A lot is said these days about 24/7 care for seniors, but what does the phrase actually mean? It could mean living the senior lives full-time in a nursing home, like the ones at which I used to work. It could mean hiring one or more home health aides to live or stay in the senior’s home, like both my grandmothers have. It can even mean a combination of things, such as sending the senior to an adult day care part time, and filling in any gaps with a professional caregiver. There is no right or wrong answer for everyone – senior care all depends on the needs and wants of your particular loved one.
Around-the-clock care home care
Around-the-clock home care is actually the type of care most preferred by seniors, and oddly enough, the most cost-effective. With this type of service, a licensed, professional health care aide (or more than one, if they work in shifts) is with your senior all the time, providing seamless continuity of services. They assist with meal preparation, feeding, bathing, toilet use, and social activities for your senior. Since the senior gets to see (mostly) the same faces every day, it provides them with a measure of comfort and security. As an added bonus, you know exactly who is taking care of your loved one at all times. If needed, a nurse can still come to the home for skilled care, such as changing bandages on a wound. A physical therapist can also visit if short-term sessions are recommended by a physician.
Part-time adult day care and home health aide
When considering 24/7 care options for your senior, there’s no reason you can’t think outside the box and combine them. Perhaps your senior is a little more active and independent, and enjoys socializing with larger groups of people. In that case, a combination of adult day care (sometimes called adult day clubs) during business hours and a home health aide at night might work. Adult day care has stimulating mental activities for your senior, plus access to medical staff if needed. An overnight home health aide makes sure your loved one is safe and comfortable, and the aide remains on hand should an emergency arise.
24/7 care at a nursing home
Although there is nothing wrong with 24/7 care at a nursing home, it is often the last resort for seniors and their families. There are several reasons for this. One is financial: care at a nursing home continuously utilizes the skills of the most highly-paid professionals in the business. These professionals include RN’s (Registered Nurses), LPN’s (Licensed Practical Nurses), full-time dieticians, recreation therapists, social workers, and more. However, unless the senior has Medicaid, these costs are often out-of-pocket.
Then there’s the lack of a familiar environment, including the same house or apartment the senior may have lived in all their lives. This can be difficult for the average senior, who is very likely attached to a place after living in it for decades. It can also cause confusion and distress to those who have dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Even a slight change in environment can wreak havoc with their memories and day-to-day functioning, so it’s easy to imagine what a complete change of venue might do.
However, nursing homes are part of the continuum of service for a reason. They are often most appropriate for those who need the highest level of medical care. They are ideal for seniors who require things like feeding and breathing tubes, or those with dementia whose behaviors include wandering.
Involve your senior in the decision about 24/7 care
If your senior is able, involving them in the decision about 24/7 care is an excellent idea. It is their life, after all – they should have some say in it! Feel free to voice your ideas and concerns, but make sure your loved one is a part of the process. If possible, education them on the various options and challenges. It may take some work, but eventually, you will both decide on the choice that’s right for your senior.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.