Most people are retiring in better health than ever before and can look forward to decades of active and fulfilling life. When you first retire, especially if you retire early, health care might be one of the last things on your mind. But as we continue to age, health issues inevitably begin to crop up, and eventually we may need some form of assistance.
Asian Traditional Elderly Living Arrangement
Traditionally, seniors citizens who can no longer live independently have moved in with their children or other family members. This is still the case in much of the world; particularly in Asia, children feel that they have a firm responsibility to take care of their parents regardless of the sacrifice that might entail, reasoning that their parents gave them life and raised them from birth, creating an obligation to return the favor in whatever way possible.
Westerners Are More Independant
In Western traditions, senior citizens more often feel that they don’t want to burden their children or other family members; the children may be living far away, with busy lives and financial obligations toward their own children. Many seniors prefer living independently, even alone if one spouse has died, and communities have responded by establishing senior centers and various other facilities and services for senior citizens.
In Between Full Independence and Old Folks Home
If a senior is no longer capable of living completely independently but does not yet need full nursing home care, various levels of home care are available, from full professional home health care provided by a registered nurse to life assistance services in the form of meal preparation, laundry and housekeeping, shopping and other errands, and companionship.
ALDs vs IALDs and Senior Life
A senior’s capabilities are broadly defined in the senior care industry by the term “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs): bathing and grooming, dressing, going to the bathroom and controlling one’s discharges, “transferring” (getting out of bed, or getting into or out of a chair), eating, and walking. These basic ADLs may be defined somewhat differently by different organizations. In addition, there are “Instrumental ADLs” (IADLs), which are not necessary for fundamental daily functioning but are generally necessary to allow independent living: doing housework, preparing meals, taking medication correctly, shopping, using the telephone or other technology, and managing money. Health care practitioners and case workers will determine how many ADLs and IADLs a senior is capable of performing in assessing home care needs.
Home Care Service
The simplest home care services involve a person coming to the senior’s home on a regular basis — often daily, from a few hours to the full day — to help with ADLs and IADLs as necessary and provide companionship. Sometimes, a housekeeper is all that’s necessary, but if the senior has any potential medical problems, the home care provider should at least be able to recognize symptoms and know how to response in case of emergency. Certainly, experience in working with a senior would be a minimum requirement for any potential candidate.
There are many agencies that provide home care services, and the individual care provider should already be screened and experienced. If one person doesn’t work out, simply call the agency and request someone else. Alternately, you can find a private direct-hire home care provider. However, be sure to get references, and follow up on the references. With no agency vouching for the individual’s capabilities or experience, you need to make sure the person is capable.
Direct-hire caregivers are usually the least expensive option, running from $8 to $15 an hour. If you hire through an agency, expect to pay 40 to 70 percent more.
Registered Nurse Visits
If a senior needs some form of medical care on a regular basis — injections, for instance, or monitoring of blood pressure or other vital signs — then regular home care service may need to be supplemented by periodic visits by a registered nurse. This can be expensive — an RN may charge $50 or more for each visit — so you will need to determine what insurance covers, and whether it would be more cost effective for the home care provider to drive the senior to a clinic for injections or monitoring.
There are many options for home care services that enable seniors to continue living in their own homes almost indefinitely.