One of the biggest decisions that you may ever have to make in the life of a loved one is where they will spend their later years. Although there are some elderly people who are comfortable with the idea of living in a nursing home, many are vehemently opposed to the idea. What’s more is that most elderly people do not require all of the resources and security that a nursing home has. Frequently, your elderly loved one may just need someone to help them from time to time with things that have gotten more difficult due to the natural aging process (such as arthritis or poor eyesight) rather than putting them into a place that is better suited for people with severe mental or physical disabilities that require 24/7 monitoring.
Being able to weigh the pros and cons of each option with your loved one will help you and them be on the same page and to help make the appropriate decision for them. After all, leaving them in their home when they clearly need continuing care may be dangerous for them and worrisome for you. On the same note, putting them into a facility that they clearly don’t need to be in may strip them of their dignity and take attention away from people who actually do need to be in an institutionalized setting. Making an informed decision is a good idea for everyone and can affect many people, not just you and your loved one.
Home care is the most basic of care methods for your elderly loved one. In most cases this involves having a person come to the home of the elderly person for a few hours per day and providing them with certain, simple services such as grocery shopping, medication administration, and possibly transportation. This is the lowest level of care for an elderly person and provides the least level of restriction with the highest level of independence. Often, when an elderly person is feeling certain physical problems creep up, they will be happy to have this kind of help.
Home care is highly customizable, depending on the situation of your elderly loved one. It can range from simply having a helper to do certain tasks for them to actually having someone perform rudimentary medical monitoring or help with more personal tasks, such as bathing or cooking meals. In addition to what can be done by the person helping, there is also an aspect of home customization that nursing homes often don’t have the ability to provide. Simple home modifications may augment in home care and provide further independence for your loved one by addressing their specific needs in advanced ways.
Unlike nursing homes, the people hired for in home care can be carefully interviewed and picked not only by the family but also by the person that will be taken care of. While the elderly person may not get along with certain workers in a nursing home, they can pick someone they actually get along with to come and take care of them in their home.
In home care does come with some drawbacks that may make a family or an elderly person apprehensive or may make it not appropriate for every situation. For instance, if a person’s health rapidly deteriorates and they have a non-medical helper then the helper may not have the training to help and a new in home care specialist may need to be hired. Additionally, in home care may not be appropriate for every situation, especially if the person’s health is extremely compromised because of severe physical or mental health problems that require 24 hour monitoring and safety precautions.
Although in home care is generally less expensive, especially for non-medical personnel, and may be covered by private health insurance, Medicare may not cover these services. This may require your family to make a decision between an unmonitored but unrestricted environment and an extremely restricted environment that may be monitored more than necessary.
Nursing Home Care
A nursing home is usually the highest level of care for an elderly person. “Highest level of care” does not necessarily mean the best. Rather, it refers to how monitored and regulated it is compared to other options. Many nursing homes have nurses on staff 24 hours per day and have other staff that checks in on them frequently throughout the day. The patients are usually not allowed much independence and are often not allowed to leave the premises unsupervised. Although these facilities are appropriate in some severe cases, many otherwise healthy elderly people may feel that it strips them of their dignity.
Nursing homes are appropriate for those who are largely unable to care for themselves at all. Having a nursing staff around throughout the day can help families feel less worried about leaving their loved one alone because their severe medical problems can be monitored and medication can be administered quickly and easily.
While many elderly adults may not want to go to a nursing home, others may be excited at the prospect of having constant company and being around people throughout the day. As every situation is different, it’s important to discuss these options (and the appropriateness of their medical situations) with your loved one.
The biggest problem with many nursing homes is the fact that many of the people in them aren’t appropriate for the facilities. Rather than needing constant medical monitoring and a restrictive, institutionalized environment, they may just require a few home modifications or a helper that stops by. This type of restriction may cause your loved one to become extremely depressed, withdrawn, and may actually cause their health to rapidly deteriorate.
Additionally, when a person is admitted to a high and restricted level of care who is inappropriate for the facility they end up detracting valuable time and resources from those who actually need it. In many ways, putting a loved one in an institutional setting if they don’t require that level of care is akin to calling an ambulance because you’ve come down with the cold.