Should I hire a caregiver or move my loved one to an assisted living facility?
Watching age interfere with an older loved one’s ability to live on their own can be tough. For many, there comes a time when you have to make one of the hardest decisions; hire a caregiver, become a family caregiver or put your loved one in a long-term care facility. This can be a difficult decision to process. There are pros and cons to each, and the right choice for you will depend on your unique situation.
At CareLink, our mission is to provide older people and their families with the resources they need to overcome the challenges of aging. For us, helping the aging community make the most of their golden years at home is what we strive to accomplish. However, we understand some needs go beyond our resources. Whether you choose a caregiver for your aging loved one or a nursing home, here are a few things to consider when it’s time, as well as some tips for having that conversation with your aging parent(s).
Signs Your Elderly Loved One Needs a Caregiver
No one wants to decide their aging parents need some assistance at home to improve safety, health, and quality of life. So, how do you know when it’s time to consider whether your loved one needs a caregiver? There are signs to be on the lookout for that can help you determine when it’s time to find someone who can provide for your loved one. It may be time to consider finding a caregiver if:
1. Your loved one is unable to complete daily tasks by his or herself.
When an individual is no longer able to dress him or herself, make meals, take medication, complete daily hygiene routines, and care for their well-being without the help of others, it’s time to consider designating a family caregiver or hiring a caregiver. An individual who is unable to use the bathroom on their own or who is unable to move without assistance should never under any circumstance be left alone. As you visit loved ones during holidays and breaks, take a look around their home. A question to ask yourself is: are they physically unable to complete these tasks, or do they lack the knowledge. Many older loved ones find themselves struggling to complete basic daily activities because their spouse, who recently passed, handled those tasks.
2. You or your family members are unable to care for your loved one.
Sometimes, finances, time commitments, or the level of care an aging person needs can make it difficult to be a family caregiver. When the needs of your loved one become too great for you or another family member to take on, hiring a caregiver may be the right solution. However, depending on their needs, a long-term care facility may be the next step. Medical and health concerns such as diabetes, vision impairments, or being prone to falling may necessitate the need for more serious medical care. It’s important to know the risks of falling. Once an older person falls, their chances of falling increase.
3. Your loved one is alone a significant portion of the day.
In addition to safety concerns presented when an aging individual is alone for a significant portion of the day, being alone can contribute to isolation and depression and create a need for more community. From ensuring a stove is not left on to helping prevent falls, it’s important for your loved one to have round-the-clock care. To combat isolation, many cities and towns have senior centers and community centers that offer socialization, health and wellness classes, and other activities for older people. Some even assist with transportation needs. CareLink partners with many of these centers in their service area to help the aging community.
4. Your elderly loved one has sustained an injury or is battling an illness.
If your loved one is required to take medications at a certain time each day, if he or she has special dietary needs, or if he or she has a serious medical concern, he or she should not be left alone. A caregiver can help provide medical assistance while providing you and your loved ones with peace of mind.
Pros and Cons of Caregivers
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a family caregiver or making the decision to hire a caregiver.
Pro: Your loved one can remain in his or her home or in a more comfortable environment.
For many individuals, the ability to allow their loved one to remain in their own home is the biggest factor in choosing a caregiver over a long-term care facility. You may also find your loved one resistant to leaving his or her home, which can make the decision to move to a nursing home a difficult one. A caregiver allows you and your family to know your loved one will be cared for while they remain in a comfortable and recognizable environment.
Con: Paying for a caregiver can be expensive if your loved one doesn’t meet certain requirements to receive a government-funded caregiver.
Unfortunately, not every individual is eligible to receive long-term home care covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Here are a few things to consider. Typically, an individual must:
- Be enrolled in Medicare
- Meet certain income requirements
- Have a healthcare provider plan of care
- However, organizations like CareLink have private pay options available for caregiving or respite grants for family caregivers if an aging loved one doesn’t meet certain criteria. Also, services like Meals on Wheels and telephone check-in, which provides an opportunity for companionship and awareness of obstacles, are grant-funded.
Pro: Family caregivers allow your loved one to be cared for while remaining close to family.
Family caregivers offer the added benefit of allowing your loved one to be cared for by someone close to them. Family caregivers can help prevent the loneliness some aging adults may experience, and those who are most familiar with your loved one’s situation may be able to offer more attention and care than a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Pros and Cons of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Depending on your loved one’s health condition, medical concerns, dietary needs, and other considerations, a nursing home may or may not be ideal for him or her. While nursing homes provide a much-needed resource for families who are seeking a long-term solution for the care of a loved one, a caregiver may be the best option for your family if there are special needs to consider. On the other hand, nursing homes may be ideal for families who do not have the option of using a family caregiver. Here are a few things to consider.
Pro: Nursing homes have on-site medical staff and equipment.
