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Trends in aging: Aging in Place: Part 2: Home Care

By By Wendy McHaney
Aug. 23, 2013 at 3:23 a.m.


In my last column, I featured the role of home health companies as a home and community-based services (HCBS) that enables seniors to remain living at home. Another aspect of HCBS is nonmedical home care.

Twenty years ago when my mother and her siblings needed someone to assist my grandfather in his home, their options were limited, and they spent a great deal of time and energy managing his care long-distance. Fortunately, most communities in the Crossroads now have agencies that provide nonmedical home care for seniors or anyone else with physical or mental disabilities.

Home care companies provide caregivers to help seniors in their homes with a variety of tasks, which are basically broken down under two levels of care: companion and personal. Companion care is help with household tasks such as cleaning, laundry, cooking meals, running errands and transportation.

Personal care is a higher level of care and includes helping with ambulation, bathing and dressing. Agencies are generally able to provide care for as little as a couple of hours a day, once or twice a week, up to 24-hour care and live-in care.

Live-in care is often more cost-effective for someone needing around-the-clock care because the client pays a daily rate rather than an hourly rate. However, the caregiver must have his or her own sleeping quarters in the client's home and enough time to sleep.

Clients and their families often choose an agency rather than managing the care themselves for a variety of reasons - the most common being that an agency can provide backupif a caregiver is sick, has an emergency, or quits.

Also, the caregivers are supervised by office staff, often an RN, and many companies spot-check through regular home visits. Caregivers who work for agencies are also usually required to participate in continual training.

A relatively new concept offered by home care companies is care management.

Agencies offer the services of a care manager, which is very beneficial for families who are unable to assist with managing an elderly relative's daily life, often because of geographical challenges.

Care managers can assist their clients in handling long-term care benefits, managing medications, arranging doctor visits or developing a healthy meal plan.

The care manager in our office was once the designated person for checking a client in and out of a hospital since he had no local next of kin.

In tribute to the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sept. 7 in downtown Victoria, my next column will feature Alzheimer's and dementia care in the home.

Wendy McHaney is a certified senior adviser and the owner and director of operations of Senior Helpers. For more information about Senior Helpers, visit seniorhelpers.com/victoria.

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