As our loved ones grow older, we must sometimes face the difficult task of deciding when they cannot manage on their own. It is a heartbreaking decision that can cause conflicts with our elder family member who wishes to remain independent and is afraid of becoming a burden. There may be disagreements among children concerning when a parent needs help and what level of assistance that parent needs. But there comes a time when everyone must sit down and reach a consensus as to what steps should be taken.
Ask Important Questions to Decide The Right Actions
When a parent or other elderly or disabled family member suffers from a physical ailment, it may not be too difficult to determine the point at which they need assistance. Making those decisions about a loved one suffering from a mental disability may be more complicated. You will need to ask important questions to decide what actions to take. Is my loved one able to take proper care of himself? Does she remember to take her medications as prescribed? Should he fall or have some other accident, will he be able to call for assistance?
Defining Home Care Stages
Home care is the providing of assistance to people who need it while maintaining their ability to stay in their own home. There are many levels of home care ranging from occasional in-home visits by family members to 24-hour care by a nursing staff and even hospice service for the terminally ill. Home care can be temporary or permanent, possibly escalating from one stage to another over time. One of the primary goals of home care is to help the person receive the necessary assistance while giving up as little freedom and privacy as possible.
In the early stages of someone losing the ability to be fully independent, you will probably just want to check on the person more often. You may find it is important to stop by on the way to work to be sure they have gotten out of bed, showered, had breakfast and taken any morning medications. Perhaps you will decide to also check on the way home to make sure they have taken care of their chores, ate healthy meals and not missed any doses of medication. During this time you will be able to monitor their activity and determine if other steps need to be taken.
Difficulty With Daily Routines
Once your loved one begins having difficulty with daily routines, you will need to consider the options. If there are no medical issues, the solution may be as simple as bringing in a maid service or hiring someone just to spend time with your senior during the day or perhaps stay overnight. Unfortunately, this can become an expensive situation. Even if a family member chooses to be the caregiver, there can still be expenses in the form of lost wages. Medicare will only cover home care when it is deemed medically necessary by a doctor. Things such as assistance with bathing and cooking meals are not considered medical issues.
Care Around the Clock
The next stage in home care may be when the elderly or disabled person needs someone with them around the clock. If a family member will be the caregiver a decision will have to be made whether that person will go live with the person in need or will the person needing assistance be brought to the home of the caregiver. If the caregiver's home will be used, an in-law suite may be the best option. An in-law suite is a small apartment set up at the residence of a family member where an elderly or disabled person can live while maintaining independence and some level of privacy. This can be a more affordable solution but may need a special design to set up the independent living space or may even require an addition built on the caregiver's house.
If things have progressed to the point where medical assistance is ordered by a doctor, a nurse or nursing staff will be needed. Depending on the medical condition, the elderly person may need constant care. This can be expensive, but fortunately Medicare will likely cover a large part of the expense. Check with your state agency on aging to see what options may be available in your area. If the medical condition is not too severe, it may be possible to only have nursing staff on duty part-time, especially if the loved one is living in an in-law suite or has a family member who can be with them most of the time.
Special Needs for Dementia and Alzheimer's
Some conditions, like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, may cause a family member to have special needs that will need special arrangements. For instance, a person with dementia may be physically healthy. While it may be necessary to have a nurse on staff part-time, most care can be administered by a family member. Adjustments can be made such as securing exits and making sure power is off to appliances at night to avoid things like the loved one wandering off or turning on the stove and forgetting it is on. Each situation is different and a plan of action will depend on the specifics of the case.
Tips on Hiring Care Givers
If the decision is made to hire a caregiver, you will need to consider carefully who you choose.
If you hire privately:
- Be sure to insist on at least three references and do not hesitate to verify them.
- Ask about the quality of care given but also inquire about the person's demeanor and ability to handle stressful situations.
- It would also be a good idea to do a criminal background check. If the person you hire is through a home care agency, be sure they are bonded and that the agency performs thorough background checks.
Making One of The Toughest Decisions
One of the toughest decisions that may have to be made involves what to do as a terminally ill loved one's health continues to decline. Knowing that death is approaching can in and of itself be a heavy burden to bear. At this point, it may be necessary to seek the assistance of a hospice service. A hospice service will focus on areas other than medical treatment, such as the comfort, dignity and peace of mind of the individual.
What Does a Hospice Team Consist Of ?
The hospice care team may include nurses and health care aides, social workers and spiritual counselors. There will also be team members who specialize in helping the family cope with the difficult task of helping one they love pass. The team works with the patient's physician to ensure everything that can done to make the patient more comfortable is done. Hospice has been around for centuries but has become more commonplace in recent years.
Making The Right Decisions For The Loved Ones Well Being
Determining the home care needs of your elderly or disabled family member can be a daunting task. However, it is also one of the most important decisions you ever will face. Maintaining a loved one's quality of life while assisting them with the consequences of aging or living with a disability is a juggling act that can require constant adjustment. But so long as the patient's well-being remains the focus of your decisions, the choices made will be the right ones.