Choosing how to support your parents in their golden years doesn't have to be a burden. Depending on what you and your parents are looking for in care, you have a choice between nursing homes and care given at home. Here are some benefits and disadvantages of each method that should point you toward the best solution for everyone.
What Conditions Are Better Managed at a Nursing Home?If your parent has an advanced condition that requires constant or very technical care, their care is probably better left to a professional at a nursing home or hospital. Parents with degenerative disorders like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's that become worse over time are also suited to nursing home care. In many cases, these patients will be in-home care at first, then progress to the point where they need to transition to a full-time care facility.
What Conditions Are Better Managed With Remote Care?If your parent has a high risk of infection because of a weakened immune system caused by AIDS or an auto-immune disorder, definitely consider keeping them at home as long as possible. The spread of germs inside a nursing home is faster than in the home because of the number of people who could be potentially carry an infection.
Do not underestimate a simple flu or urinary tract infection, even at home. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, about one-third of all deaths of people over 65 are the result of infection.
Is In-Home Care a Safe Option?You are in control of who you hire to take care of your aging parent. Always perform thorough background checks on someone before hiring them to be a remote caregiver. The best way to confirm that their experience listed on their résumé is real is by calling references and checking up yourself.
Instead of hiring an independent home caregiver, consider hiring through a home care agency. Many of these agencies do the background checks for you. Some of them even require their caregivers to become certified by passing a series of tests.
There is one more option. If you and/or your parent don't feel comfortable with a stranger providing your parent's care, a family member can give the care, instead.
Is Remote Care Something You Can Do Yourself?Anyone can become a caregiver if they are willing to learn how. It's not a task for the squeamish, since caregivers deal with bodily fluids and sickness every day, but if you're up to the challenge, your parent may appreciate the one-of-a-kind attention only their child can give. Plus, your parent will get to stay at home instead of moving to an unfamiliar nursing home.
It will be impossible for you to offer care 24/7. For those times that you have to leave a parent unattended, have a network of other family members who can help, or use a trustworthy medical alert system.
Keep in mind that a large investment goes into becoming a caregiver. If you have other responsibilities like a job or kids that take up most of your time, it may be too stressful for you to take on your parent's care yourself. In that case, if you've also ruled out a home caregiver, a nursing home is probably your next best alternative.
What Are the Advantages of Nursing Home Care?As opposed to a single caregiver at home, a nursing home has an entire team dedicated to providing care to your parent. Nursing homes foster a community environment between staff and those requiring care. There might even be recreation opportunities available to residents of a nursing home that would otherwise be unavailable at home.
What Are the Advantages of Remote Care Giving?One surprising advantage of home care is long-term cost. Many home care givers charge very reasonable hourly rates, allowing you to save some money, especially compared to a private nursing home. However, there will probably be a bigger initial investment for home care, especially if you need expensive medical equipment or renovations to the home for accessibility.
Now that you've weighed these factors, the decision between home care and a nursing home should be more clear. Remember that these decisions are never final and you can always switch between remote care and nursing home care if one doesn't work out.