Aging Parents: How to Transition into At-Home Care

Health care services at home can be simplified with this guide to making a smooth transition.

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Shift your budget to accommodate the care costs.

Shift your budget to accommodate the care costs.Jupiterimages/Thinkstock
In most cases, home care is paid out-of-pocket by the family, couple, or person receiving services. Medicare does cover some home health services for those who qualify. 

Redefine your responsibilities as the primary caregiver.

Redefine your responsibilities as the primary caregiver.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Things will change when a home care provider is in the picture, but you still have a role. During the initial adjustment period, and as the relationship progresses, you may need to serve as a mediator. You’ll likely remain the point person for your family member’s care needs going forward.

Prepare the home.

Prepare the home.Jupiterimages/Thinkstock
Whether the caregiver is a live-in, comes to help for a few hours a day, or assists on holidays and weekends, prepare your home for the presence of someone you don’t know yet, but someone who will soon become familiar with how your family operates, for better or worse. You may need to rearrange some rooms for privacy, hide or protect valuables, and make accessible the things that will be used on a daily basis by the home care worker.

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Give the relationship time to grow.

Give the relationship time to grow.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
The first few days or weeks may be uncomfortable as everyone gets to know each other. Don’t be discouraged by this initial awkwardness. Work through the challenges and maintain clear and open communication. Your loved one should make his or her preferences known from the start (i.e., favorite meals, what time is rest or bedtime, when to pick up the mail, et cetera) to prevent conflict and build understanding.

Check in to see how things are going.

Check in to see how things are going.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Remember, you’re still part of the caregiving picture. After everyone has settled into a rhythm, check in with the home care worker for his/her feedback, then do the same with your loved one. Even if things seem to be going well, mark your calendar to check in with both parties on a recurring basis, and tell them both you would welcome their concerns or questions anytime.

Make changes as needed.

Make changes as needed.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Think about a houseguest who overstays his welcome; you don’t want to feel that way about your care provider. But if you do, it may be time to adjust some boundaries or consider a different caregiver who may be a better fit for your family’s needs.

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Encourage family members to stay involved.

Encourage family members to stay involved.Fuse/Thinkstock
Bringing in home care isn’t a ticket out of caregiving. For one thing, you’ll need backup for the home care worker’s sick days, holidays, and other unexpected “no show” days. The support of your extended family will be good for the care provider (the better she gets to know the family, the better she can serve your loved one), and it will create a natural accountability system.

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