You may have noticed that independent living for an elderly loved one is increasingly challenging. They seem like they’re struggling with basic day-to-day activities or may have medical needs they can’t manage on their own. As a family member, you come to the realization that they need help. But what kind of help is best? Would they benefit most from in-home care or long term care at an outside facility? These are often some of the most difficult choices a family has to make. Two of the biggest factors are cost and level of care needed. Here’s a short breakdown to help get you started in the decision-making process.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Home Care?
In-home care for seniors is a growing trend, with many seniors seeking to remain at home for as long as possible. The number of home care agencies has exploded in recent years, with different companies offering different options. When considering in-home care, it’s important to make the distinction between skilled nursing care and non-medical personal care, including bathing, grooming, meal-prep and other household chores. Some skilled care may be covered by insurance, but personal care is usually not covered.
Home Care Pros
According to the National Council for Aging Care, some of the main benefits of in-home care are the following:
- One-on-one care in a senior’s home offers individualized attention.
- Many seniors benefit from a relationship with one or two familiar caregivers.
- If needs are relatively minimal, in-home care can be cheaper than full-time long term care. For example, if your loved one simply needs a few hours of help with daily activities each day or needs limited nursing care, home care may be the way to go.
Home Care Cons
- Costs can rack up as the level of care needed goes up. If the patient needs 24/7 care, home care can be cost-prohibitive.
- Home care can lead to social isolation if family and friends do not play a role in the patient’s life.
- Home may not be the safest place for your loved one as mobility decreases since personal homes may not be adapted for seniors.
- Finding a trusted, reliable caregiver can be challenging
What Are the Pros and Cons of Long Term Care?
In some cases, a patient may express a desire to live at home, but family members may come to realize that this just isn’t possible when considering the level of care they need. There’s often a certain amount of guilt involved with the decision to choose long term care, but this can be dramatically reduced with advance planning and carefully choosing a facility.
Long Term Care Pros
- According to the NCAC, when a patient needs round the clock care, long term facilities are less expensive than in-home care.
- For patients who require a higher level of care, long term care makes the most financial sense.
- Long term care facilities offer stimulation and socialization with other seniors.
- Long term care facilities are often best equipped to deal with patients who need ongoing intensive services including help with toileting, bathing, eating and other challenging issues.
- Many long term care facilities offer memory care options with staff trained to care for patients who need help with behavioral issues and intensive assistance with daily activities.
- When family is far away or unable to help, long term care relieves the burden of schedule management.
Long Term Care Cons
- Staff rotations may mean your loved one is less familiar with their caregivers than in a home care setting.
- A move to long term care may initially create fear and frustration in the patient and guilt from family members. That’s why it’s so important to choose a facility you can trust and where your loved one feels safe and comfortable.
Long Term Care v. Home Care: Tips for Making the Best Choice
- According to the NCAC, the first step is to take an honest look at the level of care your loved one needs. This affects everything from cost considerations to the level of commitment needed from family members.
- The NCAC also recommends a clear-eyed assessment of your own ability to help. The role and limitations of family caregivers will play a big role in the decision.
- Advance planning is key. It’s important to discuss options while your loved one is able to express their wishes and play a role in the decision-making process. However, families also need to accept the fact that circumstances and needs can change as the level of care increases. In some cases, you’ll need to make tough choices for your loved one if they’re not able to make decisions about their own care.
- Visit long term care facilities: it’s a good idea to get a sense of your options before a crisis situation arises. Contacting and visiting long term care facilities before your loved one requires full-time care is an excellent proactive step.
Long Term Care at Evergreen Health and Rehab
There comes a time for many seniors when home care just isn’t enough. When you realize your loved one needs a higher level of care that’s best provided by a long term care facility, it can be scary. Some patients understand their limitations and recognize the need for a long term care setting, while in other cases the choice to remove a loved one from their home is a harder one for family members. In either case, the best way to allay fear and guilt is to do your research and find a facility you trust.
At Evergreen Health and Rehab, we encourage prospective patients and caregivers to schedule a visit. This is a great way to get a feel for our facility and talk with our caring staff about how they meet patients’ needs. Many patients and family members are surprised by the stimulating activities provided and the level of warmth and socialization among residents. A visit can show that long term care is not nearly as scary as it seems.