Signs It’s Time to Hire a Home Health Aide

What is a home health aide?

A home health aide is a person with extensive training who can give loving care to an elderly or ill patient in their home. Home health aides can assist with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and other hygiene needs. They can also can do meal preparation and light housekeeping – laundry, changing sheets and washing up after meals. They can help with transportation to doctor’s appointments and go grocery shopping.

Although a home health aide does not have a medical degree, they do undergo extensive training and are able to monitor vital signs, infection prevention, handle emergency protocols and remind their client about medications.

Perhaps most importantly, a home health aide provides companionship to their client while giving family caregivers respite.

Signs it’s time to hire a home health aide

Many times, family members help to care for their senior loved ones. But, sometimes more professional help is needed or family members need respite from giving that care. There are some indicators that it is time to hire a home health aide.

For example, difficulty managing medications, trouble with personal grooming and hygiene, tiredness and being physically uncomfortable when doing daily tasks. Other reasons may include your loved one expressing concerns about independence and their health or family caregiver burnout.

Difficulty with personal hygiene and grooming

As we age and have more difficulty with walking, standing, or getting up and down, the elderly can have issues with personal hygiene and grooming. A home health aide can support your loved one by helping with bathing, grooming, doing laundry and other personal needs.

Trouble managing medications

Senior adults are often handling more than one medical condition that require multiple medications. Managing when to take each medication and the correct dosage often becomes difficult to manage. Mistakes in medication management are a large reason for the elderly needing emergency medical care. A home health aide will keep medication logs and notations, make sure that medications are taken on time and with the correct dosage.

Challenges with household chores

Physical difficulties brought on by aging can impact the ability to manage household chores. Responsibilities such as vacuuming, mopping floors, making beds, even putting dishes away require the ability to stand, lift, and stretch in ways that the elderly may have trouble managing. A home health aide will help with household maintenance.

Family caregivers are experiencing stress or burnout

As much as we love and want to care for our senior family members, being their caregiver can be challenging, especially when managing the needs of other family members, a job, and your own home responsibilities. Home health aides can take on caring for your loved one – for a few hours or all-day care, relieving the stress or burnout that many caregivers experience.

Desire to maintain independence

Most seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes where they are comfortable and can maintain some independence. This option is strongly preferred over other live-in types of care facilities. Hiring a home health aide can allow an aging senior to remain in their home with dignity while still receiving the care that they need.

Care needs continue to increase

Care needs for our aging loved ones increase over time, especially as they face health conditions that can impact their ability to manage activities of daily living. Some of the most common medical conditions that an aging senior might be dealing with include arthritis, respiratory illnesses such as asthma and heart disease. A home health aide can help to manage medications, help with oxygen or nebulizers, and manage household needs for seniors whose care needs have increased.

Benefits of hiring a home health aide

While most seniors prefer to stay in their homes, medical conditions and difficulty managing can become too much for them. Hiring a home health aide can help your loved one remain in their home and relieve the burden on family caregivers. A home health aide can help with household chores such as cooking and meal preparation, medicine reminders, activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing. They provide companionship and comfort all while making sure that your loved one is well-taken care of.

Address a patient’s health needs

Home health aides manage a patient’s health needs by monitoring their vital signs, keeping track of medications, and taking their clients to see the doctor. They make sure that that hygiene needs are met and any wounds are well taken care of. By helping with meal preparation and clean up, they ensure that their clients receive proper nutrition, which many seniors struggle with.

Provide companionship and social interaction

Perhaps the most important role that home health aides play is companionship. As seniors struggle with mobility and other health issues, they can become isolated. The daily interaction they have with a home health aide may prevent cognitive decline and depression brought on by their isolation. They can also help make life more enjoyable by doing activities that their client likes to do such as playing cards or board games, light gardening, sharing a conversation over a cup of coffee, or watching a movie together.

Support independence

Home health aides support independence and autonomy by allowing your loved one to manage the things they once were able to do by themselves. Your loved one can set their own schedule and make their own decisions about activities. Working together with family members and their home health aide, your senior loved one can develop a plan of care that takes care of their needs but still allows them some control. Having a home health aide who can handle or manage some of the household chores can allow your loved one to stay in their home longer.

Aid and support family caregivers

Sometimes the relationship between family caregiver and their loved one can become strained under the demands of providing that care. A home health aide can take over many of those responsibilities, relieving some of the burden on the family caregiver and allowing their relationship to grow. A home health aide can also help to by providing in-home care, rather than the expense of assisted living. Home health aides carry out their responsibilities with their client having a say in scheduling.

Improves the patient’s safety conditions

Ensuring a patient’s safety is a home health aide’s top priority. While they cannot make a lot of changes to the home, they will use safety guidelines to make sure that the environment is kept clean – especially bathrooms and kitchen areas, be aware of trip and fall hazards, and monitor medication time and dosage requirements. Many times, they can work together with their patient and family members to see what safety changes can be made – such as better lighting, making sure furniture is safe and well-taken care of, and eliminating fall risks. Because the patient’s home environment is also a home health aides work environment, health and safety awareness protect them as well.

Allows for flexibility

Even if family members want to be part of caring for their aging loved one, having a home health aide to fill in sometimes allows the caregiver flexibility in maintaining their own needs for rest, handling job requirements and their own medical care. Having someone to fall back on for support can decrease the consequences of stress, isolation, and burnout that caregivers often experience.

Promotes patient dignity

Most elderly want to be able to stay in their homes, in an environment that is familiar and comfortable to them and, like all of us, they want to have a say in what they do, how they dress, what activities they do for fun. Having a home health aide come to their home allows them that control, even when so many other things that are happening due to health and aging, are not in their control. Home health aides work with their patients to establish a schedule and activities that that they like, rather than having to fit in with what is dictated to them from other sources.

Provides affordable patient care

While the cost of home health care has increased over the last few years, on average, the cost of a home health aide is about half the cost of assisted living or other senior living facilities. Since care can often be offset by family members, costs can also be more flexible. According to the annual GenWorth Survey, which analyzes costs of elderly care, the national median wage for a home health aide is $27. Per hour. Wage averages for Florida are about $19. Per hour

Offers peace of mind

One important benefit of a home health aide, whatever the cost, is the peace of mind that having skilled, personal care for your aging loved one can bring. Family caregivers can feel confident that their loved one’s basic needs are being met and elderly loved ones can also know that they can have the care they need with dignity, choice, and the comfort of what is familiar. Having a home health aide can be a winning situation for all.

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