As our loved ones age, many new challenges arise. Hydration, nutrition, hygiene, socialization and medications can all become challenges for them based on both their cognitive and/or physical abilities.
If you ask just about anyone entering this phase of life, one of their biggest concerns is not having to leave their home and enter “the system”, i.e retirement communities, nursing homes, etc. But how can you balance the needs of an aging senior with honoring their wish of staying in their home?
We call this premise “aging in place”. Essentially this means bringing the care environment needed to the individual instead of moving the individual to the environment.
Aging in place requires planning, communication and coordination, but more than that it requires knowledge. Before you begin to develop a plan to age in place, you should have a firm understanding of the following;
What are the specific needs of the individual?
This sounds basic, but we’re not talking in generalizations, specifics are needed. Does the individual need help with bathing, grooming, meals, light housekeeping, laundry and these types of day to day things? Do they need help setting up their medications, or just help remembering to take them once they are set up? Do they still drive, or do they need someone to help them with grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc.?
Getting these specifics will help you move to the next step in the process.
What options do we have?
The options can vary from bringing adaptive equipment into the home to increase mobility (i.e. motorized wheelchair, tub/shower modification, lift chairs, hospital style bed), non medical caregivers in the home, medical caregivers and nurse management in the home, all the way to Hospice care, which handles terminal illness and end of life care.
Hospice care is a no cost Medicare benefit, but all of the other services have some cost associated. If the individual has a Long Term Care Insurance policy, some of the home care services may be covered. See our article on Long term Care and home care by clicking here.
How do I know where to start?
If the individual is in a hospital or rehab facility, there will be social workers and/or therapy staff that can help with any adaptive equipment needed and also in recommending the best level of home care.
If the individual is at home, a reputable home care agency is a good place to start. Any worthwhile agency will spend time with you on the phone, but they will also offer a no cost, no obligation home evaluation, or assessment to help you determine what your best course of action is. You can read our article about choosing a home care agency here, and you can scroll down the page on the right and find our “In Home Care Provider Checklist”, which will help you interview companies over the phone and choose the company that best fits your needs.
Aging in place is not always possible. Sometimes the physical or cognitive needs are simply too great to receive adequate care in home, or even in a basic retirement community. Speaking with a reputable, experienced care provider will help you make informed decisions that will result in the best possible care for your loved one.
Care from the Heart has been providing non-medical in-home care in the northwest valley for over 28 years now. We pride ourselves on being a resource as much as a care provider, so feel free to contact us for questions or for an assessment.