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  • Gwyneth Blackwell

Assisted Living Vs Home Care

Making the decision to either keep your loved one at home or have them move into an Assisted Living community. It's a difficult decision to make. Some adult children had made the promise of never placing mom or dad in a "home", which can make it heart wrenching. Here's some thoughts that I have worked with my clients on.

Pros: Home care. Non medical home care is a great option if the client lives with extended family that would be around in the evenings and can provide the care and social aspect of quality of life. Grandchildren can benefit greatly for living with aging loved ones, as the aging loved ones can also benefit. You should always hire an agency or caregiver that has been vetted and has impeccable references. Installing hidden cameras is a great idea so you can remotely monitor what happens when the caregiver is alone with your loved one. Depending upon the amount of hours required to keep the client safe should be decided upon prior to hiring. After a couple of weeks, you may be able to lower or increase the amount of time needed. If your loved one is up at night (i.e. has dementia and doesn't sleep and wanders around) you and your family may not be able to sleep at night, at which point you may want the caregiver to cover the overnights. Clients with mid to advance dementia who are ambulatory, pose the greatest challenge for the caregivers.

Cons: Home Care. Lack of socialization. Especially those elderly who live alone and their only human daily contact is the hired caregiver may become increasingly isolated. If the caregiver doesn't drive, this only exacerbates the isolation and can lead to increased depression, anxiety and behavioral issues. If you use an agency they can provide different caregivers, which may be confusing for the client. Some caregivers are better than others and are better with different types of clients. The caregiver should be trained and accustomed to working with either clients with dementia or those who are physically frail and have multiple medical conditions.

Pros: Assisted Living. Assisted Living communities can be a wonderful option on a variety of levels. For loved ones who are fiercely independent and have total mental capacity, a move into a community can give them a new lease on life. For example, my 93 year old mother-in-law tried living in her own apartment an hour and half from us. She only last 2 months, wherein we brought her into our home. At this point she was still driving and was totally independent. We moved her into our summer home where my husband had his home office. He was there every day during the week, but he was working. Since she didn't have any friends in the area, we had her join the local senior center, which she attended for a month. It didn't work out because the members (according to her) were "clicky" and she felt excluded. This lasted 7 months after which she decided to move back to her upstate area where she still had friends but her own apartment. This lasted 2 months where she became so isolated and depressed that we had to consider assisted living. Money was an issue, and she didn't require any home care. We ended up moving her into an assisted living, a social model, where she became the Queen Bee she had always been. She made friends immediately and started a new chapter in her life. We know she's safe and she feels independent.

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