Many people routinely plan for vacations, their children’s college education, home renovations, and, of course, retirement. But when it comes to planning for long term care, most would rather not think about it—or at best, they’d rather think about it at a later date. It’s understandable to not want to face the prospect of your declining health, or that of a parent or loved one, but denying the inevitable can be a costly mistake. The time to plan for long term health care is before it is needed, not after.
Health issues requiring long term care may reveal themselves over time. For example, your elderly parents may have trouble remembering whether or not they took their daily medication, they may forget how to work the TV remote control, or they may have trouble doing once-simple physical tasks. Decreased mobility and strength in seniors can make ordinary actions, such as getting a jar from the cabinet and opening it, nearly impossible. At this point, the need for long term health care begins to be apparent.
Home Health Aides
In the early stages of need, if there is no chronic illness involved, a home health aide may be able to provide assistance to your loved one. Home health aides are often the first line of defense in meeting routine needs, such as bathing, preparing meals, getting dressed, shopping, housekeeping, and such. Unless your loved one is living in your home, you may find that making constant visits to take care of routine matters can be challenging, especially in the midst of a busy daily schedule.
There are many local state-run and private home health care agencies that can provide information and health aide services. After an interview with a case worker, a suitable schedule of visits from home health aides can be set up according to your loved one’s level of need, such as one visit three times a week or twice daily. Home health aide visits are often supplemented by visits from home health nurses, who supply basic medical care such as blood pressure tests, assistance with medications, etc. In some cases, visits by a physical or occupational therapist can be included to help improve mobility and promote participation in daily activities.
An Ounce of Prevention
Monitoring your loved ones as they age and preparing to manage long term care issues such as those listed above can help maintain overall health. As the early signs of long term care need begin to present themselves, but while health is still relatively good, consider bringing in professional help for your loved ones. A home health aide may be able to provide that added measure of support and help ensure that your loved ones remain healthy and independent for the longest possible time.