Home Care – Planning ahead for peace of mindBack to Blog Home
It’s crunch time. Mom had a fall and now she’s being discharged from the hospital. What are we going to do? I’m so busy with work and the kids. My brother lives across the country. Mom’s neighbors are busy with their own lives. Her friends have just as many health problems as she does. Who is going to check in on her? Who is going to help her at home? Who is going to get her to her appointments? Can she even live alone in her home anymore? I’m overwhelmed and can’t manage it all alone.
Does this scenario sound familiar? So often we are forced to make rush decisions to keep up with life’s challenges. Although we can’t plan for all crisis, aging is inevitable. Most of us want to live independently in our homes for as long as possible and want the same for our loved ones. Aging in place isn’t a fad, it is a right that people have and it’s achievable with some planning.
The Institute on Aging states that of the older adults who were living outside nursing homes or hospitals in 2010, nearly one third (11.3 million) lived alone, and almost half (47 percent) of women over the age of 75 lived alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions, and one in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
Considering these statistics, older Americans who want to age in place are likely to need help at some point, especially if they live alone or have a chronic condition such as Diabetes, Heart Failure or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
So, what do you need to do to plan ahead for help so you or your loved one can age in place? A good place to start is the Minnesota Board on Aging. It has a Live Well at Home screening tool that is very helpful. On their website, you can take a seven question quiz to help determine if home care is the right option to help you or your loved one. When it comes to aging in place, home care is a great option.
If you’ve determined home care is just the help you need, you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed. The AARP Care Connection breaks down five easy steps to get started when considering home care and addresses many common worries associated with setting up services:
- Getting help is okay! Caregiving is hard whether you are a spouse, child, or a neighbor. Ensure a loved one is getting the help you aren’t able to provide on your own. There are a wide range of home care options to support life’s daily activities such as bathing, toileting, grooming, housekeeping, cooking, shopping, medication reminders, transportation, and coordination of appointments to name a few.
- Determine what you can afford. In-home care can be customized to your needs. Take time to consider what services you need and how often. Services can range from a few hours a day to full-time, 24-hour care. You should also think about what family, friends or neighbors can reasonably do to support your loved one. Oftentime home care can work into a team approach with family that is already helping to provide care. Home care is typically private-pay, but many long-term care insurance policies will offer home care as a benefit. Check into what your policy covers. Set a budget that works for you.
- Find the best fit. Ask questions when you are looking for the right home care options for you. Home care agencies are often very similar but have different services that make them unique from their competition. Is the home care licensed and bonded? How are the caregivers screened, trained and supervised? How are caregivers matched with their clients and can you meet the caregivers ahead of time? Does home care meet your needs? Can home care partner with additional services such as therapy or hospice?
- Ensure continuity of care. Make sure the home care provider can assure you consistent and available caregivers. There may be times when a caregiver is sick or needs a vacation day, so ask to meet replacement caregivers ahead of time.
- Stay in the loop. It is to your benefit and the home care agency’s benefit if you are in close contact about your loved ones needs, care and schedule. A communication plan can help to keep all parties well informed. Be clear about boundaries and expectations. This will help create a good working relationship between the client and caregiver.
Getting started is as easy as making a call and setting up an in-home assessment. Many home care agencies offer this as a free service and it is a good way for a client and an agency to get to know each other and determine if they will be a good fit. It also gives the agency a chance to assess the client’s situation so they can give the best advice on the level of care needed to fit the client’s needs.
Don’t wait until a crisis strikes to make home care a part of your long-term care planning. Take some time to look into your options so you can make informed choices when the time comes for additional help for you or a loved one. Planning ahead will provide you with peace of mind that you are making the right choice for your aging in place needs.
by Christine Nessler
Freedom Home Care, Owner/Community Outreach
As featured in the Mankato Magazine, February 2018 edition.