By Joni Lindquist
We all get older. This process can be more challenging for some. Everyday tasks performed with ease in the past may become more difficult and frustrating. While it can be hard to ask for help, assistance can provide relief and improve quality of life. Oftentimes, family and friends are eager to lend a hand, but if their time is limited, or circumstances require specialized care, there is a potential solution: home-based care.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice estimates that approximately 7.6 million people currently receive home-based care as a result of illness, disability, or long-term health conditions. Home-based care enables you or your loved one to remain at home, living independently, but receiving needed support and assistance. Care is provided to meet specific needs, and can be as basic as help with household chores, or as personal as assistance with daily activities, such as dressing and bathing.
Types of Services
One of the first steps in choosing appropriate home-based care is to determine the level of assistance needed. Start by thinking about the degree to which you or your loved one can independently manage the following tasks:
- Housework (vacuuming, laundry, washing floors, etc.)
- Maintenance (mowing the lawn, cleaning gutters, shoveling snow, etc.)
- Errands (driving, shopping, walking, etc.)
- Meals (cooking, eating, washing dishes, etc.)
- Personal care (bathing, dressing, etc.)
- Health care (taking medication, physical therapy, etc.)
There are many home-based services available to meet these and other needs—including household chore services, meal preparation or delivery, companion services, personal care assistance, home health care by licensed professionals, and skilled care by visiting nurses. Once the necessary type of care has been determined, it’s time to choose a caregiver.
Choosing a Caregiver
Caregivers may be hired privately or through an agency. Establish a detailed list of attributes you are looking for in a potential candidate for your particular situation. Are you looking for live-in assistance, or full- or part-time help? Do you need a licensed health care professional? Do you need custodial care only? Who will provide transportation, if needed?
If hiring through an agency, research the agency’s history, as well as its hiring, training, and payment practices. It is also important to know if a substitute would be available should your caregiver be ill or otherwise unavailable. Feel free to ask for individual caregiver references—this is particularly important when hiring privately.
When hiring a caregiver on your own, begin by recruiting, interviewing, and checking references. When recruiting, consider placing an advertisement in a local newspaper, local websites, and/or bulletin boards at senior centers, churches, or local colleges. When you have a potential candidate, inquire about their work history, interest in the job, schedule, and expectations. Keep in mind that when you hire privately, you have the responsibilities of an employer, including paying wages, keeping tax records and making the appropriate tax payments, as well as scheduling work hours, vacation, and holidays. Finally, be sure to talk with any references provided by each candidate.
Personal referrals and testimonials are important. Spread the word among neighbors, family, and friends who might be able to recommend someone. Check with your doctor’s office or utilize online tools.
Since public assistance is currently not structured to fund long-term care, more and more people are seeking an alternative: long-term care insurance. This private insurance can help fund home-based care, as well as nursing home stays, assisted living/residential care, and adult day care.
As Americans’ longevity has increased, so has the number of services available to meet the population’s diverse needs. Right now, care providers offer an array of service options to the ever growing elderly population. Consider the comfort of home-based care as a viable option to prolong independence for you and your loved ones. For help with questions about your individual needs, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Joni Lindquist –firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (913) 345-1881.