Common Questions

Care for Life FAQs

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What are red flags to watch for with my Parents?

“My Mom is 85 years old. She likes living in her own home which she has lived in for 60 years. I live miles away, work all day, have kids in school, and can't visit as often as I know I need to. There is never a time during the day when I'm not feeling guilty, wondering if she is safe at home alone. Even though I promised to let her live at home, and that is my intention, I worry that she will not do well aging in place without help.”

There are five major, potential problems in the home that cause the aged to fail. These are nutrition, medicine, hygiene, un-addressed medical problems, and safety. Having a detailed plan and home care givers can often successfully assist the elderly in remaining at home. By evaluating and providing creative and practical solutions to these five problems, many elderly do very well.

Nutrition

“I know my Dad lives on sweets. He refuses any food that is nutritional.”

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of older Americans do not get enough nutrition in their daily diet. Physical disabilities, isolation, poverty, mental disorders or ignorance are causes or they may not be able to digest food as well as before. They have problems prepar- ing meals and getting to the grocery store. Poor nutrition leads to anemia, constipation, dehydration, and generalized weakness. Many elderly people eat alone and miss the social pleasure of dining with others. home care services can help the elderly with meal planning, shopping, preparing meals and helping maintain a special diet.

Medication

“I have trouble getting Mom's meds straight. How can I expect her to know what she takes or when she should take it?”

The elderly living at home alone, often overuse or under use medication. They may take more than one medica- tion to treat the same diagnosis. They may no longer be able to understand their medication prescription due to diminishing cognitive and sensory functions. To assess independence in medication, our client must be able to take the correct dosage at the correct time and to anticipate refills before they are needed. Reasons for non-compliance are varied. An RN Care Manager can monitor medications to see that dosage is coordinated and safe.

Hygiene and Home Maintenance

“Dad just isn't taking care of himself, and the house is dirty. He doesn't bathe, shave or change his clothes like he once did. He hates it when I ask to help him get a bath.”

Elders who live alone are less likely to keep up an ongoing schedule of dressing, bathing, and grooming. Those who lose their spouses may lose their motivation for cleanliness. A few hours of home care a week can remedy this problem. A home care caregiver can assist the elderly client in establishing a routine for daily bathing, dressing, and grooming. They improve the client's outlook with a fresh start each day. Household tasks such as cleaning, taking out the garbage, and straightening up the house will help prevent the spread of germs and provide an organized environment in which the client can reside.

Un-addressed Medical Problems

“I'm worried because my Mom refuses to let me take her to see her doctors. It is a huge battle even when I suggest a need to go. Her combativeness is getting worse. She won't eat and I know she drinks very little fluid during a typical day. I need help!”

Infrequent medical care visits are often due to physical or mental impairment that reduces the elder's ability to recognize health issues and seek treatment in a timely way. Sometimes, unable to drive any longer, it is difficult to get to the doctor. Once there, they are likely to give incomplete or wrong information. They might fear seeking help because they do not want to be a burden or worry that their privacy or independence will be taken away. In preparation for their doctor's visit, the RN Care Manager can make a priority list for discussion. Problems such as joint pain, incontinence, confusion and weakness should not be passed off as simply symptoms of aging. A home care giver can accompany the elder to the doctor, keeping his visit to the doctor on track. With the care giver's help, critical instructions about treatment can be written down and followed at home.

Safety

“Mother is not safe. She will not call us. She has a hard time with the stairs, and getting out of the tub by herself. She might fall and not get to the phone for help. She is stubborn and won't heed my warnings.”

Accidents are the 5th leading cause of death in older adults, with falls constituting two thirds of these accidents. As we age, we experience changes in vision, sensory processes and hearing. Our reaction time slows, and we might lose our balance. An aged person's gait is often stiffer, less coordinated and muscle strength and tone decline with age. Gait problems are a common cause for falls and a common cause of muscle weakness found in stroke, Parkinson, fractures, and arthritis.

A geriatric care manager will recognize the problems of recurring falls or the existence of a high risk for falls.

They look for safety problems in the house and conduct a search for hazards, which could cause future falls. Home safety assessments are done for the purpose of making recommendations to prevent future falls including grab bars, shower bench, night lights, removal of throw rugs and thresholds, and other changes to reduce the risk of falling. The presence of a home care giver can give the client greater control, security, and independence and reduce the chance of disability from home accidents. People with dementia, Alzheimer Disease, mobility prob- lems and stroke conditions may need help with lifting objects or climbing stairs. In general, elders who cannot get around easily, or need help getting into or out of the tub or bed, are likely to benefit from home care.

Taken from Directory of National Assoc of Prof'l Geriatric Care Managers 2009, pg 95.

What should I do when I don't want my parent living alone any longer?

Shifting into being a parent's caregiver usually occurs over time. It is a process that requires understanding and Herculean patience!

  • To begin, share your concerns with your aged loved one. LISTEN to his/her concerns. Don't argue. It is not unusual for parents to resist adult children's help.
  • Involve the rest of the family as there is strength in numbers. Your siblings might need to spend time with your parent if they haven't seen her/him in awhile.
  • Resist DENIAL in yourself, your siblings and your parent.
  • Contact a Geriatric Care Management Agency such as Care For Life for an in-place comprehensive assessment of the risks of the person continuing to live alone including physical or mental issues, home safety and maintenance. Does he/she need a doctor's assessment also?
  • Suggest ways to approach care at home to ease aged person's concerns about having a caregiver with her/him
  • Engage his/her doctor in the conversation. Often an older person will listen to the doctor and follow his orders to get help into the home.
  • Remember, you might need to expect to move slowly in accomplishing long term care goals for your parent.

