What is Home Care?

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caregiver assisting client in wheelchair

What is Home Care?

The goal of home care is creating an environment where you are able to live safely and independently at home for as long as possible. Throughout this blog, we mention home care and how professional caregivers can help maintain your loved one’s independence and enhance his or her quality of life. This might be a good place to delve a little deeper into what exactly home care is.

There Are Two Types Of Home Care: Medical and Non-Medical

Medical home care describes services delivered by nurses, social worker and licensed physical, occupational, physiotherapist and speech therapists to name a few. Most all medical home care is provided by AHS (Alberta Health Services) in Calgary, Alberta. Anyone living in Calgary, Alberta that has a valid healthcare card can receive AHS Home Care services, just as long as their physical needs can be met safely in their own home. Recipients must be homebound and have a skilled medical need, such as wound care or intravenous antibiotics and medications. Medical home care is intermittent, meaning that the caregivers make visits a few times per week or day, typically on a short-term, temporary basis. Medical Home Care can be accessed by AHS in all of Alberta and in all quadrants in Calgary and surrounding communities such as Airdrie, Chestermere, Okotoks and Cochrane to name a few.

Non-Medical Home Care

When we discuss home care, we are most often referring to non-medical care. Non-medical home care describes a service where another person, usually a family member, friend, or paid caregiver, provides a senior, elder adult or disabled person assistance with activities of daily living, such as dressing and bathing and with household tasks such as preparing meals or running errands.

Living At Home

The need for non-medical home care has skyrocketed in Calgary, Alberta since 1995. This was the first-year where records showed more people dying from chronic conditions than from acute diseases. With acute illnesses claiming fewer lives, life expectancy has increased sharply. Most seniors today can expect to live the majority of their lives, at home, in good health. While aging seniors are living longer and more productive lives than ever, the onset of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, kidney failure, dementia, or sensory losses can make remaining in the comfort of home a challenge.

When these conditions occur, seniors may be unable to continue living in their own home without assistance. In the past, this meant moving in with a family member or being transferred to an assisted living facility or nursing home, in spite of the fact that numerous aging surveys have found that a staggering 90% of seniors have an expressed wish to continue living in their own homes and “age in place.”

Non-medical home care can make that wish a reality by providing personalized assistance tailored to keep the senior safe and comfortable in a non-institutional setting.

Services Provided

Some of the services provided by non-medical caregivers include help with eating, bathing, toileting, managing incontinence, remaining as mobile as possible, performing light housekeeping duties, and providing or arranging transportation. Non-medical caregivers can also provide medication reminders.

Caregivers can be hired on an as-needed basis. Some families hire caregivers for just a few hours each week so that the family member providing care can take a much-deserved break, referred to as respite care. Other families may require caregivers for several hours each day or around-the-clock. It is not at all unusual for a senior whose health is in decline to require a live-in caregiver.

Typically, when you call a home care agency like Home Care Assistance Calgary, Alberta, they will meet with you and your loved one to find our exactly what services you need and to establish a unique, personalized care plan. They will then assign a caregiver and arrange and introductory meeting to ensure that the caregiver and your loved one are a good match.

When Is It Time For Non-medical Home Care?

In Calgary, many senior citizens and their families find the decision-making process around the ideal time to bring on a caregiver daunting. The best advice we can offer is to hire one sooner rather than later. This gives your loved one a chance to develop a strong rapport with the caregiver so that he or she will be more accepting of the caregiver’s assistance as care needs increase. Many people wait until a crisis has occurred, for example, a fall or unexpected hospitalization, to begin looking for assistance from a home care agency. It’s important to be proactive in researching care options and developing a relationship with a home care agency before a crisis occurs.

Signs That You Need Extra Help

There are also a few signs to watch for that will alert you to the fact that your loved one needs extra help in the home, including:

  • Messy home​. Some people are simply neater than others, but if you notice an unusual amount of clutter, piled up garbage, or stacks of undone dishes, it may be time to think about getting your loved one extra help.
  • Strange odorsOdd smells in the house may indicate spoiled food, an inability to care for pets, or a problem with incontinence. A professional caregiver can help with all of these problems.
  • Poor hygiene​. This can include unwashed or messy hair, unwashed clothing, body odor, or wearing clothes that are unsuitable for the weather. For example, if your loved one chooses to wear shorts to run errands in a snowstorm, he or she may be suffering from cognitive problems or a medical condition that keeps him or her from noticing dangerously cold temperatures.
  • Driving problems​. Problems with driving can include minor accidents, unexplained scratches or dents on the car, or more than one ticket issued in a three month period. Take notice when you ride with your loved one. If he or she does not pay attention to the road, ignores or fails to see traffic signals, or weaves between lanes, it’s probably time to find someone else to do the driving and errand-running.
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain​. A weight change of more than 10% can signal that your loved one is making poor nutritional decisions or is simply physically unable to prepare healthy meals. It could also signify depression, which should be addressed immediately.
  • Isolation​. Withdrawing from friends and family can be a sign of sensory deficits like hearing problems, or it might indicate a problem with cognition or mental health. An in-home caregiver can provide not only physical services, but also the socialization your loved one needs.

If you are a senior, starting on the path to a healthier way of life, it is a matter of choice for most of us. With older adults decreased mobility and a decreased social circle can make this choice daunting. Home Care Assistance Calgary, Alberta can help you and your loved one. Our Health Care Aids are expertly trained in our proprietary Balanced Care Method approach and can provide the support your loved one needs to live a happy and healthy lifestyle in their own Homes.

For more information on our services, contact Home Care Assistance Calgary at 403-301-3777.

Chuck Terlesky

Home Care Assistance Calgary

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