One of the biggest benefits of transitioning a loved one to a nursing home is the peace of mind that comes with knowing he or she will have access to medical care round the clock. With medical staff equipped to handle medical emergencies, nursing home residents are able to benefit from having a plethora of medical equipment and trained professionals in close proximity. If your loved one is living at home with a caregiver, on the other hand, you may have to invest in medical equipment such as wheelchairs and scooters or bathroom accessories ideal for disabled and aging adults.
Con: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can be expensive.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can bring peace of mind for families, but they do come at a cost. According to a private, independent study conducted by Genworth, the average cost of nursing home care in the United States is $275 per day, just over $8,300 per month. Private rooms or those with in-suite bathrooms typically have a higher cost than semi-private or shared rooms. Food, housekeeping, and additional medical services may also come at an additional cost.
How To Pay for a Nursing Home
While Medicare, federal and state Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, and other financial assistance can contribute to the cost of long-term facility care, families may still find themselves paying a significant amount for their loved one’s care.
Pro: Nursing homes offer a sense of community and a variety of activities.
If you are concerned about your aging loved one’s ability to socialize and enjoy the company of others, a nursing home or assisted living facility can offer the opportunity to meet others who share their experiences and hobbies. Many long-term care facilities also offer daily activities designed to provide entertainment or enjoyment for residents with their health and wellness needs in mind.
Con: Long-term care facility staff have multiple patients to care for.
Some individuals may think that a long-term care facility can offer immediate care for their loved one, but this is not always the case. Even nursing homes and assisted living facilities with outstanding medical and administrative staff cannot always dedicate the same amount of care and attention to your loved one as a caregiver simply because they have multiple patients to tend to.
Con: Long-term care facilities are not always ideal for those with special needs.
While long-term care facilities do offer a necessary service for aging individuals and their families, they are essentially designed to provide assistance for as many individuals as possible, meaning the meals served are generally intended to benefit as many individuals as possible, while each staff member may have multiple patients to care for.
This is especially important to consider if your loved one has special needs, such as a health concern that makes him or her more prone to medical emergencies, special dietary needs or dietary restrictions, and more. While a caregiver or family member may have time to devote to preparing special meals, this is not always an option at a long-term care facility, and for those that do offer the ability to tailor meals to an individual’s needs, it may come at an additional cost.
How to Talk to Your Elderly Loved One About a Caregiver or Housing Options
When the time approaches to speak with your loved one about hiring a caregiver, designating a relative as a family caregiver, or even moving them to a long-term care facility, you may be unsure of how to approach the conversation or what to expect. Know your loved one may resist the idea of losing his or her independence, and for many of us, we can understand why. However, when their health and wellness is concerned, it’s a conversation worth having. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help your loved one understand the importance of hiring a caregiver.
1. Be respectful of their feelings.
Always be considerate of your loved one’s feelings regarding the decision to move to a long-term care facility or to bring a caregiver into his or her home. After all, coming to terms with the loss of independence and the need for help is not easy, regardless of the situation. Be respectful of their desire to hold onto their independence. It may require several difficult conversations. It may require a serious incident to help them understand the importance. Regardless, it’s important to maintain empathy for their feelings and their situation.
2. Offer a solution.
Presenting the idea of a caregiver or a move to a nursing home can be daunting, and for many, the idea can bring anxiety and stress. While it’s not an easy conversation to have, it’s important to offer solutions and reasons for why you are presenting this option. For example, if your loved one needs a caregiver, offer ways it will improve their living situation, including more company, more peace of mind for loved ones, etc.
3. Work together.
Be willing to compromise on a situation that works best for all parties. A family caregiver may not be an option, but hiring a caregiver may be more desirable than a move to a nursing home, and understandably so. Be respectful of all parties involved and attempt to work together to find a solution if possible.
How to Find a Caregiver in Arkansas
If your loved one is in need of a caregiver, there are resources available to you. Although CareLink serves Central Arkansas, they are one of eight Area Agency on Aging in the state and can provide the necessary information for you and your family.
CareLink’s Resources for Caregivers
CareLink has a trained staff of more than 500 caregivers who are personal care attendants (PCA) and certified nursing assistants (CAN) providing care to Central Arkansas’s aging community. Many of these caregivers also hold the title of family caregiver, so they received the training needed to provided quality care to their loved ones.
If you or a relative are going to take on the role of family caregiver, becoming a paid caregiver through CareLink could help relieve some worry regarding finances and experience if your loved one meets certain critieria. CareLink also offers resources for family caregivers and homebound elderly individuals, including:
Have questions? Get in touch.
Are you or someone you know in need of caregiver services, call our Information and Assistance department at 501.372.5300 or toll-free at 800.482.6359. If you are you a (family) caregiver in Arkansas looking for more resources, contact us today to let us know how we can assist you.