Home Care is not always the right option for seniors. It is best to understand what makes home care a good or bad choice.
There is no place like home! Although most people would prefer to stay at home than to go into a senior facility or a nursing home, there are many factors that need to be considered before making this decision. Most people feel that being home is the most comfortable option but consider this:
- What about the staircase? Most houses and apartments are not designed with handicapped people in mind. But what if your loved one needs home care because of crippling arthritis and can’t leave the house without going up and down the stairs. Or what if your Mom’s walker cannot get through the bedroom door? Or she cannot get into or out of the bathtub? Unless your family is willing to invest in modifying the space or adding an elevator, the physical layout of the home or functional ability of your loved one may not make home the best or safest choice.
- Are there social activities? Staying at home is great if you are content with watching TV, listening to the radio or surfing the internet. But home care can be very isolating. One major cause of depression in seniors is social isolation. So before you decide to use home care, make sure your Mom can easily get to a community center or can go on frequent outings.
- Who is planning the Doctor’s visits? Home care means a lot of family involvement. Your loved one has one-to-one care with an aide, but some one has to plan all the major activities. The family is still responsible for scheduling Doctor’s appointment and setting up transportation. You must make sure that there is enough food in the refrigerator, the laundry is getting done and the household is running smoothly. Unless you are a take-charge individual, many family members find this is too much responsibility to handle.
- Who’s watching the home attendant? If you are going through an agency, the agency is responsible for overseeing care, but they cannot be there everyday. And sometimes your loved one might not be able to report all events accurately. Your mom might be afraid that she will alienate her aide if she complaints, or she might not understand the aide’s responsibility. Of course, the reverse might be true as well. My 96 year-old mother-in-law Lillian, is a wonderful woman, but like many older people she is getting forgetful. She has had the same sterling aide, Barbara for over four years who is as honest as the day is long. But whenever Lillian cannot find something in her apartment, she assumes Barbara has taken it. Barbara has been accused of taking everything from the keys, to paper clips, to the spoiled carrots in the refrigerator. She is sure that Barbara has a set of keys and slips into the apartment at night and steals these items.
- Can you afford the care? A major consideration when deciding on home care is whether you can get or afford the care. If you are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare home care, you will only get the number of hours the government deems necessary. At times you gain more hours by appealing the decision, but essentially the government will determine the required hours. If you pay for home care privately you do not have to deal with the government, but your financial situation might limit care.