If you’re in a position where it’s time to make some decisions about caring for an aging parent or other relative, you may be feeling pretty overwhelmed with all of the available options and whether to consider home health care. Ideally, your elderly parent had the opportunity to make their own wishes known with an elder law attorney and set aside some funding for their own care.
Of course, life doesn’t always go the way we plan. Perhaps your loved one’s physical or mental health declined rapidly or their finances aren’t enough to meet their needs. When you do find yourself in charge of making the necessary arrangements, the two main things to consider are usually what type of care your loved one needs and what you or your family can afford.
For some senior citizens, home health care may be the best arrangement. Although there’s no specific definition as to what kind of services are provided through home care, it generally includes what the name implies — providing care in the individual’s home. Home care allows an individual to remain in their place of residence rather than having to move to a nursing home, retirement community, or assisted living facility.
Home care is typically suitable for senior citizens who need just a bit of help with some basic living tasks. For some, a home care worker may just check in once or twice a day to help with bathing and grooming, preparing meals, and light housework. Home care workers may also be available to provide transportation and assistance for doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, or even social activities. For others, home care could include medical services such as dispensing medications, checking blood pressure or glucose levels, and assisting with exercise or physical therapy.
Financially speaking, home care is a less expensive alternative. Some senior citizens may only need a home care aide to stop by once a day, a couple of times a week, or simply fill in when a family member is unavailable. The cost of home care will usually depend on the length and frequency of the visits as well as the extent of assistance needed.
One potential obstacle when considering home care is accessibility. There’s always the possibility that you won’t be able to find an agency that can meet all of your loved one’s needs. They could be capable of providing assistance with basic living tasks but no medical services. Or maybe they can handle the medical services in the home but aren’t able to include any care that requires transportation. In these situations, you may need to hire more than one worker or find a care manager who can put together a home care program by using multiple providers.
Aside from the lower cost, another major advantage of using home care is that it allows your elderly loved one to maintain much of their independence. Studies have shown that being able to stay at home and remain independent, even if not completely, is better for a person’s mental health. As long as they’re not spending their days inactive and isolated, your elderly loved one may be happiest at home.
If you do decide that home care is the best option for your elderly loved one, be prepared to make other arrangements. As their physical, emotional, and medical needs change, you’ll need to reassess the situation and decide when it’s time to make the transition to another type of care. Having legal plans in place in preparation for such a possibility is key, as it can help make any transitions smoother and protect assets and savings from going entirely to the nursing home.
If you have questions about creating a long-term care plan for an older loved one, please feel free to contact our law office at (949) 333-3702 to schedule a consultation with an Orange County elder law attorney.
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He’s all about family and passionate about estate planning, elder law, and veterans. He founded Snyder Law to help families from Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Southern California plan to protect what matters most: their loved ones, their dignity, and their legacy.