Family caregivers worry about a lot of things when it comes to taking care of older loved ones. How is my family member managing? What will we do if there is a crisis? Am I doing the right thing?
Costs can be another major concern for families facing elder care needs. While families themselves provide 80% of the eldercare in the U.S., it often becomes necessary to hire outside help for various tasks. There are costs associated with all long-term care options, from family help which may require giving up jobs or paying to move a loved one in to your home to private home health care costs or assisted living and nursing home fees. There are also various resources to help with costs, but they can be difficult to navigate and may require complex eligibility processes.
If you want to get a good understanding of some of the resources that help with care costs, such as Veteran’s Benefits and Medicare, as well as the terminology and eligibility, we invite you to download your free copy of our “Paying for Care” fact sheet.
We also offer a "Roadmap to Care Costs and Budgeting" which gives you step-by-step information on how to approach care costs and make a budget. We offer tips on developing a resource map to evaluate current resources and gaps and then how to seek out help for those gaps.
The truth is that private home health care can often help with the costs of long-term care, especially in the long-term. Because private home health care is flexible and can be used in a variety of ways, families can develop a budget and use outside help where it is most needed. Additionally, the preventative nature of home care services helps elders stay healthy and avoid crises which lead to more costly care. Here are just a few key areas where home health services provide preventative care to support continued well-being.
A poll showed that 51% of 65+ year olds take at least 5 different prescription drugs regularly (and one in four take 10-19 pills/day). 57% of those polled admitted they forgot to take their medications. (source: epill.com) Medication errors can lead to a variety of health problems and result in unnecessary hospitalizations, falls and confusion.
Home health medication management can assist in improving medication compliance. This is particularly beneficial for seniors who take multiple medications or when major changes are made (such as after a hospital stay or new diagnosis) and for seniors with memory loss.
Nutrition needs change as we get older and factors such as loneliness, difficulty shopping or cooking, and taste changes can impact a senior's eating patterns. A home caregiver can provide a variety of support to help with nutrition, from shopping to preparing meals to serving as a dinnertime companion. Good senior nutrition is vital to recovery as well, and your home health company can develop your care plan around special dietary needs and recommendations as well as your personal preferences.
From falls prevention assessments to day-to-day oversight and support, home care can mitigate some of the dangers lurking for elders around the household. Having assistance with certain household tasks can also help as these become difficult for the elder. We can suggest modifications and products that can increase aging-in-place safety as well.
This may seem out of place in a discussion of prevention and safety, but it should not be overlooked. A recent AARP article outlined some key findings about loneliness and decline:
- A University of California, San Francisco study found that adults who reported feelings of loneliness were 45% more likely to die over the six-year period than those who were satisfied with their relationships.
- Over the course of the six years, the unhappy group in the study was 59% more at risk of declining physically in performing such tasks as bathing, toileting, dressing, eating.
- A Cornell study found that loneliness can trigger cardiovascular changes that speed aging.
Home health companion services can help keep a senior in your life active and engaged. Sometimes an elder family member may feel guilty about taking up your time, especially if you are helping with many tasks. A hired companion can be a perfect solution and can bolster the elder's social interactions by providing different stimuli and opportunities.
The key to affordability with home health care is to find the "right mix". In other words, evaluate areas where you might benefit from help and look at a mix of resources to assist. What tasks do family members prefer to do? What services are available? How can we bundle tasks to most wisely use caregivers' time?
Keep en eye out for our upcoming post in which we "break down the math" of home health care. We will explain what types of tasks can be accomplished for $X over a period of time. Clients and families tell us an hourly rate can feel puzzling and overwhelming. When we "do the math" and illustrate the various tasks that can be accomplished for a total dollar figure, it helps show the affordability and ways to manage costs.
In the meantime, we invite your comments and suggestions here or your questions any time at 727-448-0900 or online. We're happy to give you a breakdown of costs and work with you on ways to create an affordable home health careplan.