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Impact of Family Involvement on Home Care Expenses

Impact of Family Involvement on Home Care Expenses
Photo: Unsplash.com

By: John Glover (MBA)

If you have an elderly loved one who is receiving home healthcare services, you likely already feel the pressure of the hike in prices of home care. New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the cost of home health aide services for older people increased by 14.2 percent between March 2023 and 2024. The reason? The United States has an aging population, and the need for care among the nation’s roughly 73 million Baby Boomers is driving up the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home healthcare.

But take a deep breath! There’s a powerful, often overlooked resource in your corner: your family.

How Family Involvement Can Reduce Costs

Let’s face it, caring for an elderly loved one at home while managing rising healthcare costs can feel like a constant uphill battle. But here’s some good news: your family can be a powerful, often overlooked weapon in your arsenal! By strategically involving your loved ones, you can unlock a surprising superpower – the ability to significantly reduce costs while improving the care your loved one receives. Here’s how:

Reducing the Need for Paid Services

This is a major way family involvement can make a big financial difference. Here are some examples of tasks family members can often handle, freeing up hours that a private home health aide or nurse would otherwise bill:

  •     Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): These are basic tasks essential for daily life, and with a little help, your loved one may be able to maintain more independence. Family members can assist with bathing, dressing, restroom use, and moving around safely.
  •     Meal Preparation: Cooking nutritious meals can be a challenge, especially for someone recovering from illness or with limited mobility. Family members can help with grocery shopping, preparing meals, and ensuring your loved one gets the proper nutrition.
  •     Medication Reminders: Taking medications correctly is crucial, but it can be easy to forget. Family members can set up reminders, help with medication organization, and ensure your loved one takes them as prescribed.

Improved Adherence to Treatment Plans

Sticking to a treatment plan is essential for recovery and maintaining good health. Family members can play a vital role in this by:

  •     Providing Support and Encouragement: Following medical advice can be difficult, especially if it involves lifestyle changes. Family members can offer encouragement, answer questions, and help your loved one stay motivated.
  •     Partnering with Healthcare Professionals: Working together with doctors and nurses, family members can ensure they understand the treatment plan and can help communicate any concerns or changes in your loved one’s condition.

By supporting medication schedules, doctor’s appointments, and therapy routines, family involvement can significantly reduce the risk of complications that might require expensive hospitalizations or emergency room visits.

Early Detection of Problems

Family members know your loved one. You’re familiar with their usual health, behavior, and moods. This unique advantage allows you to spot potential problems early on, such as changes in appetite, sleep patterns, or mobility. Early detection allows for timely intervention, which can prevent more serious issues that could require expensive treatments later.

Emotional Support

The healing power of love and connection shouldn’t be underestimated. Having family around can significantly boost your loved one’s morale and well-being. Knowing they’re not alone and feeling supported can lead to faster recovery and a reduced need for extended care. Family visits, shared meals, and simply spending quality time can make a world of difference.

The Challenges of Family Involvement in Home Healthcare

While family involvement offers a wealth of benefits for home healthcare, it’s important to acknowledge some potential challenges. By being aware of these hurdles, you can develop strategies to overcome them and ensure a smooth, successful caregiving experience for everyone involved.

Lack of Training

There’s a reason why we have qualified professionals in healthcare – certain tasks require specific medical expertise to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved one. Here’s why training matters:

  •     Complex Medical Care: Some conditions require specialized knowledge and procedures that family members may not be equipped to handle. For example, administering injections, managing wounds, or operating medical equipment are left to trained nurses or to behavioral therapists, in the case of mental health challenges.
  •     Importance of Proper Techniques: Even seemingly simple tasks like assisting with mobility or transferring your loved one can be risky if done incorrectly. Training can provide family members with the proper techniques to minimize the risk of falls and injuries.

One key takeaway is the importance of seeking professional help for complex medical needs. Skilled nursing facilities, SNFists, medical director services, and other such medical professionals are usually happy to take your call and answer questions. There are also various training programs available for family members on specific caregiving tasks that will empower you to confidently support your loved one while ensuring their safety.

Family Stress and Burnout

Caring for a loved one, especially for long periods, can be emotionally and physically demanding. Here’s why it’s crucial to address family stress and burnout:

  •     The Burden of Caregiving: The weight of constant responsibility can be overwhelming. Family members may experience stress, anxiety, and even feelings of resentment.
  •     Impact on Quality of Care: Burnout can lead to fatigue, decreased patience, and ultimately, a decline in the quality of care provided to your loved one. This might then necessitate additional paid help, defeating the cost-saving purpose of family involvement.

Finding the Right Balance

Now that we’ve explored the benefits and challenges of family involvement in home healthcare, the key lies in striking the perfect balance.

The foundation of a successful caregiving team built on family involvement is open and honest communication. Gather your family for a meeting to discuss your loved one’s needs and how everyone can contribute. Sharing the workload reduces the burden on any one family member. Assigning clear tasks based on individual skills and availability creates a sense of ownership and accountability. This could look like one family member being responsible for medication management due to their medical background, while another might excel at keeping the house clean and preparing meals.

The key is to identify each family member’s strengths and utilize them to their fullest potential. Perhaps someone with a medical background might be comfortable managing medications, while another family member might excel at keeping the house clean and preparing meals. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks!

Summary

Caring for an aging loved one at home can feel like a financial and emotional roller coaster. Family members can fill in the gaps, handling tasks like medication reminders, meal preparation, and emotional support. This frees up resources for professional help when it’s truly needed for complex medical care. The result? A potentially lower healthcare bill and a happier, healthier loved one who feels the warmth and love of family surrounding them.

Published by: Martin De Juan

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