Home care and nursing homes are two options for seniors who need special assistance to cope with their daily activities. There are some key differences between them that must be carefully considered before making a choice.
What is home care?
Home care is synonym with aging in place, meaning that seniors are helped to age in their homes, while receiving assistance for different tasks that may become too difficult as the time passes by (shopping, cleaning, doing laundry etc.). The help can come from different people: family members, neighbors, friends, or even volunteers in local communities frequented by seniors. Alternatively, in-home care can be hired through specialized agencies across the country or certified aging-in-place specialists, trained and experienced to work with seniors.
Home care includes providing the necessary safety features for frail seniors. They include many things, from rearranging the furniture, anchoring the carpets to the floor and taping the cords to the wall, ensuring proper lighting in every corner of the home, installing grab bars especially in areas like bathrooms and along the stairs to providing adequate footwear and reducing the medication in order to prevent loss of balance. The current technology provides efficient solutions for home care as well: monitored medication, monitored activity, emergency buttons, permanent access to a phone etc. This way, aging in place becomes a viable choice, the only downside being the fact that seniors may become socially isolated, some of them lacking frequent contact with people of their age.
What is a nursing home all about?
Statistics show that more than 3 million adults live in nursing homes and the number is expected to grow, as the population ages.
A nursing home is a permanent care option – the highest level of care outside of hospitals. Seniors have to move in and the nursing home becomes their permanent residence, where they receive assistance 24h per day, for all the activities that they cannot do by themselves (sometimes including basic operations such as eating, bathing, using the bathroom etc.).
Making the arrangements for a nursing home can be somehow difficult because there are so many myths related to these facilities. Many people still consider them places for those who are alone or abandoned by their families, which doesn’t have to be true, because caring for someone who is chronically ill or disabled may simply not be possible. Many family members live farther apart, some share difficult relationships and even if they go well together, some medical conditions require ongoing medical care through the end of life. We can speak about the moral duty to provide the necessary care to a family member, but in many cases, care means paying for the services of a nursing home to do the things that we cannot do, regardless the reasons.
There are good nursing homes out there, if you research thoroughly and make responsible choices. Always ask about regulations and certifications, talk to doctors, social assistants, consult senior living guides before making the new living arrangements and remember that Medicare only covers a certain period after hospitalization, not custodial care.
Ultimately, choosing between home care and a nursing facility really depends from case to case. Therefore, before deciding one way or another, consider the special needs and particular situation of the elderly person, as well as the resources available. If you are having trouble making a decision, contacting a home care professional can be a great way to get your thoughts organized around the best course of action. If you live in Northern California, you should definitely contact Paradise In-Home Care. They service the entire San Francisco Bay Area and are happy to help you make the right decision whether or not that includes using their service.