Overview of In-Home Caregivers and Home Care Agencies



Overview of In-Home Caregivers and Home Care Agencies

For many individuals and couples who need more care and assistance at home, the idea of moving out of the home and into an assisted living facility can seem like an unreasonable option.  No person wants to give up her independence or dignity, and no one wants to rely on others for assistance or to become a burden to the family.  We all want to remain in our own home environment where we feel most comfortable.  On the other hand, the assistance of a caregiver may become necessary for reasons of health and safety. 

As a physician who has dealt with tens of thousands of patients and who was encountered thousands of instances of patients and families needing assistance with activities of daily living for patient safety, I can tell you that very rarely do family members perceive that caring for a loved one is an unnecessary burden.  Almost always the perception of patients that they are a burden to the family is totally inaccurate.  In reality, most friends and family members want to feel confident that their loved one is safe and happy.  For many patients, hiring a part-time or full-time in-home caregiver can help improve quality of life and safety while avoiding trips to the hospital or the risks of injury and even death.  In other instances, the involvement of an in-home caregiver can be a reasonable compromise as the first step in transitioning to more full-time, in-home care or moving toward assisted-living.

Many families requiring in home care initially choose to have a family member provide this service because a family member acting as the caregiver is much more cost effective and may seem much less intrusive.  On the other hand, having a family member act as a caregiver can also create somewhat new, unforeseen problems.  Most people do not have any experience or training in the medical field that would prepare them for the responsibilities of a caregiver.  Most adults have other responsibilities and priorities like work, childcare, or relationships with their own spouse.  The role of a caregiver can be extremely demanding and very stressful, and serving as a caregiver for a loved one can cause significant stress and can damage interpersonal relationships.  Duties such as changing soiled adult undergarments, assisting with toileting, helping with transfers and mobility, feeding, or supervising medications can be frustrating and unpleasant.  To make matters more challenging, in many cases when a family member serves as the caregiver, the dynamic of "familiarity breeds contempt" often enters into the equation.  Patients often treat professional caregivers with greater respect than they treat more familiar family members, even though the loved one may be making tremendous personal sacrifices to help and support the patient.  Serving as a caregiver is a demanding responsibility, one of the many reasons why nurses to work 8 hour to 12 hour shifts and are well compensated for their important work.



Home Care Agencies versus Independent Caregivers

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