Sunday, December 15, 2013

My elderly parent needs help—should I start with Home Care?

By Bob Gregory

Judy Garland
Cover of Judy Garland
If aging were a game, then Independence would be its name!  There is really no such thing as aging gracefully because most of us, regardless of how old, are fighting aging with everything we have—including our savings.  I often hear from colleagues that the cry from the elderly population is to remain at home for as long as possible.  The term “Aging in Place” has become a battle cry for many elderly as they do not wish to give up their homes, which to most, equate to their independence.  The famous line by Judy Garland “there’s no place like home” resonates among our elderly population because after all, there is no place like home!  However, sometimes our elderly need help to accomplish everyday tasks and we, their children, family members or guardians cannot always be there to provide the help.  So what do we do to help our parents remain at home and thus, independent?

First, I recommend you have your parent evaluated to make sure there are no major underlying medical issues that need to be addressed.   This is always a good first step when you believe your elderly parent needs additional help—find out why so you can make an informed decision.  Assuming the doctor sees no particular medical illness that would require medical services, then have a discussion with your parent about the type help they feel they need.  I also recommend you observe your parent doing daily tasks so you can make an assessment of your own.

For most elderly parents needing assistance, it is usually for chores they are no longer able or comfortable attempting on their own.  This is where Home Care (the non-medical Home Care) can be of great help and extend your parent’s independence.  Some common areas elderly need non-medical help include:

Light Housekeeping                Eating                          Medication Management
Laundry                                  Dressing                      Errands
Meal Preparation                     Bathing                       Shopping
Companionship                       Toileting                      Transportation
Bill Paying                              Continence                  Gardening

Once you and your parent determine the type help needed, you can set a schedule for when services are rendered.  Home Care companies are very flexible so you can customize a schedule that will suit your parent’s needs and lifestyle.  You will also want to consider the cost of the services as you create the schedule.  Medicare’s home health care benefit is limited and does not cover most non-medical home care services that Medicare categorizes as Homemaker or Custodial Care Services.  Most of the time, Home Care is paid from the savings or financial resources of the individual receiving care. This is commonly referred to as private pay or out-of pocket payment.  However, check with your State as some provide help for low-income seniors.

Helping Grandmother WalkAlso, I encourage you not to overlook the “companionship” portion of Home Care.  Often, elderly feel alone and isolated and that can cause everyday chores to seem impossible to complete.  I encourage you to interview several Home Care services and make sure your parent is comfortable with the individual that will be providing the services.  Your parent may go to great links to stay independent and in their own home, but you will find they are very particular about who they allow to provide care!  Finally, don’t let a Home Care provider take your place when it comes to providing care and companionship—they are there to complement you and not to replace you!

If would like a list Home Care Agencies, Assisted Living Facilities or any other type of Senior Facility, I hope you will consider

If you would like to contribute your thoughts and ideas, please leave them in our comment section. We want to hear them. Helping people care for themselves or their loved ones is what we care about. 

We look forward to reading yours.

Bob Gregory is an advocate for Seniors and is one of the founders of At, we are dedicated to helping families get the Elder Care help they need without having to provide their personal information! If find you need an assisted living facility or other type of senior facility, please consider
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