Beginner's Guide to Elder Care for the Long Term

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Published: 29th October 2012
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There are a multitude of reasons why elder care services may be considered by families.

There may be a mutual agreement by the family and Elderly individual about continuing to live in the home, thereby keeping their independence. Perhaps the decision isn't mutual because your loved one isn't in the right state of mind to make that decision, but it's what you know they would want and what you feel is best for them. And of course, you have your own life to live, with a heap of daily obligations that are stressful enough. There's just no time to provide living assistance at all hours of the day, every day.

Non-Medical Home Care, Skilled Nursing, or Hospice Care?

The first thing to consider are your in-home care options, which should be based on your loved one's care condition. Options include non-medical home care, skilled nursing, or hospice care. Most of these services are provided by local home care agencies who provide caregivers and companions who can assist with Activities of Daily Living, transportation, companionship, meal preparation, personal hygiene & grooming, incontinence care, and other services.

Certain illnesses such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Cancer, Incontinence, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, or Post-Surgical care require a skilled nurse who has experience with the respective care condition. In addition to assistance with Activities of Daily Living, skilled nurses can provide medical care that is appropriate for the care condition. For example, a person with Alzheimer's can benefit from a skilled nurse who has experience with speech-language therapy and physical therapy to help improve the ability to communicate and memory function. A person with Parkinson's Disease can benefit from a skilled nurse who has experience with physical therapy to help with muscle stiffness and mobility issues. Occupational therapists can help minimize your loved one's fall risk, train your loved one to avoid dangerous situations, and suggest rearrangement of items in the home to reduce hazards, such as placing labels on appliances, adding non-slip bathroom mats, and keeping the home clean and well-lit.

Home Care Agencies also offer Hospice Care either in-home or at the hospital. This type of care is for terminally ill individuals who are near the end of their life. The care is aimed at providing pain management, personal care, and emotional & spiritual support for the individual and their family.

How can I Pay for These Services?

Unless you're incredibly successful financially? The cost of home care can get expensive, especially if your loved one requires daily 24 hour assistance. Rates can range from $18 to as much as $28 per hour.

Fortunately, there are government and private sources of support. Medicare is a federally-funded program for individuals who are age 65 and older that is designed to assist with some of the cost of skilled medical care. You can check to see if your loved one is eligible here.

Medicaid is an assistance program for those age 65 and older that is federally and state funded. It is designed for low-income families to help cover some or all of the cost of long-term care, which includes assistance with Activities of Daily Living and Companionship care.

There are a variety of Long Term Care Insurance policies available for individuals who need 24 hour assistance. Having long-term care insurance is crucial for those who require full-time care as the cost will be much more affordable than paying for hourly care. Here's an article that weighs the pros and cons of purchasing long-term care insurance.

Some other sources of income for home care include life settlements, non-profit sources, and the reverse mortgage - a loan available for home owners of retirement age that enables them to convert a portion of their home's equity into cash.

General Tips for Caring for an Elderly Individual

Medication -Be sure to always have your Elderly loved one's medication organized. Many local stores sell convenient pill boxes that can be used to minimize confusion. Some of them even have built-in alarm clocks to help with daily reminders.

Laundry - Purchase a rolling laundry basket with ventilation to make dirty clothes and clean clothes easier to transport. Keep the laundry area dry at all times to prevent fall risk.

Hiring a caregiver? - Make sure all items of value are either in the possession of family or well hidden and locked away in the house. Consider purchasing a personal vault to store jewelry and important documents.

Stairs - If they don't have railings, install them. If they are carpet, hardwood may be a safer alternative. If your loved one gets up a lot at night, install night lights.

Bathroom Doors - Bathroom doors that are locked from the inside can pose serious risk for an Elderly individual who enjoys their privacy. If something were to happen, you wouldn't be able to get in. It's important to discuss options for this with the Elderly individual or family - such as having an extra key for the lock.

Lifting & Transferring - If you have the duty of lifting and transferring an Elderly individual, consider purchasing bed risers to make the whole process easier on your back.

Television Viewing - Many of today's remote controls have way too many buttons that makes for a confusing time finding a channel to watch. Consider purchasing a universal control that has the bare minimum - on/off, volume up/down, and channel up/down.

Comfortable Sleeping - Consider buying silk bed sheets and silk pajamas for your loved one. Doing this will make it easier for your loved one to toss and turn during sleep and is especially beneficial for those with Parkinson's and Arthritis.

Items of Daily Living - To make transportation around the house a minimum, many Elderly individuals have everything they need for the day on a table by the couch or chair in which they spend the majority of their time. If your loved one does this it's important to always keep their items organized so that nothing is knocked over.

In Case of Emergency - Always keep a contact list, medication list, and any other important documents in the car just in case of a medical emergency. Know where you would go and who you would call first.

About A-1 Home Care

A-1 Home Care is a California-based non-medical caregiver placement agency that provides in-home care in the communities of Orange County and Los Angeles County. We are Licensed Bonded and Insured, have an A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau, and Shield Accreditation.

If you need a caregiver, nurse aide, companion, or babysitter, we offer 24 hour live-in care or hourly part-time care for services such as Alzheimer's Care, Parkinson's Care, Diabetic Care, Cancer Care, Hospice Care, Incontinence Care, Child Care, Special Needs Care, and Postpartum Care.

If your loved one carries long-term insurance, we accept Penn Treaty, CALPERS, MetLife Insurance, John Hancock, Veteran Administration, and Bankers' Life & Casualty.

For more information or to interview or hire a caregiver today, CALL us at 949-650-3800.


Sources:

Vida Senior Resource

Elder Care Team

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