March 6, 2010

If given the option, most people would choose to live in their own homes with some help, rather than move to an institutional setting.  Here are some questions to ask when deciding if that’s possible.

Are family members willing and able to help? Some of us come from backgrounds that place special value family and elders, and will rally around a frail person to assist with their care needs.  Is there someone who can assist with the day to day needs to make running a household possible? Are there neighbors and friends who are available and willing to assist?

What is the financial situation of the care recipient? Can he or she afford to pay out of pocket for in-home care? Is there a family member or friend who might want to assume the responsibility for the cost? Keep in mind that average nursing home costs in Missouri can run $47,000 a year.

What is the level of care needed now? What is the prognosis for future care needs? If the frailty is temporary, and the aging person is expected to recuperate, you may make different choices than if the prognosis is degenerative or terminal.

What is the mental status of the care recipient? It is far easier to care for an alert and mentally sharp, but physically frail person at home than it is to care for a cognitively impaired but physically active person.

Can the care recipient get out of a chair or bed alone? These are crucial tasks for a person who wishes to return or stay home. Needing assistance in toileting means that round the clock care is needed. If the person is able to get out of a chair or bed, then the care needed is sporadic and home care should be considered first.

Click here for a tool to assist in making a decision on what care is appropriate for your loved one.