5 Ways to Prepare for Homecare

Once you’ve made the choice to provide in-home care for an elderly member there will be many things you need to take care of. At first, your decision may overwhelm you and create a lot of stress. But with a little knowledge and planning, some of this stress can be relieved. Here are some tips that will help you provide better and hopefully make the transition a pleasant experience for everyone involved:

Accept the Change

The very first step is to accept that there will be a change. Depending on the level of care there may be dramatic changes to your lifestyle, or negligible ones. Whatever the case may be, it is necessary that you accept and embrace the change that will soon be coming your way.

Keep Your Family Involved

Your decision to provide in-home care needs to be discussed with your family. The effects of ageing in an in-home care situation are very prominent, and will affect your family members in different ways. Take into account everyone’s opinions on the matter, so that you can prepare for any potential challenges. Make sure responsibility is divided equally so that no one person is stretched beyond their limits.

Eliminate Clutter

A messy environment in general makes it hard to get things done. This will become more of a hassle in an in-home care situation. Obstructed pathways and all round clutter pose challenges and risk the safety of your loved ones. Thus, a good way to prepare for in-home caregiving is to minimize clutter, and organize your surroundings. Having a neat space will make caregiving much easier for you, and will also be greatly appreciated by your elder family members.

Modify the Home

Sometimes, your home may need certain adjustments to make living more comfortable for your elder loved ones. Consider what modifications you may need, from installing a walk in-tub to investing in grab bars to promote stair safety.

Remember Yourself

Caregiving can take a toll on anyone. In the process of giving care, make sure not to neglect yourself. Caregiving is very demanding, even if you are helping your own family members. Neglecting oneself often happens subconsciously, but can have negative repercussions. As a care provider, it’s important to look after yourself so you are in the best condition to provide care for others. Remember to eat and sleep well, stay healthy, and take a break every now and then, giving yourself the attention and care you rightly deserve.

Keeping these things in mind will lessen the anxiety and stress that often accompanied in-home care giving in its initial stages. Ultimately, you will find that in-home care giving is a wonderfully fulfilling process – not only for your dearly loved elders, but also for you.

Written by Akshata Mehta, who has also written for Not Now Mom’s Busy, The Small FootPrint Family, Family Groove

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Why Hiring Help Could actually save you Money

photo credit: istockphoto.com

photo credit: istockphoto.com

The growing number of Americans caring for their aging loved ones often face financial strain along with their daily caregiving responsibilities. A survey this year of 1,345 family caregivers by Caring.com found that 46 percent of caregivers spend more than $5,000 a year on related expenses. Those costs include medications, medical bills and in-home care. One-third of respondents said they spend 30-plus hours a week on caregiving and half said they had to change their work schedule to make room for those responsibilities.

“All across the country, adult children are paying for this just at the time when they should be saving for their own retirement,” says Andy Cohen, founder of Caring.com. He started the site after being a caregiver for his mother, who passed away from cancer in 2006. He says his family made many financial mistakes, including hiring an in-home care agency that wasn’t covered under his mother’s long-term insurance policy; not having necessary financial documents, like one that designates a health care agent in place; and paying for care out of his own savings rather than his mother’s assets, which is not optimal from a tax or Medicaid eligibility standpoint.

Cohen urges families engaged in caregiving to set up a family meeting to talk through the financial ramifications and how to handle them. If one person is serving as the primary caregiver, then other siblings might want to contribute more financially, for example, he says. “It’s becoming more common to pay the family member who is the caregiver,” he says, especially because that person often has to cut back on his or her work hours or even quit a job altogether.

Cohen also notes that despite the fact that 43 million people in the country are now caring for someone over age 50, caregivers often feel very lonely. He urges them to seek support through websites like his own. Caregiving experts also offered these five strategies for minimizing the financial stress of taking care of an older adult:

1. Leverage community help. This approach won’t work for everybody, but those who live in close-knit communities might find some relief by sharing duties with neighbors or enlisting a local scout troop to handle yard work or read to the older adult. Paula Spencer Scott, author of “Surviving Alzheimer’s: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers,” shares the story of two neighbors who both lived with their mothers and took turns handling caregiving duties for both women. She adds that local meal programs or adult day care services might be available at low or no cost.

2. Hire help for yourself. Scott says that for a relatively low cost, caregivers can hire help in the form of a personal organizer or personal ​concierge to run errands or handle yard work, which can free up time and energy for caregiving or other work or life responsibilities. Similarly, automating as many tasks as possible, such as grocery delivery and bill pay, can also free up time. And giving the caregiver a break is important: “You have to spend a little on respite time for yourself, even if it’s a few hours a week to get a massage or a haircut. That’s an expense many caregivers aren’t willing to make, but they’ll pay a bigger price for it later,” Scott says.

3. Try to avoid quitting your job. Nell Lake​, author of “The Caregivers: A Support Group’s Stories of Slow Loss, Courage, and Love,” says it can make more sense to hire help if it enables you to maintain your career as well as health insurance and other benefits. She points out that 1 in 10 caregivers quits a  jobs to provide full-time care to an elderly family member, which on average costs more than $300,000 in lifetime wages, Social Security and pension income.

4. Check up on public benefits. Veterans (and spouses)​ might qualify for certain benefits, and other government programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicare Part D Extra Help Program and Medicaid, are also available to those over age 65 or under the federal poverty limit. Lake recommends the website BenefitsCheckUp.org as a resource.