Where do I start to get assistance?

Start by calling a medical professional such as a social worker, doctor, or Geriatric Care Manager. Once you have an in-home comprehensive assessment in hand, you will feel more in control of your own concerns and have a written care plan to work from. Take it slow when implementing the plan. Stay in touch with the care manager and ask lots of questions as you move through the care plan.

What legal documents should I know about and have executed by my aged parent?

These important papers must be executed while the aged person has mental capacity to sign legal documents. This is one instance where waiting or procrastinating because it is a difficult topic is not in anyone's best interest. If you don't have an attorney you can easily call, the SC Bar can connect with attorneys who provide a 30 minute consultation for just $50. Forms are also available on the internet, but if they are not signed and witnessed properly and notarized they are invalid.

There are two kinds of powers of attorney frequently utilized: a Durable Power of Attorney for financial decisions, and a Health Care Power of Attorney for medical decisions. All healthcare decisions should be the aged person's if he/she has mental capacity to make them.

When there are no powers of attorney in place, the Probate Court can be petitioned to appoint a guardian, conservator or both.

What are the procedures for discharge from the hospital? What are good questions I should be asking?

Hospital discharge planners are usually trained social workers or nurses. They are required to determine the patient's needs after he/she leaves the hospital. They will need to know who is the designated caregiver in the family? Will the patient be ambulatory upon discharge? Who will prepare meals? Who will transport the patient to appointments for follow-up or to the drug and grocery stores? Is the home safe and adequate? Does patient require additional assistance with in-home care?

Discharge planners must rely upon the patient or his surrogate to provide truthful answers to these questions. They do not have time to verify support systems that might help the transition to home.

Ask for a list of community based resources. Ask about prescriptions in detail. Ask about physical and/or occupational therapists coming to the home. Ask about qualified Geriatric Care Management agencies in your immediate area who can help you establish a long term care plan for your loved one.

Do you only take care of seniors?

No, we provide services for adults with varying care needs, including adults with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

What is the minimum number of hours required per shift?

Even though we have a four-hour minimum, 3-days a week, at times we can provide less if we have an appropriate aide available.

How are calls handled after hours and on weekends?

Care For Life staff are available 24/7. After hours simply dial 843-442-7676 for immediate access to our trained on-call representative. She can answer your questions, schedule care or direct your call to our nurse or social worker on-call. We pride ourselves in responding quickly to meet you home care needs.

What are your rates?

Please call for current rates. We strive to keep our rates competitive with other agencies.

Do you provide services in facilities?

Yes, we send our caregivers to hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. We provide all of the same personal care services that we would in your own home.

Do I need a Geriatric Care Manager in addition to home care services?

Care For Life's care management services provide a care manager. These professionals solve problems. This includes ordering medical equipment and arranging for medications; handling client emergencies; taking after hours calls regarding client illness; coordinating medical care and social services; referring and communicating with physicians and responsible parties; and, referring to community resources. The Care Manager works as a team with the client's home care caregivers to provide the most inclusive care.

Will Medicare cover this care?

Medicare does not reimburse for the type of ongoing, personal care in which we specialize. Care For Life's caregiver services are non-medical, custodial care which is not covered by Medicare. Long Term Care Insurance covers home care services when the client is eligible and has purchased a policy that includes home care services.

Is there any kind of insurance I can buy to pay for your services?

Long Term Care Insurance is available from licensed insurance agents. It can be complicated to understand and a policy can be designed to suit your anticipated needs and financial means. Be sure you are dealing with a reputable, licensed insurance agency and broker.

How else can I get help paying for your caregiver services?

We offer information on grants and Veterans' benefits for which you might apply. Medicaid has a Community Long Term Care program for persons approved to receive Medicaid in South Carolina.

How do I begin the process to see if your caregiver services will work for my parent?

Your initial contact will likely be with our eldercare advisor by telephone. She will listen to your concerns and summarize the needs of your loved one for our nurse and social worker. Either of them will contact you to set an appointment for a comprehensive assessment with your loved one and you present. Following the assessment, a written care plan will be in the home for everyone involved in caregiving can access the information daily.

Why should I go through an agency as opposed to privately hiring someone?

When someone privately hires an individual they become the employers. With that, come payroll taxes, liability risks, staffing responsibilities, and supervision. Care For Life takes care of it all. We assess, train, insure and bond all of our employees; and assign staffing managers to coordinate consistent and appropriate staffing. Our professional staff supervises our caregivers to ensure optimum care.

What should I do now that I've seen your website?

You are welcome to go to our "contact us" page and enter your information. Our staff will respond to your inquiry or question promptly by calling you or using your email information. If you prefer to call, our number is 843-852-9090 and our office hours are weekdays from 8am to 4:30pm. There is always an on-call person on duty after hours who can direct someone to call you back as soon as possible.

What are my rights as a caregiver?

The Caregiver Bill of Rights:

  • I have the right... to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will strengthen me in taking care of my CareReceiver.
  • I have the right... to seek help from others even though my CareReceiver objects. I choose to recognize the limits of my own emotional and physical endurance.
  • I have the right... to maintain facets of my own life that do not include my CareReceiver, just as I would if he or she were well.
  • I have the right... to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings appropriately.
  • I have the right... to reject any attempts by my CareReceiver (either consciously or unconsciously) to manipulate me.
  • I have the right... to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance from my CareReceiver for what I do as long as I offer these qualities in return.
  • I have the right... to take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it sometimes takes to meet the needs of my CareReceiver.
  • I have the right... to protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my CareReceiver no longer needs my help.