HOME-CARE AND HOSPICE
You’ve done everything in your power to care for your loved one, even as they require more and more care. You run like crazy all day long and collapse, exhausted, at night. But as tired as you are, you want to continue caring for them at home. And that’s wonderful of you. But if you get sick from exhaustion or stress, you’ll be of no help to yourself or your loved one. So maybe it’s time to get a little help so you can stop spinning occasionally and take a much-needed break. Please learn from our caregiver mistakes: so many of us ended up sick, and saying, “I should have asked for help sooner!”.
CHOOSING A HOME-CARE WORKER
By: Elinor Ginzler | Source: AARP.org
When did you realize that your loved one needed help? For some people, the recognition came with a phone call—”Mom has fallen and broken her hip,” or, “Dad has had a stroke.” For others, the awareness comes gradually—they might notice that Mom can’t get around like she used to, or that Dad’s forgetfulness has gotten progressively worse.
Whether the need for you to play a caregiving role comes quickly, slowly, or in fits and starts, you really are better off not trying to provide all the care by yourself. You need help! Why? Because when you share the care, you can be sure that your loved one gets all the attention he or she needs. For many caregivers, hiring a home-care worker is a good solution. A trained home-care aide can help you meet the needs of your loved one while he or she remains safely at home.
An online “classified ad” site with caregivers looking for home care work. Descriptions, pictures (sometimes), and references.
There are many places you can turn to for help: family; friends; church; hospice; in-home care assistance. It can be hard to ask for help from non-professionals, but if you wait too long the help you will need will exceed picking up groceries or medication, or giving you a break. If you wait too long, you’ll have to ask someone to care for both of you, or to take over for you while you’re in the hospital. Please take a minute to read the information below. First of all, get over the idea that hospice care is “end of life care”. That’s simply not true. Here are some common Hospice “Myths and Realities” from HospiceDirectory.org:
Myth: Hospice is a place. Reality: Hospice care usually takes place in the comfort of an individual’s home, but can be provided in any environment in which a person lives, including a nursing home, assisted living facility, or residential care facility.
Myth: Hospice means that the patient will soon die. Reality: Receiving hospice care does not mean giving up hope or that death is imminent. The earlier an individual receives hospice care, the more opportunity there is to stabilize a patient’s medical condition and address other needs.
Myth: Hospice is only for cancer patients. Reality: A large number of hospice patients have congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, chronic lung disease, or other conditions.
Myth: Patients can only receive hospice care for a limited amount of time. Reality: The Medicare benefit, and most private insurance, pays for hospice care as long as the patient continues to meets the criteria necessary. Patients may come on and off hospice care, and re-enroll in hospice care, as needed.
Myth: Hospice provides 24-hour care. Reality: The hospice team (which includes nurses, social workers, home health aides, volunteers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors) visits patients intermittently, and is available 24 hours a day/7 days a week for support and care. Some hospices are able to provide “continuous care,” but hospices must have a program in place for this to happen and hospice patients must meet certain criteria.
Myth: All hospice programs are the same.
Reality: All licensed hospice programs must provide certain services, but the range of support services and programs may differ. In addition, hospice programs and operating styles may vary from state to state depending on state laws and regulations. Like other medical care providers, business models differ. Some programs are not-for-profit and some hospices are for-profit.
Myth: Hospice is just for the patient. Reality: Hospice focuses on comfort, dignity, and emotional support. The quality of life for the patient, and also family members and others who are caregivers, is the highest priority.
Myth: A patient needs Medicare or Medicaid to afford hospice services.
Reality: Although insurance coverage for hospice is available through Medicare and in 44 states and the District of Columbia under Medicaid, most private insurance plans, HMOs, and other managed care organizations include hospice care as a benefit. In addition, through community contributions, memorial donations, and foundation gifts, many hospices are able to provide patients who lack sufficient payment with free services. Other programs charge patients in accordance with their ability to pay.
There are more Myths and Realities at: HospiceDirectory.org, as well as sections about: About Hospice, Who is Eligible for Hospice, Paying for Hospice: Medicare/Medicaid/More Options, Hospice Stories, Caregiver’s Corner, and Frequently Asked Questions. One of the fastest way to find a hospice in your area would be to talk to your physician or NP and get their recommendation.
If you don’t need medical care help, just help with day-to-day things like eating and running errands for you or your loved one, there are also organizations like Home Instead Senior Care that will come to your home for however long you need them: just a few hours a day, if you want. They can provide companionship so you can get out and run errands or take a break, or help with eating, dressing, bathing, medication reminders, and many other services. So why not try having someone come in for a few hours a week and see what you think? If you’re a caregiver, wouldn’t a few hours to do nothing be great? Just to take a long bath and read, or have lunch with a friend? And if the help is for you, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone lend you a hand once in a while? Our own Henri R. works with Home Instead, and loves it.
Here are some more websites with great information about caregiver needs, and understanding and locating hospice and care assistance in your area:
Preventing Caregiver Burnout Tips and Support for Family Caregivers
Alzheimer’s caregiving: Maintain your support network
Alzheimer’s caregiving can be too big a job for one person. Friends and family can help share the burden. Here’s how to ask for help.