Struggling with care for yourself or a loved one? There are a variety of flexible in home care options that may be easier and more affordable than you think, while helping you to answer tough questions like:
Do you need in-home care?
How do you know if you need in-home care?
How do I know if my parents need home care?
While the questions may get harder to ask or answer, you don’t have to face them alone.
Follow this guide to help you find the best solution in determining whether or not you or a loved one may benefit from in-home care.
How to Know if You Need In-Home Care: First Steps
Maybe you’ve heard of the term “in-home care” through conversations with others or through online sources. With more than 12 million Americans receiving some form of home care, it’s important you know for sure what the term “in-home care” really means. We define it as any non-medical assistance that is provided in a home setting. That care could range from helping you or a loved one organize your mail to running errands or helping cook meals.
Just as important as understanding what in-home care is, it’s also important to understand the difference between in-home care and home healthcare. While in-home care is non-medical assistance, home healthcare is strictly for those who require medical attention at home, such as physical therapy, oxygen support, or intravenous medicines.
What Should I Look for When I Need Help Caring For Elderly Parents?
What should you look for from someone caring for elderly in their own home? For those receiving in-home care, services are performed by a certified nursing assistants or certified home health aides, including:
- Personal Care: These services involve tasks such as preparing meals, getting dressed, bathing and grooming.
- Companionship: These services involve tasks such as taking you or your loved one on shopping trips, watching television, or simply socializing. This type of in-home care can be especially beneficial for Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.
- Household Assistance: These services involve tasks such as laundry, light cleaning or providing transportation to appointments. Generally speaking, these tasks are usually done with the at-home family member rather than for them.
What Are Some of the Early Signs Care Is Needed?
It can be a tough question, and you may be closer to an answer than you realize simply by taking note of recent behaviors of your loved one. Also, thanks to the wide variety of in home care services now offered, it’s possible to just have some extra assistance from time to time. There are a number of early signs that can help you determine whether or not in-home care is needed. Take note of any of the following behaviors:
- Accidents: Are you or a loved one having more accidents than usual? Accidents such as falling or tripping around the house? Or driving accidents, such as fender benders or sideswiping the curb? While accidents can happen to anyone, an increased occurrence could mean that there’s an issue with mobility and/or passageways in the home. In-home care could address these issues and devise a plan for how to minimize accidents.
- Eating Habits: Have you noticed your or your loved ones’ eating habits have changed? Eating has become more or less frequent, there has been a loss of appetite, or meals are completely missed without notice? Weight loss or gain can also be a key to a change in eating habits and may be the result of another underlying health issue such as depression.
An in-home care service could maintain healthy eating habits and ensure meals aren’t being missed. And, if a change in eating habits is a symptom of a larger issue such as depression, an in-home care service worker could be the first to identify and alert family members.
- Decreased Activity: Are you noticing a decrease in activity? Are there any activities that, once habitual, have now been discarded without reason or noticeable care? Is there a decreasing desire to leave the house, either by personal vehicle or public transportation? Is there an issue with personal mobility? Are there issues with standing upright for long periods of time?
With in-home care, seniors can benefit from having someone available to help them with sitting, standing and walking. If seniors are uncomfortable driving themselves or taking public transportation, in-home care can provide transportation to their intended destinations, whether that’s the grocery store, church or family member’s home.
- Personal Hygiene: Has there been a noticeable change in personal hygiene, i.e. rewearing dirty clothing, forgoing bathing/self-cleaning, brushing teeth/hair, and/or neglected open cuts/sores? A decline in personal hygiene could be the result of a number of issues, including early Alzheimer’s or depression.
Having in-home care can help ensure the individual is maintaining their personal hygiene while alerting the family if serious issues arise that could affect the individual’s short or long-term health.
- Cluttered Home: Is there more clutter than usual? Are entryways, hallways and doorways being obstructed? Is the mail being opened on a regular basis, or is it laid out in piles throughout the home? Are laundry baskets overflowing with clothes? Depending on the situation, a large amount of clutter could be a symptom of an underlying neurological or physical issue.
With in-home care, family members won’t have to worry about their loved ones’ homes being overly cluttered. In addition, an in-home care worker can alert a family member if they believe that the clutter is linked to other health issues.
- Mail: Does it look as if someone’s been through the mail, or are there a number of unopened envelopes throughout the house? If a daily newspaper is being delivered to the home, is it making its way inside or piling up on the porch? What kind of mail is being delivered? Does anything look as if it doesn’t belong?
Seniors tend to be a vulnerable target for scammers, so be on the look out for individuals and/or groups requesting donations or money orders. Are bills being paid on time or is there a noticeable pile of late notices and final warnings? In-home care will systematically sort and address all delivered mail and can assist with identifying and separating payment notices from junk mail.
- Medication: Have you noticed any issues with remembering to take prescription medication? Or have there been instances when more than the prescribed amount was taken? Has medication expired but still remained within rotation? Are prescriptions being forgotten or left unfilled?
While in-home care workers can’t administer medication, they can check up on individuals to make sure prescribed medication is being taken appropriately while properly disposing of any expired medication.
- Food: Is there an overabundance or severe lack of food in the home? Check in the refrigerator and freezer for spoiled foods. While in the freezer, check to see how many items are frozen, ready-made meals. As a way of avoiding food shopping, some seniors may collect a large number of ready-made meals to store in the freezer. While this isn’t an immediate cry for help, these meals can be high in sodium and can point toward issues with eating habits.
