Adult children are often faced with the challenge of determining the best options for aging parents. Witnessing their decline, over time or due to a sudden health change, can present difficult choices. If regular phone calls or check-ins from you or other relatives are no longer sufficient, you may want to consider assisted living facilities or private duty home care, also referred to as personal care services.
If you’ve never had to make such decisions before, caregiving can be an overwhelming territory to navigate on your own. You want your parents to be happy, but you also have a duty to keep them safe and the financial responsibility of being practical.
What’s Right for Mom or Dad
Home is where the heart is. It’s where your parents have spent years making memories and establishing a comforting routine of independence. But, now they don’t remember to take their medications or need transportation to doctors’ appointments. Perhaps they can no longer manage simple household chores of cooking meals or doing laundry. Maybe they can’t dress themselves. Some may even need help with toileting or bathing.
The most flexible option to address such needs is personal care services. You can find reputable companies who deliver in-home care in a variety of ways, depending on what’s right for your situation. Care partner attendants usually work on an hourly basis, meaning that you could make any number of arrangements… a short visit on Wednesdays, a routine of 9:00 to 5:00 every day, or even overnight or 24-hour care. When considering private duty home care or personal care services, here are some things to be mindful of in choosing a company to deliver them:
- Ensure that care partner attendants are a good match for your parent’s needs and personality. Some companies allow interviews prior to assigning an attendant and most will make a change in assignment if he or she is not a good match.
- While ensuring that your parents’ needs and desires are met, only pay for what is needed. Ask if you can get a free in-home assessment to help you with that.
- Try to avoid contracts that lock you in for long periods as your situation may change over time. It’s better to choose companies that offer simple agreements that allow you to make changes at any time along the way in case needs change.
- Ask the company about their policy on background checks. All reputable companies offer this service and will be glad to speak to you about it.
If your parent’s condition requires a permanent 24-hour, 7-days-a-week “forever” solution, you may wish to consider assisted living facilities. Moving parents out of their home is not easy… for them, or for you, but if this is the best decision to meet their needs, here are some considerations:
- Try to find a facility in a location than enables local relatives to visit. While your parent will likely make friends in their new community environment, they may feel the loss of family connection associated with living in their own home.
- Talk over the decision with others in your family to be certain of your best choice. Moving your parents is stressful enough the first time, so you don’t want to repeat it again in the event they do not like their surroundings or caregivers.
- Ask about the levels of care offered. Facilities vary in what they can accommodate as residents’ needs change over time.
As you begin doing your homework, you may be surprised to learn that Medicare does not cover non-medical in-home care nor assisted living. Personal care of this nature is most often paid for out-of-pocket, but it is often covered through long-term care insurance or the Veterans Administration, for those who have those benefits. In cases of financial hardship, your state’s Medicaid program may be an option.
You can get general information sources about cost and payment means from sources such as the National Private Duty Association or by calling personal care services companies (most have a toll free number) or visiting their websites. Some have a personal care services concierge service to help you with understanding costs, what’s covered in policy benefits or other more general questions.