Elderly Homecare

There are many options in providing elderly homecare, from a weekly or daily helper to someone who is licensed to dispense medications for the senior in need.  Here are a few basic but pointed questions may best help you determine who would provide the best homecare:

1.  How long has the agency been providing private duty home care?

2.  Is a written, customized care plan developed in consultation with the client and family members, and is the plan updated as changes occur?

3.  How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?

4.  Do you closely supervise the quality of care, including maintenance of a daily journal in the client’s home and non-scheduled supervisory visits?

5.  Do you employ a nurse, social worker or other qualified professional to make regular visits to our client’s home?

6.  Do you provide a written document that states the rights and responsibilities of the client, and explains the company’s privacy policy and code of ethics?

7.  Do you screen caregiver employees carefully, including use of reference checks, driving records and criminal background investigations?

8.  Do you mandate ongoing training of employees to continually update their skills?

9.  Do you manage all payroll and employee-related matters and adhere to state and federal guidelines in your employment practices, such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing Workers’ Compensation and other benefits?

10.  Do you also use independent contractors?  If so, who employs the person and what type of background checks is conducted?  Also, who pays the mandated taxes and withholdings?

But even before choosing a home care provider, one of the first things to consider is to making the home safe, especially during the wintertime.  When you’re caring for an older adult, falls in the home are a constant fear. We know from experience that falling is an enormous risk for older adults, especially if it results in a fracture, putting in motion a chain of events and health issues those compromises an older person’s ability to live independently, often resulting in disability or death.   So here are some of the best ways to prevent winter falls:

1. Choose footwear carefully. Because snow, ice, and rain-slicked pavement are slippery, traction is what you need. For traction, you need tread — a surface with bumps and hollows. Think about shoes with plenty of tread to grip.  Many “comfort” shoes, popular with seniors, have rubber soles but they’re smooth – you need something with grooves where the water and ice can go.

2. If you have snow, shovel it — carefully. Shoveling is hard work, but the alternative — tripping and falling in loose snow — is much worse. When shoveling, pay attention to leaving a level surface when you’re done. Even out any bumps so there’s nothing to trip over. Keep the shovel or shovel where it’s handy but where there’s no danger of tripping over it. Inside a coat closet, for example, would be perfect.

3. If you have ice, use salt. Salt dissolves ice and leaves a gritty surface that’s much easier to walk on. Keep a bag of salt right by the front door; if you or the person you care for has to walk to the shed or garage to get it, you’ve defeated your purpose.

4. Have plenty of railings and handholds available. Anyone who’s frail or has balance problems should never try to walk on a slippery surface without something to hold onto. Make sure railings are sturdy and free of snow and ice or that there’s someone there to offer an arm to hold onto.

5. Use modern technology. Hopefully the person you’re caring for has a cell phone; make sure it’s with him and turned on when he leaves the house. If the person you’re caring for is living independently and has balance or mobility issues, consider a monitored safety alarm device that alerts a monitoring center when the person wearing it falls.

6. Allow extra time. When preparing to leave the house, give yourselves a few extra minutes so there’s no rush. People whom fall almost always remember afterwards that they were rushing or harried and not paying attention to safety.

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