Home-Based Care: Factors to Consider

Kathleen Allen, LCSW, C-ASWCM

Senior Care Management Services, LLC

  • Expert Advice
Published on:
A female aid smiling and helping a senior woman with a digital device.

Making decisions about what kind of care to start for your loved one can create stress and anxiety for any decision maker. The kind of care to choose – home care, adult daycare, assisted living, or memory care-- is not always clear. This article provides some helpful information on home care that can help you in the decision-making process.

When you’ve never been in a caregiving situation for a loved one, or had to make decisions about care, you may find the choices overwhelming. The range of options can make decisions more difficult. How would you know if you are making the right choice?

As in any important decision, there are things to consider and steps to take that can help lead you to the right choice. If you are considering home-based care along with other options for your loved one, there are some features that can make it the right choice.

Choosing Home Based Care – Understanding the Choice

Home-based care has specific characteristics that make it unlike the other forms of care.

  1. Your loved one stays in their home. Caregivers come to them. That is often a big reason for preferring home-based care. Your loved one, who has been in their home, perhaps for decades, would of course prefer to stay as long as possible. Starting home care means no moving to a facility or alternative care setting. Having said that, bringing caregivers into one’s home can require some adjusting. Especially for someone who has lived alone for some time, sharing space is something to adjust to. The non-family caregiver may be working in their kitchen, doing the laundry, doing light housework, helping your loved one bathe and dress – in their home. For some, at least at first, it can feel too uncomfortable to have a stranger in their home.

  2. You can start small. Homecare can be the first caregiving choice in the journey of Alzheimer’s caregiving. Especially in the early stages of the disease, you can start small, perhaps just two or three nurse’s aide or other caregiver shifts per week. Putting a non-family caregiver in the home for a few hours can give the family caregiver some needed time to get things done outside the home. Financially, it is a low investment option, especially compared to moving to facility-based care.

  3. You can hire private or agency caregivers. When hiring a caregiver privately, the employment relationship is directly between you and the caregiver. The caregiver becomes your employee. Thus, you take on the responsibilities as the employer for payroll, taxes, etc.

    Alternatively, agency-based caregivers are employees of a home care agency. When going through a home care agency to bring caregivers into the home, you pay the agency for services billed. The agency handles the payroll and taxes.

    Another possible advantage of agency-based caregivers, especially if you do not know anyone to hire privately, is that if you are not satisfied with the agency-provided caregiver, or if they are just not the right fit for your loved one, the agency has other caregivers on their staff. Sometimes it takes one or two tries to get it right.

  4. Someone needs to acclimate, manage and monitor the hired caregiver. That person is likely to be you, the family member or caregiver. To get the best results for your loved one, the new caregiver will need to be oriented to your loved one’s likes and dislikes, and preferences in many areas – food, temperature, TV shows, daily routine, etc. They will need to understand your loved one’s medication schedule.  As their family member, you still need to remain involved, but once oriented, a good caregiver will be able to take on more responsibilities that you may have handled.  

These are some of the primary points of home-based care, which may be the right option for your loved one. No matter what caregiving option you choose, understanding the factors and characteristics involved will help you choose well for your loved one.

About the author

Headshot of Kathleen Allen.

Kathleen Allen, LCSW, C-ASWCM

Senior Care Management Services, LLC

Kathleen Allen has been working with older adults and their families for over 20 years.

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