|Misconceptions, myths can make elderly very leery
Despite increasing health problems, Dad wants to stay at home. He won’t budge. One mention of that beautiful assisted living facility (ALF) down the street, and the conversation ends. But his home of 45 years is just too big for him to clean, and you can’t always get there to help when he needs it. Or perhaps it’s your mother who just isn’t interested in cooking anymore or even getting out of the house, for that matter. Talk of hiring extra help, though, falls on deaf ears.
The simple fact is most elderly want to stay at home – upwards of 90 percent in several industry surveys, as a matter of fact. But some seniors seem leery of home care. Perhaps you are, too. That may be because there are a few misconceptions that often surround care for the elderly at home. Check them out to learn if you know all you should about home care.
Home care myth busters
• Myth No. 1 – Home care is only for the very ill: It’s true that seniors at home who are very ill or recovering from a serious operation may seek the services of a home health aide. But home care actually covers two different types of care. The first is home health care provided by licensed medical professionals, for which you need a prescription that can cover a wide range of medical and therapeutic services. Home health care may be needed for post-operative rehabilitation, skilled assessments and teaching, occupational and speech therapy, wound care, mobility training, pain management or IV therapy/injections.
Then there’s non-medical home care, such as personal care, homemaker or companionship services provided by professional caregivers. Non-medical home care often revolves around the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, dressing and bathing. Or they center on instrumental ADLs such as driving, shopping and doing housework. Sometimes an older adult may benefit from both types of home care services.
• Myth No. 2 – Home care costs too much: Some families seem intimidated by the costs of home care. In reality, home care is one of the most affordable options, partly because of the flexibility of an hourly service. In fact, a survey conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network revealed 22 percent of the network’s clients employ caregiver services for just four hours or less a week. About 20 percent employ them between four and eight hours a week. Furthermore, this research reveals that 49 percent of family caregivers overestimate the cost of non-medical care. If a loved one just needs a few hours of non-medical and companionship service each week, such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders and shopping, non-medical home care can be ideal. While home care is primarily private pay, more long-term care policies are covering this service.
• Myth No. 3 – I have no say about who comes into my home: Reputable caregiving companies will try to match caregivers with seniors of similar interests. You should make sure a company’s caregivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. The agency should conduct background and reference checks of their caregivers and offer flexibility in setting up a schedule. Credible companies will also offer backup and replacement caregivers.
• Myth No. 4 – Home care will take away my independence: Unfortunately, it can be difficult to convince some seniors the opposite is true. However, the elderly who stay home alone as they age run the risk of falls and other problems. Among those age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They also are the most common cause of non-fatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma, the CDC reports. A professional caregiver can serve as a second set of eyes and ears to help keep seniors safer at home. A caregiver also can transport seniors to special events or even just the grocery store, which can help decrease isolation. Home Instead CAREGivers also often enjoy activities with their clients, such as gardening and concerts.
• Myth No. 5 – All caregiving services are the same: “Let the buyer beware” has never been truer than with home care. Not all caregivers or caregiving companies are the same. Caregivers can be grouped into three different categories, including agency employee, independent contractor with a registry and independent caregivers. Most agencies hire caregivers who are screened, trained, bonded and insured. The agency pays the caregivers and handles all taxes and other employment obligations, such as worker’s compensation, liability coverage and performance issues.
An independent contractor with a registry is recruited, screened and referred to the senior by the registry. The older adult becomes the employer and is responsible for all employment responsibilities such as hiring, scheduling, handling any performance issues and paying federal and state payroll taxes. The older adult assumes the risk as the employer. It’s unlikely these caregivers are receiving any support, training and continuing education.
Finally, independent contractors, or “private hires,” are responsible for marketing themselves. The consumer must assume the responsibility for criminal and background checks. The older adult becomes the employer and is responsible for hiring, scheduling, handling any performance issues and paying federal and state payroll taxes. The independent contractor will also not be covered by workers’ compensation, liability and bond insurance. While there is a lot to think about, there are many options in today’s market for seniors and their families.
Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.