If you’re worrying over the future of your aging parent, you’re not alone. Deciding on care for family members often feels incredibly daunting and can cause many to lose sleep at night. In most cases, the inner debate whittles down to one question: to place your parent in a nursing facility, or to care for them at home? Although each side of the coin comes with its own set of benefits, they also have corresponding drawbacks. Many adult children feel overwhelmed by the thought of taking constant care of their aging loved one, opting instead to place them with professionals. However, at-home care taking might not be as difficult as you think, and there are several reasons why it might be a better option than an assisted living center. Here’s why:
The biggest reason for elderly homecare is the comfort it provides for both you and your parent. Senior centers can feel unfamiliar and intimidating, and the added stress could exacerbate their degenerative symptoms. Home care postpones institutionalization, and can thereby extend and improve your loved one’s quality of life. Keeping your aging parent at home affords you peace of mind as well; when they’re living at a care facility, you’re left to wonder whether they’re getting the top-quality attention they deserve. Such unease might just make those sleepless nights even worse.
2. New Technology
Technological innovations alleviate the stress and worry of what could happen when you’re not there. Medical alarm systems will notify you in the case of an accident; from automatic fall detection, to panic buttons for heart attack symptoms, these devices can instantly alert you in instances when your loved one needs emergency assistance. The web makes health care delivery smarter, faster and cheaper, and new gadgets such as home cameras or smart pill boxes makes remote caregiving even easier.
3. Home Improvements
If your aging parent has difficulty moving around, home improvements can help. Simple renovations such as wheelchair ramps, stair lifts, walk in showers and grab bars for bathrooms can dramatically improve seniors’ daily lives. Adding home improvements can increase their sense of independence and offer protection against safety hazard. Medicare and Medicaid won’t pay for additions such as widened hallways, but they can help pay for durable medical equipment including wheelchairs, walkers and bath transfer benches. For the more expensive renovations, there are plenty of financial assistance programs to help accommodate elderly needs.
4. You’re not Alone
Even if you’re the primary caretaker of your parent, it doesn’t mean you’re in this all alone. Chances are you have family members close by who can take on some responsibilities to lighten the load. Try taking care in rotations and assign each person certain days of the week to stop by with groceries, pre-cooked meals, prescriptions, etc. If your parent has a midday doctor’s appointment or needs to get somewhere while you’re at work, there are senior transportation services that can take him or her wherever they need to go. Medicaid will cover these medical trips, but you can also pay for transportation services to drive them to matinees, hair appointments, cooking classes, volunteer events, friendly luncheons and any other activity to keep their social life engaged.
5. Hired Help
Another way to keep your aging parent at home would be to hire a professional caregiver to look after them. Some are scared off by the perceived costs of hiring an at-home professional, but in most cases, an hourly rate ends up being considerably less when compared against the cost of a nursing home [note the above graph, which displays the median annual cost of nursing homes in the ten most expensive US states]. This case is especially true when the company you choose offers reasonable rates with simple pricing structures instead of complex monthly contracts. Caregivers will provide personalized, one-on-one care for your loved one, ensuring quality care while remaining in the comfort of their own home. You probably won’t need to hire around-the-clock help just yet, but you could schedule a caregiver to come during an allotted portion of each day to provide personal care, companion care, escorted transportation, housekeeping, meal preparation, and medication reminders.
Of course, at some point, the time will come when your elderly loved one can no longer remain on their own, and it’ll become necessary to reconsider your options. However, you can—and perhaps should—postpone placing them in a home for the above reasons. Keeping your parent comfortable during this transition is of paramount importance, and it’s probably easier and cheaper than you’ve been led to believe. Consider the pros of at-home senior care before making a rushed decision so you’ll know you’re making a well-informed choice and can rest a little easier.