Does Mom Need Help at Home?
By Lou Ann Gregory, Regency Home Care of North AtlantaNorth Atlanta LIVING WELL Magazine
Home care services can not only dramatically increase the quality of life for your elderly parents, but can help them maintain their independence with greater safety, security and healthy living. It will also provide the peace-of-mind that you need knowing your loved one is being cared for.
Making the decision to bring home care services into your parents’ lives depends on your parents’ individual situation, such as their overall mental and physical health, their financial situation as well as their local family and friends support network. Here are some questions to consider when deciding if a loved one needs additional help at home:
- Have there been any major weight changes?
- Is your parent getting out of the house and staying active?
- Does your parent socialize with friends or neighbors?
- Can your parent manage the finances independently?
- Does he or she pay bills on time?
- If an appliance breaks, can your parent find a repairman and make an appointment?
- Does your parent have trouble climbing steps? Have there been any trips or falls?
- Are medications being taken regularly?
- Does your parent have a plan in the event of a medical emergency or natural disaster?
- Does your parent seem happy or content? Are there any signs of depression?
- Is your parent able to maintain the household independently (e.g., cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping)?
Perhaps what initially seemed like a case of the blues is more serious than you realized. Or maybe your mom is more isolated now that she no longer drives and has stopped meeting friends for lunch. These dilemmas can be remedied with the proper support and help at home. Every family’s situation is different. A good rule of thumb is to ask questions whenever there is a departure from your parent’s usual behavior.
Discuss any issues with your parent. Many elderly people worry about having their independence taken away, so be mindful of your parent’s sense of dignity when you approach the subject of help at home. As an owner of Regency Home Care and a registered nurse with many years of experience working with seniors, I know how to handle situations like this, and can not only help with finding a perfectly matched caregiver but can offer helpful advice to overcome objections to a home helper as well. It may be as simple as recommending to the parent to just “give it a try.” On the other hand, your parent may already be fearful of their own safety and having this discussion may be just what they need. If safety is a concern, then your discussions need to lead to prompt action to avoid unnecessary injury or hospitalization.
Regardless of your parents’ care situation, you should at least ask some basic questions before contracting with any home care company:
- What is the background and experience of the agency owners? How long has the agency been in business?
- Is the agency licensed and audited by an outside body? If so, is their licensure up to date?
- Do they have a list of references from their clients and healthcare professionals?
- How do they screen their applicants? Are they Caregiver Quality Assurance Certified?
- Are their caregivers employees? Is the agency bonded and insured?
- How closely does the agency’s supervisor evaluate the quality of the home care?
- Is a care plan created by and directed by a medical professional such as a registered nurse?
- Will the agency bill long-term care insurance directly? How is billing handled?
When hiring a home care agency, it is vital that you ask all your questions upfront. Taking the time and investigating resources now will help you successfully find the home assistance needed to keep your aging parent happy, thriving and as independent as possible at home.
If you have any concerns about the safety or well-being of your parent, bring these to the attention of the parent’s physician and consider a free in-home assessment and a safety evaluation of your home by a registered nurse from Regency Home Care. We provide a range of in-home services, which include medication reminders, meal preparation, personal care, transportation and Alzheimer’s care, whether the needs are daily, weekly, temporary or long term.
Author Lou Ann Gregory, RN, is co-owner of Regency Home Care of North Atlanta and invites you to call her or her partner, Erich Schuetz, for information and a free consultation at 678-999-2446.