Often we hear “I know I need help, but I am not sure what my caregiver will DO all day when they are not providing me physical assistance?” Many clients need assistance with personal care – what is referred to as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – things like dressing, bathing, toileting, and transferring. But, those needs are intermittent and spread throughout the day. Generally in-home senior care is more expensive the less you use, like buying in bulk; the more hours you buy, the less the cost is per hour. But potential consumers can be hesitant to purchase more hours of in-home care because they are unsure of how to fill those hours and they don’t want the caregiver to just be “sitting around”.
Most of the time a client’s morning routine involves some level of physical assistance – getting a shower, dressed,and grooming for example – but after those tasks are completed, what does the caregiver do until the next physical need arises (perhaps going to the bathroom)? First and foremost, the caregiver can assist with what is referred to as Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (or IADLs), which include tasks like meal preparation, light housekeeping and laundry, linen changes, sorting/opening mail, and even transportation to appointments, shopping and other activities. Both ADLs and IADLs are essential to be performed in order for an elder individual to function on a day-to-day basis and remain as independent as possible in their own home. Some clients may be fully dependent on others to perform these tasks while others may need minimal supervision or assistance.
Once both ADL and IADL needs have been met, the “down time” is filled with what is perhaps the most important service that a caregiver can offer – joyful companionship. Just having someone to talk to, have a cup of tea and read the paper with, or enjoy a board game can provide much needed socialization for lonely seniors while serving as “eyes and ears” for family who may not be able to be there. This socialization can help the senior stave off symptoms of depression as we outlined in our previous article Dealing with Depression in Older Adults.
So how do you set a plan for in-home care? During the admission process, the in-home care agency should assist you with this process. The agency’s representative will complete an assessment of your needs as well as wants and preferences, and this information should be relayed to your assigned caregiver(s). The agency should help to orient that caregiver to your household, need and expectations and hold them accountable to it as well. One of the primary benefits of using a reputable agency such as Allegiance Home Care is having the management’s involvement in ensuring that the caregiver does what they are supposed to do and if not, they work to replace with another suitable option. A good agency will stay in communication with you and perform occasional in person visits to get feedback as to how your caregiver is working out and address any issues or concerns that come up in a timely manner. You should always feel comfortable reaching out to the management if your caregiver is not meeting your expectations.
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.