August 17, 2010

It’s no surprise that the vast majority of seniors, almost nine out of 10, prefer to age in place. The burden placed on families striving to achieve this goal, however, is daunting. Family members wanting to help loved ones age in place, due to preference or financial necessity, can become extremely stressed. In fact, one study cited that the stress caused can lead to premature aging and shorten lives by up to 10 years.

As the population ages and many more families face this situation, non-medical home care is one solution. Non-medical home care offers a range of services to meet the needs of seniors or individuals with disabilities and helps to lessen the stress forced upon family caregivers.

Most non-medical home care companies offer personal care, homemaking and companionship. Depending on the company, assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and incidental transportation may also be included in the rate.

The flexibility of non-medical home care is ideal when care needs are evolving or to ease a difficult transition due to a sudden change in health or the loss of a spouse. Caregiver services are available by the hour, overnight or for longer term, live-in situations. Non-medical care is additionally suitable for respite purposes and chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS or spinal cord injuries. This style of non-invasive care can also support enhanced planning for someone in an assisted living facility or nursing home or in conjunction with hospice care.

Rates can vary, but on average, the cost of home care is less than, or equal to, assisted living. For example, Griswold Special Care, the nation’s oldest non-medical home care provider, offers affordable care at an average of $14 per hour or $140 per day for a live-in caregiver, including all services noted above.

When looking at companies, five things to note are:

1.How do they seek and retain qualified, trustworthy caregivers?
2.What does the rate include and will it increase as more care is needed?
3.What ongoing communication is in place to ensure both the client and caregiver are thriving?
4.How responsive are they to your needs?
5.Are they willing to take challenging or short-term cases?
As we observe everyday with many Griswold Special Care clients, non-medical home care provides a much-needed opportunity for family members to rest, prevent burnout and retake control of their lives. This break allows families the ability to balance work and family responsibilities, giving them the energy to be emotionally present when they are needed most. Children, especially those living far away, can also find solace in the knowledge that their parents are being cared for by trained professionals.

Undoubtedly, having a fully dedicated caregiver is a great option for care. For the client, enjoying familiar surroundings, keeping consistent routines, encouraging social and physical activities and supporting good nutrition and healthcare practices, are beneficial both emotionally and physically.
Diane Walker, R.N., M.S., is vice president of Learning & Performance Systems at Griswold Special Care. She is the editor for Caring Times, a publication and Web site for family caregivers and healthcare professionals.

As published in Dorland Health.