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Understanding In-Home Care Options
As we age or if we have an illness or disability, we may need help with personal or medical tasks. For people who don’t require hospitalization, an in-home care provider is a potential solution.
Around 4 million Americans use the services of in-home care providers every year. Home-based care includes a range of services from help with daily activities to managing your health and medication.
You can hire an in-home care provider for as little or as much time as you need. Perhaps you just want help a couple of hours a day or a few days a week, or maybe you’re looking for someone to provide 24/7 assistance. Most home health agencies offer hourly rates as well as daily and overnight rates.
Seniors living alone may use home-based care if they need extra help caring for themselves. In-home care can also be a good option for older adults in retirement communities who don’t want to transition to a higher level of care.
There are both non-medical and medical in-home care providers. Here’s the difference between the two.
Home Health Aides: Non-Medical In-Home Care
Home health aides may help with:
Preparing meals and eating.
Personal hygiene like bathing, brushing teeth, and grooming.
Getting around home or to appointments.
Selecting appropriate clothing and helping you dress.
Helping you to and from the toilet, use a bedpan, and other toileting needs.
Chores like light housekeeping, grocery shopping, linen changes, or laundry.
Providing companionship through conversation, participating in hobbies and activities, and eating meals together.
Home health aides typically go through training and certification, but they are not licensed to provide medical care. Some get their HHA certification through the National Associate for Home Care & Hospice, which requires a written exam, 75 hours of training, and demonstrating their skills.
Home Health Care Aides: Medical In-Home Care
Home health care aides offer more medical-related services to seniors and others in need of assistance. Some types of home health care aides may also provide personal care assistance.
Home health care services may include:
- Speech therapy
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Nursing services
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Social services
- Hospice care
- Personal care
Home health care aide services are provided by licensed health care professionals such as certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists.
Using In-Home Health Services in a Retirement Community
Some people think of home health care as a service you use if you want to age in place at home. Actually, people in senior living communities frequently use home-based services for a number of reasons. Scott Miles and Robert Aroesty, regional directors of operations for Holiday Retirement name a number of benefits of using in-home health care providers in an independent living community:
Choice of Provider
Layering on in-home care services within a retirement community instead of opting for a higher level of care gives you the power to choose and change your provider if you’re not happy with them. “When you move into a model where you don’t have that, then you're really subjected to almost being put into a corner,” said Miles. “Mom is going to get cared for by whomever is on shift that day.”
Assisted living communities are regulated by states. That means aspects like the minimum staff-to-patient ratio varies depending on where you live. “The patient-to-provider ratio is not always a pretty picture,” said Miles. “In some cases you may have 15-to-one. What happens when a CNA is stretched that thin and then there’s someone else who calls in sick that day? What happens to the quality of care?”
Opting for in-home care providers in a residence like an independent living community ensures you’re getting the complete attention and focus of your caregiver when you need it. You won’t have to wait “in line” to receive the help you need.
Even though in-home care providers aren’t employed by the community, they’re in regular communication with senior living staff. At Holiday Retirement, home health aides are considered an extension of the team. “From our standpoint, the gamut of these providers are instrumental in helping us manage our residents’ health, well-being, and safety, and keeping this as their last home” said Aroesty.
Only Pay For Services You Need
Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are more expensive because they include the cost of personal care and medical assistance. Depending on location and amenities, assisted living facilities may run around $4,051 a month. In 2019, the average cost of nursing homes was $7,513 monthly for a shared room and $8,517 for a private room.
“In independent living with supported service, you’re only paying for exactly what you need,” said Miles. “There are assessments [in assisted living], and if you move up a level of care, that might potentially include things your mom doesn’t need. In some cases, assisted living residents may find they’re paying for services they don’t need. [In independent living] you’re in full control to pay for the services you deem necessary.”
Acclimate to a New Place
Sometimes senior living residents choose to have companion care as they get comfortable with their new home. “This is more along the lines of a sitter service or non-medical companion service,” said Miles. “Families may hire someone for a month or so to make sure mom transitions into the community well.”
Miles notes that Holiday Retirement communities also have resident ambassadors. These are resident volunteers who welcome new neighbors into Holiday’s senior living communities by introducing them to people during meal times, showing them around campus, and providing first-hand insight into community experiences and activities.
Prevent Caregiver Burnout
Most loved ones don’t mind taking care of their older parents, partners, siblings, or relatives from time-to-time. That’s what family is all about. But caregiver burnout is real, and it’s detrimental to both the caregiver and care recipient. Whether your loved one is helping you regularly at home or within a retirement community, both of you may begin to feel the burden.
A number of studies show that informal caregivers (family or friends) are at greater risk for lower well-being like poor mental and physical health, exhaustion, anxiety, and struggles at work and in relationships. These effects can trickle down to the care recipient. Without the self-care your loved one needs, your relationship with them becomes strained. They may become more impatient, argumentative, and less empathetic with you.
Age in Place With Friends
People get attached to their homes, their friends, their routines, and surroundings. Enlisting the help of personal care assistants or home health care aides keep you around the community and familiar faces you love. “There’s so much grief when they have to move to an unfamiliar setting, and that can very well put them into a tailspin,” says Miles. “It’s possible to prevent people from having to go through that.”
Miles recalls a recent incident where a resident of nearly 10 years had a medical issue that required hospitalization and surgery. Her body was struggling, but her mind was still sharp. “Rather than go to assisted living and become more like those in a cognitively impaired state, we were able to get her more help through home health care aides,” said Miles. “People who are unaware of these options may have leaned toward assisted living.”
Aroesty says that he sees in-home care that ranges from medication management to 24/7 end-of-life care. “We want this to be their last home, and give them the choices to let them do that,” said Aroesty. “We want them to age in place here. It’s often a much better option than sending someone to assisted living or a nursing home.”
A benefit of living in a retirement community is that you’re around people every day who notice if something is off or there’s a change. They can help you get the in-home care assistance you need in these situations. “If [residents] start declining, we notice those things, and have conversations with family members,” said Miles. “We can share observations we have seen with mom, and encourage them to reach out to home health providers so there is a care plan now to help them be more successful later.”
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