If your aging parents live in their own home and you're concerned about their health and safety, it's Big Decision time. Can they handle housekeeping? Daily activities? Chronic health conditions might be catching up with them. Their strength and stamina may fluctuate. They may or may not even want to broach the subject. The question remains, though: what is the best place for Mom and Dad to live in the future?
Your answer will come from among several options: with a family member; in a residential care community ... or at home. If the first two options aren't your parents' first picks--but you still believe some help is in order--in-home senior care can make their first choice possible and affordable. The concept of hiring a professional caregiver is attractive to adult children who can't be with their parents due to work or location obstacles. And it appeals to seniors who aren't ready to move to a nursing home or assisted-living facility. But what does it really mean?
Home care means different things to different people. Start your research by learning what the accepted definition is to the majority of professional agencies that provide skilled care. What do they do? What don't they do? Knowing how senior care agencies operate will let you answer questions based on facts rather than emotions. Only then can you understand all your options and help your parents make the best decision.
What In-Home Senior Care Is and Who Does It
The short description of in-home senior care is non-medical living assistance provided by a person who comes to the home regularly. These "professional helpers" are called caregivers, and they either work for themselves as independent contractors or are employed by an administrative agency. These companies can be privately owned or part of local or national franchises.
Agencies offer a wide range of personal services that support health and well-being and address all kinds of at-home needs, including:
- Meal preparation and cleanup
- Help with grooming and bathing
- Medication and therapy reminders
- Getting to appointments
- Running errands
- Light housekeeping
A little help with some tasks is all many seniors need in order to remain safely in their homes to follow their familiar routines and comfortable lifestyles. Talk with your parents' doctors. Are any of Mom's or Dad's chronic or developing health issues too complicated to be handled at home without medical staff? For instance, the use of wheelchairs or other walking aids is not a deal-breaker. Don't call the nursing home yet. If your parents are already managing long-term illnesses such as COPD or sleep apnea with breathing therapy or CPAP machines, they may be able to do so with some extra help for quite some time.
Unless you are looking to become an employer with all the attached risks and obligations, your family will be better served by an agency that takes over the administrative tasks. Most senior care businesses screen, hire, and train caregivers. Their managers stay up to date on health and elder care laws and practices. They will match your parents with dedicated assistants and monitor the quality of care and client satisfaction they provide.
What In-Home Senior Care Isn't
In-home senior care is not hospital-level service. One or two caregivers can't take the place of doctors and nurses when seniors need serious medical care. People who get daily injections or other technical attention may be better off at a nursing home or assisted-living facility. That said, in-home care providers, like Comfort Keepers®, can provide seniors with medication reminders and transportation to and from doctors appointments if needed.
In-home care is not financially out of reach. You may be surprised to learn how affordable it is. Annual assisted living rates are high because residential facilities have high overhead. Having care performed at home, though, limits expenses. Many people think that hiring a relative or another independent contractor is the way to save money. Professional senior care agencies erase cost discrepancies by taking care of things that would otherwise cost you and your parents out-of-pocket: payroll and tax services, training program fees, and background checks are just a few things that you might have to pay for out of pocket.
Hiring through a senior care agency does not create a legal employer relationship with Mom and Dad's caregiver. You won't have to deal with related tax, immigration, or discipline issues. You won't put yourselves at risk for workers' compensation claims or other liability problems. In most jurisdictions, agency workers can be bonded against theft, as well, whereas individuals cannot.
Perhaps most important to seniors is that home care is not a mandate to leave their houses or sell off their property. Not having to make a traumatic move supports good health. So, look at the positive side of hiring a professional caregiver. Increasing your parents’ safety in their home environment is not a sign that they are losing control of their lives-in fact, it is the opposite! Thats a big plus when it comes to making the right decision for right now, and for the foreseeable future.
What Your Parents' In-Home Care Can Be
The hallmarks of standard in-home senior care are flexibility and personal service. Mom and Dad won't have to follow the set agendas that residential facilities have. They'll be attended to by a person whom they get to know, and one who gets to know and care about them. They'll be able to request the level and degree of help that they need, which can shift along with their changing conditions. And you'll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having someone qualified there, at home, when you cannot be.
Before you or your parents can commit to in-home care, you must be able to envision it. What life will be like once a professional caregiver enters the scene? Who will be coming into their home on a regular basis? What can caregivers be expected to do, and what is off-limits? Many senior care agencies offer these specific forms of assistance:
- Shopping for, preparing, serving, and cleaning up after meals
- Keeping homes safe from injury hazards
- Bringing in the newspaper or mail
- Feeding pets or letting them in and outdoors
- Monitoring medication schedules
- Checking temperature and pulse
- Helping Mom and Dad get up from bed, chairs, or bathtubs
- Driving seniors to doctor appointments
- Accompanying seniors to weddings and other events
- Reading, playing cards, or doing enjoyable activities together
- Light housekeeping
Companies may offer packages or let you select services as circumstances arise. Your parents may need help recovering from surgery. They may overcome difficulties and no longer want some things done for them--or they may come to rely on help that they didn't think they'd need. Working in partnership to make adjustments to the care plan as needs change is a sign of a flexible care agency.
Mom and Dad will want to feel confident about a new caregiver's ability and trustworthiness. Talk with agency managers about the training and interpersonal skills required of their employees. Agencies must hold their staff responsible for being honest, respectful, and pleasant to work with. Many require training programs that teach health and safety fundamentals and emergency protocols. They also help caregivers understand the aging process and practice building professional and social relationships.
Interested in Learning About Comfort Keepers In-Home Care?
Comfort Keepers is the leading provider of in-home care in Osseo, MN and the surrounding area. We would love to provide you and your senior loved one with information about our services and why you may want to consider in-home senior care. Call our office today; (763) 400-8653.