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The Plus Side of Home Care Agencies

Why hiring your cousin’s boyfriend’s mom to take care of your dad might not be the best option.

Let’s face it, our population is living longer. Aging is a natural part of life and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We often flippantly say things like, “just put the pillow over my head” to our loved ones in response to achieving the much feared and loathed idea of infirmity, but in truth we all want to age with dignity and we want our parents and elderly loved ones to age with dignity also. This will often require additional care from ourselves, other family and friends or a hired person or group of people.

We have options which I have alluded to in previous articles! Aside from senior living, home care is a more and more popular option because it keeps the individual in the comfort of the place they have chosen to call home. The hired individual will come to the home and help with activities of daily living. Clients can range from having care for a few hours a week to 24–7 care.

I know that when someone is searching for the right home care option, they will often be met with the question of cost. Yes, if you are private paying for home care, the cost is not inexpensive, and this goes for someone you hire off a care website, a friend from church, or even a home care agency. The hours add up quick and if you are in a position where the care need is dire and you can’t leave your loved one alone without supervision, you will be forced to pay, but not only with dollars and cents, but also with your own time and energy.

This is why people often look for a less expensive way. If you hire an individual you will probably pay less per hour, that’s true; however, the time spent when you will have to step in is often higher, so please weigh your options.

The benefits of an agency, though more expensive, might be worth the extra cost. Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios.

Imagine that you are expected to travel out of state for an important meeting and the woman who usually takes care of your dad comes down with the flu and can’t come over to help him get dressed. What do you do now? Can you cancel your trip at the expense of your career to ensure that your dad is cared for; or worse, what if you already left before you find out the news? Do you cut your trip short and fly home? Do you beg the woman to put on a mask and at least get him out of bed? Do you scramble with other resources to try to find someone, anyone to go over and get your dad out of bed? Does any of this sound like a good time?

Imagine you’re at your child’s super important baseball game when you get a call that your mother, with dementia, has had a brutal falling out with the gentleman whom you hired from your church to come over and take care of her. He’s left her alone in the house where she’s definitely unsafe and he refuses to go back because “she’s evil”. Do you leave the game? Do you beg your ex-spouse to step in for your child so you can go take care of your mom? Do you plead with your sister or a neighbor to step in for your mom? Does any of this sound like you’re being there for your child?

Imagine that you get a call from your out of state parents that the woman you hired off of has walked off the job. You can’t get her on the phone, in fact, you’re pretty sure she changed her phone number, and you don’t know anyone else in the area where they live except for a grumpy neighbor who has been known to step in from time to time. Your dad assures you they are fine and will just microwave some frozen dinners but you know your mom can’t get off the couch without a sturdy adult (not your dad) to help. Where do you go from there? Who is going to go over to cook them dinner and make sure they are okay tonight, or tomorrow morning? Do you call their grumpy neighbor again to help them until you can get there?

Imagine you get a call from your mom that she’s unable to get off the toilet again and the girl you hired to help called her, not you, to say that she’s having car trouble and will be at least two hours late, if not more. What if this happens when you’re in an important investors meeting? What now? Leave the meeting? Beg your adult child to go over and help her grandmother off the toilet?

Imagine you hire a lovely young woman to take care of your aunt. The first few weeks are fine, but then the woman has a problem with her children’s father and she’s stuck for child care. She decides to bring three children under four years of age for her shift to take care of your aunt. They are loud and require the full attention of the caregiver; thus, your aunt ends up falling when she trips over toys that have been left out.

All of these scenarios are possible and have probably happened. I’m not saying that home care agencies are perfect and that these types of things will never happen if you hire an agency; however, the likelihood of bad business is less and can be less dramatic. You pay more to a home care agency because they are accredited and insured and have done full background checks and training for their caregivers. They work tirelessly to get the appropriate person for your needs and they will provide back-up for someone who calls out. They will ensure proper care even if it means calling another home care agency to staff it properly.

If you are dissatisfied with a caregiver, you have the opportunity to report it to a higher power which lends a bit of accountability that you may not get with an individual. Agencies will often help their caregivers succeed by training and continuing education or providing transportation to get their caregivers to their shifts.

Home care agencies are businesses, run by professionals. They are a business of solving the problem of what to do about taking care of people at home. The have more resources than you do as an individual, which is why they charge a bit more. You’re paying for peace of mind and stability as you navigate the rocky road of caregiving your aging loved one.

For home care options in your area, be sure to ask your friends and neighbors because the internet can be murky. You can also always reach out to a trusted senior living professional by either asking a social worker at your local hospital, rehab or assisted living community, or you can hire a geriatric care manager to help you navigate.

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