Exploring Companion Care For a Loved One
One aspect for clear and mobile individuals is companion care. This refers to a home health aide that helps with basic daily tasks such as eating, bathing and moving around with ease.
There comes a point in a person's life where living alone is a struggle in itself. As a family member of a senior or as a new retiree, it's important that you understand what companion care encompasses. It's about giving a parent, spouse or loved one the ability to stay in the comfort of their home and let a professional, compassionate caretaker help them with daily needs. It's important to think about key factors in your loved one's life when planning for their care.
The easiest way to think about this type of home health is to imagine a family member or friend who has the time and energy to help a senior out; this includes running errands, preparing meals and other basic daily routines that get a little harder as we age. This is not a nurse or a doctor—it's someone whose job it is to make someone else's life easier through non-medical means. A companion may help an individual with a number of things, including but not limited to eating, bathing, errands and personal care.
First, how is this person's health? Those with relatively good health and medication compliance may find home care to be quite a good match. It's pretty easy to help someone who is relatively easy on their feet or adept at using a cane or walker and only takes a few pills per day. For example, someone with great balance may find they can't chop their own vegetables because of arthritis. They don't need the intense monitoring of a more intense care facility. Health problems such as dementia, incontinence or physical immobility require more intense, specialized care.
Next, think about their personality and attitude regarding medical and personal care. Individuals who interact easily—or at least in a neutral manner—with others are the best candidates for companion care. Those who are paranoid or very non-compliant may need more serious care. Even those with minimal medical needs may not be a good match if they don't want the help of an outsider. Talk to your loved one to discuss the addition of a caretaker to their routine.
Finally, consider the financial aspect of this. There's no need to send a perfectly cognizant, friendly and relatively healthy person to assisted living or a nursing home if they don't need it. If you, your loved one and your doctor agree that companion care is a good option, then it should certainly be pointed out that it's one of the most affordable choices. Home health options may be covered under Medicare if certain requirements are met, but are usually part-time and affordable.
It's important that, when possible, you involve your loved one in the process of exploring companion care. Make sure they understand what types of services are provided and make sure they are comfortable with this decision. With a little research and conversation, you may be able to help your family, spouse or loved one live at home with ease.
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Written by: Abigail Aaronson