Given the choice, most seniors want to continue living in their own homes, rather than move into a relative's home, an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, some people begin having trouble accomplishing everyday activities like shopping, cooking, and taking care of their home or themselves as they grow older.
Some common complaints or concerns that family members and caregivers might hear include:
- “The stairs are getting so hard to climb.”
- “Since my wife died, I just open a can of soup for dinner.”
- “Doing the laundry wears me out a lot more than it used to.”
- “I don't feel very comfortable driving to the store anymore.”
While family members and friends may be poised to lend a hand, assisting with a few simple tasks takes time and can quickly grow into providing hours and hours of help each week. Fortunately, in-home care can extend a senior's independence, improve their safety and help them age in place.
Types of Home Care Services
You can get almost any type of help you want in your parent's home. The following list includes some common things people need.
Personal Care Services
This includes bathing, washing hair and dressing.
Does your loved one need help with chores like light housekeeping, grocery shopping or laundry? Some grocery stores and drug stores will take orders over the phone and offer delivery services. Cleaning services can help with laundry, and some dry cleaners offer pick up and delivery. In-home care companies can also provide these services.
Many home care agencies provide homemakers who can shope for and cook meals. Also, look into programs like Meals on Wheels, which deliver meals directly to elderly people's homes. These services are available in most communities.
Paying bills late or not at all can become an issue as parents age. The process can be tiring or hard to keep track of for a person of any age. Financial counselors or geriatric care managers can help with managing finances. Just make sure the referral comes from a trustworthy source.
Home care workers who visit the home at a set time each day can provide medication reminders. Medicare might pay for a home health aide to come to the home to actually administer medications.
Getting around at home and in town when an aging parent has trouble walking or getting in and out of chairs can be difficult. Professional caregivers can provide increased supervision and assistance with mobility and transfers. Home care agencies also provide companion services that may include transportation for doctor's appointments, grocery shopping and other errands.
Registered nurses (RNs) provide skilled medical care, including giving medications, monitoring vital signs, dressing wounds, and teaching family caregivers how to use complicated equipment at home. Therapists work with patients to restore or maintain their motor, speech and cognitive skills.
Where to Start Looking for Home Care
Friends and Family
For many older people, family, friends, and neighbors are the biggest source of daily help. Talk with your loved one about what they think their needs are, consult with other family members who are involved, and ask your friends and neighbors if they have ever hired a caregiver. These steps will help you get a better idea of what specific services could be useful and which agencies in your area are reputable.
Community and Local Government Resources
Learn about the types of services and care available in the local community. Healthcare providers and social workers may have suggestions. Your local Area Agency on Aging is an excellent place to contact for information and resources. Local churches, charities and outreach offices may also offer senior services programs.
Geriatric Care Managers
Specially-trained people known as geriatric care managers can help make daily life easier for seniors and caregivers alike. They work with the family to form a long-term care plan and find the right services. They charge for this help, and it usually is not covered by any insurance plans. If distance is an issue, geriatric care managers can be very helpful. They will check in routinely to make sure all needs are being met and have not changed.
How Much Does Home Care Cost?
Thinking about personal resources and other payment options that may apply is an important part of planning. Some services may be private pay, supplemental or based on your income level, while others may be free. Some things may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or long-term care insurance. Check the specific terms of any insurance policies. There is a chance that paying for just a few services out of pocket could cost less in the long run than moving into an independent living, assisted living, or other long-term care facility.
Once you have planned ahead and thought about which services are needed, begin researching providers in your loved one's area. As with many life choices, it is best to gather as much information as possible to make an informed and confident decision.