No one wishes to lose their autonomy and this is especially true for the elderly, who have worked for countless years to carve out their own niche in life. It is understandable that most seniors have no desire to lose their independence and only want to be left in peace as they age.
However, this leaves many of their worried loved ones with a headache, as with the decline of their health comes concerns for their safety. For the frail or impaired, living at home comes with many, often unexpected hazards that are difficult to prevent. But solutions are available to fit all needs, such as the use of a medical alert system, safety whistles, or a caregiver to provide active help and protection. But finding a good caregiver is fraught with challenge, giving rise to the question ‘who can be trusted with a loved one’s life, and how can you find them?’
Start by Making a Realistic Assessment
The first step should always be to correctly assess the situation: does your loved one require a caregiver’s help? If so, how often? Is a daily calling service necessary, or would a medical alert system that is activated only in danger not suffice?
Once certain that the safest option is to hire a caregiver, it is important to detail the reasons such a service is needed. Writing down what tasks the senior has trouble with and noting any special requirements and limitations they have will give a good basis for determining the necessary level of assistance. Is it in-home care they need, which a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) is able to provide? Or is professional home healthcare the way to go?
PCAs and Where to Find Them
A PCA is a great solution for when the elderly wish to live on their own and yet require help with everyday tasks such as cooking, shopping, or bathing. Whether they must have constant supervision or a visit only once or twice a week depends on the individual. Naturally, a live-in caregiver will provide the most protection, not to mention companionship. However, despite their cheaper wages when compared to licensed health care professionals, overall the services of a live-in PCA could be quite expensive since the costs are not covered by insurance programs like Medicover or Medicaid when it comes to only personal assistance. Using a medical alert system to reduce the amount of time a PCA is needed could be a smart way to save money in this case.
When it comes to finding a good PCA, the obvious is often overlooked: ask around. Speak to friends, ask at a local house of worship, or even a bingo club. Relying on others’ first-hand experience is the most effective way to connect with trustworthy caregivers. Also, searching online job boards, local employment registries, or posting an advertisement yourself are easy ways to find an assistant. Home health agencies that employ prescreened, experienced workers are also an option, though more expensive.
Professional Health Care
Any elderly person requiring medical care should receive the aid of licensed professionals. There are different levels of qualifications that you must look for with this in mind, depending on the type of assistance that is needed. Take a look at the Johns Hopkins Medicine web page for a summary of the various home health care services to get an idea about which type would suit the circumstances best.
Again, licensed caregivers can be found by browsing employment registries or through an agency. As far as costs go, wages are more expensive the higher the qualification but these can often be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, the conditions of which can be found in the official government booklet.
It is important to consider that – while certainly providing a measure of safety – home care is not foolproof. Even with a live-in caregiver, reasonable shift lengths must be taken into account and no one can be expected to work without breaks either, people are not robots after all. It is wise to have contingency plans in place, and diversification in general is important when it comes to our loved one’s protection. Combining a PCA service with health care in addition to making use of a medical alert system could give some much-needed peace of mind to everyone involved.
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