Home Care or the Nursing Home?

Courtesy Heaven at Home

When most seniors begin to have difficulty doing the things they used to do, the first caregiver to help is most often a member of the family. It may be just picking mom up and taking her to her doctor’s appointment. Or it may be spending 20 hours or more each week helping with a wide variety of daily activities because of aging or illness.

It can reach a point where either the seriousness of ailments or the pressure on the caregiver and the family forces a decision to find other help. How do you decide whether to bring a professional caregiver into the home or go to a nursing home? It’s not an easy decision, but there are some considerations that may help.

How serious are the medical needs?

If serious cardiac or circulatory disease is evident, a nursing home is usually the better solution. This type of disease, along with mental illness, accounts for nearly 50% of nursing home population. These facilities are better equipped to deal with emergencies that are likely to result.

How much medication is required and how functional is the patient?

More than half of nursing home residents are those who require help with all of the basic “activities of daily living.” Nearly 49% take nine or more medications. If the senior is at this level of need, a nursing home is likely the better choice.

Which is the most cost-effective?

According to recent study conducted by the RAND Corporation, “…home health benefit ranks highest regarding outcomes and cost effectiveness for patients…” When compared to nursing homes, home care patients were less likely to return to the hospital after a major procedure than those in nursing homes. The study stated, “An analysis of studies that investigated the use of home care as a cost-effective substitute for acute care services found a statistically significant relationship between home health use and reduced use of inpatient hospital care.”

Scott Vanderhoef, founder of Heaven at Home says, “Remember that cost-effectiveness is not the only rationale for home care. Home care reinforces and supplements care provided by family members and friends. It maintains the senior’s dignity and independence, qualities that can be lost even in the best institutions. Home care also allows patients and their families to take an active role in their care.”

What if you are not happy with the care?

This may be one of the most important considerations. If the patient has severe enough conditions that a nursing home seems the proper option, there are government reports available on the internet about the nursing homes in your area. You should use that information and then make personal visits to all candidate facilities where you can observe and ask questions. Obviously, if you later find that the care is not up to your standards, moving the resident can be a difficult and traumatic experience.

One of the advantages of starting with a home health care solution is that, if you are not happy with the care, either the caregiver or even the care agency can be changed quickly and with minimal disruption. There should be no contract or long-term commitment to prevent you from making changes. No-contract home care also means that, if the patient reaches the point where it is necessary to have the facilities of a nursing home, you can readily take that step.

The bottom line

Many studies have been done regarding the impact of environment on mental attitude and self-healing power. So, after you have answered all of the other questions, ask yourself how you can make the power of your senior’s environment increase their comfort, healing and happiness.

If you select a nursing home, take a serious look at the environment. Does it seem bright and cheerful? Are there good programs to keep your senior active and involved? Do the residents seem generally happy? Talk to a few and see how they feel about the home.

If you use a home health care service, environment will likely be an advantage. We all feel better in our own home even when something is wrong. Do you remember what it was like that time you got a bug while you were on vacation or a business trip? Most likely, one of the things you wished for was to be at home in your own bed until you got better.