Caring for a senior loved one can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks for a family caregiver. You want what’s best for your loved one but there comes a point where we have to make difficult decisions in regards to what is best for their continued care. In an ideal scenario, it makes sense for both the senior and the family caregiver to develop a plan for senior care. The senior assisted living industry has a variety of options available, and it is important to understand all your options to get the type of care that is best for your loved one.
Deciding How Much Care a Senior Needs
One of the tried and true methods of figuring out what level of care a senior needs is through documenting ADLs, which are activities of daily living. Doctor Sidney Katz developed the concept in the 1960s and it has helped professionals and non-professionals alike to understand how well a senior is able to complete everyday routines, tasks, and activities on their own. These routines are typically broken down into six categories which are:
- Toileting (using the bathroom)
- Transferring (getting in and out of bed)
- Continence (bowel control)
Each category in Katz’s chart is assigned a value of either 1 or 0. If a task can be completed, it is marked as a 1, and if a task cannot be completed, it is marked as a 0. After determining each of these values, add up the numbers. The higher the number, the more independent a senior can be. For example, a senior that scores a five or six can likely continue living a safe and independent lifestyle within their own home. On the other hand, if a senior scores low, such as one or two out of six, it is likely they need a lot of care and would struggle to maintain an independent lifestyle within their own home. On top of measuring ADLs, you can measure IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living) to get a deeper understanding of the type of care a senior needs. These activities include:
- Paying the bills
- Cleaning the house
- Cooking food
- Being able to transport yourself outside of the house
While in many situations, it will be obvious to a family caregiver that their loved one needs more help than they can give, using the Katz method will help you to figure out exactly what level of care they need. There are a number of options available when it comes to senior care.
Types of Assisted Living for Seniors
Often when people think of moving their loved ones into a nursing home, they feel guilty. While this is an understandable reaction, the reality is that we will all need help as we get older and these systems are in place to make seniors' lives better and more fulfilling. There are also several types of senior care options available for those that only need a little help on occasion or those who need help on a daily basis. We’ll break down three of the primary types of assisted living that you should consider based on your loved ones physical and mental capacity.
If your senior loved one requires around the clock care and monitoring, a nursing home is likely going to be the best option. Nursing homes typically deal with seniors who suffer from complex health conditions that require frequent care. Nursing homes typically have skilled nurses and other highly skilled medical professionals on staff at all times. Nursing homes also tend to be a more cost-effective option than an assisted living facility or around the clock in-home care.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities are a lot like apartments or boarding homes, but specialized with seniors in mind. They allow residents to maintain their independence as long as possible without compromising their safety. An assisted living facility is perfect for seniors who can no longer get by in their homes all by themselves, but do not require the around the clock care that a nursing home provides.
An assisted living facility typically includes a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen area, but this can differ based on the location. Residents also get daily assistance with basic tasks such as eating, dressing and bathing. Dining programs usually offer meals three times daily, and planned activities such as exercise and education programs are often available.
As healthcare continues to improve, people are living longer healthier lives. This means seniors can remain independent for longer and many seniors prefer to live in their home as long as possible. Home health care services and home health aide services can provide medical care and non-medical care within a seniors home. In fact, the in-home caregiver is one of the fastest-growing and most requested services in the United States today.
In-home care is also very flexible, so for seniors who only require assistance once or twice a week, in-home care can accommodate those needs. If you know your loved one would be happiest staying in their home, but they still need the help of a caregiver, consider reaching out to a home health care agency.
Evaluate What is Best for Your Loved One
Many seniors can lead healthy independent lives well into their later years, but when the time comes for you to choose the best senior care option for your loved one, you will need to consider their health, happiness, and well-being. There are high quality care options available in all three of these assisted living services, and by putting in the time and effort you will find the perfect one for them.
Casey Wagner is a writer for Nova Home Care & Staffing, an NJ based home care agency that provides Monmouth County home health care services and Ocean County home health care services. See Nova’s NJ Home Health Care Guide to get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about home care services.
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