Home care can be a great option for aging parents with little to no needs, but when a senior becomes frail and more fragile, the limitations of relying on one individual to provide care can become starkly obvious.
Read more about how to assist your senior parents when home care is not enough.
Home Care: The Path of Least Resistance
When seniors who live alone first begin to need assistance around the house, it’s natural for their loved ones to address the needs by hiring a home care aide to visit periodically – it’s the path of least resistance. Often, the senior doesn’t want to move to an “old folk’s home,” so hiring an aide or caregiver solves this problem.
For many families, it’s alright at first. Home care is often sufficient for seniors with lower needs – those who could use someone to check-in on them and do some housekeeping.
But for seniors who need assistance with day to day personal activities like going to the bathroom, it can be inadequate for these reasons:
1. Expenses of Home Care
As seniors age, their needs often increase. A home care regimen that initially started as four hours per day can progress to, say, four hours per day, everyday of the week. Then, eventually, a live-in aide will be required. Somewhere along the way, assisted living becomes a more affordable solution.
2. Difficulty Finding a Home Care Aide
In addition, families that were initially satisfied with home care often begin to find it problematic for reasons beyond cost. Matching the senior with an appropriate, trustworthy caregiver can be extremely challenging. Sometimes families will try many caregivers until they find one who seems right, but when that caregiver leaves for another job, the whole process of finding the right match begins anew.
3. Gaps in Care
Families who find a long serving home care aide will, like any other employee, sometimes have to miss work when sick. Unlike at assisted living, where there is a whole staff and team, when a caregiver has to call-in and miss a visit, the senior is usually out of luck for that day. This can be problematic for obvious reasons, especially when there are no loved ones or relatives to fill the gaps in care.
4. Potential for Isolation
Seniors who rely exclusively on a home care aide may also begin to suffer the detrimental effects of isolation, especially if they don’t have many visitors. Whereas seniors who live at an assisted living community have someone to chat with anytime they like, a senior relying on home care may have little opportunities for in-person companionship aside from the caregiver.
Home care can be a good gap measure when a senior begins to need assistance, but its price and numerous practical difficulties mean that it is rarely a suitable long-term option for seniors with high care needs.