When you have an older relative, life is never easy, but it can be extremely exhausting when you need to take care of them. Health issues and burnout are very common among caregivers, but you don’t need to go through it alone. After all, being a caregiver is a choice, not a compulsion. And if you don’t have time and energy for it, it’s not shameful to seek help.
When your elder family member can’t live alone anymore, there are two common options to consider: home care and a nursing home. But what should you do when, for example, your parents start aging? How do you choose the one that’s best for your situation and your relative? Here are all the answers you are looking for. Read on, and let me help you make an informed decision.
Which One Is More Affordable?
Some people think that home care costs more than nursing homes. But actually, it all depends on your elder relative’s needs. Home care services come at different prices, and the same goes for nursing homes. If your elderly relative suffers from dementia, dementia home care services might be just what they need. After all, hiring a caregiver for a couple of hours can be more affordable than paying for a room in a nursing home.
What’s more, most insurance companies cover at least some of the home care costs. However, it’s impossible to get nursing home bills covered by insurance. In fact, this is when some people turn to Medicaid, which is a government program that covers most of the nursing home expenses. It’s important to know that only a limited number of people qualify for Medicaid and that it has strict requirements. This is why you should research your options well before putting your name on the list for Medicaid.
If your elder relative needs more than occasional help at home, you may want to consider hiring a home health aid or private care professional. This is what most people do, and it costs between $20 and $45 per hour. Full-time care (from 8 hours to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week) can cost between $2,000 and $6,000 per month.
What Are the Risks for Your Relative?
In many cases, elderly people who receive in-home assistance also receive some form of nursing care. One may think that such assisted living can make things easier for caregivers. Home care is indeed less expensive than nursing home care, but the real question is: how much does it cost in human terms?
The truth is: being in a nursing home isn’t appealing to many seniors. No matter how well-maintained and clean they are, many people just don’t like being in one. They feel socially excluded, isolated, and lonely, and they can’t do whatever they like anymore. And who wants to spend their last days being treated like a child?
If your senior relative can still live independently at home, they should do it. They may not be able to live alone anymore, but there is always room for improvement and help. Even if you have hired a caregiver to help them with daily activities and errands, it’s better for them to remain at their own home. This way, they don’t feel they are being cared for, but rather cared about.
Are Both Options Safe for Elderly People?
First of all, it’s important to choose the right home care provider for your relative. Only decide on a company with a solid reputation and positive reviews from former clients. As the number of people who stay at home with the help of home health services increases every year, more and more companies have come up with unique offers. But not all of them will be reliable!
Once you have picked a reputable company, you need to make sure that enough of their personnel are trained to deal with older people. It may take you some time before you get used to a caregiver’s personality and style, but once you do, keep in mind that you already have enough on your plate without having to check whether they are doing their job right!
On the other hand, many families prefer having their relatives stay in nursing homes. It may seem that these facilities have everything under control, so the residents are always safe and comfortable. And while it’s true that they provide excellent services in most cases, they aren’t always safe. There are thousands of nursing homes in the US, and not all of them provide quality care for their residents. You don’t want your loved one to spend his last days in an unsafe environment!
How Can You Check That?
How do you check whether a nursing home is safe or not? Here’s what you can do:
Find out how many people in the facility have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Ideally, this number should be low. Why? Because these diseases may cause patients to be more aggressive. Don’t be afraid to ask whether there are any aggressive residents! Also, find out how many people in a particular nursing home need help with eating or bathing. This number should be as low as possible as well! If there are too many people who need help with daily activities, it means there may not be enough nurses to take care of them.
A nurse should spend at least one minute two times per hour with each resident. Ideally, there should be one nurse to four patients. Check how often new employees are hired. If this number is low (less than five per month), this may be a sign that the facility works on such a big profit margin that they don’t feel the need to attract new employees or promote existing ones.
Make sure that residents get plenty of activities. According to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS), residents should get two hours of activities every day. These activities should vary. Of course, the residents who prefer low-stimulation activities should get what they want, but they shouldn’t be the only ones! Finally, ask if there are regular visits from the state agencies. If the answer is no, this may be another red flag.
What to Do If Your Relative Can’t Live Alone
At this point, you know that assisted living at home is a cost-effective option. You also know that nursing homes can be safe and comfortable. So which option should you choose? It all depends on the situation. There are cases when the senior you care for can’t live alone. These cases may include the following:
- Inability to take care of themselves;
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- A heart condition, hypertension, diabetes, or arthritis;
- Regular falls;
- Health issues that require skilled nursing;
- Medical issues that need specific medical equipment for home care;
- Cognitive decline;
- Behavioral issues; dysfunctional thinking, bad decision making, etc.;
- Other physical disabilities.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, it’s best to talk to an experienced attorney who will help you determine your options. They will check your relative’s financial situation and see if they qualify for Medicaid. If it doesn’t work out, they will advise you on how to get public assistance. And finally, they will help you find a nursing home that fits your relative’s needs. Talk to an elder law attorney as soon as possible if you are having trouble deciding. Don’t waste your time and your loved one’s life!