The term “home care” actually describes two different types of care. Home health care is provided by licensed medical professionals, usually at the order of a physician, while non-medical home care, such as personal care, homemaker, or companionship service, is provided by professional, but non-medical, caregivers.
The six official ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) — eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, transferring and continence — plus other activities instrumental to our daily routines (IADLs) such as driving, preparing meals, doing housework, shopping, managing finances, managing medication and using the telephone, are almost all things in which a non-medical home caregiver can play a helpful role. And while ADLs and IADLs are the “meat and potatoes” of non-medical home care, they’re not the whole story.
The companionship component of a professional caregiver’s job can be just as vital as the physical assistance she or he provides. It’s easy to forget how a senior’s decreasing mobility, increasing health issues, and the inevitable loss of friends and relatives over time can often lead to isolation and depression. The need can be as much for emotional and mental support as for physical assistance. A wife who loses a spouse can become depressed and lonely to the point her own health suffers. A widower’s increasing forgetfulness can put him at risk of forgetting to pay the bills, or worse, to take his medications.
While medical home health care is designed to address specific physical conditions, non-medical home care provides a more comprehensive type of assistance, and, at its best, nurtures the whole person.
How do you know when to start non-medical home care? Every situation varies. Some seniors embrace the idea of an extra helping hand and need little encouragement to bring in assistance. Others are very resistant, and despite many signals around the house that they are having trouble, it may take the impetus of a health crisis or other serious problem before they’ll consider aid.
Because most of us share the wish to remain in our own homes as long as possible, that concept can be a good place to start:
“You know, Mom, I want you to stay at home too, but, that might be more difficult if you fall or if you wear yourself out and get sick. A little extra help could keep you safe and independent at home for a longer time.”
Many people are pleased to find how “customizable” non-medical home care can be.
Rising health costs are on everyone’s mind, and most of us are trying to live on a trim budget. The savings of being able to get just the right amount of care, personalized to you, at just the times you need it (as opposed to being in a 24-hour facility) can be considerable. Some people use it for as little as a few hours a week — time to run a load of laundry, give the house a quick clean, check the fridge and have a nice chat in the process. Others may opt for two or three short visits each week, adding in time to do a grocery run, errands, walk for exercise, or do a hobby together.
Seniors may need help in the morning with showering, breakfast and medications. Likewise, help before bedtime, or even overnight, can be an important safety net for seniors at home who often are more apprehensive at nighttime. A reputable non-medical care-giving company will provide caregivers who can meet all of these needs. Good home care builds a caring relationship for the senior involved, and supports graceful aging at home.
Contact us at 312.280.4980. We welcome the opportunity to show you the difference that our team of professionals at Water Tower Nursing and Home Care can make in the lives of those that are most important to us.