More than 70% of seniors prefer to stay in their homes and age in place by taking advantage of home care services available to them. Staying in your home helps to maintain your quality of life because you can retain your independence. Improved quality of life tends to improve your physical health and mental acuity. Home care services also help protect you against bacterial and viral infections sometimes found in even the best residential care facilities.
As the term implies, home care (also known as in-home care) means you receive support while living at home. Home care services can include healthcare professionals who provide a range of medical treatment, light housework, and home maintenance to help you meet daily life requirements.
Home care services are as varied as your individual needs. Whether you need medical homecare or merely a helping hand, a home health caregiver can come to your house a few hours a day or weekly.
If bathing, washing your hair, or dressing is becoming difficult, you can hire someone to help you with those tasks.
Household chores can become increasingly difficult; just taking out the garbage can be tricky in bad weather. Similarly, vacuuming or sweeping requires strength, balance, and some agility. Having someone who can help with light housekeeping and laundry will help support you in your goal of remaining at home.
Having someone who can do your shopping or pick up prescriptions for you will be invaluable. Also, keep in mind that many grocery stores and pharmacies deliver for a small charge.
Consider hiring a yard service to keep the lawn mowed, weeds down, and leaves raked. They can also perform seasonal chores such as pruning.
If you live alone, it can feel like a lot of trouble for just one person. Many senior centers serve a daily or weekly meal. It’s an excellent way to socialize and be sure of having at least one healthy meal.
Most communities also provide a Meals-on-Wheels service that delivers meals to your home for a low fee or at no cost. Usually, you can choose lunch or dinner, or both, to be delivered to you regularly.
There are volunteer organizations and financial counselors who can help you organize your monthly bills, offer financial planning, and do your taxes, sometimes for free. Be sure to get references from your local seniors’ organization or have a family member vet the service and any costs.
It’s easy to set up online banking to pay your bills on a timely basis. Most major banks actually prefer this option, and it’s a good way to be sure you don’t miss a bill. Ask a trusted family member to help you set it up.
An added layer of protection is to give a trusted person a financial power of attorney. Your representative can discuss any problems with your bills, bank account, or Social Security and Medicare with a power of attorney. You may not need it right now, but an extra set of eyes before you run into problems never hurts. Any attorney can advise you and prepare the necessary documents.
Remembering to take your medicine can also be a problem, as it can be for anyone. Ask someone to set up your daily pills in one of those weekly pill boxes and set a reminder. Routine will be your friend, and you can easily set times, like before or after meals, to take your pills.
Do you need pain medication or insulin but worry about whether you’ve already taken it or not? Having a home care aide who comes in daily, or multiple times of the day, to supervise that dosage is a big help.
If you’ve been hospitalized and are ready to go home but still need some temporary help, ask the discharge planner about planning for in-home care. Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans may pay an in-home caregiver to come in to help take care of your medical needs.
If you have trouble remembering what the doctor said and what you’re supposed to do, ask someone to go with you to the doctor’s appointment. Your friend or relative can take notes to help you remember what the doctor said. These days, even the smallest clinic will provide a visit summary when you check out; be sure to ask for it all in writing before you leave.
Signing a medical power of attorney, naming someone you trust to look after your interests, might be a good idea. If you don’t be that formal, most doctor’s offices have a form naming who they can talk to about your health.
If you live alone, falls or becoming suddenly ill can be worrisome. A medical alert system that calls for emergency help can relieve that worry. Usually, there’s a monthly fee for the service; ask your friends who have one about their service or contact your senior center.
You may need to consider home modifications to keep you safe, such as a ramp or grab-bars. Weatherizing your house to cut down on heating and cooling bills is a maintenance item that would reduce monthly costs. Help with those modifications could come from your church, local senior programs, or the state or federal governments.
Resources to find home care providers
Talk with your family, friends, and neighbors; they are an excellent resource for finding the help you need. If you can, trade tasks with them.
Check with your local service organizations and government offices about finding help. Social Services in your community may have suggestions.
Ask at your church about any support programs they have.
Contact home care service providers about the services they can offer. Your In-Home Health Services agency may be able to give you a list of providers you can hire if you don’t qualify for in-home medical care.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, Longtermcare.gov, has a wealth of information about long-term care and planning ahead.
If you’re armed with information and the help of family or friends, you can plan now to age in place and find the right home care service provider.