Eventually it will happen to all of us. One or our parents suddenly takes a turn for the worst by way of injury, accident, surgery, illness, heart attack or stroke. Perhaps they will need home health care services to assist in their rehabilitation at home. Or perhaps they have been diagnosed with a life limiting disease and have been referred to hospice care at home to manage their symptoms at home.
Some Things to Know About Home Health and Hospice
If you’ve not encountered either home-based care service previously, both home health care and hospice care are episodic in nature. That is, staff from either service will visit the home, provide the needed therapy or care and leave. The remainder of the day the patient is left at home needing a caregiver to help care for the patient’s needs in terms of cooking, feeding, dressing, toileting and other activities of daily living also referred to as ADL’s. And who will provide this caregiving to your parent? It will likely fall to you and your spouse.
Let’s take a look at a few possible situations that may impact you, your spouse, your finances, your relationship, and the care of your parent.
But You and Your Spouse Both Work
If you have a senior parent living at home with you, it is going to be disruptive to your, your spouses’ or both of your careers while they remain with you. For hospice care a full time caregiver is pretty much a requirement because they need additional support compared to a home health care patient recovering from a surgery for example. So it is likely that either you or your spouse will need to take time away from work to be that caregiver.
So after a long day at work, the non-caregiver spouse will come home and have to help with or take over caregiver duties to give their spouse a needed break. Perhaps you both will need to be present to bathe your parent or help them transition from bed to bathroom for example.
I think that you can see over time how this scenario can cause, not only, loss of income (and the stress that comes with that), the possible negative career consequences for taking an extended leave from work, as well stress from lack of time for yourselves to get away from all of this added stress to the point that it could be overwhelming.
Or One or Both of You Travel for Work
Travel is an additional complication in caring for a parent at home. You and your spouse may have to juggle travel schedules to ensure that somebody can be home. You may have to get permission to work from home when not traveling to be available for your parent’s needs. There may be times when the travel schedule cannot be altered due to business needs, so both of you will be out of town at the same time. Who will take care of your parent in this circumstance?
Or You and Your Spouse Live Out-of-Town and No One in the Family Lives in Houston
As we become more mobile and more likely to be making career moves for promotions or better opportunities in other cities, the likelihood of leaving a parent behind increases causing its own challenges. Who will care for your parent in your absence? In the case of both home health care and hospice care you will need a 24/7 caregiver to keep your parent safe, clean, fed and to provide companionship along with meeting other needs. Who can fill that gap?
Private Caregivers are the Answer
Some companies, like TLC HomeCare, provide caregiver services in addition to providing home health care (medical/rehabilitation services). Typically private care givers are available to care for your parent at an hourly rate usually around $20/hour for a minimum of 4 hours of scheduled day and as much as 24/7 or anything in between to meet the needs of the family and their loved one.
So for a dual-working couple now burdened with the full-time care of a parent, a personal caregiver can be scheduled to cover the work day until one of the two working spouses can get home, so that may be 7am to 7pm weekdays and perhaps some variable time on the weekends so the couple can go out to dinner or go to some social event and get a break.
For the traveling work couple, perhaps both spouses travel mid-week each week (Tuesday-Thursday) so a caregiver could be scheduled 24/7 for those 3 days. The couple could then take over care on Friday morning for example. Or a different schedule may be needed to meet the needs of the couple and the parent.
For the out-of-town couple who need a full-time caregiver to take care of their home hospice parent who is back at their own home but lacking anyone in town to care for them, a 24/7 caregiver would be the likely solution for them 24/7. The caregiver can be there to work with the hospice provider under the hospice plan of care coordinating baths and personal hygiene and being on site to let hospice workers into the home. The caregiver of course would be doing shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and all other needed tasks.
The Cost of Caregiver: Another Consideration
The couple needing additional caregiver support must decide on how much help they will need to care for their parent and factor in the cost of that care. Some other points to consider are:
- How will I/we bathe our parent?
- Would it be better to allow the caregiver to do the bathing?
- How much time away does the couple need to live a somewhat normal life
- How much income will we lose if we don’t use a caregiver and one of us have to perform that role?
- What might be the damage to one of the careers if several months are taken of to be the caregiver?
- Can the couple safely take care of all of the needs of their parent including helping them get around, go to the bathroom, bathe, groom, and other tasks?
- Would we or would our parent be embarrassed by us assisting with toileting and bathing for example?
This is just a partial list of considerations but knowing about these considerations in advance can help couples to plan for eventual care of their parents. In many cases some combination of person caregivers and their own care will be required, it is a question of balancing some personal sacrifice, an honest assessment of the couple’s ability to care for the parent, the cost that the couple can endure to pay for additional help, the possible loss of income if one spouse chooses to be a full-time caregiver and what impact that might have on their career.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call TLC HomeCare at (281) 591-0915 and we will provide you with answers and solutions based on our years of experience.