Despite the loss of some physical and or cognitive abilities, most older adults want to remain in their home (called aging in place) for as long as possible. Today, the wide array of in-home care services make that option quite feasible.
What is Needed?
As an adult child or family caregiver, begin your search with what in-home services your parents need. There are two basic categories to consider: non-medical and medical in-home care services. To determine whether one or both types are needed and to what degree, it’s necessary to gather as much information as possible and make an assessment based on both current and future needs.
A good place to start is with your loved one’s physician. She or he will be able to confirm what medical assistance will be required. In addition, friends and other family members can provide insight, which you can consider along with your own observations of what physical and cognitive challenges your senior is facing.
How able is your senior to care for him or herself in basic ways (called activities of daily living)? Here is a partial list:
- Preparing meals
- Eating (self-feeding)
- Grocery shopping and running errands
- Transportation needs
- Personal hygiene and grooming
- Taking and organizing medications
- Getting around the home
- Using the toilet
All of the above would fall under the category of non-medical services. In-home medical services would include the following:
- Monitoring medical equipment
- Administering medications, like IVs and injections
- Taking vital signs
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
- Illness, injury or surgical recovery needs
- Wound care
- Expertise in medical conditions, including dementia
Whether your senior loved one needs occasional assistance or extensive supervision and care coordination, an honest evaluation will give you a starting point when considering in-home services.
Costs for in-home care services are important to know before approaching an agency or home care service provider. Questions to ask include whether or not Medicaid or Medicare, health or disability insurance and any Veterans benefits can be applied to the cost of care. What savings are available, including annuities or life insurance policies that can be cashed in? Also, are some family members willing and able to contribute financially?
Another consideration when evaluating cost is not only the cost of in-home care services but also the expense of adapting the home to make it useable and safe for the seniors living there. This may require extensive modifications to the home to prevent injuries from occurring.
Where to Start?
You could employ professional caregivers. This option is usually less expensive than using an agency, and you are more likely to find a part-time caregiver who can meet your scheduling requirements. However, you as the “employer” are responsible for paperwork, arranging for sick-day coverage, services supervision, and screening time to find the right caregivers.
Therefore, most people opt for a differing solution:
In-home care agencies can be identified through referrals from the doctor, friends, or family members. There are many in-home care directories online, and your area’s Agency on Aging can provide information on local agencies. Though agencies do not normally provide the services, they supply caregivers who do.
With a reputable agency, screened, qualified caregivers are provided, and care can be upgraded as needed. You pay the agency, and the agency handles payroll, taxes, and scheduling.
AARP provides a checklist of questions to ask when talking to an agency about in-home care.
Care management and home health care organizations like Bethesda’s can provide a comprehensive continuum of care and services. The process starts with an evaluation by a care manager, which can be conducted in the home. Care managers are specially trained and experienced professionals that can bring together a comprehensive and customized umbrella of care.
The assessment includes checking with the senior’s physician, examining nutritional needs, and determining what personal care and medical services should be added. They can also advise on home safety.
Care managers know how to navigate the healthcare system and identify applicable Veteran benefits. They are experienced and qualified to counsel family members and residents who have to make tough healthcare decisions.
Care managers can answer questions about health and long-term care insurance. They will review advanced directives that spell out the end-of-life medical wishes of the senior and designates who will see that those wishes are honored. Families are also guided to other professionals they may need, like attorneys or estate planners.
Bethesda’s Care Management team works with St. Andrews & Bethesda Home Health to provide both the medical and non-medical care for seniors in their home.
Also, the care plan is updated as the situation changes, and can include Bethesda’s senior living communities, which can include independent and assisted living as well as skilled nursing care.
Finding In-Home Care in St. Louis
At Bethesda, our Home Health Care service is designed to ensure that your senior loved one gets the right level of care while aging in place. Contact us today to learn more about our Home Health Care program.