OK, so it’s gotten to the point where mom or dad have declined so much mentally or physically that you and your family just can’t give them all the care they need or deserve. Perhaps they’ve been falling more lately, calling you multiple times throughout the day and night, forgetting or refusing to eat or take their meds? It’s taking its toll on you. You’re not sleeping well, your stress level is through the roof, your own family is not getting the attention they need and deserve. Sound familiar?
It’s often said that you can’t treat the problem until you clearly define it. 24 hr. home care can be indicated for many types of problems your parents may be experiencing: hospice or palliative care, Alzheimer’s home care or dementia care, macular degeneration or blindness, cancer care, after surgery care: any or all of these could require the constant monitoring of your aging loved one.
Facility or Home Care
Imagine how you would feel if your kids came in and announced that you had to pack up and leave, and spend the rest of your days in an assisted living or nursing home. For some seniors this is a welcome option that they come to on their own, but for many others the value of staying in their own home has a great psychological benefit, especially if your parents have resided there for many years. The sentimental attachment to the familiar environment signifies independence and ties to a meaningful and valuable history.
Recent studies have found strong evidence that patients recover faster if they do “hospital at home,” can be less expensive, and patients had fewer readmissions and complications than those that receive in-hospital care (Leff et al.,2005: Leff et al,. 2006).
Round the clock home care can be comparable to full time nursing home care, but the psychological benefits can far out way the cost. Besides, if family care givers or technology can supplement, the cost of hiring professional caregivers comes way down.
New California Laws
New laws in California in 2015 require caregivers to be paid even when they sleep. This means that having two caregivers alternate 12 hour shifts is the best option now. Not only will it be cheaper that having a “live-in”, you also benefit by having someone always awake and ready to respond on a moment’s notice.
However, medical or psychological necessity may require a move to a facility as a matter of personal safety for the seniors involved.
Screening a Caregiver or Agency
If your considering bring in round the clock care, it’s important to make sure you have an agency that has experience and expertise in managing the type of care your loved one needs. Caregivers are considered “non-medical” care, and anyone can call themselves a geriatric care manager. Make sure you find a home care agency that uses licensed nurses to assess your parents and supervise the caregivers. This will insure a continuity of care, liaison, and advocacy with all the health care agencies and professionals your seniors need to stay healthy. Navigating the healthcare system with amateur caregivers is not much help to you.
You need to make sure your caregivers are employees (not independent contractors), are insured, bonded, covered by worker’s compensation, and have complete criminal and DMV checks, and have clean drug tests.
The cost for full time live-in care can be high, up to $15,000 a month for professional caregivers from a reputable agency. However, there are ways to offset that. Reverse Mortgages, Life Insurance policies, Long Term Care Insurance policies, and Veterans’ benefits are available to some.
Often, families pool their resources, taking turns providing care when the agency is not there, or sharing the cost of paying for the professional care.
Technology is advancing rapidly in senior care, and sophisticated and affordable monitoring devices now exist which display right on your smart phone. Also, devices worn as necklaces or bracelets can now detect and report a fall with the senior having to push a button. These alerts can go to family or an agency so that the senior does not have to worry about “calling out the National Guard” if they have a problem. These technology solutions can be incorporated with professional caregivers working less than 24 hour home care shifts and significantly reduce the cost.