I was once the Director of Social Services at a nursing home, and as such, handled a lot of discharge planning for patients. Many times seniors needed help after they went home from the sub-acute rehabilitation part of our facility. Well-meaning family members would frequently step in instead of hiring paid caregivers. Very often, this was done to save money, and understandably so – professional caregivers are costly, and most of us don’t have gobs of cash to spare.
Unfortunately, I also saw this strategy backfire – often to the point in which the senior ended up right back at our facility, sometimes for good. The truth of the matter is, friends and family members usually don’t have the specific knowledge and expertise to care for the elderly at home. With a little research, they might have learned why paid caregivers are worth every penny.
“Free” and “cheap” isn’t always best
It’s hard to argue against the immediate incentive of saving money, even when it comes to caregiving. However, “free” and “cheap” isn’t always synonymous with “best.” Paid caregivers can help your senior avoid expensive disasters, such as hospital stays and accidents as home. In addition to the concrete medical costs these would involve, there may also be immeasurable costs to your senior, such as permanent injuries (or worse).
Through their extensive education and experience, paid caregivers know what signs to look for when it comes to diseases and disorders, as well as the proper way to care for seniors in order to avoid injuries. This is the type of knowledge that isn’t likely available to those without such training.
For example, most of us think we know the warning signs of a heart attack through television and other popular media. However, a nurse or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) knows that shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue are among the most common symptoms — not the chest-clutching pain we’re so often shown. Similarly, the warning signs of a stroke – such as confusion and trouble speaking – are often mistaken for other, less serious ailments.
How to pay for professional caregivers
I can already hear you saying, “I’d love to hire a paid caregiver for my senior, and I would — if money grew on trees!” We understand – money is an issue for most everyone. But aside from private funds, there are other ways to pay for professional caregivers.
It would be nice if Medicare, which most seniors have, would cover such things. Unfortunately, Medicare only pays for certain types of home care, such as skilled care received after a hospital or facility stay, or hospice services. Medicaid, on the other hand pays for the daily care most seniors need, but only if they meet the requisite financial criteria.
Although most insurances have strict rules about paying for home care, it’s worth a shot to see if your senior has a policy that covers even part of the cost. Veterans may also be entitled to special benefits in this area, so be sure to call your local VA if the senior was in the military. Finally, even if you don’t have the private funds to personally pay for home care, there’s nothing wrong with asking other family members to pitch in as well. Together, you may be able to cover all or some of the costs.
Paid caregivers are a savings in the long run
There’s an expression used when someone tries to save money in the short-term, but ends up costing themselves more in the long-term. We call it being “penny wise, but pound foolish.” Now, you are certainly not foolish for trying to be frugal, especially when it comes to large expenses like caregiving. However, paid caregivers are often worth their weight in gold. This refers to both the care they provide in the present, as well as the expenditures (and possible unfortunate incidents) they help you avoid in the future. Don’t wait to hire a caregiver that can help you save money – explore your options today.
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.