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Home Health Care: Pros And Cons

According to recent research from AARP, individuals turning 65 today have an almost 70 percent chance of needing some long-term care services or support in their remaining years. And of those who do need long-term care, 1 in 5 will need it for more than five years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What is home health care?

There are two kinds of home health care, medical and non-medical.

Medical home health care is a broad term for various health services administered in a client's home instead of the hospital or skilled nursing center. Often a medical home health care provider will follow a patient's progress after their release from the hospital or rehab center following a surgery or injury. Medical home health care workers address issues like:

· Wound and post-surgical incision care

· Intravenous therapies

· Injections

· Pain Management

· Monitoring

· Patient and family education

Non-medical home health care helps individuals with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and provides a wide range of services:

· Companionship

· Cooking meals

· Tidying Rooms (but not necessarily cleaning duties)

· Driving

· Errands

· Medication Management

· Bathing

· Dressing

How to find home health care:

If you or your senior needs medical home health care, your doctor or another provider can give you a list and specify how often they should visit you. As for non-medical home health care, the first people to ask are family or friends who have had experience with an agency or an individual caregiver. Good references are vital in hiring individual home health care providers, so check references carefully. Insurance and Medicare cover some non-medical home health care, but not all, so talk confirm your coverage before hiring a caregiver.

How to know if your senior needs non-medical home health care

Does your senior need someone to help with daily activities? Many seniors deny that they need assistance but struggle in private to maintain their health and environment. Watch for the following signs:

· Forgetting meetings, appointments, or obligations

· Being consistently late for engagements. (This could indicate problems with dressing, navigating, walking, or driving.)

· Weakness when standing or walking

· Falls

· Confusion, forgetfulness, or repeating things at frequent intervals

· Accidents

· Poor housekeeping

· Neglected bills

· Weight loss or gain

· Avoiding cooking or having cooking mishaps

· Seclusion

· Car dents, scratches, or accidents

· Forgetting to take medication

· Showing signs of depression

· Getting lost

Home Health Care – What to expect

Inviting a stranger into your home is a big step. If your senior resists the idea of a home health aide, try presenting the change as a temporary trial. Assure your senior that the change is primarily for your benefit since you'll feel better knowing they are not alone.

If your senior is not happy with the idea of home health care, you’re not alone. Typically, it takes a while for anyone to adjust to a caregiver, and the first agency or caregiver might not be the right fit. Be flexible, and give your senior and caregiver time to settle in before making any changes.

Home Health Care Challenges

Agencies and individual caregivers come with advantages and disadvantages. Agencies may have staffing issues. Individual caregivers might not be able to provide backup care in case of illness or a personal emergency. Individual caregivers also might not be insured should something happen. For example, if a caregiver suffers an injured back while helping you bathe, you could be liable as their 'employer.'

How Home Health Care and Independent Living Work Together

80% of those receiving daily living assistance live independently in senior communities or private homes.

Pros of independent living with home health care

Independent living with home health care can be more affordable than assisted living because families only pay for the help they need. In addition, there are other advantages to living independently with home health care:

· More social time, less time spent on the activities of daily living (ADLs)

· For those who live in senior communities, more community activities

· More choice of caregivers

· More control over caregiver schedule

· The ability to personalize caregiver duties

Pros of assisted living

For some, assisted living is a better fit than living independently with the help of home health care. Assisted living can be more cost-effective when compared to the cost of paying for assistance plus the cost of maintaining a home. There are other essential factors to consider when choosing between home health care and assisted living, like:

· The isolation of living alone can lead to depression.

· The declining number of Medicare-approved agencies makes home health care more challenging to finance.

· Some services are not covered, like companion care.

· Assisted living offers more social time than living at home.

· Assisted living means a family can spend time with their senior instead of managing caregivers.

· Increasing the level of care is more manageable through assisted living.

· The cost of assisted living is lower than 24/7 private care.

· Seniors in assisted living communities have fewer expenses than those living in their own home.

If you have further questions about these various combinations of care and want to learn more, please give us a call at Melrose Meadows. It’s what we do every day. We know you want to make the best decision possible and we are happy to help you navigate the options, whether you are interested in our community or another one.

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