Many of our aging parents want to live on their own. According to AARP, more than 95% of seniors want to stay in their home as long as possible, even if they need help with day-to-day activities. After all, home is comfortable and familiar and they are surrounded by memories and circumstances that make them feel safe.
There is no magical age when a senior may need help. There are many 90-year-olds who live at home and need very little help. On the other hand, there are 60 and 70-year olds who find their ability to live independently waning. It’s a hard reality for adult sons and daughters to face: when is it time to become a caregiver yourself, get help in the home, or move your parents to a nursing home or assisted living facility?
Let’s explore the pros and cons of each living situation so you can make an informed decision about what is best.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Home Care
How often we have heard seniors say: “If you move me to a nursing home I will crawl up and die.” The major advantage of home health care is that seniors get to “age in place” among their friends and surroundings that make them feel secure and happy. They can maintain their freedom. The main problems with staying at home is they may need help with cleaning, meal preparation, driving, grooming and other tasks.
However, if seniors need a little help, there are various options available:
- Enlist friends or family. The chore of being a caregiver shouldn’t rest on one person’s shoulders. Enlist family or friends to help with tasks your aging parents find challenging. Many religious communities or organizations have volunteers who can help with driving and preparing nutritious meals. Or you can have meals delivered into the home.
- Hire in–home care. Home health care agencies such as FirstLight Home Care have compassionate caregivers who can come into the home on a part-time, hourly or 24/7 basis. We provide different levels of care, from companion care to personal care to dementia care. This can provide you with peace of mind knowing that someone is there to pinch hit for you. In some cases the home care costs can be reimbursed by Medicare, Veteran’s aid or other sources.
- Remote monitoring. Remote devices are now available for both emergency situations or to remind your loved ones to take their medication. Web based tools are often available so you can know your parent’s schedules and communicate with any caregivers.
If your parents want to stay in their home, make sure it is as safe as possible because falls are quite common. Do a home maintenance checklist to make sure any hazards such as loose rugs are removed. Also, it may be easier if grab bars are installed in bathrooms.
Another advantage of home care costs is it is less expensive than nursing home costs.
Other Senior Care Housing Options
According to a study by Clarity, seniors fear moving into a nursing home more than they fear death, mainly because of the institutional feeling and loss of freedom. However, depending on the level of care that is needed, this may be the only option.
There are many different types of senior homes, all providing different services and levels of care Medicare describes them as follows:
- Group homes or board and care homes. Adults live in a home with 10 – 12 people their own age and get assistance with bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom.
- Subsidized senior housing. If your loved one has a very moderate income, there are federal and state programs that help pay for housing. Additionally, there may be help with meals and other activities like housekeeping, shopping, and doing the laundry. Residents usually live in their own apartments in the complex. Rent payments are usually a percentage of your income (a sliding scale).
- Assisted living facilities generally mean that your loved one has his/her own apartment within a building or a group of buildings, but can get help with meals, transportation, cleaning and social activities. Some of these facilities have health services on site. You pay a monthly fee for rent and utilities and a separate fee for any extras.
- Retirement Communities. The beauty of this type of community is they usually have different living options and progressive levels of care. In other words, you can start out in your own home and progress to skilled nursing care when and if you need it. Many retirement communities charge a large fee before you move in plus a monthly maintenance fee.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities. If your loved one needs 24/7 care, skilled nursing facilities have nurses and doctors on site.
- Hospice Care. Ordinarily for the terminally ill (who have six months or left to live), these facilities primarily make patient’s comfortable and provide counseling for the family. As part of hospice care, you will have a team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, counselors and trained volunteers to help you and your family cope with your illness. Depending on your condition, you may get hospice care in a hospice facility, hospital, or nursing home.
- Program For All Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE). PACE manages all of the medical, social, and long-term care services for frail people to remain in their homes and to maintain their quality of life. PACE is available only in states that have chosen to offer it under Medicaid. To qualify for PACE you must be 55 or older, live in the area they have a PACE program, ad receive certification from your physician that you need nursing home care.
The problem with the services listed above is that unless it’s a government program or you have long-term insurance, this type of care can get expensive.
The most important questions are: How much care do my loved one’s need and how can we meet these needs considering out budget and lifestyles? Then you as a group can best determine what type of long term care would be the best!