5. Investigate long-term care options. Lake points out that long-term care can be complicated, and people with accumulated assets often must spend them first before qualifying for Medicaid coverage of nursing home or in-home care. An elder law attorney can often help caregivers better understand the current and future expenses and how to minimize them in the long run, she says.

Planning ahead as much as possible, even more​ after the potential caregiving needs are known, can also help caregivers and their loved ones prepare to handle the financial cost of what’s to come. “The more we all think about and plan for our own and our loved ones’ possible long-term care needs, the more prepared and less stressed we’ll be,” Lake says.

Editor’s note: Kimberly Palmer wrote this article through a Journalists in Aging Fellowship, a collaboration of New America Media and the Gerontological Society of America, with support from AARP.

Therapy Pets in the Operating Room- That’s a First!

We’ve all heard of therapy pets, which I personally think are a pretty amazing thing, but a dog in an operating room? That’s a first!

I saw this incredible story about a dog and a little girl and just had to share.

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/girls-best-friend-helps-stay-safe-surgery-21456041

I once read an amazing article about a very special cat that could predict when a patient in a nursing home was about to die. The cat, Oscar would literally crawl into bed with the person and be there during their last moments.  It was a pretty amazing story, and can be read here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/7129952/Cat-predicts-50-deaths-in-RI-nursing-home.html

There are so many wonderful things about this story- one of which is the idea that this animal can provide comfort and peace in what is normally a very sad time. It’s also a great reminder of how pets can provide companionship to lonely seniors.

My mother in law visited us over the holidays, and she really loved hanging out with my dog, Sadie. I would leave my mother in law at home while I went to work- and Sadie would snuggle into Carol’s lap while she read, or sit by her feet as she folded laundry, or sit next to her while she watched TV. Just the presence of another living being beside you can put loneliness at bay and bring comfort to people. Personally, I love those quiet days when I’m home all alone and my sweet dog just follows me from room to room- it just reminds me that I am never alone.

I think for the elderly having a low maintenance pet is the ideal solution to anyone facing mild depression. Having to take care of someone other than yourself is a wonderful way to remind us that we are all needed and worthy. I spent so many years of my life without a pet- but now I can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like without one. In fact, if my husband gets his way… we may soon be the proud owner of another dog! (he’d love to rescue a lab).

Walk of Life

IMG_1064A friend of mine recently went down to Florida to help her dad move out of his home and move into an Assisted Living*. While living in his own home he had become anti social- staying indoors most of the time.

Before the move, my friend wanted to go see a tree that she had planted several years ago in memory of her mother- and asked her dad to take her there. He reluctantly agreed to go and proceeded to climb in the car. Since the tree was only about 75 feet away, my friend insisted he get out of the car and they could walk. After a little resistance, eventually he gave in and together they walked down the road- and this is where an amazing thing happened.

As they slowly walked they started running into people he knew. People he hadn’t seen in months.

They stopped to talk, to laugh, to socialize. They shared stories, caught up on news and saw old friends.

All of a sudden- after months of feeling lonely and depressed- he felt alive, connected and loved. Just this simple task of getting outside and going for a short stroll opened up his world and brought him joy.

When my friend shared this story with me I knew it was something I wanted to share here because it is something so simple- and yet so rewarding. So I encourage you- if you have been cooped up in your home for too long- get outside. Go for a walk. Even if it’s a short one, being in the fresh air will re-invigorate you. Seeing other people will re-connect you and getting exercise will re-energize you.

There is no rush, take your time and take it slow. Just get out there and see the world. We’ve been waiting for you…

*Capability Homecare is a premiere homecare agency in the Greater Seattle area. We provide in home care for seniors for short or long term stays.

Using Friends or Neighbors for Caregivers? Why Risk It?

We often hear of cases where an elderly person starts to needs a little extra help with Activities of Daily Living and a well intentioned family member, friend, or even someone from the church offers to ‘help’ take care of them.

Unfortunately, these good intentions usually fail to consider the following:

  • personal liability

  • worker related injuries

  • abuse and financial exploitation

  • no supervision

  • no oversight or care management

  • not paying into payroll tax

  • lack of training

  • no background check

  • no reference check

  • no drivers license/ insurance check

  • caregiver is not a CNA (certified nursing assistant)

By using a Homecare agency, you are protecting yourself, your loved one and their finances. You will have peace of mind knowing the caregiver is licensed, bonded and insured. You will trust that their work will be carefully managed, supervised and regulated. You will know they have undergone a background check, had references checked and have a safe driving record. You will know they are properly trained in caregiving and nutrition. And should an emergency arise- you will know your loved one will have an alternative caregiver provided by the agency.

If you have hired a caregiver on your own and they get injured on the job, the ramifications can be devastating.

According to the Homecare Association of America, a work related injury could be … the most potentially financially devastating result for consumers and workers who are unaware of the employer-employee relationship. If no workers’ compensation protection is provided (as mandated by law for employees for nearly every state), and the worker sustains an on-the-job accident, the liabilities can be substantial. Medical costs and disability payments for workers could cause financial hardship for even a very wealthy client.’

When considering the potential for problems, it simply isn’t worth the risk- especially when there are so many capable and well respected agencies that you can count on to make this very difficult time of your life much easier.

Call Capability Homecare today, our motto is ‘a relationship you can trust’.