Home Care Options

Written By: Michele Bayno BSW, BA

With the significant increase in the number of older people, the requirement for assistance with household chores, shopping and meal preparation, personal care, and dispensing of medication has also been on the rise.

As we age, many of our daily activities become more difficult to manage, and, all of a sudden, our home has just too many challenges:

  • The staircases in the home make it more difficult to access other levels of the house, making doing laundry in the basement, or simply getting to the bathroom on the second floor much more challenging
  • The presence of a lot of stairs increases the risk of a fall
  • No longer being able to drive makes getting groceries and running errands a problem
  • Reduction in motor skills and joint function increases the risk of falling and makes taking care of hygiene needs quite challenging
  • Cooking and cleaning may become more of an issue due to these physical challenges

We all want to enjoy a good quality of life and live independently, so it is understandable that one may not yet be ready for a retirement or nursing home. Now what? What are the options to reduce or eliminate the risks and dangers of remaining in the home? Fortunately, several options exist.

Depending on friends and family for help is one option; however, this may not be enough depending on the amount of help that is required and the number of persons willing to help. Also, given that this type of arrangement can cause friction and stress to the relationship, it may not be the best option for some.

Home Care Services are a great option to consider for the senior who wants to remain in their home, and has many benefits. With a hired caregiver monitoring the safety and attending to the immediate needs of the individual, as well as providing companionship, seniors and their families can have peace of mind. The caregiver can be a live-in or a part-time worker, depending on the

These caregivers can assist with all sorts of daily activities, such as:

  • Helping the senior climb the stairs to safely reach the bathroom with the bathtub on a different level of the house
  • Helping them get in and out of the bath to attend to personal hygiene
  • Assisting them in getting dressed, helping with buttons and socks
  • Doing laundry and housekeeping
  • Preparing meals for the week that are frozen in containers for easy reheating at a later time
  • Attending to the lawn care and snow removal

The possibilities are endless, and easily customizable according to the need of the individual. If this seems like a good option, such assistance can be hired through a credible Home Care Services agency. I strongly recommend hiring through an agency and avoid hiring someone by putting an ad in the newspaper. In my experience, I have seen too many bad things happen with this type of recruitment. Hiring through an agency will usually cost you anywhere between 17.00$-30.00$ per hour. Shop around, and choose wisely.

What qualities to look for in Home Care Agency and Caregiver:

  1. The Home Care Agency must be credible and should be insured, licensed and bonded. Look for a caregiver that is certified by your province or state, has liability insurance and workman’s compensation for its workers. It is also important that the agency screen their workers by drug testing, and with police and background checks. Further, the caregiver must have received the proper training, education and required certification.
  1. The home care agency should be convenient and cost effective. Look for an agency that can manage all the caretaking needs that you require. This way, you won’t have to hire several contractors to perform several different tasks. The time and money saved will be well worth it.

I realize that this sort of help can be expensive, and may not be feasible for many. If this is the situation, contact your local community organizations and see what type of help they have to offer. These services are significantly less expensive and usually available on a sliding fee scale based upon annual income. Sometimes these services are available on a volunteer basis, but have long waiting list attached to their services.

Adapting the Home and Specialized Products

A few adaptations may need to be done to the home to make it safe. For example, the bathrooms may need to be adapted for easier access to the tub and toiled. This could mean installing bars in the bathtub, purchasing an elevated toilet seat and installing bars next to the toilet. This type of equipment is available at pharmacies, discount department stores and specialty shops.

If climbing the stairs has become an issue and the risk of falling is significant, a stair lift can be purchased or rented.

Such options can be costly, but check with your insurance company as some policies may cover a portion of home care services or home adaptations.

Many subsidies for home care services, or home adaptations are available to War Veterans, it will be worth calling the Veterans Affair of your district to see if you qualify.

Emergency Response Services

Emergency Response companies offer peace of mind and reduce the danger of a senior not being found in a timely matter after a fall or other health crisis. These services provide the individual with a personal response devices, such as panic buttons that can be worn as a bracelet or necklace, and cost approximately $20.00 per month, plus a minimal subscription or installation fee, depending on the services required.


Edited by Stephanie Thurston