Finding care for the elderly can be a challenging and question-filled journey. Maybe it’s recently become obvious that a loved one needs a little extra help around the house, but where you go from there may not be so obvious. Here are some aspects that may provide a little more direction when seeking care for your loved ones.
Prepare for Resistance
Whether they don’t want to admit they need help, they aren’t ready to leave their current routine, or they feel like they’re financially burdening their family, most people aren’t ready to accept care. Try really hard to ease into the topic. Remember that we want to help them, but also support them through the process. Our caregivers are trained to understand where patients are at physically and emotionally, so they can really help you approach the topic in the right way. Because of this training, caregivers are easily able to build a rapport with an elder, forming more of a companionship rather than a caregiver-patient relationship. And then once that closeness is established, a senior will usually open up and become more willing to accept help. Knowing that a loved one has someone there for them can also alleviate stress on family members who previously had the sole responsibility of caring for the elder while still meeting the demands of their own lives.
It would be hard for anyone to go from total independence to accepting large volumes of help. Elders are no different. But they will be much more willing to accept help when you introduce care a little at a time. For example, maybe you start by having a caregiver come over in the mornings to help prepare everything for the day ahead, and then after a while you can set up for a caregiver to come by in the evenings as well. That way, the need for care grows organically, which means an elder will be open to accepting more care. If it gets to the point that your loved one needs around the clock care, it may be time to talk about a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Don’t Forget About Emotional Support
Do they remember to turn off the stove? Are they able to get dressed themselves? Is showering difficult? These are easy things to identify. But sometimes we forget that our seniors are important members of our community. Once their mobility is lessened they can easily become isolated and cut off from their community. It’s not uncommon to see depression in our elders because it’s so hard for them to stay in touch with friends and the community. A big role of a caregiver is to think about how they can reconnect a senior back into the community. It can be as easy as getting outside for a walk or taking them to senior centers so they can socialize. So not only do we want to ensure that they can function safely, but we also want to give them someone they can talk to throughout the day. They need emotional support and connection just as much as physical support, and caregivers are trained to help with all those aspects.
Determine Financial Situation
Since private home care is not covered by insurance, it gets expensive to stay in the home with high volumes of care. That’s not to say you shouldn’t look into home care if you’re on a tight budget. You can still explore the option by having someone come out to assess specific needs and develop a safe care plan. A physician should also be part of the conversation. From there you can determine if it’s feasible to stay in the home or if care needs are big enough to require a nursing home.
Look for Accreditation
The private pay industry is unregulated in Massachusetts, which is scary. When looking into home care, look for agencies that have been accredited through the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts. Through this alliance, organizations are evaluated on standards like client rights, privacy, complaint procedures, protections against abuse, fair employment practices, caregiver background screenings, competency, training and supervision, insurance coverage, and compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws. It’s extremely important to know if an agency is operating with ethical business practices. You don’t want to have to constantly worry about how they oversee care, if the nurses are professional, if they do background checks, and if they properly train staff. You’ll find the experience much less stressful by choosing an organization who has voluntarily been evaluated. It’s always a good sign if an agency, such as our home care division, has worked with different elder service providers and is tied to larger organizations.
Before committing to any type of care plan, assess the needs of the elder and then do some investigating so you really know who you’re working with. Reach out through local organizations or hospitals to see who they can work with as care needs progress. When it comes to caring for loved ones, you always want to work with an organization that can provide skilled oversight. Choosing appropriate care is an extremely important decision, so talk to a specialist to learn more about your options.