Aging in place is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level." The value of aging in place is recognized more now than ever before. Aside from the psycho/social benefits of the elderly remaining home for as long as possible, with institutional care being extremely costly, a home health aide at the appropriate time is the ideal solution.
Unfortunately, there comes a point in most seniors' lives where they cannot manage all their basic needs alone. It varies for everyone depending on their state of health, both mentally and physically. A senior's compromised mobility may make them unable to shop for and prepare meals for themselves. They may need help with basic grooming, dressing and toileting or become forgetful to the degree that relatives are afraid to leave them on their own lest they forget something cooking on the stove or become disoriented and wander away. Whatever the case may be, outside care might become necessary, but how do you go about lining that up?
Sometimes families choose to find help on their own. This can be a viable option, but becomes burdensome as time wears on. Properly screening and vetting candidates is not an easy proposition. It is more efficient to turn to professionals to do that. Licensed home healthcare agencies are designed to take painstaking care in checking references and for a criminal background before sending someone to your home. They make sure all medical requirements for the aides are met and they themselves are monitored by the state. If you have long term care insurance, you will be required to use a licensed agency to be reimbursed for home care. You should be aware when choosing an agency to work with that some are fussier than others in their screening practices.
Depending on the agency, you can tap into the expertise of the home care specialists on staff, many of whom have years of experience in the field and are up-to-date with the latest rules and regulations as well as best practices. Make sure the person you deal with is professional, caring and knowledgeable as well as flexible about replacing an aide if she is not a good fit for your loved one, you or the situation -- no matter how frequently. The agency must work with your schedule and the amount of hours of service you require. Fees are usually by the hour for live out care and by the day for live in.
In addition to aging with dignity and quality of life, factors such as moving during the frail senior years can prove to be fatally traumatic making it so important for seniors to stay in their homes, even through the difficulties that may bring. As important as it may be, it's also tough to ensure that they have the care they need.
Caring for aging loved ones was never an easy prospect. However, when families lived in multi-generational households and closer together, they shared the burden of a sick or elderly loved one. Today, with families scattered, the responsibility for the details of care can be overwhelming. With so much to consider on a daily basis, it's easy for important needs to get lost in the mix. That is where an agency can be of most benefit.
Establishing a relationship with a home healthcare agency opens up vistas to a host of services tailored to the elderly. You have access to a large pool of available aides when you need them all logistically arranged for by someone else. Several also have access to a network of professionals such as social workers, eldercare attorneys as well as elder proofing services for the home as you need them.