A variety of surveys report that seniors wish to remain in their own homes as they age, in almost unanimous numbers.  The reality is that many individuals can and will be able to do so, but may need some support over time.

Census data shows that fewer older adults are residing in nursing homes as cited in this U.S.A. Today article on the subject.  This can be contributed to many factors, including the availability of home health care, retirement communities and assisted living options.  More and more options have become available to support seniors in a variety of environments and offer choices.

When should home health services be used?

The first piece to answering this question is defining home health care.  There are two types of care which often fall under this name–medical/acute home health care as typically covered by Medicare or other insurance and custodial home health care which assists on a short-term or ongoing basis with daily needs.  To get a better handle on the differences, requirements and coverages for home health care, grab a copy of our Paying for Home Care Fact Sheet.

Since we are talking about services that can help an elder remain at home, we will focus here on custodial or “private duty” home health such as we provide at EasyLiving.  So, when should an elder or family consider using private-duty home care services?

  • When household management becomes difficult: a home health care company can help with cooking, cleaning, and running errands which can make managing the household easier and is especially useful as tasks become difficult or even dangerous.
  • For preventative safety: to help with falls prevention, maintaining activity and staying healthy, managing medications more safely and having the oversight and security of having someone available to help.
  • To ensure better health outcomes: for example, to ensure safety and assist after a surgery or to compliment Medicare home health care and ensure follow up with issues like medication compliance, transportation to follow up appointments and watch for concerns.
  • For companionship: loneliness and depression are not uncommon for elders who may be isolated or suffering losses.  Companionship and staying active are great benefits of home health care.
  • For short-term needs and help avoiding further crisis/deterioration: when an elder is ill or has been hospitalized, it is wise to hire additional home health services at least until there is time to ensure the elder is safe and can manage well.  This can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and worsening of the condition.  A home health company can also fulfill needs for caregiver respite or occasional assistance with special tasks.

How to hire home health help: 

  • Understand your state’s home health regulations.  For more on Florida home health care regulations and licensing, you can read our posts “Options for Florida Home Care” and “Home Health Care Agency Oversight in Florida“.
  • Get referrals, research quality home care providers and contact them to find out more.
  • Set up a home care assessment to determine the best plan of care and ensure all of your questions are answered.
  • Allow for some minor adjustments at the beginning, as you and your loved one get to know the caregivers and adjust to the routine.  However, if a caregiver is not a good match or you have any concerns, provide immediate feedback to the company’s management team to find out how you can resolve your issues.  Most elders are reluctant about bringing in home health services, but with time find they are very pleased to have the help and grow fond of their caregivers.

Other tips on using home health services:

  • Provide feedback, whether good or bad.  Let the home health company know if you have any concerns and be open to ideas about how they can resolve them.  Most companies will have “no gift” policies but one of the best ways you can reward good caregivers is to provide positive feedback to his/her supervisors and offer a testimonial to the company if you are pleased with their service.
  • Communicate!  Let the home health provider know if you need to change a schedule, have upcoming holiday plans or your loved one may be moving.  Share changes or concerns.  Try to be as informative as possible in the beginning to enable caregivers to provide the best care and understand a little bit about your loved one.  You should also expect this same level of communication from your home care company.

Want personalized guidance about hiring home health services or what resources might help your family?  We’re available to chat at 727-448-0900 or click below to plan a time that is good for you to talk.