Many — if not most — of us will need some type of in-home care at some point in our lives, whether due to injury, chronic illness, or advanced age. It can be hard to give up a piece of our personal independence to rely on someone else to meet our daily needs. Things become more complicated when we see a parent or other loved one struggling to get by independently.

Why choose home care?

Home care is an ideal choice for an aging parent or a person with a disability who prefers to live alone but still needs some help to do so. It is minimally disruptive, offering more flexibility and privacy compared with fulltime assisted living facilities. When possible, these arrangements are also objectively better for a senior’s physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that dementia patients who initially remain in a family care setting live longer than those who are transferred to assisted living facilities earlier on.

What are the signs that it might be time to hire a home care aide?

In general, the need for home care will be signaled by changes to a loved one’s health, quality of life, and/or existing living arrangements. Any of these circumstances can impair a person’s ability to live independently. Specific things to look for include:

  • Difficulty completing “activities of daily living” — skills an adult needs to live independently without a caretaker. These activities include both “basic” tasks necessary for day-to-day functioning, such as feeding and bathing oneself, and “instrumental” activities a person needs to perform to live independently, such as shopping for groceries and doing housework.
  • Problems with ambulation — trouble getting around the house and frequent falls. Falls can be deadly for seniors. If your loved one has recently suffered from multiple serious falls, it may be time for home care. A caregiver can assist with movement and take on especially risky tasks.
  • Staying at home — whether due to anxiety, depression, or physical limitations. Being homebound limits a person’s ability to do errands.
  • Poor nutrition — significant weight loss or gain and/or nutritional deficiency. When a senior can no longer cook healthy meals or get to the grocery store, you may find your parent living on junk food and delivery. A poor diet can in turn lead to more serious health problems, creating a vicious circle. Although meal preparation is a common duty for caregivers, homebound residents of New York over the age of 60 may be eligible for free home-delivered meals through a local Office for the Aging. These programs may be an alternative to home care for people who struggle to prepare healthy meals for themselves on a regular basis but are otherwise able to live independently.
  • Personal loss — death of a spouse or other coresident, such as a close friend or adult child. Grief can trigger a decline in function, worsening both physical and mental issues. Additionally, the deceased may have taken on caregiver responsibilities that will now need to be performe by a third party.
  • Other effects of aging — anything that interferes with a person’s ability to live independently. Someone who has trouble recovering from an injury or illness may need for a home health aide or nurse. A disheveled appearance can indicate issues with personal hygiene or washing clothes. Forgetting to pay bills or take medications are basic responsibilities that a home care aide can oversee.

Any of the above issues may prompt a care assessment by either a loved one or healthcare professional. These surveys evaluate a person’s ability to live independently and are the best objective means of knowing when home care is necessary. Although circumstances vary, the right time for home care comes down to when a person can no longer live safely without it.

How can we afford home care?

Many health insurance programs — including Medicare and Medicaid — cover some or all of the costs associated with medically necessary home care under what is typically referred to as a “home health benefit.” This benefit may apply to patients who require intermittent skilled nursing care, continued occupational therapy, physical therapy, and/or speech-language pathology services.

While these benefits traditionally pay for home care through professional home care agencies, many seniors feel more comfortable receiving care from a friend or family member. While these informal caregivers previously went uncompensated, Medicaid beneficiaries in New York may qualify to participate in the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP). Through this program, someone in need of home care can directly hire and pay a personal aide, such as an adult child. If you or a loved one is considering home care and would like to know more about CDPAP, contact us at Freedom Care today for more information.