There are times when at-home care is enough for loved ones, but finding the right mix of training, experience and dedication in a caregiver requires due diligence. And even in the best of scenarios, at-home care may not be the best choice for loved ones. Before deciding if at-home care is right for loved ones, family members should first consider the options and costs.
Occasional at-home care
When housekeeping becomes a challenge for loved ones, it may help to hire a weekly or monthly helper to do the heavy work like washing floors, vacuuming, cleaning windows and other housekeeping chores. Another possibility is a companion caregiver, someone to share time with, who can drive loved ones to appointments and shopping, lend a hand with meal preparation, assist with bathing and, most of all, help stave off the threat of loneliness and isolation that often comes with aging at home.
The key to making the right decision, according to Forbes’ What is Companion Care? Types and Benefits, is to be aware that this person may have no specific training or may be trained in first aid and certified in CPR. Family members and loved ones who want more assurance of health care experience should not consider this option.
Loved ones with chronic health problems or are recovering at home from an illness or injury, will likely require a higher level of caregiver expertise. Doctors can help with determining the level of care loved ones need – whether it be a certified nurse’s aide or more. According to the National Institute of CNA Excellence, CNA’s assist patients with health care needs and daily living activities. CNA’s have to complete an accredited training program and pass any required state exams to gain certification.
Another at-home care option is a licensed nurse, with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, who can help manage therapies, medications and wound care on a regular basis. Doctors may require care from a licensed nurse before loved ones can be released from a hospital.
Both are good short-term choices; however, long-term care the costs will add up. As noted in the 2021 Genworth Survey the median cost of a certified home health aide in Maryland is $27 per hour, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median hourly pay for a licensed private duty nurse in 2021 was $37.31.
Round-the-clock at-home care
Loved ones who have a disabling condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or are otherwise unable to live alone will need round-the-clock care. Depending upon the type of care needed, whether someone needs to monitor and prevent wandering from occurring or if skilled nursing medical care is needed, having a caregiver close by at all times can be very costly. In fact, the 2021 Genworth Survey found the median monthly cost for 24/7 homemaker and health aide assistance in Maryland is $19,656 each.
Of course, this level of help must be dependable as there is no room for sick days and no-shows when safety and health are at stake. Often the best option is 24/7/365 care in assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing in a senior living community.
Senior living options
If at-home care costs are prohibitive, senior living may become much more appealing. The 2021 Genworth Survey found assisted living monthly median costs to be $4,500 in Maryland, far less than a full-time homemaker or health aide, and include consistent constant available care and companionship, but also nutritious chef-prepared meals, plenty of social opportunities, planned activities and events, housekeeping, maintenance and a community of friends. Learn more about senior living costs in our Senior Living Costs to Consider blog post.
At-home care is not only costly, but it can also be hard to find thanks to a shortage of caregivers, which TheStreet’s There Is a Perilous Shortage of Elder Caregivers notes is growing as baby boomers age. Equally important is the need to find a trustworthy and dedicated caregiver who will not take advantage of loved ones.
In short, when choosing between at-home care and a senior living community, family members should do their research – assess the level of care needed and understand the options available as well as the costs.