In-home elder care offers a helping hand

In-home elder care offers a helping hand

Angie's List member David Cooper of Fort Worth lives eight miles from his mother's independent living facility, but he found himself in a dilemma after she injured her hip and needed daily care.

While Town Village Ridgmar provides 93-year-old Martha Cooper's meals and other activities, she needed help with basic household tasks such as cleaning, shopping and getting dressed.

He hired highly rated Comfort Keepers of Fort Worth to look after her with professional caregivers, who stay with her for up to 20 hours a day. "Some of it's pretty trivial, but it adds up," he says. "If you had to do it all yourself, it would take up nearly all of your time every day."

As the baby boomer generation ages — along with their parents — the demand increases for in-home care services.

"Most of my clients are in their 50s or older, looking for help for their parents or even grandparents," says Comfort Keepers manager Michael Chapman.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) requires all companies that provide personal in-home assistance to be licensed. Those include companies that help with bathing, feeding, dressing, hair and skin care, and getting around the house. Regulated agencies also must perform background checks on employees and offer training.

"We've found that people tend to thrive when they stay in their homes surrounded by loved ones, so these kinds of services are very important," says DADS press officer Cecilia Fedorov.

In-home care frequently makes economic sense. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average private nursing home room in the Dallas area costs $200 per day, while in-home assistance averages $16 per hour. Some long-term insurance policies may also cover such care.

Bernie Francis, owner of highly rated First Class Caregivers in Dallas, says consumers should draw a distinction between in-home care and health care professionals.

"We step in after the medical folks leave," he says, adding that there's often more to recuperating than the actual health care a patient receives, such as completing daily household tasks.

The in-home service often provides a morale boost. "We go into a client's home where they may be depressed and alone, but the one-on-one care can help their lives improve," Chapman says.

Francis adds that it also improves independence. "You don't end up in a situation outside your control just because you need an additional pair of helping hands," he says.

Cooper appreciates that his mother has had the same daytime caregiver for two years, and says he couldn't imagine looking after his mother without Comfort Keepers' help. "It's like having a friend around the house with her," he says. "They've certainly made our lives easier."

Questions to ask

Before hiring an in-home care provider, you should ask these questions:

  • Will the same person provide care? Who provides care if that person fails to show?
  • What type of information is gleaned through your employee background checks?
  • Are you licensed to provide home care?
  • Do you provide liability insurance?
  • How do you train your caregivers?

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