For Aging Relatives: Should You Try In-Home Care First

When an older relative is no longer self-sufficient and needs assistance with daily tasks, you might be wondering if trying in-home care first is better than jumping right into a long-term care facility. Since there are many nuances to this subject, the answer depends on your relative’s specific circumstances, including their finances.

Should You Try Caring for Aging Relatives at Home First?

Most people resist the idea of moving into a facility and want to stay at home, but that’s not always possible. If you’re facing this difficult situation, you might need to move your loved one into a facility against their wishes. This decision can be difficult to process, so here are some pointers to help you make the right choice.

Ask yourself the tough questions

Is in-home care a possibility? First, ask yourself if you can provide all the help your loved one needs, even by delegating tasks to other family members and hiring outside help. If their needs are small, you might be able to make it work. However, if you don’t see the possibility – perhaps you work too much, don’t have other family nearby, or there isn’t enough money – long-term care will be their only option.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can care for your relative at home when you don’t actually have that ability. It’s only natural to want to support them and help them stay in the comfort of their own home, but sometimes that won’t work.

Be one of their paid caregivers

First and foremost, if in-home care is a possibility, consider being your loved one’s caregiver. The state will actually pay you to provide care for them if they meet certain qualifications. If you do this, your loved one will feel more comfortable with the idea of receiving home help. Having a family member provide care is sometimes the best way to ease someone into the idea of accepting help from other caregivers.

Are they neglecting personal hygiene?

When your loved one can’t perform simple personal care tasks like bathing, brushing their teeth or hair, or they need help using the restroom, this is a sign that they need long-term care. If you try to help someone at home who needs round-the-clock help, you’ll either burn out by trying to do it all yourself or you’ll spend a fortune on private home health aides. If you have the money, that’s different, but most people don’t have the $4,000 per month or so that it would cost to have someone in the house 24/7.

Is mobility limited or impossible?

Does your loved one get around the house easily, or are they spending all their time in bed or in a chair because they have limited mobility? If they struggle to stand on their own, or move around, in-home care might not be the best choice. Unless you have someone around the clock, it’s risky for your loved one to be in a position where they have to struggle with things like cooking, doing dishes, or worse – they might not even bother eating when nobody’s there to help.

With long-term care, your relative will have a team of caregivers on staff at all times to assist with everything they need. Meals will be cooked for them and delivered, they’ll get assistance going to the toilet, and they won’t have any of the usual responsibilities of running a household like taking out the trash or picking up mail.

Can you afford caregivers?

Hiring private caregivers can be expensive, so keep that in mind before you make your choice. If your loved one has Medicaid, they probably meet the income requirements to get state-sponsored in-home care. If not, and they don’t qualify for anything low-income, you might need to pay for their care out of pocket. Hopefully, your relative has some money saved up that can be used. Otherwise, you’re looking at long-term care being the best choice.

Talk to your loved one first

Many people resist getting care at home just as much as they resist the idea of moving into a facility. You would think most people would welcome home help with open arms, but that’s not always the case. Accepting help demonstrates a lack of independence, and that can be scary for some to face.

The most important thing is to talk to your loved one before making any decisions on their behalf. Ask them what they prefer and see where they stand regarding care choices. You’ll probably need to make decisions against their wishes to some degree, but the point is to make sure they know what’s going on so nothing is a complete surprise.

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About the Author

Stella Cooter

Journalist, traveller and mother, Stella writes about fashion and style, luxury and adventure.

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