapple with balancing their own responsibilities with the care needs of their elderly relatives, it’s essential to understand the various options available.
Private Homecare: Tailoring Care to Individual Needs
This increased life expectancy means that more people will be requiring homecare services than ever before. In years gone, informal family care would’ve been provided to family members who could no longer live independently—largely by women, the historic foundation of the Irish care regime. However, with the increase in women’s labour market participation from the 1970s onwards, those who could afford it sought care institutions like nursing homes for care for their loved ones.
However, in recent years, with people living longer, healthier lives, there has been a surge in demand for homecare services, with more and more people turning to domiciliary care to maintain their independence and enable them to continue living more happily at home. Healthcare professionals from companies like Comfort Keepers offer services like personal care, basic companionship, and assistance with daily activities. They provide not only physical support but also emotional comfort, helping our elders to maintain a sense of independence and familiarity. Their personalised approach to elder care has also helped fuel its popularity, centering the client in the decision-making process by respecting and meeting their specific requirements. Meeting this increasing demand will be the challenge for both homecare providers like Comfort Keepers and Irish society as a whole in the years to come.
Governmental Supports: Home Care Packages
The Irish government acknowledges the importance of supporting elder care and has introduced many initiatives to assist families in this endeavour. One such program offered is the HSE’s Home Care Packages. These packages provide funding for home-based care services in Ireland and are designed to enable older people to live at home for as long as possible by offering support services such as nursing care, personal care, and household assistance. The packages are designed to empower older people to age gracefully in the comfort of their familiar surroundings, receiving tailored care from service providers like Comfort Keepers and support that enhances their overall quality of life.
The underlying philosophy of the HSE’s Home Care Packages is to honour the dignity and autonomy of elderly individuals. By offering support within their own homes, they allow our older loved ones to maintain their sense of independence and connection to their community, while acknowledging the importance of personal choice in the care journey.
Tax Reliefs: Alleviating Financial Strain
Caring for elderly loved ones can be financially burdensome, especially when considering medical expenses and additional care services. To alleviate some of this financial strain, the Irish government offers tax reliefs that can make a significant difference. The Home Carer’s Tax Credit provides relief to married couples or civil partners where one partner is caring for a dependent person, including an elderly parent. This credit acknowledges the financial impact of becoming a full-time caregiver.
There is also the Carer’s Allowance, a financial assistance payment paid to people on lower incomes who are providing full-time home care and home help for someone. The person may be in need due to a disability, their age, or a physical or mental illness. On top of this, there is the Carer’s Benefit for people who have to leave work or decrease their hours to look after those in need of full-time care. You can find more information of those payments here.
Community and Voluntary Services: Enhancing Social Engagement
Isolation and loneliness are common challenges for our elderly population, leading to a decline in emotional and mental wellbeing. Community and voluntary services play a crucial role in addressing this issue by fostering social engagement and providing a sense of belonging. Organisations such as Age Action and ALONE offer companionship services, social events, and support networks that help our elderly people stay connected and active in their communities.
Remember, caring for an elderly loved one can be rewarding but also demanding, often leading to the carer experiencing burnout. Recognising the importance of carer wellbeing, respite care options are available to provide temporary relief. These services allow primary family carers to take a break while ensuring their loved ones receive proper care. Respite care is provided by healthcare professionals from companies like Comfort Keepers in the comfort of the client’s home, allowing their family carer the well-deserved opportunity to recharge and maintain their own health. You can read more about respite homecare services in Ireland here.
The elder care landscape in Ireland is evolving to meet the diverse needs of our ageing population. From private homecare that prioritises personalised attention to governmental supports like tax reliefs, families have a range of options to consider today. Community services and supports like respite care services all contribute to Ireland’s now comprehensive care ecosystem. As families navigate this landscape, the goal remains constant: ensuring that our elderly loved ones receive the care and support they need to lead fulfilling and dignified lives.
Comfort Keepers Can Help
For older people who need companionship or help fighting loneliness, Comfort Keepers carers can help with encouragement, support, and assistance with daily living. Our carers can encourage overall health through medication prompting and reminding, meal preparation, and activities.
We believe in Elevating the Human Spirit by providing our clients with practical assistance and daily moments of joy. By giving equal parts compassion, attention, and comfort, our goal is to help our elders feel independent again while promoting good health to enjoy their days.
You can find your local Comfort Keepers branch here today.
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