When the time comes that you need assistance with your loved one at home, it is important to understand what in-home care services provide and what family members can expect. The main concept is companionship and assistance with activities of daily living (otherwise known as ADLs).
When families are faced with the challenge of finding help to assist with their loved one, a clearly defined plan of what in-home care is—and how it can benefit a family—is pertinent to providing an individual with the utmost of care.
What is In-Home Care?
In-home care generally focuses on helping people complete their daily activities of life (ADLs). It is usually less expensive than a skilled nursing or hospital setting, and a caregiver doesn’t necessarily need those skills to complete any daily tasks for a loved one.
In-home care can be difficult to delineate from in-home health services because needs are usually defined by the individual. A person with mobility issues will require a different form of healthcare than that of a dementia patient—and perhaps both may require a level of medical assistance.
The main objective is to provide an individual with enough care that they can remain in a comfortable home setting. Above all, in-home care requires supervision, assistance with personal services, and continual companionship.
This level of care generally requires the caretaker to travel to an individual’s home to assist with ADLs and provide a form of companionship that cannot be met in a hospital setting. Aides that are certified to provide this support generally consist of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Geriatric Care Assistants (GNAs).
When is In-Home Care Needed?
One of the most challenging decisions a family member has to address, is how to essentially “call for help.” There is no need to worry, as these feelings can be completely normal when facing these types of life decisions.
When a loved one starts to require a different form of care, you must shift your level of thinking. Assessing the nature of their condition will allow you to understand the exact amount of care needed. Depending on their needs this can range from seeking round-the-clock care to moving them into a full-time hospital environment.
The first step is understanding what in-home care can provide and if it can meet your family member’s needs. The following is a brief list of the ADLs that an in-home caretaker can address:
- Eating and meal prep
- Medication management
- Personal hygiene
- Social activities
This is just a small example of tasks that may require supervision. A loved one may encounter unexpected situations that necessitate a level of care they were not anticipating.
Situations that May Require In-Home Care
In addition to the needs of daily living, a family member may find themselves assessing an in-home care solution for a variety of reasons. The following are some of the more common reasons why a loved one may require in-home care:
If a loved one has problems with simple tasks, like memory or reasoning, daily life can start to become unmanageable. Two of the main conditions that require in-home care are dementia and Alzheimer’s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an individual develops the disease every 66 seconds in the United States. With such alarming statistics, it is important to consider in-home care if a loved one is experiencing these types of symptoms.
With cognitive impairment, families often struggle to provide the kind of support necessary to allow an individual to remain in their home. They also may be concerned on how to properly supervise their loved one. In-home care can provide an extra level of attention to ensure an individual is suitably monitored at all times.
Another instance in which an individual may require in-home care is when they are recovering from a medical procedure or traumatic injury. Oftentimes, people in recovery try to overextend themselves. Having a caretaker there to assist them is a gentle reminder for them to relax.
With in-home care, the risks of any physical setbacks are greatly reduced, thus aiding in the healing process.
Much like cognitive impairment, a loved one may have an illness that requires continuous care. When a person is unable to care for themselves, it can lead to feelings of confusion and anger. Rather than a hospital setting, in-home care allows an individual a certain amount of autonomy and comfort.
Although the needs of an individual can change, there are certain services that are always offered through in-home care. The following are some benefits you can expect a family member to receive with home care services:
Dressing: Home caretakers will allow an individual to do as much as they can with any activities of daily living, as long as they are safe. When it comes to dressing, a loved one may be able to pick out their own clothes but may need help with buttons and laces.
Hygiene: One of the most imperative exercises of daily living includes staying fresh and clean. A loved one may need assistance with their hygiene, and in-home care can help. In the event that an individual is confined to a bed, they may be inclined to pressure ulcers (a.k.a. bed bruises), and require help with cleaning these wounds.
Eating/Meal Prep: Nutrition is vital for an aging individual, and many seniors suffer bone loss, so a healthy diet is essential. Home care can provide assistance with shopping, meal prep, and eating, so you don’t have to worry about a loved ever feeling hungry.
Mobility: Assistance with ambulation is one of the most common services offered for in home care. Safety is a vital part of home care and 1/4 of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
Additionally, a home caretaker can make sure your loved one is getting the daily exercise they need. Even if an individual is bedridden, caretakers are skilled trained to provide a level of mobility for the patient.
Continence: Toileting can be a difficult process for an aging loved one. Home caretakers are trained to assist an individual with anything they need, be it assistance to the bathroom, a catheter, or adult diapers.
Errands: Everyone needs to get out of the house. In home caretakers can help your loved one with their daily errands, like church and the grocery store. Additionally, they can help keep an individual involved in social events.
