The demographical statistics surrounding COVID-19 fatalities can be alarming for those with older loved ones who may be needing additional care. A significant percentage of the pandemic-related deaths so far have been directly related to outbreaks that occurred in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
If you are able to do so, the best protection for your failing loved one during this pandemic is to either start caring for them yourself at home or hire a caregiver.
Here are some key factors to consider when deciding to keep your loved one out of a facility and instead provide at-home care:
1. If family does not live close by or is not willing to assume care for the individual, a caregiver will need to be hired. It can be tempting to want to hire a private caregiver to keep costs down, but you will likely have additional challenges if you go that route. For example, if you do not go through an agency, you will personally be responsible for finding a caregiver and for handling issues such as background check, scheduling, replacements, payroll, and tax matters. Working with a home care agency like Cahoon Care makes this process much easier. A home care agency does all the vetting and reference checking for qualified caregivers. They take care of scheduling, payroll, and taxes, and are bonded and insured. Because they handle the tax end of the transactions, the family receives full tax benefits for all caregiving costs. If a caregiver calls in sick, the agency finds a replacement for that shift. If the first match with a care recipient isn’t satisfactory for some reason, they can easily find a replacement for the family. The agency creates a customized care plan with the family, and reviews/adjusts that plan over time as needed. (Click here to read a complete comparison of private vs. agency caregivers.)
2. There is a shortage of caregivers right now due to safety and health concerns. Many caregivers are either self-quarantining due to exposure to the virus, or are choosing not to work until the outbreak has died down. Most caregivers are currently receiving hazard pay and are requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) to perform their jobs safely. It could be difficult to find the right caregiver on your own under these conditions. Again, working with an agency such as Cahoon Care will provide you with access to a greater pool of qualified, vetted, and specially trained caregivers who are available to work. Our caregivers take all the necessary safety precautions for both themselves and for their clients.
3. In addition to a caregiver, a care manager will need to get involved. Whereas the caregiver is interacting with the senior on a daily basis by meeting his or her physical needs and monitoring activities, a care manager looks at the bigger picture and evaluates his or her overall physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Our professionals at Cahoon Care can provide you with a care manager who can help make a plan for what your loved one will do all day to stay engaged and thriving – from activities (such as adult daycare) to social opportunities. The care manager will make sure the senior is getting sufficient one-on-one care, exercising, seeing other people on a regular basis, and being intellectually stimulated. This will help your loved one to not feel lonely, unloved, or forgotten.
4. If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, be sure your caregiver has special training in these areas. Those suffering from these kinds of memory conditions rely on consistency, familiarity, and normalcy. Taking them out of their recognizable environment can create a great deal of stress that could ultimately impact their physical health and send them into a decline. Additionally, Alzheimer’s and dementia patients tend to worsen when they don’t have ongoing interaction with others. A caregiver needs to be aware of these facts and be fully equipped to compassionately handle memory issues, provide the necessary companionship, and be able to distinguish the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s needs. Cahoon Care specifically trains their caregivers to provide personalized care for those suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
5. As your loved one continues to decline, all personal needs will need to begin to be met by a caregiver, family member, or someone else. Prior to health challenges, your loved one most likely never had to be reminded about getting his or her own food, medication, toiletries, or books to read. As age or health causes a decline, however, family members or a caregiver will need to make sure the senior is getting enough to eat (of both the types of food s/he likes as well as a balanced diet), has medication filled on a regular basis, and doesn’t run out of personal care products. Additionally, family or a caregiver may need to oversee trips to the library or purchase magazine subscriptions to be sure appropriate mental stimulation continues.
The nursing home dilemma brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many families to choose to keep their declining loved ones at home rather than send them to a facility. This can be a very wise and fulfilling decision, as long as the matter is well-thought-out and all concerns are addressed. We at Cahoon Care are here for you if you have any questions or if you want to find out what is involved with hiring a caregiver. We wish you and your loved ones continued good health and happiness!