In-home care can offer a number of services related to food and eating habits, including driving the individual to the grocery store, helping with grocery shopping and preparing meals. Additionally, the in-home care worker can regularly check the refrigerator, freezer and pantry, and dispose of any expired foods.
- Social Life: Are friends and acquaintances coming around less often? Does it seem like there is no excitement or desire to socialize outside of the home or at all? Another benefit of in-home care is the companionship that grows between the in-home care worker and the individual receiving care.
Whether that companionship means playing a game of cards together, watching a favorite TV program, or simply having a conversation, an in-home care worker knows how vital socializing is to the overall wellbeing of all people, especially seniors living alone.
- Housekeeping: Have you noticed the housekeeping seems to have declined? Are there noticeable changes in the way the house is cleaned, i.e. hard-to-reach areas are purposely passed over or completely ignored? Are there growing signs of neglect, such as piles of dirt or dust, stains, spills and/or cobwebs?
In-home care can ensure that sure housekeeping standards up to standard and can help assist the individual in completing housekeeping tasks. Additionally, the in-home care worker can alert a family member if it seems as if housekeeping issues are a continual struggle for the individual.
- Pets and Plants: Are there signs of neglect when inspecting household plants and/or pets? With plants, are most or all of them wilting and/or dead? With pets, does the animal seem as if it hasn’t been groomed in a while? Do you notice any kind of immediate issue with the animal’s mobility, sight or hearing? Does the pet look meager or, conversely, over fed?
In-home care can help assist seniors with caring for their plants and/or pets, especially since both can have positive impacts on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the individual.
These are just a few examples of the early signs in-home care might be needed, but they aren’t the only ones. Our elderly care needs assessment tools can give you even more insight on the care needs of your elderly loved ones.
The Toll on Family Caregivers
If you’re still unsure about whether or not your parents, grandparents or other loved ones need in-home care, take a minute to consider what other options you have. For some, that might be assisted living or nursing care. At an average of over $6,000 per month for nursing home care, you may be paying for a level of care that isn’t necessary and is overly taxing on funds and savings.
Keep in mind assisted living and/or nursing care will require your loved ones to be removed from their home — something that can, at times, take a toll on the seniors’ emotional wellbeing. The benefit of in-home care is just that: Your elderly loved ones are receiving care in their own home and not in an unfamiliar, clinical setting.
If assisted living and/or nursing care is off the table, the other option besides in-home care is having a family member step in as a caregiver. It’s easy to think because the individual who needs care is a loved one, you as the family member must be the one to fulfill that role and take on that responsibility. While that can seem like the right move to make, especially since a majority of the time the loved one you’re dealing with is a parent, taking on a role as caregiver can be extremely taxing financially as well as on your health and well being.
The University of Michigan analyzed data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study regarding the number of caregivers in the United States. Here’s what they found:
– The number of children caring for their parents has tripled since 1994, resulting in nearly 10 million people over the age of 50 caring for their parent.
– As these men and women leave the workforce early to care for their parent(s), they end up leaving a large amount of money on the table. For men over 50, the total is roughly $303,880. For women over 50, the total is $324,044.
Other Benefits of Non-Medical In-Home Care for Seniors
It’s not just your finances that are at stake. While you’re focusing on the health and wellbeing of your parent(s), your own health and wellbeing may be suffering.
A recent study from MetLife and the National Alliance for Caregiving found issues of depression, hypertension and pulmonary disease were most prevalent when addressing caregivers’ medical health. The study also found caregivers show an increased level of stress, are more likely to smoke or consume alcoholic beverages, and are less likely to seek out preventative health screenings.
Seeking in-home care doesn’t mean you don’t care about your parents or loved ones. In fact, it’s just the opposite. In-home care gives your elderly loved one exactly what they want — to continue to live safely in the comfort of their own home.
When polled, 89 percent of seniors said that the ability to age in place, or live independently while remaining in their own home, was very important. Yet many reported being concerned with their ability to do so. By providing your loved one with in-home care, you’re providing them with the ability to live life the way they are most comfortable, with someone who will care for and support them with a helping hand and a kind word.
Home Care and Seniors With Dementia
Staying in the same place can be especially useful in care for dementia patients at home. It can be jarring for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia to leave their longtime residence. By bringing in help with dementia in the home, you ensure your loved one remains in a comfortable and familiar environment, increasing the chances of a successful and happy arrangement for all involved.
All Hands Home Care in Central Pennsylvania
If you are dealing with these types of tough questions about in home care, All Hands Home Care is here to help you find the right answers for you and your family in the Central Pennsylvania area. At All Hands Home Care, we strive to provide the best personal care possible in the comfort of the individual’s own home and personal settings. Each of our caregivers are skilled Certified Nursing Assistants who are highly trained, thoroughly evaluated and caring individuals ready to help you and your family.
Our in-home care can also benefit new moms, family members recovering from accidents or injury, and parents raising children with autism or that have other specialized care needs. In these situations, just having some extra help and support from time to time can be critical for the family’s health and happiness, while reducing stress.
All Hands Home Care has the services that can help you and your loved ones lead a happier, more comfortable lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more about our in-home care services and how we can provide the skilled care to help you live independently in your own home.