As a parent or other loved one ages you may be wondering if he or she will be able to continue to live at home for the long term. You know that elder in home care is available but you may also be considering assisted living or nursing home care as other options. There are numerous things to consider when faced with this situation. Most elderly individuals would prefer to age in place in their own homes because they are emotionally attached to their home and it is where they are most comfortable. If this is true for your loved one, consider the following factors to determine if this is a viable option:
- Physical: Consider the layout of the home. A main floor master and bathroom on the lower level is most convenient because one level living is the safest and most comfortable for the elderly. If the home does not already have those features assess how easily it can be converted. Also think about if assistive devices or medical equipment were needed; does the home’s structure allow for easy installation or would major reconstruction need to be done? Reconstruction can be costly both up front and when it comes time to sell the home if the adjustments would need to be reversed to make it attractive to potential buyers.
- Medical: Consider your loved ones current physical condition and then factor in any diagnosis that may cause he or she to lose abilities over time. Is he or she likely to lose mobility? What about cognitive function? Will access to 24/7 medical assistance be necessary for them? What type of Medical care are they likely to need? Once you have answered these questions, you can determine whether or not there are senior home health services available that can meet these needs and if not, assisted living might be the better choice.
- Financial: What financial resources are available to pay for care? Is there a long term care insurance policy available, and if so what services are covered? Many plans will cover both senior home health and also assisted living, but one option may be covered more favorably than another. If there is no insurance coverage, your loved one’s private funds will need to be used to pay so it is necessary to make a budget for how long he or she can afford each type of service and if they are likely to outlive their resources. If resources are limited, choosing a service that can also be funded by public payor sources may be the best option as to avoid service interruptions or the need to move your loved one later on from a level of care that isn’t covered to one that is.
- Social: Socialization is very important to consider because isolation can lead to depression and other health concerns in the elderly population. Connection to a social network, getting out to enjoy activities in the community, and access to religious or spiritual services are things that many elderly individuals value. Does your loved one have pets? If so, do they need help caring for them? Some assisted living communities allow pets others do not. Over time it may become more difficult for an elderly person to care for their pets and pets could be a hazard to living safely in the home.
Taking these four factors into consideration will help you and your loved one get started on the path of choosing the long term care option that is best for them with realistic expectations. Most elder in home care companies will offer a free consultation to help you assess your loved one’s situation and provide guidance in your decision making process. You can also consider consulting with a geriatric care manager for assistance with this process.
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.