Any activity that is required for daily living is something an in home caretaker can assist with—regardless of the time of day. A good agency will help to work around a schedule, so if a loved one prefers to bathe at night, they don’t have to change a routine that makes them uncomfortable.
In home care is also intended to provide respite for family members caring for their loved one. Taking care of an elderly or ill family member can be both physically and psychologically draining. Thus it is important that caregivers seek occasional respite from their duties.
Whether it’s a few hours a day or a few weeks a year, it is important to give yourself the rest it requires to care for a loved one, and in home care can provide that extra assistance. Respite care services can include:
- Support for activities of daily living
- Sensory stimulation
- Peace of mind for family members
Respite care can help reduce stress and shoulder the responsibility for family members that are caring for an aging or elderly loved one.
After family members have made the decision to seek in home care for a loved one, they will require an initial consultation to determine their level of need. A consultation is always done in the home and usually, begins with background information. Family members should be prepared to provide them with the following information:
- Height, weight, and date of birth
- Physical address and contact information
- Medication and prescription information, including the frequency, type, and dosage
- Your schedule and your loved one’s schedule
In addition to background information, all family members should also have a detailed medical history prepared for the caretaker. This can include some of the following:
- Medical diagnoses
- Psychological, neurological and physical limitations
Prior to your consultation, the family may need to make some important decisions for the loved one. This includes:
- Emergency contacts
- Contact information for primary care physicians
- Pharmacy information
- Instructions for legal guardians and power of attorney
In addition to simply filling the needs of the loved one, in home caregiving should be interactive and attentive.
When seeking in home care for a loved one, it is important to find an individual that not only meets their needs on a physical basis, but an emotional one too. An in home caretaker should not only be professional, but compassionate as well. The following are a few things to consider when searching for the right caretaker:
- Preferred personality type
- Preference between a proactive person, or one that follows orders
- The interests of your loved one
If it is possible, always involve the loved one in the conversation. They will be spending quite some time with this individual, so it is pertinent that it is a person they can get along with.
Interactive caregiving means getting involved with the loved one. It’s a multidimensional approach that focuses on mind, body, safety, and nutrition.
Mind: Engagement and mental exercises will help an individual’s overall well-being. The caregiver you choose should always be looking for a way to stimulate your loved one. This can include anything from meaningful conversation to puzzles and crafts.
Body: Physical activity can help the loved one maintain balance, muscle mass, range of motion, and flexibility—all activities important for independent living. An in home caretaker should know the loved one’s limitations, but still actively participate with them in any physical activity they can.
Safety: When you have the initial consultation, the caregiver should be inspecting the home and making any modifications necessary for safety. In the event of an emergency, there should be some personal emergency response system in place.
Nutrition: The right in home caretaker should always be encouraging the loved one to eat healthy and follow any doctor prescribed diets. This should come naturally with meal planning and prep.
It is important to understand that in home care generally only involves non-medical care, which is why it is critical everyone knows the exact needs of your loved one, prior to scheduling a consultation. Non-medical care can still involve medication reminders and incontinence services, and what every agency offers can differ. During this process, do not be afraid to ask questions.
The following are the two main roles for in home care, and what each caregiver can/cannot do:
PCA (Personal Care Assistant)
The main difference between a PCA and an HHA is the level of medical care they can provide. PCAs mostly provide personal care such as grooming and bathing. A personal aide typically has some form of home health aide certification, which involves a 76-hour nurse-supervised program. The medical care a PCA can provide typically only consists of medication reminders and toileting.
Home Health Aide (HHA)
Unlike PCAs, HHAs have more specialized training. Home health aides are typically also licensed as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and work for certified nursing and hospice agencies. Usually, a doctor orders an HHA when it is determined that the loved one can no longer care for themselves at home alone.
The level of in home care that is needed may change over time. It may be possible to hire a PCA now but in a few years, the loved one may require the services of an HHA— so it’s best to know the difference between the two now.
Choosing in home care for the loved one is never an easy process. It is important to remember to involve them in the conversation when at all possible. Prior to reaching out for a caretaker, assess the needs of the loved one, and choose the caretaker that fits best.
Seeking respite care is nothing to feel guilty about. In fact, it is a much-needed process that offers relief to the caretakers in the family. It is vital for the wellbeing of both the caretakers as well as the individual seeking in home care.
Being a caretaker can be both a demanding and rewarding job. Understanding when you need to call in reinforcements is critical to maintaining healthy levels of stress and in home care can help you get the break you deserve.
Contact Comfort Home Care by sending us a message online or giving us a call for more information.