accessing care to remain at home

It’s hard to watch one’s parents or loved ones get older. It’s not an overnight process, of course. You observe, subtle changes and may dismiss them almost simultaneously. Denial, perhaps? Too busy to process in the moment? You continue on with the tasks at hand and assure yourself there’s no need to worry… not just yet, anyway.

And then one day, you stop by for a visit or you’re having a chat with them on the phone. They innocently say or do something that brings it all into focus. Maybe they mention that they felt dizzy the day before and called a neighbor for help, later realizing they had forgotten to take their blood pressure medicine. Or you notice that when you bring up their revered granddaughter’s latest achievement, it doesn’t hold the same importance it once did for them, and they cut you off mid-story to ask if you will change the bedroom light bulb before you leave.

With a sinking feeling, all the other realizations come rushing in. They were wearing the same outfit the last couple of times you saw them. They’re eating sandwiches for dinner because they don’t feel like cooking. You realize your parent needs some help, but what kind of help? They certainly don’t need a nursing home; even assisted living seems excessive at this point. In any case, they love their home and don’t want to move. A home care program may be the answer for an intermediate level of assistance.

When assistance is needed with medical or personal care, home care is the solution that allows people to remain in the comfort and familiarity of their homes, for as long as safely possible, while receiving the care they need. It also prolongs independence and supports the positive aging (or living) in place approach to senior living.

Typically, home care is often prescribed following a hospital stay, a short-term stay at a nursing and rehabilitation center, or when a physician determines their patient’s health needs have escalated, and they now require ongoing clinical assistance. This could be due to the onset of a chronic medical condition or a worsening of an existing one. Services may also be prescribed following joint replacement, heart attack, stroke, surgeries, pneumonia, and so on.

The decision to be discharged to one’s home with home care or to first be discharged for a short-term stay in a nursing and rehabilitation center is based upon factors such as whether or not the person lives alone, has a “friendly” environment such as a first floor bedroom (if stairs are an issue), and other similar considerations.

Care can be short or long-term, providing a range of medical services including therapy (physical, speech and occupational), wound care, medication management and chronic illness monitoring (such as diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure), as well as coordination with other agencies and physicians.

Home care programs can also provide personal care such as help with bathing, dressing, light housekeeping and simple meal preparation.

As a preventative health measure, the home care nurse or aide can monitor any changes which may occur in the client’s health and behavior, which is especially important for those who may live alone. Early intervention can prevent downward health spirals, emergency room visits or hospital stays and the subsequent trauma and costs associated with these circumstances.

With many options and a wide array of providers in the Westchester area, home care can be a wonderful option for those who want to remain in their homes and maintain an independent lifestyle.

Cathy SantaColoma

Cathy SantaColoma

Cathy SantaColoma is Director, Communications of Bethel Homes & Services, a not-for-profit organization offering a full continuum of care including: independent and assisted living; nursing; rehabilitation; adult day services; and home care. Campuses are in Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining and Valhalla; 914-739-6700.
Cathy SantaColoma

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