Four Reasons Families Should Not Consider Home Care

Guest Blogger:

By Joanna R. Leefer, founder, ElderCareGiving

There is no place like home!  Although most people would prefer to stay at home than to go into a senior facility or a nursing home, there are many factors that need to be considered before making this decision.  Most people feel that being home is the most comfortable options but consider this:

  • What about the staircase?  Most houses and apartments are not designed with handicaps in mind.  But what if your loved one needs home care because of crippling arthritis and can’t leave the house without going up and down the stairs.  Or what if your Mom’s walker cannot get through the bedroom door? or she cannot get into or out of the bathtub?  Unless your family is willing to invest in modifying the space or add an elevator, maybe the home is not the best choice.
  • Are there social activities?  Staying at home is great if you are content with watching TV, listening to the radio, or surfing the internet.  But home care can be very isolating.   One major cause of depression in seniors, is social isolation.  So before you decide to use home care, make sure your Mom can easily get to a community center or can go on frequent outings.
  • Who is planning the Doctor’s visits?  Home care means a lot of family involvement.  Your loved one has one-to-one care with an aide, but some one has to plan all the major activities.  The family is still responsible for scheduling Doctor’s appointment and setting up transportation.  You must make sure the household is running smoothly; that there is enough food in the refrigerator, the laundry is getting done, and the household is running smoothly.  Unless you are a take-charge individual, many family members find this is too big a responsibility to handle.
  •  Who’s watching the home attendant?  If you are going through an agency, the agency is responsible for overseeing care, but they cannot be there everyday.  And sometimes your loved one might not be able to report all events accurately.  Your mom might be afraid that she will alienate her aide if she complaints, or she might not understand the aide’s responsibility.

Voice of Experience :  Who Stole the Milk?

My 95-year old mother-in-law, Florence, is a wonderful woman but like many older people she is getting forgetful.  She has had the same sterling aide, Barbara, for over four years who is honest as the day is long.  But whenever Florence cannot find something in her apartment, she assumes Barbara has taken it.  Barbara has been accused of taking everything from keys, to paper clips, to the spoiled carrots in the refrigerator. She is sure that Barbara has a set of keys and slips into the house at night and steals these items

My husband, who is a patient man, often travel an hour to her apartment. Sometimes she forgets where she puts things and she would prefer doing either so prove to her that nothing is lost, but it is a timely addition to home care.

  • Can you afford the care?  A major consideration when deciding on home care concerns whether you can get or afford the care.  If you are eligible for Medicaid or Medicare home care, you will only get the number of hours the government deems necessary.  At times you gain more hours by appealing the decision, but essentially the government will determine the required hours.  If you pay for home care privately you do not have to deal with the government, but your financial situation might limit care.

Concerned about an aging parent or loved one? For a free report “Four questions to ask about home care” go to, the website of Eldercare Expert, Joanna Leefer whose book Eldercare Basics will be available in Spring, 2013.

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