As a child of elderly parents in need of care, your family now must make some choices regarding their care. Sometimes one elderly parent can manage to take care of the other for a while. But in my family’s case, my father was beginning to fall more frequently, and my mother couldn’t get him up any longer. We lived hundreds of miles away, and in our case, a home caregiver agency would have been our best solution, as both wanted to stay home, at least until they were ready for assisted living.
There are financial incentives for the family to provide home care themselves, which on the surface would seem to keep costs to a minimum. There are emotional considerations as well. On these lines, a solution for my own family would have been for my sister or myself to quit our jobs to take care of my father. This could have provided some other advantages—for example, our father would have been comfortable with us as family members taking care of him. But, again, we’ve discussed several difficulties of quitting one’s job or reducing hours. And like 50 other million Americans in the “sandwich generation”, we have to balance the needs of our own families as well. Losing one’s source of income can lead to economic problems, to say the least.
Keep in mind, that even if you are retired already, and able to take care of your elderly parent, you must be prepared for the risk of undergoing caregiver “burnout”, a common occurrence, which can produce overwhelming physical and emotional wear and tear, especially when you have no help from others.
We also looked into the idea of becoming a paid caregiver to offset some costs. In reality, the wages one could earn through state-funded programs is modest, and also may require delays, waiting lists, and having to undergo training.
In summary, at least for most full-time workers in the sandwich generation, your family and parents may be better served with professional home care. When a trained professional is hired for in-home care, the next step would be to find a safe and affordable solution. Most of our elderly parents would prefer to stay at home, therefore a homecare agency would be the first place to look.
How do you know if your elderly parents or loved ones need home health eldercare?
- They were recently hospitalized for surgery or illness.
- Their current caregiver such as their spouse can no longer care for them.
- They can’t take care of their own important activities of daily living such as dressing or bathing. They have no means of doing errands such as grocery shopping, or taking care of chores.
- Their emotional condition is deteriorating due to social isolation, loss of their spouse, or general anxiety and depression.
Benefits of hiring a home caregiver
- Cost. Before considering more expensive alternatives, such as nursing homes which can be more than $600 daily, this kind of money may almost provide a week of services with a home health caregiver about $690 at 8 hours a week. Of course, depending on their needs, full-time home health services can be costlier as the number of hours needed in their care increases. You should discuss these rates with the agency you are considering, but typically even on a full-time basis will not approach the costs of a nursing home or even some assisted living facilities. This may be your elderly parents’ preference, as they may want to stay independent in their homes, a consideration in their overall quality of life.
- Activities of daily living (ADLs). The essential need for caregiving involves the activities of daily living. These commonly include dressing, hygiene, bathroom care, bathing, help with mobility, and help with eating.
- Skilled nursing care. This can be provided through licensed nurses or other professionals, who are trained to use the correct medical equipment and deliver more complex medical care. Other services could include:
- Wound care
- Pain management
- Medication and disease education
- Physical, speech, and occupational therapy
- Psychiatric care
- Advanced Social work
- Distance. Though you may be available over the phone, caregiving from a distance has some limitations depending on your parents’ health status.
- Safety. A home healthcare professional will first assess safety risks and suggest implementations in their home. These could be as simple from moving a rug to installing shower railing to prevent falls.
- Nutrition. As we discussed before, most seniors, especially those requiring caregiving, not only lose the ability to cook for themselves, keep up good nutritional habits but also become protein deficient leading to loss of lean body mass. A home health caregiver can assess your elderly parent for their nutritional needs, and even provide cooking. Having good warm meals can also go a long way for their emotional needs.
- Transportation. Your elder parents may not be able to drive anymore, and doing errands such as grocery shopping, or having medical appointments can become a dreaded activity for them to arrange for. A home health care aide can relieve this burden, and can even accompany your elder parent in the process, something they would enjoy.
- Medications. Home health care professionals can make sure your elderly parents take the right medications at the right times, and to report any needs for refills. Especially in cases of dementia, taking the wrong pills could place your elderly parents at risk.
- Companionship. Home health caregivers can fulfill the need we all have for social companionship. Loneliness in the elderly can lead to more rapid declines in your elderly parents’ emotional and physical health. Home health caregivers can be there for fun activities such as games or movies, meals, and even exercise activities such as walking. Many home health caregivers form bonds that last a lifetime.
- Light household chores. My mother used to do most of the housework even in her old age, which finally left her back too painful to do what she could do before. Home health caregivers can help out with most light chores such as laundry and dishes, so your parents can have a higher quality of life and a safe and clean place to live.
These are reasons why homecare is a popular option for those who want to keep living at home, maintain their independence, and for many, save a considerable amount of money while letting you keep your job so you can maintain your own family’s needs and quality of life.
Why not hire a private home caregiver?
Hiring privately is a good option for some, especially if it involves a trusted family member. But here are some questions you should ask first:
- What kind of screening process and background checks are in place?
- Are they insured and fully bonded?
- What training and experience would they have?
- Can they offer the right plan of care tailored for your elder parents’ needs?
- Would you have a backup caregiver on a needed basis?
- Would you know how to do their payroll taxes?
Eldercare matches you with the right person or company in the healthcare industry. We are your concierge and will guide you through the process.