Every day, roughly 10,000 Americans turn 65. America’s population is getting older, and that’s creating new challenges and opportunities for families here in Chicago, and across the country.
More adults are now picking up the responsibility of caring for their elderly parents or loved ones, often while also supporting kids of their own. As they step into their role as family caregivers, many members of this “Sandwich Generation” are finding that it’s a lot to take on alone.
Millions of adults find themselves having to commute, in order to help serve as “long distance” caregivers for their parents. For others, having to consistently devote their time to their senior loved ones means letting their own health and wellbeing fall by the wayside, leading to exhaustion and illness. Caregiver stress and burnout are serious issues, and can impact the quality of life for caregivers – and the quality of care that older adults receive.
Faced with the challenges of acting as a family caregiver, many families turn to in-home care. In-home care services – also called non-medical home care, or simply home care – can help provide caregivers some much-needed relief and respite, while providing the elderly with the level of personalized attention and support they need to thrive, and age in place happily, safely, and independently.
The True Value of Home Care
Home care can be a valuable and effective solution, for many families with older adults. A professional caregiver or companion can help step in when needed, providing services that can benefit not only seniors, but the family members who love and support them. Here at Companions for Seniors, our trained and bonded caregivers can assist in:
- Helping older adults with routine activities of daily living (ADL)
- Providing driving services
- Offering medication and treatment reminders
- Light housekeeping
- Meal preparation
- Going on social outings
At the same time that they are providing support, companions can be a welcoming and warm presence in the lives of the elderly, offering friendship and company. A companion can be a great social asset, one who is able to share meals with the senior, or play games and go on walks. This company is incredibly important; loneliness and depression are among some of the most serious health problems facing older adults.
Having a companion provide support and friendship can be invaluable for older adults. In many ways, bringing in a professional companion or caregiver is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help seniors remain in the comfort of their own homes, while living independently and safely. So often, a companion is more than an assistant. They are a friend, an ally, a confidant, a friendly face. It can be a true source of joy for older adults to have a caring companion in their lives.
As for caregivers, knowing that their family member’s needs are being met can help give back time for their other responsibilities, whether that means caring for their younger family members, focusing on work, taking that much-needed vacation, or, above all, devoting time to their own health and happiness. Self-care is vital for caregivers. Taking some time for yourself can often mean higher quality care for your senior family, as you return from your respite refreshed, recharged, and ready to help in any way you can.
Transitioning from Family Caregiving to Home Care
Home care can be a blessing for older adults and their family, in many different ways. Yet, often, many family caregivers have some doubts or reservations about getting started.
We certainly understand! It can be intimidating to begin the search for a caregiver or agency, and get a grasp on all of your options for providing care. Sometimes, it can be scary to think about turning over your loved one’s care to a new person. Some people feel guilty, thinking that they’re “giving up” on their loved ones. In other cases, the hesitation may come from the thought of introducing a new person or a changing routine into your senior loved one’s life.
These are all understandable reservations. Fortunately, there are some easy, practical steps you can take to get yourself and your loved one ready for home care, making this transition much easier for everyone.
While every family’s circumstances are going to be unique, here are a few ideas that may make it easier to start the process of looking for home care, and getting your elderly family the support and aid they need.
1.) Assess Your Loved One’s Wants and Needs
One of the most important first steps you can take to transition into home care is to take a look at your loved one’s health and lifestyle needs. There are many “yellow flags” to watch out for that could indicate that your senior family needs some additional support and care, including changes in their living environment, changes in their hygiene or grooming, or changes in their behavior.
It’s also going to be important to talk to your loved one, and their health care providers, to get a feel for their wants and needs.
Equipped with all of this information, you can then work with your home care provider to create a personalized health care plan for your loved one, factoring in things like:
- How often the caregiver needs to visit
- What type of support and services the caregiver should provide
- Where you and the caregiver should put your focus
- How the caregiver can accommodate your loved one’s preferences
- Identifying any obstacles that could make things difficult, such as a problem with your loved one’s home environment
2.) Prepare to Have Some Important Discussions With Your Family
Caregiving is a two-way street. It’s going to be important to sit down and have a frank and open discussion with your loved one, as well as anyone else who may be involved in their care network (such as local friends and family).
Generally, leading the transition into home care will be much easier if your loved one feels like they are part of the process. Be open to hearing your senior family member’s wants and needs. Try to identify the areas of daily life where they feel that they could use some help.
Here are a few ideas that might help make these intimidating conversations easier:
- Accentuate the positive. Talk about all of the ways that home care can be beneficial to your loved one, rather than focusing on challenges or problems.
- Frame the conversation around providing help. In many cases, seniors are going to respond more positively if they feel they are getting assistance around the house, more so than care. The former feels more like a luxury; the latter, like an attempt to reduce their independence. Home care is about making your senior loved one’s life better, not taking anything away.
- Bring in support. Remember that you don’t have to have this conversation all at once, or tackle it all alone. Consult with your loved one’s health providers, and consider having their friends and family present to help the conversation go more smoothly. Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your loved one’s care plan.
3.) Get Ready to Interview Care Providers to Find the Right Fit
In many cases, it will help to get your loved one involved in the process of hiring and interviewing companions and home care agencies. After all, they are the person who will spend the most time with the caregiver.
It’s important to find someone that your loved one can trust and feel comfortable with. However, remember that every family’s preferences are going to vary, and every situation will be unique.
One important step you can take is to prepare to interview potential caregivers by knowing what qualities to look for, and what questions to ask. Here are a few sample ideas to get you started:
- Do your caregivers receive formal training?
- Are your caregivers bonded and insured?
- Can I see credentials or certifications?
- Do you have references?
- Can I find reviews on social media, or on sites such as Yelp?
- What experiences do you have working with people like my loved one?
- When can you start? What times are caregivers available?
- What is the full range of services you provide?
Remember, it’s important to find a caregiver who will be compatible with your loved one, who is available on the schedule that you need, and who can provide the full services that your family will require. It’s also important to find a caregiver who is empathetic, passionate about what they do, responsive, and personable. Taking the time early on to find the right person for your loved one could save you a lot of time and effort down the line.
Companions for Seniors Makes Starting With Home Care Easy
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle in the comfort and safety of home. Our aim is to help seniors live independently, connect them with their community, and nurture meaningful relationships.
To do this, we take care to make things easier for seniors and family caregivers, every step of the way.
We offer a wide variety of full- and part-time services to make things more convenient. We can provide a free in-home assessment for your loved one, and help develop a unique and personalized care plan. As the senior’s needs change, so will our plan of care. In most cases we can be up and running in just a few days, sparing you from the laborious application process and paperwork attached to assisted living facilities.
Curious about what sets Companions for Seniors apart? Want to talk over any aspect of home care? We’d love to keep the conversation going and help point you in the right direction. Get in touch or give us a call today to get started.