Many elderly people want to stay in their own homes as they age. However, an unexpected illness or injury or gradually increasing frailty can make that more difficult. Luckily, there are many home care options available.
Assess the Situation
The first step in deciding whether home care services can meet an elder’s needs is to evaluate the situation. For example, is the home located in an urban setting where services are readily available or in a more remote rural setting? Can the living quarters be easily accessed or can the home be modified with ramps and similar changes? Is there any support from family and/or friends? What is the client’s financial situation? All of these factors will have an impact on what services are available.What is Home Care?
Home care services typically fall into certain categories. These may encompass basic home support, transportation, nursing care, specialty medical care and respite care for caregivers.
A home takes considerable maintenance. For example, gardening and yard work, painting, general maintenance and repairs are required on a regular basis. The interior of the house also requires cleaning. Then there are activities such as laundry and dishes, and the usual “business” activities such as paying bills and scheduling appointments. All of these services are available in many locations.
Transportation services may be very important in allowing elderly people to remain in the home. In the city, buses and taxis are usually available, as are services like Uber. Seniors may have the option of reduced fares in some cases. Medical vans are available in many locations for seniors who have disabilities.
A home health aide can provide assistance with many of the activities involved in daily living. Sometimes called custodial care, this can include assistance with bathing and other hygiene activities, assistance with meals – including meal preparation – shopping or transportation. In some areas, home health aides may also be able to help supervise medications or take a patient’s blood pressure.
Health care services typically fall into one of two categories – nursing care and specialty care. The first includes the full range of nursing services, such as medication administration, dressing changes and other skilled services. Specialty care is provided by health care professionals such as physical therapists, occupational therapists or respiratory therapists.
Although many family members are ready and willing to help a senior who lives alone, others may have time limitations or live too far away. Sometimes neighbors can help as well. A church group or similar community organization may be able to provide some services. Care providers may be independent contractors or work for organizations like a hospital or home health agency. In the first case, the senior or his/her family members pay the contractor directly and must take care of all employment issues such as interviews, background checks, hiring, taxes, Social Security and payroll. In the second, those services are provided by the agency. One of the advantages of an agency is that they will handle all legal issues and payroll, perform extensive background checks and have multiple caregivers on the payroll to cover all times of the day and night. Full-service agencies usually bond their employees. Full-service agencies are more expensive, however. A registry falls somewhere between the two options – it is less expensive but does not offer the full range of personnel management services.
How to Hire In-Home Caregivers
The initial hiring process is key to getting the kind of services and person you want and need. Hiring someone to come and do yard work once or twice a week is very different from hiring someone to perform hands-on personal care. Begin by looking for community resources – contact the local hospital and organizations dedicated to the needs of the older adult. Check the phone book and ask for reverences from friends, family or neighbors. Always interview more than one candidate if at all possible. Develop a specific list of tasks and expectations and if you’re hiring an independent provider, have a contract to spell out all the details. Confirm fees if working with an agency. Check references and do background checks on your top candidates. The internet, local police, legal aid and local attorneys may be able to help in this process. If things don’t seem to be working out, don’t hesitate to hire a new provider.
Good research and careful preparation can allow you or a loved one to find the necessary support. You can also access community resources other than those mentioned here. Home care can make a big difference in an older person’s ability to continue living at home in relative independence.