Around the clock care is increasing in popularity during this global pandemic as a way to keep people safe at home. Social isolation within the senior community has been a known health risk since prior to COVID-19 ( https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/social-isolation-loneliness-older-people-pose-health-risks ) and has become worse since the outbreak of coronavirus ( https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/06/15/coronavirus-dangerous-for-uninfected-elderly-column/5322589002/ ).
One way to alleviate social isolation is to provide 24 hour care. In certain circumstances, family caregivers may be able to provide assistance for a short period of time, but studies have found that family caregivers are at greater risk of depression, injury, care/life imbalance and other health problems such as high blood pressure (HCAOA and Global Coalition on Aging “The Value of Home Care”). It is best if time with family can be spent only as family can spend that time (recalling memories, telling stories about family members, looking through photo albums, catching up) and not with chores that a professional is better suited to handle (food preparation, bathing, vacuuming…etc.).
At some point a decision will need to be made regarding how much time is appropriate to hire a professionally trained and certified caregiver. Two of the most common scenarios for 24 hour care are post-acute recovery and hospice.
Most surgeries for the elderly such as hip replacements are covered by Medicaid and include a certain amount of time for recovery within a Skilled Nursing Facility (commonly referred to as a “SNiF” and formerly referred to as a “Nursing Home”). Near the end of the recovery period within a SNF, a Discharge Planner or Case Manager will contact you regarding your plans for continued recovery at home. Depending on the severity of the original injury and the progress of healing, they may make strong recommendations to have 24 hour care arranged at least for the first few days while the family is able to stabilize and assess future needs. The reason for this is that 24 hour care takes planning to provide and if you don’t arrange it in advance you may have to pay a premium or wait for a day or two to free up a Caregiver’s schedule. Once you’ve been able to assess your needs you may choose to reduce the hours of care to just 12 hours during the day or overnight depending on when is the greatest need. It is recommended that you continue reducing to 8 hours then 4 hours per day until you feel confident that you are able to care for your loved one on your own.
The other most common scenario for 24 hour care is at the final stages of life. There is generally a spike in care needs as someone is dying and these are not tasks for untrained family members nor are they tasks for the faint of heart. This period of a loved one’s life is sacred and should be spent together with family sharing memories and comforting each other and not on Acts of Daily Living (ADLs) such as toileting, dressing and bathing. It is common to have 24 hour care for the final weeks or months of life and if you’ve signed up for hospice (highly recommended), they will be able to council you on the appropriate level of care and an approximate timeline.
Regardless of whether you’re thinking of 24 hour care or just 4 hour care, Agape In Home care is here to serve you and we’d love nothing more than to answer any questions you have and give you practical advice to help guide you through this trying time.