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Don’t Miss Opportunities by Ignoring Home Care
Frank Blood

Don’t Miss Opportunities by Ignoring Home Care

Few discussions create more angst in caregivers than when they believe they are doing “just fine” on their own while others, especially siblings, offhandedly suggest that they could use a little outside help. To say we are protective of our “system” is an understatement. Well-intentioned suggestions or not, most of us tend to interpret talk that sounds like a questioning of our abilities as a personal slight unless the comments are made in an authentic spirit of sincerity and helpfulness. As caregivers, we know we would like some relief but it must be on our terms and provided by someone we completely trust.

Anyone who provides care more than just occasionally will, at some point, experience a moment of realization about the future and begin to consider the value of hiring a home care aide or a professional caregiver. At first, most caregivers ignore such thoughts, but the desire only gets stronger instead of going away and soon enough we start to wonder what it would take to get someone periodically to free us up for other things. In my case, it was more like daydreaming than planning. And I waited far too long to investigate the benefits and non-monetary costs.

 

When you should start considering home care

I believe that the best time to investigate home care is within the first week or two of bringing your loved one home from the hospital (immediately if the situation requires it) or when you find yourself spending more than a couple hours a week running errands for a parent. At this early stage, you have ample time to ask plenty of questions and verify answers. You can get to know the key people in the agencies and create a mental picture of the ideal candidate. Now is the time to ask about pricing and find out if they are willing to work with you to keep costs down. Since there is no urgency you won’t feel as much stress and you can put together a better game plan.

Still, you likely won’t feel a need to hurry even when you’ve made your decision about which agency to use. But if you look at the benefits you receive when you hire someone, you’ll probably want to have your loved one get used to having someone else around to take care of him or her sooner rather than later. Especially with dementia patients, it’s very important to bring new people into the picture earlier so they can get familiar with the idiosyncrasies of their client and your family member can get used to their habits. This way, when things go sideways, as they sometimes will, both will trust and be comfortable with each other.

 

There is a stiff penalty when you think you can do it all

When you think only of the hard-cost in terms of dollars per hour for home care, you miss a couple of major expenses by not having help. For example, caregivers at work produce at a rate of 18.5% less than non-caregivers. Working caregivers miss an additional 6.6 work days per year because of their personal responsibilities. The rate of mistakes and accidents increases in proportion to the amount of time spent on caregiving. 7% of employees who provide care receive a warning about their performance. It never pays to lose your job because of the cost of home care. It just isn’t worth it.

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