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WSJ: How Do You Know if Home Care is Right for You (Or a Loved One)?

Yesterday we touched on changes in exemption rules from the U.S. Labor Department which will affect the federal employment rights of home care workers. As discussed, observers on both sides have made predictions on how the changes will affect home care nationwide. Some argue that better treated employees will provide better care to seniors. Others suggest that the home care industry cannot absorb the increased costs and the total number of full-time caregivers will be cut as a result.

But a more important question for New York residents and their families is more preliminary: Is home care right for us?

Making Careful Choices
It is often remarked that all seniors prefer to age-in-place and stay at home. That concept is generally true, but it is not as simple as suggesting that everyone should have at-home care so long as there are some means to do so. At times, more close, skilled care in advanced facilities is superior.

This weekend, a story was published in the Wall Street Journal which offered advice on when home care should be seriously considered.

The story points to a popular AARP study which identified that roughly 90% of seniors claim that they’d prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. But, the sobering truth is that, even the best laid plans can (and should) go awry. There are serious considerations that should be made about whether home-care is truly the best option. Most notably, much depends on the severity of one’s disabilities, sometimes requiring services that simply cannot be provided at a home. Also, at times, the design/size/location of the home itself does not offer a good fit to a senior living with limitations.

Socialization must also be considered. Living at home may be detrimental if it is akin to isolation. Senior housing facilities often offer many more chances for individuals to mingle and living lives interconnected with others.

Finally, at-home living can enact a significant toll–mentally, physically, and financially–on adult children. Depending on the specific type of caregiving arrangements, adult children may face unsustainable burdens which ultimately impact the actual care they can provide to their loved one.

As the above discussion touches on, every long-term care decision must be made on an individual basis. But, it is impossible to know with certain what specific limitations one might have years or decades down the road. That is why it is prudent to have a plan, which includes long-term care insurance, that will provide the most flexible options down the road, no matter what the future holds.

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