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  • Writer's pictureMCMC

Tips for Choosing Between Home Care and the Alternatives

When a senior family member needs professional care and assistance, the first thing that usually comes to mind is a nursing home. Over the years, however, more and more families have discovered that home care or aging-in-place is beneficial for their elderly loved ones.

Still, others remain hesitant and would rather send their senior family member to a nursing home or any of the alternative options than choose home care.

So, how do you make a choice that you won’t regret? What makes home care the ideal choice? What are the alternative options, and how good are they for your senior loved one? The answers depend on how much you know and understand about all the options available to you.

Home care is in-home care provided by trained personnel to seniors and the elderly or those recovering from an illness or chronic health issues. It is non-medical care intended to help seniors continue to live safely and comfortably.

Non-medical home care focuses on assisting seniors and the elderly in performing basic daily living tasks such as cleaning, doing groceries, cooking, laundry, personal hygiene tasks, bathing and dressing, scheduling appointments, paying bills, medication management, and managing finances.

No certification is needed for an individual to provide personal home care, but industry experts recommend choosing a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or a home health aide (HHA). There are also home care agencies that can provide you with devoted care professionals.

There are two types of home care:

● ADL or Activities of Daily Living assistance or personal care/personal companionship ‘(examples: using the toilet, bathing, dressing up, and other hygiene-related activities)

● IADL or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living assistance - focused on housekeeping assistance (examples: (meal preparation, shopping for clothes or buying groceries, paying bills, managing money and medication, and scheduling appointments)

Advantages of Home Care/In-Home Care/Aging in Place:

1. Seniors and the elderly are in a familiar place, which helps them feel comfortable and a little confident.

2. They are also near their family, relatives, and loved ones. Seniors won’t feel isolated from their families.

3. Seniors and their family members have the freedom to choose a home care professional according to their criteria, preferences, or needs.

4. Seniors enjoy one-on-one personalized attention and care from the same caregiver. There is no need to change and adjust to different caregivers from time-to-time.

5. One-on-one or personalized care is also beneficial because it is designed to cater to the senior's specific needs.

6. Seniors enjoy safety and privacy. Family members do not have to worry about their elderly loved ones being exposed to illnesses and other similar elements. Seniors also do not need to share their living space with other residents.

7. Seniors get to enjoy some independence. Home care professionals allow seniors to perform daily living tasks on their own but with proper assistance.

A home care arrangement allows seniors to go out of the house to do essential activities such as buying groceries and clothes. They can even meet up and socialize with friends when they want to. Their caregiver accompanies and assists them as they perform these tasks.

The Alternatives

Assisted Living Facilities

An alternative to home care is assisted living facilities. Here, residents are provided with apartments inside a building. They pay rent and additional charges for other facilities and services.

An assisted living facility is intended for seniors capable of living independently and do not need medical assistance. However, they need someone to help them do activities that require mobility, such as housekeeping or cleaning, meal preparations, transportation, and socialization.

Seniors enjoy several benefits inside while living in an assisted living facility. They can socialize with other residents, request an increase in the level of care and assistance, participate in wellness programs, and relax in the comfort and convenience of a semi-private or private apartment.

If your senior loved one is in an assisted living facility, you are no longer responsible for choosing and hiring the caregiver. The facility takes care of that task and manages the caregiver’s schedule as well.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, alternatively called skilled nursing facilities or (in some cases) long-term care facilities, are best for seniors who need complex medical assistance. Residents are seniors and the elderly recovering from an illness or surgery or those who just got out of the hospital.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia are safe in nursing homes because the facilities are well-guarded and gated.

In nursing homes, licensed physicians and nurses are available 24/7.

Group Homes or Board and Care Homes

These are homes with around 10 to 12 senior residents of the same age. Residents do not need medical care but require assistance in daily living activities such as walking, going to the bathroom, and getting dressed.

If you want a home with fewer residents, look for a good Adult Home, a facility that houses less than six individuals.

Retirement Communities or Senior Apartments

A retirement community or senior apartment is also known as CCRC or Continuing Care Retirement Community. It combines the characteristics of assisted living and independent living. There are options for different care levels and housing types - apartments or individual homes, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility.

Seniors living in a CCRC or retirement community have the option to transfer to another home level according to their needs. They do not have to move to a facility outside the community because the homes are all inside the CCRC.

Subsidized Senior Housing

There are several state and federal-sponsored programs to choose from for seniors whose income does not meet the financial requirements for assisted living communities, nursing homes, or home care.

PACE or Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly

This option is available to individuals 55 years and older, but only in states that offer the program through Medicaid. The frail elderly can stay home and avail of long-term care, social, and medical assistance provided by the program.

Other Alternatives

Concierge care, respite care, and hospice are three other alternatives to home care. However, these options are dependent on the situation of the senior family member. For example, concierge care is for those who need a dedicated caregiver, which is usually provided by a home care agency.

Respite care offers temporary care for seniors whose caregiver is not available for a particular time. Hospice is a special housing facility for seniors who are nearing the end of their life.

Choosing What’s Best for Your Loved One

Aside from knowing the characteristics and features of every senior care option available to you, it is also vital to do the following:

-Talk to your senior loved one and find out what he or she prefers.

-Determine what type and level of care and assistance your senior family member needs.

-Compare the features and cost of all options.

-Talk to several home care providers and alternative home facilities representatives to get more information about their services.

Ultimately, your final decision should be one that ensures your senior loved one’s safety, convenience, care, and happiness.

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