According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Baby Boomer generation will be over the age of 65 by 2030. As such, the growing aging population would be placing more strain on healthcare and the need for nursing homes will also increase.
When seniors get older, they usually need some outside help. Their family and loved ones have to choose between a nursing home and home health care. It's not an easy decision to make because many seniors may not want to leave their homes.
Contrary to popular belief, nursing homes can be good for elderly people. Home carers are a great option too. However, they need to be scrutinized properly before seniors are placed in their care. If you have older parents, this guide would help you make a good decision.
Nursing home vs home health care: Pros and cons
Home Health Care
Home care allows your senior parents to stay at home. You'll employ a caregiver who will make life easier for them. If your parents have refused to leave the comfort of their home, this is probably the best option for them.
Home carers customize their services to suit the needs of seniors. They can help if elderly parents are suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia.
Seniors can stay in their familiar environment and enjoy their freedom. They can visit friends and go to social gatherings when invited.
Home health care is quite affordable. You won't have to break the bank before you hire a private caregiver.
Bad home carers can neglect senior citizens and leave them unattended.
You might have to hire a skilled nurse if your elderly parents have special medical needs.
Some elder parents need to be monitored. Home carers are not available 24/7.
Nursing homes are an all-in-one option for seniors. They serve as permanent homes where elderly people can move into.
Nursing homes have numerous medical professionals which are available 24/7. They can perform care giving and medical functions.
Older people with dementia or Alzheimer's are prone to wander around. Nursing homes are well-secured and there are always people around.
Nursing homes that provide quality care can be very expensive. This is because they offer live-in facilities as well as medical treatment.
They also remove an individual's independence. It's only best if your elderly parents can barely use their physical abilities.
It takes a while before seniors can get accustomed to nursing homes. There are several restrictive rules which your elder parents may not like.
What to consider in your decision
Before taking your senior parents to a nursing home or settling for a home carer, there are a few factors to consider. Below are 7 questions to help you understand which suits their needs the most.
How able-bodied is the person?
Some seniors can do basic tasks by themselves while others need help with most things. You need to determine if your old parents are strong enough to maintain independence.
Do they have certain conditions that require constant care?
There are certain illnesses that old people may have. It could be dementia, emphysema, or even cancer. You have to decide whether your senior parents need private care or they are better off at a nursing home.
Costs of a nursing home vs a home carer.
Nursing homes are more expensive than home carers. They lift all the burden of maintaining a private home from your hands. Nursing homes have health care administrators who ensure the smooth running of the place.
Do they have medical insurance that will cover a nursing home or home health carer?
If you plan to hire a home health carer or pay for a nursing home, you should understand that they can take a huge toll on your finances. If your parents have medical insurance, it can help to cover some of the expenses.
Ask your parent what they would prefer
Many older people prefer staying in their own homes. While others might be willing to move into a nursing home. You have to respect their choices when determining the best fit for them.
Are you or any other family members available to care for the parent part-time and hire a nurse for the rest of the time?
Unless you're hiring a live-in home carer, most caregivers are only available for a couple of hours. Someone else has to step in and provide help for the rest of the day. It could be you, your siblings, or any other family member.
Do you need a live-in carer or only for a few days a week.
Nursing homes make sure that seniors are always being cared for. But if you prefer home health care, you need to choose between a live-in carer or someone who's around for few days a week.
How to choose a home carer
A good home carer needs to be compassionate, trustworthy, and capable of meeting your senior parent's needs. You have to properly screen the person before hiring them. Here are some tips to help you select the right home health carer.
Consider your parent's needs
Is it necessary to hire a home carer? What things can they help your old parents with? Most home carers help with physical tasks such as housekeeping, shopping, grooming, toileting, and more. You may also choose to hire someone with additional skills such as nursing.
Ask for recommendations
Chances are your neighbors or colleagues might have hired a home carer for their parents. They can recommend a few caregiving individuals or agencies. Their referrals and advice can help you select a competent home carer.
Interview some private carers
Once you've gathered a few home carers, it's time to schedule an interview with them. You need to ask certain questions to determine if they are a good fit. Some home carers have been formally trained while others just have a lot of experience.
After hiring, monitor their progress
It's not just enough to hire a home carer. You have to watch how they relate to your senior parents. Does the person have a likable personality and attitude? Make sure they are performing their tasks well.
How to choose a nursing home
Moving your senior parents into a nursing facility is a huge decision. That's why you have to find a place that makes older people feel at home. There are so many things to consider when choosing a nursing home. Here are a few things to look out for.
Is the nursing home well managed?
The appearance of a nursing home matters a lot. It has to be neat, fresh, and inhabitable. A staff member should offer to take you on a tour of the facility. You should also speak to a few nursing home residents and ask if they like it there. This will help you know what they feel about the place.
Does the nursing home have qualified staff?
The staff members in a nursing home need to have adequate training. During your visit, try to observe how they relate to the elderly people in the home. You also need to know how often medical professionals visit the place.
What activities are available within the facility?
Most nursing homes provide a couple of activities that help to keep their residents entertained. There should be exercise and playtime routines so senior citizens won't get bored. They may have hair salons, a mini cinema, religious services, and on-site restaurants.
How to help your parent settle into their new routine
It can be challenging for your senior parent to get accustomed to a nursing home or home carer. If they reluctantly agreed to the new developments, make sure to remain supportive and helpful. Here's how to help them settle into their new routine.
Speak to them about it
You should have an honest conversation with your old parents. They need to understand that you're doing this for their own benefit. Let them know that it's not good for them to stay alone without proper care and attention.
Help them get comfortable
If they are moving into a nursing home, you can pack some of their belongings. Nice decorations and thoughtful gifts from family can help them feel better. On the other hand, a home carer should be friendly and patient with your senior parent.
Speak with the staff/caregiver
It's good to give the nursing home staff or home carer a heads up. They need to know whatever inhibitions your senior parent may have about them. You can make special requests and tell them what makes your old parents tick.
Visit them often
Most older parents argue that their children seek outside help because they plan to abandon them. You need to visit regularly and spend quality time with them. Make sure to bring their favorite snacks too.
What to do if the nursing home or home carer isn’t fulfilling their responsibilities properly or is negligent
Unfortunately, some home carers and nursing homes can become negligent. They may refuse to take care of seniors or treat them badly. Let's discuss negligence on the part of caregivers and what you can do about it.
Examples of negligence
Negligence can come in various forms. It could be physical abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment, and financial exploitation. The most common ones occur when older adults lack necessities and are subjected to poor living conditions.
What recourse do you have?
If negligence happens, there are three types of recourse to take. You can report to an adult protective services agency, contact the nursing home management or take legal action against them.
Find another nursing home or carer if there is no improvement.
You should not hesitate to find another home carer or nursing home if they refuse to improve their services. Older adults need to be given proper treatment.