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By Liz Heape-Caldwell
Mr. and Mrs. Markis live independently within their home. Recently, Mr. Markis was diagnosed with dementia. He is presenting behaviors that make it difficult for Mrs. Markis to handle his care alone. Currently Mrs. Markis is unable to leave him alone and therefore is not able to get out to the grocery store, bank or medical appointments. Mrs. Markis began reviewing her options for assistance; however, the amount of information and variety of services was overwhelming.
The scenario of Mr. and Mrs. Markis is extremely common. When researching options it can become quite overwhelming. So, the question arises, what options are available for older adults who desire to remain in their homes?
The first option is to utilize a home care agency. With the number of older adults growing rapidly in the United States, homecare agencies and services are expanding to meet the need. However, the services offered, experience of staff and reputation of the business may vary. It is important to evaluate the homecare agency on the following:
- Is the business reputable? How long have they been in business? Is it a franchise model, a referral agency that uses independent contractors or an agency versed in needs of older adults within the community? How much will the care cost?
- What services are provided? Who monitors those services? Are the caregivers trained and, if so, are they trained with educated staff, i.e. registered nurses, social workers, gerontologists?
- What kind of supervision do these employees have? What is your screening process for employees?
- How can the agency ensure the needs of the older adult are met? Is staff educated and capable to manage client needs and expectations?
- Does the company carry appropriate insurance? Will the company cover their employee who is driving his or her/client’s vehicle? What if the employee is injured while on the job?
- Does the agency utilize independent contractors or are the employees “their” employees? For example, do they carry workers compensation, pay taxes and have licensure and bonding?
Outside of the private sector are county programs that provide assistance to eligible older adults. This includes the family caregiver support program, In home supportive services or the Multiservice Senior Service Program. These services are provided on a limited basis to individuals who meet the requirements set forth by the program.
When evaluating service providers it is critical to ensure they offer appropriate services, possess the knowledge to assist and have the safeguards to protect you as the consumer. Within this process it is important to ask questions. This will allow you to make an informed decision regarding the care of your loved one.
Elizabeth Heape Caldwell, BS is a professional geriatric care manager and program manager for Elder Options, Inc., serving older adults and their families with care managed home care since 1988 in the Sacramento Region and foothills, elderoptionsca.com.
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