As the US population ages, more and more elderly (and disabled) individuals are requiring home care services to get along. The need for these services may be temporary or long term. Having this assistance may be critical to “aging in place” or remaining at home. Most people would rather not live in an “assisted living facility” or in a nursing home.
Home health care is a burgeoning industry and is predicted to grow rapidly as the baby-boomer generation continues to survive into very old age. Elderly people, today, are much healthier and more independent than ever before. They wish to remain in their own homes and have even been preparing for this eventuality by buying “extended care” insurance policies which pay for home care, usually based on the insured’s inability to perform some requisite number of “activities of daily living.” These may be some combination of: dressing, bathing, eating, preparing food, shopping, getting around, or safely remaining alone. Home health aides may be expected to help with “self-care” (bathing, dressing, toileting), some cleaning (keeping bathrooms and kitchens clean, light dusting) and laundry. They are not expected to do heavy cleaning, washing windows, bathing a dog, or other household tasks, AND they are not expected to do any care for other people living in the home (husbands or roommates, children).
While home health aides can make a huge difference in the quality of life of elderly and disabled people, there are certain consistent problems that come up when both the aide and the patient are not prepared for the relationship. For example, should aides be on the phone while working? Should you offer to share food with your aide? Can you bargain with your aide to provide services they are not officially supposed to perform?
In this series of blogs, I will discuss both the good things that aides can do to make life better and the problems that come up. Throughout, I will suggest solutions which can facilitate the aide-patient relationship.
If you have any questions, please email me and I will answer it in a blog, if possible. It may not be possible because of the large number of emails.
Herb Gingold, PhD