As the economy worsens and healthcare costs rise, more and more families are choosing home healthcare as a way to take care of their senior members. With home care services, home health agencies and careful family coordination, senior care at home may be possible.
Deciding to care for an aging family member at home—instead of placing him in a nursing or retirement home—is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. While home health care offers some financial advantages, it can be difficult to organize and taxing on the caregiver.
Home Health Agencies
Home health agencies provide at-home caregivers with assistance and support as necessary. Whether you need nursing care at home, blood drawn for lab work or help with cooking and basic home maintenance, a home healthcare agency can likely help you.
These all-purpose agencies provide a much-needed respite for busy caregivers, especially those trying to raise a family or hold down full-time jobs while caring for elderly parents.
If your loved one is very ill, or has a degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s, she may need care and supervision 24 hours a day. This is nearly impossible for one person to provide. However, you may be able to keep your loved one at home by coordinating with a home health agency, your family members and additional support staff. Some agencies will even coordinate this type of care for you.
Advantages of Home Health Care
While it has its challenges, senior care at home does offer advantages for the entire family, particularly the aging family member. He gets to age with dignity, surrounded by his family and personal possessions. There’s no need for an abrupt move to new surroundings, no need to make new friends and no need to be cared for by unfamiliar faces. Instead, he can grow old surrounded by the people and things that are familiar to them, in a secure, safe environment.
Care at Home: Caregiver Quality of Life
If you choose to care for an aging loved one at home, don’t neglect your own quality of life. Your days will quickly grow long and your “to-do” list may seem endless. In order to preserve your own mental and physical health, don’t forget to take care of yourself; get enough exercise, eat properly and get enough sleep.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the demands on your time and energy, you might consider hiring additional home healthcare staff or joining a support group for home caregivers. Therapy or counseling might also be beneficial.
Iowa Department on Aging. (n.d.). Family caregiver resources.Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://www.aging.iowa.gov/living/caregiver.html
National Family Caregivers Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving. (2004). Family caregiving: It’s not all up to you. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://www.familycaregiving101.org/