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Why Home Care is the Answer

It has been well documented that by 2030, nearly 72 million people in the U.S. will be 65 or older and the U.S. life expectancy is now in excess of 78 years, which is the highest it’s ever been. As life expectancy grows, so does the percentage of the population with chronic illness. Currently, about 8 million Americans manage such illnesses with supportive care at home. This number will jump dramatically as people live longer, want to stay at home and avoid nursing homes or other living arrangements, and pressure mounts to control soaring health care costs.

If you are considering obtaining home care for yourself or a loved one, there are a few things to consider.

Start by looking for warning signs. Sometimes people don’t realize that their parents or a spouse can’t do the things they once did. Some questions to ask yourself: Is this person having memory or vision problems, trouble walking, or taking many medications? Is the person having difficulty with the normal activities of daily life? If the answer to any of those is yes, it may be time to consider some help.

When you’ve identified the need for help, start a conversation. Talk to the individual’s physician about your concerns. Schedule a visit with all present and have an honest conversation. Many referrals to home care services first come from geriatricians or primary care doctors.

Consider that there is a broad range of services provided by home health care agencies, and figure what is right for your loved one. Will you need skilled assistance such as nursing or physical therapy? Help with meals and hygiene? Or just housekeeping activities? This is a critical step, as it determines not only what kinds of care the individual needs but also the cost of care.

Remember that you are not alone in facing these decisions. Professional home care agencies are experienced in assessing needs, identifying community resources and developing individualized care plans that take into consideration a person’s specific situation.

Depending on the situation, there may be several additional things to consider in the process of arranging for home care:

There may be initial resistance or apprehension to having a “stranger’ come into the home. Agencies are used to this and can work this through with a family. Clients who put up some early resistance often end up being homecare staunchest advocates!

Trying to go it alone as a caregiver can come at a price. Family members who become primary caregivers do so out of love, but often at great sacrifice. Without help, they can more quickly become burned out, especially those who are juggling work, the care of their own families, and that of their parents or other family members. If this primary care giver gets sick, and there’s no back-up plan, the system of care collapses. A good home care program not only takes care of the patient, it’s also taking care of the caregiver.

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