As people age they often require increased assistance in everyday activities. Decisions on what is the best type of care for a senior can be difficult and often complicated. Here is help on how to decide between assisted living or senior care in their home.
The choices between assisted living professionally at a nursing home or relying on care in the home can be an agonizing choice for the family of a senior. There are pros and cons to both options and they should be carefully considered before an arrangement is in place.
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Caring For the Elderly
Seniors who choose to hire a private senior care agency or caregiver to provide for their care services can benefit from a professional plan of care. A senior care plan will guide the caregiver to maintain a consistent routine and include all the necessary activities for healthy aging.
What information should a senior care plan include?
A senior care plan should provide a list of the senior's medical conditions, medications, medical doctors, pharmacies and other care providers.
What daily activities should be monitored?
All Activities of Daily Living should be listed along with the time meals are eaten, the time medications are taken and other physical and mental activities along with other job duties for the caregiver. The information should include the following:
Nutrition: Food prepared and meals eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, fluid intake (number of glasses of water)
Health & Hygiene: Transfers from bed to chair, bathroom visits, showers, dressing, hair care, skin care, nail care, dental care, exercise routine
Daily Routine & Vital Signs: Wake-up time, nap times, bed time, blood pressure, weight, doctor appointments
Physical and Mental Activities: Exercises, walks, physical therapy routine, reading newspaper, magazines, books, mental exercise games
Household Cleaning: Cleaning kitchen, bathroom, laundry, changing bed linens, sorting mail, sweeping floors, dust rooms, vacuum, run errands, pet care
Seniors should also ask their doctors if there are any activities they would like to track to monitor the success of medications or the symptoms of their medical conditions. By monitoring daily routines such as times of sleep, meals and exercise, doctors can better measure the impact of medications and the progression of memory loss or the loss of physical capabilities. This can sometimes result in better diagnosis and slowing down the progresion of age-related diseases.
It is a good idea to maintain a daily log for the daily activities. You can create a notebook to contain all the care plan notebooks and take this along with you to the doctor's appointments. The care plan can also be a great resource for medical professionals if there is ever an emergency situation.
Senior care agencies usually will provide a plan of care for their clients, as a way to train, monitor and manage both the caregiver and the care. One of the benefits of hiring a professional senior home care agency is receiving a complete professional care plan, along with active management of the caregivers. Quality senior care agencies will also employ the caregivers as their employees which provides the added protection of worker's compensation insurance, professional liability insurance and payroll taxes to make sure the senior and their family members do not need to worry about caregiver employee issues. In addition, the caregiver has support and training along with benefits, as senior care can be emotionally challenging and sometimes physically exhausting. Good agencies will provide a care for the caregiver program to make sure quality caregivers can continue to succeed in providing care.
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Many of us will gladly take Mom to her doctor's appointments, administer medications, and check in if the need arises without a second thought. But with millions of loyal children caring for aging parents out of their own pockets, a little financial relief is welcome. Few family caregivers are aware that you can get paid - however small the amount may be - to care for Mom and provide homecare services. Due to the long working hours, however, some adult children caregivers have been forced to leave their full-time jobs or even scale back their hours spent on the clock, leading to a significantly reduced cash flow. Fortunately, if being a caregiver is causing a noticeable financial strain, there are homecare reimbursement programs that can help alleviate some of the burden. Keep in mind, however, that you must practice patience when applying for these programs - make sure that your application is up-to-date and all the necessary attachments are included before you send it so that delays aren't any longer than necessary.
Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI)
Long-term care insurance, which functions as an indemnity program, only pays the insured the amount that was contracted at the outset, and regardless of homecare services that are received, will only pay that specified amount.
Making the Arrangement with Mom Official
Since money is involved, it's recommended that family caregivers draw up some sort of short, typewritten contract that outlines the terms of the caregiving situation in depth, including the pay rate and frequency, job description and homecare services that will be provided, and how various expenses will be reimbursed (if applicable). Hiring an attorney or other legal professional will help all family caregivers involved create a legal document that prevents sticky situations from arising.
It's also important to remember that this payment is viewed as income by the government, so all family caregivers must report their earnings each year as taxable income. Though the money received for providing homecare services is negligible, it will help to offset many of the costs associated with providing Mom (or Dad) with a loving, stable, and comfortable home.