Home Healthcare/Elder Care: FAQs & Tips

My mother, thankfully, is in great shape for a woman in her mid-80s. However, she lives a fair distance from any close relatives, and my father passed away last year.

Do patient solutions still exist for physically and mentally active elders?

A senior companion service is a great solution for elders that are still healthy individuals that wish to maintain their at-home independence. With a group that provides companion care, older parents that live far away will enjoy conversation, card, and board games with their new confidant. A companion's main goal is to keep their client at a healthy level of physical and mental activity, while diminishing any sense of loneliness or isolation that may occur. Although companions are not meant to replace the higher degree of help that a home health aide would provide, many complete a variety of chores and tasks. For example, companion services often assist with laundry, light house cleaning, take clients to various appointments, run errands, and can even schedule meal plans. Select a service that meets your mother's, as well as your family's, needs. You will be amazed at the amount of emotional support and peace of mind companion care services provide.

My father has a progressive condition that will eventually require constant watch.

Will it be possible to have a trained aide live with him or will we need to admit him to a nursing home?

Depending on the chosen service, an elder caregiver can stay with your father on a live-in basis, while a home health aide usually visits at scheduled hours during the day. Before coming to a decision, your family should do some research on the best plan of action. Nonetheless, having an at home eldercare professional is often more cost effective than opting for a nursing home.

What exactly is a home health aide?

A home health aide is a person who works directly for the family of the elderly or disabled client in need of care and provide all the assistance needed for the family member to stay at home. Home health aides provide a high level of physical assistance and emotional support, teaching patients how to be as independent as possible. In addition, home health aides vigilantly watch for any changes or distinct declines in the patient's condition. These developments are reported to the elderly or disabled person's family and nurse supervisor. Depending on the patient's needs, their tasks include housekeeping, food preparation/diet plans, testing mental alertness through games, helping the patient with bathing, and helping the patient use the toilet or bed pan. When consulting home health aide services, ask about the specific concerns anticipated by the elderly or disabled loved one, so that all family needs will be met.

I'm not looking for a permanent caregiver. I just need someone to assist my otherwise healthy great-aunt after a scheduled surgery. Is there at home assistance for her?

Your great-aunt will need time to make a full recovery. During this time, consider hiring a caregiver that specializes in short-term recovery services. These assistants provide many non-medical services like running to the grocery store, taking care of pets, or watering prized plants, while reassuring their clients as they come back to full health within the comfort of their own home.

I have an elderly uncle that lives in an attached addition. However, my wife and I would like to go out for our 25th anniversary, but are concerned about leaving him alone as his arthritis progresses.

Is there someone who could spend time with him and aid with daily care activities during our time away from home?

Taking care of a disabled or elderly family member can be stressful and physically demanding. Respite care offers wonderful solutions to families who need a break for the sake of their own personal health and wellness. Depending on your needs, some respite care providers have adult day care centers, while some provide at home assistance for a few hours. When deciding on the right respite care provider, specify the duration of time needed to ensure that adequate assistance is available.

Keep lines of communication open between your disabled or elderly family member, your family and the caregiver. Making sure everyone is up to date on the loved one's condition will facilitate decision-making and avoid any unnecessary frustration from being "out of the loop".

If the elder family member lives alone, request that they make lists when running errands and make an entry in a notebook about what is discussed during visits to various doctors. Scheduling, organization, and retaining vital information are all key to providing the best possible care to your loved one.

In addition to an at home assistant, family members offering primary care and contact with the loved one shouldn't ignore their own emotional needs. Family members involved in the care of an elderly or disabled loved one can benefit from joining support groups through local organizations. Sharing common experiences will help those feeling overwhelmed or stressed out deal with the challenges of caring for the family member in need of support.

Be especially aware of an elderly loved one's nutrition. A few of the signs of poor nutrition include: loss of appetite, rapid fluctuation (increased or decreased) in weight, changes skin tone, dizziness, and depression. If poor nutrition is suspected, consult a health care professional to assist in dietary needs.

Choose a senior care provider who is updated on training and certifications. There are always new techniques and health care options that elder support services need to know about to provide the best care possible. Before putting your loved one in the hands of a new care giver, check that their credentials, experience, and certifications can be trusted.