The decision to find in-home senior care for your loved one can be difficult for many reasons. For your loved one, it means giving up at least some aspects of independence and freedom. For family members, it means trying to strike a balance between respecting your loved one’s wishes and protecting his or her safety and wellbeing. Whatever your reasons for choosing in-home care for your loved one, here are some tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Decide whether in-home care is needed
If you’re on the fence as to whether your loved one needs more help at home, you likely already know that some signs (such as worsening dementia or serious medical conditions) may be obvious, but here are a few others to watch for:
- Forgetting to turn off appliances, such as the stove or space heaters
- Wandering away from home
- Forgetting to eat or cook regular, nutritious meals
- Not bathing or forgetting to take care of other hygiene
- Falling frequently or having difficulty walking without help
- Not driving safely
- Needing assistance getting to medical or other appointments
Keep in mind that your loved one may be resistant to receiving in-home senior care. Recognize and talk with your loved one about the fact that this process may be difficult, but that working with a caregiver will have many advantages.
Decide what services are needed
Work with your loved one to determine his or her care needs. Be sensitive to his or her wishes, and remember that your loved one may be in denial about how much help he or she actually needs. With these things in mind, determine the level of care that your loved one needs.
You can find a checklist here to help you with this process.
Whether you are searching for respite care, help with homemaking, live-in care, or something in between, the right home healthcare agency can make all the difference.
Additional services to consider include:
- Nursing case management
- Assistance with hospice care
- Medication management
- Personal care, including dressing and grooming, bathing, and oral hygiene
- Nutrition, including meal preparation and feeding
- Companionship, including recreational activities and check-in calls
Decide who to hire
When it comes to home healthcare, there are several options: you can designate a family member to provide care, hire an individual directly, or hire a caregiver through an agency. Whatever you decide, make sure to give your loved one some input into the decision and respect his or her wishes. It’s also important for you to be informed so that you can assist your loved one with making this important decision. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of several options for home healthcare.
While having a family member provide in-home care can be a cost-effective solution and family members can be paid to care for their loved ones, choosing to care for a loved one can take a toll on mental and physical health and even lead to caregiver burnout. If you choose this option, it’s important to recognize when you yourself need help and be aware of the resources and support that are available to caregivers.
Hiring a caregiver directly
Hiring a caregiver directly can be a good option. You’ll be able to pay the caregiver directly, so they will make more money. It’s important to remember, however, that you will need to do background checks and look into references yourself. You may end up spending more time and investing more effort, only to be left back at square one if the caregiver doesn’t work out.
If you do hire directly, it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors or check with your place of worship, local community center, or senior center.
Hiring an agency
Hiring a home health agency can simplify the process of finding quality care for your loved one. A quality home healthcare agency will take care of all the human resource-related tasks (such as taxes and insurance, for example). Not only that, but the agency will provide background checks, training, and supervision of its home health aides, and you’ll also be able to acquire specialty care or more intensive care should your loved one’s needs change over time.
To make the discussion about home health care and the transition to care easier, also consider the following:
- Give the caregiver agency information about your loved one ahead of time. This can include everything from necessary medical information to activities your loved one enjoys, favorite foods, and important information about your loved one’s history, including employment, family, travels, and achievements. This will help your loved one form a bond with their caregivers and help them feel seen and respected.
- Be prepared for bad days. Your loved one might make negative comments or resist the help that is being provided. It’s important to listen and advocate for your loved one, but also remember that everyone has bad days and it is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of care they are receiving.
- Remind yourself that you have your loved one’s best interests at heart. Growing older and the loss of independence that can follow are difficult issues for you and your loved one. While you may find yourself putting off the decision to hire additional help, consider that help can mean more freedom – for your loved one and for yourself.