There are a lot of different options available on the market when it comes to care for seniors, from help with grocery shopping to a live-in aide. It is important to know the terminology, as well as the pros and cons when selecting care for your mom, dad, spouse, and other elderly loved ones.
Whenever possible, include your loved one in the decision.
Hiring In-Home Help Using an Agency
When you hire someone through an agency, the person is an employee of the agency. The agency starts the selection process by interviewing you and the senior about preferences, such as, do you prefer someone who comes every day or just a couple times a week; do you prefer someone a female or male caregiver; and do you prefer someone who is quiet or likes to talk a lot?
The agency selects an aide, pays that person, withholds taxes from their salary, and bills you or the senior at a fixed, hourly rate.
The benefit of dealing with an agency is that you do not have to find, recruit, or train the helper. You do not have to deal with the issue of the wages. However, you often have limited choices when it comes to whom the agency sends to help the senior. However, you can be confident that someone will show up, including a substitute helper if the main helper is sick or on vacation.
If the senior has a problem with the worker, they (or you) can call the agency, and the supervisor at the agency deals with the issues. This can be a strong argument in favor of hiring someone through an agency.
In the United States, the fees for hiring an aide through an agency are usually between $20 and $30 per hour. The agency gets half and the worker gets half. Most agencies have rules that prohibit clients from supplementing the hourly rate by giving gifts to the helpers. The rules are in place to protect the clients from helpers who may choose to pressure them into giving gifts.
If you decide to hire help through an agency, you don’t necessarily have to look for an agency that deals exclusively with senior citizens. For example, if all your loved one needs is light housekeeping, you can choose to work with a housekeeping agency. If they need personal assistance, such as grocery shopping, you can work with an agency that specializes in non-medical personal help. If they need assistance with health-related matters, you need to consider skilled home health aides. There are several major agencies, such as Home Instead and SYNERGY HomeCare, as well as independent and local agencies.
Independent Living Communities
An independent living community may be a great option if your loved one has very few medical problems and only needs some help here and there. In independent living communities, residences are fully-equipped private apartments. A community typically has apartments of various sizes, from a studio to a two- or three-bedroom apartment.
There are also fine dining options and services for seniors who do not want to cook on their own. Often, residents in independent living communities can choose a meal plan based on the number of meals per day.
An independent living community is likely to have a gym and other facilities. There’s usually a calendar of social events and different kinds of entertainment. It is a great option, especially for those who want to remain active.
On average, a one-bedroom apartment costs about $3,628 per month. For example, Alexis Gardens in Toledo, Ohio, costs $1,849 per month.
Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities are for seniors who can’t or don’t want to live on their own, but do not need a lot of medical care. Typically, an assisted living community provides assistance with meals, housekeeping, medications, and daily activities.
Residents of assisted living communities live in private apartments or private rooms. There are usually very small kitchens in the apartments, and meals are provided three times a day in a central dining area.
There is staff on the premises available 24 hours a day for safety reasons. Most assisted living communities also have licensed nurses available and provide their residents with social activities and transportation.
Assisted living communities cost about $1,000-$5,000 per month, with the average being around $3,000. For example, Hidden Ranches in Miami costs $1,800 per month.
Nursing homes are a good choice for those seniors who need a high level of medical care. They usually have around-the-clock nursing services available from licensed nurses. Residents have their own rooms or live in shared rooms. Some nursing homes have special units for patients with Alzheimer’s or other conditions.
Nursing homes are quite costly, equaling almost $100,00 per year. For example, in Houston, The Buckingham costs $5,964 per month, while the Treemont Retirement Community costs $1,600 each month.
Residential Care Homes
Residential care homes are private homes that provide help and services to senior residents who choose to live together. Typically, there are one or several live-in caretakers. Such homes are a great choice for seniors who want assisted care services, but prefer to live in a home that feels more private than a large, assisted living facility.
Reducing the Risks of Abuse and Neglect
Your goal is to find the person, agency, or community best suited to provide services to your loved one. Before you can make the final decision, you need to determine if they will get the safe, attentive care that they deserve.
For example, ABC News reported that 1 in 3 elderly individuals are abused in nursing homes.
Elders are often at risk for neglect, as well as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. To reduce the risks of abuse, talk to the agency or the community about their hiring process and whether they do background screening and check references. While some housekeeping and personal help agencies may not check references, most of the communities and home health aide agencies do. They may not let you contact the references, but they may share what past clients said about the person who will care for your loved one.
Besides talking to an agency directly, you should always check Yelp and Google reviews and your local online boards and Websites. On Google, there are several assisted living communities in Las Vegas, such as Brookdale Cheyenne (2.8 out of 5 stars); Atria Seville (4.1 out of 5 stars); and Atria Sunlake (4.1 out of 5 stars).
Also, check with your loved one’s insurance providers. Some pay at least a portion of the cost for medical and personal services.
What type of care or facility do you think is best for your loved one?