When it comes to helping our parents find in-home care options as they age and/or face deteriorating health, most of us have little to no experience.
It’s normal to feel anxious, uncertain and perhaps even emotional if you’re helping your aging loved one transition to a new level of care. The process can be both logistically challenging and emotionally grueling since it involves discussing finances, researching options and establishing the best fit for your parent’s needs.
Still, the time, energy and TLC you put into helping him or her form a home care plan could be well worthwhile. In one AARP study, seven of 10 adults older than 50 living in private homes said they’d like to live in their present communities for as long as possible. Most of us can appreciate that sentiment, given the human need to maintain a level of control over our own surroundings, routines, activities and life decisions.
In that spirit, here are some tips to get you started in co-creating a home health care plan with your parent.
- Depending on your parent’s situation, you may wish to selectively involve other family members, friends, neighbors or church members who may play roles in budgeting, decision-making and/or caretaking.
- Recognize that final decisions should be deferred to your loved one whenever possible. Have a frank talk with them about their needs, capabilities, limitations, preferences and expectations. What is lacking in their current routine, what are their goals and what are your objectives for their health and welfare?
- Help your parent assess his or her overall health. That may require an updated physical exam in which a doctor helps evaluate the services and procedures needed to keep your loved one fully functioning at home, especially if they need to qualify for in-home care through Medicare or Medicaid. A common set of checkpoints known as “activities of daily living” (ADLs) measures the extent to which a person is independent enough to eat, dress, bathe and toilet on their own, whether they’re continent and the extent to which they’re mobile. And a standard needs assessment looks something like this.
- A doctor may recommend your loved one seek help with simple tasks such as grooming, housekeeping, meal prep or medical procedures such as diabetes management, wound care or ostomy processing. At this point, it’s important to determine the precise level of medical help needed so you don’t overpay for unneeded services. For example, unlicensed personal care aides may be able to handle bathing, dressing, light housekeeping, meals and transportation to shopping and appointments. Licensed nursing assistants (LNAs) and certified nursing assistants can help with personal care, monitor vitals, dress wounds and help with certain other medical procedures. Licensed practical nurses can evaluate, manage and observe care and provide IV drug administration, tube feedings, shots, dressing changes and diabetes care. And registered nurses can provide direct care, administer medications, use medical monitoring equipment and assist doctors in medical procedures.
- Research prevailing costs for the required services, then determine how to pay for those that can’t be handled by friends or family members. Take into account your loved one’s insurance, their private financial resources and other resources available through other family and friends. Learn about governmental benefits that may be available through Benefits.gov or BenefitsCheckUp. Info on veterans’ benefits is on www.va.gov.
- Research and list agencies and/or individuals in your area who are qualified to provide the needed services, seeking referrals from friends, family, clergy and/or acquaintances. When in doubt, seek listings from your local Area Agency on Aging.
- Conduct interviews, check references and online reviews and mutually decide which people and services will be most appropriate for your parent’s needs, being clear and transparent about needs and expectations. A list of possible questions to ask applicants or agencies is here.
- Determine whether any physical accommodations could be made to help your plan flow more smoothly for your parent.
Forming the ideal home healthcare plan for your loved one may not be easy, and may require some trial and error. But it’s worth putting in the effort for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re doing everything you can to help maintain their quality of life.
Thinking about establishing in-home care for someone you love? Contact Pinnacle Home Care today to schedule a free consultation and start creating a care plan that solves problems and works for everyone involved.