What to Think About When Considering Elder Care

Whether it’s a parent, grandparent, or any elderly relative or friend, someone you care about may have physical challenges associated with aging and debilitating health, thus requiring frequent and detailed attention. If family members or friends are unable to provide extended care, senior assisted living decisions must be made. The key choice: Whether to hire a home caregiver or find an assisted-living center (this includes nursing homes). Here are major things to consider as you deliberate.

Level of Assistance

First and foremost: Does the recipient need round-the-clock coverage? To best determine this, a mental and physical health assessment by doctors is necessary. Medical needs, physical therapy and prescription drug supervision should be examined for severity and frequency. Do they have bouts of dementia or injuries from a recent fall? At the same, note any inability to perform routine daily tasks such as eating, getting clean and getting dressed. Do they need help going to the bathroom or navigating the home? What is their risk of falling?

Maximum Supervision

If constant attention is needed, it’s time to explore senior-living centers, where professionals will be on hand 24/7. Otherwise you will need to hire and manage at least two rotating home caregivers, a drain on both your wallet and your time. The average price for a single home caregiver is just over $4,000 a month, while the monthly cost of a facility averages around $3,700. And like any employer, you will be responsible for continually supervising and evaluating their performance. Instead, focus on comparing senior-living facilities online by location and cost; narrow down the the best two or three options befitting not only your loved one but you as well.

Once you and your elder have picked a potential new home, schedule a visit and discuss your priorities, anything from medical resources to the attractiveness of the grounds. Take a tour, noting details as mundane as railings and chipping paint. Make sure to interview not only the supervisor assigned to you but another staffer with less invested in selling you on it. What are the services? How comprehensive is the coverage? How well-trained are the staff in the particular needs of the care recipient? After these pressing concerns are addressed, you can move on to less crucial but still important factors such as recreational activities and social life.

When you’ve settled on a place, get to know the staff who will be accountable for taking care of your loved one. While establishing a relationship with the appropriate caregivers, you can begin to see how far you can go in personalizing the living quarters to the tastes of the new resident.

Moderate or Intermittent Assistance

If full-time assistance is not a prerequisite, then hiring a home-based caregiver becomes a real option.

A senior-living center may still be preferable even if constant care isn’t needed,  depending on how your elder feels about embracing an intimate community. Is your loved one lonely, no longer working or involved in a serious hobby and/or seeking frequent companionship. Sociability and availability of convenient activities are potentially huge benefits to quality of life.

However, if your moderately challenged elder seeks as much independence as possible or gets depressed at the idea of abandoning their current residence, hiring a home health aide might be the preferred solution. The scenarios are so completely different that it should be rather easy to choose between them.   

In beginning your search for a suitable home caregiver, you’ll find plenty of online directories to help. It’s often best to go through an agency unless someone you know and trust has a solid recommendation. Either way, you’ll want to find an aide who lives relatively close by, as this will increase dependability. Even if you or your elder are far from a big city, you’re still likely to find options within the growing home health industry, such as in-home nursing care in South East Pennsylvania for example.

Hiring a home caregiver means giving the same scrutiny to a potential hiree as you would a senior-living facility. They must have some experience in dealing with the same type of physical, mental or medical challenges that plague your elder. Set up multiple interviews to examine their background and ask for several references. Have they been a registered nurse or a nurse’s aide? What do they specialize in?

Once a caregiver is chosen, you’ll want to sustain a close relationship based on constant information sharing about your loved one. Especially early on, the home  aide needs to be aware of and reminded of any and all allergies, medication combinations and dietary restrictions to be monitored.

Whether choosing a home caregiver or an assisted living facility, your consistent engagement with the providers and a strict attention to detail is most important. The more you show you care, the more your caregivers will imitate you when dealing with your loved one.