What's important to know about home care?

Sheri Kupres of Home Helpers in Hinsdale was meeting with a family about senior care when the daughter asked her elderly parents about some dents she noticed on their car.

"They said, 'Oh, we hit this pole'," Kupres relayed. "And the daughter replied, 'Well, what if it was a person?' "

Finding the couple a senior living facility may be the next step for some. But employing a caregiver - as the family mentioned chose - also is an option for those seniors keen to continue living in their home.

"I think being in your home, you still feel like you've got that control, you still have your independence - and that comfort," Kupres said.

Kupres will participate in a panel discussion as part of Senior Services Day Tuesday, April 16, at The Community House. Speakers will share their expertise in topics important to those in post-retirement, such as financial planning, downsizing and skilled nursing care (see Page 28 for details).

Regarding home care, Kupres offered these questions for consideration:

• Can my loved one be safely left at home?

• Can my loved one independently and successfully handle all activities of daily living?

• Is he/she eating, sleeping and taking medications properly?

• Is my loved one surrounded by others and socially stimulated each day?

Adult children may not live close by or have the bandwidth to take on the responsibility of parent care.

"They're raising their kids and they're working full-time. There's so much going on in their lives that it's hard to manage it all," she said.

That's where a caregiver can provide that support, depending on the need level. Home care is intended to address fall prevention, dressing and grooming, companionship, errands, transportation and more.

"It can be minimal care just to help you with things like going in the basement to do the laundry, picking up groceries, doing some meal preparation, making sure you're taking your medications," Kupres explained. "Or it can be all the way up to 24/7. It can be hospice support, or anything in between."

The primary mission is keeping the senior out of the hospital due to a preventable accident.

"Once somebody has a fall, that changes everything, and your options kind of go out the window," Kupres said. "If you're eating well and you're sleeping well and you're taking your medications and going to your doctor's appointments, that helps take care of a lot of things."

She urged people seeking home care support to use a licensed, reputable agency and find a caregiver who can work with your loved one.

"It's someone coming into your home. We want to make sure it's a good fit," she said.

Family members should stay alert to warning signs like missed appointments, poor hygiene or not making sense in conversations as indications help may be needed.

"Try to think ahead because that allows you to have that control," she said.

And allow your loved one to have contentment doing the activities that bring joy.

"Home care can help them do those things."

- by Ken Knutson

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean