Okay, one of the hardest discussions that someone can ever have with a parent or older loved one is what to do as that person begins to age. It is a difficult subject that many people avoid like the plague. But, it is a discussion that must happen.
What are the options? In the past, most people saw going to a nursing home as the only alternative to living independently at home. The reality is that there are plenty of alternatives. Home care is one such option. The choice between the two depends on many factors.
Here are a few things to think about:
- Health care needs
What is the client's current health level? A home care agency is a good choice for people who do not have major debilitating health issues or still have a level of independent living. Most people who begin using an agency are just having some mobility issues that make every day tasks difficult. With some extra help, the lives of these people are pretty close to normal. Even when mobility issues become more advanced, a home health aide can come in and help with personal care.
The tipping point between the two usually comes when the client health deteriorates to the point of needing around-the-clock medical care or they have cognition problems related to dementia or Alzheimer's.
- Quality of care
In most cases, you will get a decent quality of care whether using a home care agency or a nursing home. When speaking of quality in this debate, it comes down to how personal the care level is. With in-home care, the care is very personal. The client knows their aides and nurses personally. Their care plan is based on their particular desires and needs.
When it comes to nursing homes, the personal side of care is not the priority. The facility has their own standards of care. While the patient's preferences are a consideration, meeting the facility requirements has a higher priority.
- Cost of care
On paper, nursing home care is the much more expensive option. However, those costs cover not only the people employed at the facility, but the cost of room and board. To compare the two, you need to add room and board into the cost of in-home care.
Even with that addition, you will find in-home care is the more affordable option. This is because the person receiving help at home often doesnt need round-the-clock care. They need someone to come in a few times a day to help with basic needs. That level of care can start at a basic level and adjust over time as needs become greater. Nursing home care is 24/7 from the moment the patient arrives.
- Quality of life
Quality of life can embrace so many things. Some define it as if you are satisfied with your life as it now stands. Others associate it with standard of living. When you compare home care vs nursing homes, quality of life comparisons are not difficult.
Staying in one's home, remaining a part of your community, and retaining control over one's life are all associated with good quality of life. With a nursing home, you do not stay at home, are not a part of your community, and do not keep control over life.
- Benefits of the situation
What are the benefits associated with these two options? Nursing home care actually has benefits in some cases. For those recovering from injury or surgery, a brief stay in a nursing home can be a positive thing. The nursing home provides an option for helping an elderly person who needs intensive 24/7 medical attention. It is also a choice for those in the later stages of dementia or Alzheimer's.
For those who are not at this point though, at home care is the best option. People experience less stress and are healthier and happier in their own homes. With expanding options in at-home care, people can live longer at home, avoiding or delaying the transition to a nursing home.
The debate of home care vs nursing homes is a very personal decision. Each person has their own needs and those must have part of the decision-making.